Holy Spirit Part 5: The Great Harvest of God

Acts 2:16-21 “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
We studied this passage out of Acts last week. As the disciples were being obedient to Jesus by tarrying (waiting) in Jerusalem, they received the promise of the Father, which was the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and they began speaking in other tongues.
One very important point that was emphasized last time was that the purpose of the power received from the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49) was to be witnesses for God's kingdom.
I find it extremely interesting that in the first Holy Spirit filled message Peter not only preaches Jesus, His sacrifice, and His resurrection, but he also refers to Joel’s prophecy about the end days when God's wrath will be poured out upon unrepentant man. In between the time frame of this outpouring of the Holy Spirit, taking place, during the festival of Pentecost (50 days after Passover) and the outpouring of judgment Peter referred to from Joel's prophecy, is the time frame in which we are currently living known as the "Church Age."

As we move forward, we will see that there is rich symbolism contained within the Old Testament and specifically the feast of Pentecost surrounding the great harvest of God.
In order to properly understand the points I will attempt to make, the reader should be aware that the church age, for the purposes of this teaching, represents the great harvest of God, which is broken down into two parts: the day of Pentecost would represent the beginning of the harvest time (first fruits); whereas, the end of the harvest (the ingathering), or the end of the ages is where God will reap His harvest from the earth, separating the wheat from the chaff (Matt 3:12), is rapidly approaching.


In addition, there is the concept of Israel’s seasons, which were paramount for their harvest. I will mention this again, but Israel’s former rain occurred in the beginning of the harvest season, preparing the soil for the reception of seed, and the latter rain occurred towards the end of the season, allowing the harvest to become more full and plentiful. Whereas, the feasts I spoke of previously specifically represent the harvest itself from the beginning to the end-- the church age, the rains represent the descending of God’s Spirit: both the former rain (Pentecost) and possibly the latter rain (Azusa Street). I believe these events are God pouring out His Spirit upon the earth for the purpose of preparing and producing His harvest.
Exodus 34:18 “The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt.”
The feast of unleavened bread coincided with the feast of Passover. In essence, they were one and the same. The Passover feast was a specific meal celebrated upon a specific day, which began the week long feast of unleavened bread.
Regarding the Passover, as we have discussed multiple times, it was a sacrifice that God required of Israel as a memorial every year (Exodus 12:14). The purpose of the remembrance was to keep on the forefront of Israel's mind the salvation and deliverance God provided for them when He brought them out of Egyptian slavery.
The killing of the Passover and remembrance of the painting of its blood served as an annual reminder that God's wrath was assuaged and moved away from the obedient Israelite and placed upon the slain lamb. It was their faith obedience in the slain lamb that made them different than the Egyptians around them who incurred the judgment and wrath of God upon their firstborn the night of the first Passover.
Amazingly, this festival was kept every year as God demanded and then one Passover night, 1500 years later, outside a city called Jerusalem, a man named Jesus, who John the Baptist had previously said was, "The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," was betrayed, arrested and crucified. And approximately 30 years after that Paul would say, "Purge out therefore the old leaven that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:" 1 Corinthians 5:7
The reference to the "leaven" in the Corinthian passage brings me to my next point. The Feast of unleavened bread was all about inspection of the house and removal of sin. As noted in the verse above, Paul says that we are to remove all leaven from our lives. Leaven is the same as yeast, and it’s repeatedly used to represent sin in the Bible.
Yearly, during the feast of unleavened bread, the Israelites were commanded by God to inspect and remove leaven (sin) from their environment and only allowed to eat unleavened bread during the week of this feast.
Within these first two required feasts, some main ideas are emphasized: (1) God has brought deliverance for His people, and this was accomplished through the shedding of innocent blood (2) Sin is something that God takes seriously. He demands its removal from our lives and "diets."
Ultimately, Jesus is the fulfillment of these truths. As already pointed out Paul explained that Jesus was our Passover; therefore, we should purge out the old leaven. Instead, of eating the bread of sin-- what the world offers, we are to eat the bread of life-- what God offered.
Exodus 34:22 “And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks {Pentecost}, of the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end.”
These are the other two feasts that God required the men of Israel to observe in their worship of Him.
The Feast of Weeks was another name for Pentecost. It began 50 (Pente) days after Passover. This feast celebrated the beginning of the harvest season.
It was on the day of Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected, approximately a week after He ascended to the Father that the Spirit of God descended upon the disciples and the church was born.
It's imperative that we realize all the typology occurring here. The reader can think all this is accidental if he chooses, or he/ she can believe that the God they serve is powerful enough to establish these feasts thousands of years beforehand, demanding His people observe them yearly to keep them ever before the mind, so that when the time of their true fulfillment arrived, the people of God, established through faith in His plan, would be able to see the intricacy and detail He planned salvation with, so that the more they were willing to search the treasures of His Word, the more they would realize how real all this is.
So the Feast of Weeks/ Pentecost was the first fruits of the harvest. And the Feast of Ingathering was a feast to celebrate the conclusion of the harvest season. I want to make myself clear, "I’m seeing within these passages: Passover is the cross, Pentecost is the birth of the church and beginning of the church age, and the Feast of Ingathering is the end of the age, the end of the great "harvest" of God.
As should be obvious by now, "harvest" is the pervasive theme of this teaching. Another concept extremely important to Israel's harvest was the former and the latter rains. There is no reason to wait for a big reveal; the point tonight is to help the disciple see the importance of the Holy Spirit's work in the great harvest of God.
Just as the rain descended from the heavens preparing the soil for the reception of seed (former rain), and at the end of the season, the rains would descend from heaven in order to "fatten" or enrich the harvest, the Holy Spirit descended on Pentecost, preparing the soul of the church age to receive the seed of God's Word.
Furthermore, it's this writer's contention and many others before him that the Azusa Street Revival, taking place in Los Angeles, California, at the turn of the 20th century, was the latter rain of God "fattening" the harvest, preparing it for its reaping.
In some of the following passages, the emphasis is upon the former and latter rains of Israel in the Old Testament. Israel was completely dependent upon these rains in order for their crops to be successful. Unlike the world (Egypt), who could readily plan their seed and harvest times based upon the regularity of the Nile's inundation, Israel was dependent upon God to send the rain.
As we will see in many of the following passages, the context surrounds harvest, the rains, and judgment because God's people weren't concerning themselves with God's desires. Therefore, because, God's people, called by His name, didn't concern themselves about the spiritual, He withheld what they needed in the physical.
In a similar fashion, many Christians cry out to God to move in their physical circumstances; yet, they, and their preachers alike refuse to concern themselves with the pressing issue at hand-- GOD's HARVEST!!
Hosea 6:1-3 (790-739 BC) “Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.  Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.
At this point in Israel's history, there is still hope. In other words, captivity can still be averted. God is pleading with His people through the prophets to come to their senses, repent, and serve Him. If they do, the promise is that His presence will descend upon them just as the former and latter rains descend upon their physical land.
Jeremiah 5:20-24(582 BC) “Declare this in the house of Jacob, and publish it in Judah, saying, Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not: Fear ye not me? saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it:and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it? But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone. Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.”
During this time-frame, Israel the, Northern Kingdom had remained disobedient and were brought under the captivity of Assyria and Judah is about to be brought under the bondage of Babylon.
God speaking through the prophet Jeremiah is reminding the people of His power, and His awareness of their disobedience. Just as He has the power to tell the waves where they must stop, He also has the power to with hold the former and latter rains, which were of absolute necessity for a successful harvest.
Joel 2:23-26
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God:
for he hath given you the former rain moderately,
and he will cause to come down for you the rain,
the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
 And the floors shall be full of wheat,
and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil.
 And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten,
the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm,
my great army which I sent among you.
 And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the Lord your God,
that hath dealt wondrously with you:
and my people shall never be ashamed.... Joel 2:28-32
And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh;
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
your young men shall see visions:
 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids
in those days will I pour out my spirit.
 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth,
blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood,
before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.
 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance,
as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.

God promises in the first part of this passage to supply Israel with what they need in order for them to physically prosper. He would send the former and latter rains in order to bless them abundantly; furthermore, He promises to restore unto them what has been devoured because of their disobedience. The reference of this passage speaks of His promise to restore the aftermath of Israel's disobedience when they return to His ways.
The truth is that the kingdom of God has always worked this way. When His people rebel against Him, their physical lives are oftentimes directly affected. While many may say, "I've known people that rebelled and made more money during those times than ever before." Ok, but what about their emotional and mental state? I can assure you that when people move in a direction opposite of God's will for their lives there will be repercussions whether it be financial, mental, social, emotional...
Sadly, in these modern days, where man promises to have the answers fixing problems originating from the fall,  "Christians" scurry to and fro looking to man to fix the ordeal they have brought upon themselves as though the Psychiatrist, the friend with a bottle of pain pills or Xanax, or the loan officer is going to be able to stop the spiritual landslide that's occurring.
Actually, it’s an inaccurate statement on my part to draw the reader's attention only to modern times; instead, we should be made aware that since the fall, man has corporately pulled together in opposition against God, building a society without Him, which focuses on the niceties of a better physical life while ignoring the spiritual reality of death and decay around them.
As life gets "easier," it becomes more difficult for some to recognize that something is wrong and that the answer is, "God must be embraced." On the other hand, some are beginning to see through the façade, that while technology abounds, the stability of the human race continues its spiraling descent towards moral depravity-- man's intellect and ingenuity cannot resolve the spiritual issue at hand. More specifically, with regards to this thought, from Cain's descendants, through Nimrod at Babel, man is seen both defying God and attempting to make his life better for himself through ingenuity.
Jubal, a descendant of Cain is one of many pre-flood examples of what I'm talking about. According to the Bible's testimony, he was the first to produce musical instruments, so from the people of the world, Cain's descendants, rather than Seth's, music was given to the world. By now, Christians should know Lucifer was created with music in him (Isaiah 14:11). Therefore, we should expect he would have his claws within the music of the world. Most people would say, "But I don't listen to bad stuff. I only listen to stuff that reminds me of happier times, stuff that makes me feel better." And here is a perfect example: music, which affects the soul (mind, will, and emotions) offers an alternative to ease discomfort.
Some would say, "Come on man give me a break. I'm not smoking dope or taking pain pills, and you have a problem with my harmless music?" You do what you want with your own life, but I will tell you this, "If you're subconsciously turning on the music of the world for a "pick me up," (it has been proven by the way that music changes the levels of serotonins and dopamine in the brain, which are the neurotransmitters that regulate mood [low levels-- depression, high levels-- elevated mood]) then you aren't turning on worship music, spending time in God's presence and learning how to cast your cares on Him:
1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
John 4:34-38 “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour:other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.”

This whole chapter is an awesome lesson, but the point I want to make here is a little more obscure within the text. In this story of the Samaritan woman, the whole reason that Jesus was left alone with her was because His disciples had gone looking for food because they had been on a day’s journey and was hungry.
After their long search and Jesus' long conversation with the woman, they are completely focused on the here and now; they're focused on eating physical food; whereas, Jesus' focus is on accomplishing His Father's will.
Furthermore, when He speaks about the few months until the harvest and mentions the fact that the harvest is white and ready, the disciples undoubtedly are looking at the flowing grain as it moves back and forth from the blowing wind; however, the eyes of the Lord are focused on the return of the Samaritan woman and the town's people following her because they represent lost souls.
The point to the whole teaching tonight was to emphasize the Holy Spirit's role to make the believer aware of the urgency regarding God's harvest. Furthermore, if we will focus on God's desires, He promises to take care of our needs.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”