- THE FIRSTFRUITS OFFERING
INSTITUTION OF FIRSTFRUITSEdit
The offering of the Firstfruits of the harvest occurs in the week of the Passover/Unleavened Bread festival and is a ceremony performed which commences the marking off of time to the Feast of Firstfruits, which is called Shavuot or Pentecost. This was instituted as a memorial of Moses ( a type of Messiah) presenting Israel as an offering to the Father after he had completed the work of delivering them from the dominion of the enemy (Pharaoh of Egypt).
They went out from Egypt into the wilderness and held this feast. (Exodus 3:18; 5: 3; 8:17; 12:17, 41; 13:20-22)
Here, Yahweh established for them the principle of the firstfruits in the feast of Unleavened Bread. (Exodus 13:11-16)
Here they were baptised in the cloud as Yahweh by His Spirit enveloped them and empowered them for the journey ahead to the promised land. They drank of the spiritual Rock that followed them which was Messiah. It was an impregnation of the assembly of Israel by the Spirit of God, elevating them from the natural to the spiritual. They were supernaturally empowered to travel by day and by night, an incredible distance, and there was not one feeble among their tribes, neither did anything wear out while in transit. (Exodus 13:21-22; 1 Corinthians 10: 1-4; Psalm 105:37)
"Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, "When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest." He shall wave the sheaf before Yahweh for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering before Yahweh.
"You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever through out your generations in all your dwellings." Leviticus 23: 9-12, 14
THE HISTORICAL OBSERVANCE OF FIRSTFRUITSEdit
In the period of the Temple, as the weekly Sabbath during the Festival ended, the priests went to a field on the outskirts of Jerusalem and scythed a measure of the first-ripe choicest barley grain - the 'firstfruits' of the crop - which had earlier been marked out by members of the Sanhedrin. It was to be offered in the Temple "on the day after the Sabbath" (Leviticus 23:11). It was prepared the evening before and the sheaf made of fine flour and oil was "lifted up" (waved) before Yahweh in a ceremony at 9 am on that morning together with the sacrifice of a lamb, as a sweet-smelling offering to Yahweh.
Each family also, as Yahweh commanded brought a single bundle of their firstfruit of the barley crop to the Temple on the day after the Sabbath and the priest would then wave it before Yahweh. This was considered the "early firstfruit" - the "latter firstfruit" being at the end of the 50th day from this time, which from the Greek word has been called Pentecost (meaning fifty), or Shavuot in Hebrew. The intervening fifty days between these two "firstfruit" occasions were to be counted, day by day, traditionally being called, "counting the omer". The Hebrew word for "sheaf" is omer and the 'omer' was the measure of barley used in baking the 'loaf' which was presented before Yahweh, made from the firstfruits of the harvested grain.
The Counting of the Omer is a countdown from Passover to Pentecost/Shavuot. It was at Pentecost that the Torah was given to Israel and the time of the giving of the Holy Spirit for the new covenant. It is a spiritual journey of preparation from the salvation experience of Passover onwards through the sanctifying of the Spirit to the anticipated betrothal experience of Shavuot to our Heavenly Bridegroom. The distance of days between the two events should be a time of spiritual reflection, growth, purification and spiritual preparation as His Bride. When Israel was delivered from Egypt (the world), it was just the beginning, the things of the world were still in them and the intervening time before coming to Sinai was necessary for their preparation, as it is spiritually for us.
MESSIAH THE FIRSTFRUIT It was on the first day after the Passover sabbath that the empty tomb of Y'shua was discovered. As Passover lambs were being slain in the Temple, Y'shua Himself was sacrificed. As the Wavesheaf was being cut outside Jerusalem at the end of the weekly Sabbath, He was resurrected. While Israel's risen Messiah was presenting Himself before the altar in heaven that day as the Firstfruit of the resurrection, Israel's priests were in the Temple waving the firstfruits of the barley harvest before a torn veil in the temple (Matthew 27:51; 28:9).
A sheaf in the Bible is used to typify a person or persons (Genesis 37: 5-11). The festival of the sheaf of the first fruits was prophetic of the resurrection of Y'shua. He prophesied that He would rise again after being three days and nights in the earth after His crucifixion (Matthew 12:38-40; 16:21; Luke 24:44-46). This was foreshadowed prophetically in type through Jonah (Jonah 2:1-2).
"But now is Messiah risen from the dead and become the Firstfruit of them that slept." (1 Corinthians 15:20)
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF FIRSTFRUITSEdit
The firstfruit offering speaks of Messiah's ascension and presentation of Himself in the Father's House, the true tabernacle in heaven, in His resurrected, glorified body. The sheaf had been reaped from the earth and waved before Yahweh in the heavenly sanctuary when He arose from the grave and ascended to the Father on resurrection morning. He instructed Mirium not to touch Him prior to His presentation before the Father. See John 20:17
Passover had prophesied Messiah's death on the stake, while the Sheaf offering prophesied the firstfruits of a coming harvest through Messiah's resurrection from the dead. He was the representative sheaf of the harvest that was to come, the first of a kind, a second "Adam" (1 Corinthians 15:47). His presentation to the Father of the work of atonement secured the complete redemption and sanctification of the elect, the souls which the Father had given Him. (John 17:12) All He had promised them of being with Him where He was, glorified in the Father, was accomplished when He arose triumphant from the grave. (John 17: 1-10, 24)
After His presentation to the Father, He came and imparted to them the Spirit of truth which He had promised them, to make them one in Him, one body of believers indwelt by the Spirit. (John 20:19-22)
This impartation was the deposit of the Spirit which elevated them spiritually to be where He was positionally, in the likeness of His resurrection (Romans 6: 5). The outpouring of the Spirit upon them came fifty days later at Pentecost which anointed them with power to bring them, as a seed which had been planted, to perfection (Acts 2: 4). The assembly, which is His Body, is accepted in the Head, the Messiah. When He arose, we arose with Him as that firstfruit harvest, presented before the Father. (Colossians 2:12-13; Ephesians 2:7) It typified the spiritual resurrection of the believer, now reconciled to God, to walk in newness of life in Him.
The firstfruits offering in the temple consisted of the male lamb and the barley loaf with a drink offering of wine.
The burnt offering of the unblemished lamb represents the sacrificial offering of Messiah, the barley loaf made of a set measure of specially selected individual grains from the harvested crop, ground into fine flour mixed with oil, represents a corporate body of saints permeated by the oil of the Spirit to become one bread - one body indwelt by the Spirit. The disciples of Y'shua became that Body of believers after His resurrection, a barley loaf united by the Spirit, with the outpouring of the wine of the Spirit upon them.
"Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit." (John 12:24). Y'shua was that corn of wheat which planted His life in the earth to bring forth an abundant harvest.
THE ENSUING HARVESTEdit
Messiah was the first, of an anticipated first fruits company. Yahweh God is looking for a Firstfruits harvest from THE Firstfruit, Messiah. "But now is Messiah risen from the dead and become the firstfruits of them that slept." (1 Corinthians 15:20)
For, "In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures" (James 1:18). This firstfruits company is to comprise old and new covenant saints.
"But each in his own order: Messiah the first fruits, after that those who are Messiah's at His coming" (1 Corinthians 15:23).
As believers, we have been purchased with the blood of Messiah and sealed with the Spirit for the purpose of leading us on our journey through the wilderness of life to receive our promised inheritance. The promises are to those who overcome the fleshly nature. Just as Yahweh imparted a measure of His Spirit to the children of Israel and took them through the wilderness to purge them of their fleshly nature, so He does with us. The wilderness of this world will test our resolve to deal with our fleshly nature. Each believer is given the firstfruits of the Spirit, the initial impartation of the Spirit, to purge us from the flesh and bring us to a state of holiness whereby we may receive the promised inheritance. This initial impartation is a "firstfruits", a deposit or down-payment and acts as a "guarantee" of the full measure of that which is to come. "In Him you trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the holy Spirit of promise which is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory" Ephesians 1:13-14
Those who endure the tests and overcome their flesh, remaining faithful to the prize of His high calling, are the "chosen" grains from the ones selected. When the priests went and cut the selected sheaves of barley in the field, it had to be prepared before it was ready to be presented before Yahweh is His holy place. Alfred Edersheim recounts this process, "The ears were brought into the Court of the Temple, and thrashed out with canes [typifying our carnal, fleshly nature being thrashed from us!] or stalks, so as not to injure the corn; then 'parched' [heated, typifying our being tested by hot, fiery trials] on a pan perforated with holes, so that each grain [each one of us!] might be touched by the fire, and finally exposed to the wind [the winds of false doctrine, a final test to see if we will remain faithful to the Truth of God]. The corn thus prepared was ground in a barley-mill, which left the hulls whole. According to some, the flour was always successfully passed through thirteen sieves, each closer than the other [thus God refines our character to become the noblest possible]. .. .. .. Though one ephah, or ten omers, of barley was cut down [i.e., "called," as it were], only one omer of flour , or about 5.1 pints of our measure, was offered [i.e., "chosen"] in the Temple in the second Paschal, or 16th day of Nisan." (The Temple, p.257-259)
Thus, "many are called, but few are chosen". (Matthew 22:14)
Those who remain faithful to the calling are the "chosen" grains who will constitute the Wave Sheaf of Firstfruits. Others, who do not overcome their fleshly nature, and departed from the Truth, are those who were initially "selected," and cut down, to be part of the "omer," but who were later "rejected," not qualifying as the "firstfruits."
The full measure of the Spirit, of which the deposit is a guarantee in those who have been purchased by His blood, will be attained in a firstfruits company whose individual personalities have been broken, crushed and ground together to become one in Messiah. They are offered with a drink offering, an outpouring of the wine of the Spirit upon them to be offered before His presence with exceeding joy at the fulfillment of the firstfruits offering fifty days later at the prophetic Pentecost (Shavuot). These are the anticipated "firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb", His firstborn sons of the Messianic age for which all creation longingly waits. (Ephesians 1:13-14; Jude 24; Revelations 14: 4)
"For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body" (Romans 8:23).
Barley is the first grain to mature in the land of Israel and typifies those 'grains' that are the first of the spiritual harvest of the earth to mature and bring forth the fruits of the kingdom in coming to the perfection of Messiah. The Wave Sheaf Offering, composed of many individual grains, offered together, made possible by the sacrifice of Messiah, represents those called of God during this age as His "Firstfruits", who have made that offering by fire - by sacrifice, in the putting to death of their self-life.
When Y'shua returns at His second coming as King over all the earth, He will be bringing His sheaves with Him from the barley harvest of Seed of His sacrificial life which He planted in the earth. (Psalm 126; Jeremiah 31: 9-14).
CELEBRATING THE FEASTEdit
Everything on the earth, both man and beast, was to be presented before Yahweh God as a first fruits offering to Him. For this reason all the firstborn of man and beast was set apart and presented to Yahweh. (Exodus 13: 2, 22:29) We are to sanctify, or set apart for His purposes, the first of all our increase unto Him. The Omer which the people brought to be waved before Yahweh was the symbolic first tithe of their crops. It was a joyful celebration of thanksgiving for all His blessings and provision for them - a tribute of praise to Him for supplying all their needs and a recognition that He is the Creator and source of all things. (Deuteronomy 26:1-11)
This was offered on the day after the Sabbath, which is interpreted as the day after the weekly Sabbath which occurs in that week and that was how it was practiced at the time of Y'shua. The offering was part of a ceremonial ritual at 9 am in the morning on that day with the sacrificial offering of the lamb, the drink offering of wine and the Omer.
This is to be interpreted for us as a ceremony which includes partaking of the kiddush (bread and wine) in renewing our consecration to His calling of us as His firstborn sons. We also bring our thanksgiving offering of the firstfruits of our substance which we have set aside for His purposes, from whatever the works of our hands have been prospered by the blessing of His increase upon us. From this day the counting of the seven weeks (fifty days in all) begins to mark off the feast of Shavuot/Pentecost.
We count off each day in anticipation of our future betrothal to our heavenly Bridegroom, preparing ourselves to be ready and worthy of such an honour. Each day we take an 'omer' of the bread of life and come before His altar to present it to Him. It represents a portion of our lives which we have offered to Him through the sanctifying power of His Word as we progress on in conforming our lives to His image and likeness, without "spot or wrinkle".