The Feasts of the Lord Bible Study Series:
The Resurrection - Jesus in the Feast of First Fruits Bible Study
by I Gordon
Noah's ark comes through the waters and rests on the earth for the first time bringing new life to Noah and his family on the 17th of Nisan. (Gen 8:4)5 Coming through the waters and resting on dry land was a picture of the resurrection. Noah and his family were the firstfruits of what would be a whole new life!
Israel came through the Red Sea on the 17th of Nisan having left at Passover on the 14th. (Chumney, 'The seven festivals of the Messiah', page 70). For them this was death to their old life (with the drowning of the Egyptians) and resurrection to a new life in God on the 17th!
The manna which had fed the nation of Israel for the 40 years in the wilderness stopped on the 16th of Nisan and from the 17th onwards Israel feasted on the new grain of the promised land (Josh 5:10-12). This again is a picture of the new life in the Promised Land that came on the 17th!
The death sentence hung over the entire Israelite nation as their sworn enemy, Haman, had convinced the king to sign a decree to destroy them (Esther 3:1-12). The decree went out on the 13th Nisan (Esther 3:12). Esther then proclaimed a three day fast (Esther 4:16) for the 14th, 15th and 16th. On the 3rd day (5:1) Esther approached the king saying to herself 'If I perish, I perish!' (an attitude of death or resurrection... it's in God's hands!) On the 17th Nisan, the tables were turned on the enemy Haman and instead of the Jews being destroyed, his own life was taken! Again, a picture of life out death on this amazing day!
The barley harvest came first where they use a process called winnowing to toss the barley kernels into the wind to separate the kernel from the chaff. Norton writes: 'The head of the barley is very soft and easily crushed. This reminds me of the birth of the church at Pentecost where the Holy Spirit came like a wind and indwelt believers as reported in Acts 2:1-2... In the order of the resurrections, the church is first to be resurrected, just as the barley is the first to be harvested.'
The wheat harvest was next. Norton writes 'Since the head of the wheat is hard, it must be threshed or crushed to separate the wheat from the chat A man who is threshing the wheat stands on a large board, which has bits of glass underneath it, and is pulled by a horse over the wheat to do the crushing. I found it quite telling that the board is called by a Latin word: "tribulum". Many people. including Jews. will come to Christ in the tribulation6, as noted in Revelation 7:9 - 14. It is interesting that you can also tell the difference between a field of wheat and a field of barley. While the heads of the stock of barley bend down like they are bowing in humility (see picture above), the heads of the stocks of wheat stay straight up. I am reminded of Deuteronomy 31:27 where Moses sail to the children of Israel: 'For I know your rebellion and your stiff neck. If today, while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the Lord, then how much more after my death?' The church will he resurrected first (the barley). while those who become believers in the tribulation (the wheat) shall be resurrected during the tribulation if they die in that period. In a sense they were harvested under the crushing of the "tribulum".'
Finally we have the fruit harvest in the Autumn (Fall) season. This is the last of the harvests and in scripture applies to unbelievers. Revelation speaks in graphic detail of this harvest unto judgement. We read: Revelation 14:15-20 And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, "Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe." ...(18) Then another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, "Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe." (19) So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. (20) And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses' bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.
Taken from Arnold Fructenbaum's study pamphlet on the Feasts of Israel. ↩
A.C Gaebelein in his commentary on Leviticus 23 writes the following concerning the offerings that were made along with the wave offering of the firstfruits: 'In connection with the waving of the sheaf of firstfruits there were offerings. But of what kind? 'A he lamb without blemish for a burnt offering unto the LORD,' a meal offering and a drink offering. No sin offering was demanded, for that was accomplished when He died. The offerings were a sweet savour, telling forth once more the blessedness and value of His own person and work. And in Him we are accepted; with Him the firstfruits we shall be forever.' ↩
I have met people, and have had people email in to the website, that believe Jesus rose on the Saturday. Those that believe this usually believe that He died on the previous Wednesday and can't really have him rising on the Sunday for that would then be four nights in the grave instead of three. As well as the scripture indicated in Mark that specifically says He was raised on the first day of the week (Sunday) it is useful to point out the prophetic type that is before us today. The feast of firstfruits, God said, was to be waved on the day after the Sabbath. If Jesus rose on Saturday, the Sabbath, then that would have been the day that God instructed the feast of firstfruits to be celebrated on. But it wasn't. It was Sunday, the first day of the week. The first day of the new week speaks of the start of something new. it speaks of the resurrection unto new life. It speaks of the new creation. Jesus' resurrection was not to be associated with the first first week of creation (which it would have been if He rose on the seventh day) but on what we could call 'the 8th day' - a new creation by God. ↩
Concerning Mary's post resurrection encounter with Jesus, Michael Norton writes in his book 'Unlocking the secrets of the feasts' about another parallel with Christ that is explained through knowledge of the firstfruits: 'We immediately observe another thing in John 20:17, which had always puzzled me. When Mary recognized the resurrected Lord, He tells her, 'Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.' I never fully understood why He said that to Mary. Why couldn't she touch Him? I discovered the reason when I read what Flavius Josephus wrote about the barley. He explained that the Jews could not touch the barley before the day of firstfruits. Once the barley sheaf was presented to God by the priest, the barley crop could be harvested for use. Since Jesus was the Firstfruits, He had to go to the Father before anyone could touch Him. We see that after He had been to the Father and back, Thomas could touch Him. As John 20:27 states, 'Then He said to Thomas, 'Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and he not unbelieving, but believing.' ↩
Please note that Genesis uses the civil calendar. The 'religious' calendar was not given until the time of the Exodus (Exodus 12:1). So Genesis speaks of the seventh month and the seventeenth day. This is the exact same day as what in the religious calendar God said should be their first month. In other words, this is Nisan 17th - the day Jesus was raised from the dead. ↩
It is interesting and worth noting that if the wheat harvest is to symbolise those who come to the Lord through the tribulation then the Bible tells us who are the first in this harvest. In Revelation chapter 14, speaking of the 144,000 Jews from the 12 tribes of Israel are called the 'firstfruits unto God' (Rev 14:4). In what sense could they possibly be firstfruits when Jesus and the early believers are called firstfruits (james 1;18) and these 144,000 believers come to the Lord over 2000 years later? Only in the sense that the tribulation period, also known as Daniel's 70th week, is a distinct period set apart from the current church age of grace. They are the firstfruits of the tribulation period. The firstfruits of the wheat harvest that requires the 'tribulum' to bring them in. ↩
Related Series Posts
- Jesus in the 7 Feasts of the Lord Bible Study - Overview
- Feasts of the Lord: The Sacrifice - Jesus in the Feast of Passover
- Feasts of the Lord: The Burial - Jesus in the feast of Unleavened Bread
- Feasts of the Lord: The Resurrection - Jesus in the Feast of First Fruits
- Feasts of the Lord: The Comforter - The Holy Spirit in Feast of Pentecost
- Feasts of the Lord: The Rapture - Jesus in the Feast of Trumpets
- Feasts of the Lord: The Return - Jesus in the Day of Atonement
- Feasts of the Lord: The Kingdom - Jesus in the feast of Tabernacles