Leviticus 23:9-14, ‘Then the Lord 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 the Lord for you to be accepted; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. Now on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb one year old, without defect for a burnt offering to the Lord. It’s grain offering shall then be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering by fire to the Lord for a soothing aroma, with its drink offering, a fourth of a hin of wine. Until this same say, until you have brought in the offering of your God, you shall eat neither bread nor roasted grain nor new growth. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.’
When the Hebrews planted their crops, they watched very carefully as it began to develop. They specifically looked for the first evidence of fruit and when it appeared, they marked it and protected it, and that’s the portion that would be presented as an offering as being the first fruit to appear.
Historically, the Feast of First Fruits was the day that the Hebrew slaves went down into the Red Sea and emerged alive on the other side, while Pharaoh was swallowed up by the Red Sea. This set the Israelites free as the First Fruits, or the first Hebrews after successive generations in slavery, from Egyptian bondage. The Feast of First Fruits falls on the day after the Sabbath, during the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This is the first Sunday after the fifteenth of Nisan.
This is a beautiful picture of baptism from the Old Covenant. As they went down into the Red Sea, through a burial of sorts and then up into new life and freedom from slavery on the other side, we symbolically experience the same thing when we’re baptised. We go down into the water, into a burial of sorts, and are then raised up to new life in Christ and freedom from slavery to sin.
When God brought the children of Israel into the Promised Land, they were to bring the best first fruits of their harvest and present them to the Lord. Josephus records that the people didn’t partake of the harvest until the first fruits were presented (Antiquities of the Jews 3.10.5).
Jesus, who is Himself the First Fruits fulfils the Feast of First Fruits.
1 Corinthians 15:20-23, ‘But now Jesus Messiah has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Jesus Messiah all will be made alive. But each in His own order: Messiah the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming.’
Jesus is the First Fruits. Jesus is first in order and pre-eminence, just as the offering of fruits is to be the first and the “best portion”.
He was resurrected on the Feast of First Fruits…the first day after the Sabbath.
Matthew 28:1-7, ‘Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He’s not here, for He’s risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead…’
Jesus also being the High Priest and always one to observe the Feasts of Israel, gave a first fruits offering of human beings…Himself…the first of many, among whom are we, who love Him, will be counted!
James 1:18, ‘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.’
Who were the first fruits among the brethren after Jesus’s resurrection?
Matthew 27:50-53, ‘And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.’
These were the first human beings who were raised from the dead because of the sacrifice of Jesus.
Death holds no fear for us, death has lost its sting because the perfect Lamb of God shed His blood, He allowed His body to be broken…but not His bones! Because He rose from the dead on the Feast of First Fruits we see very clearly that Jesus the Messiah is the direct and absolute fulfilment of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of First Fruits.
The Hebrews went down and up again out of the Red Sea and were the First Fruits of all the previous generations to be free from slavery.
Jesus rose from the Dead on the date of the Feast of First Fruits, and was Himself the first to rise from the Dead.
We who love and know Him are listed among the First Fruits from the dead because we belong to Him.
They are pictures and pre-figures of Messiah. To those living BEFORE He came, the Feasts of the Lord present a picture, a pre-figure of what Messiah would be and what He would achieve for His people. To those living AFTER He came, we can see how He has fulfilled all the elements of these feasts.
All the feasts consecutively, from Passover to Tabernacles, show God’s perfect plan of redemption and Jesus Christ fulfils every single element of them.