The Secrets of the Barley Harvest
The Real Reason Jesus Came at Passover
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law. (Galatians 4:4)
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)
Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest. (John 4:35)
What is So Special About the Barley Harvest?
Most people today are not farmers. They didn’t grow up in a rural area, or derive their living from the ground. But in the not too distant past, America and the world was an agrarian society. That consciousness is missing from our understanding of the Bible. Easter today is governed by what the Council of Nicea said: the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. But back in the time of Jesus, Passover was determined by when the barley harvest was ready. This distinction is critical to a more fuller understanding of scripture and Jewish life.
Without the barley being ripe for harvest, Passover and the accompanying holy days would have been possible! Why? Because the barley harvest represents what Jesus died for: you and me!
All seven feasts have to do with harvests. Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits were dependent on the barley harvest. Pentecost was dependent on the wheat harvest. The feasts of Trumpets, Yom Kippur and Tabernacles were dependent on the grape harvest.
Passover week culminates with the Feast of First Fruits in which sheaves of barley were waved in the temple. Pentecost is 50 days after First Fruits in which the Jews celebrated the wheat harvest. The fall feasts, especially Tabernacles celebrate the harvesting of the grape and other crops.
What’s so important about the harvests?
The harvests represents various stages of the church or Christians. The barley harvest represents the early church. The wheat harvest represents the contemporary church or Christians. The fall harvests represents the persecuted church or Christians, as does barley.
The flax and barley were destroyed, since the barley had headed and the flax was in bloom. The wheat and spelt, however, were not destroyed, because they ripen later. (Exodus 9:31,32)
Barley represents the early church and it’s persecution. Barley is a winter crop grown in many places in the world because it is a hardy grain. It is planted just after the fall feasts and harvested in the early spring. It can take the harsh winter to include the cold, snow, rain and hail. Exodus 9:31 says that the barley and the flax crop in Egypt was beaten or smitten by the intense hail storm of the plagues. The weather is a picture of the world, satan and its effects on people. How many people have been beaten up and hailed on?
Wheat is grown in the late winter and harvested in the early summer and it needs the gentle rain to grow. When you are saved, God gives you the gentle rain of the Holy Spirit to grow. In Christ we are no longer subject to the world. God does not hail on you.
So what about the Barley Harvest itself?
The festival of First Fruits was commanded to be the first day following the Sabbath..”.. He is to wave the sheaf before the LORD so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath.” (Leviticus 23:11)
Without the barley harvest timed with Passover, Jesus would not let Himself be crucified. Jesus came because the fullness of time had come for his birth. It is the same with his death. If the barley harvest was not ripe, another month was added called “Abib” and Passover was postponed another 30 days (next new moon).
In other words, Jesus didn’t show up and then start gathering the church together. Jesus died for the harvest that was already prepared for Him which was ready for reaping.
What does that mean to you? Jesus just doesn’t show up in your life and ask what can He do for you today. God has already prepared an answer for your problem ready to appear when the time is right.
How do I know when the timing is right?
How did the priests determine the time and the seasons? The ancients determined the feasts where ready by two criteria. First, whether it was a new moon. Second, whether the harvest was white.
Remember, the Jews determined everything by the phases of the moon. So when two rabbis agreed they saw the first sliver of a new moon, they announced a new month had started. Then, they checked the garden they kept near the Mount of Olives to see if the harvest was white.
When the two coincided, they could announce that Passover, Unleavened Bread and First Fruits could begin. If the harvest was not white, it was postponed for another month and another month was added to the calendar called “Abib.” Abib means “in the ear” or “green ears.” That’s a reference to the stage in which the barley was close to ripe. In the natural, there are days when people are not receptive to the word of God.
Barley was harvested just before it turned brown. Brown meant that it was too ripe. Being white means that the kernel was still in the ear, held in place by the husk. Brown means that the husk was releasing the kernel which would fall to the ground and be useless. We need to be harvested while we are still good for God.
Our bodies which house our spirits are like the husk that protects that kernel. When we die, the spirit and the body separate which makes us no good for God. Barley which is white, is translucent in color. This means that the way we start out (green) isn’t the way we finish!
We are harvested while still in the “flesh,” in the husk or body. Therefore we are not completely useful to God or ourselves. When we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) When we were not ripe yet, the reaper does several things to make us useful. First, when he puts the sickle to us, he separates us from our earthly source of nourishment.
He then bundles us together and causes us to stand upright instead of blowing in the wind. This is a picture of the christian and the church A stalk of barley cannot stand upright by itself, it has to be bundled with other stalks and then tied together to be able to stand against the elements. We are bound together with cords of love.
Later, the harvest is brought to the threshing floor for two reasons First, it was a means of protecting the harvest from the elements and theft. (John 6:39-40) Second, it was brought there to be made useful. The kernel was separated be gentle shaking, beating and airing The corner were not reaped to allow others to gather grain. This is a type of special ministry that is not part of the regular church, such as missionaries and chaplains.
Don’t Keep the Barley Harvest a Secret!
Most people because we grow up in an urban or suburban environment have no idea the importance of the barley harvest is in the coming of our Lord. We concentrate on Palm Sunday, Passover and Good Friday which are all important. However, the reason Jesus was born, died and rose again was for the harvest of the people in this world.
First Fruits is representative of the complete harvest to come culminating with the Fall Feasts. Jesus the Man is the First Fruit of that world harvest. (1 Corinthians 15:20-23) That means if He is the First Fruit, I’m in the harvest somewhere as part of the resurrected humanity of Jesus the Christ. This means that I have a place in the harvest, you have a place in the harvest and the harvest is not over. That is something to shout about!