The Feast of Firstfruits

Since we left Jesus lying lifeless in the grave at the feast of Unleavened Bread, I’ve been antsy to get to the feast of Firstfruits. I’m just going to dive right in today.

Agricultural Significance

The feast of Firstfruits is associated with the beginning of the barley harvest. The first sheaf of the harvest was presented to the Lord as a sacrifice. None of the harvest was to be used until this was done.

Read about the foundations of this feast in Leviticus 23:8-14.

Historical Significance

Firstfruits is commonly observed on the day after the weekly Sabbath during the week of the feast of Unleavened Bread.[1] That is the Sunday during the feast of Unleavened Bread—or the Sunday after Passover.

The presentation of firstfruits demonstrated the people’s dependence on the Lord for the rest of the harvest. In addition, the Lord’s acceptance of the firstfruits confirmed His pledge of a full harvest.

The first was a guarantee of all.

New sprouts pushed through the barren ground where the seeds had been sown and yielded a harvest--life from death. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit,” Jesus said in John 12:24.

Every year, the Israelites watched life bloom from death, and when it did, they presented the firstfruits of their harvest to the Giver of all Life.

The day of Firstfruits also commenced a period known as “counting the omer.” The Israelites were instructed to count the fifty days to the next feast—the feast of Pentecost.

Redemptive Significance

Jesus was laid in a borrowed tomb as the sun set on Passover and darkness fell on the first day of Unleavened Bread. The One who had called Himself the bread of Life (John 6:35) lay dead in the ground.

Would there be life after this death?

Yes!

Three days later, on the morning after the Sabbath (on the morning of the feast of Firstfruits!), a resurrected Jesus greeted His followers at the tomb. The Seed had died. But He is raised to bear much fruit.

Please read 1 Corinthians 15:16-23.

If Christ has not been raised, then we may as well throw in the towel on the whole Christian belief system. The resurrection is the foundation of our faith. Life triumphs over death. The grave has been defeated. If our God still lay lifeless in the ground, then our faith would be futile.

But He doesn’t! He lives! And that is the hope of the world!

Jesus is the “firstfruit” of the resurrection—the first to rise from the dead, the first to walk in new life. But His resurrection is a pledge to us all. Everyone who calls on the name of Christ will rise. Literally. In new, eternal bodies that will never see decay. We won’t rise to some metaphorical, ethereal life. We will rise to the real, abiding, everlasting life that our spirits crave.

Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58.

Our Hope is in Christ, and His promise is eternal life with Him! Tired hearts flutter with childlike joy.

The Lord is Risen!

The Firstfruit of our faith guarantees a full harvest. There is life after this death.

As we wait for the resurrected life that is to come, we have another pledge and guarantee of our faith—the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 1:21-22), who was poured out on the day of Pentecost, fifty days after the resurrection of our Lord.

On the day He rose, Jesus began counting the days until He would send His Spirit to all who believed.

1...2...3...all the way to 50.

And the Hebrew people counted with Him, whether they knew it or not.

There is indeed life after all this death. We wait for the resurrection, looking to our Firstfruit as the pledge of what’s to come. And as we wait, we wait with joy because we never wait alone—the Spirit of Him who raised Christ from the dead lives in us (Romans 8:11).

There was reason for rejoicing that early morning of the Firstfruits, that very first Easter's dawn. And we're invited to live in that truth every single day.

May you know the One who defeated death. May He fill you fresh with His life!

Filling in the Chart

If you’re following along with the study by filling in the chart about the feasts, here are your three points for the feast of Firstfruits:

  1. Agricultural Significance: Beginning of the barley harvest.
  2. Historical Significance: The first sheaf of the Israelites' harvest was presented to the Lord. This represented their dependence on the Lord for a full harvest, and the Lord's acceptance of their sacrifice confirmed His pledge of a full harvest.
  3. Redemptive Significance: The resurrection of Christ. Write out 1 Corinthians 15:20-22. Jesus' resurrection is the firstfruit, guaranteeing the resurrection of all who are in Christ.

If you haven’t received the chart but want a place to keep track of these main points, let me know by signing up here.


[1] There’s some disagreement about which Sabbath of Unleaveaned Bread that Firstfruits is supposed to follow. Since Unleavened Bread begins and ends with a Sabbath day and there is also a weekly Sabbath (Saturday) in the feast, different theologians think different things. We are going to observe the feast on the first day after the weekly Sabbath during the feast of Unleavened Bread, which is a very generally accepted date.