PENTECOST, Feast of Weeks or First-fruits!
This Bible study has been used on a previous website, the author being the editor of TCOGMSO. It has now been edited for use on this website and was prepared for educational purposes of the general public on the subject of Pentecost. Pentecost is an important step in God’s master plan and this study is designed to aid in understanding the connection between the Old Testament “Feast of weeks” or early first fruit grain harvest festival and the New Testament day of Pentecost, for all true Christians. It is for those who are even now or will soon be seeking, with all their hearts, to understand God’s plan of Salvation. That plan is revealed through the annual Holy Days listed in Lev.23 and the “feast of weeks”—that is the counting of seven weeks or Sabbath’s for the keeping of this day is one of them! By learning and obeying these Biblical commands, people can begin to come out and be separate from this evil age and those who choose not to listen and learn from their Bibles. As for the COG realm, those who live in this last generation and maintain a liberal mind-set will suffer the great tribulation and perhaps remain in spiritual darkness. This study is a simple question and answer format for those who want to learn and gain some understanding from it, learning some things about Pentecost, as revealed by Scripture. With that being stated, the day of Pentecost is the 3rd step in God’s Master Plan for Salvation to all mankind.
Once we have taken the step of accepting Jesus Christ and His sacrifice (the keeping of Passover-1st. step) and have begun to put sin out of our lives, (portrayed by keeping 7 Days of eating Unleavened Bread-2nd step) then we are ready for this 3rd step in God’s master plan. If we are on the path of conversion, we will have already gone through being called by God (John 6:44&45) to belief in the truth, faith and acceptance of Christ as personal Savior, repentance of past sins, and baptism by a true servant of God. At that point we come to the “laying on of hands” ceremony, which is for internalizing of the Holy Spirit—picture by the giving of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost! This is the action which makes us God’s very own begotten children! He then considers us “first-fruits” that will be born into His family at the return of Christ, through a resurrection or change to Spirit. However, we must endure and keep the faith to the end of life or the return of Christ! The baptized members of the true Church of God that now have internalized and are being LED by that Holy Spirit are considered a part of the first-fruits, to be harvested at the return of Christ to receive their inheritance in the Family of God! (Rom.8:14-17) We will see these things revealed from Scripture in this study and many links to other pieces of material have been added to enhance your Bible knowledge. As in previous studies, the Scriptural content of this study lesson is from the New King James Version, except where noted otherwise. Enjoy your study!
What New Testament Scripture shows that the Church of God is considered first-fruits?
James 1:17-18 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”
The Holy Spirit, making one a potential first-fruit, is given to those who believe the Word of God, have repented of past sins and accepted Christ’s broken body and shed blood as paying the penalty for their past sins, which is symbolized by keeping the Passover! They will have begun their journey at coming out of sinful living, symbolized by keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread. They are then ready for the next step in God’s plan of Salvation, as stated above. That is the receiving of God’s Holy Spirit, which is given to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32) which gives strength to help all to overcome, plus grow in Grace and Knowledge, (2Pet.3:18) and to develop Godly Character! It is God’s Spirit in them that opens their minds to understand His word. (I Cor. 2:9-14)
God’s Spirit living in us and active in our lives, puts one in this category of being potential first-fruits!
The title; Pentecost—Feast of Weeks—First-fruits—are these all the same thing?
Exo. 34:22 "And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest,--
Acts 2:1 Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
These Scriptures above use all three terms, and as we go through this study, we will find that these terms all refer to the same event! Christians keep this event today, both as a memorial and a future fulfillment! A memorial because they are reminded every year by the keeping of Passover, days of UNLB & Pentecost that they have received forgiveness of sin and are striving to come out of it; having received the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands, which seals them, or gives them a down payment of eternal life!
What Scripture tells us that we are “sealed” by the Holy Spirit?
Eph. 1:13 “In him (Christ) you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (From the RSV) Notice also the verses given below, from the NKJ— and there are others that indicate the same thing.
2 Cor. 1:21-22 “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”
Pentecost is kept year after year by true Christians as a memorial because of the things mentioned above, and is also kept, symbolizing a future event when Christ will return at the last trumpet and Christians who are ready and have put on Holy and righteous character from God through the work of the Holy Spirit will be changed into Spirit, born by resurrection or change into His family! This represents the “first-fruits harvest” of humanity, a relatively small harvest, in comparison to what comes later, which is being covered by other material. Christ’s return also will bring in a time when the Kingdom of God will be set up here on earth and Satan the devil will be banished, locked up and sealed away for a thousand years, (See “Binding Satan” for more) while the first-fruits rule with Christ for that thousand year period! (Rev.20; 1- 4)
All of humanity should be longing for this event to occur, but Satan the devil has deceived the whole world (Rev.12:9) into false ideas of disobeying God by a belief that one no longer has to keep GOD’S Commandments & Holy Days, along with other deceptions such as the “secret rapture” or going off to heaven if one is “GOOD” and going to an ever burning hell if you are “BAD”! Even creation itself longs for relief from all these deceptions and chaos caused by Satan and mankind’s ideas that are contrary to the truth of God and looks forward to the birth of the children of God!
Are Christians, as well as creation, really eagerly waiting for this event, and if so, where is that in Scripture?
Rom. 8:21-23 “because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (RSV)
It is VERY IMPORTANT to GOD for true Christians to strive to be sure we are obeying Him by keeping these annual Holy Days at the proper or “appointed” times! For this we need to have the right understanding of the calendar to use, and know exactly when to start the count for Pentecost. (See “Parallels-Calendar” for more)
There is a ceremony found in Scripture that always takes place during the 7 Days of Unleavened Bread that leads to and actually sets the stage of counting weeks for this Holy Day of Pentecost! It was actually during the Days of Unleavened Bread in ancient Israel that the first of first-fruits was determined or harvested which, like the Passover, also pointed to Christ! Let’s take the time to go back to the book of Leviticus and see this exciting process unfold, leading up to this Feast of Pentecost, and the step of harvesting the First of First-fruits!
Where, in Scripture, did God command the “First of first-fruits” ceremony?
Lev 23:9-11 “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 'He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it”—
This ceremony always occurred during the Days of Unleavened Bread and on the day after the weekly Sabbath, no matter where it occurred during those days! (Some in the Jewish sector have a tradition of counting from the day after the 1st annual Sabbath which is during those days but not compatible with other Scriptures. This way of counting for Pentecost would always end on the same calendar day— 3rd month & 6th day —thus defeating the purpose for counting. This would also contradict the Scriptures, such as Lev.23:15-16 that show 7 Sabbaths must be complete and then Sunday, the very next day is the 50th day—the day of Pentecost!)
By counting as the Scriptures show, wherever that “day after” the weekly Sabbath falls during the days of unleavened bread is where this ceremony takes place, and the countdown for Pentecost begins! It could come as the very first day of the Festival, or the middle or the very last day of the seven Days of Unleavened Bread, but it was always during the 7 days not after or before, and always after the weekly Sabbath, starting on Sunday instead of the annual Sabbath, which could fall on any calendar day of the week. This is why the counting method by some of the Jews is incorrect! This is very important to understand.
Why is this so important?
Deut. 16:9 "You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain.”
This passage is talking about the cutting of the wave sheaf offering, as seen above, that was to be accepted by the priest! This was done to signify to Israel that they could then begin to harvest and use the first grain that was beginning to ripen, as well as to start the countdown to Pentecost. Some do not count this way, even in the COG realm today. The first of those first-fruits had to be offered, examined and accepted by the priest during the Festival, before any of the new grain could be used by Israel. (See Lev.23:14) This was another type of Christ and the selecting of the Spiritual harvest of those to be born first into God’s Family, and specifically the First of the fruits, being Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master. Notice the next verse: V.10 "Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) to the LORD your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the LORD your God blesses you.”
Is Pentecost a Holy Day that is to be kept by the New Testament Church of God today?
This is an annual Sabbath, Holy time to God, and has to be kept on its proper day. It is one of seven annual Sabbaths, that occur throughout the year during one complete yearly cycle of the Holy Days. If we chose any other day than the one God has appointed, then we fail to keep His “appointed” day, and end up in disobedience! (Lev.23:2-4) That is why it is so important to closely follow these instructions, and to understand what the Word of God reveals, concerning them. The reason for this “cutting” of the wave sheaf determines when Pentecost is to be kept, counting from the very day that the wave sheaf was cut and offered! (Lev.23:15-16) Without following the instructions exactly as God has given them, ancient Israel could not, or Christians today, cannot be in obedience to God or keep this day at the “appointed time” set by God through Moses. The right day for the keeping of Pentecost is determined, by counting that very day of the wave sheaf offering, then forward until seven Sabbaths are complete—then the next day, also a Sunday, the 50th day, is Pentecost! (See “Wave Sheaf Day” bible study for more)
How do we know that God takes this that seriously and is that specific?
Lev 23:1-2,4 “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, (2) "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.---(4) 'These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times.” Read also Deut.4;2;& 12;32
God “Appointed” the days, as many Scriptures show, and in Exo.12:2, it is very clear that God gave the knowledge of His Holy Day calendar to Moses, who then handed it off to the Jews along with the Scriptures containing the commands for keeping them. (See also Matt.23;2-3, Rom.3;1-4, and Deut.4;5-9)
The knowledge of the Jewish calendar that the True Church of God uses today was restored to the Church through the Apostle Herbert W. Armstrong in 1940, and has been used by the True Church of God since that time. (With the exception of the improper counting for Pentecost, (kept on Monday) which God also inspired to be brought to the attention of HWA this was incorrect.) He corrected that for the Church in 1974, and it has been maintained to the present by those who hold fast what has been given, the faith once delivered. (Rev.2:25, 3:11 & Jude 3)
How can we determine that the wave sheaf is representative of Christ?
Acts 26:23 "that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles."
Just as the Passover represented Christ as our Savior, the wave sheaf also represented Christ as the first to be born into the God Family from the human realm, by resurrection! As we go on through this study, this will become even clearer that Christ was First of first-fruits! Just as the priest was to examine the wave offering to determine it was indeed usable wheat (flawless and matured enough) before any other grain could be used, Christ in like manner, would go to the Father on a Sunday during the Festival of UNLB for acceptance before He, as our High Priest, could then begin to harvest or build His Church, the rest of the first-fruits. They would inherit eternal life with Him and share His inheritance! (Rom.8:16-17)
Does that mean the Church of God is to be the only first-fruits?
Rom 8:29 For whom He (GOD) foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
1 Cor. 15:22-23 “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.
These passages of Scripture show clearly that Christ was the first to be born, by resurrection, into eternal life from the human existence! But it also reveals that others are to follow at His return.
Why does it say, “Christ, the first fruits”?
That is what the Wave Sheaf offering was. When Paul wrote this, at that time and even now, there are still no more first-fruits born yet, because Christ has not returned and the resurrection has not yet happened for anyone else. (See Col.1:15 & 18—Also, it should be understood that those that now claim to be “Born again” are making a false claim and contradict the clear teachings of Scripture.)
Christ is now “Head” of the Church, as well as being the firstborn from the dead! Those who have been impregnated or begotten by the Holy Spirit and have already died in the faith are still waiting in their graves for this future event, not having gone off to heaven as some would have us believe! Those alive also, who have and are being led by the Holy Spirit will be changed to spirit at the return of Christ, along with the dead in Christ! (See 1 Thess.4:15-17& Heb.11:39-40) Christ is still, even now, the First of first-fruits to be born! But Lets notice this again from Scripture, back in the Old Testament!
Exodus 23:19 "The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God.”--
Exodus 34:26 "The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring to the house of the LORD your God.—
Christ was betrayed and taken captive at approximately the same time of night, on the 14th, as the death angel had passed over in Egypt and all the firstborn had died. He was then interrogated by the priest’s and later brought before Pilate. He was tried, beaten, crucified and died, all before sunset of the 14th. He then was placed in the tomb in the late evening, right at sunset, or in the end of the 14th, when the sun was about to set. Immediately after sunset and now the 15th was the beginning of the Days of Unleavened Bread. (See Num.28: 16-18 and John 19:31-42) That was at the close of the day we would call Wednesday on our calendar, the preparation day for the coming annual High day! That High Sabbath, the 15th, was on Thursday that year. Biblical days are kept from sunset to sunset, also termed “from evening to evening”. Lev 23:32 -- “from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your Sabbath."
Thursday was a High day and no work was to be done. (1st Annual Sabbath of the year) Friday, then, was preparation day for the weekly Sabbath, when the women bought the spices. (Mark16:1) Then they observed the weekly Sabbath. (Luke 23:56) It would have been after this Sabbath was over, and on Sunday, still during the Days of Unleavened Bread, that the wave sheaf cutting and offering would have taken place by the Jews that were still observing these commands properly. Now, Notice what Scripture reveals in: John 20:1 “On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.” Christ had already risen!
Jesus, as the beginning, or First of first-fruits, had already risen before this time! He had risen exactly three days and three nights from the time He had been placed in the tomb, just as He said He would! (John 2:19-21) That would have placed His resurrection at exactly the same time of day that He was placed in the tomb, right at sunset, so that explains why Jesus was already risen when Mary came early that Sunday morning, while it was still dark!
How does this show Christ as the fulfillment of the wave sheaf?
As shown above, this was done in the same time order as the wave sheaf cutting was originally presented to the priest in ancient Israel! As stated above those priests that were still keeping this properly in Christ’s time, were also receiving this wave sheaf on that same Sunday morning! Many others that were counting from the annual Sabbath had already done the wave sheaf wrongly on Friday. Christ, as the fulfillment of what that wave offering pointed to, had to go and be presented to the Father, so that the Spiritual harvest of first-fruits, His Church, could begin, as stated above.
John 20:17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'" After going to the Father, Christ then returned later on the same day (V. 19-22) and appeared to them on several occasions over the next 40 days, while they counted to Pentecost.
Did Christ command the disciples, His Church, to keep the day of Pentecost, or did He do away with it as many believe?
Before His ascension, Christ gave them this command: Acts 1:4 “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me;-- v.8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
The beginning of the New Testament Church of God, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Christ, has been proven to have occurred on June 17th which was on the 50th day from the Sunday of Christ’s being accepted by the Father. That beginning of the NT COG was the day of Pentecost in 31 A.D. according to the Julian calendar! (Acts 2:1-4) If the disciples had disobeyed, ignored or changed the time of the counting which Christ had observed previously, they would not have been there to receive the Spirit on that day! Being there to observe Pentecost on any other day than this 50th day, not counting from the day of the true wave sheaf offering, then they would have been in rebellion to God and would not have received the Holy Spirit!
Is there any Scriptural evidence, that if they were not there on that set day, they would not have received the Holy Spirit?
Remember what we saw earlier in the explanations on the proper counting procedures? How that some of the Jews were, in Christ’s time, counting Pentecost from the Annual Sabbath? We see recorded in Scripture (Acts 2:2) that there were many in the proximity of the “House” where the disciples were, that Sunday morning on the true day of Pentecost, that did not know what was going on! They would have already observed Pentecost two days earlier (Friday, Sivan 6) and nothing like this had happened for them! (Acts 2:12 “So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?")
That is because—aside from the fact that they were off in other areas in their thinking and self-interpretations, creating their lack of Scriptural understanding, (Matt.22:29) they were also in disbelief of many of the teachings of Christ—so they had started their count on the day after the annual Sabbath, which was a Friday, instead of the day after the weekly Sabbath as Scripture directs! So they did not start their count with Sunday, the “morrow” after the weekly Sabbath. They did not observe the proper time for Christ’s fulfilling of the wave sheaf and had already observed Pentecost two days earlier, also on a Friday, the wrong day! They did not any of them receive the Holy Spirit. Note the rest of this sequence of events as Scriptures reveal; Luke 23:54-56 “That day (Wed.) was the Preparation, (For the Annual Sabbath, Thursday.) and the Sabbath drew near. (55) And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. (This was still Wednesday, just minutes before sunset and the tomb still open.) 56 Then they returned (Fri.) and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the (4th) commandment.
Great lengths have been taken by the editor, on this website and some in this study for the explanations of the counting of Pentecost and how these events may have actually played out in history! This is because there are so many scattered brethren that were at one time in the Church of God and kept these Holy Days as one organized body of believers! After all, the true COG is a spiritual organism, not just an organization of men. But, since the death of the 20th century Apostle of Christ, Herbert W. Armstrong, some of the people of God are once again becoming disorganized and are also getting disoriented in regards to the keeping of these Holy Days and obeying their commands properly. This creates confusion for the younger just coming to understand truth. Some no longer keep the Faith which was once delivered, (Jude 3) as was mentioned earlier, and then restored to the Church in the 20th century. Some are deviating from the truth of these matters now in Laodicea and have begun to determine for themselves, by using human reasoning, when and how to keep these Holy Days and the proper commands thereof.
Many of the Jews had gotten off track through course of time and were doing the same thing in the time of Christ. The hope is that this study will help the reader to see through the false teachings of others who have devised their own calendars, apart from the lead of the Holy Spirit! They do not see that Satan is subtly using them to try and cause many of the Elect to go astray! (Matt. 24:24-25) Searching and following the Words of God for ways of obeying God, along with finding the main body of the end time followers of Christ, the true Church of God, is the only way of ensuring our potential of becoming a first fruit at the resurrection! This will require diligence in our time today. (See 2Tim.2:15-NKJ)
Can just anyone who professes Christ and to be a Christian receive the Holy Spirit?
Belief in keeping the commandments, the true gospel and the truth of the Word of God, acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice for forgiveness of sin, repentance and baptism are the clear steps given to receiving the Holy Spirit, and not just the acknowledging that Jesus is the Son of God, alone! (Mark 1:14-15 and Acts 2:38) Two other passages are given below to show the need for the right attitude of submitting our will to God and His Word, plus our willingness to continue to obey Him even in trials when necessary, to receive the Holy Spirit and Salvation! Acts 5:32 "And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him." Heb. 5:9 “And having been perfected, He (Christ) became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,”--
Christ will not grant salvation to those who will not keep His Ten Commandments and who also refuse to keep the 7th day Sabbath and His appointed Holy Days at the time HE designates.
Did the Apostle Paul keep the day of Pentecost and teach the Gentiles to as well?
1 Cor.16:7-8 “For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost”.
This indicates Paul stayed and kept Pentecost with the Ephesus brethren before departing to continue his journey. Col. 2:16-17 “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” (KJV) These passages show the converted gentiles were keeping all of the annual Holy Days.
Did Paul also commend the Corinthians for following his example and his teachings?
1 Cor.11:1-2 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you. (NIV)
True Christians today also will be keeping these annual Holy Days, as all the disciples continued to do and the true Church of God does today! See this also in the book of Acts 2: 1 & 20:16.
It was from the very day of Christ’s appearance before the Father, as we saw earlier, that the count for Pentecost begins every year, just as in ancient Israel with the wave sheaf offering! By Christ’s example alone, it should easily be determined that the count for Pentecost begins with a Sunday, or the first day of the week during the Days of Unleavened Bread. The day of Pentecost symbolizes the first-fruits harvest of all those to be made spirit when Christ returns. It is a Holy Day, which the disciples were commanded by Christ, the God of the Old Testament, to keep! Christians today must also keep this day to be in obedience to Christ’s command to His Church! Matt 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
Where else in Scripture do we find evidence that Christ commanded the keeping of Pentecost?
The Scripture above answers this question, as well as the Passage above where Paul said that he followed Christ’s example, but notice the Scriptures below and mark them in your Bible. Jesus Christ was the God of the Old Testament that gave all these instructions to Moses. John 1:1-3 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (V.14) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
1 Cor. 10:4 ---“ For they (Israel) drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ”.
There are other passages of Scripture that also reveal that the God of the Old Testament, the one who gave the 10 commandments, the Holy Days with their calendar, to Moses, was none other than the one who became Jesus Christ. In Lev. 23:1-4 we clearly see that these annual Sabbaths are, as God (Yahweh Elohim) says, “MY Feasts”—So the quote above from Matthew would also apply to all of the Holy Days of God, given in the Old Testament. (See also Heb. 13:8& Malachi 3:6)
Where are all the faithful that have already died? Are they already with Christ in heaven?
1Thes 4:16 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first”.
All those that have already died in Christ are just resting in their graves and will rise and be made spirit when Christ returns. Their reward is now a sure thing to those that died in the faith. The immortality of the soul is a false teaching and found nowhere in the Bible! The teaching that heaven is the reward of the saved, and that one’s “immortal soul” goes there immediately upon death is also a false teaching. Christ Himself said “no man has ascended into heaven but He who came down from heaven” (John 3:13) Christ Himself did not immediately ascend into heaven from the Cross, but was buried and lay 72 hours in the tomb! Also King David, a man after God’s own heart according to Scripture, is still in his grave, and yet to be resurrected! Acts 2:29 "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.---34 "For David did not ascend into the heavens,---
Does this mean that all of the faithful of the Old Testament are now still dead but also first-fruits, to be made spirit at the resurrection?
Heb 11:39-40 “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
These are what we saw earlier, as a part of the dead in Christ that will rise from the dead first!
What happens to the faithful converts that are still alive at the return of Christ? Will they also be first-fruits and made Spirit at the return of Christ?
1Thes 4:17-18 “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1Cor.15:52 “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
Once again, we need to reflect on what is revealed in this resurrection chapter, because there is definitely a time order of events! Please go back and review this part. (1 Cor. 15:22-23 & note V.45-46
45 And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.
Who then, are considered first-fruits and true Christians at this point in time?
There are many in this world today, who claim to be Christians, which are not truly Christians and have been deceived. Some even in the realm of the COG and its scattered state are deceiving themselves. A Christian is one who has and is being led by the Holy Spirit, (Rom.8:9-last part) and who are striving to be more “Christ like” or who follow Christ’s teachings and His examples of obedience contained in the Word of God. In order to be considered a first-fruit, one has to follow the instructions given in Scripture, many of which have been given in this study, dealing with Pentecost. They have to be “sealed” with the Holy Spirit (see 3rd question) then they have to maintain that Spirit and let it lead them in a Godly way of living, to be considered “children of God,” and inherit what Christ has already inherited. Rom 8:14-17 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption (actually “Son-ship”) by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs-- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
Is this a special relationship with Christ that only a few can receive?
Christ called the COG a little flock; (Luke 12:32-seen below in # 25) so God is not at this time trying to save the world, as many denominations teach. Christ stated that He did not pray for the world, but only for the chosen ones who have responded to their calling! John 17:9 "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.”
What about all those in other churches who think they are and claim to be Christians? Where do they fit?
Most of humanity who claims Christianity is being deceived by false teachings and pagan practices. They have not been called at this time. Salvation for these others will come later in God’s plan. Christ and His Church, made up of true Christians, have what the Bible terms a “betrothal” to a marriage relationship and the wedding will take place at the return of Christ, as many passages of Scripture reveal! For the sake of space I will only give one here, but please take the time to read Ephesians 5:25-32. The Church of God, as first fruits are also considered the Bride of Christ! Paul also made clear to the Corinthians that they were to become a part of the Bride of Christ, if they remained faithful! 2 Cor.11:2 “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Rev 17:14 -- “for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”
Shouldn’t God’s Church be big and powerful, with the passing of nearly two thousand years?
Christ Himself said to Pilate at His crucifixion that His kingdom was not of this world! As was noted above, God’s true Church has always been in the minority and even called “a little flock” by Christ Himself!
Luke 12:31 "But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. 32 "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” God and Christ both desire that all who have been called and begotten by the Holy Spirit will remain faithful and be in His Family as a first fruit.
Where else do we find in Scripture that there are only a limited number of First-fruits?
Remember these passages; Matt 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it”.
Rev 14:1 “Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. 3 They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.”
Conclusion, summary & comments
So, as we can see from this study on Pentecost that there are only a small number planned to be in this first resurrection and that is why it is called the first-fruits harvest! It is only Christ, at this time, having already been harvested from the human realm as first of first-fruits! Then the Bride of Christ, the true and faithful Church of God, in the first resurrection will join Him in the air as the finishing of the first-fruits harvest! Rev 20:6 “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”
Together, they will rule as the Kingdom of God throughout the thousand years, and will be forever with Christ throughout all eternity! (See verse 4 & 5) There is no higher calling ever to come in the future, or that applies to any other human being in the past or present, than to be a part of the first fruits resurrection in God’s master plan! Pentecost represents the giving of the Holy Spirit to those choice few who have gone through the previous steps, and have been begotten by the Holy Spirit, giving them the potential to be first fruits. Humanity as a whole just does not understand the awesome potential that these humans have been given by our loving God to further His plan, in these 6000 years of Satan’s rule! (2Cor.4:3-4 & Eph. 2:1-10) Through the power of the Holy Spirit given them, they must overcome in this life.
The Gospel of the coming kingdom of God is still going out at this time and more are being called to replace those that have fallen by the wayside or have deliberately forsaken the way of God. Only God knows when the number of first-fruits will be reached, or who will have that righteous character developed within themselves at the return of Christ! 2 Tim 2:19 “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
Some that have already been called and chosen through the 20th century and during the Philadelphian era of time have now become lukewarm and may lose out if they do not repent, get back on track, keep the faith, and endure to the end. If they do not repent, then they will be replaced by someone else, called in this 21st century, and that could be you! Do you want to be a first-fruit? Are you willing to commit yourself and stay committed? Be sure and count the costs.(See Luke14:26-33)
(Some make commitments in life only to later become disillusioned by the physical desires, cunning wiles of Satan and fail to keep them. If a person cannot keep physical commitments and even personal VOWS between man and God in this life, it is hard to imagine they will be keeping their Spiritual commitments, which takes more effort. The active Holy Spirit will both strengthen & lead people to keep their commitments and Vows that are right in God’s eyes. Satan can and does get to people more easily, who are not letting the Spirit lead them. Sometimes this letting down is not even recognized as breaking a commitment until too late. Any true Christian is individually being tested—See articles “Broken Vows”, “Committed to Truth” and “Divorce vs. Commitment” for more on these subjects. The Holy Spirit will help to build in us both commitment and loyalty to God and what His word teaches us, even in right physical matters of this life. We have to learn we can trust what God says and leave things in His hands.)
The choice is ours and we are free to make it. God will not force anyone, but the call is still going out, and He may be calling you right now, to repentance in order to be one of His first-fruits! Will you respond, and be one of the called, chosen and faithful? It is the author/editors hope that you will use these Bible studies and other materials found on this website as stepping stones to begin building a better and more lasting relationship with the true God of your Bible.
The time is rapidly approaching when the whole world will be plunged into a terrible time of suffering, called the great tribulation, the darkest hour of human history, followed very closely by the “Day of the Lord” soon to come on all of mankind that are not protected by God. That protection is only offered to those who are faithful first-fruits, the true church of God that holds fast and remains faithful, even in Laodicea!
Rev 3:10-11 "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you (True Church of God) from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
11 "Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, (Truth & zeal by the active Holy Spirit) that no one may take your crown.”
Rev 12:14 “But the woman (Faithful, Church of God) was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.”
So coming back to where we began, the Last era of God’s church is Laodicea, as mentioned in the introduction and the end of it being the time frame “She-the woman” (Church) is taken to safety. Those who have let down and become compromising, who remain in a lukewarm state are not promised protection from tribulation, but rather are likely to be CAST OUT OF HIS BODY BECAUSE OF THEIR LUKEWARM-NESS and are told to REPENT! (Rev.3:19) This is something that should be taken very seriously right now by all who have already been given spiritual understanding and are now “watering that down”, adding in their own doctrines, negligently letting go or being liberal with the Gospel and many other truths of Scripture. Many who consider themselves the “Philadelphians” today and do not see they have a “need of nothing” attitude which is of Laodicea, being unloving and looking down on other brethren, do not seem to realize their present attitude is more of Laodicea than of Philadelphia. Philadelphia has passed into history as an era of time and because of this, those not repentant of a wrong attitude, remaining lukewarm or self-righteous and compromising, will not be a part of the body or woman that is taken to the place of safety, as Scripture reveals (Rev.12:14-17) without some serious repentance. Once the Holy Spirit has been given, it must be submitted to, diligently exercised and allowed to lead to a better understanding and application of truth. (John 16:13) The first fruits of the Spirit will be yielded to the Word of God and its directions and that is one way to tell if you have it internalized within you.
The next Bible study in this Holy Day series is intended to focus on the next step (# 4) in God’s great master plan, and that is the return of Jesus Christ, as the Feast of Trumpets symbolizes and these first fruits are made Spirit!