THE FEAST OF PENTECOST"Keep counting until the day after the seventh Sabbath, fifty days later, and bring an offering of new grain to the Lord. From wherever you live, bring two wave loaves of bread to be lifted up before the Lord as an offering. These loaves must be baked from three quarts of choice flour that contains yeast. They will be an offering to the Lord from the first-fruits of your crops." Leviticus 23:16-17
No sickle moved in Israel's land before the wave-loaves had been brought. God's bounteous hand must be revered, before man's taking hand may work. Such was the ordinance. This was more than due worship. It was pure delight. There is no joy like gratitude. They most enjoy, who most perceive and bless the Giver. Reader, your earthly comforts should give wings to praise. Your daily blessings should uplift to heaven.
But when this holy service is discharged, alacrity pervades the fields. With cheerful heart—with animated look—with rapid step, the crowding reapers hasten forth. A rich abundance meets them, at each turn. All is busy joy. No hand is idle. Every sinew strains. Toil is delight, when toil is hallowed by God's smile. Labor is sweet, when labor is God's call.
Reader, come gaze now on this harvest-scene. Mark, idleness has here no place. This is a picture of what life should be. Now is our in gathering-day. So soon as every morning dawns, the ascending thought should fly to God. It is the time to reap. The crops are ripe. The gates are open. God calls. Who now may loiter or sit still?
Will any ask, where is my field, and what my crop? Whenever the true prayer is breathed, "Lord, what will You have me to do?" a beckoning hand will show the appointed task. But let these pages give a general hint.
There are the waving treasures of the Word. The Scripture-field is ever ready—ever ripe. How many stalks invite the gathering hand? Each hour should bring some golden riches to the garner of the heart. Reader, what have you gained this day from the rich Bible-page?
Next, there are peculiar duties growing at each door. Not one should fall neglected to the ground. It is most true, that human doings wash no sin away. "By grace are you saved through faith, and that, not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." Eph. 2:8-9. Christ and His worth—Christ and His merits—are our full salvation. No labor adds to this full cup. But works are surest proof of faith. Happy the life, which gathers a plenteous store! O my soul, seek earnestly the praise, "She has done what she could." Mark 14:8. An empty hand proclaims a graceless heart.
The world, also, is a wide-spread plain—thick-set with never-dying souls. These call for the ingathering. They must be severed from their earthly ties. They must be brought into the Gospel-garner. Will not laborers labor? Here every grain is an eternity. What! shall they perish through neglect? Forbid it all, who feel for souls, and love the Lord, and glory in His triumphs.
The reaping means are many. Some may go forth and bear the hot day's toil. Some may urge others to the Godlike work. All can besiege the mercy-seat with prayer. These rapid thoughts suffice to show, that Christian life should be a constant striving in a harvest-field.
But harvest-season lasts not long. Its end comes on apace. Time is allowed; but it has narrow limits. In a few weeks the fields are cleared; the sheaves are all laid up; work is concluded, and silence takes the place of noisy toil.
Reader, so all your opportunities expire. Your moments wave a rapid wing. Their flight is speedy. The ebbing tide cannot be checked. Death will soon close the working door. What you would do must then be quickly done. Say, do your garners evidence industrious life? Has faith been active? Has love never flagged? Where are your signs, that diligence has diligently toiled? Woe to the man, whose day is not a reaping-day! No idler clears a harvest-field—no idler rests in heavenly rest.
The Jewish harvest ran through seven weeks. The fiftieth day, or Pentecost, then came. This was a solemn feast. Now Israel's sons return to meet their God. Before their crops were reaped, one sheaf alone was waved. But now their hands present a weightier gift. The grain is kneaded into two leavened loaves. These are devoutly brought, as a thank offering from their collected wealth.
Thus gratitude expands. Each mercy should sow seed of larger thanks. As goodness falls in swelling showers, so adoration should ascend in higher flame. Our life should be an ever-deepening praise.
O my soul, thus try your state. Each day comes laden with fresh tokens of your Father's grace. Each hour adds blessings to your store. Say, is each evening's song a richer tribute of expanded love? Is your wave-sheaf augmented to two loaves?
But other increase marked the Pentecostal feast. When the sheaf was waved, a single lamb was slain. But now the word goes forth, "Along with this bread, present seven one-year-old lambs with no physical defects, one bull, and two rams as burnt offerings to the Lord. These whole burnt offerings, together with the accompanying grain offerings and drink offerings, will be given to the Lord by fire and will be pleasing to him. Then you must offer one male goat as a sin offering and two one-year-old male lambs as a peace offering." Leviticus 23:18-19. The altar seems to groan beneath this pile. A sea of blood flows, as a deluge, round. Here is clear proof, that faith's most happy act is to present redeeming blood.
These increased victims tell faith's story. It has its infancy—its gradual growth, and its maturer age. Its feeblest utterance pleads a Savior's death. Its weakest effort clasps the cross. But as years glide, the death of Jesus becomes more prized—its need more felt—its value more discerned. The aged pilgrim finds at every turn greater necessity to plead the blood.
Believer, is such your ripening state? More and more should be the motto of your life. Higher and higher should be your heavenward flight. Deeper and deeper should be your stream of love. Brighter and brighter should be your flame of faith. Louder and louder should be your song of praise. Fuller and fuller should be your offering hand. Wider and wider should be your fields of work. Larger and larger should be the produce of your toil. We are not straitened in our giving God. His kingdom's rule is to give more grace. Jam. 4:6. And true grace ever grows.
Such are the lessons, which the solemn feast directly gives. But Pentecost is more than pious offering for plenteous blessing. It is connected with most glorious scenes. The day recalls a grand event. Its date is on the fiftieth morning from the Paschal-sabbath. Let thought revert to the first Paschal-feast, and Israel's rapid flight from Egypt. Through fifty days they journey onward, and then Sinai's heights are reached. Instantly, what marvels meet them! Amid displays of terror and dismay, the glorious Law re-issues. The date displays it, as Pentecostal edict.
True it is, that Scripture marks not the coincidence. No voice from heaven shows the connecting link. But the fact is sure, and lacks not meaning.
This truth lies on the surface. While God is blessed, as tender in His providential care, His moral excellence claims reverence. The Lord, who crowns our earth with fruitful beauty, is He, who sits on the pure throne of righteousness. One voice commands luxuriant seasons, and the moral law. Thus, Sinai's code, and earth's rich plenty, are as converging rays to show Jehovah's brightness. Goodness is holy. Holiness is good. A finished harvest, and the given Law, are celebrated on the same fiftieth day.
One significance of the law is here, also, graphically shown. At Pentecost, the sickle has laid low the produce of the fields. It has performed its slaying work. This leads the mind to contemplate the Law's effects. There is no instrument like this, to sever souls from earthly hopes. Many, who now rejoice in solid peace, bless God for His awakening Law. They slumbered long on pillars of delusion. They dreamed, that all was safe—that life was no polluted walk—that God looked on them with no angry frown—that death would land them on the shore of bliss; that heaven would surely be their home at last. Thus they were rooted in unstable ground. But when the Law applied its searching rule, then carnal confidence expired. It swept them quickly from all tottering props. It placed before them the pure mirror of God's will. This showed the startling image of their native vileness. They saw, that penitence could wash no sin away—that reformation left them still unclean—that stricter walk still fell short of God's demands—that there could be no hope for sinful man, in sinful self. The Law's keen scythe thus laid them in the dust.
You ministers of Christ, here is a mighty weapon for your use. Apply it fearlessly to every heart. It shakes the conscience. It tears veils away. It paves the way for Jesus to come in. You often mourn the apathy of men. They dread not death, nor hell. Careless they live. Careless they die. No anxious thought disturbs. No sense of sin alarms. How can this be? The case is clear. They never spiritually hear the Law's demands. They perish. You must give account. The reaper plies the sickle's point to gain the grain. You too must use the Law to burst the sinner's bands.
But Pentecost presents another view. True, on its earliest day the fiery Law went forth. But when God's purposes were fully ripe, a greater marvel signalized its end. Christ came, and died. Redemption's work was finished. Types vanished in His glorious light. Foreshadowing festivals waxed dim, and the last Pentecost arrived. On this same day, Jesus expands His hands, and pours the promised Spirit down. Cloven tongues of fire fall, and blaze on the Apostle's heads. New powers of speech proclaim His presence; and in all tongues the Gospel-truth is heard. A blessed harvest instantly is brought. The gifted heralds speak. They tell of Christ—His dying love—His resurrection-power. The present Spirit seals the word. Blind eyes are opened. Frozen feelings melt. Pride is laid low. Strong prejudice gives place. Hearts open. Jesus enters. And on that day about three thousand souls were added to the church. Acts 2:41. Thrice blessed Pentecost! The church presents her First-fruit loaves. The reaping time of souls is come; and heaven's garners swell with immortal produce.
Reader, learn then from Pentecost, that souls are the grain—the Spirit the Ingatherer. Without His aid no efforts prosper—no success ensues. His presence is the might of means. His hand alone unlocks the sin-bound heart. His voice alone can pierce the grave of sin. The Spirit's sword requires the Spirit's arm. He is the only chariot, in which truth rides to triumph. Without Him faith cannot live—nor Christ be seen. Without Him, preaching is an empty sound—and toil but beats the air.
Servants of Christ, would you be rich in harvests of saved souls? Then never strive in your own strength; and never speak or preach, but wrestling for this life-inspiring power. Seek more His help. Lean more upon His arm. Pray Him to give your every word. Pray Him to write it with His finger on the heart. Then will your ministry be a Pentecostal-day. Then when the end shall come, you will present your precious shocks to God—and wave your Pentecostal loaves—an evidence of good seed sown—of good work done.
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