Summary: Today's Message looks at the 3rd feast of Israel, the Feast of First Fruits, and while it is the least known feast, it is the greatest of all the feast and the one that holds the most importance.
The Feast of Firstfruits:
The feast of Firstfruits is probably the least known of the seven feasts of Israel. In fact, there are several additional feasts that are kept that are better known, like Purim, or the feast that celebrates God’s deliverance in Babylon from Haman’s plot. Or then there is the feast of Dedication, or Hanukkah, the feast of lights, where Judas Maccabeus defeated the Greek forces under Antiochus Epiphanes, and God provided enough oil for the Menorah to remain lit for seven days before more oil could be ready.
So, it isn’t any wonder why so many haven’t a clue about this third feast that God ordained for Israel to keep. And what I find so fascinating is that this feast, while it is the least known of the seven, is actually the greatest of all of them and the one that holds the most importance. And this is what I would like to share with you today.
“Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the Lord. Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah (4 quarts) of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the Lord, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, (1 quart). You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.” (Leviticus 23:10-14 NKJV)
What I find fascinating is how this one feast is wrapped up with the feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread; yet, it really has nothing to do with either one of them, but rather it is a future promise of the blessings of God once they possess the land God promised, or The Promise Land.
Notice what it says, “When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.” (Leviticus 23:10)
And this was to be offered during the seven-day period of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, on the first day of the week, that is, on a Sunday. So, the date is never a fixed date, like Passover which is on the 14th day, or Unleavened Bread which is held on the 15th day until the 21st day.
The feast is actually a celebration of the harvest that God helped to bring in during the spring, or the barley harvest, which a sheaf was then to be brought to the temple for an offering, because as it is with everything, it all belongs to God, and therefore this first harvest was to be dedicated and devoted to Him. Only then, once they brought in their offering, could they partake of the harvest.
“You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God” (Leviticus 23:14 NKJV)
Now, there is one more thing about this feast and the offering that was to be presented, and that is that the first-born lamb from that year was to be offered, or a male lamb born that year that was without spot or blemish.
However, since the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., the wave offering can no longer be presented, as well as the lamb. Today, within the Jewish faith, this is primary accomplished through prayers and reflections on what is considered to be the symbolic significance of this day, which in Judaism is the acknowledgment that God is the one who redeemed Israel from their Egyptian bondage, and then expressing gratitude to God for bringing them into the Promised Land.
It is also the day when the 49-day count (seven Sabbaths verse 15) begins for the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, the fourth major feast of Israel.
For us, this feast is quite telling, and helps us to understand our relationship with God and what God has provided for us.
First and Best
What we see in this feast is that what was being offered to God was both the first and best. It being the first is brought out in the name itself, First Fruit. However, it being the best is brought out earlier in Leviticus when the Lord said to Moses, “Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it shall not be acceptable on your behalf.” (Leviticus 22:20 NKJV)