God prophetically pictured the ministry of Jesus Christ in the Festivals (found in Lev. 23) that the Israelites were to celebrate yearly. The Passover foreshadowed our redemption in Christ, our Passover Lamb. The festival (or feast) of Unleavened Bread pictures Christ’s uncorrupted body, the Church. Now let’s look at the festival of Firstfruits.
The festival of Firstfruits was an occasion for the Israelites to honor the LORD by offering to Him a bundle of the first portion of their grain harvest. Then they were to verbally acknowledge their deliverance from Egypt by the LORD and His gift of the bountiful Promised Land. They concluded with this: “And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O Lord, have given me.” (Deu. 26:10a, ESV)
The timing of this festival was the first Sunday after the Passover (Lev. 23:11). Since the Passover was always on the 14th day of the month Abib (which could fall on a different day of the week each year), there would be a varying number of days between the Passover and the Festival of Firstfruits. It just so happened that the year Jesus was crucified, Firstfruits fell 3 days after the Passover. Jesus was aware of this when He said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt. 12:39b–40, ESV) Jesus knew He would be resurrected on a Sunday. And not just any Sunday, it would be Firstfruits Sunday!
The offering of the first of the harvest also anticipated a greater harvest to come. Paul alludes to this when he argues for the certainty of the Christian’s bodily resurrection. “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep [died]… But each [resurrected] in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.” (1 Cor. 15:20, 23, ESV)
The festival of Firstfruits pictured the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection of Christ is God’s seal of approval on the ministry of Christ (Acts 13:32-39) and a guarantee of our future resurrection (Jesus said, “Because I live, you also will live.” John 14:19).
Keep the faith! When times are hard and our labors are difficult, remember that our resurrection is guaranteed by Christ!
Further reading: Lev. 23:9-14 Deu. 26:1-11; Ex. 23:19; Deu. 18:1-5; 1Cor. 15:1-28, 50-58; John 14:15-19
David Harris is the Senior Pastor at Faith Baptist Church. A former programmer, in his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife Kim and trying his hand at the illusive craft of smoking meat.