Yesterday, Christians all over the world celebrated Christ’s resurrection. As with the Jewish people who celebrated Passover this weekend, it was historical in that in nations across the globe, most of us were bound to our homes due to Covid-19. This is amazing when you consider that it has not been for some 3500 years that the Jewish people were restricted to their homes for the Passover. In Exodus 12.13, which institutes the first Passover meal God told the people, ‘The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.’ In essence, the Jewish people were commanded to be in their homes, not out visiting- just like this Passover!
So what now? How do we view this time we are in from God’s perspective? That is to say, how do we realize God’s redemptive Kingdom purposes in this hour? If we are merely trying to get by and survive the threat of Covid-19 I believe we will miss out on God’s purposes. Not all times are equal in the Kingdom of God. There are times for sowing, times for harvesting, times of Sabbath, and times for celebration. God is the god of the times and seasons, according to the prophet Daniel.
April 12, Easter Sunday, was also the beginning of the Festival of Firstfruits. The Hebrews were commanded to ‘bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest’ when they first came into the promised land. (Note; there is some debate as to the actual dates of our contemporary calendar with the historical Jewish calendar) Following is a partial list of Biblical events that, according to Jewish history and tradition, took place on the first day of Firstfruits. The Hebrew people passed through the Parting of the Red Sea, Israel entered the promised land, Hezekiah cleansed the Temple, Queen Esther saved the Jewish people in Persia, and, greatest of all- the resurrection of Jesus.
These events comprise a fantastic list that all took place on the same day of the year. I don’t believe the word ‘coincidence’ is found in the lexicon of Heaven! Jesus is the prophetic fulfillment of the Festival of Firstfruits!. 1 Corinthians 15.20 states that ‘Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep’!
So, if this Passover celebration is historical in being the only one in, perhaps, 3500 years in which the both Jews and Christians have been housebound, is there something extraordinary about the rest of this season we are all in?
I want to suggest a timeline to give food for thought, and a possible direction for prayer:
· ENFORCED SABBATICAL; The last several weeks have not been merely a time of being forced to stay home. Rather, I believe the Lord is seeing it as a time of enforced sabbatical. I believe God is calling us to freshly focus on Him, our relationship with Him, and our relationship with our families and one another. It is a time for prayerful evaluation of exactly where do we derive our comfort from- our lifestyles, or the God of all comfort!
· HISTORICAL TIMES; This Passover or Easter Celebration is historic in that we have all been housebound. In the first Passover, Moses told the people to be dressed in their cloaks and sandals, with their staffs in their hands. In other words, they were on high alert and to be ready to go.
Internationally there has been an acceleration of the gospel in many parts of the world for many years now. Jesus tells us in Luke 12.35-36: ‘Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.’ We, Christians, in parts of the world where the gospel has been slow-moving possibly need this wake-up call to ready ourselves for a greater harvest in the near future.
· 40 DAYS OF REVELATION; Following the day of Firstfruits beginning, there were 50 days until the Festival of Weeks or Pentecost in the Greek. The New Testament tells us that those first 40 days, after the ressurction, culminate with Jesus ascending to the Father. However, during that time Jesus appeared to not only the 11 disciples but hundreds of others, as well. (1 Cor. 15.6) He also made, seemingly, a special appearance to the disciples, especially for Thomas. Thomas had been skeptical of the first reports from the other disciple of Jesus being raised from the dead.
I would like to suggest that during the next 40 days, the Holy Spirit may want to be speaking to many of us of what God’s plans are for the near future. After all, He did promise us that the people of the New Covenant would dream dreams, see visions, and prophesy by the Spirit of the Lord. There are some of us who, like Thomas, may have been doubting God’s goodness towards us. If so the Lord may especially desire to speak to us!
· THE UPPER ROOM; The last ten days leading up to Pentecost were to be a time of waiting on the Lord- prayer and worship, according to Acts 1. I want to encourage you over the next 50 days to stay on your spiritual toes and to place a special emphasis in devoting some time daily to waiting on the Lord. As David wrote in Psalm 5.3: ‘O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch’
· PENTECOST: I do not know if in our varying cities and nations whether we will be able to meet in person, or not, by May 31st. But whether our Pentecost Sunday meetings are in person, live-streamed, podcast, or zoomed, let’s believe God for a massive outpouring of His power and boldness on us. Let’s seek God for fresh opportunities this spring and summer to share the good news of Christ, pray for the sick, and open doors for demonstrating the love of Christ in a myriad of practical ways. Let’s take hold of Psalm 2, verse 8, that the nations will be given to Christ as His inheritance. And, that we all have a part to play in preparing that gift!
Mantle of Praise Ministries
PS.- Some two years after the previous financial crisis of 2008, I put together a lot of the teaching I was doing at that season, in my book entitled ‘Breakthrough in Times of Breakdown’. I was, in many conferences, focusing on the ways of God that enable us to experience Psalm 37.18-19- ‘the righteous will prosper even during a time of famine’. Starting in January of this year, I sensed the Lord calling me to refocus on those Biblical keys. Especially now, in this season of considerable economic uncertainty, I believe this book can be a real resource of comfort and encouragement. It’s available here at the website at a significantly reduced price.