(Much of the following information is general knowledge, and other commentary came from the book God's Prophetic Calendar, by Lehman Strauss. Published by Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune NJ, ęCopyright 1987. Used with permission. Feast overview charts are used with permission from Peter Wise of Internet Biblical Resources.)
"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD. And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the LORD for a sweet savor: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings" (Leviticus 23:9-14).
When studied along with the New Testament, these Jewish feasts present God's prophetic calendar pointing to their broader fulfillment in the Lord Jesus the Messiah. The reality is in Christ, and the Christian can better understand his spiritual heritage by a careful study of the Old Testament.
In the seven feasts in Leviticus 23, we are shown how God laid the foundation for all that was to follow. The slaying of God's Passover Lamb at Calvary would be a fatal tragedy had He not risen from the dead. The Feast of Firstfruits pointed to the next event in God's prophetic calendar following the death of the Lord Jesus the Messiah, which is His resurrection from death and the tomb.
As we have already seen in our study of the feasts thus far that Passover was celebrated on the fourteenth day of the month of Nisan, Unleavened Bread was held from the fifteenth to the twenty-second day of that same month, seven full days. Firstfruits began on the seventeenth day of the month, "on the morrow after the Sabbath." There was an obvious overlapping insofar as time is concerned. However, each of the three feasts was designed to teach and emphasize a different doctrinal and practical truth.
One important difference did exist between the Feast of Firstfruits and the two feasts which preceded it. While Passover and Unleavened Bread could be held in the wilderness during the journey from Egypt to Canaan, Firstfruits and the feasts that followed could only be celebrated in the Promised Land after the Israelites had possessed the land (Leviticus 23:10). It would not be observed in the wilderness where grain could not be sown and harvested. Israel had to be in the land possessing their possessions. Many times we Christians do not possess and enjoy all that God has bestowed upon us. I believe it was the late Dr. J. Vernon McGee who said: "You may own a car, but your teenage son or daughter may possess it!"
Stewardship is one lesson we can learn from this Feast of Firstfruits. Canaan was a land of plenty and prosperity and the Israelites needed to learn how to be good stewards of what God had given them. God is the Creator and Sustainer of the earth and everything therein. "The earth is the LORD's and the fulness thereof" (Psalm 24:1), and His people are His caretakers or stewards. In this life we own nothing, "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out" (1 Timothy 6:7). God may not take from me what I gather in this life, but one day He will take me from it. What God gave to Israel was not theirs to keep, but its custody was a trust to be held for God.
The first sheaves of the ripe harvest were to be presented to the Lord, which indicated that the entire harvest was His. Before an Israelite was allowed to bake any bread for himself, he had to bring the first sheaf to be presented to the Lord. God is telling Israel and us that the first and best belong to Him. He must have first place in our lives. All that we are and have and ever hope to get belongs to the Lord. We read in Proverbs 3:9: "Honor the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase." The familiar verse of Matthew 6:33 states: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
Israel had to possess the land before they could present to the LORD the firstfruits. They could not give to Him what they did not have. The Bible says that God has "blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3), but until we make these blessings ours, we have nothing to offer Him. We may take part in religious rituals and still have nothing to offer the Lord. We cannot give back to God that which we have never received ourselves. Remember that God has first claim upon us and all that we possess. Our first and best belong to Him.
The main lesson taught by the Feast of Firstfruits has to do with the security of the believer and his future resurrection. God's prophetic calendar began with the Passover lamb being slain. "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you" (Exodus 12:2). We saw how this was fulfilled in the death of Jesus the Messiah, the true Passover Lamb who was sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7). He is the Bread of Life, the Unleavened Bread who was and is the only-begotten, sinless Son of God. The next event on God's prophetic calendar logically was Jesus' resurrection from the grave as the Firstfruits. Paul wrote in First Corinthians 15 that Christ arose from the dead, and so all who believe in Christ will be raised. "Christ the firstfruits, afterward they that are Christ's at His coming" (1 Corinthians 15:23). In the Scripture's declaration of the gospel, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ are mentioned as one unit (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The message of the gospel follows the order of the first three feasts. Jesus, the Passover Lamb of God, died on the Cross of Calvary at the beginning of Passover, was buried and Praise God He arose on the morrow after the Passover Sabbath and became the Firstfruits of them that were dead, as it says in 1 Corinthians 15:20: "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept."
When the Israelites brought the first sheaf of grain and presented it to the Lord, it was given as a token or a pledge--a guarantee--that the remainder of the harvest would follow. When the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead and presented Himself as the Firstfruits, it was the pledge and guarantee that God's true children [the harvest] would also be raised and brought into the Father's presence. When God the Father accepted Christ after His resurrection, that acceptance guaranteed the eternal security of all believers. Our eternal security as Christians does not depend upon ourselves, but upon the completed work of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we read of Christ in Romans 4:25: He "was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." The assurance of that final stage of our redemption is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Romans 8:22-23). While our risen Lord is in Heaven, the Holy Spirit is on earth residing in the body of every true Christian. Christ, the Firstfruits in Heaven, is coming for us, and the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit is in us to secure us until our Lord Jesus the Messiah comes to take us home. We have been "sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest [down payment] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession..." (Ephesians 1:13-14). We can praise our Lord for those wonderful words spoken by the angel of the Lord to the women who came to the tomb that first resurrection morn: "He is not here, for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him: lo, I have told you" (Matthew 28:6-7).
The moment you and I were saved, we became a kind of firstfruits, meaning that we became the beginning of a harvest. "Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures" (James 1:18). God saved us so that we could win others to Him in order that they may become the beginning of a harvest. We must ask ourselves as Christians: "What kind of harvest is following us?"
"He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him" (Psalm 126:6).
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