IYAR FIRSTRUITS

May 1st marks the celebration of the second Hebrew month known as Iyar, which is translated “reflected light.” This month is connected to the release of revelation and healing of “God’s light” through His Son Jesus.

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1John 1:7).

To put into perspective the timing of this month, we are in the same 50-day period of transition when the children of Israel left Egypt and began journeying to Mount Sinai.  Through their travels, they were reintroduced to their Covenant Keeping God as Healer, Provider, and Deliverer.  After living in Egypt for such a long time, most of the Israelites had heard about God, but were far from intimately knowing the God who made Covenant with Father Abraham. 

God first revealed Himself during this time in the wilderness as Jehovah Rapha; the God who heals.  God cleansed the waters at Mara and made the bitter waters pure for drinking.  Next, God came to them as Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides.  He released “manna” or “bread from heaven” supernaturally which the Israelites found in the morning dew.   And finally, through the holding up of the arms of Moses during a battle with the Amalekites, the children of Israel saw Jehovah Nissi, their banner of victory. Ex. 15-17

The Exodus from Egypt was a significant shift in departing from the oppression of a “worldly system” to one founded in God.  Trust had been cultivated in these worldly systems, producing a false sense of security and identity in wrong places.  This is evident through the complaining and grumbling of the children of Israel who were crying to go back to the oppression they had prayed to get out of!  Nevertheless, God reveals Himself in their moment of weakness like a groom courting a “bride to be.”

Similarly, during the same 50-day calendar time period in the New Testament, the disciples were being re-introduced to their Savior after Jesus rose from the dead.  Within 40 of those days, Jesus manifested Himself to the disciples to show Himself alive as their Healer, the “Bread of Life,” and Deliverer.  Jesus met the disciples in their weaknesses as well; Thomas the doubter, Peter the rejecter, and all the disciples received healing after seeing a conquering Jesus over death (John 20). The disciples then had to trust in their Savior (Covenant) now revealed, who commanded them to stay in the hostile environment of Jerusalem and wait to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4). 

Prophetically speaking, we will see this whole transition scene play out again preceding the Age of Tabernacles, except it will happen with a multitude of nations (instead of 12 disciples), who are being “reintroduced“ to their Covenant Keeping God.  There will come a day when Christian nations whom have been “oppressed” by the “mystery of Babylon” will be delivered out of the hand of the enemy because of repentance. Then they will be reintroduced to Jehovah Rafa who will heal their land (2 Chron. 7:14). They will encounter Jehovah Jireh, the Word, made manifest on the earth to establish His Kingdom (Rev. 19:13-15). And they will see Jehovah Nissi, the Commander in Chief and His Army who defeats the enemy (Rev. 19:19).

The similarity between the children of Israel in the wilderness, Jesus before he ascended, and the believers today before they meet the returning King is that ALL go through this transition that brings them to an encounter with God’s glory.  And with each age, the glory increased.  At Mt. Sinai, the glory rested upon them  (Ex. 19:18;24:16-18). At Pentecost, a portion of the glory dwelt within the disciples through the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4). When the Age of Tabernacles comes, believers will experience the fullness of the manifestation of His glory for those who abide in His Covenant. (Rev.21:3).

The tribe of Issachar is associated with the month of Iyar. They knew the timings of the Lord for the nation.  As one of the tribes who came alongside David when he was anointed as King, the Bible says in 1 Chron. 12:22-32 of Issachar, “and the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times to know what Israel must do.”  I believe there is an anointing this month to go deeper in our understanding of the times we are in and our faith in a Covenant Keeping God so we can go out into the world with greater authority and power.  

The Hebrew meaning of Issachar is “bringing reward.”  It comes from the root word “nasa” and means “to lift, to advance, arise, bring forth exalt or raise up.”  What better reward can we get than to humble ourselves and seek the Lord and get the treasures of seeing and experiencing the God of Covenant!

Issachar is nestled in between the tribe of Judah and Zebulun on the east side of the Tabernacle.  These three tribes formed a branch that the Lord chose to march out first when He instructed the tribes to go.  Judah would be given the charge to praise and worship, but Issachar understood the timing with which they were to depart and go.  Zebulun then came alongside the two and had the ability to provide the supply or “business” of what needed to be done.

Issachar’s symbol was a humble donkey.  He gets this symbol through Jacob prophesying over his tribe:  “Issachar is a strong ass couching between two burdens.” (Gen. 49:14). A donkey carries the burden of a load from one place to another.  Issachar represents a strong but humble servant of God who fulfills the law of Christ spoken of in Gal. 6:2, “Bear each other’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  

Issachar is rewarded from the Lord for serving His people, standing in the gap and carrying their burden whether it be through prayer or practical application.  Issachar is spoken of as carrying two burdens:  one for himself and one for a “brother in need.”  Rewards for intercession as well as carrying other’s burdens that the Holy Spirit is leading us to do is priceless and brings much joy.

This year in particular, God’s desire is to reveal His “mysteries” so that we are armed with His story, stand as His witness, share His truth, and obey His voice. The remnant is coming into their finest hour. The intel received this month will help bridge the gap between what God’s purpose is this year, and how to accomplish His goal.

50 DAYS UNTIL PENTECOST

Beginning with the Feast of Firstfruits, which is always on the first day of the week following Passover, God instructed the children of Israel to count 50 days (or 7 Sabbaths) to the time they were to celebrate the fourth Feast called the “Feast of Weeks;” or most commonly known as Pentecost.

“And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that your brought sheaf of the wave offering, seven Sabbaths shall be completed.   Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord” (Lev. 23:15,16).

These 50 days were a significant reminder of the timespan between leaving Egypt and coming to the base of Mt. Sinai (Ex. 15-19).  

“In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai”(Ex. 19:1).

Years later in the New Testament, this same 50 day Feast blueprint corresponded to the time frame when Jesus visited His disciples after He was raised from the dead:  

“Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight’ (Luke 24:30,31).

On the 50th day in the Old Testament, God revealed Himself by fire after speaking to the people His proposal of marriage to the Israelites:

“And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God and they stood at the foot of the mountain.  Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire. It’s smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly”(Ex. 19:17,18).

On the 50th day in the New Testament, the disciples were gathered together in the “upper room” when the Holy Spirit came upon them like fire:

“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each other them” (Acts 2:2-4).

Within the 50 day blueprint, God chose to “court” the Hebrews in the Wilderness by revealing His love through His provision and protection, meeting their needs and kindling their faith in Him, even while they were complaining.

In the New Testament, Jesus revealed Himself to the disciples intimately after His resurrection, showing them His hands and feet; eating, sharing, and encouraging the disciples He loved.  

So how did God reveal Himself to the Hebrews in the 50-day wilderness journey to Mount Sinai that was reflective of Christ Himself, coming in the flesh to restore that bond of love?  

One of the first ways God revealed Himself is when He performed a miracle by turning bitter waters sweet:

“So Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree.  When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet” (Ex. 15:25).

In addition, God released water in the desert:

“Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees, so they camped there by the waters” (Ex. 15:27).

Jesus would later reveal Himself in this pattern through the New Covenant.  Those who were thirsty for truth and believed in Him would receive His living water. Christians would then have the ability to use that life flow to reach out to others with God’s love.

“And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely”(Rev. 22:17).

After God provided water in the Wilderness, the Israelites soon complained about being hungry. God revealed Himself again through the supernatural unleavened manna:

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you.  And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in MY law or not.”

This bread that fell from the sky, known as “manna,” would be the tool God would use to introduce the Sabbath rest, prophesying of Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, whom by His sacrifice, would provide rest for all creation in heaven and earth through reconciliation with the Father.

“Then Moses said, ‘Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field.  Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none” (Ex. 16:25,26).

Jesus would later declare that He was the Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:5), and that He was our provision, telling us He was the “bread of life” for those who believed in Him:

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever, and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).

The third time God revealed Himself intimately in the midst of the 50-day wilderness journey was when He provided protection and strength when the Amalekites were attacking the Israelites.

“Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.  And Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek.  Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand…….So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword” (Ex. 17:8,9,13).

Jesus would conquer Satan through His death and resurrection, taking dominion over the enemy permanently, and giving us the ability to have dominion over the enemy as well:

“And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His might power, which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion” (Eph. 1:19-21).

Jesus perfected the pattern “…which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Col 2:17).

As we can see through the whole wilderness experience and the New Testament disciples, the people God chose lost heart and complained, even after experiencing God’s miracles.  And yet, God continued to choose them.   If we know Christ, He chose us as well, not because of our faithfulness, but because He loves us, flaws and all.  As we begin to recognize how Christ IS the substance of these Feast blueprints, our hearts are moved to set aside time to give thanks and to honor our Savior.

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you that you should go and bear fruits, and that your fruit” (John 15:16).

OVERVIEW OF SPRING FEASTS

The Feasts are an essential testimony of our Hebrew heritage that begins in Exodus. When the children of Israel left Egypt and came to Mt. Sinai, God asked the “Israelites” to marry Him so that they would become His “special treasure” (Ex. 19).

“Now, therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people for all the earth is Mine.  And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.  These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel” (Ex. 19:5,6).

After the children of Israel accepted God’s proposal, the “Groom” created a “certificate of marriage” for “His bride/nation” to abide with Him. The Tablets of Testimony were given through Moses as a sign of God’s love and His heart to be one with His people and a witness for the world to see the one true God.

“Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people.  And they said, “all that the Lord has said we will do and be obedient” (Ex. 24:7).

The “Feasts” were also a part of that “certificate” that provided a pattern God established to set aside life to honor those “wedding vows.”  This pattern would prove to not only benefit and bless God’s people but later in time, would serve as the sign and witness of Jesus, the restorer of this “marriage covenant.”

“For Christ, our Passover lamb has been sacrificed” (1Cor. 5:7).

When we honor the Feasts today, we honor the Father who sacrificed His Son for us.  And we step into our heritage. The Spring Feasts provide the blueprint (screenplay) on how Jesus would come to be our Savior and serve as our High Priest.

In Ex. 12, God established His Hebrew Covenant Calendar to start on the 1st of Nisan.  He then gave Moses instructions to execute Passover on the 14th of Nisan in which Israel was to slay the lambs and put the blood on the lintels and doorposts of their homes. (Ex. 12:6,7).  Passover was chosen to be the kick-off as the first Feast of the year.

On the 10th day of Nisan, God instructed the children of Israel to select an unblemished male lamb.  This was the same day Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey and the people cried out, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest” (Matt. 21:9).

Passover was fulfilled by Jesus in the month of Nisan, according to the pattern described in Ex. 12 and Lev. 23. This is why 1 Corinthians 5:7 says, “Messiah has become our Passover.” John the Baptist also confirms this fulfillment when he points to Jesus and says, “Behold the Lamb of God”  (John 1:29.)

On the eve of the 14th of Nisan, Jesus was with His disciples at the last Lord’s Supper.  It was here that Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and broke bread (His body), and drank wine (His Blood) in remembrance of what He must suffer afterward as the Lamb was slain for our sins (Matt. 26:16).

On the morning of the 14th of Nisan, Jesus was sentenced at 9am and crucified.  This was the same time the sacrificial lamb was bound according to the law (Mark 15:25).

At noon, three hours of darkness fell on the land supernaturally (Matt. 27:45). According to the law, no one was allowed to kill the sacrificial lamb in darkness. God prevented any lamb to be slain until Jesus cried out at 3:01, “It is finished.”  This is the same minute the eclipse is recorded to have happened, and afterward the Passover lambs were then slain.

The blood of the sacrificial lambs was put on the doorposts after the blood of Jesus was spilled out upon His death.  (John 19:34) Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus down and placed him in a tomb nearby before sundown since the Passover Dinner would commence that evening (John 19:38-42).

According to Ex.12, the “Passover” followed when they ate the lamb that was roasted by the fire with “unleavened bread.”  This they were to do as a memorial and an everlasting ordinance (Ex. 12:14).

The Feast of Unleavened Bread was to commence that evening and last seven days. (Lev. 23:6).  Because the Israelites left so quickly out of Egypt after the plague of the death of the “firstborn,” they left without any leaven in their bread (Ex. 12:39).  God made it easy for them to follow His instructions. Since leaven represents “sin” usually in the Bible, Jesus wiped out the penalty of “sin” through His sacrifice.

The soldiers were ordered to camp out at the tomb to make sure no one stole Jesus’ body.

Jesus rose before daybreak on Sunday morning.  When Mary and Mary arrived at the tomb, they found it open and the Roman Soldiers were not there guarding it.  They had already left to tell Pilate.  Mary ran to go tell others and met Peter and John who were also on their way to the tomb (John 20:2).

When they arrived at the tomb, they all discovered it empty.  Peter and John went home (John 20:10).  Mary was left alone in the garden.  When the sun arose, Mary encountered what she thought was a gardener.  When she recognized it was Jesus, she wanted to touch him.  But Jesus said to her, “ Touch Me not, for I am not yet ascended to My Father.”

The ascension Jesus was referring to was not after the 40 days where He rose from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:3-9). We know this because Jesus allowed the disciples to touch Him later (John 20:19,20). So Jesus must have ascended to the Father sometime AFTER He talked to Mary.  Why is this important?

Lev. 23:20 says of the Feast of the First Fruits, “The priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the Lord…” In 1 Corinthians 25:20, the scripture says, “Now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the FIRSTFRUITS of those who have fallen asleep.”

In order for Jesus to fulfill the Firstfruits Feast, He had to present Himself to the Father at the same time the priest offered up the Firstfruits. Jesus was actually alive before the priest wave offering in the temple, but He could not present Himself as “legally” alive in heaven until the same time that the priest bore witness on earth.  It was the third hour that the priests offered up the firstfruits.  It was then Jesus went before the Father!

Between The Feast of Firstfruits and the Feast of Pentecost is 50 days in which is called Counting of Omer.  (Lev. 23:15-17) After these 50 days, the children of Israel were to offer a new grain (wheat) offering.  On Pentecost, farmers would bring the firstfruits of their spring harvest to the Lord.

 Pentecost would be the exact same time that the Law (marriage contract) was given to the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai and when God would manifest Himself as a witness to this union (Ex. 19). This would be the time when all the people heard the voice of God speaking in their own language out of the midst of the fire (Deut. 4:12).

In Acts 2, we read that on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came down like tongues of fire upon the heads of the disciples who were waiting in the Upper Room. They became the new grain offering, the “firstfruits” of the indwelling of His glory presented to the Father since they had “accepted Jesus as Savior and Covenant restorer.” Now the Law was written on their hearts and they were one with the Father.

Christians today generally don’t celebrate these Feasts simply because they don’t understand their significance to Jesus.  Some have not fully grasped they entered into this Hebrew heritage and Covenant when they accepted Jesus as their Lord. But God wants to open up our eyes to our birthright and our inheritance in His marriage Covenant.  And as we abide in His blueprint (screenplay), we begin looking like the “Bride” set apart unto Him.