The Firstfruit Covenant

an article based on a sermon

by Jon Bowles

given Pentecost 2007-05-27

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As we look at the meaning of this Day of Pentecost let us first remember why it is called "Pentecost."

Leviticus, chapter 23:

Leviticus 23:15-16 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: (16) Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the [Eternal].

Pentecost means to "count fifty." But how do we count fifty? From what point? In Verse 10, notice a ceremony that takes place during the Days of Unleavened Bread:

Leviticus 23:10-11 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf [an omer] of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: (11) And he shall wave the sheaf before the [Eternal], to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.

The Jews today keep Pentecost on the 6th of Sivan. They look at the starting point of the actual counting as the morrow after the first Holy Day. Therefore, for them, Pentecost always falls on the same day. But it is not the day after the first Holy Day that is to be used to count. Rather, it is the day after a weekly Sabbath that should be used and that day must fall within the Days of Unleavened Bread. So Pentecost is 50 days from and including the day starting sunset Saturday night and going to sunset Sunday night within the days of Unleavened Bread.

Verse 12:

Leviticus 23:12-14 And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the [Eternal]. [Both the sheaf and the lamb sacrifice are symbolizing Christ.] (13) And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the [Eternal] for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. (14) And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

So this wave sheaf offering was to be the first grain fruit of the land. They were not allowed to have any other harvest, no other first fruits whatsoever, until this first of the firstfruits was offered during the Days of Unleavened Bread.

The way that they harvested this particular omer (according to Jewish tradition) was that on the day of the Passover a group of chosen men would go out into the fields and bind a certain number of barley stalks. (It is interesting to note in comparison, that Christ most probably was bound on the stake.) After the weekly Sabbath, right when sunset occurred, at the exact same time Christ was resurrected, they would return and harvest it. Subsequently, they would take it back to the temple area and prepare it (winnow, grind and sift it) overnight. In the morning it was then offered as the wave offering.

This is why Christ said after he was resurrected Sunday morning, "Don't touch me. I haven't yet ascended to my Father." (John 20:17) Yet very shortly after, His disciples did hold Him by the feet (Matthew 28:9). Showing that by that time He had already gone to the Father, been offered as a wave offering, and come back again.

This offering, this first of the firstfruits, is linked to the Day of Pentecost - the Day of Firstfruits. Continuing in Leviticus:

Leviticus 23:15-17 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, [Saturday sunset to Sunday sunset] from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: (16) Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the [Eternal]. (17) Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the [Eternal].

Just as the firstfruit offering during the Days of Unleavened Bread was a wave offering, so is this offering. The two are tied together, but there is a distinction. The firstfruit offering, which symbolizes Christ, had no leaven. This offering, which symbolizes the Church, is baken with leaven. Why?

Verse 18:

Leviticus 23:18-19 And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the [Eternal], with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the [Eternal]. (19) Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings.

We do not find a sin offering with the firstfruit wave offering during the Days of Unleavened Bread because that offering pictured Christ, who was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). This offering pictures us, who have sins. We need that sin offering and we need to claim that offering for sin.

Yet this Day of the Firstfruits is tied to this other day, when THE Firstfruit was offered. The similarities are there in the way things were done. But the distinction is clear: One is to do with Christ, the other is to do with us, the Church. This Day of the Firstfruits is the Day of the Church, of those called by the Father and given to Christ for training - the disciples or students, who are to learn of a certain way of life, to overcome, to grow in grace and knowledge, until finally they can be used as teachers in the World Tomorrow.

Turn to I Corinthians, chapter 15:

I Corinthians 15:19-24 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (20) But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. [This word translated here as "firstfruits" is actually singular in the original Greek. Christ is The Firstfruit of them that slept.] (21) For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. (22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (15) But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits [Again, in the original Greek it is "the firstfruit," singular - picturing Christ during the Days of Unleavened Bread, and fulfilled by Christ when He was resurrected after that Sabbath, and He offered Himself that Sunday morning.]; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. [This is the Church. They are the ones called by the Father at this present age, and are ready when Christ comes. They are the firstfruits - plural - as we will go on to see.] (24) Then cometh the end [Or the "end ones," as some translations have it.], when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. [Moving from Christ's return, to the age of the Millennium, the Great White Throne Judgment, and then into Eternity.]

Notice in James, chapter 1, where it ties this subject of firstfruits to us, the Church:

James 1:16-18 Do not err, my beloved brethren. (17) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (18) Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

This Day of Firstfruits is to do with the Church. Christ told His apostles to wait in Jerusalem until a specific day, until the promise came to them from on high. Why? Because that day, the Day of Firstfruits, was to be the day the Church actually started its existence, the day the very Holy Spirit of God came - the day the Church Age began. That is why this day is so incredibly important to all of us.

In light of understanding the meaning of this day, let us look at an important aspect of it - the covenant that we, the Church, enter into - "our Firstfruit Covenant." It is the New Covenant in His blood, as far as Passover is concerned. But this Church Age, beginning on this Day of Pentecost, has different promises, a different emphasis. There is a great deal in scripture about this particular day and how it fits within the Church Age that ties into the Covenant - this agreement we have with Almighty God.

Let us look at 5 specific areas in this regard:

Future Marriage Covenant

In looking at this Firstfruit Covenant, we need to realize it is a future Marriage Covenant.

Turn to Jeremiah, chapter 31:

Jeremiah 31:31-32 Behold, the days come, saith the [Eternal], that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah [Note that it is with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.]: (32) Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the [Eternal]:

Why does God mention here that he was a husband to them? Why does He include it within the context of this passage? Because when we are looking at the New Covenant as it applies to us today who form Spiritual Israel, more than anything else, it is a Marriage Covenant - a marriage between Christ and the Church. The analogy and symbolism are very clear in scripture that the Church is to marry Christ. And, as it says here, in the case of Old Testament Israel, under the Old Covenant, God was a husband to them even then.

Verse 33:

Jeremiah 31:33-34 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the [Eternal], I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. [In the New Covenant there is not a change in the Law, but a change in where that Law has got to be - written on the heart.] (34) And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the [Eternal]: for they shall all know me [How are they going to know Him? The Law will be in their hearts and in their minds.], from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the [Eternal]: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. [There is a forgiveness of sin of a kind that is way above what has existed prior to this time.]

Turn to Hosea, chapter 1:

Hosea 1:10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.

This is talking about a new agreement, a new relationship between God and His people. It will be said of them, these resurrected individuals, "Ye are the sons of the living God."

Notice this context, in Chapter 2:

Hosea 2:14-23 Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. (15) And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope [This valley runs from the Allenby Bridge up towards Jerusalem, on the West Bank, between Jerusalem and Jordan, and it is where God said, "You are not my people." Specifically, "neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you," in the matter of Achan. (Joshua 7:13)]: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. (16) And it shall be at that day, saith the [Eternal], that thou shalt call me Ishi [my husband]; and shalt call me no more Baali [my Lord]. (17) For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. (18) And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely. [This has not happened yet. It is looking into future.] (19) And I will betroth thee unto me for ever [For it to be "forever," it must be a spiritual Israel.]; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. (20) I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the [Eternal]. (21) And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the [Eternal], I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; (22) And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. (23) And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God. [From spiritual Israel it talks about physical Israel, which will be eating the corn and drinking the wine. Though spiritual Israel will as well. Remember what Christ did after His resurrection. He partook of fish and a honeycomb before some of His disciples. (Luke 24:43-43)]

It is a future Marriage Covenant. We do not enter into it now, not in its full sense. So when will it occur?

Revelation, chapter 19:

Revelation 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

It is after Christ's return that the marriage between Christ and the Church will come.

Notice what Paul said to the Church in Corinth in II Corinthians, chapter 2:

II Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

One thing we need to understand, and it can be difficult in this present 21st century, is that in times past an espousal, an engagement period, was as good as a marriage. Remember what Joseph was going to do when he was engaged to Mary, before Christ was born?

Matthew, chapter 1:

Matthew 1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

His thinking was that he was going to have to divorce her, even though they had never had physical relations. Why? Because an espousal - formally saying to someone, "I will marry you." - was from that point a contract. The marriage covenant began with espousal, not with consummation.

Notice in Ephesians, chapter 5, where it talks about marriage in the context of Christ and the Church.

Verse 25:

Ephesians 5:25-26 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; [The marriage between Christ and the Church has not been consummated, but the contract of the espousal has begun.] (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

This cleansing is a process that goes on throughout our entire lives. The entire Church is going to be cleansed between the Day of Pentecost, 31 AD, all the way through until Christ returns. And it is the washing of water by the word. As we saw in James, chapter 1:

James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

The Word of truth begets us as far as this relationship is concerned, and it is also something that Christ cleans us up with. He sanctifies us, with the washing of water by the word. It is a process that takes place for the Church at this particular time until the consummation finally occurs. But the agreement, the espousal, has already taken place. This Church is to be married to Jesus Christ.

Back to Ephesians, chapter 5:

Ephesians 5:27-32 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. [This is not going to happen until we are made spirit beings. We are washed by the Word, washed by the blood of Jesus Christ, putting away sin. But it is a process that takes place until we are finally "set" as spirit beings.] (28) So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. (29) For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: (30) For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (31) For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. (32) This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. [In the future there will be one flesh between Christ and the Church. I speculate that this may well have something to do with "knowing", as throughout scripture the term "to know" is used for sexual relations. But what is certain, is that we will have access to knowledge beyond anything that we even dream about today. We will then have the knowledge to do the job, to be the teachers and kings - empowered with the capacity that we need.]

So when we are looking at this Firstfruit Covenant, it is a future Marriage Covenant. But unlike our present culture, there is a much more binding nature to the engagement period. And it is that binding espousal that we are in today, as the Church.

With Better Promises

This Firstfruit Covenant is also being made with better promises.

Notice in Hebrews, chapter 8:

Heb 8:6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

The correct translation should be "which receives the law with better promises." (See in chapter 7, verse 11, where this same word translated here as "was established," is translated correctly as "received the law.") So it is the same spiritual Law that has always been there, but the promises, the arrangement, the agreement, is much greater. And why does the spiritual Law remain identical? Because it is the Mind, the very thinking, of Almighty God.

But what are these better promises? Let us look at a few.

Based On God's Spiritual Law

When we are looking at this Firstfruit Covenant we must understand that there is something that is needed for it.

We are here as firstfruits, tied to the Firstfruit, which pictured Jesus Christ in the Days of Unleavened Bread, who offered Himself as a wave offering to God. We are a wave offering as well, but we have leaven in us. How can God take something like this, this vile flesh, and create a God-being out of it? How can He take this mind, that goes on its own merry way, in tune with Satan so many times, and tune it in with the very Spirit of God? How does He do it?

Notice in Romans, chapter 4, where it talks about Abraham:

Romans 4:17-24 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) [Here was Abraham, pushing 100, and Sarah, 90, when given the instruction that he was to be this father, and she this mother, of many nations. Impossible without God!] before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead [makes the dead alive], and calleth those things which be not as though they were. [Abraham had to understand that he was not dealing with a god like the gods of those nations about him, or with a human being. He was dealing with the Logos who gave the Word to create all things.] (18) Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken [We have seen some of these scriptures (the Word spoken) that talk about a covenant with better promises and have seen some of the better promises involved for us, the firstfruits - ready to be teachers with this divine nature.], So shall thy seed be. (19) And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb [He did not look at the physical evidence he could see in front of him every single day.]: (20) He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; [This does not come by our power. The Firstfruit Covenant with these better promises does not come through our own power, but the power of the Holy Spirit - the power of God, as He works with us through the trials and difficulties, creating in us His divine nature.] (21) And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. (22) And therefore it was imputed [or counted] to him for righteousness. (23) Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed [or reckoned] to him; (24) But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed...

In other words, we, like Abraham, also believe God. He gives these promises to "His Church," the people He has called. As it says, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44) That last day is when the Church is resurrected. It is the resurrection of the firstfruits. These better promises, are all a part of this.

Continuing in verse 24:

Romans 4:24-5:5 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed [We also will have this same character. This righteousness, spoken of in verse 22, will be there.], if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead [so that this Living Christ is then refashioned in each of us]; (25) Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (5:1) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. [We have the forgiveness of sins that are past, but also have the righteousness that will be made, as a divine nature within each of us. It is holding on to that promise, in the same way as Abraham held on to the same kind of promises, given from the same mouth.] (3) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations [trials] also: knowing that tribulation [trials] worketh patience [We glory in trials because we see that God is there with us in them, fashioning that divine nature]; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy [Spirit] which is given unto us.

What is shed abroad in our hearts? The love OF God. What does the New Covenant talk about? It says, "I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts." It is the same thing. It is the love of God...shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which gives us the kind of character to keep God's spiritual Law. That is the law of God written in our hearts that we need to have. This love of God is the way that God and the Father live now, and He sheds it abroad in our hearts by that same Spirit.

Notice a little earlier on in Romans, chapter 4:

Romans 4:15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

You can not have a transgression unless there is a law, so there has to be some kind of law. Even at the time of the rebellion of Satan and the angelic beings, there had to be a law for them to have sinned. That "law" is the spiritual Law of God.

But how do we sort out what we find in the Book of the Law of Moses? It is filled with all kinds of things to do, and things to be careful of. How do we sort it all out? What exactly is God's spiritual Law? What is the spiritual Law regarding angels and God, for example? Or the spiritual Law between God and the Word? What is the spiritual Law dealing with specifically?

It is a Law of relationships. That is the primary focus. And it is the relationship of many things - between God and man, between man and man, between man and animals, between man and the earth - all reflecting the very Mind and Character of God in the way we deal with everything. It is a Way of doing things.

However, there was something that was not to do with relationships. Jeremiah, chapter 7:

Jeremiah 7:22-23 For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: (23) But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.

The laws that God was talking to them about initially were the laws of relationship. Then the sacrificial law was added. It was a law of works - the "ergon," the "works of the law," as you find explained in Galatians. These "works of the law," of which sacrifices are a part, then passed. Why? Because THE Sacrifice, that pays the penalty for sin, came.

Notice what God said to Moses in Exodus, chapter 19:

Exodus 19:3-6 And Moses went up unto God, and the [Eternal] called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; (4) Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. (5) Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: (6) And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

When God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt He did not say anything to them about sacrifices. He said, "Obey my voice and then you will be my people." The sacrifices were added because of transgression, as we will go on and see.

Every one of the 10 Commandments has to do with a relationship. The first four are to do with the relationship between God and man. The next six are to do with the relationship between man and man. But someone may ask, "What about the Sabbath?"

Is keeping the Sabbath "works of the law"? Ridiculous! It is not "works" of anything - rather the antithesis of it. It is stopping working! And why do we stop working? So we can get our minds on spiritual things - so that we have time to have a relationship with God. It is very, very clearly a relational Law, as well.

Someone may ask, "What about Exodus 20:24? Here are sacrifices."

Exodus 20:24 An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.

How was the Old Covenant ratified? With blood. The same way as all covenants were ratified at that time. The reason why it says here to make the altar in a certain way is because they had to make an altar in order to ratify the Covenant. It had nothing to do with burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin.

Exodus 24:5-7 And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the [Eternal]. [How did they do that? They had to have an altar, and, as we saw, instruction was given for its construction.] (6) And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. (7) And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the [Eternal] hath said will we do, and be obedient.

And what were the judgments within the Old Covenant - starting in Exodus 21 - which they said they would do? They also were relational. Notice a few examples:

Exodus 21:2 If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.

Exodus 21:7 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.

Exodus 21:12 He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.

Exodus 21:15 And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.

If we go through all these laws, in chapters 21, 22 and 23 of Exodus, we will find only one sacrifice mentioned - that of the Passover (Exodus 23:18). It was a very special sacrifice, specifically representing Christ, and whose emblems He later changed. That is the only one included within the Old Covenant.

But in going through this section we find Laws of relationship after relationship. It is God's Mind, as it applies to a carnal people at that time, in a covenant or an agreement.

It was a spiritual Law of relationship. Even the amplification within this carnal ordinance, from chapters 21 to chapters 23, was to do almost exclusively with relationships - between God and man, and men and men. God did not talk about burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin. That was added afterwards, because of transgression.

Notice in Galatians, chapter 3:

Galatians 3:19 Wherefore then serveth the law?...

What law? Go back to verse 2:

Galatians 3:2-3 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works [ergon] of the law, or by the hearing of faith? [We saw earlier in Romans about the faith of Abraham - how he believed God and that it was not written for his benefit, but for our benefit now. We, the firstfruits, are to have this divine nature, are to become God-beings. How? We trust the One who made the promise. He will convert us. He will make us into that God-being, the same way as He made a child in the womb of Sarah, through the sperm of Abraham - a miracle in itself - and from that fragment of DNA came this baby. These are the better promises.] (3) Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

Back to verse 19:

Galatians 3:19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions [He is talking about the works of the law, the ergon, not God's spiritual Law.], till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

What happened to the sacrifices for sin, these "works of the law," when the Seed, Jesus Christ, came? He gave Himself as THE Sacrifice for sin. Therefore, there is no longer a need for sacrifices. He was the seed that came to whom the promise was made. So we now have the reality. Does that mean then, that we get rid of the spiritual Law? Ridiculous! The spiritual Law is the Mind of God, as it applies in different instances. It is to do with relationships - between God and man, between individuals, down to relationships between man and animals, even down to relationships between man and the soil.

What about the various physical works? Many of them were there as reminders of things. For example, in Numbers, chapter 15:

Numbers 15:37-39 And the [Eternal] spake unto Moses, saying, (38) Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: [You can readily see today the Jewish prayer shawls, with fringes on the borders, and a ribbon of blue running through. That is based on this. The Jewish men will actually wear them underneath their clothes.] (39) And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the [Eternal], and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:

It was to be a reminder of sin. What do we have in God's Church? We have the Holy Spirit that brings to our remembrance all things, "whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:26) That is the replacement of this. This was as a schoolmaster until Christ came. Then it was wiped away.

But notice the context of this chapter in the preceding verses. What was this ribbon of blue reminding these people about as regards the spiritual Law?

Verse 32:

Numbers 15:32-35 And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. (33) And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. (34) And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. (35) And the [Eternal] said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.

The specific commandment that was broken was the Sabbath. But it was not just simply Sabbath-breaking. If you go back a stage before this, you find it was totally presumptuous Sabbath-breaking. This man was going about essentially saying, "I know about this Sabbath thing. But I am not going to take any notice at all. I am going to go get sticks and carry on with work." This was the attitude of mind and it was presumptuous sin - not one of ignorance, as is distinguished in Numbers 15:29-30.

So the context was the spiritual Law of the Sabbath. And the carnal law, the "works of the law," that was added, was the ribbon of blue and the fringes. It was a certain "work of the law" to remind them of something.

God included even circumcision in this area. The apostles and elders could not make a decision about the matter and that is why there was the Acts 15 conference. It was only when Peter showed that the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit, as they were uncircumcised, that it became clear that it was not a requirement. Circumcision was not a relationship issue. But it took God to make the decision mark on that one. He had to "write it down," by actually calling Cornelius. And Peter therefore noted that.

So we see that God's spiritual Laws, on which this Firstfruit Covenant are based, are to do with relationships. The only sacrifice found in those judgment chapters of Exodus 21-23, was the Passover. It continues, but with the emblems changed. Even the Sabbath command, which is to do with stopping work, stopping "ergon," is to do with relationships. It is stopping work, so that we have the time to concentrate on spiritual things. So that we have the time to get our relationship with God back on its keel, after a busy week of work and the concerns of life. We need that time, and we need that time specified.

How The Administration Changed

There is a change however, in how these spiritual Laws that we've been looking at are administered in this Firstfruit Covenant.

Turn to Hebrews, chapter 8:

Hebrews 8:8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

The fault was with the people themselves. Their carnal minds were hostile to God and His Law as the Law is spiritual. It is not possible for the carnal mind to be truly subject to the Law of God. (Romans 8:7) But with the coming of God's Spirit, notice the change in the administration that takes place. II Corinthians, chapter 2.

II Corinthians 2:17-4:2 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God [We don't take the Word of God and twist it, corrupt it.]: but as of sincerity, but as of God [trying to get to the Mind of God], in the sight of God speak we in Christ. [Paul is saying, we have a responsibility before God. He is watching everything that is taking place. We, who have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who are in contact with God, are walking as Christ would walk, and therefore "speak we in Christ."] (3:1) Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? (2) Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: (3) Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered [or administered] by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart [He is clearly here talking of a New Covenant form of administration where God's Laws are actually written in the heart - not merely on stones. So it is not the Spiritual Law of God that has changed, but it is how that Spiritual Law must now be administered.]. (4) And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: (5) Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; (6) Who also hath made us able ministers [qualified ministers, or administrators] of the new testament [or covenant]; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

Note how this is being said in the context that he is not going to corrupt the Word of God, but use it sincerely, trying to get God's mind. (2:17) It is the administration of the Spirit, not of the letter.

(7) But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: [The glory of his face was not going to glow forever, then. It faded away after he hung the veil across his face for a few days.] (8) How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? (9) For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.

This Firstfruit Covenant or Agreement, this Firstfruit administration within the Church, is one that exceeds in glory. It actually produces true righteousness.

(10) For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. (11) For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. [The Old Covenant was glorious in its way, but what we are looking at today is even more so.] (12) Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: (13) And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: [In other words, his glory was going to fade.] (14) But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament [They could not understand these Laws of relationships.]; which veil is done away in Christ. (15) But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. (16) Nevertheless when it [the heart] shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. [You will be able to look into that same Law and understand the spiritual intent. It is then written in fleshly tables of the heart.] (17) Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (18) But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory [that is Christ] to glory [that you see in that glass, which is us], even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

It is from one glory to another, being the same kind of glory that Christ has. This spiritual change has to be there, because we are eventually also going to made like unto His glorious body - that will need the identical kind of mind. (Philippians 3:21) It is part of the better promises. But be aware that the concept of having the Laws of God written in our heart is not like flicking a switch. It is a process that takes place over the period of a physical lifetime.

(4:1) Therefore seeing we have this ministry [this administration], as we have received mercy, we faint not; (2) But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

In other words, we must take this book and apply it honestly. Paul is once again re-emphasising what he said earlier:

II Corinthians 2:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ [as Christ would].

So the administration is according to the Spirit of the Law. However, people use this as an excuse to wipe away the entire Law. But as we just read, you do not corrupt the Word of God. And, as we saw in chapter 4, verse 2, "But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully..," You are going to the core, the meaning, the spiritual intent of the Law, that you find within all of the Word of God. You live "by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4) You are trying to get the same mind that God has. That is the administration that is necessary and that administration has changed, as it goes into in Matthew chapter 5 (which we covered in the article "Higher Education").

God's Laws must be written on the heart. This is why the Eternal said in Deuteronomy 5:29: "O that there were such an heart in them...," but there was not at that time. It is why you find in Ephesians 5:26, that we are washed with the water by the Word. This is what Christ is doing with His Church, so as to present Himself with a glorious Church, without "spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing" - washed completely clean; obedient to the Laws of God; administering them in the spiritual intent; doing it through the very Spirit of God.

Other laws and statutes

There are other laws and statutes that you will come across in scripture. How do we apply them?

What about the death penalty? The Church is not a physical nation. There is no physical nation of God on the earth today. Eventually Christ will return and He will wage war on this earth and people will be put to death. But we do not apply the death penalty now.

As Christ said in John, chapter 18:

John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. [When the Kingdom of God does arrive, it may well be that we will need to apply the death penalty, but we will be spirit beings at that time - having the ability to correctly discern the heart.]

Principles that we find within the Law however, do apply. Turn to I Corinthians, chapter 9, where we see Paul using one such principle, and applying it to a completely different area.

I Corinthians 9:9-11 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? (10) Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. (11) If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal [physical] things?

He is talking about the fact that the ministry needs to have an income from somewhere in order to live. And he takes the principle of not muzzling the ox - which is the way in which God regards, or deals with, oxen - and applies it in this context. Though the situations are totally different, it is still applying the Mind of God.

Something that we need to be very careful of though is that we do not apply "part Laws." A classic example of this involves the Sabbatical year. It is one of the Laws of relationship - in this case between man and the land - and back in the '50's the Church tried to apply it, telling all the farmers to rest their land in that year. This basically allowed the weeds to grow and the result was that the farmers went bankrupt, because they had mortgages on their farms.

The Church at that time did not have a sound concept of what the Sabbatical year was all about. They only applied part of the law. Notice a few scriptures in this regard.

Exodus 23:11 But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.

Leviticus 25:4 But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the [Eternal]: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.

The land is rested in the Sabbatical year, yes, but you are to put animals on it to eat it down, and you are to allow the poor to glean from it what they need.

But notice something else, in Deuteronomy, chapter 15:

Deuteronomy 15:1-2 At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. (2) And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called the [Eternal's] release.

There is also to be a release of debts in the seventh year. So as regards a farm with debt, you can't apply the resting of the land and not also apply the release of debt. You can't apply "part laws." And we had to learn that in the Church through hard experience.

What about health laws - the laws of relationship between ourselves and our own bodies? Unclean meats would fall into this category. Unclean meats, as far as we can tell, is not a spiritual thing ("The kingdom of God is not meat and drink..." - Romans 14:17), but a physical thing. However, that does not mean we can eat what is unclean with impunity. We need to be careful about what we put in our mouth, and if we eat unclean meats, we will be getting sick. They were not designed as food.

Blood and fat are other things in this category of health to be avoided. We are not to eat, for example, blood sausage, even if it is made from beef. Blood is specifically mentioned within Acts 15 (verse 20) and fat is linked with it in the Old Testament. (Leviticus 3:17)

The principle of quarantine is another Law that we should apply - making sure that when we are sick we try and stay away from others to protect them. It is a relationship issue. Hygiene laws are an area to note as well. And there are others that you will come across in scripture, that certainly, in principle, we should be still applying. Even laws that are not specifically in relationship areas, but provide a principle for us to understand, even these laws still show us the Mind of God. But the spiritual Law of God - the Laws of God that involve our relationships today - these certainly apply.

In looking at this Day of Firstfruits, we are looking at a better Covenant. It is a relationship between ourselves, and God the Father and Jesus Christ. It is based on better promises. We, of the Firstfruits, this Church era that we are in today, have access to the Father in a way that was never given to the people of old. That only began when the Holy Spirit was given, 31 AD, on that Day of Pentecost. We also have the Holy Spirit - that love of God shed abroad in our hearts, that power of God, so that we can keep the Commandments of God, which is to do with that love. We have the faith of Christ that God will give us the divine nature. Through trials and difficulties, we know He will lead us until eventually we will graduate with that divine nature. We will then be born sons and daughters of God, part of the very family of God, with glorified spirit bodies, and life everlasting in everlasting joy - inheriting all things. These are the better promises.

The Day of Pentecost is not just "counting fifty." It is also tied to the firstfruit wave offering of Jesus Christ, during the Days of Unleavened Bread, and this in turn ties to the firstfruits wave offering - baked with leaven - on the Day of Pentecost. Both are tied together, as part of a marriage relationship between Christ and His Church. The Church is now the espoused wife of Christ, not married yet, but in the process of being washed by the Word until the time of Christ's return. The part each of us individually must play in this process, involves an unconditional surrender, so that God is able to create His greatest creation, within us - His firstfruits - in whose heart is His Law, His Mind, His Way in absolutely everything.

transcribed in article form by KA. Edited by JB.