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under heaven" (ver. 5) could be converted by the preaching of Peter, they being the "first-fruits of the Spirit ;" and therefore James, addressing (as I conceive) the same people, when he writes "to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad," calls them " a kind of first-fruits " (i. 18).
This application might have been carried further, so as to complete the series such as making John's preaching the former rain and seed time," break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns:" he being "the former rain," or "a teacher of righteousness," as Joel ii. 23, and marg. a seed time, of which the fruits of the Spirit appeared some time after (Acts xix. 2). In like manner, the gathering of all the nations at Jerusalem would be the harvest; the disciples going to the mountains, the gathering of the wheat into the barn; the first destruction of Jerusalem, the destroying the chaff and stubble; the last and total destruction, "the treading of the wine-press of the wrath of God," completed by ploughing up the foundations and sowing with salt. But as in this the unities of time would be destroyed, and not, as far as I can see, fulfilled, even in an exactly answerable number of years, I have not ventured to put it down.
But it is observable, that as the typical import of the two feasts in the commencement of the ceremonial year was fulfilled during the time that dispensation was in force, so we may see that the other series of events is in the commencement of the natural year, according to the Creation; as in "the restitution of all things" the ceremonial year will be abolished, and the civil year restored.
It may be objected, that the seasons must vary so much in time (as, from the account of travellers, does now appear to be the case), that from that cause the use of this key will be very limited. But, in answer, I should say, that still, at least the consecutive order of events may be fixed, which is the chief thing. And, secondly, I would observe, that the Scripture does not allow of great variation. I grant that now, when neither the land nor the people have the special blessings of Jehovah, we must look for variableness of the seasons. The land is now given to barrenness; but in the years of ancient times, irregularity in the seasons intimated the anger of Jehovah, was used as language of terror by the prophet, and caused evident fear in the people (Jer. v. 24, 25). He " RESERVETH unto us the APPOINTED weeks of harvest," marks a special providence in preserving the exact regularity of the seasons.
But let us trace what latitude Scripture allows. In Ezra x. 9, the former rain is falling on the 10th of Chisleu. But the Prophet Amos (iv. 7) points it out as a clear mark of Jehovah's displeasure, that the rain had been withheld within
three months of harvest; three weeks after that period which includes also the space of time which the former rain was falling. It is the same with respect to the latter rain, as in Josh. iii. 15. 1 Chron. xii. 15 it is mentioned as invariably the case that "Jordan overflowed all his banks all the time of harvest.” Now it could not have rained during harvest; yet it must have rained immediately before harvest, else the floods would have ceased: but, when visited by Maundrell, he could discern no sign or probability of such inundations, though so late as the 30th of March, long after the period of barley harvest. In the same way Samuel gives it as an evident sign of the Lord's displeasure that there should be rain during wheat harvest (1 Sam. xii. 17): and in Prov. xxvi. 1, we find that rain in harvest is as unseemly as snow in summer. Again; the vintage must have been over before the Feast of Tabernacles, as it was to be observed after all was gathered in (Exod. xxiii. 16; Lev. xxiii. 39).
It may also be supposed by some, that there could not be a space of four or five weeks between barley and wheat harvest; yet we find, that, just before the coming out of Egypt (Exod. ix. 31, 32), the barley was in the ear when the wheat was hidden.
If what I have said renders it sufficiently probable to induce further inquiry, this probable evidence will be much heightened by observing the very general use of the figures (and when scrutinized), without the regular order being violated; while at the same time the general use of the figure (if the principle for which I contend be correct) will make it a most important frame-work on which to arrrange the discursive prophecies.
With this object in view, I have constructed the following table (p. 43);—the first column containing the names of the months; the second shewing the number of the month according to the ecclesiastical computation, as ordered in Exod. xii. 2; the third the number of the month according to the civil computation; but as in Scripture the reference is mostly to holy things, the ecclesiastical year is that which is commonly used. However, there is an important exception in Haggai ii. 18, 19, which is explained by the following extract from Godwyn's Moses and Aaron, lib. iii. c. 1:
"Before their coming out of Egypt, they began their year in the month of Tisri; and thus they continued it always after for civil affairs; for their date of buying, selling, their sabbatical years, year of jubilee, &c. After their coming out of Egypt, they began their year in the month Nisan, and so continued it for the computation of their greatest feasts."
The fourth column shews the day of the month; the fifth points out the periodical changes of the seasons, as well as the
appointed times of the feasts; in the sixth are put the beforementioned instances of typical fulfilment, as an example; and in the last column, the principle is applied as a prophetic key for the arrangement of the Apocalypse, in the following manner. Rev. vii. 2, 8, appear to be the 144,000 that are, in xiv. 4, designated the first-fruits. These I believe are sealed prior to the three and a half years of famine. But as the arguments to establish this view depend upon other considerations, and would not much illustrate the point before us, I shall not meddle with it; and indeed it is difficult to give an example in unfulfilled prophecy, because this is only one help out of many others that there may be for establishing structure.
Rev. vi. 13, is the falling of the figs. This period I have considered as intimated by Hag. ii. 18. Rev. xiv. 15 is nearly the same time of year.
Rev. xiv. 20, and xix. 15, are the vintage. That time I have not been able to fix so definitely. The grapes must be gathered in before the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. xxiii. 39; Exod. xxiii. 16). But in Lev. xxvi. 5, and Amos ix. 13, which speak of the future glory of Israel, and the destruction of Edom, the treading, it is declared, shall extend to seed time, which is two months beyond the Feast of Tabernacles. As in Isai. xlix. 26, the mighty from whom they are ransomed are made drunk with their own blood, as with new wine.
Rev. vii. 9--17, I suppose to be the Feast of Tabernacles, by the allusion to the palm-branches (Neh. viii. 15), which were used at that period; and is synchronous with xix. 1-6, the Great Hallel at the same feast. This will be when "the tabernacle of God is with men ;" when He "in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" tabernacles amongst us; when that glory which was before visible only to Peter, James, and John (John i. 14; 2 Pet. i. 16; Matt. xvi. 28, xvii. 1, 2, 4), shall be seen by every eye-(though, it may be, they which pierced him shall see him at an earlier period, and answering to the Day of Atonement): thus will its typical import be fulfilled.
The Jews suppose this is the period fixed for the appearance of Messiah, as we see in John vii. 2: "The Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand; his brethren THEREFORE said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judea, that thy disciples also may see thee." His answer is, that his time is not yet come; namely, his time of triumphantly appearing at the Feast of Tabernacles; but, being "made under the law," and the typical import of the Feast of Tabernacles not being fulfilled, it was necessary to appear before the Lord; he therefore did so, though "not openly, but in secret." At this feast they chanted Psal. cxviii. ; and we see (ver. 25) the cry," Hosanna, save now,' was that which was uttered by the multitude bearing palms, the emblem
II VIII 14 Passover, if unclean in former month (Num. ix. 10, 11)
5 Second feast of first-fruits (Lev. xiii. 16)..........
Harvest and figs about this time (Hag. ii. 18)
Vintage about this time
1 Feast of trumpets (Lev. xxiii. 24)
10 Day of Atonement. Jubilee (Lev. xxv. 9) Sab. year..
Rev. xi. 19 vii.9,17
xxi. 3, 6 xxii. 17
of that feast when he before entered Jerusalem "as her King." Hence we see why this feast alone is to be observed in the future glorious state (Zech. xiv. 16), Passover and Pentecost having already been fulfilled.
Rev. xxi. 6, and xxii. 17, appear to be allusions to the custom of the Jews on the last day of that feast, when they poured out water round the altar, and chanted Isai. xii., which our Saviour countenances, John vii. 37, 38.
I have added an arrangement, by the Times and Seasons, of part of the prophecy of Isaiah. For example, chap. ix. 3, They joy before thee according to the joy in harvest." The next verse to which may also shew the application of typical histories; and if we refer to Judges vi. 11, 13, we find that Gideon's call was at the same time of the year; and in viii. 2, the allusion is to the vintage that followed. By comparing Isai. x. 26, with ix. 4, we may observe, that Gideon's victory is used to adumbrate the destruction of the Assyrians; and that both are typical of the future destruction of the enemies of the church
(compare Isai. xi. 4, with 1 Thess. ii. 8)—and the following chapter in Isaiah was sung at the Feast of Tabernacles, as before observed, ending with "Great is the Holy One of Israel, IN THE MIDST OF THEE."