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Between the Harvests

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Between the Harvests

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As I was preparing for the Feast, I studied the harvest seasons of the Holy Land, and I tried to visualize the life of an Israelite living in the land of Canaan.

In the Holy Land, the latter rains would have ended by April, and it would have been very rare to receive any rainfall from May until after the Feast of Tabernacles. Water would have been used sparingly during the months leading up to the Feast.

During the Feast the Israelites prayed to God, asking Him to bless them with the early or former rains. This was symbolized in the water-pouring ceremony that was conducted at the end of the Feast (probably the occasion of John 7:37-38 John 7:37-38 [37] In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink. [38] He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
American King James Version×
).

Prior to the Feast the Israelites would have harvested figs, dates, pomegranates, grapes and olives. The Feast was a time of great joy, coming at the end of the harvest season. When the Israelites returned home after the Feast, they were faced with a lot of hard work. Shortly after the Feast the early rains began to fall. The much-needed water began to soften the hard, baked earth, which allowed the farmers to begin planting their grain for the spring harvest.

In the Bible there are several references to plowing in order to ready the field for the seed, but one author described the process as being more like scraping and scratching. Breaking up the hard, stony soil for planting was hard work. But if the farmer was willing to invest himself in this effort, he would enjoy the fruit of his labor during the spring harvest.

Psalms 126:5-6 Psalms 126:5-6 [5] They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. [6] He that goes forth and weeps, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
American King James Version×
instructs us, "Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."

Evidently the "lazy" choose not to invest in the necessary hard work for a good harvest: "The lazy man will not plow because of winter; he will beg during harvest and have nothing" (Proverbs 20:4 Proverbs 20:4The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.
American King James Version×
).

Perhaps there is a lesson that we can learn from the post-Feast experience of the Israelites. We experienced a very joyous Feast with fellow members of God's Church. We heard wonderful messages about the Kingdom of God, enjoyed good food and fellowshipped with brethren. But after we return home, it is easy to experience post-Feast letdown.

We are faced with problems that we left behind as we enjoyed the Feast. Sometimes we face persecution for taking time off from work or school. Our coworkers, neighbors or relatives may not share the same vision of the future. We return to a society that has very different values from those of the Kingdom of God. So at times after the Feast, we must "go forth weeping," being willing to invest the necessary hard work for spiritual growth.

With God's guidance and help, we can face our trials and overcome our problems and shortcomings. Through the power of His Spirit, we can be ambassadors for His Kingdom. Then as we gather with our brethren for the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread, we can do so with joy, knowing that we have produced spiritual fruit that is pleasing to God and reflects the Kingdom that we pray for each day.

As we examine ourselves prior to Passover, the beginning of the spring harvest, we will be able to measure spiritual growth that we have experienced. Let's invest the effort now so that we can enjoy a wonderful, joyous Spring Feast!

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