Summary: How Jesus fulfilled the Feast of Firstfruits by His resurrection.
Note: This sermon was a joint presentation by both of our Pastors.
On this morning when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, we’re going to continue with a journey that we began last week back to our Jewish roots with a look at the seven Feasts, or festivals that were prescribed by God in the Old Testament as a picture of the Messiah, Jesus. Last week, we began by looking at the Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread and we discovered that Jesus fulfilled those feasts completely and exactly.
He came into Jerusalem on the very day the Passover lambs were set aside for slaughter, was nailed to the cross at the exact time the Passover lambs were being prepared for slaughter in the Temple, and then died at the exact moment the lambs were being slain in the Temple. He was then buried at the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. At that time, he took our leaven, our sin, upon Himself and carried it to the grave.
This morning, we’ll look at the third of these feasts, the Feast of Firstfruits. Once again, Pastor Dana is going to provide you with some of the historical information on the feast and then I’ll discuss how Jesus fulfilled the feast and the implications for us.
The instructions for observing the Feast of Firstfruits is found in Leviticus, chapter 23. This passage immediately follows the passage we looked at last week that set forth the instructions for the Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread.
9 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10 "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. 11 ’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. 12 ’Now on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb one year old without defect for a burnt offering to the LORD. 13 ’Its grain offering shall then be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering by fire to the LORD for a soothing aroma, with its libation, a fourth of a hin of wine. 14 ’Until this same day, until you have brought in the offering of your God, you shall eat neither bread nor roasted grain nor new growth. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.
Leviticus 23:9-14 (NASB)
We need to briefly place this Feast in its proper context. In Israel, grains were planted in the fall. They germinated in the ground through the winter, shot up as soon as the weather got warm, and ripened in the spring, barley first and then wheat. The stalks were cut and stacked in sheaves for the harvesters to collect for thrashing. But harvesting or eating any of the grain was not permitted until a single sheaf was brought to the priests at sunrise on the first day following a particular Sabbath after Passover.". This day was called the Feast of First Fruits.
Each Israelite who possessed a harvest observed the feast by bringing a single sheaf from the firstfruits of the barley harvest to the priest, who would then wave it before the Lord. This wave offering was prescribed by God as a symbol that God would ensure that the remainder of the harvest would be realized in the days that followed.
The whole concept of the firstfruits is very closely related to that of the firstborn. Both of these concepts were well known to the Jews and we find them consistently throughout the Bible. The first fruits were always the choicest, the foremost, the first, the best, the preeminent of all that was to follow. They were holy to the Lord and so they were to be set aside and presented as the firstfruits to Him. And so we find in the Bible that the firstborn of all men and animals as well as the firstfruits of all that was produced from the land were to be consecrated to God.
There are three main principles associated with the Feast of Firstfruits:
• The offering of the very best
As we’ve already discussed briefly, the whole concept of the firstfruits is that it is not only the first, it is the very best. When the farmer went out to cut the single sheaf that was to be presented before the Lord, he took great care to make sure that it was the very best from among his crops.
• The promise of a future harvest