Trinity Twentieth Sunday Morning Prayer (17 October 2021) Leviticus 23:10-12
On Harvest Thanksgiving Sunday, we remember and celebrate God’s countless blessings. When and where does the Bible speak about harvest festival? God redeemed Israelites from their bondage land through Moses. During the forty years in the wilderness, the Israelites did not plant or harvest anything. God fed them with heavenly manna and quails until they reached their promised land. When God gave them commandments and laws through Moses, He commanded them to celebrate a few festivals. The festivals were to remember and be thankful for what God had done for them. In Leviticus Chapter 23, we read the festivals that the Lord God commanded to the Israelites to celebrate. There are seven festivals in seven different occasions:
1. Verse 5 says about the Lord's Passover”.
2. Verse 6 says about the feast of unleavened bread.
3. Verse 10 says about Harvest Festival, which we are celebrating today. When God commanded the Israelites about harvest festival, He said “When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. 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 Lord.”
4. The fiftieth day after the harvest celebration is the Day of Pentecost. Verses 14–16 say about celebrating this day .
5. Verse 24 says about the memorial of blowing of trumpets.
6. Verse 27 says about day of atonement.
7. Verse 34 says about the feast of tabernacles for seven days.
In Deuteronomy 16:17, God commanded every man to “give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given” him.
In John 12:24 Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit”. Jesus Christ came as the later Adam to die and bring forth fruit. He accomplished His mission even when He hung on the Cross. He redeemed humankind that was separated from the presence of God. He died on the cross for the remission of the sins of the whole world. On the fiftieth day, the Holy Spirit was poured upon the people. We remember this day as the day of Pentecost. Jesus came as the Passover lamb and fulfilled all the Old Testament laws and made us free from our sins as well from Old Testament laws. We received salvation and the assurance about our eternal life in the kingdom of God by the first fruit or the Passover lamb who is Jesus Christ. This is the best blessing in any one’s life.
Following the law given in Leviticus, we are celebrating Harvest festival even today. We give thanks to our LORD God for all His blessings and goodness in our lives. Traditionally, people used to bring first fruits from their garden or their yield. What did we bring to our LORD Jesus today? Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein”. Can we fill His treasury with our gifts or offerings? Jesus’ expectation is very different.
ARE WE BEARING FRUIT?
In Matthew 3:8 Jesus said we should bring forth fruits meet for repentance. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. If we abide in Him and He in us, we will bring forth much fruit. We cannot bear fruit without Him. John 3:2 also says, “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit”. We may be living in the grace period, but we should also remember that the caution in Luke 3:9:” the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire”. We who are God’s chosen people are expected to bear fruits for Him.
WHAT IS OUR OFFERING?
In Luke 10:2 Jesus said, “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest”. Jesus began His Father’s work alone in this world. He then chose ten disciples who followed Him. He also appointed seventy people and sent them by two to every city and asked them to preach about the kingdom of God. Jesus preached about repentance and the kingdom of God. His aim was to win souls for the kingdom of God. He commanded us to preach the gospel and win souls for Him. How many souls have we brought to the kingdom of heaven? “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” is the commandment given by Jesus.
HOW ARE WE OFFERING?
In Matthew 5:23 Jesus said, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee”. Here Jesus spoke about the first harvest and thanksgiving given by Cain and Abel. Abel gave His best to God and his offering was accepted. But Cain’s offering was rejected. This created enmity between the two brothers. Jesus expects us to reconcile with our brothers and God before bringing our thanksgiving offering to His presence. Are we giving our offering with reconciled hearts? Have we reconciled with God and our neighbours?
Let us self-examine ourselves. Are we bearing fruits for Jesus? What is the offering we are bringing to God’s presence today? I remember the words in a song:
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him, give my heart.
The best offering that we can give our Lord is our heart. Have we offered Him our heart? Are we leading others to offer their hearts to Him? Let us also ask how we are offering our thanks.
We are in end days and many people around us are not in His flock. How are we going to celebrate the harvest festival with God and for God? We are called to sow seed (His word) and water the seeds to grow in all seasons and conditions. We can then reap sheaves for His kingdom. When we meet Him face to face at the time of judgement, how many sheaves will we bring to Him? Psalm 126 verses 5 and 6 say “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Many Christians are persecuted because of sowing seeds. Are we sowing the word of God with tears? If we do, we will see the harvest on the day of judgement with joy.
This harvest festival, I pray that we count our blessings and give thanks wholeheartedly from our heart by bearing fruits for Jesus. May the LORD give us strength and courage to sow seeds that bear much fruit for for the Kingdom of God. Amen!