The Feast of Firstfruits

In the last couple posts, we have been laying more ground work. Now, it is time to cover the Feast of Firstfruits. But, first, let’s present more detail on the seven fruits.

Seven Foods from the Holy Land

Deuteronomy 8:8 (CJB)
It is a land of wheat and barley, grapevines, fig trees and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey;

Today, we take multi-vitamins to supplement our diet. In ancient times, God provided nutritional and beneficial foods. As long as the Israelites followed His Law, they would want for nothing.

Let’s review the seven fruits from the verse above.

Wheat

In ancient times, there was no processing capacity like we have today or even what was available 500 years ago. Most of the work was done by hand like separating the chaff from the wheat or brute force like crushing the hard grain into flour.

Unprocessed wheat contains both wheat bran and germ, containing needed fiber and manganese.

Benefits:

  1. Good for the colon
  2. Digestive system
  3. Helps fight certain type of cancer

Barley

Barley was used in soups and making bread.

Benefits:

  1. Fiber provided good bacteria for intestines
  2. Contain beta glucans which help lower cholesterol
  3. Help with blood sugar levels
  4. Selenium a cancer fighter

Grapes

Israel was, and still is, a land covered with vineyards.

Benefits:

  1. Contain flavonoids helps in combatting heart disease
  2. Increases nitric oxide which helps with the formation of blood clots
  3. High in antioxidants which fight free radicals in the body
  4. Contains great vitamins and mineral value

Figs

In Israel, figs have been a staple for thousands of years.

Benefits:

  1. High in potassium which produce energy
  2. Assist cell membranes
  3. Effective in lowering high blood pressure
  4. Fig leaves reduce and lower the insulin levels
  5. Leaves help lower triglycerides in bloodstream

Pomegranates

The pomegranate is considered a holy fruit for several reasons. According to rabbis, there are 613 deeds and commandments that are required of the Jews in the Torah.

Tradition says there are 613 individual seeds in a mature pomegranate. Thus, the pomegranate is an image of the commandments of God.

Benefits:

  1. Extremely rich in antioxidants
  2. Juice is excellent in keeping blood from clumping together and forming blood clots
  3. Increase oxygen to the heart muscle
  4. Help prevent prostate cancer
  5. Reduce breast cancer

Olives

The olive, olive oil, olive leaf, and olive wood have been used for food, cooking, and medicine.

Benefits:

  1. Reduce blood pressure
  2. Assist in heart health
  3. Is said to be good for greasing the bone joints

Honey

The honey here actually comes from date palms instead of bees.

Israel is called the land of milk and honey. Some suggest this was a term identifying the economic prosperity of Israel.

Benefits:

  1. Effective in treating coughs
  2. Contains antioxidants
  3. A natural sweetener
  4. Provides energy for the body

Fruits & God’s Law

God provided Israel not only with nourishment but a diet with numerous health benefits. How great is God? He provides for our body, soul and spirit!

The Law in the Torah is not just don’t do this and don’t do that. The Law also contains fruit to help and nourish the nation of Israel. In fact, any nation can benefit by following the advice laid out in the Law.

Man’s laws

God intended for our lives to be simple. Unfortunately we tried to do it our way and made everything much more complicated. We are not advocating for the return of the lifestyle of ancient times. It is way too late for that. We are simply pointing out the mess we have made of this world.

Example, by modern processing, we are now able to produce a high quantity of food. But, at what cost? The cost is in the quality. Many of the God-given benefits are removed while harmful effects are added.

There is hope for those who accept Jesus as their Messiah. A new Heaven and new Earth is coming (Revelation 21:1)!

Spring Feasts

Let’s go back to examine the first two Spring Feasts.

Passover:

  1. To pay taxes.
  2. All Jewish males were required to journey to Jerusalem for an encounter and visitation from God.
  3. A memorial to the Hebrews’ deliverance from Egypt.
  4. To show Jesus as the true Passover Lamb, the Messiah.
  5. Jesus suffered and died for our sins.
  6. We no longer have to be afraid of physical death.
  7. We now have eternal life after our physical death.

Feast of Unleavened Bread:

  1. As a memorial to the Hebrews’ separation from Egypt.
  2. A reminder God brought them out with such haste carrying their bread dough made without yeast.
  3. Leavened bread is not to be eaten at Passover and for the next seven days (Exodus 13:3,7).
  4. Teaches us about separation from the world.
  5. Jesus is the “Bread of Life” from Heaven who had no leaven (sin) in Him.

Feast of Firstfruits

Offerings

Offerings are given for the spring barley harvest. On Yom HaBikkurim, people offered the first ripe sheath (firstfruits) of barley to the LORD as an act of dedicating the harvest to Him.

On Passover, a marked sheath of barley was cut and prepared for the offering. The priest waved the sheath before the LORD for acceptance. They were also to offer accompanying sacrifices.

The Accompanying Sacrifices:

  1. A first year unblemished male lamb.
  2. A drink offering of wine.
  3. A meal offering of the barley flour mixed with olive oil.
  4. A small amount of frankincense was sprinkled upon it.

Flour:

  1. The grain was threshed with rods rather than oxen-drawn sledges so the barley corns would not be injured.
  2. It was then parched over an open flame.
  3. Winnowed in the wind to remove the chaff.
  4. Was milled and put through an intensive sifting process until sifted very fine.
  5. A small amount was burned upon the altar.
  6. Remainder given to the Levites.

Nugget: According to the Talmud, this sifting ceremony continued until one of the Temple inspectors could plunge his hands into the flour and remove them without any flour adhering to his hands. (Menahot 8:2). This shifting at times could take up to 39 times.

The people were forbidden to use any part of the harvest in any way until after the firstfruits were offered to the LORD (Leviticus 23:14). To neglect these Firstfruits offerings were considered robbery of God according to Scripture (Malachi 3:8).

A Time Marker

Firstfruits was seen as a time marker. It marked the beginning of the grain harvest in Israel, but even more importantly, it marked the countdown to the Feast of Weeks, Pentecost (Shavuot).

At Firstfruits, the counting of days begins and continue until the day after the seventh Sabbath, the 50th day, which is called Shavuot.

Nugget: Every seventh year was supposed to a Sabbatical year in which the land was allowed to rest. The year after the seventh Sabbatical year, the 50th year, was supposed to be the Year of Jubilee.

As a result, this period of time was, and still is, know as the Sefirat Ha-Omer (Hebrew “the Counting of the Omer”) because of the ritual of counting the days from Omer to the Feast of Weeks. Omer is (Hebrew “sheaf, to measure.”

The Wave Offering

The Jewish people were to bring the first sheaves of the barley harvest and wave them before the LORD. A small plot of ground was set apart in the Kidron Valley to grow this firstfruits offering. The sheaves were cut late in the afternoon, just before sunset.

It was to be celebrated on the day after the Sabbath. Which appears to have been the regular weekly Sabbath. This means that the Feast of Firstfruits was on the first day of the week, a Sunday.

Jesus was that human sheaf that God set apart for the purpose of conquering death. He provided eternal life for all who would acknowledge Him as Messiah, LORD and SAVIOR. As such, He was the first who would rise from the dead never to die again.

Jesus made a statement to Mary (John 20:17). He needed to ascend to His Father for the purpose of presenting Himself as the firstfruits from the dead. He is our great High Priest who offered Himself in fulfillment of the Feast of Firstfruits on the exact day the barley sheaves were being waved before God.

Jesus in the Tomb for 3 Days

Matthew 12:40 (NKJV)
“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

According to Edward M. Reingolds’ work “Calendar Book, Papers, and Code,” the date is Wednesday, April 3, in the year 30 AD. Jesus was crucified on this date and resurrected at the close of the Sabbath (Saturday PM) on April 6, the 17th of Nisan. On the Jewish calendar April 3 is Passover Nisan 14.

A Jewish day starts at sundown (6 PM) to sundown (6 PM).

Wednesday (night 1, 6 PM to 6 AM)

Thursday (day 1, 6 AM to 6 PM)

Thursday (night 2, 6 PM to 6 AM)

Friday (day 2, 6 AM To 6 PM)

Friday (night 3, 6 PM to 6 AM)

Saturday (day 3, 6 AM to 6 PM)

This is the exact fulfillment of the witness of the Torah, the witness of the sign of Jonah of three days and three nights, the witness of culture, and the witness of astronomy for the year 30 AD. Jesus said three days and threes nights meaning a 72-hour period of time.

The Symbolism

This feasts teaches us about consecration. It relates to our condition as believers in and followers of Jesus. Notice that “Firstfruits” is plural meaning we are to bring lost sheep back into the fold and seek out those who have not accept Jesus. Bringing in lost souls for eternal life.

Apostle Paul states:

  1. Jesus, as the firstfruits, is our representative. By presenting Himself, He consecrated the rest of us to the Father (Romans 8:11).
  2. He [God] made us accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6).
  3. Believers are the human stalks that have been bundled together with Jesus (Romans 11:16).
  4. It teaches us about our resurrection with Jesus in our spirit as well as our future bodily resurrection (Galatians 2:20).

We are saved from old life to live in the resurrected life of Messiah Jesus today. Putting off the old self is not enough. We MUST also put on the new self. In other words, turn our back on the world and strive for holiness with God.

Firstfruits speaks of resurrection. Death could not hold Jesus. Death can not hold His firstfruits (us).

Biblical events that happened on this feast:

  1. The manna which God provided from heaven as food for the Israelites while they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. It stopped after they crossed the Jordan River into the Promise Land (Joshua 5:10–12).
  2. Queen Esther risked her life to save the Jewish people from annihilation (Esther 3:17–5:7).
  3. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day (Luke 24:44–47).

The Harvest

The purpose of this feast was to consecrate the harvest to God. The firstfruits represented the whole harvest. This act reminded the Hebrews that God had given them the land. And all the harvest rightfully belonged to Him. The people were just stewards of the land. Afterward the Hebrews could harvest their crops because the entire harvest has been accepted by God.

The same is with Jesus, human sheaf, presenting himself as a wave offering to God. The human fields of lost ones are ripe for harvesting. We need to gather in His crops.

Bringing in the Sheaves by Knowles Shaw in 1874 (Public Domain)

Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,

Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;

Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain:
Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves;

Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Verse 2:
Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,

Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze;

By and by the harvest, and the labor ended,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Verse 3:
Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master,

Though the loss sustained our spirit often grieves;

When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Next time, we will cover the last Spring feast, the Feast of Pentecost.

Until next time,

שָׁלוֹם (Shalom!)