Articles, Blog

The First Christians (2019) #5: Agriculture

September 11, 2019

Jeffrey Seif: Sociologists
tell us that 150 years ago most social life in
North America was centered on the home and the farm. Only a small
percentage lived in cities. That was then, this is now, but
let’s go back to the farm today when “Zola Levitt Presents.” male announcer: “Brethren, my
heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that
they might be saved. For there is no difference
between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over
all is rich unto all that call upon him.” “Zola Levitt Presents.” ♪♪♪ David Hart: We’re so glad
you’ve joined us today on “Zola Levitt
Presents,” I’m David Hart. Kirsten Hart:
I’m Kirsten Hart. Jeffrey: I’m Jeffrey Seif,
and I am pleased to introduce you to the Zola Levitt
version of “Green Acres.” Kirsten: Here we
go back to the land. It’s all about agriculture
today, and what I love about that fact is the Israelite
people worked the land in the 1st century and in
the kibbutz when they came back in 1948. Jeffrey: Yes, there’s something
about getting your hands dirty, and we’re gonna learn
about that today. David: That’s right; let’s
go back 2,000 years now and learn more about agriculture. Zola Levitt: Preparation for
wheat and barley planting began about August by
plowing the rocky soil to destroy deadly thistles. Sowing of the seed took place
between October and December. Barley was often planted as a
backup crop because wheat was and still is more
susceptible to disease. To give us perspective on
the 1st century harvest, we are joined now by an
expert on Jewish history, Dr. Chanoch Rosenblum. Dr. Chanoch Rosenblum:
Barley was the poor man’s food. It was mainly used
for feeding animals, but it was far more dependable
than wheat; and if the wheat crop would fail, at least there
would be barley to depend upon. Wheat fields also
contained a great deal of tares. Tares, which were very much like
the wheat plant in its early stages, would have to remain to
grow alongside the wheat until right before harvest time. They would have to be
separated and destroyed. Zola: The Lord makes
reference to these tares in his parable of the
sower in Matthew 13. “Bind them in bundles
to burn them,” he says, “but gather the
wheat into the barn.” Well, the plowing and
sowing have been done and, as God provides the rain,
it’s time for harvest. Dr. Rosenblum: We have now
finally reached the stage that everyone has been
waiting for, the stage of reaping and
binding the sheaves. This is truly a joyous time. Period of
uncertainty is finally over. The reapers would extend
and send out their sickle, breaking the stalk and
pulling it up by its roots. They would bind the sheaves into
large stacks and, mounting them in the fields, they
would allow them to dry out over several days. ♪♪♪ Dr. Rosenblum: After that,
they would transport them by pack mule to the
threshing floor. At this time of greatest
joy, even the poor would be remembered and the
gleaners, men and women, would enter the field and pick
up those sheaves of grain that had been dropped in the reaping
process and those edges of the field that had intentionally
not been harvested. Upon reaching the threshing
floor, the stacks would be undone and the sheaves
would be scattered all over the threshing floor. The mule would be brought in
and harnessed to the threshing sledge; and on its underside,
the threshing sledge would consist of sharp,
basalt-stone teeth, which, when drawn across the floor,
would break up the stalks into straw and separate the
kernels from the husks. The chaff, being much
lighter than the grain, would blow off into the distance
and the heavier grains would fall to the floor to be gathered
up and then put in sieves. The sieving would further
separate the impurities and the chaff from the grains and after
a great deal of sieving and sifting, time would
come for the grinding. Once it was time to begin making
flour, the grain would be placed between the basalt millstones
and the woman of the house would begin the
grinding process. The flour would be sifted to
remove any further impurities and then the time would come
to begin kneading the dough, adding flour
together with water. A special kneading
trough would be used. A large metal baking pan was
used in the 1st century, and the dough would be
flattened on this oval-shaped, overturned pan and the dough
would gradually brown and rise and be removed from the
pan once it became crisp. [speaking foreign language] Zola: Another fascinating
phase of agricultural life pertains to the olive
trees, which are often referred to in the Scriptures. As we mentioned in last week’s
program, the importance of these trees in the 1st century
cannot be overstressed. Dr. Rosenblum: The
olive is a very special tree. It epitomizes the Spirit of
the Lord; and for that reason, in ancient times it was
forbidden to cut it down. There is the shoot which
comes up from its roots, which is known as the netzer,
and the word for Christian, notzri, derives from this
offshoot from the roots. It was generally guarded. Two or three shoots
would be kept aside, the rest would be
destroyed, and then it would later be transplanted. Because most of the olive trees
here are wild and produce very few olives, it was in the
natural order of things that cultivated olive trees would
be grafted onto the wild stock. The wild tree was more resistant
to disease, better able to cope with drought and all
sorts of other pestilence. Olive trees can be grafted
in quite a number of ways. One of the more common ways used
in the 1st century would be to lop off the wild branches and
then, in crown-like fashion, to take offshoots of a cultivated
tree and graft them onto the stump of the wild tree. The offshoot would then be
tied with flax and be allowed to remain tied to the tree
until the graft itself took. The flax would also serve to
prevent the young offshoots from drying out in the sun. ♪♪♪ Dr. Rosenblum: A fascinating
plant which was known in ancient times and was very well-known to
people in the 1st century is the menorah or salvia or moriah
plant in mountainous regions and in the plain areas, and it very
much represents and looks like the menorah or the
candelabra in the temple. And in its flowering
stage, it also gives off a very pleasant fragrance. Zola: Well, this
is an olive press, and this is a
cultivated olive tree. This is Israel in Paul’s
language, the cultivated tree, and if we teach nothing
else from the great Romans 11 chapter of the
grafting in of the branch of the olive tree, we should say this
much: “If some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a
wild olive tree,” addressed to the Gentiles, “were
grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the
root and fatness of the olive tree; boast not
against the branches.” We’re having a time of Jewish
revival and Jewish people are coming to churches. And occasionally one
hears an objection, not unlike the objections in
Acts 11 when the church fathers heard of Cornelius and the
Gentiles starting to come into the church when
Peter witnessed there. Nothing really
changes, as Solomon said, nothing new under the sun. There were three harvest
seasons each year in Israel, there still are, and when we
talk about the fruitfulness of this land and its harvests,
we’re reminded of these great harvest festivals. They were all about
planting and harvest. In the spring you had
Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits. In the summer, in
June we would say, late May, Shavuot,
what we call Pentecost. This would be the
middle harvest of the year, somewhat larger than
the first fruits harvest. And then, finally, in the
fall with the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and
the Feast of Tabernacles, three more festivals at
the fall harvest time. Now, in the first one, we
established the idea of first fruits in the Promised Land. The Promised Land
was a deadly place when Jacob and his
family went down into Egypt. If you recall, the
reason was real famine, drought in Canaan, and they
were invited down into Egypt. Pharaoh gave them housing in
the land of Goshen and so on. He was glad to meet the family
of his intelligent assistant, Joseph, if you remember
the Bible story, and things deteriorated in
relationship as time went on, and we all know of the
story of the Exodus. And the Hebrews
had become slaves, finally coming out to go
back to the Promised Land. But were there some intelligent
historians among them who said, “Now, wait a minute. Why are we going to Canaan? My great-grandfather said Canaan
is hopeless, and we came down here because even the cattle
couldn’t eat in Canaan. Why are we heading back there?” And Joshua sent spies into
the land, or spies were sent. Joshua and Caleb came back with
a bunch of grapes that it took the two of them to
carry on a pole. That is the symbol of the
Ministry of Tourism in Israel today and a picture used
throughout the world are the two weighed down with a pole
carrying a bunch of grapes. So, God had signaled them
beforehand in the Exodus that the Promised Land would be
fruitful, and when they returned he asked only for
a thank offering. In Leviticus 23:10 to 12, he
says, “When ye be come into the land and you reap the
firstfruits of your harvest, then bring a sample of those
to the temple and that the priest may wave it for
you before the Lord.” In other words, “Thanks, Lord. This came out of that ground
that my forefather Jacob had to abandon, and it’s growing
fine, and I appreciate it.” That kind of an offering. It has great import
to the Christian. That is, Paul pointed
out that the firstfruits really pertain to resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15:22 he
says, “In Adam all die, so in Christ we’ll all
be made alive again. But each man in his own
order: Christ the firstfruits.” The Lord observed firstfruits
in his own special way. In one of our other programs, we
alluded in this series to the phenomenal happening of
Matthew 27:52 and 53. At the time of his resurrection,
graves opened and people were walking in the streets of
Jerusalem who were known–I mean, they were dead. They were now alive and walking
in the streets at the time of his resurrection, on the Sunday
after Passover, firstfruits. Well, this had to
pertain to his thank offering. He was a good Jew who
kept every festival, and he owed an
offering that day, but Jesus is not a
farmer who raises crops. He raises people, and so on
that day, he raised a few. Well, as the year goes on,
then, we count 50 days from firstfruits and come to what
is called in Israel Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks in
Greek 50 days, Pentecost, and on that day, there was another
great spiritual harvest. There is a harvest at that time. Crops are ready in late
May, early June to be taken, and so the Holy Spirit came,
and he harvested 3,000 souls. It was not a haphazard number. At that original Pentecost, it’s
so-called to be Pentecost when the law came down from
Mount Sinai in the Exodus. You can recall there was
awful paganism going on. The chosen people made a
golden calf, and they were worshiping an idol even as
Moses was busy with God on the mountain, and the Levites,
with God’s blessing, went through the crowd and
slew these pagan worshipers. And how many did
they kill that day? Exodus 32:28 tells us 3,000. God is a good bookkeeper,
and he gave them back exactly 3,000 souls. As the New Testament
tells us, the letter kills. The Spirit gives life. [speaking foreign language] ♪♪♪ [speaking foreign language] announcer: Our offer on
this program is the first three courses in The Institute
of Jewish Christian Studies compiled by Zola Levitt
and Dr. Jeffrey Seif. These shortened college-level
mini courses include “Old Testament Survey,” “New
Testament Survey,” and “Jewish History.” Each course comes in a
three-ring binder with audio CDs, easy-to-follow
outline, and a mail-in test, a unique blend of Jewish
and Christian perspectives. This self-paced program
brings the seminary to you. Call 1-800-WONDERS. announcer: For insightful
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you to join us. You can find all the
information on Kirsten: Now let’s go back to
1995 to hear more teaching from our founder, Zola Levitt. Zola: All through the
summer, the crops grow here, as they do anywhere, and the
by the time of around the fall feasts, it is time for the
major harvest of the year. When the Feast of Trumpets
comes around, it is technically supposed to stop the harvest. That is, when the trumpet
sounds, the fieldwork is over and it’s time to get to
the temple and worship. Likewise in the Scripture,
when the trumpet sounds, the rapture of the church occurs. The witnessing and
testifying is over. In an analogy
people could well see, the Lord spoke of
workers in a field. Let us say there is a Jewish
field here and a Palestinian field here and everyone is
harvesting as they can to get in the last of the crops
and the trumpet sounds. That is, a trumpet blown at
the temple site and repeated throughout the land to
signal the end of the harvest. While the Israeli would come in
from the field and go to attend to his worship, the Arab
would continue to harvest, and so the Lord said, “Where
there are two working in a field, I take one
and leave the other.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16, the great
Scripture of the rapture of the church, is the fulfillment
of the Feast of Trumpets. Of course, the trumpet
has always been a sign of deliverance from when Isaac was
spared by a ram getting caught by his horn in the bush. A ram’s horn is the first
trumpet to Joshua at Jericho, to the trumpet that sounds,
that we shall not all sleep, we shall all be changed, and
so on after the trumpet of the Rapture, the trumpets
in Revelation, and so on. A trumpet signals these
great denouements and a trumpet stops the harvest. The parable of the fig tree is
another approach that the Lord made to illustrate the
idea of fruitfulness as an idea of faith. You know, the story is he
was coming from Bethany. We read in Matthew 21:18. “Now in the morning
as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a
fig tree in the way, he came to it, and he
found nothing thereon but leaves only,
and said unto it, ‘Let no fruit grow on
thee henceforth forever.’ And presently the fig
tree withered away.” People think,
“Well, my goodness. The Lord should be
more patient,” et cetera. May not have been
the time for the fig, so, obviously, he is
teaching a greater lesson here. Let’s go on. “Jesus answered and said unto
them, ‘Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt
not, ye shall not only do this which is done
to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain,
“Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the
sea;” it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever
ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.'” And, of course, that word
“believe,” it is a big one. He was teaching that, you know,
we’re surrounded with Pharisees and with all sorts of self-made
moralists who displayed only leaves: outside beauty, outside
religion, and it goes on today. Reaching those leaves
there’s just no fruit, and he describes, in a
sense, the self-made church or synagogue member who is
ultimately hypocritical because underneath, there’s
nothing there to nourish. You know, there were two
kinds of people in Jerusalem when he came. Matthew 21 illustrates–we
mention it often ’cause it’s worth mentioning. If I read in the same
chapter verses 9 to 11, this is when he came down the
Mount of Olives and then the people shouted,
“Baruch haba B’shem Adonai.” “Blessed is he who comes
in the name of the Lord.” This is the answer
to Zechariah’s prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. “Behold, thy King
cometh unto thee; just and lowly and having
salvation and riding upon an ass, even the foal of an ass.” Jesus came down the mountain on
the donkey, and here’s the story as recorded in Matthew 21:9. “And the multitudes that went
before, and that followed, cried, saying, ‘Hosanna to
the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in
the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.'” Hosanna, the Hebrew
word “hoshiana,” save us. These people
undoubtedly were saved. “And when he was coming
to Jerusalem,” however, compare this, “all the city was
moved, saying, ‘Who is this?’ And the multitude,” these are
people who did not go to the mountain, did not wave a palm
and did not say, “Blessed is he who comes in the
name of the Lord.” They’re just people in the city. They said, “This is Jesus the
prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” What an underestimation,
merely a prophet, so we still have
these two groups. We have two groups of
people who recognize who he is. We have a confessing. Some make it a confessing
versus professing church. Confessors are guilty
of their sins and come to him for salvation. Professors enjoy saying his
name and building magnificent buildings to him, playing fine
music to him, and mentioning him in passing, and merely
professing and not confessing. That is the two groups. They were there in
the Mount of Olives. They’re in your town today. Well, the festival year finally
comes to an end and all the fruitfulness is about over
at the Feast of Tabernacles, and, oh, this year it will
be late October and so on. The harvest very well end and
the rain’s about to come and nourish the land for the winter,
and the Tabernacles is really a festival
of thanksgiving. Ultimately, the Lord
is to be thanked as he was at First Fruits. Not now for the beginning
of the harvest but the end, the most profitable time, the
time when all crops are in. Tabernacles, the thanksgiving
festival, ends the harvest and, of course, it’s symbolic
of the kingdom to come. The Lord always acted
on feast days to do the most enormous things. He was crucified on Passover,
buried on Unleavened Bread, raised on First Fruits, sent
the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. You’ll have the rapture of the
church at Trumpets and at the Day of Atonement they shall look
upon him whom they’ve pierced, the Second Coming, and
finally the Feast of Tabernacles reminiscent and symbolic
of the kingdom to come. [singing in Hebrew] [singing in Hebrew] [singing in Hebrew] [singing in Hebrew] [singing in Hebrew] [singing in Hebrew] [singing in Hebrew] [singing in Hebrew] [singing in Hebrew] [singing in Hebrew] [singing in Hebrew] [singing in Hebrew] [singing in Hebrew] [singing in Hebrew] [singing in Hebrew] [singing in Hebrew] [singing in Hebrew] [singing in Hebrew] [singing in Hebrew] Kirsten: Always a treat to
hear Zipporah play and sing. She’s still making
music in the Holy Land. Check out her website.
That was 1995. Jeffrey: Yes, and it wasn’t
just Zola Levitt presenting. There were a number of
people that participated. Speaking of which and speaking
of agriculture, there’s a Jewish prayer: “Barukh
ata Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam,
hamotzi lehem min ha’aretz.” It’s said at every meal. It’s thanking God for bringing
forth the bread from the earth, but the truth of the matter is
God doesn’t just bring forth the bread from the earth alone. What happens is people
cultivate it out of the soil. They sow the seeds at the
right time, they pull it out at the right time,
and they process it and make it, so that way there’s a good meal
for all, and I wanna thank you for helping us to do
just that together. Hopefully, we’re pulling some
good stuff out of the earth, out of the Word of God. Speaking of which,
there’s a great prophecy, netzer, in Isaiah chapter 11,
that the Messiah himself springs up out of a stump,
out of the earth, if you will. Interesting, yes? David: Right; we’re in Galilee
today in this program. It’s all about agriculture. I think there is prophecy
involved in this, would you say? Jeffrey:
Prophesy in what sense? David: In agriculture even today
of what’s happening, blooming. Jeffrey: Well, to the nation
of Israel itself, predicted is– that the desert will blossom;
and to your point, we certainly see it bearing fruit today. David: It’s still happening. Kirsten: Right, as in
the olive tree that branch is grafted in, which is
what we’re doing right here on “Zola Levitt Presents.” Jeffrey: Yes, it is, and we
thank you for all the branches. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Hey, let’s do this again next
week, but as you go now, sha’alu shalom Yerushalayim. Kirsten: Pray for
the peace of Jerusalem. [singing in foreign language] announcer: Our monthly
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  • Reply Christine Musana September 11, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    Thankyou for sharing I claim my harvest in the name of Jesus Christ .

  • Reply Kayinfso Here September 11, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    Zowie!  It's amazing any humans survived….Thanks!~!!

  • Reply LD Hablizel September 11, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    I'm loving this series. It's good to see Zola again.

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