THE FEAST OF INGATHERING
The Feast of Ingathering is observed after the barley, wheat, and fall harvest seasons of Palestine (the fall harvest was the largest harvest of all three).
"Three times [i.e., seasons] you shall keep a feast to me in the year. You shall keep the feast of unleavened bread . . . and the feast of the harvest of first-fruits of your labors which you have sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when you have gathered in your labors out of the field" (Ex.23:14-16 KJV).
"And you shall observe the feast of weeks, of the first-fruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end" (Ex.34:22 KJV).
"Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep a feast to the Lord seven days: on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a Sabbath" (Lev.23:39 Para.). For an explanation of the eighth day, see our study concerning the Feast of the Eighth Day.
"You shall observe the feast of tabernacles [shelters] seven days, after that you have gathered in your corn and your wine: And you shall rejoice in your feast, you, and your son, and your daughter, and your manservant, and your maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within your gates. Seven days shall you keep a solemn feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord shall choose: because the Lord your God shall bless you in all your increase, and in all the works of your hands, therefore you shall surely rejoice" (Deut.16:13-15 KJV).
The Harvest and the Celebration
There are two very important points that need to be clarified in order to clearly define the meaning of the name "Feast of Ingathering":
1. At the time this festival was to be observed each year, the fall harvest had already been completed.
2. The seven-day festival was a celebration of the fall harvest, which had already been gathered in.
Understanding these two interrelated points gives us the key to unlocking the prophetic and symbolic meaning of this festival, which celebrated the bountiful fall harvest that God had provided to the Israelites.
THE THREE SPIRITUAL HARVESTS
Besides being times of rejoicing and thanksgiving for the great physical and spiritual blessings from God, these three annual harvest seasons were prophetic and symbolic of a great spiritual harvest of humanity into the Kingdom of God.
The Spring Harvest
The Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, which occurred at the beginning of the spring harvest season, picture the beginning of God's plan for the salvation of humanity.
Within the spring harvest season was the sacrificial Passover Lamb, which was prophetic of the Lamb of God who would sacrifice himself in order to take away the sins of the world. Moreover, the spring harvest season contained the official beginning of the barley harvest and the wave-sheaf offering, which pictured the Messiah being presented to and accepted by God the Father as the first of the harvest of humanity to become his spiritual son.
The spring harvest season is unique; in that, five major beginnings in the plan of God for the salvation of humanity are revealed and pictured within it:
1. The beginning of the process of salvation through Jesus Christ as the sacrificial Passover Lamb of Godthe Savior and redeemer of humanity.
2. The beginning of coming out of a life of bondage and slavery to sin through repentance.
3. The beginning of the process of spiritual growth by remaining sinless and practicing righteousness.
4. The Lift Offering through which Jesus Christ is revealed as the beginning of the Father's new creationhis first-born son.
5. The beginning of the counting toward the Festival of Weeks (Pentecost).
The Summer Harvest
The second festival season comes during early summer, at the end of the wheat harvest (i.e., the Feast of Weeks/First-fruits/Pentecost). Within this festival, two loaves of wheat bread made from the harvested wheat are presented to God for his acceptance. These two loaves represent the literal harvest of wheat and the spiritual harvest of those called to salvation before and after the advent of the Messiah.
Just as the first grains of the barley harvest were prophetic and symbolic of Jesus Christ as the first of humanity to be harvested, the first grains of the wheat harvest are prophetic and symbolic of the elect of God who will participate in the first resurrection (i.e., everyone called to become sons of God from the time of Adam until Christ's return).
God's acceptance of the two loaves of wheat bread was prophetic of the time when the elect of God who have been made righteous through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ will be accepted by God the Father into his spiritual family, through their transformation into immortal spirit beings.
The Opportunity for Salvation
Prior to the Kingdom of God being established on earth, there are only two groups of people who are offered an opportunity for salvation:
1. Those who were called to salvation under the sacrificial system before the advent of Christ.
2. Those who have been called to salvation after the advent of Christ during the gospel age.
Each of these two groups comes under the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ and will be in the first resurrection. All others must wait until Christ's return, the resurrection of national Israel (Ezk.37), or the resurrection of the rest of the dead (Rev.20:5). See our study paper on the various resurrections.
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming" (1.Cor.15:22-23 KJV). See also Jms.1:18; Rev.14:15-16; 20:4-6.
In his infinite wisdom, the Eternal God has designed his plan for mankind very carefully in order to give every person an opportunity to have eternal life. The vast majority of people who have lived and died throughout history have never heard or understood God's plan for salvation. These people are neither saved nor lost; they simply have not yet been given an opportunity for salvation.
The Great Fall Harvest Season
After the small spring barley harvest and the large early summer wheat harvest of Palestine, came the third harvest seasonthe Great Fall harvest.
This seven-day festival was to be a celebration of thanksgiving to God for the great abundance and blessings that he gave throughout the year: especially, the blessings of the fall harvest.
It is important again to note that the fall harvest had already been completed before the observance of the seven-day festival of the seventh month, because this seven-day festival is a celebration of the completion of the fall harvest.
Just as the spring and summer harvests were prophetic and symbolic of a spiritual harvest, the fall harvest is as well. The biggest difference between the spring, summer, and fall harvests is that the fall harvest is prophetic and symbolic of a much larger spiritual harvest.
This great fall harvest represents four categories of people who will have their first opportunity for salvation, after the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on the earth:
1. Those who live through the great tribulation at the end of this age.
2. Those of National Israel who will be resurrected to physical life and placed in the promised land.
3. Those of all humanity who have lived and died never having an opportunity for salvation.
4. Those born to the ones living during the reign of Jesus Christ on earth.
This great spiritual harvest season spans well over 1,000 years as billions upon billions of people who have lived and died and those yet to be born are presented with an opportunity for salvation and eternal life.
The Great Harvest Begins
The great spiritual harvest that is pictured by the fall harvest of Palestine will only begin after the return of Christ and the first resurrection in which the elect of all ages will have been changed to immortal beings (1.Cor.15:51-54). One of the primary reasons Jesus will return again is to bring peace to the earth; so that, God's plan for the salvation of humanity can go forward, unimpeded by Satan who is the god and ruler of this present world. See 2.Cor.4:4; Rev.12:9.
The vast majority of those who will live through the great tribulation at the end of this age or those who will be born after the return of Christ will enter into a world transformed into a physical utopia: a world of peace and prosperity in which they will be given the opportunity to learn and live by the laws and ways of God.
This is the time spoken of by the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Micah in which the world will be at peace and all nations will come to Jerusalem to learn God's way.
Isaiah 2:2-4 KJV
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it" (v2).
The government of God is symbolized as a mountain that will be above all other mountains (i.e., governments), and people will look to this government of God for guidance.
"And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (v3).
The earth will finally be at peace, when the entire earth comes under the rule of the Family of God, which includes the elect of God who will have been made immortal.
"And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (v4). See also Isa.9:6-7.
As the rule of Christ progresses through time, all of humanity will eventually come to understand the word of God because of the efforts of the Family of God as they rule the earth:
"But with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and reprove with equity the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his reins. . . They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isa.11:4-5,9 Para.).
"And no longer shall a man teach his neighbor, and each man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them even to the greatest of them, declares the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more" (Jer.31:34 Para.). See also Heb.8:7-10.
"But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain [government] of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains [governments/nations], and it shall be exalted above the hills [governments/nations]; and people shall flow to it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain [government] of the Lord. and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Mic.4:1-3 KJV).
Those who are a part of the first resurrection will become co-rulers with Christ in the Kingdom of God on earth.
"To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne" (Rev.3:21 KJV).
"John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And has made us kings and priests to God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen" (Rev.1:4-6 KJV).
"And has made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth" (Rev.5:10 KJV). See also Matt.19:27-28; Lk.22:28-30; 1.Pet.2:5-6,9.
One of the major responsibilities for those who participate in the first resurrection will be to assist in the conversion of humanity as spiritual leaders and teachers:
"And he that overcomes, and keeps my works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father" (Rev.2:26-27 KJV). See also 1.Cor.6:2-3; 2.Tim.2:12; Rev.3:21.
The Righteous Rule of Christ
Isaiah, chapters 30 and 65 contain several prophecies pertaining to the end of this age and what will follow the return of Jesus Christ as King of kings. Two especially interesting prophecies in these chapters concern the elect of God and their responsibility for teaching God's way of life and helping people to obtain salvation:
"But your teachers shall not be hidden anymore, your eyes shall see your teachers: And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk in it, when you go right, or when you go left" (Isa.30:20-21 Para.).
This is a reference to physical humans who live during the reign of Christ being taught by spirit-beings. Because the elect of God are to be king-priests in the government of God, it seems logical that they are included in this scripture as teachers of humanity.
The Labors of the Harvest
Because of the many misconceptions concerning this particular festival, it is again important to note that the harvest itself is something very different from the celebration of the harvest. The harvest is when the crops are being harvested, but the celebration of the harvest comes after the crops have already been harvested:
"And my elect [Heb. bahir] shall grow old to the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for terror; for they are the seed of the beloved ones of the Lord, and their offspring with them" (Isa.65:22-23 Para.).
In verse 23, the Hebrew word that is translated into English as 'elect' is 'bahir', which means 'chosen.' 'My chosen' in this verse means those whom the Father has personally chosen and predestined to be his spiritual sons before the return of Christ as King of kings.
The phrase 'grow old' is from the Hebrew word 'bala', which means 'to wear out' or 'use to the full'. In context this word denotes the exhaustive and intense effort that is put forth by the sons of God in helping humanity obtain salvation.
The word 'seed' is translated from the Hebrew word 'zera', which means 'sowing', 'seed', or 'offspring'.
Those who will be taught God's way after the return of Christ by his spirit-sons (the elect) will be their seed or offspring (i.e., children) in the same way that those who were taught and converted through the teaching of the apostle Paul and John were their children. See Gal.4:19; 1.Jn.2:1.
The Celebration Begins
Remember that the spiritual harvest of humanity will have been accomplished before the actual celebration of the Festival of Shelters/Ingathering. This great celebration of the harvest cannot take place until the harvest is completed and all that can be harvested has been harvested. See Matt.13:24-42; 25:31-46.
This great celebration of the harvest will begin with a day of cessation from labor, because the great spiritual harvest will have been completed. It will be a time to cease from the labor of the harvest and celebrate. All of humanity will have been given their opportunity for salvation. Everyone who has been found worthy of eternal life will have been gathered into the Family and Kingdom of God.
God the Father, Jesus Christ, the elect of all ages, and the vast multitudes who will obtain salvation during the reign of Christ on earth will participate in this celebration.
This celebration of the great harvest of humanity will last seven days. Interestingly, the number 'seven' is symbolic of completeness, spiritual perfection, and bringing to an end. This final harvest celebration will bring God's plan for the salvation of humanity to a close.
The name 'Feast of Ingathering' denotes the completion of God's plan for the salvation of humanity.
This seven-day feast of the seventh month is prophetic of a grand and glorious celebration that will take place with God the Father and Jesus Christ, after the great spiritual harvest (ingathering) of humanity, which will occur after the return of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
During this great spiritual harvest of humanity, this festival celebration will continue from year to year until the harvest of humanity is finished. Those who will live during this time will rejoice in anticipation of their being gathered into the Family and Kingdom of God.
Immediately after the celebration of the largest of all the harvest seasons, comes the final and greatest celebration pictured in the annual festivalsThe Feast of the Eighth Day.
By B. L. Cocherell, file b5w67