Religious Observances of A Peculiar People
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bible, please, to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 16.

Deuteronomy 16:

1Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.
2Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the Lord thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the Lord shall choose to place his name there.
3Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.
4And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coast seven days; neither shall there any thing of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst the first day at even, remain all night until the morning.
5Thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any of thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee:
6But at the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt.
7And thou shalt roast and eat it in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose: and thou shalt turn in the morning, and go unto thy tents.
8Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord thy God: thou shalt do no work therein.
9Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn.
10And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the Lord thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the Lord thy God, according as the Lord thy God hath blessed thee:
11And thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which the Lord thy God hath chosen to place his name there.
12And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt: and thou shalt observe and do these statutes.
13Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine:
14And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates.
15Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord shall choose: because the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice.
16Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty:
17Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee.

We are going to stop our reading right there because the remaining verses of chapter 16 actually belong to chapter 17, which we will be considering, the Lord willing, in our next lesson.

Review

We want to refresh our minds a bit by way of review, so will you keep in mind that with this lesson, we come to the end of the second part of the second speech which Moses made during this forty day period that the Isaelites were encamped on the borders of the land of Canaan, waiting to go across. In our study thus far, we have learned in the first four chapters, which constituted the first speech that Moses made, that he reminded them of their failures and unfaithfulness to remind them that when they did go into the land, failures would arise again, but God would still remain faithful.

How glad we all ought to be that God is faithful even in the midst of our failures. We are reminded of Paul's word to Timothy in II Timothy, chapter 2, verse 13: “Though we are unbelieving, yet God abideth faithful. He cannot deny Himself.”

We have been looking at Moses' second speech for some days because this speech begins with chapter 5 and goes all the way through chapter 26. In chapters 5-11, you will remember that Moses reviewed what we referred to as the moral law of God or what we know more familiarly as the Ten Commandments. We noticed that as he reviewed the moral law of God, all he did was to amplify and exhort. There was no need to change anything because the moral law of God remains the same through any age.

We emphasized then, and we would re-emphasize, that that is a good thing to keep in mind when we are being pushed to make the church and the Bible relevant to the age in which we live. It is not the Word that needs changing. It is the age that needs changing, and I for one—I have to emphasize this because I find even some of my friends changing their position on this—plan to stand on the same platform which I have stood for thirty years, and I am not going to become amenable to the age in order to reach men. I don't believe it is necessary. I believe the Word of God will reach the hearts of men under the power of the Holy Spirit.

When Moses began to discuss the ceremonial law, which he did in that portion which began with chapter 12 and continued through the portion of the Word which we just read to you, we discovered that the primary purpose of the ceremonial law was to emphasize that the people of Israel were a peculiar people. We pointed out to you that that word peculiar did not mean that they were odd. It did not mean that they were stupid. The word peculiar really is a word that describes a people for God's own possession. It is the equivalent word in the Greek.

We learned that it was found in Titus, chapter 2, where God reminded us that the Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself to redeem us and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. The Greek word translated by the English word peculiar is the word that describes a people for His own possession.

In this discussion related to the ceremonial law, we discovered that the ceremonial law was given to Israel so that all who came in contact with her might know that she particularly belonged to God. We have noticed several times this peculiarity because it is a peculiarity for people who especially belong to the Lord. There are several signs of that peculiarity. One of them we learned was that continual and constant obedience was demanded and expected on the part of these people, and we noticed that there were certain things to which they were to adhere—certain practices to which they were to adhere as proof of the fact that they were God's peculiar people. Then we noticed, perhaps in reverse order, there were certain practices which they were to avoid as proof of the fact that they are God's peculiar people.

Three Great Truths

We are now going to see that they were marked as God's peculiar people by three great feasts—three great religious observances which they were to observe every year. Look again at the paragraph which begins with verse 16:

Deuteronomy 16:

16Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose;[number 1] in the feast of unleavened bread, and [number 2]in the feast of weeks, and [number 3]in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty:

Three times a year all the men of Israel must go to Jerusalem. This did not exclude family, but oftentimes the families could not go for various reasons. That did not excuse the head of the house from going. You will recall in the case of Hannah and her husband, Hannah was unable to go to Jerusalem. She was left behind at home and her husband went to Jerusalem on these feast days and met God's obligation, interceding for Hannah that she who had been barren might give forth a child.

If you are thinking about what you have studied in the book of Leviticus, particularly chapter 23, you are probably wondering why there are three feast days emphasized in view of the fact that in Leviticus, chapter 3, there were eight religious observances emphasized including the Sabbath. There was the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of First Fruits, the Feast of Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks as it is called here, the Feast of the Trumpets, the feast known as the Day of Atonement, and then the Feast of Tabernacles. Eight feasts, yet in this portion of the Word of God, only three are mentioned as being obligatory.

The normal thing is to ask the question, “Why?” Of course, the critics say, “Well, folk are just mixed up. One man wrote it one way in Leviticus and another man wrote it another way in Deuteronomy.” I do not think that we need to take that position at all. I think one observation we can make is that the book of Leviticus was particularly the priest's guide book, and in the book of Leviticus instructions were given for the priest to observe in a very special manner. The book of Deuteronomy is the book of the people, and so these three feasts were particularly obligatory on the people without exception.

This is a simple reason, but you will recall that we have been studying the book of Deuteronomy from the standpoint of the truth found in I Corinthians, chapter 10, mainly that all of these things were written for our types, for our examples, for practical application. I see no particular point in studying the Old Testament purely from a historical standpoint. If we cannot find applications which we can make to our own lives, then we are not going to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as we should, so I would say to you that I believe there is a spiritual reason that these three feasts are given. I believe the spiritual reason lies within their significance.

Significance of the Feasts

We are not going to look at them in detail since we did that in the book of Leviticus. Recalling what we learned then, you will remember that the Feast of the Passover, or the Feast of Unleavened Bread as it is referred to here, represents our redemption as it was accomplished through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Feast of Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks, we learned represented the coming of the Holy Spirit to the earth and marked the beginning of the intercessory work of the Lord Jesus Christ in our behalf. You will remember that the Lord Jesus Christ said that the Holy Spirit could not come until He went away. When He went away He would send the Holy Spirit who would live within our hearts and make intercession for us as He indwelt us while the Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of the throne of God made intercession for us in Heaven.

The third feast mentioned, the Feast of Tabernacles, we learned speaks of the millennial reign of Christ which is to come upon the earth when the Lord Jesus Christ returns in glory. So symbolically speaking, we have presented to us in these three feasts redemption, the intercessory work of the Lord Jesus Christ and His millennial reign upon the earth as He returns.

May I pause long enough to say that though we see in these three feasts these significances, it is not to suggest to you that the children of Israel saw such a significance in them. The reason that we call your attention to that is oftentimes when we attempt to point out the spiritual significance of Old Testament passages of Scripture, individuals will say, “Do you mean to say the Israelites knew that?” No. the Israelites did not realize the significance that we are suggesting to you because the Holy Spirit has pointed out this significance after the New Testament was written and after the Holy Spirit came to earth.

An Illustration of Unity

I would like for you to notice with me a few examples of how the Scriptures present a marvelous illustration of unity in that these three things that I refer to are always mentioned together in the Word of God. Keep in mind we are talking about the Feast of the Passover, the Feast of Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Keep in mind we said that the Feast of the Passover represents redemption. The Feast of Pentecost represents the coming of the Holy Spirit and the intercessory work of the Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of the throne of God, and the Feast of Tabernacles represents the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to reign upon the earth.

I said that I want you to see by way of example how these three things are always mentioned together in the Scripture. Certainly we will not attempt to look at all of these things, just a sampling of what we can find in the Scripture to verify our suggestion. So will you turn with me to the book of Psalms and notice Psalm 22, particularly. It has been pointed out to you before that Psalms 22-24 represent a trilogy, a triplicate of emphasis. In Psalm 22, we find the Lord Jesus Christ presented to us as a Good Shepherd who gives His life for His sheep. We will not take the time to read all of the Psalm, reading just a few verses. You will recognize words which are quoted in the New Testament as actually being part of the Calvary experience. For example, you will notice in Psalm 22, verse 1:

Psalms 22:

1My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

You will recognize those words as being the words which fell from the lips of the Savior as He hung upon the Cross. Glance down at verse 7, where we read:

Psalms 22:

7All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
8He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

You will remember that these words were quoted there. Then down in verse 14:

Psalm 22:

14I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
15My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

You will recognize that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered so upon the Cross that all of His bones, indeed, were out of joint and yet not a bone was broken. In verse 18 is a very realistic scene that occurred at the foot of the Cross:

Psalm 22:

18They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

How thrilling it is to recognize that David could write so clearly of the crucifixion of the Savior thousands of years before it ever came to pass. I suggest to you along the line we are thinking that Psalm 22 compares favorably with the Feast of the Passover.

Psalm 23 needs only a mere mention because it is so familiar to you: “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want…” Why is it that the sheep doesn't want? Because the Lord is the Shepherd. And what does that have to do with it? Because the Shepherd provides for the sheep, and you are told in this passage of Scripture how the Shepherd makes provision for sheep. This, of course, describes very beautifully the Great Shepherd of the sheep Who makes intercession for us at the right hand of the throne of God even now. This would compare very favorably, then, with the Feast of Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks.

You will notice Psalm 24:

Psalms 24:

1The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

There is only one time that the earth will belong to the Lord. There is only one time when all that dwell therein will bow their knee to Him and that is during the millennial reign of Christ. You will notice down in verse 7, the Psalmist cries out:

Psalms 24:

7Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
8Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.

There is only one time that Jesus Christ is called The King of Glory , and that is when He returns to this earth. So this Psalm presents a Chief Shepherd of the sheep. Psalm 22, the Good Shepherd Who gives His life for the sheep. Psalm 23, the Great Shepherd Who intercedes for the sheep, and Psalm 24, the Chief Shepherd Who someday will return to this earth to take care of both sheep and the undershepherd. Psalm 24 compares very favorably to the Feast of Tabernacles which, of course, represents the millennial reign of Christ.

Go with me to the Gospel of John, chapter 10, and notice another illustration of this triplicate of truth, this trilogy of emphasis, where the Feast of Pentecost, the Feast of Passover, and the Feast of Tabernacles is illustrated. Notice in verse 11 the declaration of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, when He said:

John 10:

11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

See how this compares with Psalm 22. Turn with me, please, to the book of Hebrews, chapter 13, and notice an additional word of emphasis. Notice verse 20:

Hebrews 13:

20Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,[notice now] that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
21Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Notice the phrase, “that great shepherd of the sheep.” Notice that the Great Shepherd of the sheep is related to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and notice that the ministry of the Great Shepherd of the sheep is not to say the Good Shepherd does that. The ministry of the Great Shepherd of the sheep is to make us perfect. How are we going to be made perfect? Through the intercessory work of the Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of God. Remember Romans, chapter 8, verse 34:

Romans 8:

34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

That is the only reason there is no condemnation—because He makes intercession. Turn to I Peter, chapter 5, and notice verse 1:

I Peter 5:

1The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of [notice the phrase] the glory that shall be revealed:
2 [The undershepherds are addressed with] Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
4And [notice this verse particularly] when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Notice the phrase, “the chief shepherd.” Notice the phrases related to the word glory , “a return of the Lord Jesus Christ in glory.” This phrase, “the chief Shepherd,” represents the third of the trilogy. In John, chapter 10, “the good Shepherd.” In Hebrews, chapter 13, “the great Shepherd.” In I Peter, chapter 5, “the chief Shepherd.” The Feast of the Passover—the Good Shepherd; the Feast of Pentecost—the Great Shepherd; the Feast of Tabernacles—the Chief Shepherd.

Look with me at Hebrews, chapter 9, where you will find the trilogy that we have suggested to you even more closely compacted together. In Hebrews, chapter 9, notice verse 23. Hebrews, chapter 9, is describing the Old Testament tabernacle, its feasts and its symbolism; and we are reminded that they were but a shadow, a sign or a type of New Testament things. So you see, we are perfectly in order to see in these three feast days something related to our Lord Jesus Christ because it is very plainly stated here. Notice verse 23:

Hebrews 9:

23It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
24 [Now notice especially] For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
25Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
26For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
28So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Let me re-emphasize the verses. Verse 24: Notice the phrase particularly, “now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Verse 26: “hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Then verse 28: “shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Though they are not given in the order that the feasts were presented or the order in which we have been discussing, they are all here. Verse 26: ”hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself,” compares with the Feast of the Passover. It compares with Psalm 22. It compares with the Good Shepherd. In verse 24: ”now to appear in the presence of God for us,” compares with the Feast of Pentecost. It compares with Psalm 23. It compares with, “the great Shepherd of the sheep.” Then verse 28: “shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation,” compares with the Feast of Tabernacles. It compares with Psalm 24. It compares with “the Chief Shepherd of the sheep.” So if we are asked the question, “Why are just three feasts emphasized here in Deuteronomy, chapter 16?”, we believe it is because this is the truth that God would have us ever keep in mind—that our Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins. He appears today in the presence of God to pray for us, and someday He is coming again to receive us unto Himself.

Go back to Deuteronomy, chapter 16. There are a few additional details that we would like to emphasize about these three feasts that we believe might be of some significance to us. For example, in relation to the Feast of the Passover, a great deal of emphasis is placed upon the phrase, “unleavened bread and leavened bread,” so much so that in verse 16, the feast is not even called the Feast of the Passover . It is called the Feast of Unleavened Bread. You will notice in verse 3:

Deuteronomy 16:

3Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it…

Down in verse 4:

Deuteronomy 16:

4And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee…

Then down in verse 8:

Deuteronomy 16:

8Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread…

Foundation of God Stands Sure

Surely God's placing so much emphasis upon the phrase, “leavened bread” has a spiritual significance that should not be ignored. We would remind you that leaven in the Word of God is always a type of sin. So if the suggestion is made that the Passover Feast be observed without any leaven in the household or about the person, it would seem to indicate to us what the Apostle Paul has phrased so clearly in II Timothy, chapter 2, verse 19. The Apostle emphasizes a truth that I believe will be fixed more firmly in your minds if we just let him say it for us instead of my paraphrasing it or talking about it over a length of time. Notice verse 19:

II Timothy 2:

19Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his…

Depart From Iniquity

If we would stop right there, we would have a wonderful truth indeed. How good it is to know that the foundation of God stands sure. Based upon this fact, the Lord knows those who are His. But will you notice what else is written upon that foundation:

II Timothy 2:

19…And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

It is good to be assured of our relationship to the Lord, that we know Him and He knows us, but it also involves a responsibility and that responsibility is, “Let him that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” I suggest to you that the reason for the emphasis on the absence of leaven is to remind us that those who are redeemed should depart from iniquity.

We call your attention to a familiar passage of Scripture which would emphasize this even more. Turn to I Corinthians, chapter 5. I say that this is a more familiar passage of Scripture because we have looked at it at other times in connection with our Old Testament study, but it will be good to see it in its connection. You will remember that the Corinthian believers were tolerating sin within their assembly. They were not even concerned about it and the Apostle said in verse 6, “Your glorying is not good.” As a matter of fact, they were not only not concerned, they were rather proud of the fact that they were liberal enough that a man who lived in such sin would be welcome within their midst. He said:

I Corinthians 5:

6Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. [If you are unleavened, God has made you new. Now purge out this old leaven.] For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I suggest to you that one of the lessons God would have us learn in relation to the Israelites being a peculiar people is that they ate the Passover with unleavened bread and, by way of application to our own hearts, a way that He wants us to be a peculiar people, as far as the world is concerned, is that we live dedicated, separated lives unto Christ.

This is not to suggest to you that you will never sin, but it is to suggest to you that you should not tolerate sin in your life; and as soon as the Holy Spirit brings it to your attention, you should take advantage of I John, chapter 1, verse 9:

I John 1:

9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The Bread of Affliction

Probably you noticed one other reference to bread back in Deuteronomy, chapter 16, and that was in verse 3, a reference to the bread of affliction. This unleavened bread which they ate was called the bread of affliction . I wonder why. One of the reasons is that they were delivered from Egypt at a great cost. Another reason, I believe, that God would put it here in the book is to remind us that perhaps all of us should give more consideration to what it means that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and wondering if in this day we do not have too loose an emphasis upon this great truth of Christ's death in our behalf. I wonder if we ought not to recognize more exactly what it cost Him in our behalf.

Back in Deuteronomy we would point out one or two other things related to some of these other feasts. For example, if you will notice in relation to the Feast of Weeks, or the Feast of Pentecost, in verse 10, emphasis is placed upon the fact that when they come to this feast, they should come with a tribute of a freewill offering of their own hand, that they should give unto the Lord God according as the Lord God hath blessed. Look over at the last part of verse 16:

Deuteronomy 16:

16…and they shall not appear before the Lord empty:
17Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee.

The Grace of Giving

You will recognize an emphasis upon grace. Oftentimes we say that the giving of the Israelite was based upon law, the law of the tithe. That is not an accurate statement. If you follow through all of the Scriptures which are related to the giving of the Israelites, you will discover that the Israelites gave nearly one third of their income to the Lord, yet we are rather boastful if we give one tenth, and some of us don't even want to do that. But this was the prompting of the Spirit of God. The Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Pentecost, introduces the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. As we are told in these verses, they should not come before the Lord empty, but they should come generously before the Lord.

We are reminded of what we read, and we won't take the time to turn to it, but in II Corinthians, chapter 8, we are told that God is able to make all grace abound unto us, that we might have all sufficiency in all things unto every good work. This is not a matter of doing because you have to; it is a matter of doing because you want to.

The Feast of Joy

You will notice in relation to verse 11 the emphasis upon joy in relation to the Feast of Pentecost: “Thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou and thy son and thy daughter…” This illustrates the fact that in this dispensation of the Holy Spirit, in this age of the Spirit of God, we are to be joyful. You recall to mind Ephesians, chapter 5, verses 18-20:

Ephesians 5:

18And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
19Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
20Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

One of the signs of the Israelites being a peculiar people before the Lord was their Feast of Pentecost which was a feast of joy. That reminded all of the heathen people about them that they had something in which they could rejoice, and we should be able to give this same sign of peculiarity to the world. If the world has not asked you why you are different, then you are not peculiar. Think about that, will you? If you have to wear dresses, clothing, hairdos to let people know that you are peculiar, you have not let the Holy Spirit operate in your life as He wants to operate, for it is not the peculiarity of dress or custom which makes us the peculiar people of God. It is the peculiarity of our personality. We are different and the world ought to be able to see that difference.

Look at verse 13, and notice in relation to the Feast of the Tabernacle, two significant things about it:

Deuteronomy 16:

13Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine:

The Rapture and the Revelation

There were two harvests which were to precede the Feast of the Tabernacles: The harvest of the corn—really wheat—and then the harvest of the wine or, more accurately, the harvest of the grapes. You say, “Well, I don't know that that has any particular spiritual significance, does it?” To what did we tell you the Feast of Tabernacles referred? We said it referred to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the establishment of His millennial reign upon the earth. Is the Word of God consistent? Yes. It does dovetail together, every piece fitting into perfect pattern. Let me give you an illustration. Turn in your Bibles, please, to Revelation, chapter 14. This chapter gives you a little preview of what is going to occur at the very end of the Tribulation and at the very beginning of the millennial reign of Christ. Notice the paragraph which begins with verse 14. John said:

Revelation 14:

14And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
15And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
16And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.

I suggest to you that that reaping refers to what the Holy Spirit calls the Harvest of the Corn or what I refer to as the Harvest of the Wheat . I remind you again that wheat in the Bible is a symbol of the believer, a symbol of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. So this represents a reaping of the Church—that is, the gathering of the wheat into the barn, as Matthew describes it—a Rapture of the Church, if you please. At the end of the age, the Lord Jesus Christ is going to reap a harvest of all who belong to Him, a reaping of the wheat before the Feast of Tabernacles could begin. Before the millennial reign of Christ occurs, there must be the Rapture of the Church, and before the millennial reign of Christ occurs, there must be another reaping, so in verse 18, we read:

Revelation 14:

18And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
19And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
20And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.

The second reaping compares to the Harvest of the Wine that was mentioned in Deuteronomy, chapter 16. Of course, we know as we compare Scripture with Scripture that between verse 17 and verse 18 there is a period of something like seven years because the Rapture comes before the Tribulation. Wheat is gathered into the barn before the grapes are put into the winepress. Just as certainly as in Deuteronomy, chapter 16, before the Feast of the Tabernacles could actually occur, there had to be a harvest of the corn and the harvest of the wine, so before the millennial reign of Christ, there has to be the Rapture of the Church and then the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ in glory as He visits His wrath upon all men.

“Where Two or Three are Gathered”

Back to Deuteronomy, chapter 16, for one last thought that I would leave with you. Probably you noticed as we read the chapter, the emphasis upon the place. Did you notice how in this chapter they were instructed that they could not observe these feasts in their own home or in any particular place that they decided upon, but only in the place which the Lord should choose to place His name. Notice that phrase in verse 2:

Deuteronomy 16:

2Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the Lord thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the Lord shall choose to place his name there.

We will not take the time to read all of the verses but you will find that same phrase repeated in verses 6, 7, 11, 15, and 16. What lesson is there in that for us? A lesson, this time not by way of comparison, but by way of contrast. In the Old Testament, the important thing was the place. In the New Testament, the important thing is the person. In this New Testament age, we are not told to go anywhere specifically to worship the Lord. We are not told to be in any certain place. Rather, we are told in Ephesians, chapter 1, verse 3, that we are in Christ. Therefore, we are told that the place isn't important at all because in Matthew, chapter 18, verse 20, we are reminded that, “where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst.” Where is the place of worship in this age of grace? This place is. Why? Well, you can say it was built for this purpose, but if the believers in whom dwell the Lord Jesus Christ never came to this place, it would not be worth a thing as a place of worship. The only time that Christ is here is when you are gathered together in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Conclusion

We like beautiful places to worship. Our hearts are always filled with gratitude to God for His provision of this lovely place. I think that it is in keeping with our love for Him to have whatever He provides as far as loveliness is concerned. I would emphasize to you that this place would be nothing without the Lord Jesus Christ. “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I.”


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