Sukkot, Part 3: The Ingathering

Shavuot Harvest Festival, Kibbutz Shoval
Image by delayed gratification via Flickr

As previously noted, one of the names for this Feast is the Ingathering:  “And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of Ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field” (Exo. 23:16, KJV).  We saw that in the Feasts of HaBikkurim (Firstfruits) and Shavuot (Pentecost, or Weeks) that the harvest represented God’s people:  In Firstfruits, Yeshua our Messiah rose as the Firstfruits of the dead, the rest of the harvest representing all of us who follow Him in Resurrection.  In the Feast of Weeks, the firstfruits of the wheat harvest represent the firstfruits of God’s people who received His Torah and His Spirit within them, with the rest of the harvest representing all those who follow.  Kasdan writes, “The lesson is clear: if God has been faithful to bless us with this early harvest, he will most certainly provide the harvest of later summer” (God’s Appointed Times, p. 40).

The Ingathering changes this pattern:  Where in the other two Feasts, the first ripe grains were presented before the rest of the field was ready for reaping, in the Ingathering, Israel waited until the harvest was completed to come before the Holy One’s Temple with the firstfruits of the harvest, which were set aside beforehand to fulfill the command, “The first of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God” (Exo. 23:19).  Where the spring Feasts look to the beginning of God’s plan of redemption, Sukkot looks to the end.

Nevertheless, though presented at the end of the harvest rather than at the beginning, the offering of the firstfruits is still an integral part of the Feast of Tabernacles.  Just as the fall feastdays of the Trumpets and Atonement speak of the events surrounding the Second Coming, the fall harvest does as well.  Thus we see that Amos identifies Israel with “the latter growth after the king’s harvest” (Amos 7:1), the King’s harvest being the Ekklesia.   Thus, the 144,000 are “not the first-fruit of all the saved . . . but a first fruit of another and particular harvest; the first-fruit of the Jewish field, in that new beginning with the Israelitish people” (Seiss, Apocalypse, p. 354).

One thing that struck me about this third firstfruits offering is that it is handled opposite of the Feasts of Firstfruits and Weeks.  In those other firstfruits offerings, the offering was to be presented to the Holy One before the rest was reaped.  In Sukkot, however, the offering is made after the general harvest.   Why is this?  Part of it is practical:  Delaying in harvesting the fruit of the tree and the vine could result in damage to the crop.

But part of it was prophetic.  Before the general Resurrection, Yeshua had to be Raised as the firstfruits of those who are asleep (1Co. 15:20).  Before the full harvest of Israel and the Ekklesia could be brought in, the firstfruits had to be raised up and presented to the Holy One.  But here, the Ingathering of the 144,000 occurs after the harvest of the Land–because the 144,000 would not be presented before Hashem until after Israel was restored to the Land in 1948.  Thus, Ezekiel prophesies,

Therefore tell the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: I don’t do this for your sake, house of Israel, but for my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations, where you went.   I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.  For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land.  I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.  I will also give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.  I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my ordinances, and do them. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. (Ezk. 36:22-28)

Therefore prophesy, and tell them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, my people; and I will bring you into Eretz-Israel.  You shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, and caused you to come up out of your graves, my people.  I will put my Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land: and you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it, says the LORD.  (Ezk. 37:12-14)

First Israel will be brought back to the Land–and so she has–and only then will she be purified of sin, given a new heart and a renewed Spirit.  And just as the giving of the Spirit began with a firstfruits of 120 in an upper room in Jerusalem, so this renewal of the whole nation will begin with the firstfruits of the 144,000–but the harvest, the whole nation, would be in the Land first.

We are truly living in prophetic times.  And since we have been privileged to live in a time when we can see the Hand of God working His wonders, it is all the more incumbent on us to serve Him with our whole hearts, to work diligently in the fields until the time to rest and rejoice in the Kingdom has come.


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