Sunday, September 1, 2013

Watching for the Harvest

"The harvest is past, The summer is ended, And we are not saved!"
Jeremiah 8:20 NKJV

There is a saying among believers who study prophecy and the history of the nation of Israel, and it goes something like this; “the past is prologue”.  What this means is that quite often we find that events in the Old Testament are somehow a sign of things to come because they often repeat themselves, especially when it comes to Israel.  This lament from the book of Jeremiah is one which I believe may hold a clue as to the timing of the rapture of the Church, an event I believe most of us are very interested in.
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.  1 Thessalonians 5:1-2  NKJV

When speaking of the rapture, many scholars believe we are told that if we watch as we are commanded to do, we will recognize the “season” of the rapture of the Church.  With that in mind, I can’t help but wonder if the many references to the “harvest” when talking of the rapture is something we need to take note of.  So I would like to take a moment today and share some of my thoughts about the harvest season in Israel, and how it might relate to our time of deliverance.

"For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; "a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey;
Deuteronomy 8:7-8 NKJV

In Old Testament times, the harvest season ran roughly from April to November beginning with the Barley harvest, and ending with the olive harvest. The three main harvests were considered to be the grain, grape, and olive harvests, with a celebration of the first two at the Feast of Tabernacles.

"You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress.
Deuteronomy 16:13 NKJV

Considering the season of summer, and the fact that the Bible refers to it, I was curious to find out when summer ends in Israel.  In the western world, the seasons are calculated by the solstices, but in Israel it is a different matter. In ancient Israel, the seasons were determined by the harvests, so when I looked into summer in Israel, I found that traditionally summer ends at the end of the grape harvest. However if you think about growing crops, and waiting for them to ripen, it seemed likely to me that if we asked if it was possible to know exactly when the harvest would occur, we would have to come to the conclusion that  "no man knows". Now can you see where I am going with this?

When talking with His disciples about the end of this age, and in referring to the rapture, Jesus said this;

"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
Matthew 24:36 NKJV

As we approach Rosh Hashanah, also known as the Feast of Trumpets, many believers get excited as it has traditionally been thought to be a strong possibility for a day for the rapture of the Church. Since the calendar in Israel is lunar rather than solar, the beginning of the month is determined by the sighting of the new moon which may or may not occur on the day you determine to be the first of the month. That is why Rosh Hashanah is celebrated for two days rather than just one since there is a possibility the moon won't be sighted when you would expect it. Like many, I have always thought it no coincidence that this holiday is described as one where "no man knows"

The fact that it is unlikely you can know exactly when the harvest will be ready, and also have a Feast of Israel referred to in the same terms with both occurring at approximately the same time on the calendar, it just makes me wonder if we are being given a clue as to the “season” of the rapture.  Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets, will be celebrated in Israel this coming week.  It is followed closely by Yom Kippur, and then the Feast of Tabernacles.  With all that has been going on in that part of the world lately, and especially this past week with the world holding their breath over what may or may not happen regarding Syria, it certainly seems as if our attention is being directed to watch closely the events, and the timing, of this season in Israel.

I began this post with a verse from Jeremiah where the cry in Israel is a lament over the fact that summer is over and they are not saved. The question that came to mind is if the summer is over, it should be a time of rejoicing and celebration for the harvest. If indeed God is trying to tell us that the rapture may come at the end of summer, is the cry of Israel a response to that event? We know the tribulation is the time where God turns Israel back to Him by means of judgment so is it possible we find here another clue as to when that might occur? Summer ends with the completion of the grape harvest, and no one knows exactly when that will be. It is supposed to be a time of rejoicing, but the Bible tells us there will be a future time where it won't be.

Of course, of greater importance is the question we all must ask of ourselves, and that is am I prepared for the return of Jesus for His bride, the Church?  If you have never made the decision to ask Jesus to come into your life and accept the gift of salvation He has offered you I urge you to do it right now. Simply pray to Him and confess that you are a sinner in need of salvation, and then ask Him to forgive you of your sins. Tell Him you believe that He died on the cross to take your place and because of that you want to turn your life over to Him. If you do that you have His promise that you are saved.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
John 1:12 NKJV
Keep watching.