Understanding the Mystery of Pentecost (Part 2) - by: Gary Stearman - https://prophecywatchers.com/understanding-the-mystery-of-pentecost/
PROPHECIES OF SUMMER
Biblically, the spring harvest is often seen to typify the "harvest" or catching-away of the church. As we have seen, this is the season when grain and fruit crops come to maturity. Fruit is judged and stored. Wheat is now safe in the graneries of the land. At Pentecost, a small sample is taken, ground into flour and baked into two loaves. They are the leavened "test loaves" of the new harvest. As already stated, they typify the two bodies of the redeemed at the end of the age: Israel and the church.
Bread and fruit are the perfect picture of redemption, blessing and bounty. But to Israel, at the time of Jacob's trouble, the harvest will not bring satisfaction. Instead, there will be the realization that something drastic has happened. The prophet Micah graphically describes this, as we see in Micah 7:1-6:
"1 Woe is me! for I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grapegleanings of the vintage: there is no cluster to eat: my soul desired the firstripe fruit. 2 The good man is perished out of the Earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net. 3 That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; and the great man, he uttereth his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up. 4 The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge: the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity. 5 Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. 6 For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house" (Mic. 7:1-6).
Here, the prophet Micah speaks as the voice of Israel in the latter days. The time is set at the end of fruit harvest - late April through early June - the season that begins with Passover and ends with Pentecost.
The summer fruits have been "gathered," or harvested. The Hebrew term asaph, means "to remove, or take away." But one of its major meanings is, "to be gathered to one's fathers at death." This translation easily fits in the context of these verses. The good fruit of the righteous has been harvested and taken for inspection and storage. From Micah's point of view, the friends of Israel have gone away.
As we continue, Micah's distress becomes more clear. He has a deep desire for the fruit that has been removed. And what is this fruit? Verse 2, tells us that it is the "good man," who has "perished" from the Earth. This fits perfectly with the idea of the judgment of the fruit of trees.
"Perish" is represented by the Hebrew verb avad, meaning, "to cause to vanish!" As the picture develops, it is easy to see that Micah's vision perfectly describes the conditions that will prevail when righteous mankind is instantly transported from the Earth at the catching-away of the church.
The unredeemed remainder of humanity left on Earth is devoid of morals, scruples or ethics. Lust and extortion become the basis of human behavior. There are no trustworthy friends; even family members can't be trusted without a suitable bribe.
The rapture has come. It is an event associated with early summer. And immediately afterward comes a horror that Israel has long dreaded. Verse 4 says, "... the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity." What is this visitation?
Jewish translations of this verse often say, "The day of your visitation from the north has come." The Jerusalem Bible translates it as, "Today will come their ordeal from the North, now is the time for their confusion."
Because of this fact, some ancient Jewish expositions of this passage link it with Ezekiel's prophecy of Gog's invasion of Israel.
This interpretation stems from the fact that the word "watchman" in Hebrew contains the root word for "north" or "northern." Thus, "watchman," is built around a word which carries the meaning of both "watch" and "north." Hence, ancient expositors see in this verse an invasion from the north. One of the most graphic of all latter-day prophecies is Ezekiel's narrative of Gog's invasion of Israel. It comes from the north:
"And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army" (Ezek. 38:15).
What makes Micah's prophecy most interesting, of course, is that it links the rapture of the church with Ezekiel's prophecy of the northern invasion.
First, there is the gathering up of the fruitful righteous. They are "made to vanish" from the face of the Earth. Then comes a time of horror, when Israel realizes that she is without friends upon Earth. Israel's difficulties begin in earnest, as society becomes totally degenerate.
Apparently, shortly thereafter, the prophesied invasion takes place.
But the sequence begins at the summer harvest. Without a doubt, this is the picture meant to come to our minds when we think of the rapture. Jesus prophesied His own coming for the church in this way:
"28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. 29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; 30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. 31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. 32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled" (Luke 21:28- 32).
What Jesus is talking about here is the very beginning of a long procession of events that will bring the Kingdom to planet Earth at last. Preparation is being made for the judgment of the fruit of trees, here, a metaphor of Israel and all the nations in the latter days. This metaphor applies to the change of dispensation that will come with the spring festival calendar.
THE BRIDEGROOM AND HIS BRIDE
Another well-known example of this thought is the coming of the Bridegroom for the bride in the Song of Solomon. He comes for His bride at the time when spring is fully come and the fruit is almost ripe:
"8 The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. 9 My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, showing himself through the lattice. 10 My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. 11 For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; 12 The flowers appear on the Earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; 13 The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away" (Song of Solomon 2:8-13).
Once again, in another notable rapture passage, we see that the season is spring. Here, the coming of Solomon for his Shulamite bride is an obvious type of the Lord and His relationship with the church - the Bridegroom coming for His bride.
In this picture, the figs and grapes will soon be ready for harvest. The beloved is depicted as skimming across the mountain tops. In other words, he is near, but has not quite yet arrived. The season is late spring. Soon, the fruit will be gathered. This passage implies that the church will be taken home. The season is that of Pentecost.
Then, according to the prophet Micah, Israel will realize that her best and closest friend has vanished from the Earth.
A CHOSEN BRIDE FROM MOAB
As earlier noted, grain harvest comes in late spring. It was in this season that Ruth became the wife of Boaz.
Trees are laden with fresh foliage. Flowers are in bloom. The heart of humanity is light and optimistic. Jewish homes are decorated with fresh greenery and floral decoration. Hayyim Schauss says:
"Even in school the instruction is festive and breathes the spirit of the holiday. The children are taught the book of Ruth. So clear is the imagery thereof that they are carried back to the days of old, when Jews reaped the harvest of the fields of their own land.
"The older children sit around a long table with the teacher and study the Book of Ruth. But their thoughts are not on their studies; they are thinking of Bethlehem, the town where David was born and spent his childhood. They imagine they are standing at harvest time in the fields that surround the town. Gentle breezes blow from the hills of Judah. The fields are filled with freshly-cut sheaves. They hear the whir of the reaping scythe, and the song of the workers in the fields. And everywhere is the pleasing aroma of the newly-fallen gleanings which Ruth is gathering in the field.
"Their thoughts are carried still farther afield when the teacher recites, or rather sings, as he interprets "Akdomus." [This is an eleventh-century poem.] King David is descended from Ruth and Boaz, and from David's seed, it is believed, will come the Messiah. In 'Akdomus' is presented vividly a picture of the day when the Messiah will have arrived, the time of eternal bliss on Earth."
Many have said that the book of Ruth is the most beautiful narrative in the entire Bible. Ruth was a Gentile woman of Moab, who married into a Hebrew family. At that time, there was a famine in Israel, which the family hoped to escape by emigrating from Bethlehem to Moab. These events took place during the period of time in which the judges ruled the land after the death of Joshua. It was a time of deep moral and spiritual decline.
The husband and both sons died in Moab, widowing Ruth, her mother-in-law, Naomi, and her sister-in-law, Orpah, who soon departed. Naomi elected to return to her home in Bethlehem, urging Ruth to stay with her own people, as Orpah had done. But Ruth faithfully determined to go with her and remain by her side until death separated them.
They arrived in Bethlehem at harvest time. As was the right of the poor, Ruth gleaned in the fields for their food. As a poor foreigner, she had nothing to expect but a future of perpetual widowhood. Yet she found favor in the sight of Boaz, a wealthy landowner. He allowed her to glean even among the sheaves of the field. At Naomi's instruction, Ruth went to the threshing floor and laid down at the feet of Boaz on the night of Pentecost, the festival of harvest. That night, he claimed her and redeemed her as a near kinsman had the right to do. After securing the legal right to marry her, they were united in marriage, and she bore him a son. That son was Obed, the grandfather of David the king.
This is the story of a Gentile bride in a strange land, who started out with only her faith. She provides a prophetic picture of the Gentile bride of Christ - the Church. On the very night of Pentecost, Ruth came to lie at the feet of Boaz.
At midnight, startled, he awoke to discover the woman of whom he had earlier taken note as she gleaned in his fields. His acceptance of her set in motion a series of legal steps, which he undertook promptly, in order that he might marry her. Ruth had remained completely faithful to Naomi. Boaz knew of her reputation as a virtuous woman. He completed her righteousness in their marriage, making her an heir to the Messianic promise. A poor woman of Moab was brought into the lineage of the throne of David, from which the Messiah would one day rule over the nations.
According to Michael Strassfeld, writing in The Jewish Holidays, a Guide and Commentary, rabbinical authority calls for the book of Ruth to be read at Pentecost, because:
[1 ] The story is set at the time of harvest, [2 ] Ruth's conversion to Judaism is thought to bear a close resemblance to one's voluntary acceptance of the Torah and God's covenant at Sinai,  King David, according to tradition, was born and died on Shavuot [Pentecost]. The book of Ruth, of course, ends with a genealogy from Ruth down to King David. And,  Reading Ruth means that the totality of the Torah is celebrated on Shavuot, for Ruth is part of the ... writings that together with the Torah and the prophets compose the whole Bible.
AN OVERNIGHT VIGIL FOR JEWS
At this point, it is of great interest to note another element of this Jewish festival: The Jews stay up all night in their synagogue's house of study, poring over "tikkun." This consists of little sections from each book of the Torah and the Talmud, representing all of the most important texts of Judaism. But even this act of staying up all night sets forth the theme of resurrection. Michael Strassfeld writes of this custom:
"A kabbalistic custom emanating from the mystics in Safed (sixteenth century) is to stay up the whole (first) night of Shavuot studying Torah. The tikkun - a set order of study - was composed of selections from the Bible, rabbinic literature, and even mystical literature such as the Zohar. In this fashion the kabbalists prepared for the momentous revelation of the following morning.
"This practice of staying up all night is in stark contrast to that of the Israelites at Sinai, who according to tradition slept late that morning and had to be awakened by Moses. In atonement for this, Jews nowadays stay awake all night. The sense of preparation for Sinai is heightened by a mystical tradition holding that the skies open up during this night for a brief instant. At that very moment, we are told, God will favorably answer any prayer. The kabbalists also regard Pentecost as the wedding of God and Israel. Therefore, we stay up all night to "decorate the bride."
What an incredible picture of the rapture! The opening of the heavens "for a brief instant" corresponds with the message in I Corinthians 15:51:
"Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye ..."
Here is the perfect picture of Christ coming to catch away His bride! And where does He take her? - to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb! This corresponds with Pentecost, when the Jews "stay up all night to decorate the bride."
To an amazing degree, their activities remind us of the catching away of the church ... the bride of Christ; Pentecost has many features that are suggestive of the rapture. It is associated with harvest, marriage and the taking of a Gentile bride. Its date is variable, picturing the unpredictability of Christ's coming for His own.
Like all the Jewish festivals, it is made up of pictures and ideas that preserve God's truth, even among those whose eyes may be temporarily blinded by unbelief, or the rote practices of tradition. Quite significantly, it marks the birth of the Church Age, and before that, the giving of the Law. Each of these events marks the turning to a different dispensation: first to Law, and then to Grace. In the eyes of God, therefore, Pentecost must be an important festival. To the Jew, it is a vital part of the festival calendar.
Today, observant Jews seek spiritual purification (called taharah) on Pentecost night. Their vigil of prayer and study is the culmination of a process that begins every year on Firstfruits, and continues through the counting of the Omer. It reaches a climax on this particular night.
From The Three Festivals by Josef Stern, we read, "During these days and weeks [between Passover and Pentecost], our personal efforts to cleanse ourselves of spiritual impurities are critical, as the Torah says ... you shall count for yourselves. However, if we make sincere efforts during [the counting of the omer], we can be assured that Hashem [the Lord] will shower us with an outpouring of taharah on the night of Shavuos, as the Sages said, someone who comes to purify himself will receive Divine help."
More than just a single night, the Pentecost vigil is said to set the tone for an entire year, if it is taken seriously:
"The Zohar also reminds us that the taharah that descends on those who immerse themselves in Torah study on this night is a fragile thing. Unless we take active steps to preserve it throughout the year we cannot be assured that it will remain with us."
It is a day laden with rich spiritual types and symbols. Many Jews will stay up all night in the hope of catching that precise moment when the sky opens for an instant. They will read their Scriptures, pray and "decorate the bride."
Will the church be called home on a night such as this? Although it is impossible to name this particular night as the time of the rapture, it is nevertheless a stimulating thought for these last days. What a picture of our blessed hope! There are many precedents for what will happen to all believers on that day. Paul was once taken to heaven:
"I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth) such an one caught up to the third heaven" (II Corinthians 12:2).
To be "caught up" is the blessed hope of faithful Christians everywhere. Scripture makes it quite plain that this is our destiny. In some inexplicable way, the sky will open for a moment, and we shall be gone ... vanished without a trace! The language of I Thessalonians 4:17 is very similar to the preceding passage:
"Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
This will be the biggest historical event since the Lord's own ascension into the heavens. And it will certainly be the trigger that sets in motion an increasingly cataclysmic series of judgments. In Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians, the restraining force associated with the presence of the body of Christ is given as the key factor in the timing of latter-day events. Its removal will provide the environmental changes necessary for evil to advance toward the fulfillment of prophecy.
In other words, as long as we are present and active, the revelation of the wicked one, and wickedness in general, cannot manifest itself in full power. Pentecost, the festival that has traditionally marked the dispensational change from law to grace, seems ideally suited as the model for this event. Then, a rapid succession of biblical marvels will bring Messianic rule to the Earth.
"He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20).
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