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"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE
THE FIRSTFRUITS, THE HARVEST, AND THE VINTAGE
“And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto a son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped” (Rev. 14:14-16).
beautiful vision is reminiscent of some of the parables of our Lord. The first parable given by Jesus is the one
commonly called the
We read, “And He spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up: and some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among the thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: but other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit…who hath ears to hear, let him hear. Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When anyone heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the wayside. But he that receiveth seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that receiveth seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Mat. 13:3-9, 18-23).
very first word of this parable challenges attention — “Behold — Hearken!” The final phrase repeats the challenge — “He
that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” My
earnest prayer to God is that He will teach all who read these lines how to hear.
As we hearken to hear, may the spirit of
there stood the Sower in their midst, and the words He spoke unto them were the
Seed! By that word He was cast into
their earth, into that earth which they
were, He spake as
The parable of the Sower is, then, about a man who casts Seed upon the ground. The Seed is “the word of the kingdom.” There is a gradual ascent in quality of the four types of character revealed in the parable. Some of that Seed, some of that kingdom word, falls upon the wayside, or on the trail around the planting area. This first soil is impenetrable. The second, the stony ground, is a soil that has been plowed, but not deeply. Thirdly, some of the Seed falls into the weedy and thorny ground, which is an area that has been cultivated and can bring forth, it is rich earth with possibilities of a generous harvest, but it has not been tended enough to get rid of all the weeds. It is a hearing of high potential, of genuine vision, but this realm is not wholehearted, for it is held in reserve, uncrucified. This ground exists in a state of duality, double mindedness, divided between the irreconcilable loyalties of spirit and soul, of God and self. And last, but not least, there is the good ground that brings forth an eventual harvest, some an hundred fold, some sixty fold, and some thirty fold of the Seed that is planted in It.
hear this — that planting ground in its various conditions is not just
All of these kinds of soil lie between our ears, for they all represent levels on which we hear, receive, understand, and appropriate the word of the kingdom! It truly is “all in your mind!” In each case Jesus says that the ground, of whatever kind it is, is “the man that heareth the word.” So the ground relates to hearing and also to understanding! How you “hear” the word, how you “understand” the word of the kingdom reveals what kind of ground the Seed is falling upon. Every man, every woman, has within his or her understanding a wayside area, a stony area, a thorny area, and a good or responsive area. The minister of Christ, whoever he or she may be, casts the kingdom word upon your mind, into your understanding. As the word is ministered in the power of the Spirit it is just the Lord Himself walking among you throwing the word out, the truth of the kingdom, scattering it abroad upon your mind; but the word lands not in just one place, but upon all four areas of your thinking and understanding.
The fault was not in the Sower, nor yet in the Seed, but in the Soil. The problem lay in the factor of response, for the hearer was in a condition incapable of either receiving or nurturing the word. Let us meditate briefly upon the Seed that fell by the wayside. The “wayside” or “pathway” is the well-worn outer part of your conscious mind where you have already pre-set, pre-conditioned, and pre-determined what truth is — and woe to anyone who dares to tell you that what the scriptures or the Holy Spirit says is different! In this area the kingdom is unable to sprout, gain a foothold, develop, and become established because the ground is not fit for the Seed. It is as unreceptive as the uncultivated roadside, where, finding no root, it brings forth nothing, but is carried off by the birds of the air — the thought processes and carnal reasonings of the natural mind and human understanding!
me illustrate. Every one of us has
received Seed in that area — in that condition, mentality, and state of
being. Some who read these lines were
brought up in a background that taught you that Pentecost was past, that
speaking in tongues was not for today, that the gifts of the Spirit ended with
the early church, along with the ministries of apostles and prophets. You had heard that drum-beat all your life,
you were versed in all the arguments and the scriptures and were convinced that
thank God — the Sower didn’t throw just one
seed out! He cast a whole handful. And some of that Seed went a little deeper
into your mind and consciousness and it got into your stony area. It’s an area just beyond your pre-set,
pre-conceived, and pre-conditioned ideas that’s been broken up in a shallow way. It is my understanding that “stony” in the
Perhaps you even go to your minister and discuss the proposition with him. You would like to press into this new truth that has been awakened within. You lay your cards on the table. The minister replies, “Oh, no, that’s not for us today. Prophecies and tongues were to continue only “until that which is perfect is come,” and that which is perfect is the infallible canon of scripture. Once the word and revelation of God was complete the church no longer needed the special spiritual gifts. You get involved with that bunch of people and you are going to get a demon. And when you get a demon we have no need of you here in this church. You can go your own deceived way.” The pressure and persecution begin to arise, and guess what happens — because you want friends, recognition, and security the fragile little plant of promise quickly withers and dies! It has no root in itself. The hope springs up powerfully within you for a short season, but because there is no depth of soil it withers as soon as the sun comes out in its fury. Yet — thank God, the great Sower didn’t throw out just two Seeds!
third seed falls into your weedy area and it takes root and begins to
grow. You think, “Maybe I ought to go to
some of the meetings and see for myself what is happening there.” You go, and soon you are experiencing things
God, there were not just three Seeds
— because this third Seed begins well but eventually has the life choked out of
it. There is another Seed — same Seed,
same handful — but it goes a little deeper, right into the center, into the spirit of the mind, into the deepest
depth of the heart and the core of the life.
There it finds good ground and it takes root, it
begins to grow, and all the thinking and all the experiences
When I hear something that conflicts with my understanding my response is: “Father, is this possible? Is there any truth, any reality in this?” I consider it before the Lord, actively searching the mind of the spirit. I don’t want to reject out of hand any Seed from the Sower! I don’t want to hear half-heartedly. I don’t want to say, “It sounds good — but it really isn’t important.” I choose to be at least as noble as the Bereans and “search the scriptures daily whether these things be so” — so that whatever the new understanding is, if it be of God, it becomes rooted in me and produces its fruit. I have no desire to stop short and allow it to be choked out by the cares of life and the deceitfulness of riches (things I esteem as being of greater value). That is, I don’t want to get so involved that I think its not important to give myself to new understanding and experience, nor do I want to think that I am so rich in understanding and experience that I need nothing more. So I keep pressing toward the center of my garden area and I find that when the Seed, the word of the kingdom, is nurtured in that area, the Christ-life is raised up! Oh, my Father, let me “hear” with the “good soil”! May I hear with an open heart and a contrite spirit, a heart that can produce the life of the word of the kingdom!
have used the illustration of Pentecost,
the truth of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, because that is something nearly
every reader of these pages can relate to out of their past experience. But the real subject of the parable is not
Pentecost — it is THE KINGDOM OF GOD! The
kingdom is a realm far beyond
Pentecost! Within the word of the
kingdom lie other great and eternal truths like the new creation man, spiritual
maturity, the manifestation of the sons of God, God’s great plan of the ages,
the purpose and processes of judgment, and the reconciliation and restoration
of all creation into God again. I have
no doubt that many readers have experientially passed through these same “stages
of the soils” as the deeper truths of the
Spirit has spoken mightily in these days that it is harvest time for God’s
people. People confuse the word
“harvest” with soul-saving or revival.
But there is a vast difference!
When I say it is harvest time I am not talking about getting sinners
converted or the saints experiencing revival.
Revival time and harvest time are two entirely separate, distinct
things! A revival occurs in the lives of
the Lord’s people when they have once experienced something and it has died and
grown cold. Then, through the process of
revival, it is stirred up and renewed.
Revival is being brought back to life again in some area of your
spiritual experience. So when I say, this is harvest time, I am talking about
entering into something that is new, something
that is fresh, something that has just been produced, something that has
come to life, matured, and reproduced the original seed which is now
ready to be offered as bread and life to the hungry creation. Ah, beloved, it’s harvest time! It is time for God to bring forth something
fresh, glorious, and powerful out of our lives — something the world has
great harvest of the formation of Christ in His people is the harvest for which
the Husbandman has been waiting with long patience throughout the church
age. Gifts of the Spirit are really no
evidence of spiritual attainment. Gifts
are just that — gifts — and they are
given freely, not because of the merits of the recipient, but because of the
goodness and grace of the Bestower. But
it is entirely different! Fruit
must grow, fruit must develop; and it is within the fruit that the life of the
original seed must settle and find its full expression and power. God does not come to His church looking for
gifts, but for the formation of Christ — the fruit of the divine life. He gave us gifts freely by His grace,
and all we had to do was receive and use them.
Even many scoundrels in the church have done so! What God wants now is fruit — THE SON OF
Lord Jesus Christ is God’s firstborn Son, and those who compose the body of
Christ are the many sons of God brought to glory (Heb. 1:5-6; 2:10). As God’s firstborn Son, Jesus is the model,
example, pattern, and prototype for all His brother-sons, who will be conformed
to His image and share His glory. We
should not expect to share His glory without first
We may use the illustration of a sunflower seed. At the time of this writing our patio is brightened by a whole array of sunflowers that my wife planted this past year. The seed is sown into the ground and sprouts; this pictures regeneration. Then the sunflower grows; this is the process of growth in life and development. Eventually the sunflower plant develops to the point of blossoming and bearing seed; this is full maturity, a reproduced life, the harvest condition. The stage of blossoming is the stage of glorification. If you do not grow in life unto the full stature of the Son of God, yet await the time of blossoming, the state of glorification, you are a dreamer.
believers are interested in only two things: having their needs met and getting
to heaven. But neither of these are the
primary concerns of the great Husbandman!
He is looking for maturity, the reproduced image of His Son, the manifest Christ-life, a
full-grown new creation man (Eph. 4:13).
In the New Testament the “
people also confuse the word “harvest” with judgment. Untold thousands of Bible teachers teach that
when the Son of man comes with His sickle and casts it into the earth, He is
actually mowing down His enemies with great destruction and blood. What strange
facts remind us that John has prepared us for a scene of spiritual harvest conditions,
maturity followed by ingathering, by his earlier description of the scene of
Some teachers have even sought to distinguish the harvest of verses fourteen through sixteen from the vintage of verses seventeen through twenty. They say the harvest is the ingathering of the elect, whereas the vintage is the gruesome fate of the enemies of God, slain in a gory battle in which their dead bodies float in a sea of blood up to the horses’ bridles. But such cannot be! Harvest and vintage are described in too close a parallelism to be regarded as symbols for entirely contrary realities! Both are inaugurated by the same angelic command to reap the harvest of the earth, and the earth’s harvest-grain is balanced by earth’s vine, both are described to be ripe, and the reaping of both are described in almost identical terms.
THE HARVEST RAIN
the various types of our Lord’s coming is His coming unto us AS THE RAIN. The world cannot receive the Christ today
because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him. But for all whose hearts hunger and thirst
for the fullness of His presence, power, and glory the promise is sure: “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know
the Lord: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain
unto the earth” (Hos. 6:3). The
apostle James, speaking of the coming of the Lord, penned these significant
words: “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the
precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he (it)
receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts;
for the coming (manifest presence) of
the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5:7-8).
Furthermore, the prophet Zechariah gives us this inspiring admonition of
hope: “Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so
shall the Lord make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one
grass in the field” (Zech. 10:1). In
that beautiful Messianic Psalm, Psalm 72, the sweet singer of
Thus the prophets foretold a coming time of the manifestation of the Lord as rain upon the earth, the former rain, and the latter rain. They spoke of a time when there would be an outpouring of the Spirit of Christ in the earth that would be known as the early or former rain; they also prophesied of a time when there would be an outpouring of the Spirit of Christ in the earth that would be known as the latter rain. The early or former rain was the outpouring or visitation of the Lord that you can read about in your Bible in the book of Acts. The latter rain began about the beginning of the twentieth century. Historically you will find sovereign outpourings of the Holy Spirit in great power and glory, attended by the manifestations of the Spirit, in all kinds of places from about 1885 onward; places like Armenia in Russia, places you wouldn’t dream of. God was beginning to restore something! At the dawn of the twentieth century the baptism in the Holy Spirit was restored to God’s people. Talk about a bomb going off! The latter rain had begun.
these were mere “showers of blessing” which continued until 1948 when there
occurred an unprecedented cloudburst of glory!
The effect of the move of God that began in
were seasonal rains in
must also understand that not only dispensationally is there the manifestation
of the former and latter rain, but
result of the rain — former and latter — was the harvest. When the Lord gave the promise to
I live in the flesh to see the harvest of this age matters not, for I will
stand in the place I am called to in the hour of the great unveiling. It is apparent that the harvest represents
saints of the Lord coming forth in the image and likeness of Christ and with
the fullness of His life — sons
THE HARVEST OF THE “EARTH”
surely as there is a time to sow, there is also a time of harvest when the
fruit of the earth will be reaped. Solomon
declared, “To every thing there is a
season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” Eccl. 3:1). This harvest is called “the harvest of the earth,” signifying
that it is a harvest out of the “earth-realm” of the carnal church systems of
man. It is not the harvest of the
systems, but the harvest of the Lord’s people that have been held in captivity
is the Cloud-Man with the sickle in His hand and He’s ready to
keen spiritual insight Ray Prinzing wrote, “‘And another messenger came out
of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in
thy sickle, and reap; for the time is come for thee to reap: for the harvest of
the earth is ripe.’ Now let us
have we eagerly awaited this time.
Through the centuries the efforts of
writing this message I came across the following prophetic dream report from
“I had the strange feeling that I had been here before but could not quite put my finger on it. The boat quickly moved out into deep water and stopped. The water was teeming with fish and it almost seemed like the fish wanted to be caught. This man looked at me and said, ‘My name is Peter.’ With that he threw the net out and in what seemed like no time at all, he was pulling it in again and the net was teeming with fish. As soon as the fish hit the deck of the boat, they turned into people of all ages. I was struggling to get my mind around this unusual phenomenon when Peter said, ‘The final harvest must be reaped but it can only be reaped by those who have crossed the River Jordan.’ Suddenly it dawned on me that, in my dream, I was talking to the apostle Peter.
I could speak, Peter continued, ‘Jesus was involved in two fishing trips while
He walked this earth; one was at the beginning of His ministry and one towards
the end of His ministry’ (Lk. 5:4-10; Jn. 21:6-8). Peter continued, ‘On the first fishing trip
the net broke, but on the second trip the net held. And so it will be in this final harvest…the
net will hold. The net broke in the
early church and much was lost, but it will not be so in your day. Those who have left the wilderness behind and
have crossed over into the promised-land are those who have one goal and motive
which is only to build the
“‘The great cloud of witnesses watches with great joy and anticipation for the final consummation. Just as the harvest began with one generation in my day, so it will finish with this present generation in your day. My generation saw the foundations laid; your generation will see the building completed. There will be many in your generation that will overcome all things, even death. My generation saw tares sown into the harvest field, your generation will see all the tares removed. The harvest wave is upon you and you will accomplish, in one generation, what hundreds of generations have longed to see. The feast of Pentecost must give way to the feast of Tabernacles. Your generation will accomplish that which the church could not over the past two thousand years. The glorious shadow that emanated from the early church was just that, a shadow. You will see the fullness of the glory of God in one generation manifested in such a way that nothing will be impossible. The miracles we saw were just a foretaste of what was to come.’
“Peter paused, looking at the people in the boat. He said, ‘See how the boat has now grown!’ I was amazed! The boat was now huge and was accommodating so many people. It was impossible to estimate how many people were now in the boat. Peter continued, ‘The seed of early church martyrs will blossom in your generation. One seed will produce countless multitudes in the harvest of your day. They will watch, with gratitude to the Lord, for allowing them to be a part of what you will experience. This seed will explode into continuing, ever increasing harvests…they have waited to see this day.’
looked at me and said, ‘Tell the Christian leaders of your day…if they seek to
profit by this harvest and build their own kingdoms with the harvest, they will
be destroyed. This harvest is Holy; this
fruit is precious. If you cause any to
stumble, you will surely be destroyed.’
I felt the force and gravity of what Peter had just said. It hit me like a
speak the truth in saying that the hour for the
sell the “church” short, my friend, as though God no longer has any use for the
church, and will use only the sons. The believers in Christ who now sit within
the church systems are also the Lord’s people, and I tell you now that Christ loves the church and gave Himself for it
that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by
the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, no longer having any spot or any wrinkle, or
any such thing; but that it should be
holy and without blemish. Don’t think
He won’t accomplish this, for He most certainly shall! ALL of the Lord’s people will one day march
out of the darkness of tradition, the bondage of carnality, the limitation of
static creeds, the
We think we have seen some wonderful moves of God, and we have, but we haven’t even scratched the surface, we haven’t seen anything yet that faintly resembles the glorious things God will do in this great HARVEST TIME! God is laying a foundation in His firstfruits, and teaching, processing, qualifying, equipping, and empowering His sons, His sickle, for the coming invasion of all the church systems of man. He must do something unprecedented for us first, so that we will be ready. Let us not deceive ourselves, we don’t have all that we need for this great work, but God is quickening us for it. He is stripping away our dependence upon money, education, status, recognition, titles, methods, promotions, and materials, drawing us to move out of that and into HIS REALM. The realm of God is the realm of SPIRIT. It is the realm of BEING. God is teaching us the ways of His Spirit, and we must be endowed with the absolute fullness of His Spirit, which is the sevenfold SPIRIT OF SONSHIP.
we long for the fulfillment of the vision!
As the messenger came out of the
years ago a dear sister wrote to me some inspired words which I have cherished
to this day, for they illustrate so beautifully the greatness of our God in the
fulfilling of His purpose in both His firstfruits and His harvest. She said, “I still raise sheep and make wool
felt hats, scarves, and ponchos from their wool. This morning as I was working in my studio
the Lord blessed me with a little observation.
I was working on a very large brimmed hat and I started on it yesterday
and worked on it till I was tired of it, and let it rest over night so I could
start in again this morning. When I
looked at it this morning it just looked like a mess — it didn’t look like it
would ever become small enough to actually fit on the hat shaper I was using or
take on the finished form. But I just
kept rubbing and rolling and adding more soap and hot water and suddenly it just came together! It always seems too funny to me that at the
midpoint in the process it just looks like you have a big mess and then
suddenly it comes together into a beautiful finished piece. I felt the Lord was telling me this is how it
is with us as well! We usually feel like
we are a big mess, but He is going to suddenly
finish His work in us! He has been
patiently working on us for years and it is exciting to know that soon He will
finish us up and come forth from our being!”
To which I would add — beyond us
To be continued… J. PRESTON EBY
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