First Fruits

First Fruits

Leviticus 23:10-11 “Speak to the sons of Israel, and say to them, when you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. 

This wave offering of the first fruits (Hebrew Bikkurim) of the harvest, was to thank God for His provision, and the promise represented by this offering assured Israel that there would be a later blessed harvest. 

First things are an often-repeated theme in scripture; God declared that the first fruits of all agricultural produce belonged to him and were to be offered in wave offerings. 

This included barley, wheat, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. Even the first fruits of bread dough belonged to Him and were to be offered in a ‘heave or wave offering’.

Of the first of your dough you shall lift up a cake as an offering; as the offering of the threshing floor, so you shall lift it up. From the first of your dough, you shall give to the Lord an offering throughout your generations.” Numbers 15:20-21

The first-born males of all animals, and even the first born of the children Israel, belonged to Him. When Yeshua was one month old He was taken to the Temple to be presented to the Lord as the first born, according to the Law as quoted in Luke 2:23, “every first-born male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the lord”

When God redeemed (purchased Israel to be His) from Egypt, He did this through the blood of the Passover lamb. Israel became God’s first born among the nations (Exodus 4:22-23).  

All the firstborn in Egypt were under God’s death and judgment. Escape was possible only through faith and obedience to God’s Word through Moses. This required placing the blood of the Passover lamb on the sides and top of the doors of their homes (Exodus 12:13).

Both Jews and Egyptians were offered redemption through obedience to God’s Word. Where there was blood there would be life for the first born. If there was no blood on the door posts of their homes there would be death.

These events foreshadowed what would come in the future. In a spiritual sense, all are first born. In that we are all sinners and under the curse of death and in need of a Passover Lamb for our redemption.

Scripture tells us that One man brought death to all, our father Adam. When Adam disobeyed God, he and his children experienced death which is defined in part as being separated from God.  

When they sinned by eating the forbidden fruit Adam and Eve died spiritually. All mankind is connected through Adam. So, when Adam sinned and died, all of mankind inherited a sin nature; a fallen nature.

All mankind died, in Adam. This death was a separation from the abundant life that God intended for all mankind.  They lost their innocence and experienced fear and eventually physical death.

Adam brought that separation and death to all. Therefore, all need a Savior to be reconciled to God and a relationship with Him.

The New Covenant explains this in Romans 5:12. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…”

But through the Messiah, the One who came to redeem mankind, brought life to all as Romans 5:18-19 tell us “…even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.”

Yeshua the Messiah is the first born of all who believe that through Him men might have everlasting life. Though faith in His atonement we are restored to the relationship with God that was lost by Adam’s sin.

In Colossians, we learn that as Adam was head of the woman, so Messiah is Head of the church (all believers), which the scriptures refer to symbolically as His ‘body’. 

Adam failed in his responsibility as head over the woman. Adam was to protect, instruct, lead, and love her. Yeshua, as Head of His body, perfectly delivers, protects, instructs, leads, and loves His bride, the church.

Through one man’s disobedience, sin and death entered the world. When Adam and Eve sinned, they fell from God’s grace, and lost the ability to discern and understand truth due to their spiritual death. 

But through One Man’s obedience, the obedience of Yeshua to the work the Father gave Him, Grace. truth and life were restored; …or rather, all who believe are restored to grace, truth and life. 

So, Yeshua is our ‘First fruits’ offering on our behalf in that He rose at the precise time that the offering of First Fruits were being presented in the Temple; the day after the first Sabbath of Passover. 

2000 years ago, Passover landed on Friday, on the day after the Sabbath of Passover, Sunday morning the offering of first fruits was made. 

Yeshua thus fulfilled what bikkurim pointed to; the first fruits of the resurrection.  

The resurrection of Yeshua is the guarantee and the beginning (first fruits) of the harvest, or resurrection, of all mankind. First fruits was always celebrated on the Sabbath that followed Passover or Sunday.

This brings us to the order of Resurrection. The order is very significant as Paul writes in 1 Cor. 15:22-23 all mankind will be resurrected beginning with the First fruits of the resurrection, Yeshua the Messiah.

“For as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah all shall be made alive. But each in his own order; Messiah, the first fruits, after that those who are Messiah’s at His coming …”

In Matthew, when Yeshua died on the cross, it wasn’t a tragedy but a most amazing victory, the beginning of what would be a resurrection of those who experienced physical death. 

Matthew 27:52-53 52 and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. 

Just who these saints were is not known, not for certain. But several facts mentioned in Scripture need to be noted. A saint, is any person who has come to saving faith in God according to the Scriptures.

There were Old Testament saints and New Testament saints. The word saint comes from the Hebrew word Tsadik and means a righteous one.  In both Old and New Covenants what made a person righteous was faith and obedience to God and His Word.

In Matthew 27 we read that the graves opened during a terrifying earthquake that occurred at the death of Yeshua on the cross.  Not only did the graves open but the veil in the Temple (a tapestry that was as thick as a rug that separated the holy place from the holy of holies) was rent in two from top to bottom.

This veil is what separated the Holy Place where the Golden Menorah the Table of Showbread and the altar of incense was located.  Every day priests would enter the Holy Place to serve the Lord.

The veil separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies.  Located in the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant.  It was here that the High Priest would enter on Yom Kippur, only once a year on the Day of Atonement.

On Yom Kippur the High Priest would present the offerings required which would make it possible for God’s covenant with Israel to be renewed. If this were not done God would end His relationship with the nation.

The Holy of Holies was the place where God said His Presence would be.  The Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies was covered by the Mercy Seat and two gold images of Cherubim or angels that reflected the throne of God were placed on the Mercy Seat.

When the veil was torn from top to bottom it indicated that God had left the Temple.  The veil separated the Holy place from the Holy of Holies. This was an indication that God no longer would renew the Covenant made at Mt. Sinai which occurred on Yom Kippur. (See Illustration)

We are told that an earthquake caused the veil to be rent in two when Yeshua died on the cross. Matthew 27:52-53 tells us that the earthquake also caused the graves of the saints to be opened. 

The bodies in those graves did not arise until after Yeshua’s resurrection. Yeshua had to be the first to arise from the dead—the first fruits of the resurrection. 

The promise of the Messiah is that He would overcome death. As 1 Corinthians 15:20 But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.

Colossians 1:18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.  

Between these two events, the cross and the resurrection, was the time that Jesus bore the full punishment due all mankind that brought death.  His death cancelled the power of death the consequence of man’s sins. 

He tasted death for every man—both physical and spiritual death Hebrews 2:9 But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely,Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.

Hebrews 2:14 Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil;

Peter tells us “He went and preached unto the spirits in prison” (1 Peter 3:19). This may mean that He confronted the lost in hell and proclaimed the way of the righteous, now accomplished.

We have an allusion to this in the illustration given by Yeshua in Luke 16:9-31 about the rich man and Lazarus.  John quotes Jesus in Rev. 1:18, “I was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen: and have the keys of hell and death.”

Many believe that before the resurrection of Yeshua all dead people went to a place known in Scripture as Hades or Sheol. Sheol was divided into two areas, paradise, and hell. 

The spirits of believers went to paradise; the spirits of unbelievers went to hell. Some believers hold that when Yeshua arose and took the saints of paradise with Him to live in the presence of God forever. 

Now, because of Messiah’s resurrection, all who believe in Yeshua as their redeemer at their death go immediately into the presence of God. (2 Cor 5:8) we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

In Eph 4:9-10 Paul tell us “When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive…but He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth….”.

The idea is that Yeshua ended the captivity of sin, death, and hell. He conquered all the enemies of man and set him free to arise and live forever in the presence of God.

The resurrection of these saints symbolized at least two things.

  1. The conquest of death by the Messiah. The sting is now taken from death; the power of death is now broken.

“For he (Yeshua) must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:25-26).

“Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So, when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah” (1 Cor. 15:51-57).

“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14).

  • It symbolized the resurrection of believers. Believers will arise and be recognized and know one another Matthew 27:53 They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. 

John 5:28-29 28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out–those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” 

The Jewish prophet Daniel spoke of this as well in Dan. 12:2 “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.

John 6:40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” 

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

Yeshua is the fulfillment of the Holy Day First Fruits. 

Yeshua is the first fruits of the Resurrection, and we are reminded afresh of the great life and hope we have in God and His Word. And how the feasts foreshadow God’s redemptive program for the world.

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