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The Seven Feasts of Jehovah: First Fruits

The Third Feast: First Fruits
March/April May/June July Aug Sept/Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb
Early rain The long hot Summer Late rain        
Nisan Iyar Sivan Tamuz Ab Elul Tishrei Marches-van Kislev Tevet Shebat Adar
Abib† Ziv Sivan Tammuz Av Elul Ethanim Bul Kislev Tebeth Shevat Adar
Passover (14)
Unleavened Bread (15-21)*
Firstfruits (16)
  Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) (6)*       Trumpets (Jewish New Year) (1)
Day of Atonement (10)
Tabernacles (15-21)*
         
*All men had to attend in Jerusalem (Deut 16:16, Ex 23:14)
Some alternative names/spellings for the months of the Hebrew calendar

Introduction

Key Bible Passages

Lev 23:9-14, Num 18:12, Exodus 23:19, Deuteronomy 26:1-10, 1 Cor 15:20, 23, also James 1:18, and the offerings in Lev 1-5..

Background

Unlike the first two feasts, this one was not instigated in Egypt. The Lord never intended Israel to spend any length of time in the wilderness – Canaan was their destination, and Canaan was where they should have gone.  This feast speaks of this – the land of milk and honey – Canaan.

The season is spring. The harvest is ready: This feast is connected to:

Feast of Harvest (Ex 23:19, Ex 34: 22,26) : firstfruits at the beginning of the season

Feast of Ingathering. (Ex 23:15 KJV): end of year feast after harvest.

We can also ponder the beauty of the Lord’s plan, who constructed the feasts in foreknowledge of what was to come as an ordinance of prefigurement.

  • In Passover we have redemption.
  • In Unleavened bread we have a believer’s life.
  • In Firstfruits we have Christ, first among the dead, the firstfruits, of Heaven where we have citizenship.

The key elements of the feast can be gleaned from four Scripture passages

Key Elements from Leviticus 23:9-14

  • Celebrated in Canaan (highlights the Promised Land).
  • The first of the harvest – the best fruit.
  • A sheaf of the harvest to be given to the priest who would wave it before the Lord (east gate of temple).
  • To take place on the day after the Sabbath (first day of week).
  • Shall offer a male lamb as a burnt offering.
  • Shall offer a grain offering, mixed with oil, made by fire.
  • Shall offer a drink offering of (strong) wine.
  • Nothing else is to be eaten until this has been all done.

Key Elements from Exodus 23:19

  • The first fruits are to be brought to the House of the Lord.

Key Elements from Numbers 18:12

  • The best oil, the best new wine, the best new grain: The LORD has given it.

Key Elements from Deuteronomy 26:1-10x

  • The Lord brought them into Canaan ("I am come"). (v3). (Note the tense)
  • The Lord chose Israel (through Abraham) to be His people (v5).
  • The Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, a land of hardship (v6).
  • The LORD (Jehovah) redeemed Israel with mighty wonder (v8).
  • The Lord gave Israel a land flowing with milk and honey (v9).
  • Therefore, Israel will offer the first fruits of the land to the Lord.

Topology

How was it to be conducted?

  • The priest was to be brought the offering.
  • The sheaf of ripe grain was to be waved before the Lord, on the east side of the tabernacle or temple early in the morning, facing the rising sun.
  • The grain (barley) was dried, beaten, sifted 13 times, and a meal (meat or grain NIV) offering (ie made without leaven), oil and frankincense were made to be offered as a sweet aroma to the Lord.
  • A burnt, meat and drink offering was made to the Lord.

The feast also encompasses the:

  • Feast of Harvest (Ex 23:19, Ex 34: 22,26)
  • Feast of Ingathering.

Cannot be separated from the two loaf wave offerings of Pentecost.

What is it?

The firstfruits is the example what was to come – it is equivalent to the great harvest that Jesus speaks of in the gospel, of whom Christ was the firstfruit, by virtue of being the first born, among the dead. (Col 1:8, Rev 1:5 – note both Paul and John use the same imagery).

In relation to Christ

1 Corinthians 15:20  But now Christ is risen from the dead, [and] has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

1 Corinthians 15:23  But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those [who are] Christ's at His coming.

`He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, "a land flowing with milk and honey"; `and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O LORD, have given me." Then you shall set it before the LORD your God, and worship before the LORD your God. (Deut 26: 9,10)

The principal antitypes

Christ himself

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep
1 Corinthians 15:20 (NKJV).

He has risen and lives (no other has) being the first of whom have and will die (in faith, hence will rise to eternity), and being the first, therefore shows there must be others: and hence the assurance of resurrection of those who trust and believe in Him.

He being holy has made us to be holy:

For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. Romans 11:16 (NKJV)

An example of the harvest to follow

Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Matthew 9:37 (NKJV), where Christ is the example of the harvest to follow

  • On the first day of the week as the Son (Christ) rose from the dead, and at the same the time the priest looking into the rising son waved the firstfruits before the Lord: Christ the first-fruits rose from the among the dead.
  • It speaks to us of Christ’s resurrection – first among the dead, and acceptance by the Father as the "once for all" sacrifice.
  • Shows that the sacrifice is sufficient for all our sins (Rom 6:10) (to be accepted Lev 23:11).
  • The firstfruit (Christ) was the example of the harvest to come – what believers should be, being imitators of Christ (Eph 5:1).

Our best or most excellent to be given in all things.

that you may approve the things that are excellent [best NIV], that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ, Philippians 1:10 (NKJV).

The heavenly land whence we will go

Canaan was the land this feast was instigated – heaven is the citizenship of every believer (Phil 3:20). Christ  ...who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, Eph 1:3.

The three offerings (a very brief typological overview)[1]

Burn offering (see also Leviticus 1, 6:9-13, Numbers 15:3-12)

Signifies Christ in death - offering Himself without spot to God (Heb 9:14), imparting dignity and glory to everything He did, accomplishing the will and glory of God. It is the God-ward aspect of Christ’s work, being a sweat aroma to the Lord (Lev 1:17).

This offering was the highest in character and always first in the order of sacrifices.

It had to be offered with a meat offering, because the death of Christ without the life would have been useless.

The character of the cross is one of "voluntary will" as was this sacrifice. Christ died willingly, giving up His life ("It is finished"), presenting a pleasing fragrant odour that ascended to the Father, because He sought to please the Father in every thing, and was obedient in everything.

The sacrifice speaks of Christ who voluntarily dies – a sinner has no option – death is his course – but Christ could say; "I lay down my life".

Note the antitype is not one of Christ as a sin bearer – in the burnt offering it is Christ dying, and neither does the grain offering – it is of Christ living.

The Meat Offering (Grain Offering) Leviticus 2, 6:14-23)

Signifies the Man Christ Jesus, in life – the man presenting to God an unblemished life with its grace and moral perfectness: holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.

Note that this offering is an un-bloody offering. There is no thought of blood shedding. It speaks of Christ on earth, walking perfectly, humbly and obediently.

There is the element of fine flour – there was no coarseness in Christ – He was a perfectly heavenly Man.

We see in the antitype of the oil the Holy Spirit – Christ was conceived (oil mingled) and anointed (oil pour on), the first being a profound mystery.

The Drink Offering (Exodus 29:40-41, Num 15:1-13, 28:8)

Signifies the joy of God and man in the obedience of Christ. It was strong drink poured unto the Lord in the Holy Place.

Could only be offered with the burnt and meat offerings – that is the signification of death and life was required before joy was entered into. It highlights the voluntary nature of Christ’s death.

Topology (a few aspects)

This Feast points directly to Christ (Deuteronomy points out the blessing the flows to us from the obedience of Christ to His Father).

Chosen people (From Deuteronomy 26:1-10)

  • The Lord brought them in to Canaan ("I am come"). (3)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…….[who has] raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2:6 (NKJV)

  • The Lord chose Israel (through Abraham) to be His people (5).

But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 2 Thessalonians 2:13 (NKJV)

  • The Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, a land of hardship (6).

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Romans 5:9 (NKJV)

  • The LORD (Jehovah) redeemed Israel with mighty wonder (8).

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace Ephesians 1:7 (NKJV)

  • The Lord gave Israel a land flowing with milk and honey (9).

`He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, "a land flowing with milk and honey"; `and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O LORD, have given me.' Then you shall set it before the LORD your God, and worship before the LORD your God. (Deut 26: 9,10)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, Ephesians 1:3 (NKJV)

Christ risen from among the dead

Risen

1 Corinthians 15:20  But now Christ is risen from the dead, [and] has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

He has risen (no other has) being the first among those who have died (in faith, hence will rise to eternity), and being the first, there must be others: the assurance of resurrection of those who trust and believe in Him.

Without the resurrection we are men most miserable.

Points to the heavenly land whence we will go

Christ has risen, returned to the Father and sat down, His work being complete. Salvation is complete, redemption is all that it aught be, and Christ sits down. No soldier on the battle field sits down, no soldier sits before his general: this gives us the picture of a job done seen in the prayer, "I have finished the work which you have given me to do" John 17:4. See also Hebrews 10.

Christ is the first to rise from the dead and enter heaven, paving a new and living way to the Father. We now enter into His presence on His ground, opened up by Christ, by His blood (Heb 10:20).

1 Corinthians 15:23  But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those [who are] Christ's at His coming.

Points to what is to come

The firstfruits is the example of what is to come – it is equivalent to the great harvest that Jesus speaks of in the gospel, of whom Christ was the firstfruit, by virtue of being the first born, among the dead. (Col 1:8, Rev 1:5 – note both Paul and John use the same imagery).

We are to live a holy and blameless life: because Christ is who we have been raised with – we who were once dead (separated from God and afar off, were raised up together, and have been made to sit in heavenly places.

For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. Romans 11:16 (NKJV)

Our best or most excellent to be given in all things.

that you may approve the things that are excellent [best NIV], that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ, Philippians 1:10 (NKJV).

The sacrifice forms the basis of worship. A sacrifice was offered in anticipation of Christ coming, in faith, believing that his sins will been dealt with – because they could see the promises afar off (Heb 11:13). It fulfilled the axiomatic requirement that without the shedding of blood there was not remission[2].

A Jew was ceremonially clean by sacrifice; the Christian is "clean every wit" by the sacrifice of Christ, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Once purged of sin, we should have no more consciousness of sin.

… the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin: ……and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more...1 John 1:7 (NKJV), Heb 8:12.

We have the provision of God’s grace, the Lord Jesus Christ, as our Great High Priest. This Priest acts in the presence of God for us (Heb 8).

  • He is our sacrifice and our priest.
  • This means He represents us in the sanctuary in heaven.
  • He presents God the gifts of sacrifices of His worshiping people.

The Christian’s place of worship is inside the veil

  • Inside the veil is the worshipper – which Jesus entered as our forerunner (Heb 6:19), which we can have boldness to enter (Heb 10:19).
  • Outside the camp is the place of witness.

How does this apply to a believer

In redemption we have the display of grace and mercy, abundant beyond all understanding: however, with the comprehension due to Christ living within our hearts:

that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; ….may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—:9to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3::17-19 (NKJV)

In obedience we live a life unleavened – in the strength of the Holy Spirit – I die daily.

In the firstfruits we have Christ. It is proof that Christ was accepted by God as the propitiation (the one who turned aside the wrath of God from those who believe) for our sins. Hence, its elements include the first of the crop, but also the sacrifices indicating the perfectives of Christ’s sacrifice. (1 John 4:10).

  • Do you believe the Lord Jesus Christ has taken away all your sins?
  • This feast tells us that all can come within His atoning work.
  • It gives us great joy to have the knowledge of His atoning sacrifice for us. It encourages us to praise and adore Him who sent the Son.
  • It demonstrates the extent of the Love of God – what encouragement this is.

Rock of Ages cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee

Let the water an the blood, From thy riven side which flower,

Be of sin and double cure, Cleanse me from its guilt and pow’r. (Augustus Toplady)

The atoning blood deals with both the guild of the sin and its power. There is no more remembrance of the sin, hence we should not dwell on it. To attempt to pick-up its heavy burden once cleansed from it is senseless – it like hanging onto a load after getting home from shopping and never putting it down. (See also Hebrew 10:2). The power of sin over us is broken; we are no longer bound but loose, to go on. It gives us great joy to have the knowledge of His atoning sacrifice for us? It encourages us to praise and adore Him who sent the Son.

So dear, so dear to God,
More dear I cannot be:
The love wherewith He loves the Son
Such is His love to me (A mind at perfect peace with God Catesby Paget)

Summary

Hence the Feast offerings prefigures the perfect glorious work of Christ in fulfilling the work to the glory of the Father, along with the joy of His voluntary death on the Cross, together with the prefigurement of the redemptive work of Christ, the Passover lamb, and the spotless life (unleavened) of Christ as our example.

Endnotes

[1] Walter Scott "Handbook to the Bible, Old Testament", RM Cameron, Glasgow, UK (no date given, probably at turn of century) is a helpful book on this topic (may have been republished by Charlotte, North Carolina USA.

[2] Note that we do not add "from sin" because remission is only needed if there is sin, hence the tautology.

David L Simon (CCC April 2005)
…Bible\Seven feasts of Jehovah\The seven feasts of Jehovah – Firstfruits
Posted 2007 (Note – Handouts a and b have been combined - delivered over two weeks) (Ed 5/10/09)