Will There Be a Pre-Tribulation Rapture? Part 1

The Barley, Wheat, and Grape Harvests

Imagine walking into a Geometry course having never learned addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. There is no possibility that one would ever be able to comprehend that branch of mathematics without first possessing those other rudimentary skills. Now, imagine a room full of people who lacked those basic math skills being given the task of reading the details of the quadratic equation, and then explaining the process to the others in the room. There would understandably be as many explanations as people there, and the chances that any of them would get it right are infinitesimally small.

How many different versions of “end time prophecy” have been floating around over the years? How is it that so many well-intentioned teachers of the Word could all read the same texts, but come up with such vastly different, and often opposing, explanations of the supposed “'mysteries” contained in the prophetic passages of the Bible? The answer lies in the above analogy of the Geometry class—a lack of rudimentary knowledge or understanding concerning the spiritual perspective and understanding of those to whom the prophecies were first written, which has resulted in the varied, and incorrect, explanations of those prophecies.

What are those fundamentals, and why are they virtually unknown to those within the “church”? The core of the earliest followers of Yahoshua the Messiah were Jews who had spent their entire lives awash in the traditions that YHWH had established for them. They were intimately familiar with the seventh-day Sabbath, the Passover Seder and the other feast days, the steps of progression from the gate of the tabernacle to the Holy of Holies (and how the preparation for the Passover and the way of the tabernacle both symbolized salvation), all of the traditions of the Jewish wedding, and all the temple ordinances and practices. These comprised their spiritual worldview—their understanding of YHWH and His blessed Son Yahoshua Ha'Mashiach (the Messiah). And, it was within this context that the prophetic texts were written.

Satan had a mighty plan, and it has proven to be one his most effective strategies to keep people from knowing YHWH and His Son. Using Constantine and his Roman cohorts, fueled by their hatred of the Jews, he created a religious system that, to this day, continues to flourish. The foundation of this new “religion” was the centuries-old practice of pagan sun worship; however, biblical characters, events, and doctrines were used to shroud the rituals and traditions of paganism. At the heart of this deception was the desire to obfuscate who the real Messiah is; and, through the removal and outlawing of that which comprised the perspective of Yahoshua's earliest followers, to whom much of scripture was originally written, Satan successfully created something that had the “form of godliness, but denied the power therein.” Constantine craftily called his new religion “Christianity.”

For the purposes of this article, let's focus on one aspect of this massive cover-up, and examine how it has confounded the understanding of so many: the temple ordinances and practices. Within the Talmud are described the priestly duties as they applied to the Old Covenant. When these ordinances are studied in the light of scripture, entire biblical teachings take on new meaning, as the illumination of the early ekklesia's perspective reveals greater truth than what is available without that understanding—which is the primary reason Satan worked so hard to obscure the perspective that believing Jews had.

Where scriptural prophecy is concerned, the temple ordinances and practices, coupled with the elements of the Jewish wedding, are the foundations around which much of it is written. Here, we will briefly examine the temple ordinances regarding the three principle harvests described in the Bible (barley, wheat, and grapes), and how they apply to the prophecies of the end times.

Barley Harvest

Barley was the first of the annual harvests overseen by the priests. Before the harvest began, the high priest would select one barley field that would be used for spiritual purposes, which were the daily wave offerings. All of the wave offerings from the beginning to the end of the harvest (“Counting of the Omer”) would come from this one field.

The barley harvest began the day after the first Sabbath following Passover, and on that day, the priest would take a sheaf of barley and present it to YHWH in a wave offering, which coincided with the traditional method of harvesting barley—winnowing. Since the chaff of the barley is quite easily separated from the grain, wind was all that was necessary to harvest it; so, sheaves of barley would be waved in the air to remove the grain from the chaff, and this was the basis of the priestly wave offering. The first wave offering signified the Feast of Firstfruits each year.

For seven Sabbaths after Firstfruits (49 days), the priest would daily take a sheaf of barley and present it to YHWH in a wave offering. At the end of the 49 days, the barley harvest was concluded, and whatever remained of the elected field after the daily wave offerings was gathered up all at once.

Prophetic Significance of the Barley Harvest

Yahoshua the Messiah was crucified at Passover (the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of YHWH), and His resurrection was the firstfruits of the barley harvest. Throughout scripture, the bride of Yahoshua is symbolized by barley, and in 1 Corinthians 15, Yahoshua is identified as the “Firstfruits of those who rise from the dead.” According to the priestly practices, a group of barley stalks were selected in advance (as was Yahoshua), and were bound into a sheaf (signifying Yahoshua's captivity), and the priest would cut it from the ground just at sunset, or the beginning of the Jewish day (symbolizing Yahoshua's resurrection).

In Matthew 27:50-53, we're told that many who were dead were resurrected with Yahoshua, and were seen by several people in Jerusalem. These were the Old Testament saints who were commonly referred to as “Abraham's Bosom.” In John 20, we're told of a conversation Yahoshua had with Mary Magdalene in which He told her to stop clinging to Him, for He had not yet ascended to His Father. The significance of this statement is that, now, as the Great High Priest, He was responsible to present the wave offering to His Father. The Old Testament saints were presented by the Great High Priest Yahoshua upon His ascension to the Father.

Note the method of harvesting—winnowing, and consider the chaff surrounding the grain as a type of “flesh.” The barley grain is very easily separated from its flesh, and sacrificing/crucifying/denying the flesh is an oft-repeated admonition from YHWH throughout scripture. When we get to the wheat harvest, we'll see why this method of harvest actually demonstrates the chief difference between those who are barley and those who are wheat. Of prophetic significance also is the winnowing—the tossing into the air, as 1 Thessalonians 4:17 describes this very harvesting method: Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

Wheat Harvest

The wheat harvest begins on the fiftieth day following Passover, which is also the day that the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, is observed. The wheat harvest does not begin until the barley harvest is complete; but, unlike barley, wheat is not as easily separated from its chaff, so it must be harvested with a method that exerts far more physical force on the grain. The instrument that was used to harvest wheat was called a “tribulum,” which was a threshing board. The tribulum had a wooden framework with bits of metal and/or flint on its underside that would actually cut and slice at the grain to remove its chaff. Following the forced separation of the outer shell from the grain, the process was then completed by winnowing.

Prophetic Significance of the Wheat Harvest

Each year, there was actually a second Passover observance that YHWH ordained for those who, for whatever reason, did not have their offerings ready for the first Passover. Understanding that the barley harvest consisted of grains that were very easily separated from their flesh, the wheat harvest, by contrast, consists of those who will require a physical force to cause such separation—they will not be ready to be winnowed without first having their flesh literally cut and sliced to prepare them for the winnowing.

In Revelation 6:9-11, we read about these tribulation (tribulum) saints, and learn that they are primarily prepared to be harvested through beheading. Their flesh has not been so easily separated as to allow them to be harvested merely with winnowing alone. They arrive at their harvest through the physical cutting away of their flesh.

Grape Harvest

The grape harvest immediately followed the wheat harvest, and after picking, grapes were harvested by crushing them in a wine press.

Spiritual Significance of the Grape Harvest

For the purposes of this article, we will not delve into great detail about the grape harvest. Those who miss both the barley and wheat harvests are described in scripture as “those who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). As Revelation 14:9 describes, So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of YHWH.

At the end of the annual grape harvest, Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement was celebrated. This was known by the Jews as the Sabbath of Sabbaths. According to Jewish tradition, it marked the day that YHWH wrote the names that appear in the Book of Life (which, we will learn elsewhere, is different from the Lamb's Book of Life). We can see the ending of the grape harvest resulting in the great wedding feast that will be celebrated by the entire wedding party: the Father of the Bridegroom, the Bridegroom, the bride, the best man, the friends of the Bridegroom, and the friends of the bride. These are the inhabitants of the kingdom of heaven—those whose names appear in the Book of Life.

So, we can easily see according to the three prophetic harvests that the barley (bride) must first be harvested before the wheat harvest (tribulation) can begin. And, the wheat must be harvested before the grape harvest can begin. We will see in the article exploring the relationship between these events and the Jewish wedding that this same sequence of events is verified.

Written by Dean Haskins and James Finnegan for the Way of the Tabernacle. Reproductions with proper attribution are allowed and encouraged.

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. . . Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ -Yahoshua Ha'Mashiac in Matthew 7

But now in Yahoshua Ha'Mashiach you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Mashiach. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to Elohim through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. Ephesians 2:13-16

The thief on the cross manifestly understood the path to salvation better than the highly educated pharisees.