Sermon #16 Ruth Series:
Title: “The Beginning Of Barley Harvest”
Text: Ruth 1:22
Subject: The typical significance of the beginning of barley harvest.
Date: Tuesday Evening - August 17, 1993
My subject tonight is “The Beginning Of Barley Harvest.” Our text is Ruth chapter one, verse twenty-two (Read it with me). Take special notice of the words, “The Beginning Of Barley Harvest.” Those words are used only two times in the entire Bible. Tonight we will look at both places where they are used.
Ruth and Naomi came to Bethlehem. We read in verse 19 - “So they two went until they came to Bethlehem.” We are not told how long their journey took, or what obstacles they met with along the way, only that they came to Bethlehem, the House of Bread. Nothing else is really important. They came to that place where all their needs were met, Bethlehem, the House of Bread! They had come to the right place.
When they came to Bethlehem they caused a great stir. “All the city was moved about them.” Why? Why did the arrival of these two poverty-stricken, travel-weary, ragged and hungry women cause such a stir in Bethlehem? No one would profit by their arrival. In fact, those two women were just two more mouths to feed, bodies to clothe, and citizens to protect from the stores of the city! When I read this 19th verse, I am reminded that there is a commotion in heaven over one sinner who repents (Lk. 15:10). There is a party in heaven every time a prodigal comes home!
Ruth and Naomi came to the right place. They received a warm welcome. And they came at a good time - “In the beginning of barley harvest.” The beginning of barley harvest was in late April, in the early springtime. Barley is the first grain that ripens in the spring. It is then that the firstfruits of the earth are brought forth, upon which the Scriptures place such great significance.
“The beginning of barley harvest” was a time of great joy and of great spiritual significance, because it anticipated the redemptive work of Christ, he resurrection glory, and the believer’s eternal life in him.
There were three feasts held by the Jews every year. These three feasts were established by the law of God and are full of typical instruction. We read about them in Leviticus 23.
1st - the Feast of Passover (vv. 4-8) - Actually, this feast originated in Egypt (Ex. 12:1-13). When the judgment of God fell upon the Egyptians, every household in Israel sacrificed a paschal lamb. The blood of the lamb was put upon the door of every house. When judgment fell, God looked on the blood and passed over the house where blood was found. That slain Passover lamb represented Christ our Passover, who was sacrificed for us (1 Cor. 5;7), by whose blood we are saved.
Our Lord Jesus Christ kept the Passover feast with his disciples just before he was crucified as our Substitute. It was then that he instituted the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:17-30). That feast of the Passover intimated that the immediate result of Christ’s death would be a body of people, a family, a nation, a church, sharing together the benefits of his sacrifice in blessed communion (1 Cor. 10:16).
2nd - The Feast of Firstfruits (vv. 9-11) - On Sunday after the Passover, Israel brought a handful of the firstfruits of their harvest and waved it before the Lord. This signified that every product of the soil, every result of man’s labor and toil is of the Lord. It was on this day that our Lord arose from the grave and became the firstfruits of the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20-23). All the results of Christ’s work on the cross, our redemption and our resurrection, are the works of God.
3rd - The Feast of Pentecost (vv. 15-21). This was held seven weeks after the Passover. Pentecost was time of renewal. The Jews renewed their vows and consecrated themselves anew to the Lord God. It was on this day that the Holy Spirit was given in Acts 2.
Our text this evening relates to the second of these great feasts. The Feast of the Firstfruits corresponds to the beginning of barley harvest. (Read Leviticus 23:10-11).
Ruth and Naomi came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest. Tonight, I want to show you the spiritual, or the typical significance of that.
I. First, THE FEAST OF FIRSTFRUITS AND THE BEGINNING OF BARLEY HARVEST DEFINITELY FORESHADOWED THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST FROM THE DEAD (1 Cor. 15:20; Col. 1:18).
When we realize that the beginning of barley harvest, the time when Ruth came to Bethlehem, refers to the resurrection of Christ, it takes on meaning. Typically, our text if bursting with gospel truth.
A. The beginning of barley harvest, the feast of firstfruits, was a time of new life, after the long death of winter.
In the winter time everything dies. The flowers fade, the grass withers. The trees shed their leaves. But in the spring time new life rises out of the earth. So it is in things spiritual.
1. This present gospel age began with the resurrection of Christ from the grave.
Our Lord compares this age to a great field ripe with the harvest (Matt. 13:37-39; Lk. 10:2; John 4:35). The field is the world. The seed is the Word of God. The harvest is the end of the world. Just as the beginning of harvest was marked in Palestine by the waving of the first ripe fruit before the Lord, so the beginning of this gospel age was marked by the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
NOTE: It was to his disciples a time of great joy and would be to us, if we understood its full meaning (Lk. 24:50-53).
2. Every time a sinner is born again he becomes a kind of firstfruit unto God (James 1:18).
NOTE: The new birth is the first resurrection which guarantees we shall have part in the second (Rev. 20:6).
B. This feast was held on the first day of the week - “On the morrow after the Sabbath.”
1. Our Savior rose from the dead on the first day of the week.
2. Though we have no laws requiring it, and though we do not observe any sabbath day, other than the sabbath of faith, the first day of the week is peculiarly the Lord’s day (Rev. 1:10; Psa. 118:23-24; 1 Cor. 16:2).
C. The feast of firstfruits was a time of great joy, because it symbolized complete justification by the grace of God through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
The words, “to be accepted for you” (Lev. 23:11) describe what the resurrection of Christ is to God’s elect (Rom. 4;25).
1. His righteousness is “accepted for you!”
2. His blood is “accepted for you!”
3. He is “accepted for you!”
D. The very word “Firstfruits” means “There is more to come!”
1. The sheaf of firstfruits waved before the Lord signified two things:
a. It was an acknowledgment that God alone brought the grain out of the earth - Life comes from Him!
b. It was a pledge of much more to come.
2. So it is with the resurrection of Christ.
It manifests the exceeding greatness of God’s power and grace to usward who believe (Eph. 1:19-20); and it is the pledge of our own resurrection at God’s appointed time (1 Cor. 15:13, 23).
E. Though this gospel age has already lasted for nearly two thousand years, it is still “The Beginning of Barley Harvest.”
From the moment of Christ’s resurrection, God has, as it were, stopped the clock of time.
1. There are no times and seasons counted in this age.
2. There are no signs to be fulfilled.
3. When you read the Old Testament prophets, they saw no interval between “the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow” (1 Pet. 1:11).
4. We are to look upon the coming of our Lord with imminent expectancy.
5. God has stopped the clock, in longsuffering patience, for the salvation of his elect (2 Pet. 3:9, 15).
This is still the beginning of barley harvest!
“The application of this to all who hear and believe the gospel is apparent. The glad message of pardoning love, with the gracious invitation, ‘Come, for all things are ready,’ is sent to every part of the world, and is intended even for those who are at the lowest levels of human degradation and need. The words that save (Acts 11:14) can penetrate everywhere; and even those who are cursed by the law, as were the people of Moab, may, through the gospel, become partakers of the unsearchable riches of Christ. For He, by his death, has taken away ‘the middle wall of partition,’ the law of commandments in ordinances, which shut Gentiles out from those privileges the law conferred on the people of Israel (Eph. 2:12-16); and now, ‘by means of the gospel,’ all that Christ is in resurrection is shared equally by believing sinners, whether from among the Jews or from among the Gentiles (Eph. 3:6-9).
So we may say that every believing sinner comes to Bethlehem, to the House of Bread, to share the ‘true Bread from heaven,’ and that he comes at ‘the beginning of barley harvest’, for he comes to CHRIST RISEN FROM THE DEAD!” - Philip Mauro.-
F. The gospel we are sent into this world to proclaim is the gospel of the risen Christ.
The tendency of most in our day is to make little of the resurrection of Christ, except ceremonially on Easter Sunday. But in the New Testament, the resurrection of Christ was the burden of Apostolic preaching (2 Tim. 2:8).
1. Christ on the cross cannot save you. Christ on the throne does (John 17:2).
2. Christ in the tomb has no saving power. Christ on the throne does.
NOTE: False religion leaves Christ dead. The gospel proclaims Christ alive and reigning! Thank God he died; but he did not stay dead. He lives!
II. YET, CHRIST WHO IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD IS CHRIST WHO WAS CRUCIFIED FOR SINNERS, AS OUR SUBSTITUTE.
The feast of firstfruits and the beginning of barley harvest looked back to the slaying of the Passover lamb; and the resurrection of Christ looks back to and has meaning for us, because he made atonement for us by shedding his precious blood in our place on the cross.
The only other place in the Bible where these words, “the beginning of barley harvest,” are used certainly portrays the death of our Lord Jesus Christ and our glorious redemption by the shedding of his blood (2 Sam. 21:9).
A brief survey of this chapter will give us a very clear picture of the redemptive work of Christ, which was most truly “the beginning of barley harvest.”
A. Saul had sinned against the Lord by breaking a covenant made in the name of God - He slew the Gibeonites (v. 1).
B. Judgment fell upon Israel, because of this sin - Three years of famine!
C. The Gibeonites required a just atonement (vv. 9).
1. Neither silver nor gold (v. 4).
2. Atonement must be made by blood (v. 6).
3. The atonement must be complete - 7 men!
4. The atonement must be made by men of Saul’s house -Man sinned - Man must die!
5. The atonement was made “in the hill before the Lord” (v. 9).
6. The day of atonement was “the beginning of barley harvest” -The beginning of life!
D. Though justice demanded a complete sacrifice for sin, mercy spared Mephibosheth, because of a covenant (v. 7).
E. Once the atonement was made, “God was intreated for the land,” and the curse was removed - Reconciliation (v. 14).
“The beginning of Barley Harvest”...
· Looks back to the death of Christ - Faith!
· Symbolized the resurrection of Christ - Justification!
· Illustrates the beginning of life in Christ - The new birth!