And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, so that you may be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.And on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to the Lord.
Reishit Katzir, the “beginning of the harvest,” follows the first day of Unleavened Bread. Thus, running concurrently for a time with Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the Feast of Firstfruits. The priest was to wave a barley sheaf before the Lord to initiate the countdown to the harvest festival of Shavuot (Pentecost), 49 days in the future. The waving of the green sheaf was a dedication of the harvest to the Lord.
So, what is significant about waving of firstfruits, and what are we to make of it as Christians? Glad you asked…follow closely! Because there are additional Jewish sabbath days, other than those recognized every 7 days, there is a bit of controversy regarding the exact timing of the wave offering by the priest. It is not my intent to unwind that controversy here, but if you are interested, you will find basic details here.
Suffice it to say, though, that the Apostle Paul clearly linked the waving of firstfruits to the significance of Jesus’ resurrection, and ultimately its prophetic impact on us, when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23:
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
Jesus was the wave offering presented to God the Father! He was the firstfruit! Indeed, Jesus was:
- the firstborn of the Father (Hebrews 1:6)
- the firstborn of creation (Colossians 1:15-16)
- the firstborn of the dead (Revelation 1:5)
- the firstborn of those who are resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)
The presence of “firstfruit,” though, implies that there is fruit to follow, and Paul picked up on that fact when he stated “in Christ shall all be made alive!” My friends, we (believers and followers of Jesus Christ) are the fruit that follows! On the day Jesus fulfilled the Feast of Firstfruits, the Bible says this occurred:
The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
A “resurrection harvest” began, and we are assured that we, too, will be raised just as our Lord of Firstfruits was raised! Here’s our guarantee:
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
~1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
In the midst of this Passover season, why not stop right now to praise God for being the fulfillment of each of these feasts:
And all the people said….