I spent years growing up on my Grandfather’s working farm. We grew vegetables, fruits, hay and chickens. The cows and horses were gone before I was born. While I didn’t really appreciate the work when I was little, I have remembered it quite fondly for a number of decades since the final sweat was washed away. The farm had been in my family for quite a number of generations. Contrary to what my grandchildren may presume, we did have working tractors, bailing equipment, electricity and indoor plumbing. However, a great deal of the work was still done by hand. This was the timeframe when family farms were still dissolving into a completely different national commercial structure.
The three great harvest feasts
The former Egyptian slaves inherited an agricultural lifestyle in the promised land. The three great harvests were associated with three great feast weeks. The Feast of Unleavened Bread marked the barley and flax harvest. The Feast of Firstfruits (also known as the Feast of Weeks and Pentecost) identified the wheat harvest. The Feast of Tabernacles coincided with the vineyard harvest which was soon followed by the olive harvest. These three harvest/feasts parallel the three great judgments and harvests in the divine plan for creation. The first would be our Messiah. Death could not hold him. He was the first to be ‘harvested’ from creation to enjoy the divine nature of the Creator/Husbandman. At the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom our Messiah’s family (expressed as his bride, his brothers and sisters as well as his children) will experience the second judgment and harvest event, fulfilling the laws of the Feast of the Firstfruits. Christ’s wheat and tares parable (Matt 13:24-30, 36-43) depicts this stage in the divine plan, and is so appropriate because wheat was the specific harvest associated with the Feast of the Firstfruits. This relationship is also confirmed by the fact that as Christ reconciled us at Passover (rising three days later) it was on Pentecost (Feast of the Firstfruits) that the 120 disciples were given the earnest of the promise (2Cor 5:5; Eph1:1314) of immortalization in the divine powers of the Holy Spirit. That promise will be fulfilled in the antitypical Feast of the Firstfruits when the faithful inherit the divine nature at the second great harvest in the divine plan.
Fruit-bearing enlightened vs. Non-fruitbearing unenlightened
There are many, many avenues we could consider in the context of the enlightened being scripturally represented as fruit bearing plant life. The enlightened are represented as vineyards, fig trees, olive trees, wheat and barley. However, mankind in general is repeatedly represented as grass (Isa 40:6-8) and other vegetation that bears no fruit, such as briers and thorns (Num 33:55; Song 2:2; Psa 118:10-12, Nah 1:10). This theme extends subtly into many areas, such as the ram caught in a ‘thicket’ that Abraham offered instead of Isaac on Mt. Moriah, where Solomon’s temple would eventually be erected. This ram represented Jesus of Nazareth, who would be caught in the ‘thicket’ of the Romans and divinely fruitless Jewish authorities in his sacrificial death. With our limited space let’s examine this relationship between the enlightened and fruit bearing plantlife in the context of the seed.
The death and resurrection of the seed
Within the details of Paul’s explanation of the resurrection to immortality, as opposed to the quite separate resurrection to judgment, the Apostle highlights how the lesson of the seed projects the principle and promise of resurrection.
“But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain” (1Cor 15:35-37). Paul defines the concept of the resurrection to immortality that was being questioned by twisted Greek logic, as the lesson of the seed. The seed has to die for it to be reborn as a fruit bearing plant. That seed of truth and hope is planted in the cursed dust of the earth, given the water of the word and nutrients from heaven and earth to rise above the dust, straining for the heavens and eventually bearing fruit. We are the dust of the earth, from which we were made (Gen 3:19). Just as the earth has to be plowed before it is planted, so the seed of divine truth cannot grow to maturity in an uncircumcised heart (Jer 4:3-4). The lesson of the seed is a creational declaration of the principle of resurrection, which the serpent philosophy of immortal sinfulness cannot comprehend.
The promise and the exhortation of the seed
The promise of the seed is the principle of a resurrection harvest. The exhortation of the seed is the necessity to bear fruit to the glory of the great Husbandman, our Creator. This lesson of the seed also contradicts the popular serpent philosophy, which is of salvation without a behavioral response. While salvation is certainly a gift, we still have to avoid the instinctive presumption that only faith is necessary. We cannot separate works from faith, as works are the expressions of a living faith…. just as fruitfulness is the natural expression of the seed that progresses through its growth stages, surviving all the challenges of its promised fruitfulness. Therefore we will be judged according to our faith as it has been demonstrated in works (Rev 22:12; 20:13; Matt 16:27; Rom 2:6; 2Cor 5:10). Professed faith alone cannot save us. Without proven faith our judgment rejection is assured. It was exclusively the fourth seed category in Christ’s parable of the sower that was acceptable. The seed eaten by birds off the unplowed ground, the seed burned in the shallow rocks, and the seed choked by weeds, all represented the enlightened, those who had received the seed of truth but were unfruitful and therefore divinely unacceptable. Isaiah’s record of the song of his beloved depicted the vineyard of Yahweh that was carefully prepared but only yielded worthless wild grapes (Isa 5). Therefore that vineyard (Judah) would come to ruin. The creational exhortation of fruit bearing plant life is that we who have been made of dust and invested with the seed of divine truth must bear fruit to the glory of our heavenly Father… or perish forever. In fact, the promise of the seed has everything to do with the terms of divine accountability, which has been a contentious Christadelphian issue for over a century. The features of creation validate divine truths and principles.
There are a great many additional avenues for meditational consideration in this relationship between the creation features of plant life and divine truths, principles and exhortations. The primary point we are establishing is the greater measure of glory available to the enlightened, in witnessing how flawlessly our Creator prepared every microscopic and macroscopic feature of creation to project His truths and principles. Creation can be decoded with scripture to reveal how the physical and the spiritual are so perfectly matched in every layered and interdependent relationship. This is God manifestation. Everything fits together perfectly to reveal our Creator to the seeing eyes and hearing ears of the heart circumcised. Everything affects everything else.
In our next commentary we will examine how the scientific ignorance of this creational/spiritual relationship has endangered people’s lives and degraded mankind’s lifestyles for several thousand years.
Jim Dillingham (Granite State, NH)