It's happening now, all over this earth. Do you know what God is doing?
What on earth is God doing? The many facets of God's Church, including the Good News magazine you are now reading, work together to proclaim to all the world the wonderful announcement of God's coming Kingdom (Matthew 24:14). But what is God doing today, in a practical way, to make His Kingdom come? How few professing Christians understand this basic knowledge! Today, almighty God is planting the seeds of His Kingdom, and the embryo of that Kingdom is growing all over this world. Surprised? Unlike this blinded world, you can know God's master plan for the future, if you are willing to accept and use the keys that unlock the truth. The apostle Paul, like God's work today, proclaimed the truth about "the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints" (Colossians 1:26) How does God reveal this vital knowledge of His master plan to His servants? Through His Holy Days! God's Feast of Firstfruits, also called Pentecost, the third of His annual Holy Days, reveals what God is doing now to change this world. The Feast of Firstfruits pictures the seeding of the Kingdom of God. God's seven annual Holy Days reveal His plan for establishing His Kingdom. The world hides its eyes from the Holy Days that reveal God's plan, ignoring or passing them off as "Jewish." But God thunders, "These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times" (Leviticus 23:4). Your Creator divides His plan into three phases, each phase revolving, in symbolism, around a particular season of the year in Palestine. And like the seasons, each phase sets the stage for the fulfillment of the next. Here are the three phases of His plan: "Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles" (Deuteronomy 16:16).
Phase one: The redemption
Phase one, symbolized by the spring season, could be called the redemptive phase. From the cold death of winter, spring bursts forth with the start of life. God, the great planner, begins the year and His plan in spring (Exodus 12:2). In the spring, God logically placed the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. These two events picture the hope of redemption from sin, which produces death (Romans 6:23). The Passover pictures the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 5:7), which bring redemption and a new lease on life. Then the Days of Unleavened Bread show us that we must live this new life differently. We must put our old sinful ways and lifestyle, typified by leavened bread, out, and start living God's way of life, typified by unleavened bread. Paul summed it up this way: "Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (verse 8). Now on to phase two.
Phase two: The seeding
Phase two of God's plan — the seeding — is most crucial. It is actually the crossroads of God's whole plan. Without seed, there could be no life, and without life, there could be no Kingdom of God! The Feast of Firstfruits embodies all the facets of phase two. It pictures this moment — now — in God's plan — this moment in your life. At this very moment God is generating His Kingdom by planting the seeds of His firstfruits, which will sprout forth into the glorious Kingdom of God. Let's take a closer look at God's seeding phase as pictured by the Feast of Firstfruits. Two harvests were reaped in Israel. In spring through early summer, the Israelites gathered a small seed harvest of barley or other grain. This harvest is called the firstfruits harvest. In the fall, the year's second and biggest harvest was reaped (more on the fall harvest later). The Church today is pictured by the small firstfruits harvest. God's Church is made up of the seeds of God's future Kingdom. Jesus Christ lives as the first of the firstfruits — the first seed of the Kingdom planted by God (I Corinthians 15:20). God commanded Israel to begin the firstfruits harvest on the morrow after the weekly Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:9-11). The priest was to cut the first sheaf of grain, which represented Jesus Christ, the first seed of the Kingdom — the first emissary of a new world government. As Jesus Christ told the Pharisees, "Behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you" (Luke 17:20, Revised Standard Version). The great sower, God, planted Jesus Christ, the seed of the Kingdom, in the midst of this world. This seed will, very soon now, rule the world. The cutting of the grain pictured Jesus' death — He was cut out of the land of the living. The priest waved the grain toward heaven. In this ceremony the priest actually represented the risen Jesus, the High Priest of our salvation (Hebrews 4:14-16). The grain waved toward heaven pictured the resurrected, triumphant Jesus Christ ascending to heaven to the very throne of God. There, as High Priest, Jesus presented His own sacrifice to God (Heb. 10:10). Jesus Christ, the first of the firstfruits, paved the way and prepared the earth for the seeding of God's Kingdom. The seed, Jesus Christ, gave life to phase two of God's plan.
When does the Feast of Firstfruits start? Notice Leviticus 23:15: "And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed." Because seven weeks must be counted, this Holy Day is also known as the Feast of Weeks (Deuteronomy 16:9). "Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; Then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord" (Leviticus 23:16). The Feast of Firstfruits is also known as Pentecost. The word Pentecost literally means "count fifty." In counting Pentecost, we start with the morrow after the Sabbath of the wave sheaf offering. The preposition from, which appears in most versions of Leviticus 23:15, is a mistranslation. The original Hebrew word is min, which means "starting with" or "inclusively." Starting to count 50 days beginning with the morrow after the Sabbath (Sunday), we always arrive at a Sunday, seven weeks later. Pentecost falls on the 50th day. But why does God require us to figure out when the Feast of Firstfruits comes? Why must we count 50 every year? Simply because the rest of God's plan depends on what God does through us, His seed. Just as our counting is crucial, so is our development crucial to the establishment of God's Kingdom (Romans 8:21-23). God goes on to instruct: "And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. it shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations" (Leviticus 23:21). Yes, the Feast of Firstfruits is commanded today, and is crucially relevant to the future of this world. For further proof, read our free booklet Pagan Holidays - or God's Holy Days - Which?
The children of Israel kept the Feast of Firstfruits, but they did not fulfill phase two. They failed to seed the world with God's way. On the very day of Pentecost, God gave Israel His law (Exodus 20). God showed them the way to live — the way that would produce the physical blessings of His Kingdom. God promised, "And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God" (Deuteronomy 28:2). Almighty God intended Israel to be the physical seed of His Kingdom. The Eternal proclaimed, "And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6). God wanted Israel to blossom and grow before all the nations on earth. He wanted to use the Israelites as seed to spread His way all over this world.
At this very moment God is planting the seeds of His firstfruits, which will sprout forth into the Kingdom of God.
The nations were to see and say: "'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the Lord our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him?" (Deuteronomy 4:6-7). Did Israel become the seed of the Kingdom? Did she fulfill God's purpose for the Feast of Firstfruits? No! "They did not keep the covenant of God; they refused to walk in His law, and forgot His works and His wonders that He had shown them" (Psalms 78:10-11). But why did Israel fail to fulfill its potential? Because God did not fertilize the seed. The Israelites were physically descended from Abraham, but they were not the spiritual seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:29). They did not have God's Holy Spirit! (Be sure to read Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong's article "Why Did God Raise Up the Nation Israel - and Deny Them Spiritual Salvation?" beginning on page 1 for more information.) God, in the wisdom of His love, blinded Israel during this phase of His plan (Romans 11:8). Why? "So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says the Lord who does all these things" (Acts 15:17).
Seeding, not saving
Contrary to popular religious opinion, God is not trying to save the world now. But the Feast of Firstfruits shows us that God is seeding the whole world now. Jesus Christ told His disciples that He deliberately hid the truth from the masses. Read the astounding truth for yourself in Matthew 13:10-17. The small size of the firstfruits harvest teaches us that God's first harvest of individuals, now just ahead, will be small. Jesus Christ called His Church a "little flock" (Luke 12:32). Throughout history God's Church has been small and persecuted. Jesus Christ explained, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44). The Greek word for church, ekklesia, literally means "called-out ones." God handpicks us, "that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures" (James 1:18). He is not trying to save the whole world now. Rather, He is seeding the whole world now with His firstfruits — the seeds of His Kingdom.
A worldwide seed
The biblical book of Ruth prophesied God's small but worldwide harvest. This touching love story overflows with firstfruits symbolism. Ruth, a widowed gentile of the land of Moab, typified the New Testament Church. Ruth followed her mother-in-law, Naomi, back to Israel. Naomi could be considered a type of the Holy Spirit, though the Holy Spirit is not a person. When Ruth and Naomi arrived, the firstfruits harvest was underway (Ruth 1:22). Ruth and Naomi were poor and destitute, but Naomi pointed Ruth to the rich landowner Boaz, a type of Jesus Christ. Boaz grew to love Ruth and married her. This true story pictures Christ's future marriage to the Church, which is composed of all peoples. Interestingly enough, the promised Seed, Jesus Christ, came from this marriage between a Jew and a gentile (Ruth 4:18-22). God, the Father of all nations, wants all people to be one spiritually in Jesus Christ. Through a special miracle, God led the apostle Peter to see that God's seed would consist of all people. Peter declared: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him" (Acts 10:34-35). Our eternal Father declares: "I will call them My people, who were not My people, and her beloved, who was not beloved. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people,' there they will be called sons of the living God" (Romans 9:25-26). Yes, God is forming a new Israel — a new seed in Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:29 tells us, "And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Today, instead of calling only one nation, God calls "out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9). From Yap to Ypsilanti, from Bonn to Bombay, God is seeding the world. Why is God calling His seed from all nations? Jesus Christ promises, "And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations" (Revelation 2:26). God's Kingdom will rule every nation on earth. That's why God calls His seed from all nationalities. This time God's nation — God's firstfruits — will not fail. Through physical Israel, God showed the creation of a peaceful, abundant society cannot be accomplished by man alone. It requires God's Holy Spirit — the very power of God. The King of the Kingdom of God declares, "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit" (Zechariah 4:6). On Sunday, June 17, A.D. 31, as Jesus' disciples kept the Feast of Firstfruits, God begot His Kingdom in embryo (Acts 2). God planted the seed of His Spirit in the minds of His called-out ones. God the Father guarantees the success of His firstfruits through the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14). With the supernatural help of God, we can live God's way. With His super power, we will fulfill our destiny.
God's Kingdom grows
Nothing can stop the advance of God's Kingdom now — not even Satan the devil (Luke 12:32). God has planted the seeds of His Kingdom, and those seeds are going to bear abundant fruit. Every physical seed carries the genetic codes required to produce the type of plant the seed produces. The Creator works the same way with His spiritual seed (I Corinthians 15:37-38). The Master's skillful hand is creating the qualities needed for His Kingdom inside His spiritual firstfruits. God writes the law or constitution of the Kingdom inside us by means of His Holy Spirit: "I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (Hebrews 8:10). And where is the territory of God's coming Kingdom? On the earth, initially (Revelation 5:10). Eventually, of course, God's Kingdom will expand to rule "all things" — this entire universe and untold others (Hebrews 2:8). Yes, the day approaches when the seeds of God's Kingdom will sprout all over this world with Jesus Christ. They shall establish the Kingdom of God (Daniel 2:44). Jesus said: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches" (Matthew 13:31-32).
Phase three: The Kingdom established
The Feast of Firstfruits, the seeding phase of God's plan, will produce the Kingdom of God. For His elect's sake, the Kingdom will be set up (Matthew 24:22). Phase three, the Kingdom phase, pictured by the great fall harvest, will be ushered in. As phase three of God's plan begins, Jesus Christ will return in great power and glory to change God's firstfruits into spirit beings (I Thessalonians 4:17). Jesus Christ will conquer the kingdoms of this world and set up His Kingdom with His resurrected saints (Revelation 2:26). The Feast of Trumpets pictures this heralded event. Next, Satan the devil, the cause of the world's problems, will be put away (Revelation 20:1-3), as pictured by the Day of Atonement. Then, for a thousand years, peace, prosperity and salvation will engulf the world (Micah 4:2-7). The Feast of Tabernacles reveals this wonderful truth. But what about all the blinded seed of mankind who lived and died? What will happen to them? After the thousand years they will be resurrected to physical life and given an opportunity to qualify for God's Kingdom (Revelation 20:3, 12, Ezekiel 37:1-14). God's master plan of salvation will finally be completed. What on earth is God doing? Right now, God is seeding His Kingdom in the lives of His firstfruits. Very soon now, those seeds will burst forth into eternal life to rule this world. So keep the Feast of Firstfruits, both physically and spiritually. Yield your life to the great sower — God. He will seed your life with His Spirit. Then you, with Jesus Christ, will change this world!