Christian Churches of God
The Seven Great Passovers
of the Bible
(Edition 4.0 19950421-19970207-20080410)
This work explains the sequence of the seven great Passovers of the Bible and their meaning in the build-up to the coming of Messiah in the Incarnation. The forerunners to the Passover are explained and then the meaning behind the Passovers in the Exodus, the fall of Jericho, and with Gideon, Hezekiah, Josiah, Ezra and, finally, Messiah are discussed. The framework of the Passovers is explained in relation to the life of a man. The Jubilee system and the parables in Genesis 2:9, Zechariah 4:3-6 and Luke 3:7-14 are also explained. The years of the tree from Luke 13:6-9 take on a much fuller meaning or significance from this work.
The Seven Great Passovers of the Bible
Forerunners of the Passover
The indication of what is involved in the transfer of authority of the world systems is obtained from Genesis 3:15.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
The term for seed here is zer'a, which is in the singular. Thus we are dealing with the concept of a singular seed, i.e. Christ, and the woman is both Israel and the Church. The Gentiles are brought into spiritual Israel. The Church is Israel but not all of the nation of Israel (the physical descendants of Jacob) is in the Church yet. That Church is a unified whole with God in all as one. We are dealing with the transfer of authority of the world system in this process. This transfer of authority ends this current world age and begins the Millennium.
The Passover was established before the Law was given at Sinai. Thus, the Passover stands adjacent to the Law of Moses with the activities of God, as being extant before the Law of Moses, as do the Sabbaths and the harvests generally. The Holy Days symbolise the transfer of authority from the current system to the coming Messianic system. That system is centred on Jerusalem. That is why the Feasts, New Moons and Sabbaths are attacked and disguised by modern Christianity – they do not understand what is happening. Once we stop keeping the Laws of God, symbolised by all Ten Commandments from which hangs all the Law and the Prophets, our understanding is removed.
There were also precursors even to the Exodus Passover which should be examined.
Fall of Sodom and Gomorrah
The type of activity involved in the transfer and the condemnation of the world system is seen from the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah. Genesis 19:3 indicates that we are viewing a form of Passover, a precursor to the actual sequence of the Passovers from Exodus. All of these texts are there for a reason.
Genesis 19:3 But he urged them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
The unleavened bread here is for a purpose. There shall be no leavened bread offered with a sacrifice (Ex. 23:18; 34:25; Lev. 2:11; etc.). This event was used to represent a sacrifice. There were some seven great Passovers, but this was a precursor to the seven in the same way that Christ was a precursor to the seven Churches, as an eighth. The concept is obtained from Solomon's Temple where there were ten lamp stands with seven lamps each. David's Tabernacle had only one and was in effect a continuation of the Tabernacle in the wilderness. The first lamp stand symbolised Christ, the next seven symbolised the seven Churches, and the last two stood for the Two Witnesses. This sequence extended from Christ to the end restoration and his return. The ten lamp stands had seventy lamps, which in turn represented the extended Council of the Elders. Thus, the representation applying to the Church foretold the removal of authority from the Sanhedrin to the Church. The seventy Elders were themselves representative of the celestial system, as we see from Hebrews (see also the paper The Oracles of God (No. 184)).
This sacrifice was done before the angels threw down Sodom and destroyed all of the lands on the east bank of the Jordan. Lot had taken all the rich lands of the Sodomites. Abraham had given him first choice. Christ was, in effect, showing Lot what he would do in wresting their lands from the nations and giving them to Abraham's family.
Passover 1: Fall of Egypt
The first great Passover was the fall of Egypt, which has been dealt with at length in the papers Moses and the Gods of Egypt (No. 105) and The Passover (No. 98). See also The Fall of Egypt (No. 36): The Prophecy of Pharaoh's Broken Arms.
Passover 2: Fall of Jericho
The second Passover was when the Promised Land was given to Israel. Thus the first Passover delivered them and the second Passover placed them in their lands. Joshua 5:7 says:
So it was their children, whom he raised up in their stead, that Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way.
Israel wandered forty years in the wilderness. All were left uncircumcised. This was a way of delineating one generation from another. It also was an indication that in the forty Jubilees of the Church in the wilderness from Messiah, the Gentiles or the uncircumcised would enter the Kingdom while the circumcised would not do so. That time-frame was used to delineate the time-span from the Advent of one Messiah – the Messiah of Aaron or the Priest-Messiah – to the second Advent of the Messiah of Israel as King and conqueror. The circumcised that fell in the wilderness was Judah. They were given the option of being in the Church under Messiah and they rejected the option. They fell in the wilderness of the forty Jubilees under the Church. It was the uncircumcised (the Gentiles) that were brought in. Thus, the uncircumcised period was to point towards the Gentiles being brought into Israel. Any Israelite should have known from these texts that the Gentiles were going to be brought into Israel.
On entering Canaan, the men of Israel were circumcised at Gilgal using flint. Gilgal means a rolling away. Hence the flint that was God rolled the sin – or reproach of Egypt – away from Israel. We establish the time exactly. It was at the Passover; and from the Passover they took Jericho.
Joshua 5:10-11 While the people of Israel were encamped in Gilgal they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at evening in the plains of Jericho. And on the morrow after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain.
They ate manna in the wilderness. The very day after they ate of the produce of Canaan, the manna dried up. So, on the first day of Unleavened Bread they took the corn of Canaan; then the manna ceased. They had one form of sustenance for forty years. Then they were given the bread or fruit of the Promised Land. This activity was either the eating of the old corn or it was also the Wave Sheaf falling on the first day of the week as the first Holy Day of Unleavened Bread. It is taken as the eating of the old grain. The new grain cannot be consumed until the Wave Sheaf is offered.
Joshua 5:13-15 shows that the Lord was intervening in their establishment. This was Christ as the Captain of the armies of God.
Joshua 5:13-15 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man stood before him with his drawn sword in his hand; and Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you for us, or for our adversaries?" And he said, "No; but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and worshiped, and said to him, "What does my lord bid his servant?" And the commander of the LORD's army said to Joshua, "Put off your shoes from your feet; for the place where you stand is holy." And Joshua did so. (RSV)
This was the same thing he said to Moses at Sinai.
Joshua 6:1-16 shows that the Lord had given the city to Israel. Passover symbolises the primary action in the fall of the nations. The first-fruits was Christ, and Christ was that rock which destroyed the world empires in Daniel 2. Christ was the primary action in the fall of the nations in the seven trumpets of Revelation, that is, the overthrow of the earthly kingdoms or the fall of the world's systems at the end of this age.
We concentrate here on the symbolism of the Passover. The symbolism related to the last day, i.e. the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Passover was required to be kept in order that Jericho would fall. Only when we hold the Passover properly will the nations fall in the Last Days. Jericho fell on the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This sequence indicates the process at the return of Messiah as Captain of the armies of the Host.
Passover 3: Gideon
The next Passover is that of Gideon. From Judges 6:1, in the second Passover, Israel was given land as their inheritance. The first Passover saw them taken out of Egypt. The third saw Israel lose its inheritance through the commission of evil.
Judges 6:1-3 And the land had rested for forty years. The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord gave them into the hand of Mid'ian seven years. And the hand of Mid'ian prevailed over Israel; and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens which are in the mountains, and the caves and the strongholds. For whatever the Israelites put in seed the Mid'ianites and the Amal'ekites and the people of the East would come up and attack them.
Israel was delivered into the hand of the Midianites for seven years. They were sons of Keturah, by Abraham. They and the Amalekites were cruel. They destroyed everything with which they came in contact. God used them to punish Israel. Israel developed caves from which to fight these people. The Midianites came up against them and pillaged the land. Then Israel cried unto the Lord and repented of its idolatry. God shows from this example that, on repentance, He will restore our inheritance.
The repentance took place at the time of the Passover, and the people turned to God and He heard their prayers and then sent a prophet to the people of Israel. The speech refers to the original Passover and the removal of the nation from Egypt and out of bondage.
Judges 6:8-10 ... the Lord sent a prophet to the people of Israel; and he said to them, "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt, and brought you out of the house of bondage. And I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from before you, and gave you their land; And I said unto you, 'I am the Lord your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed my voice.'
They were sent into hard labour for seven years. They did not listen to God’s promise. The result is clear in the text. The Lord God sent the Angel of the Lord (Jesus Christ; cf. Zech. 12:8; Heb. 1:8-9) and spoke to the son of Joash (Gideon).
The timing of the deliverance was made at the time of the Omer Count at the end of it at the wheat harvest, as the word normally translated as wheat is used in Judges 6:11 when Gideon is threshing in the wine press to hide the grain from the Midianites. Thus the deliverance occurred after the sequence of the Passover and the Omer Count to Pentecost.
Judges 6:12-13 And the Angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, "The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour." And Gideon said unto Him. "Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, 'Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?' but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites."
They did not equate their idolatry with their misfortune! They did not even know they were idolaters. This concept carries over to the nations now. This nation was given its inheritance in order for the elect to be extracted. When the elect follow false gods and false systems then the protection will be removed and we will be sent into captivity until we repent. The elect themselves do not appear to understand that fact. That is the way the Lord will punish us. He will give our enemies a heart of stone in order to deal with us. For example, today some modern churches have obelisks, as spires on the top of their church buildings. Deuteronomy 16:21 forbids their erection. It refers to an asherah, which is wrongly translated as grove. The asherah is a phallus, or obelisk sacred to the sun god (termed a ben or benben by the Egyptians; see Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, art. ‘Obelisk’, and The Companion Bible, App. 42).
We must turn our back on our idolatrous practices or we will lose the inheritance that we have been given over the last two hundred years. Following a false god will send us into captivity. What happens to the nation is a reflection upon what the elect are doing. The welfare of the nation is dependent upon the activities of the elect. God wants obedience. Every man does what is right in his own eyes in these Last Days and the people will perish.
The timing of the activity in Judges is related to the Passover sequence, and which the nation was not observing until they turned to God in repentance. After their repentance He heard them and raised their deliverance. Such action also pointed towards the Pentecost that delivered the Church and gave it the Holy Spirit in 30 CE.
Judges 6:20-21 And the angel of God said to him, "Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them." And he did so. Then the Angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in His hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the Angel of the Lord departed out of his sight.
What they had done was to turn to idolatry and forsaken the festivals. Through his actions here Christ was re-establishing the Passover and the Omer Count to the Festival of Pentecost – the Law.
Judges 6:27 So Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the Lord had told him; but because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night.
Ten is the traditional number of people required per household for the sacrifice of the Passover, and it also has significance here. Christ had eleven men and one who was a demon. Gideon plus ten equalled the loyal Apostles with Christ, who was the Yahovah referred to here speaking with Gideon.
Gideon was afraid to pull down the altar of Baal by day because the people thought that it was impious. However, Gideon pulled down the altar of Baal and smashed the objects of offence. It was an asherah here and not a grove. It is a pole - a phallus. The people had begun worshipping these things in Israel to the extent that they thought it impious to remove it! Thus the same situation occurs today. Instead of worshipping God as an order of Christ, people are adopting false gods from Trinitarianism to simple materialism, which has become one of the greatest gods of this nation. They are blind and cannot see. Once the false system is adopted, the Bible says that we are given over to a strong delusion. These people likewise wanted to punish Gideon for removing the idols or, more particularly, the asherahs. The asherah or phallus was termed groves to obscure the text.
Judges 6:30-31 Then the men of the city said unto Jo'ash, "Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Ba'al, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it." But Jo'ash said to all who were arrayed against him, "Will you contend for Ba'al? Or will you defend his cause ? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been pulled down."
Joash said to let Baal plead for himself. If this was a true god then it could do battle with the Angel of the Lord! However, that cannot be done. So the Angel of the Lord freed Israel from under the hand of the Midianites. It is part of a sequence. In fact, through this third sequence Israel was restored.
Establishment of the Temple Ordinances
The story then takes up in the time of David and Solomon. David established the Temple ordinances. From 1Chronicles 23:24 David established the system that would last until Christ. The Lord God had said by David that Israel had to dwell in Jerusalem forever. He established the systems for the New Moons, Sabbaths etc.
1Chronicles 23:31 ... and whatever burnt offerings are offered to the Lord on the sabbaths, new moons, and feast days, according to the number required of them, continually before the Lord.
David had set the ordinances, but did not build the Temple. It was left to Solomon to construct. Solomon's Temple had ten lamp stands. David's had one. David was still under Moses' ordinances. From 2Chronicles 8:12-13 Solomon established other ordinances and sub-systems with the Temple. Thus we have the establishment of ordinances with the Temple. We see from this sequence that there were three groups of Passovers, then the establishment of the Temple.
2Chronicles 8:12-13 Then Solomon offered up burnt offerings to the Lord upon the altar of the Lord which he had built before the vestibule, as the duty of each day required, offering according to the commandment of Moses for the sabbaths, the new moons, and the three annual feasts - the feast of unleavened bread, the feast of weeks, and the feast of tabernacles.
The New Testament symbolism was established here, yet there was no change in the structure of the worship. The basic plan remained the same because the Plan of Salvation did not change. The new structure was to become a spiritual edifice in people. Yet the Plan of Salvation is obvious from the Old Testament, and also from the New Testament. We can see from each, but we need both Testaments to ensure that the structure is not perverted.
Passover 4: Hezekiah
The fourth Passover was after the Temple was constructed during the reign of Hezekiah. The nation had fallen into idolatry under Ahaz. It was so bad that the Temple could not be restored in time for the sacrifice on 14 Nisan, so they missed the Passover by two days. Israel was polluted! They had gone so far down the road to apostasy through the failure of the priesthood that they needed to re-sanctify themselves. That is the problem in the present century. Israel and the priesthood are in a fallen spiritual state. This process of re-sanctification is evident from this Passover.
2Chronicles 29:17 They began to sanctify on the first day of the first month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the vestibule of the Lord; then for eight days they sanctified the house of the Lord, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished.
The Seventh day of Nisan was for the sanctification of the simple and the afflicted. The sanctification should have taken this into account.
Hezekiah ordered sacrifices of seven bulls, seven lambs etc. to cleanse the nation. This falling away symbolises the great falling away of the elect in the Last Days. This relates to the apostasia. It is not a falling away of numbers but of understanding.
2Chronicles 29:22-24 So they killed the bullocks, and the priests received the blood, and sprinkled it on the altar: likewise, when they had killed the rams, they sprinkled the blood upon the altar: they killed also the lambs, and they sprinkled the blood upon the altar. And they brought forth the he goats for the sin offering before the king and the congregation; and they laid their hands upon them: And the priests killed them, and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel; for the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering should be made for all Israel.
2Chronicles 29:30 And Hezeki'ah the king and princes commanded the Levites to sing praises to the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed down and worshiped.
Psalm 133: “A song of degrees” relates to this situation. Hezekiah had restored the kingdom to receive the blessing of Christ as the Angel of Yahovah (Jehovah). They were no longer sanctified. We can remove the sacrifice of Christ by our own failure as they did! Psalm 133 states:
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard, upon the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life for evermore.
Thus we see the restoration of the nation.
Passover 5: Josiah
The fifth Passover was that of Josiah (2Chr. 35:1). From 2Chronicles 35:10-18, they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days. The Passover was roasted (from 2Chr. 35:13), but the other holy offerings were sodden in pots. This may be the origin of the confusion concerning use of the generic term for cooking. The priests were busy all afternoon of 14 Nisan. Therefore, the Levites prepared for themselves, and for the priests, the sons of Aaron, and for the singers of Asaph. The priests were busy until the night. All afternoon of 14 Nisan the preparations went on. Thus, the contention of the beginning of 14 Nisan being involved as the time for the Passover sacrifice is nonsense. 2Chronicles 35:18 states:
No passover like it had been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet; none of the kings of Israel had kept such a passover as was kept by Josi'ah, and the priests and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
They kept the Passover and Unleavened Bread seven days (2Chr. 35:17). Contrary to some misconception, the 18th year of Josiah was not a Jubilee. It was the first year of a new Jubilee, or a year of return. Restoration of the Jubilee occurred at this time. The Jubilee can be determined from Ezekiel 1:1. This year was the 30th year of the Jubilee. It occurs with the known date of Jehoiachin's captivity. Thus the Jubilees can be restored for the implementation of the millennial structure. This Passover was the second restoration at the Temple. The Temple had to be restored three times! The first Passovers were for the establishment of the nation. The restorations were to explain the sequence of the development of the kingdom both in the nations and in the individual.
Passover 6: Ezra
The third restoration was in Ezra 6 from verse 3, and Ezra 9. From this text we establish that we are dealing with the House of Eloah and its restoration. This time the Temple was destroyed. Israel was sent away into captivity for its idolatry. God did not raise up a nation to take control of their land. They were taken into a foreign land because they did not learn their lesson. Thus, Israel and the elect are dealt with on a progressive basis until we get the message. The Temple is the House of God (Elahh (Chald.); or Eloah (Heb.)). From Ezra 7:12 we see that it is the Law of God (Eloah or Elahh) also. We are talking about God the Father. It is His will and His House. From Ezra 6:9-12 we see sacrifices are offered to establish the kingdom. From Ezra 6:15-22 we see that the Temple was finished in the reign of Darius the king.
Ezra 6:15 ...and this house was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.
Adar was the last month of the year. The nation dedicated the Temple (Ezra 6:16-17), sacrificing 100 bulls etc., and set the divisions (Ezra 6:18), then kept the Feast (Ezra 6:19).
Ezra 6:19 On the fourteenth day of the first month the returned exiles kept the passover.
That Passover appears to be the one referred to in the Passover Papyrus in the Aramaic letters from Elephantine (tr. Ginsburg, Pritchard, Ancient Near East etc., vol. 1).
Ezra 6:22 And they kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy; for the Lord had made them joyful, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.
The priesthood was purified. It is a continual requirement. They had become defiled. One can only ask the question: “Why did they fall every time God put them on their feet?”
The time of the construction of the Temple is significant. It is important to establish the time in view of its significance for the seventy weeks of years in Daniel 9:25f. These six restorations built up to the Messiah. The king here was Darius II, not Darius I (see Ezra 4 to prove this point: see also the paper The Sign of Jonah and the History of the Reconstruction of the Temple (No. 13)). The seventy weeks of years goes from Darius II to 70 CE. The Temple referred to by Isaiah (Isa. 19:19) was to be built in Egypt, at Heliopolis on the Leontopolis site by Onias IV, who fled to Alexandria in the reign of Ptolemy Philometor. The Temple there had lasted from approximately 160 BCE to 71 CE, and was closed by Vespasian (see also App. 81 to The Companion Bible). The sacrifices occurred at both sites over that period.
Christ, as a baby, attended this Temple during the period his family was in Egypt. They maintained the Faith intact here (and during his entire life) to fulfil the prophecy Out of Egypt have I called my son (Hos. 11:1; Mat. 2:15). The Jerusalem Jews were jealous of the Temple there, nevertheless, it also had to close by 71 CE so that the seventy weeks of years could be completed and the authority transferred to the Church.
The seventy weeks of years was misplaced by both Jews and Christians. The Christians wanted the period to end in 27 CE. This allegedly was the beginning of Christ's ministry. This was to match Daniel 9:25 as a prophecy concerning Messiah (KJV) which it was not. John the Baptist commenced to preach from October 27 CE. Christ commenced to preach from the imprisonment of John after the Passover of 28 CE, which was a year of return in the new Jubilee. Christ began his restoration in the new forty-Jubilee cycle.
Passover 7: The Messiah
To make an end of the world’s systems and make atonement for sin, God had given the last great Passover lamb: Christ. That was to bring in righteousness with Christ. It is important to understand the overall framework. The period in question is from the restoration of the Temple to Jesus Christ. There is a specific time and sequence, which needs to be examined separately. This Advent of Messiah is the seventh great Passover. Genesis 3:15 showed that Jesus Christ was the seed of the woman. The Passover Lamb is a concept used right through to Revelation. The Lamb of God is referred to some twenty-eight times in Revelation.
Revelation 21:14 shows that the Apostles were of the Lamb. Revelation 22:3 shows that the Throne is of God and the Lamb. The (Passover) Lamb is a story that is fundamental to God's Plan. His name shall be on their foreheads. The elect will be sealed and the Lamb will take up the Throne of God. He sits there as the Lamb of God. This story is fundamental to the Passover. All of the elect share in the Morning Star with Christ when he takes up his rulership (2Pet. 1:19 (tr. day star); Rev. 2:28; 22:16).
Understanding the Framework of the Passovers
Life of Man
A man's life is 70 years. We have 20 years before we are an adult and 50 years as an adult. That is one Jubilee of seven cycles. In that period individuals are dealt with by God. That concept relates to the construction of the Temple. What the measurements mean and the human being's relationship to it are separate matters. The cycle is also understood by the Passovers.
Man and the Jubilee
Dealing with sequences of seven Passovers we have a framework of seven great cycles. There are seven years in each cycle making up the Jubilee period of 49 years plus one rest year – the fiftieth. In each of the years we have seven Holy Days. These also relate to the Jubilee. This Jubilee explains the life of a man as he is dealt with by God. The symbolism of this sequence is repeated as the sequence of the seven Churches in Revelation 2 and 3.
The development of man is explained by the parable of the double trees.
Genesis 2:9 And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:9 deals with the ‘tree of life’ and the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’. The olive trees also symbolise the completion of knowledge and the outpouring of the power of the Spirit.
Zechariah 4:3-6 states:
And there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left. And I said to the angel who talked with me, "What are these, my lord?" Then the angel who talked with me answered me, "Do you not know what these are?" I said, "No, my lord." Then he said to me, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerub'babel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.
These olive trees were either side of the bowl, which contained the oil of the Holy Spirit. The elect are that bowl. This symbolism is duplicated in the concept of the Two Witnesses in Revelation 11:3ff. The two olive trees indicate two resurrections and the Advent of two Messiahs, preceded by two prophets. John the Baptist was the precursor to this activity. His function will be repeated in the spirit of Elijah (Mal. 4:5-6). Whether or not that function is undertaken by one of the Witnesses is unclear. Jeremiah 4:15ff. seems to indicate, at least, a prior function.
The concept of the trees is important for us to understand if spiritual development is to occur.
Luke 3:7-14 He said therefore to the multitudes that came out to be baptised by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits that befit repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, "We have Abraham as our father", for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." And the multitudes asked him, "What then shall we do?" And he answered them, "He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise." Tax collectors also came to be baptised, and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Collect no more than is appointed you." Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages."
Do not simply preach the warning to flee from the wrath to come. We have a job to do. Modify our behaviour and teach repentance to the world. Do not be concerned with places of safety (see the paper The Place of Safety (No. 194)).
We are the children raised up from stones because Judah (the Jews) turned from Christ. If the Jews had repented, it would have been a different story. The Jews would have been the priesthood. Thus it would not have extended beyond Levi. God knew that it would not be that way and indeed did not intend it to be that way. Thus, an axe was laid to the foot of the tree of Judah. It did not bring forth fruit. The priesthood and the oracles were given to another nation, that of spiritual Israel. Thus the Church is required to perform, and new stones will be raised to replace those that do not perform. Nevertheless, Judah will understand in the Last Days and come into its inheritance. If the Holy Spirit was in Judah, they would have extended salvation to the Gentiles, but they did not. They would not even eat with them.
Seven Years of the Tree
Spiritual Israel is developed by the sequence of the seven-year cycle, as explained in the parable of the tree.
Luke 13:6-9 And he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, 'Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?' And he answered him, 'Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on it manure. And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'"
In Luke 13:6-9, the fig tree was not to be cut down. The first three years were years of growth. The fourth year was one of pruning and fertilising. The fifth year is a year of grace. The sixth year is the year of man when the person is thrown back on the base level of his development. This is the test. It is our year of trial to test us. The seventh year is the year of rest. That is done in seven cycles. Each time we go on to spiritual growth. After each Passover we go on to whatever job we have to do. We then produce fruits worthy of repentance. This is somewhat complicated, but it is being simplified in order to understand the framework. The construction of the Temple is based upon the explanation of this system. The Temple is a physical representation of the development of the elect until they come into the Holy of Holies. This sequence is explained also in the paper Samson and the Judges (No. 73)).
To develop, we have to work hard. We are called to a different way of understanding. The only way to get there is to help one another. There are no winners or losers. We all have to help each other over the line. At each Passover we should be ready to go on to the next stage. We help each other, particularly during the sixth year of trial. God will test us severely to see if we are learning the laws of love, patience, kindness and truth. If we do not love one another, God will test us to demonstrate that point. However, we will not be tested beyond our endurance and we will be given a way out (1Cor. 10:13).
Before Passover, the hand of God is lifted – to help us grow. We see our own weaknesses. We should not be discouraged! Nor should we be self-righteous in our attitude to each other. The greatest asset we have is our relationship with Jesus Christ, and of being in the service of God. The second asset is the relation with each other in the Holy Spirit. We must run the race to win, but walk over the line hand in hand. We have a requirement to do so.