These are the Lord’s appointed times, holy assemblies, which you must proclaim at their appointed time. (Leviticus 23:4 NET)
Historical Background of the Feast of Firstfruits
The Lord spoke to Moses: “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When you enter the land that I am about to give to you and you gather in its harvest, then you must bring the sheaf of the first portion of your harvest to the priest, and he must wave the sheaf before the Lord to be accepted for your benefit—on the day after the Sabbath the priest is to wave it. (Leviticus 23:9–11 NET)
The Feast of Firstfruits (Hag Habikkurim), Feast of Your Harvest (Reishit (Re-sheet) Ketzirchem) (Leviticus 23:10), Day of the Firstfruits (Yom Habikkurim) (Numbers 28:26) or Counting of the Omer (Sefirat Haomer) was to be celebrated on the day after the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This means that the Feast of Firstfruits was on the first day of the week, a Sunday, and for only one day. (2)
It was to be observed as an acknowledgment of God’s bounty because the whole harvest belongs to God, not to man. This feast marked the beginning of the two-month spring harvest. (11) The Hebrews were to bring the first sheaves (the omer) of the barley harvest and wave them before the Lord. An omer was about 1 quart of barley. (7)
There were Six Unique Features of the Feast of Firstfruits:
- It was to be observed for one day only.
- It was a day of first-fruits. On this occasion, the firstfruits of the barley harvests were to be offered.
- It was to be a one-sheaf offering. The priest would hold the barleycorn from the sheaf in outstretched arms while moving it from side to side. A handful of the barleycorn was burned on the altar, and the rest was eaten by the priest, who could not partake of it until after the ceremony itself had been performed.
- It was to be offered on the day after the weekly Sabbath following Passover. For example, if Passover occurred on Friday, the Feast of Firstfruits would be observed on Sunday, but if Passover occurred on Monday, it would be observed the following Sunday, almost a week later. Again, this is the text’s true meaning: the first-fruits were always offered on the first Sunday after the Feast of Passover. For that reason, Moses gave no specific day of the month for this feast to be observed as he did for all the others. Since this had to be on a Sunday, no definite day of the month could be assigned.
- It was to be observed as an acknowledgment of God’s bounty because the whole harvest belongs to God, not to man.
- This feast marked the beginning of the two-month spring harvest. (11)
On the day you wave the sheaf you must also offer a flawless yearling lamb for a burnt offering to the Lord, along with its grain offering, two tenths of an ephah of choice wheat flour mixed with olive oil, as a gift to the Lord, a soothing aroma, and its drink offering, one fourth of a hin of wine. (Leviticus 23:12,13 NET)
This Passover-sheaf, or rather omer, was to be accompanied by a burnt-offering of a ‘he lamb, without blemish, of the first year,’ The appropriate meal (grain) offering was placed on top of the lamb followed by the drink offering. In addition, a kid for the sin offering was required with no grain or drink offerings accompanying it. (3)
The animals to be sacrificed had to have the following four general characteristics. The animal had to be:
- ceremonially clean,
- utilitarian, meaning “usable for food” or sustenance,
- domesticated (i.e., those that obeyed their master’s will and more or less were endeared to the offerer), and
- types of animal sacrifices (see “Sacrifices and Offerings of the Old Covenant” table immediately below)
In addition, the animal to be sacrificed had to meet the following three criteria:
- Condition – perfect without spot, blemish, disease, or deformity (cf. Malachi 1:8)
- Gender – Male (6) and
- Age – generally, the lamb or kid had to be one year old [i.e., a lamb or kid at the peak of life and health]. (2)
There were 10 Sequential Steps of the Feast of First Fruits
- The barley had to be grown in an ordinary field within the Promised Land and not in a garden or orchard land, and the soil had not been fertilized or artificially watered. (4)
- On the Day of Passover, the 14th of Nisan, the spot where the first sheaf to be reaped was marked by delegates from the Sanhedrin. They did this by using a red cord to bind together into bundles the barley designated to be cut down while they were still standing in the field. (3)
- When the time for gathering the sheaf had arrived on the evening of the Weekly Sabbath, during the Passover-Feast of Unleavened Bread (the 17th of Nisan during the week Jesus was crucified), as the sun is setting, a large, loud crowd of worshippers followed delegates from the Sanhedrim outside the city and across the brook Kedron. Each with a sickle and basket, three designated men of the delegation, would position themselves to reap the bound and marked barley. (3)
- However, to bring out all that was distinctive in the ceremony, the harvesters first asked the bystanders three times each of these five questions: ‘Has the sun gone down?’ ‘With this sickle?’ ‘Into this basket?’ ‘On this Sabbath?’, and, lastly, ‘Shall I reap?’ (3)
- Each time receiving an answer in the affirmative from the crowd and elders, they cut down barley to the amount a tenth of a homer, one ephah, or ten omers, or three seahs, which is equal to about 10 quarts. (3) (7) Since the Sun had gone down and it was still the Sabbath, then that means it was during the “twilight” period between Sabbath and Sunday (cf. Leviticus 23:5. Numbers 9:3). Conservatively the Rabbis consider a Sabbath twilight as Sabbath (Saturday) with the transition occurring to Sunday using several different methods (.e.g., the appearance of three stars that are not so large as to be visible in the daylight but also not so small that they would be invisible until late at night). (14) In 31 A.D., the First Fruits of the Barley were harvested at approximately 7:00 P.M., with Sunset occurring at 6:31 P.M. and night at 7:30 P.M.
- After the sheaf was cut, the people praised the Lord and retraced their path up the Temple mount’s slopes. It was now officially the “morrow after the Sabbath.” The barley ears were then brought into the Court of the Temple and thrashed out with canes or stalks to not injure the barleycorn. (3) (2)
- The barley kernels from the barleycorn were then ‘parched’ on a pan perforated with holes so that each grain might be touched by the fire (Leviticus 2:14). (3) Then exposed to the wind in a winnowing process, the barley kernels are tossed into the wind to separate the kernels from the chaff. The head of the barley is very soft and easily winnowed. (10).
- The corn thus prepared was ground in a barley-mill, which left the whole of the hull. The flour was ground until the flour was sufficiently fine, which was ascertained by one of the ‘Gizbarim’ (treasurers) plunging his hands into it. The sifting process is continued until the flour no longer adheres to the hands. (3) (4)
- Though one ephah, or ten omers, of barley, was cut down, only one omer of barley flour, about 1 quart, was offered on the altar in the Temple on Sunday, after the weekly Sabbath (the 18th of Nisan during the week Jesus was crucified), during the Passover-Feast of Unleavened Bread. The rest of the flour might be redeemed and used for any purpose. (3)
- The quart of barley flour was mixed with a ‘log’ (a log equals 1/12 hin, which equals 1/12 pint, which is 1.3 ounces or approximately 1 ounce) (12) of olive oil, a handful of frankincense put upon it (Leviticus 2:15), salt added (Leviticus 2:13) and then presented to the Lord by waving. (Leviticus 2:16) This is was what is meant by ‘the presentation of the first or wave-sheaf on Sunday during the week of the Passover-Feast of Unleavened Bread. Next, a handful is taken out and burned on the altar. The remainder belonged to the priest. (Leviticus 2:10)(5)
The purpose of the waving of the omer was to consecrate the harvest to God. The Firstfruits represented the best and earliest part of the whole harvest. Again, this act reminded the Hebrews that God had given them the land and that all of the harvests rightfully belonged to Him. The people were only stewards of the land; however, offering the firstfruits (i.e., the best and earliest) consecrated the entire harvest to God. Consequently, if God accepted the harvest’s Firstfruits, it meant the entire harvest would be accepted by God. (2)
Biblical Conversion Factors
10 omer = 1 ephah = 1 sheaf (Exodus 16:36)
1 bath = 1 ephah = 10 omers (Ezekiel 45:11)
What is Aviv/Abib? Aviv indicates a stage in the development of the barley crops.
When Moses extended his staff toward the sky, the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire fell to the earth; so the Lord caused hail to rain down on the land of Egypt. Hail fell and fire mingled with the hail; the hail was so severe that there had not been any like it in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. The hail struck everything in the open fields, both people and animals, throughout all the land of Egypt. The hail struck everything that grows in the field, and it broke all the trees of the field to pieces. Only in the land of Goshen, where the Israelites lived, was there no hail. (Exodus 9:23-26 NET)
(Now the flax and the barley were struck [down] by the hail, for the barley had ripened [Hebrew: abib] and the flax was in bud. But the wheat and the spelt were not struck [down], for they are later crops.) (Exodus 9:31,32 NET)
The barley crops were struck down or destroyed by the hail while the wheat and spelt were not damaged. When grains are early in their development they are flexible and have a dark green color. However, as they become ripe they take on a light yellowish hue and become more brittle. The reason that the barley was destroyed and the wheat was not is that the barley had reached the stage in its development called Aviv/Abib and as a result had become brittle enough to be damaged by the hail. However, the wheat and spelt were at a stage when they were flexible and not susceptible to being damaged by hail. (5)
The month of Nisan (1) is the month that only commences after the barley has reached the stage of Aviv/Abib. This means the month of Nisan cannot begin unless the barley has reached a stage where it will be harvest-ready 15-21 days later (i.e., by the Sunday during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is the day of the Feast of Firstfruits). If the barley is not developed enough to be ready for the sickle 15-21 days later, then the month of Nisan cannot begin until the next month. (5)
We know from several passages that barley which is in the state of Aviv has not completely ripened, but has ripened enough so that its seeds can be eaten parched in a fire. However, this early in its development, when the “head” has just come out of the shaft, the seeds are not substantial enough to produce any food. At a later stage, the seeds have grown in size and have filled with a milky liquid and at this point, the seeds will shrivel up when parched and will only produce empty skins. Over time the liquid is replaced with dry material, called dough, and when enough dough has amassed the seeds will be mature and able to yield “barley parched in fire”.
Two to three weeks after the beginning of the month, the barley has moved beyond the stage of Aviv, with the liquid in the seeds having been replaced with dry material which will be able to yield “barley parched in the fire.” The barley is now ready to be brought as the “wave-sheaf offering” (Hanafat HaOmer). (5)
In summation, barley which is in the state of Aviv has three characteristics:
- It is brittle enough to be destroyed by hail and has begun to lighten in color (i.e., it is not “dark”).
- The seeds have produced enough dry material called dough so it can be eaten parched. However, not enough to provide a substantial source of food.
- It has developed enough so that it will be harvest-ready 2-3 weeks later (5).
The Lord spoke to Moses: “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When you enter the land that I am about to give to you and you gather in its harvest, then you must bring the sheaf of the first portion of your harvest to the priest, and he must wave the sheaf before the Lord to be accepted for your benefit—on the day after the Sabbath the priest is to wave it. (Leviticus 23:9–11 NET)
The “wave-sheaf offering” (i.e., waving of the omer) is a sacrifice brought from the first stalks cut in the harvest. However, since not all the barley ripens in the Land of Israel ripens simultaneously, a small plot of land was set apart in the Kidron Valley to grow this firstfruits offering. This offering is then brought on the Sunday that falls during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag HaMatzot). (5)
You must not eat bread, roasted grain, or fresh grain until this very day, until you bring the offering of your God. This is a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all the places where you live. (Leviticus 23:14 NET)
Before any barley produce of the new crop could be sold, eaten, or even touched, this the wave-sheaf offering (the omer) had to be brought to the temple as an offering to the Lord. (2) (8)
Consequently, the “sickle commences on the standing grain” only after the wave sheaf offering ceremony on the Sunday during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Again, this is 15-21 days after the beginning of the month of Nisan. (8)
“ ‘If you present a grain offering of first ripe grain to the Lord, you must present your grain offering of first ripe grain as soft kernels roasted in fire—crushed bits of fresh grain. And you must put olive oil on it and set frankincense on it—it is a grain offering. Then the priest must offer its memorial portion up in smoke—some of its crushed bits, some of its olive oil, in addition to all of its frankincense—it is a gift to the Lord. (Leviticus 2:14–16 NET)
Parched barley was a commonly eaten food in ancient Israel and is mentioned in numerous passages in the Hebrew Bible as either “Abib parched (Kalui) in fire” (Leviticus 2:14) or in the abbreviated form “parched (Kalui/ Kali)” (Leviticus 23:14; Joshua 5:11; 1 Samuel 17:17; 1 Samuel 25:18; 2 Samuel 17:28; Ruth 2:14). (5)
You must count seven weeks; you must begin to count them from the time you begin to harvest the standing grain. Then you are to celebrate the Festival of Weeks before the Lord your God with the voluntary offering that you will bring, in proportion to how he has blessed you. (Deuternomy 16:9,10)
“ ‘You must count for yourselves seven weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day you bring the wave offering sheaf; they must be complete weeks. (Leviticus 23:15 NET)
Seven weeks or 49 days are counted beginning on Sunday when the omer of the wave-sheaf offering is brought, during the Passover-Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag Hamatzot), which started the harvest of the standing barley grain to determine the start of the Feast of Pentecost (Shavuot). The fiftieth day is the Feast of Pentecost. (4)
Typological Meaning of the Feast of Firstfruits
The Passover was fulfilled by the death of the Yeshua; the Feast of Unleavened Bread was fulfilled by the burial of the sinless body, including blood, of Yeshua; and, the Feast of First-fruits was fulfilled by the resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus). (11)
Realize, about the time that Caiaphas, the high priest, was trying Jesus (1), the servants of the Sanhedrin disciples were in the barley field judging the crop to decide which would be harvested for firstfruits. On Passover, while the Romans were binding up Jesus for crucifixion, the Sanhedrin disciples were designating, by binding up, the selected barley sheaf for the firstfruits offering. (9)
The Feast of Firstfruits is a picture of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus rose late on Saturday during the Passover-Feast of Unleaved Bread, on the evening before the day of Firstfruits. When the red cord was cut, binding the barley in the field, Jesus was being resurrected. His resurrection marked the beginning of the harvest of souls who have been set apart for God through Jesus. That event gave new meaning to this agricultural holiday. The apostle Paul, a Jewish believer, and rabbi wrote: (10)
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man. For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him. (1 Corinthians 15:20–23 NET)
Jesus was that human sheaf that God set apart for the purpose of conquering death and providing eternal life for all who would acknowledge Him as Messiah, Lord, and Savior. As such, He was the first who would rise from the dead never to die again. In fulfilling the Feast of Passover, Jesus was crucified on Wednesday, the 14th, 31 A.D. (13) To fulfill the Feast of Unleavened Bread, He was buried at the close of Wednesday and the beginning of Thursday, the 15th. He was resurrected at the close of the weekly Sabbath, the 17th. On the beginning of the first day of the week, on the 18th, the day of the Feast of Firstfruits, Jesus presented Himself to God as the Firstfruits of Resurrection. (2) (See “Timeline of our Lord’s Passion Week and Feast of Unleavened Bread” immediately below and The Seven Feasts of Israel – Passover (1) for a thorough discussion of the various time scales on this chart)
The Death of Jesus
Wednesday, Nisan 14, 31 A.D. (0th Day, Jesus Dies)
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”) (Galatians 3:13 NET)
Jesus is made sin for us and all the curses, including all the plagues, come upon Him.
Darkness, the Ninth Plague upon Egypt descends upon Yeshua (Jesus). (Exodus 10:21-23) At noon darkness covers the land until 3:00 PM (Matthew 27:45. Mark 15:33. Luke 23:44 – sixth to the ninth hour of Jewish time).
The sun will be changed to darkness... (Acts 2:20 a NET)
Satan unleashes the fullness of his evil demons and fallen angels (Psalms 22:12,13,16,20,21), the fullness of sin, and its consequences upon Jesus. He who has never sinned takes the full punishment for our sin (Isaiah 53:6). That is, Jesus who never had before experienced sin becomes one with our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) and in a manner of speaking – the lamb becomes a serpent so that all who will look to His bearing away our sin will be saved (John 1:29. Numbers 21:9. John 3:14,15. 1 Peter 2:24. Hebrews 9:26-28).
At 3:00 PM, Jesus cries out with a loud voice – My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46. Mark 15:34). Jesus is actually quoting Psalms 22, but Satan does not realize this at that time. (5) Then Jesus drank of the plain vinegar (Matthew 27:48. Mark 15:36. Luke 23:36. John 19:29,30) symbolically drinking of the cup of God’s wrath for us sinners. Again, He had entered into our covenant with death that Adam made with Satan in the garden of Eden thus becoming our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), our representative or mediator in this covenant of death to take all of our punishment.
Satan’s ears perked up. Has He finally broken under the weight of the suffering? Could it be that this one has sinned and God has abandoned Him? (Isaiah 53:4) Satan knew God does not forsake the righteous (Psalms 37:25), and yet He says He has been forsaken! Satan, blinded by greed at the thought of eliminating his most deadly foe, moves in for the kill!
The Death of the First Born, the Tenth Plague upon Egypt descends upon Yeshua (Jesus). (Exodus 11:4,5)
At 3:00 PM on the 14th of Nisan, the Day of Passover (Numbers 28:16), in the temple, the Passover lamb was led up the steps to the altar and bound there, killed while the priest declares “Father into your hands I commit my spirit” which was followed by a trumpet blast, and then offered as the Passover offering by the High Priest who then declared to the people “it is finished.” (7)
Jesus commits His Spirit to God (Luke 23:46. Psalms 31:5), and with a loud voice like a trumpet blast says, “It is finished” (6) (John 19:30. Psalms 22:31. Revelation 1:10) and breathes out His last breath (Matthew 27:50. Mark 15:37. Luke 23:46) thus laying down His life (John 15:13) by dying of a broken heart (Psalms 22:14).
That is, Jesus gave His life for us at the Cross. There His blood was poured out on our behalf. When Jesus was crucified, they pierced Him in the side and out flowed blood and water. The water mixed with blood from His side that was pierced would provide evidence that His heart had ruptured (John 19:34).
The blood represents a life given while the water represents a life received. (10)
Almost all things under the law were cleansed by blood (Hebrews 9:22); however, some were cleansed by water. Fitting that our Savior who loved the world would die of a broken heart for you and me! (Luke 19:41-44. John 3:16. Romans 5:8)
Recall, since Jesus had never sinned, He could not be killed; however, He could voluntarily lay down His life. (John 10:17,18) Jesus always had authority over His life (John 10:15,17,18, John 15:13). However, He chose to be obedient to our Heavenly Father by voluntarily releasing His spirit and dying on the Cross (Luke 23:46). That is, Jesus was not obedient to death but rather to the point of death.
Our Passover Lamb (1) has been sacrificed.
Sequence of Events After Jesus Died
Wednesday, Nisan 14, 31 A.D. (0th Day, Jesus is Dead)
Now when evening had already come, since it was the day of preparation (that is, the day before the Sabbath), Joseph of Arimathea, a highly regarded member of the council, who was himself looking forward to the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.Pilate was surprised that he was already dead. He called the centurion and asked him if he had been dead for some time. When Pilate was informed by the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. After Joseph bought a linen cloth and took down the body, he wrapped it in the linen and placed it in a tomb cut out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone across the entrance of the tomb. (Mark 15:42–46 NET)
Now there was a man named Joseph who was a member of the council, a good and righteous man. (He had not consented to their plan and action.) He was from the Judean town of Arimathea, and was looking forward to the kingdom of God.He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and placed it in a tomb cut out of the rock, where no one had yet been buried. It was the day of preparation and the Sabbath was beginning. (Luke 23:50–54 NET)
Jesus’ body was laid in a tomb after sunset at approximately 7:00 P.M. when the High Sabbath of The Feast of Unleavened Bread was about to begin. The Rabbis called this time twilight, with the sun setting at 6:31 P.M (59) in Jerusalem at this time of year. The Rabbis would have declared it a night in the temple using various factors (e.g., three stars visible). Upon the declaration that it was night, it officially became the Sabbath, which would have been at approximately 7:30 P.M. (14)
Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was placed. (Mark 15:47 NET)
The women who had accompanied Jesus from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. (Luke 23:55 NET)
Mary Magdalen and Mary the mother of Joses made note of where Jesus was laid in order to anoint His body after the Sabbaths.
Wednesday, Nisan 14, 31 A.D. (April 25, 31 AD) Lunar Eclipse (59)(60)
The Hebrew Calendar (1) is based on the Moon. Each month begins at the New Moon with calendars adjusted using “Leap Months,” specifically for Passover to occur during the month of Spring. We have learned that this “month of Spring” is then referred to as Nisan. (Deuteronomy 16:1 ) Again, Passover corresponds to the 14th day of Nisan. (Exodus 12:2) which places Passover at the full moon following the Spring Equinox. (59)
An Eclipse occurs when the Sun, Moon, and Earth are in line. A Lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth is in the middle and its shadow blocks out the Sun’s rays to the full Moon. (59) The part of the moon that has the Sun’s rays blocked turns slightly red, slightly “blood-colored.”
The sun will be changed to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes. And then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’(Acts 2:20,21 NET)
As the eclipse started after Astronomical twilight, there would have been a significant loss of light even though only a quarter of the Moon was totally immersed in the earth’s shadow. This on the night after our Jesus our Lord’s body was placed in the tomb and the moon turned to blood (at least a part of it did). (59)
|Penumbral Phase Started||8:02 PM|
|Partial Phase Start||9:17 PM|
|Maximum Eclipse||10:17 PM|
|Partial Phase End||11:18 PM|
|Penumbral Phase End||12:32 AM|
Thursday, Nisan 15 (1st Day, Jesus’ Dead Body is in the Tomb)
The following day, Thursday is the first day of the “annual” High Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a feast that lasts seven days (Numbers 28:16-18. John 19:31). No work is to be performed except that meals may be prepared, unlike the Weekly Sabbath when no work could be performed (Exodus 12:16).
The next day (which is after the day of preparation) the chief priests and the Pharisees assembled before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember that while that deceiver was still alive he said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give orders to secure the tomb until the third day. Otherwise his disciples may come and steal his body and say to the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “Take a guard of soldiers. Go and make it as secure as you can.” So they went with the soldiers of the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone. (Matthew 27:62–66 NET)
The chief priests and Pharisees convince Pilate to place a seal on Jesus’ tomb and to authorize guards to be placed at the tomb until the third day, meaning until Sunday morning. Sunday morning started at sunrise for the Romans, which was approximately 5:20 AM in Jerusalem.
Friday, Nisan 16 (2nd Day, is Jesus’ Dead Body is in the Tomb)
Friday is the Second Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread with no restriction on work.
When the [High] Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought aromatic spices so that they might go and anoint him. (Mark 16:1 NET)
Then they [the women] returned and prepared aromatic spices and perfumes. Luke 23:56 a NET)
The women purchased spices and prepared them for anointing Jesus.
Saturday, Nisan 17 (3rd Day, Jesus’ Dead Body is in the Tomb)
Saturday is the “weekly” Sabbath. (Matthew 12:40) (5)
On the [Weekly] Sabbath they [the women] rested according to the commandment. (Luke 23:56 b NET)
After nearly three of the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (1) have elapsed, Jesus is resurrected (1) on Saturday at twilight. This at the same time that the First Fruits of the Barley are being harvested, approximately 7:00 P.M. with Sunset occurring at 6:31 P.M. and night at 7:30 P.M.
That is, Jesus is “the Firstfruit” of God the Father’s First Harvest!
Again, Saturday is the third day Jesus was dead and was subsequently resurrected (1) (Matthew 16:21;17:23;20:19. Luke 9:22;18:33;24:7;24:46. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Acts 10:34-41).
Furthermore, Jesus stayed in the “heart of the Earth” for three days (John 11:9) and three nights (Matthew 12:39,40) and then was resurrected after three days (Mark 8:31) (i.e., seventy-two hours).
For simplicity of calculation, the days and nights are assumed to be equal increments of 12 hours each (John 11:9), as shown in the following example:
12 hour days:
- Wednesday 7:00 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. (0.5 hours)
- Thursday 7:30 A.M. to 7:30 P.M. (12 hours)
- Friday 7:30 A.M. to 7:30 P.M. (12 hours)
- Saturday 7:30 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. (11.5 hours)
12 hour nights:
- Wednesday 7:30 P.M. to Thursday 7:30 A.M. (12 hours)
- Thursday 7:30 P.M. to Friday 7:30 A.M. (12 hours)
- Friday 7:30 P.M. to Saturday 7:30 A.M. (12 hours).
Again, the phrases “on the third day,” “three days and three nights,” and “after three days” are all fulfilled at twilight on Saturday, Nisan 17. (38)
Sunday, Nisan 18
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought aromatic spices so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, at sunrise, they went to the tomb. They had been asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled back. Then as they went into the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has been raised! He is not here. Look, there is the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples, even Peter, that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.” Then they went out and ran from the tomb, for terror and bewilderment had seized them. And they said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. Early on the first day of the week, after he arose, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had driven out seven demons. She went out and told those who were with him, while they were mourning and weeping. And when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. (Mark 16:1–11 NET)
The women had questions about who would roll the massive stone away; however, they had no questions about breaking the Roman seal or confronting the Roman Guards. Apparently, they were unaware of the seal and the guard on duty until Sunday morning at sunrise, which occurred at approximately 5:20 A.M at this time of year in Jerusalem.
And on the eve of the sabbaths, at the dawn, toward the first of the sabbaths, came Mary the Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre, (Matthew 28:1 YLT)
Note that Young’s Literal Translation provides the proper translation indicating that more than one Sabbath had transpired in these events.
Now after the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. Suddenly there was a severe earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descending from heaven came and rolled away the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were shaken and became like dead men because they were so afraid of him. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised, just as he said. Come and see the place where he was lying. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead. He is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there.’ Listen, I have told you!” So they left the tomb quickly, with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. But Jesus met them, saying, “Greetings!” They came to him, held on to his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee. They will see me there.” (Matthew 28:5–10 NET)
Fortunately, Jesus was no longer in the sealed tomb, having been resurrected in His human body Saturday at twilight (which of course is before early on Sunday) and was looking out for the women.
Early on the first day of the week, after he arose, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had driven out seven demons. (Mark 16:9 NET)
Jesus, the Good, Great, and Chief Shepherd arranged for the Guards to have a reason to leave as they arrived! That is, another severe Earthquake occurs as The Lord’s Angel (1) descends from Heaven and rolls the stone away from the entrance to the tomb, terrifying the guards, and then sits on that stone. This angel then greeted and comforted the women when they arrived.
Now on the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women went to the tomb, taking the aromatic spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood beside them in dazzling attire. The women were terribly frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has been raised! Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”Then the women remembered his words, and when they returned from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles. But these words seemed like pure nonsense to them, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb. He bent down and saw only the strips of linen cloth; then he went home, wondering what had happened. (Luke 24:1–12 NET)
Now very early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been moved away from the entrance. So she went running to Simon Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” Then Peter and the other disciple set out to go to the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the strips of linen cloth lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who had been following him, arrived and went right into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen cloth lying there, and the face cloth, which had been around Jesus’ head, not lying with the strips of linen cloth but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, came in, and he saw and believed. (For they did not yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead.) So the disciples went back to their homes. But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she bent down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting where Jesus’ body had been lying, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Mary replied, “They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have put him!” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” Because she thought he was the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni” (which means Teacher). Jesus replied, “Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Mary Magdalene came and informed the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them what Jesus had said to her. (John 20:1–18 NET)
Again, Jesus was resurrected and returned to His human body Saturday at twilight before He first appears to Mary Magdalene very early Sunday morning. He asks her not to touch Him, for He has not yet ascended to God His Father in Heaven.
(I must pause as these are some of my favorite words in scripture and thanks to Jesus’ efforts can now be true once more for all that believe)
and God OUR Father! (John 20:15-18).
The reason Jesus would not allow her to touch Him, as He, “The Firstfruit,” had not yet presented Himself to God the Father. Even as before the Barley crop can be touched for harvest, the Firstfruit of Barley must be presented to God by a priest at the Temple and accepted by God. Likewise, Jesus must present Himself, our faithful and Great High Priest, to God, His, and our Father, to be accepted as the Firstfruit of all that will be born again.
Now after the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. Suddenly there was a severe earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descending from heaven came and rolled away the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were shaken and became like dead men because they were so afraid of him. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised, just as he said. Come and see the place where he was lying. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead. He is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there.’ Listen, I have told you!” So they left the tomb quickly, with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. But Jesus met them, saying, “Greetings!” They came to him, held on to his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee. They will see me there.” (Matthew 28:1–10 NET)(cf. Mark 16:1-18. Luke 24:1-49. John 20:1-23. Luke 12:38).
However, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome did touch His feet. (Mark 16:1 NET) At the Last Supper, Jesus had taught that spiritually He would still be clean with only a need to have His feet washed (John 13:10).
Jesus replied, “The one who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not every one of you.” (John 13:10 NET)
Jesus’ presentation to God occurred at approximately 9:00 A.M. on Sunday morning, even as the Firstfruit Barley flour mixed with oil, frankincense, and salt was being waved before God in the Jerusalem Temple. God the Father accepts Jesus as the Firstfruits of those that have fallen asleep and all He created (1 Corinthians 15:20. James 1:18)
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:20 NET)
Jesus then allowed Himself to be touched, indicating He had presented Himself to God the Father as “the Firstfruit” and was found worthy.
While they were saying these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”But they were startled and terrified, thinking they saw a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; it’s me! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones like you see I have.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still could not believe it (because of their joy) and were amazed, he said to them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”So they gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in front of them. (Luke 24:36–43 NET)
Consequently, the harvest of Firstfruit souls could commence!
James, Jesus’ stepbrother, wrote that we are identified with Christ as our firstfruits:
All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change. By his sovereign plan he gave us birth through the message of truth, that we would be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (James 1:17–18 NET)
Jesus’ resurrection is the promise of the future resurrection of all believers. (10)
“I tell you the solemn truth, the one who hears my message and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the solemn truth, a time is coming—and is now here—when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, thus he has granted the Son to have life in himself, and he has granted the Son authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. “Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out—the ones who have done what is good to the resurrection resulting in life, and the ones who have done what is evil to the resurrection resulting in condemnation. (John 5:28–29 NET)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26 NET)
Although most believers in Jesus have never heard of Feast of Firstfruits, they celebrate it as Resurrection Day or Easter (a less desirable name). (10) Realize, even though Jesus was resurrected late on the Sabbath during twilight, and not Sunday as traditionally believed, it was on Sunday morning that He was approved by God the Father as our Firstfruits, thus initiating the harvest of souls into the Body of Christ, which was the mysterious purpose of Jesus’ ministry!
Again, until they harvested and offered the barley sheaf, or omer, in the temple, the rest of the crops were not deemed kosher (lawfully fit or acceptable). We read a great truth from the Apostle John: (10)
and he himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world. (1 John 2:2 NET)
We are now kosher, in a manner of speaking, because of what Christ has done on our behalf in fulfilling the Feast of Firstfruits to the very letter! The field of barley became kosher or acceptable through the presentation of the firstfruits to God at the temple. The barley in the field did nothing to become kosher. In the same way, we have been made acceptable to God by Jesus, our Firstfruits, when He presented Himself to God the Father. As the barley in the field did nothing to become kosher, likewise, we did nothing to become accepted except believe! (10)
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:20 NET)
The question this verse raises is, “Since other people were resurrected before Yeshua, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, how is He the first-fruits?” The answer is that there are two types of resurrections. The first type is merely a restoration back to natural life (e.g., Lazurus (John 11:1-44)). This means that one would die again later; those who were raised before the Resurrection of Jesus all died again. 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 Corinthians 15:53,54). (11)
While others have undergone the first type of resurrection in which they were restored back to natural life, the second type of resurrection has only been experienced by Yeshua. Therefore, He is the first-fruits of that second type of resurrection. The term the first-fruits means “the first of more to come.” Since He was the first-fruits, this means there will be “more to come” later. Believers, should they die before the Rapture, will also be resurrected as He was; they are “the more to come.” (11)
For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man. (1 Corinthians 15:21 NET)
The expression by man came death refers to Adam; by man came also the resurrection of the dead refers to Jesus. This verse gives one reason for the Incarnation: in order to provide life for all, He had to be able to die and then be resurrected after death. (11)
For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22 NET)
This is why He is the first-fruits. The word all includes believers and unbelievers who will someday be resurrected, although not for the same destiny.
But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him. (1 Corinthians 15:23 NET)
The Greek word used here for “order” is tagma, which means “a military procession.” In a military procession, there is an order: the infantry, the cavalry, the battering rams. Each of these things has a certain place in the procession.
Recall, graves on Earth were opened by the earthquake at Jesus’ death. Many of the Old Covenant believers in the promised Yeshua, which were confined in Paradise (1), return to their bodies and are now resurrected! These believers are the fulfillment typologically of the harvested Firstfruits Barley harvested and made into sanctified barleycorn but not offered to God or sacrificed on the altar but rather given to the Priests (i.e., the other nine omers).
And tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had died were raised. (They came out of the tombs after his resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.) (Matthew 27:52–53 NET)
Those held captive in Paradise are temporarily returned to their bodies on Earth in preparation for moving Paradise (aka., The Garden of Eden (1) which contains the Tree of Life) back to Heaven (Matthew 27:52,53. Revelation 2:7;22:2,14) where it becomes an island in the waters of the river of Life (Revelation 22:1,2).
After Jesus’ approval as the Firstfruit, there was no longer needed a temporary holding place on Earth for those that die in Covenant with God; therefore, none is provided. Jesus has made a way to Heaven for all who die, believing in Him as Savior and Lord (John 14:6). Either we die believers and go to Heaven or die unbelievers and go to Hell (1) (John 3:16-18. John 16:7-11).
For he came out of prison to become king, even though he had been born poor in what would become his kingdom. (Ecclesiastes 4:14).
Jesus leads the rescued hostages back to Paradise in Heaven (think of Paradise now as the point of entry for planet Heaven) (Ephesians 4:8,9). What a homecoming that must have been! Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, leading back the rescued “children” held in Paradise for thousands of Earth years back to God the Father!
For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my son! Today I have fathered you”? And in another place he says, “I will be his father and he will be my son.”But when he again brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all the angels of God worship him! ”And he says of the angels, “He makes his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire,”but of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and a righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. So God, your God, has anointed you over your companions with the oil of rejoicing.” And, “You founded the earth in the beginning, Lord, and the heavens are the works of your hands. They will perish, but you continue. And they will all grow old like a garment, and like a robe you will fold them up and like a garment they will be changed, but you are the same and your years will never run out.” But to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to serve those who will inherit salvation?
Jesus then enters the Most Holy Place of the Temple of Heaven as our Great High Priest (1) (Hebrews 9:11-15. Revelation 12:5). Jesus, our living Mercy Seat (1) upon which His own blood was shed for our remission and forgiveness of sin, is now in the Most Holy Place. God the Father restores Jesus’ right to use His power as God – which He was, is, and ever shall be – the eternal God that became Man (John 8:58. Hebrews 1:1-12). Glory! Actually, glory is the operative word, for that is what Jesus was asking His Heavenly Father for right before His arrest on the Mount of Olives. That is, He was praying for the restoration of the abilities that were rightfully His as God (John 17:1-5).
Jesus’ Great High Priest Coronation Ceremony in Heaven lasted seven Earth days (Leviticus 8:33). Jesus, on the following Sunday, the eighth Earth day after His coronation ceremony, would return to Earth and then request that Thomas touch His hands and side to believe in His resurrection (John 20:24-27)
Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “Unless I see the wounds from the nails in his hands, and put my finger into the wounds from the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe it!” Eight days later the disciples were again together in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and examine my hands. Extend your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe.”Thomas replied to him, “My Lord and my God!”Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are the people who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:24–29 NET)
Satan realized he was the victim of the greatest sting operation of all time! He was defeated by the very crucifixion of Jesus he had instigated (1 Corinthians 2:6-8) The Archangel Michael then drives Satan and his unholy fallen angels back out of Heaven and to the Earth for the second time (Revelation 12:7-9). No longer can Satan appear before God in Heaven to accuse us (Revelation 12:10). Furthermore, all that had been accused by Satan since the fall of mankind have now overcome him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony for which they were willing to die (Revelation 12:11. Colossians 2:13-15. Hebrews 11:13. Hebrews 11:32-40).
Satan then realizes his time is short and filled with anger intensifies his war (Revelation 12:12) on Israel (Revelation 12:13). Then some of the survivors of the Satan-inspired Roman destruction of Jerusalem on September 8, 70 AD (2) went to Masada (means Citadel) where they were protected from the Romans for three and a half years until it was destroyed by the Romans on March 31, 74 AD (2) (Revelation 12:14). Satan attempted to annihilate all of the Israelites; however, some hiding under the earth in tunnels (4) around Jerusalem escaped to be dispersed throughout the world while the Romans were focused on annihilating those living in Masada (Revelation 12:15,16). Satan then turned to make war on the Church (Revelation 12:17. Revelation 13:1-18. 1 Peter 5:8).
“It was, and is, grown chiefly as provender for horses and asses (1 Kings 4:28), oats being practically unknown, but it was, as it now is, to some extent, the food of the poor in country districts (Ruth 2:17; 2 Kings 4:42; John 6:9, 13)”. (IV) “Barley bread served as food for the common people; and the loaves which were miraculously distributed to the multitude by our Lord were made of barley (John 6:9, 13).” (V) “As the first grain to ripen, barley was a symbol of spring (Ruth 1:22). The first omer of barley was reaped on the second day of Passover, marking the beginning of the spring harvest season (Leviticus. 23:9–15). The end of the barley harvest (and the beginning of the wheat harvest) is associated with the festival of Shavuot when the Book of Ruth (which takes place during the barley harvest) is read in the synagogue.” (VI)
Consequentially, Barley represents that Jesus would come from poor common people (Luke 2:22-24; Leviticus 12:1-8).
Think about the circumstances of your call, brothers and sisters. Not many were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were born to a privileged position. But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, so that no one can boast in his presence. (1 Corinthians 1:26–29 NET)
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters! Did not God choose the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? (James 2:5 NET)
Barley also represents the people of Israel, the Jews. God did not favor and chose this people group to be His people because they were the largest, most prestigious nation. Israel like barley compared to wheat was the smallest nation. However, it was Jews that were the first to respond to His call, the first fruits (i.e., the first to be born again).
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. He has chosen you to be his people, prized above all others on the face of the earth. It is not because you were more numerous than all the other peoples that the Lord favored and chose you—for in fact you were the least numerous of all peoples. Rather it is because of his love for you and his faithfulness to the promise he solemnly vowed to your ancestors that the Lord brought you out with great power, redeeming you from the place of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So realize that the Lord your God is the true God, the faithful God who keeps covenant faithfully with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, but who pays back those who hate him as they deserve and destroys them. He will not ignore those who hate him but will repay them as they deserve! So keep the commandments, statutes, and ordinances that I today am commanding you to do. (Deuteronomy 7:6–11 NET)
Israel was a small group of people without great culture or prestige. They possessed no unique personal qualities which would warrant such a choice. The election was an act of God alone (cf. John 15:16). The ultimate cause for that choice lay in the mystery of divine love. (XVII)
The bread dough was to be mixed with olive oil (1), beaten, pounded into the desired shape, and baked in an oven. If it was an unleavened “cake,” it was to be “mixed with oil”. If it was an “unleavened wafer”, it was to be “anointed” with oil.
Mixed with oil is a picture of Jesus who was born without sin and full of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was “anointed with oil,” upon coming up out of the waters after being baptized by John. At that time, The Holy Spirit rested ON HIM (poured over Him as oil) without measure.
You love justice and hate evil. For this reason God, your God has anointed you with the oil of joy, elevating you above your companions. (Psalm 45:7 NET)
You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. So God, your God, has anointed you over your companions with the oil of rejoicing.” (Hebrews 1:9 NET)
And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:52 NET)
Frankincense is used for incense and perfume as it has a sweet smell. Paul alludes to a fragrant offering figuratively in the New Covenant.
For I have received everything, and I have plenty. I have all I need because I received from Epaphroditus what you sent—a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, very pleasing to God. And my God will supply your every need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. May glory be given to God our Father forever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:18–20 NET)
Frankincense is tapped from the scraggly but hardy trees by slashing the bark, which is called striping, and allowing the exuded resin to bleed out and harden. These hardened resins are called Frankincense tears.
This depicts the horrendous torture He suffered by slashings and stripes from the whippings and beatings before He suffered the most disgraceful death of crucifixion. Furthermore, it represents what Jesus is doing for us in the present role as our Great High Priest and Covenant Mediator.
Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help. (Hebrews 4:14–16 NET)
Waving or Elevating (Heaving)
“Waving or elevating the offering apparently had several purposes. In most cases, and always when animal meat and fat constituted the sacrifice, the ritual marked a change in ownership of the sacrifice from the offerer to God, and its consecration for the presiding priest’s meal (Leviticus 7:24–36). (VIII) (X)
Major sacrifices such as the purification, holocaust, burnt, and “sin” offerings were not elevated because they already belonged to Yahweh. Moreover, the priest lifted only those parts of the carcass that he would eat (the breast and right shank), not the parts returning to the worshipper. (VIII) (X)
Exceptions to these conditions exist in the grain offerings in Leviticus 23; Numbers 5:15 [i.e., the grain offering of suspicion], all of which depart from the norm by being of barley rather than wheat and by lacking oil and incense. Also dissimilar is the offering for the person with scale disease, which cannot be paid in silver, unlike reparation offerings in other contexts.(VIII) (X)
The elevation offering could occur at various points of the ritual cycle: with grain offerings at the beginning (Leviticus 23:15) and with meat and mixed offerings in the middle (Exodus 29:23–26; Numbers 5:25; Leviticus 14:12) or at the end (Exodus 29:27–28; Lev. 9:21) of the ceremony. Notably, the elevation offering marks the transition to the ritual exit (through blessing) in the inaugural service of the priest (Leviticus 9:21), perhaps to signify his new right to preside at all sacrifices. The elevation of the offering thus marked important transitions in the ritual, especially prior to its climax.” (VIII) (X)
Hebrew “terumah” (Exodus 29:27) means simply an offering, a present, including all the offerings made by the Israelites as a present. This Hebrew word is frequently employed. Some of the rabbis attach to the word the meaning of elevation and refer it to the heave offering, which consisted in presenting the offering by a [single] motion up and [then] down, distinguished from the wave offering, which consisted in a repeated movement in a horizontal direction, a “wave offering to the Lord as ruler of the earth, a heave offering to the Lord as ruler of heaven.” The right shoulder, which fell to the priests in presenting thank offerings, was called the heave shoulder (Leviticus 7:34; Numbers 6:20). (I)
“The parts assigned to the priest constituted the wave-offering (“terumah”; Ex. 29:24, 26), and were waved backward and forward in a line with the altar. According to Orelli, this movement was a symbolical expression of the reciprocity of the giving and receiving on the part of God and the sacrificer (Herzog-Hauck, “Real-Enyc.” 1904, 14:392). They were waved toward the four sides of the world (see Rashi on Ex. 2:9; Baḥya on Lev. 8; and Levi ben Gershon on Lev. 3.). The wave-offering symbolized that the person dedicated himself to God, who dwells as much above as among His people (Hoff, “Die Mosaischen Opfer,” p. 23, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1857). Kurtz suggests that the offering was waved vertically as well as toward the four quarters of the world.” (IX)
“To wave an offering is to swing, sway, or move to and fro while physically presenting something in worship to the Resurrection and the Life through this action.” (II) “The wave offering was waved, not from right to left, but back and forth toward the altar and the priest, symbolizing that the offering was being given to God.” (VII)
While there is some disagreement on the waving or heaving terminology, the act of Waving or Heaving back and forth portrays the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Old Covenant. In the New Covenant, we have reminders in the water Baptism (1) and the Lord’s Supper (1) (i.e., Eucharist or Communion). The Waving to the four corners of the World (North, East, West, South) represents that Jesus died for everyone, everywhere, and at every time since the fall of man on Earth! Now that is Good NEWS! Hallelujah!
Having been buried with him in baptism, you also have been raised with him through your faith in the power of God who raised him from the dead. And even though you were dead in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he nevertheless made you alive with him, having forgiven all your transgressions. He has destroyed what was against us, a certificate of indebtedness expressed in decrees opposed to us. He has taken it away by nailing it to the cross. Disarming the rulers and authorities, he has made a public disgrace of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:12–15 NET)
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and after he had given thanks he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me." For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 NET)
The system of sacrifices in the Old Testament symbolized the consecration of man to God. There were two basic classifications of sacrifices: those that reestablished fellowship with God (sin offering and guilt offering), and those that expressed an ongoing fellowship with God (Burnt Offering, Meal Offering, Peace Offering). The drink offering freely given to God as an act of adoration and worship belongs to this second classification. (XII)
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. (2 Timothy 4:6 ESV)
Paul’s declaration that he was already being poured out like a drink offering, comes from the Mosaic Law of sacrifices. (XII)
The drink offering always consisted of wine. There was no substitute. It represented the fruit of the earth, or a product of a person’s labor. The drink offering recognized God as Creator and Lord over all the earth.
Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes. (Genesis 49:11 NET)
On a deeper level, wine also represents blood, the essence of human life. Pouring wine upon the altar in sacrifice to God depicted a person’s total dedication—soul, spirit, and body. (XII)
for the life of every living thing is in the blood. So I myself have assigned it to you on the altar to make atonement for your lives, for the blood makes atonement by means of the life. (Leviticus 17:11 NET)
Indeed according to the law almost everything was purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22 NET)
The blood of Jesus is conceptualized as wine poured out from a container. (XI)
And in the same way he took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (Luke 22:20 NET)
He said to them, “This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many. (Mark 14:24 NET)
for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:28 NET)
Paul knew that atonement for his sins had been achieved through the blood of Jesus Christ (1). But as he languished in prison, perhaps he reflected on the meaning of his approaching death. He knew that his death was a freewill offering to God, an oblation of his life upon the altar. He sacrificed himself in the service of Christ, recognizing him as sovereign over all creation. As a drink offering, Paul poured out the fruit of his labors and the essence of his life. (XII)
Moreover, you must season every one of your grain offerings with salt; you must not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be missing from your grain offering—on every one of your grain offerings you must present salt. (Leviticus 2:13 NET)
All grain offering were required to have salt added to them.
According to the Babylonian Talmud the salt used in the service of the temple must come from Sodom (the Dead Sea area):
III:2: Nor shall you allow salt to be lacking:” Since the word for “be lacking” uses the same consonants as those in the word Sabbath, the meaning is: produce salt that has no Sabbath but is produced winter and summer, and what is that? It is salt from Sodom. (XIV)
Since salt was regarded in the ancient Near East as not being destructible by fire, “a covenant of salt” seems to refer to an eternal covenant (Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5) (XIII)
Salt has the following characteristics:
Salt Preserves – many of the disciples Jesus called were fishermen and were well aware of the ability of salt to preserve caught fish and thus keep them from spoiling.
As he went along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen). Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.”They left their nets immediately and followed him. Going on a little farther, he saw James, the son of Zebedee, and John his brother in their boat mending nets. Immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. (Mark 1:16–20 NET)
Salt stands for permanence and incorruptibility. Thus when salt is used in a “covenant of salt,” it always signifies an everlasting covenant, with the salt being an emblem or symbol of perpetuity. The use of salt in an offering would therefore signify the everlasting relation between God and His people—they everlastingly belong to Him, and He everlastingly belongs to them. For this reason, salt and permanence were always associated in a covenant; 2 Chronicles 13:5 states: “Don’t you know that the LORD, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt?” (XV)
Salt Flavors – salt is added to food to bring out its flavor. Salt can turn bland food into savory!
Can food that is tasteless be eaten without salt? Or is there any taste in the white of an egg? (Job 6:6 NET)
Salt Heals – in Biblical times salt was rubbed on newborn babies due to salt’s antiseptic properties.
The men of the city said to Elisha, “Look, the city has a good location, as our master can see. But the water is bad and the land doesn’t produce crops.”Elisha said, “Get me a new jar and put some salt in it.” So they got it. He went out to the spring and threw the salt in. Then he said, “This is what the Lord says, ‘I have purified this water. It will no longer cause death or fail to produce crops.”The water has been pure to this very day, just as Elisha prophesied. (2 Kings 2:19–22 NET)
Salt Penetrates – a small amount of salt in a bottle of water will be nearly instantly salty throughout.
Salt represented the permanence of the covenant that the Israelites had just entered into with the Lord (Exod. 20–24). By requiring the Israelites to add salt to their offerings, the Lord provided a way for them constantly to affirm their covenant relationship with him. This affirmation would have greatly encouraged the people, by reminding them of the Lord’s steadfast commitment to be their covenant King. They especially needed this encouragement as they prepared to enter the Promised Land and establish God’s kingdom there. Only the presence of their covenant King in their midst could give them confidence in the success of their mission. (It is no different for the Christian today; this is no doubt why Jesus assures us of his presence when giving us our covenant mission; Matt. 28:18–20.) As well as being an encouragement, the requirement of the salt of the covenant served to remind the Israelites of their covenant obligations. The Lord had chosen them to be ‘a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ (Exod. 19:6), and the covenant laws he had given them had to be followed in order to show to the nations the Lord’s wisdom, righteousness and holiness (1) (Lev. 20:24b–26; Deut. 4:5–8). (III)
Jesus picks up on the same principle when he tells his disciples, ‘In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven’ (Matthew. 5:16). To follow the King’s commands is to reflect the King’s character. Believers are to do this in such a radical way that people end up knowing the King’s character by seeing how his servants live. (III)
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6 NET)
Therefore, having laid aside falsehood, each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. (Ephesians 4:25 NET)
Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50 NET)
Furthermore, Jesus equates being “salted with fire” with the growth in the fruit of the Spirit resulting from effectively suffering (1) for the Gospel’s sake.
Everyone will be salted with fire.(Mark 9:49 NET)
Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or criminal or as a troublemaker. (1 Peter 4:12–15 NET)
Scarlet (Red) Wool
In Hebrew, the word for red is “Adam” or “Edom.” Adam, one of the words for “man” and literally means “red-blooded man.” It is derived from the root word in Hebrew for blood: “Dam.” The wool comes from sheep and mankind is often likened to sheep in the Old and New Covenants.
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not come from this sheepfold. I must bring them too, and they will listen to my voice, so that there will be one flock and one shepherd.(John 10:14–16 NET)
Consequently, wool dyed red represents the sins of mankind.
Come, let’s consider your options,” says the Lord. “Though your sins have stained you like the color red, you can become white like snow; though they are as easy to see as the color scarlet, you can become white like wool. (Isaiah 1:18 NET)
Application of the Feast of Firstfruits
Whereas the Feast of Unleavened Bread teaches us about separation, the Feast of Firstfruits teaches us about consecration. It teaches us about our resurrection with Jesus in our spirit as well as our future bodily resurrection. We are saved from our old life to live in the resurrected life of Messiah Jesus today. Putting off the old man is not enough. We must also put on the new man. After Paul told the Ephesian believers to put off the old man, he then said, (2)
“and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image—in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth. (Ephesians 4:24 NET)
This new nature about which Paul is speaking is the very nature of God coming within us through the person of the Holy Spirit. We put on this new man by allowing the Holy Spirit to live the resurrected life of Jesus through us. Paul had this exchange of natures in mind when he wrote, (2)
So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NET)
We who were dead in our trespasses and sins have been raised up with Jesus in our spirit-man to walk in newness of life. Paul summarized this process in his letter to the Galatians: (2)
I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 NET)
Paul underscored this understanding to the believers in Rome with these powerful words: (2)
So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires, and do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness. For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:11–14 NET)
The new man Paul keeps speaking of is simply the Lord Himself living in us through the person of the Holy Spirit, as we learn from these words from the Apostle Paul: (2)
But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16 NET)
When we walk in the Spirit, the character of Messiah Jesus will be the dominant force in our life. Paul refers to the character of Jesus as the “fruit of the Spirit,” which he describes with these words: (2)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22–23 NET)
When we live in the character of Messiah Jesus, we not only have peace with God, but we also enjoy the peace of God as expressed by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul: (2)
Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body to this peace), and be thankful. (Colossians 3:15 NET)
Many believers do not experience this divine blessing because they have never separated themselves from the things of the world and consecrated themselves to Jesus as Lord of their life. Again, James wrote that we who have put our trust in Jesus and have received His Spirit are a kind of firstfruits of God’s creatures: (2)
By his sovereign plan he gave us birth through the message of truth, that we would be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (James 1:18 NET)
He meant that we are the firstfruits of God’s creation to experience the new life that God has decreed for the earth and its inhabitants through the redeeming work of Jesus. In view of this, we present ourselves as a living wave offering to God to show that we belong to Him. (2)
But their [i.e., the Israelites] minds were closed. For to this very day, the same veil remains when they hear the old covenant read. It has not been removed because only in Christ is it taken away. But until this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds, (2 Corinthians 3:14,15 NET)
It was by God’s design that the activity of marking, gathering, and presenting the barley sheaf of Firstfruits coincided exactly with the death and resurrection of Christ. So, why do the Jews not see the parallel? Many might be blinded or hardened now,
For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. (Romans 11:25 NET)
But a day will come when they will see! (10)
“I will pour out on the kingship of David and the population of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication so that they will look to me, the one they have pierced. They will lament for him as one laments for an only son, and there will be a bitter cry for him like the bitter cry for a firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10 NET)
but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. (2 Corinthians 3:16 NET)
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:26–27 NET) (cf. Isaiah 59:20,21. Isaiah 27:9. Jeremiah 31:33,34)
(Peace, Wholeness, Success)
(1) Left-click on the underlined phrase to open another article in a different tab with more explanation.
(2) Booker, R. (2016). Celebrating jesus in the biblical feasts expanded edition: discovering their significance to you as a christian. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image.
(3) Edersheim, A. (1959). The Temple, its ministry and services as they were at the time of Jesus Christ. (p. 257-259). London: James Clarke & Co.
(4) Neusner, J. (1988). The Mishnah : A new translation (p. 748). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
- A They do not bring [wheat for flour for the meal offering] either from a manured field or from an irrigated field or from a tree-planted field.
- B But if they brought [wheat from these areas], it is valid.
- C How does one do it?
- D One broke up fresh ground in the first year, and in the second sows it seventy days before Passover,
- E and it produces abundant flour.
- F How does one examine it [the flour]?
- G The [Temple] treasurer sticks his hand into it [the flour].
- H [If] dust came up on it [his hand], it is invalid, until one will sift it [afresh].
- I And if it had become maggoty, it is invalid.
(6) Singer, I. (Ed.). (1901–1906). In The Jewish Encyclopedia: A Descriptive Record of the History, Religion, Literature, and Customs of the Jewish People from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, 12 Volumes (Vol. 9, p. 398). New York; London: Funk & Wagnalls.
(7) Determining the Capacities of the Hin, Omer, and Ephah, William P. Houser and Rochelle A. Houser, September 6, 2015, https://www.academia.edu/34242283/Determining_the_Capacities_of_the_Hin_Omer_and_Ephah
(8) Josephus, F., & Whiston, W. (1987). The works of Josephus: complete and unabridged (p. 96). Peabody: Hendrickson.
(9) Norten, M. (2015). Unlocking the secrets of the feasts. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
(10) Publishing, R. (2011). Feasts of the Bible: Jewish Roots of Believers in Yeshua (Jesus). Torrance, CA: Rose Publishing.
(11) Fruchtenbaum, A. G. (1983). The Messianic Bible Study Collection (Vol. 116, pp. 4,5,8). Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries.
(12) Neusner, J. (1988). The Mishnah : A new translation (p. 751). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
9:2 A. Seven liquid measures were in the sanctuary: (1) a hin twelve logs], and (2) a half-hin, and (3) a third-hin, and (4) a fourth-hin, (5) a log, and (6) half-log, and (7) a quarter-log.
9:3 H. Six [logs = a half-hin] [the drink offerings of] a bullock, four [logs = a third-hin] for a ram, three [logs = a quarter-hin] for a lamb, and three and a half for the lamp, a half-log for each light.
(13) Finegan, J. (1998). Handbook of Biblical Chronology (Revised Edition, p. 363, Table 179 The dates of Nisan 14 and 15 in A.D. 27-34 (2)). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.(
(14) Singer, I. (Ed.). (1901–1906). In The Jewish Encyclopedia: A Descriptive Record of the History, Religion, Literature, and Customs of the Jewish People from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, 12 Volumes (Vol. 11, p. 591). New York; London: Funk & Wagnalls.
(I) Neusner, J. (1988). The Mishnah : A new translation (p. 742). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
(II) Malda, B. D. (Ed.). (2015). Come and Worship: Ways to Worship from the Hebrew Scriptures (p. 62). Clarksville, MD: Lederer Books: a division of Messianic Jewish Publishers.
(III) Sklar, J. (2013). Leviticus: An Introduction and Commentary. (D. G. Firth, Ed.) (Vol. 3, p. 101). Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press.
(IV) Masterman, E. W. G. (1915). Barley. In J. Orr, J. L. Nuelsen, E. Y. Mullins, & M. O. Evans (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Vol. 1–5, p. 405). Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company.
(V) Balfour, J. H. (1885). The Plants of the Bible (p. 212). London; Edinburgh; New York: T. Nelson and Sons.
(VI) Eisenberg, R. L. (2004). The JPS guide to Jewish traditions (1st ed., p. 670). Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society.
(VII) Hannah, J. D. (1985). Exodus. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 153). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
(VIII) Easton, M. G. (1893). In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.
(IX) Singer, I. (Ed.). (1901–1906). In The Jewish Encyclopedia: A Descriptive Record of the History, Religion, Literature, and Customs of the Jewish People from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, 12 Volumes (Vol. 9, p. 568). New York; London: Funk & Wagnalls.
(X) Hamilton, M. W. (2000). Elevation Offering. In D. N. Freedman, A. C. Myers, & A. B. Beck (Eds.), Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible (p. 392). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.
(XI) (2016). The Lexham Figurative Language of the New Testament Dataset. In J. R. Westbury, J. Thompson, K. A. Lyle, & J. Parks (Eds.), Lexham Figurative Language of the Bible Glossary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
(XII) Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, p. 331). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
(XIII) Lindsey, F. D. (1985). Leviticus. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 177). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
(XIV) Neusner, J. (2011). The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary (Vol. 19, p. 617). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.
(XV) Freeman, J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. (1998). Manners & customs of the Bible (p. 143). North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers.
(XVI) Wuest, K. S. (1961). The New Testament: an expanded translation (1 Co 5:6–8). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
(XVII) Thompson, J. A. (1974). Deuteronomy: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 5, p. 147). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
(XVIII) Keach, B. (1858). An Exposition of the Parables and Express Similitudes of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (pp. 239–240). London: Aylott and Co.