Lisa Taylor (23 July 2012)
"Av, the Rapture, and the Firstfruits of the Fruit Harvest"


Dear Doves,

          I believe that earthly harvests are types or patterns for resurrection events.  For example, Jesus was resurrected on the Feast of Firstfruits – a feast day which celebrated the firstfruits of the barley harvest.  And Paul compared our earthly bodies to seeds and our resurrection bodies to the vegetation that is produced by those seeds.

          "But someone may ask, 'How are the dead raised?  With what kind of body will they come?'  How foolish!  What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.  When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body."  1 Corinthians 15:35-38.

          If we look at the 7 Feasts of the Lord from Leviticus 23, we see that three of the feasts are harvest celebrations – Firstfruits, Pentecost and Tabernacles.  So, there is a good possibility that resurrection events have been or will be linked to these festivals.  Furthermore, we see both firstfruits and final harvests being observed.

          As stated previously, Firstfruits celebrates the firstfruits of the barley harvest.  See Leviticus 23:10-11.  Pentecost celebrates the firstfruits of the wheat harvest.  See Leviticus 23:16-17.  And Tabernacles celebrates the final harvest of the year.

          "So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest.  On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the Lord you God for seven days.  Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for seven days each year.  This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month.  Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt.  I am the Lord your God."  Leviticus 23:39-43.

          Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress."  Deuteronomy 16:13.

          Please notice that while Tabernacles includes a celebration of both the final grain and fruit harvests, there is no express firstfruits celebration of the fruit harvest.


Is there a "hidden" firstfruits harvest of fruit?  And is it a Type for a "hidden" resurrection event?

          God reveals Himself through His Word and through His Creation.  "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."  Romans 1:20.

          Since we can observe fruit growing and ripening throughout the summer months, we can determine that the timing of a firstfruits harvest of fruit must occur sometime in the summer.  If the final fruit harvest is a pattern for a resurrection event, then the firstfruits of the fruit harvest could also represent a resurrection event.

          That is why summer could be a "wildcard" for the Rapture.  Since fruit is expressly included in the final harvest at Tabernacles, and the firstfruits of the barley and wheat harvests are celebrated by other feast days, then the Firstfruits of the Fruit Harvest could be a type for a "hidden" resurrection.  Perhaps even the Rapture.


What day is the firstfruits harvest of fruit?

          While we can fix summer as the season for the firstfruits harvest of fruit, picking one day for the harvest is not as easy.  However, there might be a clue in the Bible.  Since the final fruit harvest at Tabernacles includes a remembrance of the time that Israelites lived in booths, we should look back at that time period.  Specifically, when the 12 spies were sent out to explore the Promised Land, Moses told them to bring back samples of the fruit of the land.

          "Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.  (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)  Numbers 13:20.

          "When they reached the Valley of Eshcol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes.  Two of them carried it on a pole between them along with some pomegranates and figs.  That place was called the Valley of Eshcol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there.  At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land."  Numbers 13:23-25.

          We know that the 12 spies entered the land at the time of the first ripe grapes and returned 40 days later with grapes, pomegranates and figs.  So it was summertime.  According to Jewish tradition, on the Ninth of Av, the 10 spies gave a bad report about the giants living in the land and convinced the Israelites to rebel against God's mandate to conquer the Promised Land.  As punishment for their unbelief, the people were told that they would never enter the Promised Land.  They would wander the desert for 40 years until they all died.  "For forty years – one year for each of the forty days you explored the land – you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you."  Numbers 14:34.  Only their children, nineteen years and younger, and Caleb and Joshua, who exercised faith, were permitted to enter the land.

          As a result of the people's rebellion, the Ninth of Av (also known as Tisha B'Av) has become a day of national catastrophe.  History seems to support this contention.  For example, the destruction of the first and second temples, the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290 and from Spain in 1492, and the extermination of Warsaw Ghetto Jews in 1942 all occurred on the Ninth of Av.  Furthermore, the Ninth of Av tends to fall in either late July or early August, which is consistent with the timing of the Biblical narrative.

          So, we can place the Firstfruits of the Fruit Harvest in the season of summer and (perhaps) in the month of Av.


Who does the fruit represent?

          The Bible compares the righteous and Israel to fruit bearing trees:

          When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your fathers, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree."  Hosea 9:10.

          Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked …. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither."  Psalm 1:1-3.

          Significantly, the Church has been grafted into the Jewish olive tree.  See Romans 11:1-24.  And, those of us who are in Christ, are the branches to his vine.  See John 15:1-8.  "I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:5.

          So, those of us who remain in Christ are the fruit.


          If Christ is the Firstfruits of the Dead, are we the Firstfruits of the Living?

          The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the firstfruits of those who will be resurrected from the dead.  "But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him."  1 Corinthians 15:20-23.

          This is pure speculation on my part, but if Christ is the Firstfruits of those who are resurrected from the Dead, then the Church could be the Firstfruits of those who will be resurrected from the Living. 

          "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."  1 Corinthians 15:51-52.

          "He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created."  James 1:18.

          If we are a type of firstfruits, then it would be fitting if we were resurrected during a harvest celebration of firstfruits.


Is there any Jewish festival in the month of Av?

          Although there is no Levitical feast day that celebrates the firstfruits of summer fruit, there is a day that is observed in the month of Av that could be significant.  According to Jewish tradition, the Fifteenth of Av commemorates the end of the Israelites 40 years of wilderness wanderings.  It is called Tu B’Av in Hebrew.  It is believed that the decree which condemned an entire generation to die in the wilderness ended on this day.

          Coming six days after the 9th of Av, a day of mourning, the 15th of Av is considered to be one of the two happiest days on the Jewish calender, with Yom Kippur being the other.  "On this day, according to the Mishna, eligible young maidens dressed themselves in borrowed white dresses — so that no one would stand out by their wealth — and danced in the vineyards. As was the custom, single men would watch, selecting wives from among the girls. The day likely originated as a nature festival on the last day of bringing wood to the Temple altar, according to rabbinic sources. It was also, according to the Talmud, the day that the ban against marrying outside the tribe was lifted. While this holiday had been largely ignored for centuries, in Israel it has become akin to a Jewish Valentine’s Day, when the accepted custom is to send a bouquet of roses to one’s love interest or closest relative."  (From an internet article by Lisa Sopher.)  In modern day Israel, the Fifteenth of Av is a popular day for weddings.


Tu B'Av and the Bride Snatch

          Tradition also connects the Fifteenth of Av to an event that occurs in the book of Judges, concerning the reconciliation of the Tribe of Benjamin to the Israelite community.  This possible connection is especially exciting for Rapture watchers.

          According to the Bible, the Tribe of Benjamin had offended the Israelites by their unwillingness to surrender fellow Benjamites who had committed a heinous crime.  A conflict ensued between the two sides resulting in the deaths of the entire Tribe of Benjamin, with the exception of 600 fighting men.  According to Judges 20:47: "But six hundred men turned and fled into the desert to the rock of Rimmon, where they stayed four months."  Now, the Israelites had made an oath not to give their daughters in marriage to any Benjamite. Consequently, they realized that the tribe of all men was bound to die out.  Regretting their vow, but unable to break it, they devised a plan to get wives for the remaining 600 Benjamites.  First, they determined that no one from the camp of Jabesh Gilead had assisted them in the war.  So they put that entire camp to death, except for 400 virgin girls. Then they took the girls to Shiloh and sent an offer of peace to the Benjamites at the rock of Rimmon, who accepted the women as wives. Then they told the remaining 200 men to go to an annual festival of the Lord at Shiloh.  "So they instructed the Benjamites, saying, ‘Go and hide in the vineyards and watch. When the girls of Shiloh come out to join in the dancing, then rush from the vineyards and each of you seize a wife from the girls of Shiloh and go to the land of Benjamin. When their fathers or brothers complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Do us a kindness by helping them, because we did not get wives for them during the war, and you are innocent, since you did not give your daughters to them.’ So that is what the Benjamites did. While the girls were dancing, each man caught one and carried her off to be his wife." Judges 21:20-23.

          So, you are probably wondering why I think that this story is so exciting.  I think that it is a model of the Rapture and could point to its timing.  Let’s make the assumption that the festival referred to in this passage is actually Tu B’Av, the Fifteenth of Av.  The 600 Benjamites obtained wives in increments of 400 and 200.  First through killing, and second through a bride snatch.  If you add an extra zero to 600, 400, and 200, you can see the timeline of 6000 years of human history.  During the initial 4000 years, God obtained a wife through killing or the sacrificial system.  After the final 2000 years, Christ will obtain His wife through a bride snatch – the Rapture.  The name Benjamin translates to "son of the right hand." Jesus Christ is the ultimate Son of God’s right hand.  "Jesus replied. ‘But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Might One and coming on the clouds of heaven."  Matthew 26:64.  The 600 Benjamites initially fled to the "rock of Rimmon." Rimmon is Hebrew for "pomegranates."  The fruit connected only to the High Priest.  Jesus is not only our High Priest, but He is also our Rock.  The 400 virgins were taken to Shiloh.  Shiloh was the place where the Tabernacle was set up after Canaan was conquered by the Israelites.  It is also a name used for the Messiah in Genesis 49:10. Perhaps Christ will seize His Bride at the time of the first grapes, figs and pomegranates.


1967 plus 40 years plus 5 years equals 2012

          Many of us were looking at the year 2007 as a possible year for the Rapture.  This was based upon a possible pattern from the Israelites' 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.  It was surmised that a similar increment of forty years from the recapture of Jerusalem in 1967 could be significant to modern-day Israel and the Church.  But 2007 came and went without the Rapture occurring.  So was the pattern wrong?

          Not necessarily.  Assuming that the start date is correct (which is key to any numerical pattern), there is Biblical support that an additional 5 years should be added to the pattern.

          According to Leviticus 19:23-25, the Israelites were initially not permitted to eat the fruit of a newly planted tree until their fifth year in the Promised Land.: "When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden.  For three years you are to consider it forbidden; it must not be eaten.  In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the Lord.  But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit.  In this way your harvest will be increased.  I am the Lord your God." 

          Also, based upon the age of Caleb, rewards of land were not distributed until the fifth year in the Promised Land.

          “Now the men of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, ‘You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me.  I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land.  And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear.  I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.  So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’  Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert.  So here I am today, eighty-five years old!”  Joshua 14:6-10.

          So, 2012 could be significant in terms of a fruit harvest and in terms of receiving rewards.


Av 2012

          Well, we will know soon enough if Av 2012 will be prophetically significant.  It is hard not to be on alert while tensions are so high in the Middle East right now.  I also look for a couple of things whenever a potential Rapture date or timeline comes up; I look for a full moon and meteor showers.

          On Pentecost, Peter quoted from the book of Joel to explain the baptism of the Holy Spirit: "These men are not drunk, as you suppose.  It's only nine in the morning!  No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'In the last days, God says I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.  Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.  I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.  The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.  And everyone who calls on the name of the lord will be saved.'"  Acts 2:15-21.

          Since Peter applied this prophecy to the Church, it will not be totally fulfilled until the sun turns to darkness and the moon to blood.  So I think that these specific signs in the heavens will close the Church Age.  (The blood red moon is only referenced in Joel 2:31, Acts 2:20, and Revelation 6:12.) 

          "I watched as he opened the sixth seal.  There was a great earthquake.  The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind."  Revelation 6:12.

          For reasons too time consuming to put into this post, I believe that the Gog Magog War of Ezekiel 38 and 39 could occur around the time of the Rapture.  In Ezekiel 38:22, God states that he will pour down hailstones from the heavens.  There is also a neat verse in Job that talks about God reserving hailstones for times of battle.

          "Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle?"  Job 38:22-23.

          Because of this, I always look for something in the heavens – like meteors – which may be in place at the time of a potential Rapture date.  I know that this is pure speculation on my part, but it is just something that I do.

          This year, there will be a full moon on August 2 and the Delta Aquarids meteor shower on July 27-29 and the Capricornids meteor shower on July 29-30.  All around the time of the Ninth of Av and the Fifteenth of Av. 

          Keep looking up! 

                   – Lisa Taylor