The Great Harvest :: By Randy Nettles

In giving the laws for His people, God set several appointed “Feasts of the Lord” for Israel to observe at specific times during the Year (Leviticus 23). These Feasts were holy convocations or assembly meetings for the Hebrew people. They were to be celebrated from that time in the wilderness when God first gave the Law, and would carry on into the future to commemorate what God did for them when He delivered them from centuries of slavery in Egypt. They were first observed when Joshua and the Israelites entered the Promised Land in 1406 B.C. (Joshua 5:10-12).

The seven seasonal Feasts of the Lord are: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles. The reason God wanted Moses and the children of Israel to observe the mostly lunar calendar was for these seasonal Feast days. The New Year starts with the first new moon of spring when barley is mostly ripe. Passover is always to occur on the first full moon of spring. The Feast of Tabernacles is also observed on a full moon, during the full moon of autumn.

Most Bible scholars believe these Feasts have a dual fulfillment. One was fulfilled historically by Israel in the past, and the other has and will be fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfilled the first four Feasts during his First Coming and will fulfill the last three at His Second Coming. His is the ultimate fulfillment… that is why they are called the Feasts of the Lord and not the Feasts of Israel.

In this article we will look at three of the major Feasts of the Lord, where all adult male Jews were required to attend at the Temple in Jerusalem. They include the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag HaMatztot), Pentecost (Pesach), and Tabernacles (Sukkot). Passover is included in the convocation of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. All three of these major Feasts occurred during the Jews three harvest times: barley in the spring, wheat in the early summer, and fruit and olives in the fall season. Both the Feasts and harvests have prophetic implications regarding the Lord Jesus. Some of this material (Feasts and calendars) is taken from an earlier article I wrote on this subject. For more information, with more detail please see: Ancient Calendar, Feast Days, & Daniel 12:11, Part 1 :: By Randy Nettles (

Passover took place when the last and most terrible of the ten plagues against Egypt occurred. God sent a plague (probably an angel of death) to kill every firstborn human and cattle in Egypt. The firstborn children and cattle of Israel were not targeted as long as the Jewish people applied the blood of a lamb without blemish to the doorposts of their houses. When the angel saw the blood, he passed over that home to continue his execution of the firstborn of the Egyptians. This last plague resulted in the release and freedom of Moses’ people during the evening hours of Passover on Nisan 14 in the year 1446 B.C.

Passover was ultimately fulfilled by Jesus when He died on the cross for the sins of mankind. This occurred on Thursday, Nisan 14 (April 2 on Julian calendar or March 31 on Gregorian calendar) in the year A.D. 33. Four days earlier, on Nisan 10, Jesus had fulfilled prophecy by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey as the king of Israel.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). Unfortunately, the ruling Jewish elite and the majority of the people did not recognize him as such. He was “cut off” from his immediate kingship of Israel on that day.

On the original Passover for Moses and the children of Israel, the blood of the lamb foreshadowed the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God. When we accept His sacrifice, we are no longer judged and sentenced to eternal death because of our sins. Passover is always observed on Nisan 14 of the Jewish calendar. It occurs on different days of the week.

During the night of the Passover exodus, the Jews prepared to leave Egypt in great haste. The food they carried with them was unleavened bread – matzo, since they didn’t have time for leavened bread to rise. The feast of Unleavened Bread is the second feast of the Lord and lasts for seven days, from Nisan 15 to 21, whereas no bread is to be eaten with leaven. Leaven or yeast represents sin in the Bible.

The prophetic fulfillment of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is understood in the fact that for 7 days the Jews could not eat yeast, nor even have it in their houses. It had to be taken completely away. 7 is the number that represents Divine completion, so having no leaven for 7 days symbolizes completely taking away our sins.

When Jesus died on the cross, He took away all of our sins and cancelled the Law’s indictments against us. Jesus Christ, the “Bread of Life,” was buried in a tomb on the day of his crucifixion and was in the earth for 3 days and 3 nights. He purged out our sins and ultimately fulfilled the second Feast of the Lord known as Unleavened Bread.

The third Feast of the Lord is celebrated on the first day after the Sabbath/Saturday that follows Passover, and is known as the Feast of Firstfruits. This Feast is not a date-specific one like Passover and Unleavened Bread but is a day-of-the-week specific one, as it always occurs on a Sunday. The Feast of Firstfruits was the time for the harvesting of the early barley crops of spring.

Concerning this Feast, the Lord told Moses, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When you come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it” (Leviticus 23:9-11).

Throughout the 40 years that Israel wandered in the desert, God provided supernatural food, manna (angel food/bread), to feed the growing nation.

The Bible records that after 40 years in the wilderness, Joshua and the Hebrew people crossed over the Jordan River and ate the Passover Supper on the 14th of Nisan. The next day, on the 15th of Nisan, the Jews ate of the old corn of the land. The next day, the 16th day of Nisan, was the last day in which God provided the supernatural manna as food. The day following was the 17th day of Nisan, the Feast of Firstfruits, and with no more manna available, the people began to eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year – the firstfruits of the Promised Land. The Feast celebrated Israel’s acknowledgement that not only the firstfruits were owed to God, but that all they had was from God, a daily gift from His gracious hand.

Jesus was resurrected on the third day after Passover, on Sunday, the 17th day of Nisan, in the year A.D. 33. This monumental event is referred to as Resurrection Sunday. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20).

Jesus also resurrected others from death during this time. “The graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many” (Matthew 27: 52-53). Although there have been several resurrections of dead people before Jesus, they all died again. Jesus is the only one that has been raised from the dead and is living now in heaven with a resurrected body that is made for eternity. He is the first of his kind in this regard with many more to follow Him in the near future.

By resurrecting many of the Old Testament saints on this Feast of Firstfruits, Christ proved that His power over death was not limited to Himself alone. Many ancient Christian writers refer to this miraculous resurrection of the dead. This event, together with more than five hundred eyewitnesses to the risen Christ, assisted in the rapid spread of the Christian faith… as per 1 Corinthians 15:4-6. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the Feast of Firstfruits.

The fourth Feast of the Lord, Pentecost (Feast of Weeks/Feast of Harvest), is celebrated 50 days after the Feast of Firstfruits in late spring/early summer. Pentecost, or Shavuot to the Jews, celebrated the end of the barley harvest and the beginning of the wheat harvest. The name Pentecost comes from the word “penta” meaning 50.

“And you shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete. Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall you number fifty days; and you shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord” (Leviticus 23:15-16).

Since the Feast of Firstfruits always occurs on a Sunday, so must Pentecost. It is another day-specific Feast and can occur on different dates of the Hebrew calendar.

Originally, Pentecost was celebrated because it was the beginning of the summer harvest. But in A.D. 135, after the final defeat of the Jewish nation (under the leadership of Simon ben Kosiba, popularly known as Bar Kokhba) by Roman legions, the Sanhedrin changed the focus of Shavuot from the summer harvest to the giving of the Ten Commandments and the Law of Moses. They did this because Shavuot was one of the 3 Feasts in which all male Jews were required to observe and gather together, and the defeated and dispersed nation of Israel would no longer have any national harvests to celebrate.

From that time on, the Jewish leaders decided that Pentecost would occur 50 days after the Feast of Unleavened Bread instead of the Feast of Firstfruits. So now, in their eyes, Shavuot can come any day of the week and always takes place on the 6th day of the 3rd Hebrew month of Sivan. This dating method for Pentecost is not biblically correct. For more information on the date of Pentecost and the date of the Ten Commandments, see: Ancient Calendars, Feast Days, & Daniel 12:11 – Part 2 :: By Randy Nettles (

Pentecost should always fall on Sunday and can come on different dates other than Sivan 6. Pentecost should always come 50 days after the Feast of Firstfruits. God’s special number 7 is in focus as 7 Sabbaths must transpire between these two Feasts of the Lord. The starting point is the 1st Sabbath (Saturday) after Passover. The next day, Sunday, is the 1st day. The 7th Saturday is the 49th day. The next day, Sunday, is the 50th day… from Sunday to Sunday.

The Feast of Pentecost is very significant to Christians as well as to Jews. Pentecost celebrated the beginning of the wheat grain harvest, during the early summer months. But of course, what Pentecost is most remembered for is the giving of the Holy Spirit to Jesus’ disciples. Precisely 50 days after the Feast of Firstfruits, 120 of His disciples gathered together in one place to await the promise of Christ.

“But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). On the 7th day of Sivan on the Hebrew calendar, in A.D.33, the Holy Spirit manifested Himself, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Those ordinary people, His disciples, were transformed on that day into men of extraordinary spiritual power who would challenge their world of abject paganism with a dynamic Christian movement that not even the might of Rome could stop.

Within a few days, over three thousand Jews became believers. Reliable reports suggest that despite horrible persecutions, tortures, and massive executions, within 70 years over 10 million believers had joined the underground Christian Church throughout the Roman Empire. Jesus fulfilled his prophecy to his disciples, and God baptized them with his Holy Spirit. The feast of Pentecost began the Dispensation of Grace, and the Church was born. It consisted of Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus as the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. {1}

The Feast of Tabernacles, also known as the Feast of Booths or Feast of Ingathering, is the last of the 7 Feasts of the Lord and the most joyous. It occurs on the 15th day of Tishri and lasts for 7 days. The purpose of this Feast is recorded in Leviticus 23, verses 33-34 and verses 42-43: “And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, the fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord… You shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

Not only did the children of Israel dwell in tents during the 40 years in the wilderness, but God did as well. God’s Shekinah glory dwelt in the Tabernacle of Moses during the wilderness years of the nation of Israel. “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34-35).

The dedication of King Solomon’s Temple occurred during the Feast of Tabernacles in the year 959 BC. “Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto King Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto King Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim (Tishri), which is the seventh month” (1 Kings 8:1-2).

“And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the Lord. And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the Lord, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:62-63). “And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:10-11).

During this celebration of Tabernacles, which occurs during the fall harvest season, the people were to live in booths for 7 days that were made of sticks or branches in remembrance of when their ancestors lived in the wilderness for 40 years. The day after the 7th day (the 8th day) is designated as a “solemn assembly” for the children of Israel.

The Feast of Tabernacles will ultimately be fulfilled by the Lord Jesus when He establishes His Millennial Kingdom of peace on the earth. “And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one… And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:9, 16).

As mentioned before, the three major Feasts of the Lord that all adult Jewish males were required to attend were the Feast of Unleavened Bread/Passover), Pentecost, and Tabernacles. They were commanded to make the pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem so they could participate in the festivities and worship of their God and to make sacrifices (grain and animals) to Him.

These three Feasts of the Lord were centered around their agricultural harvest times. The children of Israel were mostly an agricultural society, so harvest time was very important to them. It was something that they could definitely relate to; that is why Jesus told many of his parables in reference to crops and food.

Barley was the main food crop that was harvested during the Feast of Firstfruits in the spring. Wheat was the grain crop that was harvested during Pentecost and occurred in the late spring/early summer. Fruit and olives were the main foods that were harvested during Tabernacles in the fall season.

During the two grain crop harvests, the first task was to bring a small sample or “firstfruits” into the house of the Lord. The priest was to wave a sheaf of the grain unto the Lord during Firstfruits and two loafs of baked bread during Pentecost, in effect thanking the Lord for his bounty and asking for the Lord’s blessing upon them. The very name “firstfruits” implies that there is more to come after the first is given. This tradition of the waving of the firstfruit sheafs were incorporated into these Feasts of the Lord to be a statute forever throughout the Israelites generations in all their dwellings.

During the fall harvest of Tabernacles, the priests were to make a wave offering to the Lord that was much different than the other two grain wave offerings. They were to take a fruit of the citrus trees, a branch of the palm trees, a bough of a leafy tree, and a branch of the willow tree/bush and tie them together, and then wave them before the Lord. This was to be done on all of the days of the Tabernacle Feast except the Sabbath. These were all trees that were native to the land of Judea.

One of the definitions of the word “firstfruits” is: the first agricultural produce of a season, especially when given as an offering to God. Firstfruits is mentioned 33 times in the Bible. 33 is a number that is associated with Jesus as I wrote about in several of my articles. See: Firstfruits is first mentioned in Exodus. Moses, under God’s directive, commanded the people to bring the firstfruits of the crops of the land (when they came into the Promised Land) into the house of the Lord.

Jesus was resurrected on Nisan 17, AD 33 on the 3rd day after Passover, on the Feast of Firstfruits. If that is not prophetic, I don’t know what is! Jesus was the firstfruits of the first harvest (of the dead) that was brought into the house of the Lord. Symbolically he was the sheaf that was waved by the high priest signaling that the crop was ripe and ready to be harvested.

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming (rapture)” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

While the sheaf was being waved by the priest in the Temple at Jerusalem, God was “waving” the resurrected Jesus in heaven, signifying the bountiful harvest to come at the Rapture. On earth, in the Promised Land of Israel, the harvest that follows the barley crop of Firstfruits is the wheat crop of Pentecost. In heaven (our true Promised Land), will the harvest of Jesus, as the firstfruits of the dead, be followed by the more abundant harvest/rapture of the Church saints at Pentecost? I don’t know for sure; nobody does. However, I do agree with the late Bible teacher and scholar, Jack Kelley, who believed that the Rapture doesn’t have to occur on a Feast of the Lord day, but if it does, Pentecost is the most likely candidate. There is no conclusive evidence of this, only circumstantial evidence (clues) in the way of typology.

At Pentecost two loaves of baked bread with yeast were waved. The two loaves could represent the dead and living Church-age saints to be resurrected and translated at the Rapture. As mentioned before, yeast represents sin. The Church is comprised entirely of sinners (yet repentant).

Another typology is the comparison of the feast of weeks to the Jubilee of Israel. The 7 weekly Sabbaths needed for Pentecost (50th day) to come after Firstfruits is reminiscent of the 7 yearly Sabbaths of rest for the Jubilee to occur. The Jubilee (50th year) was supposed to be a year of rest for the people, work animals, and land of the Promised Land. “And you shall hallow the 50th year and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to the inhabitants there, it shall be a jubilee unto you; and you shall return every man unto his possession (home), and you shall return every man unto his family” (Leviticus 25:10).

There is no proof that the Jews ever let the land rest for a year or celebrated the Jubilee. If the Rapture does happen on Pentecost (after 7 Sabbaths from Firstfruits), it will definitely be a year of jubilee with the slaves of sin being set free and returning to their home in the Promised Land of heaven, where they will rest from their labor.

Another typology of the Rapture occurring on Pentecost is the story of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz in the book of Ruth in the Old Testament. The story occurs around Pentecost during the final summer harvest of the grain fields owned by Boaz of the tribe of Judah. The story takes place in Bethlehem, which means “house of bread.” Jesus, the “Bread of Life,” was born in Bethlehem, the house of bread. During Jesus’ birth, the angels announced the birth of the Messiah to the shepherds in the fields that Boaz had owned around Bethlehem.

Boaz was the son of Rahab, the Jericho harlot (turned hero) from the Book of Joshua. He was the great grandfather of King David. As “kinsmen redeemer” Boaz redeemed his Jewish relative Naomi, and took Ruth (a Moabite) as his Gentile bride. This is just exactly what our kinsman redeemer, Jesus Christ, will do when He returns at the Rapture. He will come to redeem Israel, and in the process, the Lord will take a Gentile bride, the Church, and thus He will save the inheritance of both.

Another interesting fact is the timing of Pentecost, which occurs in early summer. Pentecost is in between the three early spring feasts and the three fall feasts. Likewise, the Rapture will take place between the First Coming of Jesus and the Second Coming of Jesus to the Earth. Some believe since the Church started on the day of Pentecost (where 3,000 souls were saved) that it will also end on a near future day of Pentecost.

40 days after Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the Feast of Firstfruits, he ascended up to heaven. 10 days later, God the Father sent the Holy Spirit to 120 of Jesus’ disciples, and the Church was born. Jesus had prophesied about the Holy Spirit to his disciples before his death. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). If Jesus did not fulfill the Feast of Pentecost by sending the Holy Spirit (for the Father sent Him), then it still remains to be fulfilled. By the Rapture, perhaps?

The two cornerstones of Rapture prophecies were given by the apostle Paul nearly two decades after the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ.

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep (dead), that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 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” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). The Greek word for “caught up” is “harpazō” and means “to seize, or carry off by force” or “to snatch away.”

“We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

There are two firstfruits that have preceded and prefigured the harvest of souls known as the Rapture. Enoch and Elijah were the firstfruits of living believers to be caught up in a type of Rapture. In 2 Kings 2:11 Elijah is said to be taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. The Hebrew word “heaven” is the same word used in Genesis 1:6-8 to describe the sky (or 1st heaven). I believe he was taken up into the sky, and then his soul went to Paradise where all Old Testament believers went before Jesus came. Something similar happened to Enoch. Neither one experienced death in the sense of “passing away.” These firstfruits of the harvest will be followed in the near future by all those believers who are still alive when Jesus returns for them at the Rapture.

Of course, Jesus was the firstfruits of dead believers to be translated with a new body and taken into heaven. This supernatural event will be duplicated when Jesus returns with the dead in Christ at the Rapture. Both the dead and living saints will receive their new spiritual bodies and will be taken into the 3rd heaven, where they will be with the Lord Jesus forevermore.

Jesus will return to the earth (Second Coming) on a future Feast of Trumpets day during the end days of the Tribulation, thus fulfilling this fifth Feast of the Lord. He will return as the conquering King of kings and Lord of lords. He will save a remnant of his Jewish saints as well as a remnant of the Gentile saints that survive the Tribulation (see Isaiah 60). The surviving believers will atone for their former transgression (unbelief) against Him on the Day of Atonement, thus fulfilling this sixth Feast of the Lord.

The Lord will summon the tribulation survivors from all over the world to the Kidron Valley for a series of judgments (Joel 3:1-2). Using their actions as evidence of their faith, He will separate the believers from the unbelievers. He’ll welcome the believers into His Kingdom while consigning unbelievers to the outer darkness (Matt. 24:45-25:46). The believing survivors who enter Jesus’ Kingdom will eventually re-populate the nations. Jesus and the believing survivors will tabernacle together on the Feast of Tabernacles and will prepare for the soon-coming Millennium Kingdom to arrive, thus fulfilling the last of the 7 Feasts of the Lord.

One of the Lord’s first official acts after assuming His role as King of the whole Earth will be to have Satan bound in chains for the duration of His 1,000-year reign (Rev. 20:1-30). At that time, the martyrs from Daniel’s 70th week will join Old Testament believers in receiving their resurrection bodies” (Daniel 12:1-2, Rev. 20:4).’ {2}

This will be like a reverse rapture where, instead of being caught up into heaven, these saints (with their new immortal bodies), along with the Church saints who were resurrected and translated at the Rapture, will be brought down to the earth where they will spend the Millennium with the Lord ruling the nations. Instead of grapes and olives being gathered during the time of Tabernacles, it will be one of human souls being “ingathered” into the newly upgraded earth. See: The End Of The Age, And Beyond :: by Jack Kelley – Rapture Ready

Near the end of the Millennium, Satan and his evil followers will be defeated by God who will rain down fire from heaven upon them after one last coup attempt against King Jesus. Satan will be cast down into the Lake of Fire where the Anti-Christ and false prophet are. At this point, the Great White Throne Judgment will begin with God judging the unbelieving dead of all the ages. The Book of Deeds and the Book of Life will be opened, and the dead will be judged, each one according to his works.

“Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14-15). At the end of the Millennium Kingdom, there will be one more harvest before eternity begins (and never ends). The living and deceased saints of the Millennium age will be translated with a heavenly body to enter into the New Jerusalem and the New Earth.

Brothers and sisters, it’s time to go to work, for the harvest is nearly upon us. Jesus said, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves (Luke 10:2-3).

Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Randy Nettles


{1} “Appointment with Destiny – Armageddon” by Grant R. Jeffrey, pg. 65

{2} The End Of The Age, And Beyond :: by Jack Kelley – Rapture Ready