What is God doing today on planet Earth? The prevailing view among professing Christians of the world is that, since the time of Christ, God has been trying desperately—even frantically—to save every last human being. Either a person “accepts Jesus as their personal Savior” in this “Christian era” or he is doomed to “eternal torment in hellfire.”
God is supposedly in a sort of cosmic wrestling match with Satan, and surprisingly, if this were the case, Satan is winning. Of course, there are also those who observe the many evils occurring in the world and suppose that God does not exist; or, if He does, it is apparent He is doing nothing to remedy the situation.
We in God’s Church recognize that none of the above is true. We have been given special understanding that the world has not known, as the apostle Paul states in Colossians 1, “The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest [obvious] to His saints” (vs. 26). This mystery—this knowledge of God’s Master Plan—is revealed through His richly meaningful seven annual Holy Days.
As noted in Deuteronomy 16:16, these days are divided into three distinct phases, each of which revolve around a particular season in Palestine: “Three times in a year shall all your males appear before the Lord your God in the place which He shall choose:  in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and  in the Feast of Weeks [or Firstfruits], and  in the Feast of Tabernacles.” And like the seasons, each phase of God’s Plan sets the stage for the next.
Phase one, which includes the Passover, is complete in a physical sense, in that Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection is an event of the past. Of course, having just come out of this season, we understand that the spiritual significance of this phase is still a reality. We must continue to put sin, typified by leaven, out of our lives and live according to God’s way of life, typified by unleavened bread. Observing the days that constitute phase one remind us of this ongoing Christian duty.
The physical completion of phase one paved the way for the next stage in God’s Plan: the seeding of His kingdom, which is pictured by the Feast of Firstfruits (or Pentecost). This stage is crucial, as there can be no life without seed—and without life, the kingdom of God cannot exist! Right now, God is planting seed all over the world.
What will become of this seed?
The Firstfruits Harvest
In ancient Israel, two harvests were gathered by the people. In spring through early summer, they gathered a small harvest of various grains, known as firstfruits. In the fall, a much larger harvest was reaped (more on this harvest later). The small firstfruits harvest pictured (1) Jesus Christ as the first of the firstfruits; (2) those called by God in the Old Testament era (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Jeremiah, etc.); and (3) the New Testament Church, comprised of those called during and after the time of Christ.
In Leviticus 23:9-11, God commanded that the Israelites could not begin harvesting the firstfruits until the day after the weekly Sabbath that fell during the Days of Unleavened Bread. A sheaf of the firstfruits was to be cut and brought to the priest. This cutting of the sheaf represented the death of Christ, who was literally “cut off out of the land of the living” (Isa. 53:8). The priest was then to wave the sheaf toward heaven. In this part of the ceremony, the wave sheaf, as the firstfruit that was harvested, represented the resurrected Christ ascending to heaven and offering Himself to the Father as a Lamb without blemish.
The importance of this step can be seen in Leviticus 23: “And you shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that you have brought an offering unto your God” (vs. 14). God actually forbade the Israelites to eat any of the harvest until they presented its firstfruit—it was that important!
God told the Israelites to count 50 days from (and including) the day after the Sabbath mentioned above. This would mark the day of the Feast of Firstfruits, or the Feast of Pentecost, which means “count 50.”
Verse 17 gives further insight into the importance of this day: “You shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord.”
Notice that two loaves of bread were to be offered, and that they were called “firstfruits unto the Lord.” This cannot be speaking of Christ, as He was symbolically offered as a firstfruit 50 days earlier. These loaves of bread picture all who have been, and those who yet will be, called by God before the Return of Jesus Christ. One loaf symbolized those called in the Old Testament era; the other symbolized those called in the New Testament era. And since all human beings have sinned, these two loaves were baked with leavening, which typifies sin (I Cor. 5:8). Leviticus 23:20 explains that these loaves were to be waved before God in the same manner that the wave sheaf (which represented Christ) was waved 50 days earlier, and that they were holy to Him.
You might be wondering why the nation of Israel did not fulfill phase two of God’s Plan. After all, they observed the Feast of Firstfruits.
Thousands of years ago, on the Day of Pentecost, God gave Israel His Law from Mount Sinai (Ex. 20). He spelled out in detail what His people needed to do to receive His protection and abundant blessings. He promised to guide them in the right path, in the only way that leads to true peace and happiness.
God intended Israel to be the physical seed of His kingdom (Ex. 19:6). He wanted them to thrive and flourish in the land He promised to give them—the Promised Land of Canaan. And he wanted them to be a model nation, spreading His ways all over the world. Other nations were to look upon Israel and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people” (Deut. 4:6).
However, Israel failed to become the seed of God’s kingdom. The people failed to fulfill the purpose of the Feast of Firstfruits. “They did not keep the covenant of God, and refused to walk in His law; and forgot His works, and His wonders that He had shown them” (Psa. 78:10-11).
Why did Israel fail? Because God chose not to fertilize the seed! As a whole, He did not give them His Holy Spirit, which would have given them the power to overcome sin and fully obey Him. They would have had the strength to resist copying the ways of the nations around them. God’s Spirit was only given to a tiny few.
In Romans 8, Paul declares, “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (vs. 7-8). Without the Holy Spirit guiding them, the Israelites simply could not obey God.
What then was ancient Israel’s role in God’s Plan? God allowed multiple generations of Israel and Judah to prove, by hundreds of years of human experience, that, without the Holy Spirit, mankind is utterly incapable of obeying Him and solving human problems and evils. Humanity is incapable of discerning right from wrong, even with God spelling out in great detail what should and should not be done, as He did with the ancient Israelites.
Israel’s shortcomings serve as examples to those now called (I Cor. 10:6). Even with His Spirit in our minds, we are still subject to transgressing God’s Law. It should be enough that God says not to do something; but as human beings, having real-life examples from which to learn certainly helps. In the future, everyone—including ancient Israel—will have the benefit of learning from both us and the Israelites.
Worldwide Spiritual Seed
Since Israel failed to seed the world with God’s way of life, a new nation needed to be raised up by God. This is symbolized in the story of Ruth, who, as a widowed gentile in Moab, has been described as a type of the New Testament Church. In a sense, the role of her mother-in-law, Naomi, could be considered parallel to the Holy Spirit (though, of course, God’s Spirit is not a person) in that she led Ruth to Israel. When they arrived, the firstfruit harvest was underway (Ruth 1:22). Naomi pointed Ruth to a rich landowner named Boaz, who was a type of Jesus Christ. In time, Boaz grew to love Ruth and married her.
Overall, this story pictures Christ’s future marriage to the Church, which, unlike ancient Israel, is comprised of people from all nations. This is revealed in Romans 9:25-26: “I will call them My people, which were not My people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, You are not My people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.” God is no longer limiting Himself to one nation.
Sunday, June 17, A.D. 31, marked the beginning of God’s worldwide seeding. On that day, Jesus’ disciples gathered in Jerusalem and observed the Feast of Firstfruits. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:2-4). The disciples would have missed out on this incredible experience if they had not observed Pentecost.
God’s spiritual firstfruits were begotten that day, and a new nation was started—the spiritual nation of Israel. Unlike ancient Israel, this nation as a whole will not—cannot!—fail. Success is guaranteed due to the awesome power of God’s Holy Spirit leading the minds of His people. The firstfruit seeds that constitute this nation will one day sprout forth into God’s kingdom. Though some individual members of this new nation will fall away, having not learned from the examples of ancient Israel, the nation as a whole will succeed.
God is writing the Law, or constitution, of His kingdom inside our hearts through the power of His Spirit: “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jer. 31:33 – NKJV).
In the same way that physical seed carries the genetic code required to produce a certain type of plant, God’s spiritual seed carries the information needed to produce members of His kingdom. The qualities needed to inherit that kingdom are being created inside His spiritual firstfruits—you and me!
The Kingdom Expands
The advance of God’s seed cannot be stopped by anyone or anything—not even Satan the devil. The spiritual seeds of God’s kingdom have been planted, and they will bear abundant fruit—fruit leading to eternal life (Rom. 6:22). When Jesus Christ returns, all the spiritual seeds will sprout forth to establish the kingdom of God here on earth. Vast amounts of “dormant” seed (having already borne wonderful fruit) “in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth…unto the resurrection of life” (John 5:28-29).
Jesus likens the growth of the kingdom of God to a mustard seed, “which a man took, and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof” (Matt. 13:31-32). Though God’s kingdom begins small—the Church is the kingdom in embryo—it will certainly not end that way. Similar to the mustard seed, it will eventually expand to mind-boggling size.
God’s spiritual firstfruits will initially have dominion over only the earth; but in Hebrews 2, Paul, quoting David, says that mankind will one day inherit all things: “You have put all things in subjection under his feet…But now we see not yet all things put under him” (vs. 8). The phrase “all things” can actually be translated “the universe.” Think about having this kind of power!
But before mankind is given rule over the vast universe, another harvest must take place.
After Christ’ Return, the final phase of God’s Plan will commence. The kingdoms of this world will be crushed (Dan. 2:34), and the kingdom of God—Christ and the firstfruits—will begin to rule in their stead (Dan. 7:18, 22; Rev. 11:15). Satan the devil, the cause of this world’s evils, will be bound in a bottomless pit for 1,000 years (Rev. 20:1-3). Then peace, prosperity and salvation will encompass the planet, pictured by the seven-day festival known as the Feast of Tabernacles.
During this time, everyone will be offered the Holy Spirit. The firstfruits will teach mankind the laws of God. Most will eventually succeed in overcoming and will be reaped into the kingdom, joining the firstfruits.
Finally, the conclusion of God’s great Plan will take place at the end of the 1,000 years. Every human being who has ever lived—who had never been called by God, who had never been offered salvation—will be resurrected to physical life. They, too, will be taught the ways of God. Most will overcome sin and be harvested into the kingdom, joining the firstfruits and those reaped during the Millennium. This will conclude the seeding of God’s kingdom.
As alluded to earlier, this final spiritual harvest of human beings was pictured by ancient Israel’s fall harvest, which was always larger than the one that occurred during the spring.
So, as another Feast of Firstfruits comes and goes, take time to consider what this day pictures—consider its role in God’s Plan for humanity. Yield your life completely to the Master Sower, and He will seed your mind with the awesome power of His Holy Spirit—and keep you from becoming infertile seed!