KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"teaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God. . ."
THE HEAVENS DECLARE
The Sign of Sagittarius portrays Christ the Redeemer going forth to destroy the adversary. This Sign brings before us a Centaur with the body of a horse and the torso of a man. The human portion of the Centaur is a man with a bow and arrow and he is drawing the bow and aiming the arrow at Atares --the very heart of the Scorpion. His character here is that of the Mighty One, girding Himself with honor and majesty, and going forth to victory. He rides as a King, armed with bow and arrows, shooting down His enemies. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Conqueror of the Scorpion! In refulgent glory He rides forth upon a horse with a bow, going forth as the conquering King to conquer. The apostle John in His visions on Patmos saw four horses. The first horse was white and the Rider had a bow, and a victor's crown was given unto him and he came forth conquering, and to conquer. The second horse was flaming red and the Rider had the power given to him to take peace from the earth and he was given a great sword. The third Rider had a balance in his hand and sat upon a black horse. The fourth horse was ashen or sickly pale and the name of the Rider was Death, and Hades followed with him. He was given authority over a fourth part of the earth to kill with the sword, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts. The four horses are all war horses --and are representations of the activities of the Christ sent forth into our earth, that earth which we are, to dispossess the usurpers --the carnal mind, the will of the flesh, the desires of the flesh, and the works of the flesh. It is the taking possession of our earth by the Christ of God. The four horses and their Riders present a vivid picture of God's dealings, strippings, purgings, prunings, and processings by which we are reduced to God. Swift, powerful, irresistible ruin is visited upon our outer world of illusion, and our inner heart of deceit. These horses are sent, not to invade that earth out there, not to overcome the world outside, but to invade the man of earth, to overcome the world within; not to judge the outward nations of the earth, but to subjugate the kings which rule in our hearts. As the outer dimensions of our life are stripped away, the inner vitality of the Christ emerges into view. HE becomes revealed! Ah --this is the Centaur, the horse and his rider in the heavens armed with a bow, SAGITTARIUS sending his arrows into the heart of the Scorpion. This is CHRIST THE CONQUEROR! Praise God, He that is within is Mighty, the Mighty Warrior, and He charges into the battle with great swiftness and power. He fights His way into the human heart until He possesses that which He has purchased, until the citadels of mind, will, emotion and desire have been taken and brought under the dominion of Truth. He first shoots the arrow of light and illumination, quickening unto God. Then quickly He unsheathes the sword which "takes peace from the earth" --that very earth which He has illuminated, for the battle must be pursued until man is fully conquered and all enemies concealed within have been routed, exposed, and vanquished.
THE BLACK HORSE
And now we come to the third horse --the black horse. "And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine" (Rev. 6:5-6). Horses, as we have noted previously, are symbols of overcoming strength and power --whatever lies before these horses is overcome by them. Color in scripture denotes the presence and operation of God by the Spirit. The color reveals what the horse is doing to you or producing in you. In the process there is both life and death, death to the Adam man and the apprehension of life in the Christ man. The first horse was white --the expression of life, illumination and revelation. When light comes forth you see your first beginning. In the beginning God said, "Let there be light!" Prior to this pronouncement the "earth" was "without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep." This is a perfect description of the earth man before God's redemptive and reconstructive work begins upon him. Before God's Word is heard, before His light of truth and revelation shines, the natural man, who is of the earth earthy, is spiritually void and formless, an unknown deep within. Upon this deep all is darkness; yet, praise God, God's Spirit is brooding there. The natural man is alienated from the life of God, shut out from the spiritual world, blind to reality and truth --yet God is very near. In relation to spiritual life this man begins nothing, continues nothing, perfects nothing. The wondrous change wrought is by the power of the Word of God. Life and power are in the Word. "God said" -this is the means --just as God formed the first creation in that long ago, so He now fashions the new creation. In both the initiative is on God's part. When all was void and formless and shrouded in darkness and hopelessness and nothing moved, "the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." In both creations the transformation is the work of the Word of God, the living and energetic Word of God. God speaks and light breaks forth upon the void. The first step in creation is the awakening of man to spiritual consciousness, the dawning of light in his mind and heart, his perception of Truth through the quickening of his spirit. Light is understanding; and the first day's work is the calling of light or understanding into expression. Light represents intelligence and life --a spiritual quality. Darkness represents ignorance and death. Symbolically these are "day" and "night." Understanding and illumination quicken and enlighten mind and heart and man comes face to face with God, transformed by His glory. Those in whom this work goes on, know that each succeeding step is entirely by the Word of God. As Andrew Jukes wrote, "From everlasting all the work had been hid in Christ, the Eternal Word. Then, in time, that which was in the wisdom of God is wrought actually in the creature. Whether light, or a heaven, or fruits, or heavenly lights, or the living creatures, or the man in God's image --each form of light and life, once hid in Christ, is reproduced, manifested in the creature to the Creator's praise. What was in Christ is step by step accomplished in the earth by the transforming power of the same Word of God. Without this no change is or can be wrought. No saint can grow or live without the Word. What was in the Word from everlasting, by the Word is wrought in us" --end quote.
The second horse was red --in the Greek PURRHOS meaning fire-like or flame-colored. OUR GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE. God's action in fire, like His action in grace, is pure, harmonious, balanced, directed towards the purging that leads to transformation. The eternal fire is the Truth, the Righteousness, the Love of God; in a word, it is the nature of God. Any careful reader of the Old Testament will be aware that fire is often used therein as a symbol for the presence and manifestation of God. "Our God is a consuming fire," says the scripture, and the apostle adds, "God is love." God IS! God is fire and He is love. Fire represents the divine process of cleansing. Divine judgment is not unto destruction, but unto redemption. Fire appears terrible only to the man who is unprepared to pass through it. Yes, our God is a consuming fire, and there is comfort and hope and blessing in the thought! When we yield to God's love, and open our hearts to Him, He enters into us, and becomes within us a consuming fire; not to ourselves, but to the carnality within us. So that, in a very deep and blessed sense, we may be said to dwell with the devouring fire, and to walk amid the eternal burnings. Nothing is more certain than the fact that Jesus Christ has already ridden, or shall yet ride into the world of each of us in FLAMING FIRE! Not to destroy us, but to purge our land. Only the dross must be removed. Thank God that the Christ comes to us not only on the white horse, but also on the red horse to carry the issue onward to victory!
When the black horse invades our land, great darkness falls upon our earth, on the natural man, the carnal mind, the fleshly nature. Black is the absence of light and color. It denotes a condition of no light, no understanding, no expression, nor substance. The anointing of the black horse is a revelation of darkness --the knowledge of just what is in the carnal man, the carnal mind, the fleshly nature --the clear and perfect understanding of what they are, how they work, their utter futility and worthlessness in the light of Reality and Truth that the Spirit brings. We will never let go of the valueless things of the earth realm until once we see them for what they really are, and the true riches. We see a beautiful portrait of this great truth in the Song of Solomon. In chapter 1:1 it is called "The Song of sons, which is Solomons." Just as the "Holy of holies" was the Holiest place of all, just as the "Heaven of heavens" is the highest Heaven of all, so the "Song of songs" is above and beyond all the songs that have ever come from the human heart and human lips. This is the Song that is above all other songs; a Song sent down from the courts of Heaven, from the throne of God; a strain from the Heavenly choir. "Song" in the symbology of scripture means a "message." So the Song of songs is the Message of messages, the Revelation of revelations!
There are two principle characters in the drama. First you have "my Beloved" who is representative of HIM, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord who is the spirit. Then you have "My love" which represents a woman --the soul realm. This is the ineffable, pre-eminent Song; ineffable because it is a celebration of true marriage, a portrait of your personal relationship with Jesus, and a picture of the love relation between Christ and the church; ultimately it is a representation of the relationship between the Corporate Man, the Manchild, the sons of God with the Bride of Christ. On the personal level she, the soul, becomes awakened to Him, the indwelling spirit. These are internal realities. The Christ to who our soul awakens, and whom our soul seeks and loves, is not the Christ in some far off heaven somewhere, but Christ in our spirit, who dwells in our hearts by faith. When the soul awakens to the glory of the Christ within, when she once beholds HIS beauty, HIS majesty, HIS riches, and smells HIS oils, she is filled with great desire and she cries, "Draw me and we will run after Thee!" Her heart goes out that she may rise up and run after Him. She feels she is helpless in herself, but that He has power to draw her, and He alone can do this. She longs for the kisses of His mouth, those tender moments of fellowship and communion in which His love is revealed. When God pours into you a hunger for your Beloved and begins to reveal more clearly your potential in Him, rejoice with great joy and gratitude toward God. If He did not put into our hearts the longing to know Him better and to have His very best, we would be satisfied with the least we could have and be saved, and become spiritual paupers in the Kingdom of God. How wondrous are the workings and drawings of God upon a human soul! How little do we behold or know that which He is doing, as day by day He works down in the depths of our beings. The most favored place a child of God can be in, is to continually feel the drawing of God urging and constraining him to greater hunger and to greater abandonment to Him. There is nothing we should praise Him for with such gratitude, as for every touch of hunger that He graciously gives us. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God; how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past tracing out."
In the moments of ecstasy in His presence she catches a glimpse of the Most Holy Place and cries, "I want more!" But in His presence she also receives a startling revelation -- "I am black but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar..." (S. of S. 1:5). She receives the understanding of how carnal she is. You can never become spiritual, my beloved, until the Spirit has shown you your carnality. It is not the sinner who says, "I am black;" it is not when the heart has been untouched by the grace of God, that the stain and blackness, which carnality has wrought upon the soul, can be seen by the one who is not quickened. It is when the power of the Spirit strikes the believing soul, that the soul sees her blackness; it is when she gets a vision of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ that she sees herself as black as the black goat-hair tents of the Beduin --the tents of Kedar. When the soul has commenced to enter into a closer walk with the Spirit, the beauty which she thought she had, she sees wither up and drop off. The natural attractions in which she had rejoiced --the wisdom of this world, the empty religious exercises, the pleasures and pursuits of the flesh --disappear under the searching light of His holy presence. With clearer vision than ever before she sees the emptiness, the vanity, the futility and frustration of all earthly things. It's a revealing --"I am black --but comely!" She is not repenting of past sins. When you come into the realm of the Spirit and taste of its glories you soon begin to see how easy it is to slip back into an old way of thinking. You begin to get a revelation of the carnal mind, not just that it exists, but how it works. You begin to see that the wisdom of men is foolishness to the Spirit. It is the mind of man that keeps the world in continual turmoil. It seethes and bubbles and boils and erupts like a vast cauldron. There is an impassable gulf between the carnal mind and the spiritual mind, for the spiritual mind is concerned only with the things of God and all the things that concern the Spirit, which things lead to life and immortality. But the fleshly or carnal mind is concerned only with the things of the physical realm, which things lead only to death and corruption because there is no life in them. For this very reason the scripture says, "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die, but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."
Our vision of heavenly things has been so distorted due to our looking through physical and soulish eyes. You have sometimes seen a window made of fluted glass, and you know that if you look at the street through this window everything will be distorted. The passers-by and the automobiles will appear to be warped and distorted in absurd and ugly ways. Nevertheless, you know that these things are really quite alright in themselves, and that the distortion arises from your seeing them wrongly. The pure eyes of our regenerated spirits have had to filter through the fluted shell of our carnal minds and the marvelous things of the realm of God's Spirit have been distorted into myriads of carnal doctrines, traditions, rituals, concepts, interpretations, methods, and religious systems and exercises. This distorted vision of heavenly things is really what we know as "Christianity" and "the Church." It is a seeing, but a false seeing. It is a knowing, but a false knowing. The sons of God are arising to pass through this veil, to abide forever in the Holiest of all. Over the heart of every unquickened and untransformed man or woman there hangs an impenetrable veil of outer darkness that keeps men blinded to the glory of Truth and Reality in the Spirit. Even in the reading of the scripture the veil is over their eyes, and they sit in blindness and outer darkness until a totally new spirit and new heart is given them. Then and only then does the light shine upon them. Then and only then do they behold the King in all His beauty and discern all spiritual things. Then and only then do they understand the incredible darkness and dreadful void of the carnal mind with all its delusions and distortions. No greater tragedy can overtake a man than that, after he has been illuminated by the light of Christ, and made a partaker of the life of the Spirit, he should then mingle his affection with the emptiness of earthly things and not set them entirely on things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. The children of God are so occupied and busy with soulish zeal and carnal efforts! They are running here and there, busily initiating religious activities of all kinds, as though the Lord could not get along without their officious help. One would think that the Lord is not as interested in His own Vineyard as they are. They are organizing, and bringing together all kinds of machinery to run the Lord's business; they are inventing intricate and clever systems to get men saved, and to entertain them so that they will remain saved (?). Everybody feels that they should be "doing something for God." This sounds reasonable to the natural mind; so men mingle the thoughts, schemes, ideas, plans, purposes, ambition and zeal of the carnal mind with the new inclinations and affections of the spiritual mind; consequently christians rush about in every direction like ants on an ant hill, doing this and doing that, going here and going there, organizing this and organizing that, promoting this and promoting that, praying, preaching, planning, toiling, giving their money, working themselves into nervous wrecks, even neglecting their families and homes, cultivating the vineyards of others and letting their own experience remain shallow and on the surface. They find no time to wait upon God in earnest, to sit at His feet in holy submission and sweet communion, to learn of Him. They spend no time in learning to KNOW the Lord of the Vineyard! Without exception, this barrenness and void in our lives is a sure proof that we are in need of God's dealing hand. Therefore, let us leave everything that we can leave, and let us get still before the Spirit that He may speak to us and work in us, and for us, and through us, to His glory. Then shall we go forth with the presence and power of God upon us, and while we shall be used of Him with those around us, we shall have learned to watch for His movings and dealings upon our souls, and to always yield to Him to work in us first. Thus shall our hearts become truly pure, unmixed with the carnal zeal and scheming of the carnal mind. The maxim for those sons led by the Spirit of God shall be: "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall SEE GOD --at work!"
They who shall make up the elect of God shall not be content with a mere vision of Christ. They will take away every veil that is between them and their Lord, and with unveiled face they will behold His glory until they are transfigured into the same image, from glory to glory. God's chosen ones will not be satisfied with imaginary victory, which is really the deceptive peace of having received a revelation but not entering in. They will strengthen themselves in the Lord and put on His whole armor. They will fight the good fight of faith and finish their course --immortal and incorruptible. They will not mistake the call and revelation of God, for possession. They will not be content with visions and passing glimpses of the land of promise, but by faith they will walk up and down through the land and begin to possess their possessions. They will become more than conquerors through Him that loved them.
The black horse reveals the black -- the substance of carnality. One can never be an overcomer until he deals with the subtleties of the carnal nature. The carnal mind is the reasoning, ethics, philosophy, religion and character of the natural man. But God doesn't only reveal that to us --He reveals our comeliness at the same time. What beautiful balance there is in the wisdom of the Lord! "I am black --but comely!" It is this balance between the negative and the positive in God's dealings that accounts for the Rider of the black horse having a pair of balances in His hand. The comeliness of those pressing on into God's fullness is revealed in the further ministry of the black horse. All is not negative, for there is great spiritual wealth and heavenly glory revealed there! "And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny" (Rev. 6:6). The interpretation placed upon these words by the theologians and teachers in the church systems is that these symbols denote world-wide famine. Bread by weight and measure, say they, signifies scarcity of food. The argument goes something like this: The penny referred to was a day's wage and a measure (nearly a quart) of corn was a slave's daily ration, an amount usually purchasable for one-eighth of a penny. Ordinarily, one could buy eight measures of wheat or twenty-four measures of barley for a penny, but in the days of the black horse only one measure of wheat or three measures of barley can be bought for a penny. This will make food eight times higher than usual. A man would be giving all of his income for the bare necessities of life. However, much carnal guesswork among commentators and writers might have been avoided if recourse had been made to one passage in the Old Testament where there is a highly significant area of correspondence. Some teachers, without any investigation or spiritual insight, have settled for the shallow and literalistic idea of natural "food at famine prices," whereas the slightest acquaintance with Biblical prices and measures would have assured them of the contrary --that the food on offer is well within the capacity of everyone to purchase. Others, obsessed with the history of the Roman empire, have held that the prices have to do with the ruinous taxation imposed on the farming community in the days of the Roman empire's decline. With what divine genius does the Holy Spirit bypass all the carnal suppositions of men, drawing our reverent attention to the wonderful connection with the words of Elisha the prophet during the siege of Samaria. In the days of Elisha there was a great war between Syria and Israel; and Benhadad, the king of Syria, led a mighty army into the land of Israel and laid siege against the city of Samaria. So hard and so long was the siege that the people in Samaria could find nothing to eat; many died from lack of food and some killed their own children and ate them.
But through all the siege Elisha encouraged the king of Israel not to give up the city. When it seemed that there could be no hope, Elisha said to the king, "Hear the Word of the Lord, Tomorrow, at this hour, in the gate of Samaria, a measure of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel." One of the nobles, on whose arm the king was leaning, did not believe Elisha's word and he said scornfully, "If the Lord would make windows in heaven and rain down wheat and barley, then this might be." "You shall see it with your own eyes," answered Elisha; "but you shall not eat any of the food." On the next morning, about daybreak, four men that were lepers were standing together outside the gate of Samaria. Being lepers, they were not allowed by the laws of Israel inside the walls of the city. These four men said to each other, "What shall we do? If we go into the city, we must die there from the lack of food; if we stay here we will surely die. Let us go to the camp of the Syrians; perhaps they will let us live; and at the worst they cannot do more than kill us." So the four men went toward the Syrian camp; but as they came near, they were surprised to find no one standing on guard. They went into a tent and found it empty, as though it had been left very suddenly, for there were food and drink, garments, and gold and silver all about. As no one was there, they ate and drank all they wanted; and then they took away valuable things and hid them. They looked into another tent and another, and found them like the first, but not a man was in sight. They walked through the camp but not a soldier was there, and the tents were left just as they had been when the men were living in them. In the night the Lord had caused the Syrians to hear a great noise like a rolling of chariots and the trampling of horses and the marching of a vast host of men. They said to each other in great fear, "The king of Israel has sent for the Hittites on the north and the Egyptians on the south to come against us." And so great and so sudden was their terror, that in the night they rose up and fled away, leaving everything in their camp, even leaving their horses tied, and their asses and all their treasure and all their food in their tents. After a time the lepers said to each other, "We do wrong not to tell this good news in the city. If they found it out, they will blame us for not letting them know, and we may lose our lives on account of it." So they went up to the gate and called the men on guard. They told them how they had found the camp of the Syrians, with tents standing and horses tied, but not a man left. The men on guard told it at the king's palace. But the king, when he heard it, thought it was a trick of the Syrians to hide themselves and to draw the men out of the city so that they might take the city. The king sent out two men with horses and chariots, and they found that not only had the camp been left, but that the road down the mountains to the Jordan river was covered with garments and arms and treasures that the Syrians had thrown away in their wild flight.
The news soon spread through the city of Samaria, and in a few hours all the city was at the gate. When the food was brought in from the camp, there was abundance for all the people. And it came to pass as Elisha had said --a measure of wheat flour and two measures of barley were sold for a shekel in the gate of Samaria by noon that day! So the starving inhabitants of the besieged city found abundance of food at prices within the reach of all, within twenty-four hours of the prediction. The entire population sallied forth to possess themselves of the spoil abandoned in the camp of the heathen army whom the Lord had caused to flee in terror from some invisible foe. And let us note -- the two primary food items available in such abundance were wheat and barley! The only difference between the relief afforded to the Samaritan multitude and that described in Revelation chapter six, is that food is both cheaper and more plentiful in the latter case! And the deliverance and provision under Elisha is but the type of the abundance of SPIRITUAL FOOD provided for the man or woman being processed into the image of Jesus Christ! The book of Revelation must be spiritually understood. The wheat and the barley, the oil and the wine, symbolize spiritual values. All the symbology of the book of Revelation is, in fact, drawn from the imagery of the great spiritual types and shadows of the Old Testament!
WHEAT AND BARLEY
There are many types of the Kingdom of God in the Old Testament. The broadest and most all-inclusive type is the land of Canaan. This land is frequently referred to as the good land. The Lord called it "a good land," and "an exceeding good land." When the Lord says something is good, we must pay special attention. What is the goodness of this land? The land is good in many aspects. It is not our purpose to explore the manifold characteristics of the land --for that would make a book in itself. We come now to the matter that relates to our subject at hand-- the unsearchable riches of the land. The land is good in its unsearchable riches. First of all it is rich in water. "For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills" (Deut. 8:7). These waters are all types of various kinds of supply of the Christ-life in the Kingdom of God. Jesus said that He would give us water to drink that we never thirst again, and that this water would be a well of water within springing up unto eternal life. The Lord tells us that out of our innermost being shall flow rivers of living water. This is the supply of the Christ-life, the Spirit within as living water. Many times we are thirsty, not thirsty in our body, but thirsty in our soul. When you are thirsty, it means that your soul is dry. But when you come athirst to the Spirit and contact the life of the Spirit, you are refreshed and quickened --you are watered. Your thirst is quenched. You are refreshed by the life of the Spirit more than by any cold water or beverage on earth. And as you drink and drink of the life-giving Spirit there will be a stream flowing forth from you-- an emanation, an overflow of His life unto creation. In this land there is not only one stream, but many springs, fountains and streams. The spring (spirit) is the source; the fountain (soul) is the reservoir; and the stream (ministry) is the overflow. Within the Kingdom people there are many streams, a stream of wisdom, a stream of light, a stream of love, a stream of understanding, a stream of compassion, a stream of mercy, a stream of power, a stream of peace, a stream of joy, a stream of righteousness, a stream of praise, etc. How many streams are there within you, my beloved? We can love and bless all of creation as a living stream flowing forth.
"Stretch forth your hands, and heal the nations;
Speak forth the Word, and give them life.
This is the day, that God has chosen;
And as He is, so are we, in this world."
What a wonderful source we have! What a good land this is! The sons of God are the people of the Kingdom of the Most High, the joy of the whole earth, the hope of all creation --they are the good land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills. What richness there is in this land!
Not only is the Lord, the Spirit, the living water of this land, but He is also the bread of the land, the bread of life. Something to drink always accompanies food. Water is refreshing and quickening; food is strength and sustenance. Food and drink always go together. So in Deut. 8 the very next verse says, "A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey" (Deut. 8:8). There are seven food items in all -- the perfect, eternal food. There are two kinds of grain -- the same grain mentioned in Rev. 6:6 -- wheat and barley. What is the meaning of all these things? John 12:24 tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ was a grain of wheat. Matthew 13:38 tells us that the sons of the Kingdom are grains of wheat. It is all CHRIST -- the food of the land. It is interesting to note that both barley and wheat were connected with the feasts of the Lord in Israel. All the Feast days were associated closely with the agricultural seasons of the land of Canaan. Israel was an agrarian nation. This seasonal observance of the Feasts is a perfect allegorical type of God's redemptive processes. The Lord wished to convey in type and shadow how He would cultivate His crop (the people of God), until at the end of the season (age) there would be the firstfruit or wave-sheaf offering, the OMER OF BARLEY. Let me explain. In Leviticus chapter twenty-three the Lord gave Moses instructions concerning the feasts which the nation was to observe. On the fourteenth of Nisan at evening (or sundown) they were to begin to commemorate the Passover, and twenty-four hours later, on the fifteenth of Nisan, they were to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread which was to last seven days. After they came into their land and had a grain harvest, the Lord instructed Moses that they were to perform an additional rite during the seven day Feast. In verse ten we read: "When ye come into the land which I give 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." The Sabbath was the Holy Convocation that marked the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
As part of the ritual, the priest would go out among the fields, select the grain that was ripe, gather a bundle and tie it into a sheaf. He would return to the Temple and there before the altar would wave the sheaf before the Lord as an offering of the firstfruits of the harvest. This act marked the beginning of the harvest which was to last fifty days. This feature of the Feast was marvelously prophetic in the case of Jesus. Jesus was slain for us at the time of the Passover Feast, becoming our Passover Lamb. His body was laid in the tomb. Then very early in the morning -- the first day of Unleavened Bread -- the celebration of the waving of the sheaf of the firstfruits -- the women came to the sepulchre and found that Jesus had been raised from the dead. And thus Jesus became the firstfruits of the harvest, the firstfruits of them that slept (I Cor. 15:20), the first to ripen into the fullness of the image and life of God, spirit, soul and body. We like to think of the Israelite priest fulfilling the rite of waving the sheaf before the Lord early in the morning, at the same time Jesus was fulfilling the type by being resurrected from the dead into the immortal and incorruptible life of God. Truly Jesus was the firstfruits of resurrection, immortality and incorruption. But, He also was to be the firstborn among a vast family of sons which the Father-heart of God would bring to birth, sons who would be tutored and led by His Spirit, who would learn obedience through suffering, and who would partake of holiness through chastening. For was not the mission of our Lord Jesus Christ that of bringing many sons unto glory (Heb. 2:10)? And was not He to be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8:29)? Therefore, the waving of the firstfruits sheaf spoke of an abundant harvest to follow. It was assurance that the patient sowing-watering-reaping process had not failed! In due time the whole field of barley would come to maturity! Ah, may we again look at that sheaf of the Firstfruits and see afresh our Lord rising from the dead. But may there also come exuberant rejoicing in our spirit in seeing that He is but the firstborn, and that an abundant harvest of sons will follow. Yea, let the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him come to rest upon us, and let us experience something of the exceeding greatness of the power that raised Him from the dead! Yea, let there come an enlarging of our vision and our hope, for our hope is not just to make it to heaven, but TO BE LIKE HIM -- SPIRIT, SOUL AND BODY!
The wave-sheaf was a sheaf of barley. Sowing of barley was done in the land of Israel during the month of Bul (October-November) after the early rains had begun to fall and the ground could be plowed. Barley matures more rapidly than wheat, and the harvest began in the early spring during the month of Nisan (March-April). Barley harvest thus marked a definite time of the year and its start corresponded with Passover time, the sheaf waved by the priest on the sixteenth day of Nisan being of the barley firstfruits.
Paul Mueller has gleaned some precious truths concerning the significance of barley and the harvest of the firstfruits. He writes, "The book of Ruth is one of the most fascinating books in the Bible, telling a story of love and redemption. The story begins with Naomi's desire to return from Moab to Bethlehem. There was a famine in the land and she heard tidings from Bethlehem that 'the Lord had visited His people in giving them bread' (Ruth 1:6). How wonderful it is to hear that the Lord is visiting His people and is giving them bread, while dwelling in a land where there is famine and hunger. Presently, the Lord is again visiting His elect, giving them the bread of His living Word, even that bread which is His body ad blood (Jn. 6:48-58). And all who hunger for that Bread will indeed make the journey from Moab to Bethlehem to receive that Bread, leaving the land of famine (the church system) for the realm of His visitation. Naomi's two sons had married two women of Moab, Orpha and Ruth. But her husband and her sons died, leaving Naomi with her two daughters-in-law who had no children. When Ruth heard that Naomi wanted to return to Bethlehem, she decided to go with her, but Orpha kissed her mother-in-law and remained in Moab. Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem 'in the beginning of the barley harvest' (Ruth 1:22). Naomi then requested that her friends should not call her Naomi, but should call her Mara (meaning bitter), for, said she, 'I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty. Carnal Christians would certainly regard this as a tragedy, but the truly spiritual person will readily see that Naomi's experience was necessary in bringing her home again empty' even as it is with those of us who are among the Lord's called and chosen ones. The Lord has certainly brought us home again empty, for we have been emptied of man's lifeless doctrines and useless ways. Our past was a necessary part of our processing, for we did go out full, but the Lord brought us home again. What matters now is that we have come home and we can only come home empty, for how else could we receive the precious truths He has reserved for us?
"Ruth and Naomi came home to Bethlehem 'in the beginning of the barley harvest,' and that is a very significant truth, for the time of the barley harvest may correspond to the approaching visitation of Christ to His people at this time of the eleventh hour. Naomi's husband had a kinsman, Boaz, a mighty man of wealth. Boaz had fields of barley and wheat, and Ruth's first job in Israel was gleaning in the barley fields of Boaz. The second chapter of Ruth tell the story of her success in gleaning as Boaz ordered his men to leave handfuls of purpose for her.' Naomi then told Ruth to go lie at the feet of Boaz, for he was her kinsman-redeemer, and this was the custom to be followed concerning the right of the kinsman. When Boaz discovered her lying at his feet, he asked who she was. Ruth then told him, and requested that he cover her with his skirt, which was also the custom of the kinsman. Boaz then promised Ruth that he would fulfill his duty as her near kinsman. At this point, it is important that we understand the spiritual value of Ruth's growing relationship with Boaz. When she first arrived in Bethlehem with Naomi, Ruth gleaned in the fields of Boaz. But, when she became acquainted with Boaz, her kinsman-redeemer, Ruth ceased gleaning in the fields and presented herself to him for the fulfillment of the kinsman-redeemer role as her husband. The important spiritual truth we are to glean from this story is that when we come home we come to learn His ways and His truth. We come home emptied of all the former ambitions and ministries, and we cease gleaning in the fields of the world, for we are now being prepared to be joined to Christ. Early the next morning, before it became light enough for others to recognize her, Ruth returned home to Naomi. But before she left, Boaz filled her veil with "six measures of barley,' which she was to present to Naomi, perhaps as a dowry (Ruth 3:14-18) --end quote.
What then, does barley represent? THE RESURRECTED CHRIST! When the harvest time came, the firstfruits of the harvest must be offered to the Lord, and the firstfruit was clearly the barley. And so it is written, "But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of them that slept" (I Cor. 15:20). The firstfruits of the harvest typify Christ as the firstfruits of the resurrection. How clearly this shows that barley represents the RESURRECTED CHRIST! But, by extension, the firstfruits include the elect sons of God in union with Christ. "Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures" (James 1:18). "And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father's name written in their foreheads. These are they which were not defiled with women (apostate church systems, etc.) for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were redeemed (fully) from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb" (Rev. 14:l-4).
What aspect of Christ does wheat represent? Is it not written, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (Jn. 12:24). From this passage we can see that the Lord is a grain of wheat falling into the earth to die and to be buried. The wheat represents Christ incarnated. Christ is God incarnated as man to fall into the earth, to die and to be buried. This is the wheat. It typifies the Christ who was incarnated, the Christ who died, and the Christ who was buried. But I would draw your attention to the setting of this beautiful statement. Andrew and Philip had just come and told the Lord that certain Greeks had requested to see Jesus. And this was the Lord's astonishing reply: "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone..." Strange reply! But not hard too understand, when we realize that the Christ shall appear and shall be SEEN IN HIS PEOPLE, through His Cross and Resurrection. "We would see Jesus," said the Greeks. Then they must see Him in the harvest which His death would bring into being. They must see Him in the grain that would be reproduced after His very likeness, in His very image. They would see Him in His body! And the only way that we, as the sons of God, are going to manifest the life and resurrection power of Christ is by becoming identified with Him in His cross. It is not sufficient that we merely accept Christ and His redemptive work on our behalf. Doing that we are brought into fellowship with Him -- but we "abide alone." We must share His sufferings, share His death to self, share His abandonment to the will of the Father, share His separation from the world and the flesh, identify ourselves with His cross, so that it actually becomes our very own -- and then we shall rise in resurrection life to bring forth much fruit unto the Kingdom. "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection" (Rom. 6:5). No wonder the great apostle Paul who knew Christ, had personally seen His Lord on the Damascus road, had talked with Him and heard Him reply in an audible voice -- yearned in the travail of his spirit for this great manifestation: "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death, if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of (out from among) the dead" (Phil. 3:10-11). Wheat represents the incarnated, crucified and buried Christ. Barley represents the resurrected Christ. These two kinds of grains represent two aspects of Christ, His coming and His going. They represent the Christ coming down to be the wheat and the Christ going up to be the barley. We must meditate deeply upon truths so great and so profound. Have you experienced Christ as wheat? And have you experienced Christ as barley?
The fact that Jesus took "five barley loaves" with which He fed the multitudes is a very positive prophetic picture. Most christians are familiar with the miracle of the five loaves, but very few are aware that those loaves were loaves of barley. Jesus did nothing by chance! All that He did was prophetic pointing to a larger event that is far more glorious and significant than that which is seen on the surface. If the loaves would have been loaves of wheat, something would be wrong. But they were not wheat, they were loaves of barley. As barley loaves, they could feed five thousand people, and then His disciples gathered up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. This is the resurrected Christ, the Spirit, who can only be rich and full and inexhaustible to us in the fullness of His divine life. In His incarnation, He is exceedingly limited but in His resurrection He is abundant and unlimited. There is no limit, no measure, no boundary to the resurrection life of the Christ! As Christ incarnate, He was just one grain, a little Nazarene, a humble carpenter, an itinerant preacher in one of the smallest nations on earth for a mere three years and a half. But when He came into resurrection and returned as the indwelling Spirit of life, He was unlimited. Time and space and material things could limit Him no longer. There were five loaves, but in fact there were countless loaves. There was enough to feed five thousand men plus all the women and children, with an overflow of twelve baskets full. Twelve is the number of absolute fullness, Kingdom sufficiency. It means that this is Christ in the power and glory of His Kingdom, in the inexhaustibleness of immortality and incorruption. You can draw from the abundance of His resurrection life and after you have eaten all you need HIS FULLNESS REMAINS UNDIMINISHED! Christ in His resurrection can never be limited or exhausted. Wheat is the valley of death, but barley is the mountain of resurrection. Whenever you experience Christ as the wheat, be assured that an experience of Christ as the barley will follow. Ah, precious friend of mine, regardless of the problems and pressures that hedge you in and shut you up, irrespective of the circumstances and conditions that appear to confine and limit and prevent you from the fulfillment of God's full purpose in your life, let me assure you -- a barley loaf is within you! It is a loaf of the resurrected Christ who can never be limited. Apply HIM to the situation. He can never be exhausted. With the life of the resurrected Christ, you can live out the life of the unlimited God within the confines of your present limitation. You can do all things through Him who strengthens you, because He is resurrected in you and there is no limit. This kind of experience not only enables you to know the Christ within as the wheat and as the barley, but by this experience you become a grain of wheat, you become a loaf of barley.
You, as Jesus, in the present state of your development, can be limited in fullness. When Jesus was on earth He was always limited. He was limited by His flesh, limited by His family, limited by space, limited by time, limited by people's unbelief, limited by the plan and will of the father. When the Christ took upon Him a body of flesh and the nature of man, He willfully subjected Himself to the limitations and restrictions of that which is material, earthly and mortal. Jesus did not walk among men as the incorruptible God, but as mortal man. It was as a natural, physical earthling that He was tempted; He hungered; He thirsted; He knew weakness; He wept; He slept; He suffered; He died. The life of God resided in His spirit, but that life was confined, restrained and restricted by the bounds of the material world which He had taken upon Himself. It is manifest that His body was not an incorruptible body, else He would not have died though nailed to a thousand crosses! It is remarkable that through the few years of Jesus' ministry He never performed one act, nor one miracle, sign or wonder on the higher plane of incorruption. Every miracle Jesus did was in the realm of mortality. He raised a number of folk from the dead, including Lazarus, but each and every person called back from the sleep of death was merely raised up again into the mortal life to continue on for a season in the same old corruptible body. All of them DIED AGAIN! Think of it! Not one single person was raised up out of corruption into an incorruptible body. Jesus cleansed the lepers and healed every manner of sickness and disease among the people, but I do not hesitate to tell you that each and every one of those good people got sick again and eventually died! Jesus performed many other types of miracles. He began by turning water into wine. And it was very excellent wine, indeed. But just wine, nonetheless. It was composed of the same chemical elements as all fine wine. It was material, physical, earthly. It was consumed by flesh and blood bodies and a portion eliminated from those bodies as waste. Not one ounce of spirituality was obtained by drinking it. And yet it is written: "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and MANIFESTED FORTH HIS GLORY; and His disciples believed on Him" (Jn. 2:11). Yes, He manifested forth His glory. The life of the Father dwelt within Him. All power was incarnate within Him. An in limitation He lived in that life and ministered out of that life. What condescension!
Is not the fullness of God within us in limitation? Dearly beloved, whenever you are put into a situation by the Lord's sovereignty in which you are limited, in which you are pressed, in which you are restricted, you are experiencing the life of God as wheat. When in the midst of that limiting and pressing situation you look to the Lord, He is just as a grain of wheat to you. For the sake of our learning, for the sake of others -- how often He confines and limits us! We would like to send the lightning from our fingers and with a flash of fire and a blaze of glory reveal His power without limitation so that men would behold His omnipotence in us. But that is not how God works. He gives only what men are capable of receiving, so He comes in limitation lest they be blinded by the light and destroyed by the blast of His nostrils. He comes in the life of the little carpenter, the incarnate One, the limited One. There is power in Him to suffer any kind of limitation. If you are a follower of Jesus, if you are a son of God, you have to be limited. In many situations you must be like a car with a powerful engine of hundreds of horsepower, slowed down to fifteen miles per hour in a school zone, lest little children be run down. We cannot push or hurry things along. We cannot force things. We must not induce a premature birth. If it were left up to us we would bring in the Kingdom RIGHT NOW -- invading and raping creation to deliver it. We want our husband or wife converted or changed now. We want God to deal with our children or loved ones now. We want deliverance from our problems and pressures now. We are not unlike the man who prayed, "O God, give me patience -- and give it to me RIGHT NOW!" We would mass-produce sons in man-made training centers. We would mature sons of God in an artificial "hot-house" environment. May the blessed spirit of wisdom and revelation from God teach us the simple truth that the vision is caught, not taught! The wisdom and glory of God are revealed to the pure and humble in heart. God Himself is bringing up His own sons. We may be permitted to help a little here and there with a word of encouragement, a sharing of experience, a ministration of understanding and wisdom, but in the final analysis each son must come to know God for himself. No man can come unto the Christ except the Father draw him. We may plant and water, but it is God who gives the increase. We must not resort to artificial "growth stimulants" contrary to the laws of natural growth. When one turns to carnal gimmicks he frustrates the grace and power of the Spirit and disqualifies a potential overcomer from becoming a part of the firstfruit offering unto the Lord. In all of these things the unlimited power of God in us must be manifest in limitation. It is the unlimited Christ living within us that causes us to follow the limited Jesus. And yet we live out of His fullness in the unlimitedness of His eternal and inexhaustible life.
HURT NOT THE OIL AND THE WINE
These two principles -- wheat and barley -- are the very principles revealed in the black horse in Rev. 6. "A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny." Thank God! there is more barley than wheat for the same price. No sooner does the black horse ride into our land revealing and exposing the carnality in our lives, than he follows this action with the provision of an abundance of wheat and barley! There is a divine progression here. As we forsake the darkness and futility of the carnal mind (Egypt), there lies immediately before us the incredible fruitfulness and plenitude of the land of Canaan -- the realm of the SPIRIT. As we enter into this land of His fullness and glory and unlimited power an injunction is laid upon us -- "and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine." The reference is, I believe, to the sacred wine and oil which the priests kept for the Temple ceremonies, and which was deposited in the inner Temple. The word for "hurt" is ADIKEO meaning "deal unjustly with." "See thou deal not unjustly with the oil and the wine." Another translation is, "Do not commit injustice in respect to the oil and the wine." Another version reads, "Do not injure the oil and the wine." Yet another rendering says, "Waste not the oil and the wine." It bespeaks of a sacrilegious wrong or a wanton waste. In plain English it means DO NOT MISUSE the oil and the wine! Oil represents the anointing and wine is the figure for revelation. Do not MISUSE the anointing and the revelation! Do not play the rogue with the anointing! Do not prostitute or exploit the revelation! How this word is needed among the Lord's people in this hour when men use the gifts and revelation of God to their own ends, for self aggrandizement, to make a name, for financial gain, to get followers, to build a kingdom, etc. We are the people of His land, the priests of His temple. The oil and the wine are the visitation of the Lord to His body, to His church, to His elect, to His sons who are feasting upon the wheat and the barley, now becoming custodians of His priceless oil and His precious wine. The knowledge of this sublime truth will make you holy. No one can ever truly see his place in God and yet remain in carnality. Should one claim to see these truths and possess this anointing and yet remain as he was before, then he has not seen by the Spirit, but by the natural mind only. With weeping I must tell you that there are those among us today, uncircumcised in mind and heart, with the spirit of Babylon alive in the soil of their earth, who tread the courts of the holy temple of God and usurp the holy things of God with sin and pride, with self-seeking, self-indulgence, and self-promotion. Away with the spirit of Babylon! Away with the allurements and foolishness of the harlot system! Away with the repetitious babel of religion! Away with the methods of the world! Away with every vestige of the carnal mind, and every claim of the fleshly nature! Away with worldly wisdom! Away with the pseudo-spiritual domination of the Lord's people by men who manipulate and lord it over the flock! Or in the words of the Voice from the throne of God, "SEE THAT YOU DO NOT M-I-S-U-S-E THE OIL AND THE WINE!"
THE PALE HORSE
In closing I would mention briefly the fourth horse. "And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, come and see. And I looked, and lo a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with the sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth" (Rev. 6:7-8). There is a special significance to be attached to the description of the fourth horseman -- he whose name is Death -- and Hell followed with him. Death and Hell are specially linked in the Revelation. And since Christ came and abolished death (II Tim. 1:10) and destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil (Heb. 2:14), He now boldly proclaims: "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the KEYS OF HELL AND OF DEATH" (Rev. 1:18). And since the Christ now possesses both hell and death neither of them ride anywhere except by His authority! Now let us UNDERSTAND! This horse is given power over the fourth part of the earth-realm, to kill with the sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. This "fourth part of the earth" is clearly that portion of earthiness not already dealt with by the three preceding horses. It bespeaks of the conclusion, consummation and termination of the process. It means the final subjugation and destruction of everything within us that is contrary to HIS life and kingdom. And all the instruments necessary to accomplish this are in His hands and at His command.
There is an amazing and significant statement in the passage that we do not want to miss. "And power was given unto Him to kill...with death." To kill with DEATH! How does one kill with death? What can this cryptic statement mean? To kill with death means a death by death. Later on in the book of Revelation the same truth is presented thus: "Death and hell were cast into the lake of Fire. This is the second death" (Rev. 20:14). Now let us turn this around for clarity. "The second death IS death and hell cast into the lake of fire." Therefore we have exactly the same meaning either way it is stated. What is the second death? It is the first death and hell cast into the lake of fire! "Our God is a consuming fire." This fact is extremely IMPORTANT. The second death is not merely the lake of fire. Nor is the second death men being tortured forever in the lake of fire. The Holy Spirit has made it very simple and plain. The second death is the first death and hell CAST INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE. That is the Holy Spirit's definition, not mine. Can we now open the eyes of our understanding to see that everything cast into the lake of fire pertains to DEATH? Death itself is cast into the lake of fire. Hell, the realm of the dead, is cast into the lake of fire. And those whose names are not written in the Book of Life, i.e. those who are dead, in trespasses and in sins, who inhabit hell, are cast into the lake of fire. That is the end of death and hell and sin and sinners, for God shall destroy the whole realm of death in the lake of fire. He shall burn up hell in the lake of fire, He shall destroy death in the lake of fire, and He shall consume sin in the lake of fire. How I long to see the end of sin and death and hell! The time is coming, praise His name! God's Kingdom shall rule over all and God Himself shall be All-in-all. There shall be neither sin, nor sinners, nor death, nor hell. It is clear that God does not destroy men in the lake of fire, nowhere does it say that, for that would be a contradiction of terms. How can you destroy death by creating death? How can you abolish death by bringing men under the power of eternal death from which there is no escape? Oh, no, it is not men who are destroyed in the lake of fire -- it is sin and death and hell that are destroyed. "And the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (I Cor. 15:26). "And there shall be no more death: for the former things are passed away" (Rev. 21:4). Thus, the lake of fire is nothing more nor less than THE DEATH OF DEATH! "And power was given unto them to kill...with death. " 0, the wonder of it!
The following words by Ray Prinzing give fresh insight into this wonderful truth: "The first Adam died to God and righteousness, and became alive unto sin. The last Adam died unto sin (Rom. 6:10), and liveth unto God, and so fulfilleth all righteousness. The first made all men sinners, the last makes all men righteous. The lives and the deaths of the two Adams are thus greatly contrasting the one to the other. The FIRST DEATH was a transition from life to death, the SECOND DEATH is a transition from corruption to incorruption, from mortality to immortality. Transformed from the carnal mind to the spiritual mind, which is life and peace, which transformation is wrought by a dying out to the one realm, to come alive to the higher realm. Because -- the second death is prepared to purge out and burn away sin and its results, and so doing cleanse all of God's universe. Death came as an enemy, the fruitage of an act of disobedience that turned man away from God and into the realm of carnality, minding self and flesh. Now God makes death overcome itself. It is by death that death is rendered powerless, and there arises an upspringing, a new life. It takes death to destroy death, and thus Christ 'did taste death for every man' --'that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage' (Heb. 2:9, 14-15). Since we are all under the effects of the first death, it is appointed unto us to die once more -- not physical death, we are already in a state of mortality -- but now a dying out to this present death state. We conquer this death of the carnal mind by dying to it -- only God could use such a process bringing victory, but praise God, lie is destroying the first death with the second death" -- end quote.
When the process is complete, and the last soul has emerged from the warfare of the Four Horsemen, fully yielding unto the Lordship of our Saviour, then at last shall be fulfilled the beautiful promise: "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be NO MORE DEATH, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make ALL THINGS NEW. And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful" (Rev. 21:3-5).
To be continued...
J. PRESTON EBY