The Feast of First Fruits

The Biblical Basis

There are only two passages from the Hebrew Scripture and one from the New Testament that make reference to the Feast of First-Fruits:

 

1. Leviticus 23:9-14                                    Instructional

2. Numbers 28:26-31                                    Instructional

3. 1 Corinthians 15:21-23                                    Applicational

 

There are six things that these passages above lay down as the foundations for the Feast of First-Fruits in the Torah [Books of Moses]:

 

1.  The Timing of the Feast – Leviticus 23:10

This was to be observed once they entered the Land and not while they were in the wilderness.

 

2.  The Day of the Feast – Numbers 28:26; Leviticus 23:11:

On the day of the feast there would be no servile work.  It was also observed on the first day of the week after Passover which could be any day of the week.  There was a disagreement between the Pharisees and the Sadducees on this feast.  The Pharisees and their rabbinic teachings considered the Passover as a Sabbath, meaning that this feast was to be observed the day after Passover.  The Sadducees had the biblical approach which was the first day of the week after the day of Passover.  Passover could be any day of the week, but as the Lord gave the Feast of First Fruits, it was to be only on one day which was the first day of the week after Passover.

 

 3.  The Duty of the Priest – Leviticus 23:11:

The priest was to wave the sheaves of grain from side to side with outstretched arms before the Lord.

 

4.  Three Offerings of the Feast – Leviticus 23:12-13; Numbers 28:27-30:

a. Burnt Offering

b. Meal Offering

c. Drink Offering

5.  Prohibition of the Feast – Leviticus 23:14:

The prohibition was against eating on that day any bread or parched grain until the first-fruits were offered unto the Lord.

 

6.  Command of the Feast – Leviticus 23:14:

This Feast was to be observed throughout your generations.

 

Historically Practiced

 

All the feasts were to be practiced in the Land of Israel.  So Israel practiced the Feast of First-Fruits throughout their history in the Land until the Disporsa.  When Israel was not in the Land they did not practice it and the church made laws that would not allow Jews to be landowners in Gentile lands which meant they could not be farmers.  Hence the feast fell into complete disuse.

In modern Israel, Jewish farmers on the Kibbutzim have made some new innovations on the feast.  Working in the kibbutz, they go out to the barley field carrying scythes and cut the ears of grain.  Following the men are the women who bind the cut barley into sheaves and then carry it on carts decorated with fresh flowers.  This is followed by dancing in the fields where the grain was grown.  After lighting torches at nightfall, there is a special procession to the kibbutz dining hall where the sheaves are heaped in stacks in the center as a symbolic offering.  The observance concludes with an evening of singing of both old and new songs.

 

Messianic Implications

The Messianic fulfillment of this feast is fulfilled by the Resurrection of Yeshua from the grave.  Here we observe three points with the first three of the four spring feasts:

 

1.  Passover – Yeshua died for the sins of the world as the sinless, perfect Lamb of God on the day of the feast.

2.  Feast of Unleavened Bread – Shows the true character of the sinless son of God who shed His blood as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.  Only those who put their faith and trust in the finished work of the One who embodies righteous, the Lamb of God, the Messiah, will be given eternal life.

3.  Feast of First-Fruits – He fulfilled this feast by being resurrected on the day of the feast.

 

The question is, other Jewish people were resurrected from the dead, so how is He the First-Fruits of the Resurrection?  The answer is because there are two types of resurrections:

 

1.  The first type is merely a restoration back to natural life.  This means that one would die again later; those who were raised before the Resurrection of Jesus all died again.

2.  The second type of resurrection is true resurrection life when mortality puts on immortality and corruption puts on incorruption and one is no longer subject to death (1 Cor 15:53-54).  When Messiah was raised from the dead He was no longer subject to death.  This is the First-Fruits of the resurrection.

 

The term First-Fruits means that there is more to come.  When the priest waved the sheaves of the barley harvest before the Lord as the First-Fruits he was thanking God for the abundant harvest that they were about to have.  The first-fruits were the first, the very first of the harvest, as it was only the beginning of the abundance of the harvest that was about to follow.  Messiah Yeshua, the First-Fruits of the Resurrection, meant that He was the first of the resurrection that would never see death again.  The abundance of the harvest of the resurrection means that there will be an abundance of resurrections in the future and will come in two stages:

 

1.  At the first resurrection the bodies of the believers will be resurrected and reunited with their souls.  This will occur at the Rapture for the Church saints.

2.  The Resurrection of the Old Testament Saints and Tribulation Saints will occur after the Second Coming of the Messiah.[1]

 

Summary:

The Jewish feast pictures the first-fruits of the harvest.  Yeshua fulfilled the feast by becoming the first-fruits of the resurrection, meaning that every believer, whether in the Hebrew Scriptures or the New Testament, will experience this resurrection and will never experience death again but will have everlasting life in the presence of God.  If we are alive at the time of the Rapture of the Church, we are only a sliver of New Testament believers who will not see physical death.  All the dead in Messiah whether Old Testament Saints or New Testament Saints will be resurrected never to experience death again. Hallelujah!


[1] Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Footsteps of Messiah (San Antonio, TX: Ariel Ministries Press, 2003), 527.