HaBikhurim – the Feast of Firstfruits
The Feast of Firstfruits is mentioned in Leviticus 23:10-11.
Leviticus 23:10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest:
11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
This was said in the context of the law of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6-8), which in turn is preceded by the law of the Passover (Leviticus 23:5). It is clear then, that the morrow after the sabbath means what we would call Saturday evening after sunset, as the sabbath ends on Saturday evening at sunset, and the next day (Rishon, Sunday) starts immediately after sunset.
The Historical Aspect
Have you noticed that if you look at your hair, whether on your head or elsewhere (say your eyebrows or eyelashes or moustache or beard) a few hairs are much longer than others. They seem to grow earlier in time and faster in speed than the rest, and so they are bigger in length than the rest. The same is true of harvests.
Paul saw himself as a firstfuit of the main harvest of Jewish people who will be saved when Jesus appears the second time (Zechariah 12:10). Paul called himself “one born out of due season” (1 Corinthians 15:8).
Firstfruits are a harvest that matures out of season. This is due to the weather pattern in Israel. Many of the crops produce a small harvest in the springtime. The normal season is the summer (grain harvest) and the autumn (fruits), but a small harvest shoots up in the springtime. This is the firstfruits.
The Jews were to remember through this feast the time when they entered the Promised Land, and offered to God, according to the commandment in Leviticus 23:10-11 above, the firstfruits that they found in the land.
The Prophetic Aspect
Jesus had taught:
John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
After the seed dies, there is a rseurrection. The purpose of planting seeds, is that they should die (as seeds) and live again as crops, but not in the number of the seeds but in numbers multiplied many times over.
Mark 4:8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.
When Jesus died and was buried, He was planted as a seed, as He anticipated in John 12:24 quoted above. Not only would Jesus rise from the dead, as firstfruits, but a firstfruits of the main resurrection (to happen in the last days) would also rise from the dead with Him.
This is exactly what happened after Jesus’ death.
Matthew 27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
This happened, as verse 50 says, immediately after Jesus died. This was prophesied in Isaiah:
Isaiah 26:19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise.
When Jesus died, He invaded the place of the dead (called Hades in the Greek New Testament), and the bodies of many holy people experienced the resurrection power of God. They were like the sheaf of wheat matured out of season. Like stalks of wheat waved in worship and praise before the Lord in the temple, as a firstfruits offering to God, so too these Old Testament saints were the firstfruits of the last-days resurrection and give us the certainty that we will rise again in the last days. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:52-54. Also Revelation 20:4-6.
An interesting conjecture that arises in a consideration of firstfruits is this: When Joseph (the son of Jacob) was dying, he told his brothers to carry his bones to the Promised Land when they returned there.
Genesis 50:24 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
25 And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.
Three hundred years later, Moses took the bones of Joseph as he left Egypt for the Promised Land.
Exodus 13:19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.
The intriguing question is this: Why did Joseph want his bones carried back from Egypt to the Promised Land?
We cannot know for sure. But this is what some Bible scholars conjecture: Joseph was a prophet (he correctly interpreted hs own dream, the dreams of Pharaoh’s butler and baker, and the dreams of Pharaoh himself – all prophetic dreams). Perhaps he foresaw the events that would happen 1800 years after his death. Perhaps he foresaw Messiah coming, and in His victory over death, raising many from the grave. Perhaps he wanted to be buried in the Promised Land because he hoped that he would be raised as part of the firstfruits.
Just as the Feast of Unleavened Bread speaks of our fleeing in haste from the practice of sin, so the Feat of Firstfruits foretells the first signs of Christ’s character in us.
Before Passover there was no Christlikeness in us. After Passover, there was a little Christlikeness in us, until we move on into the experience of Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits. The firstfruits of Christ in us are described in Galatians as the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23 – verse well worth memorizing).
Firstfruits of Christ’s character are recognized when we see personal loving actions practically demonstrated by a new Christian, actions taken on behalf of Christ towards those in need.
Unleavened Bread takes us out of sin through death and burial. Firstfruits takes us into love through resurrection and life.
1 John 3:14a We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.
God wants us to move beyond breaking the power and bondage of sin, into demonstrating the power of love and the new life in Christ. He wants us to “bear much fruit”. (See John 15:4-14.)
Very often, when a person breaks the bonds of sinful habits (for instance, stops drinking, smoking, gambling, whatever), he becomes vain and proud, and judgmental of others who may still be experiencing difficulties in those areas. God calls us out of this boastful, unloving, judgmental attitude into an attitude of loving action to help those in difficulty. We become more Christ-like.
Concerning Christ-likeness, we must keep these points in mind:
In our spirits, we are already like Him, because we have received His Spirit into our hearts through faith, and have been born again. We are now sons of the Father, and therefore brothers and sisters of Jesus. We bear the family likeness of God’s family in our spirits. We are already like Jesus.
In our bodies, we will be like Him when we are raised from the dead (at the Rapture). Read 1 Corinthians 15:51,52. And then read 1 Corinthians 15:49.
But for now, the focus of transformation is our souls (intellect, emotions, will). In our souls, we are being renewed and turned into His likeness, as we submit to the Lordship of Jesus and the leading of the Spirit in our lives.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
So our preoccupation now should be to experience the Feast of Firstfruits in our souls.
Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.