The Feast of Firstfruits – Yom HaBikkurim

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: “When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the LORD so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the LORD a lamb a year old without defect, together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with olive oil—a food offering presented to the LORD, a pleasing aroma—and its drink offering of a quarter of a hin of wine. You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your God. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live’”” (Leviticus 23:9-14).

The Firstfruits Offerings

When Israel entered the Promised Land, they were to celebrate the Feast of Firstfruits by offering an individual sheaf of grain from their harvest. The sheaf was to be waved by the priest along with a burnt offering of a lamb, a fellowship offering of fine grain mixed with olive oil, and a drinking offering of wine.

For the burnt offering, a lamb without defect was presented to Adonai. The person making the offering laid hands on the lamb’s head. Laying hands on the animal’s head was called semichah. It was actually a physical ‘leaning’ on the animal so that the weight of the person was transferred to the animal. This symbolized transferring the identity of the person onto the lamb. In effect, the lamb represented him/her before God. The lamb was sacrificed and its blood was splattered on the sides of the Altar. The lamb was then completely burnt up on the Altar as a food offering and a pleasing aroma to Adonai.

The grain offering was a free-will offering. It was to be fresh kernels of grain, dry roasted, covered in olive oil and frankincense or it could be a fine flour mixed with olive oil and frankincense poured over it. A grain offering could be baked in an oven like bread, cooked on a griddle like a pancake or boiled in a pot like a dumpling.

offering was a quarter of a hin of wine or close to one liter –– the size of a modern-day Coke. It was to be poured out at the foot of the Altar as part of the burnt and grain offering. These three offerings were presented to Adonai by the priest from the individual acknowledging that all life comes from Adonai.

“You have put more joy and rejoicing in my heart than [they know] when their wheat and new wine have yielded abundantly” (Psalm 4:7).

The Sheaf of Grain

“Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them” (Psalm 126:6).

There was another offering on Firstfruits, a sheaf of grain. According to Zondervan’s Bible Dictionary, sheaves are the stalks of grain left behind by the reaper. They were gathered by the handfuls and bound by women or children in a joyful manner. Some sheaves were left behind for the poor while collected sheaves were carried by donkeys or on heavily loaded carts to the threshing floor. The sheaves offered as Firstfruits were only the amount that an individual could hold or just a handful.

According to the Biblical command, this handful of sheaves from the spring harvest was to be brought to the priest. He became the intercessor between the individual and God as he waved the sheaf before Adonai. With the wave offering, a small breeze was created making the offering acceptable to God. Until the Firstfruits sheaf was accepted by Adonai, no one could eat any roasted or new grain.

Yeshua, The Firstfruits

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24).

In the beginning, eternal fellowship with God was cut short by sin and death. God promised a ‘Seed of woman’ who would have victory over death and restore fellowship with Him. In order to have a sheaf of grain, there has to be a planting of one seed. Once put into the ground, it dies and then produces a harvest.

Yeshua is the promised ‘Seed of woman’ from Genesis. He died as the Seed, was buried in the ground, and rose to life producing a Firstfruits sheaf of grain. He became the Firstfruits harvest of those who have fallen asleep.

“But Messiah has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20).

Yeshua is the Firstfruits, plural, of those raised from the dead, not the singular. According to the Gospel of Matthew, at the moment of Yeshua’s death, when the temple curtain was torn in two, the bodies of holy people who had died were raised to life. A Firstfruits resurrection of the dead had occurred.

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.  They came out of the tombs after Yeshua’s resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people” (Matthew 27:52-23).

The Day After the Sabbath

Over the centuries, confusion has developed about the timing of the ‘day after the Sabbath’ because the first and last days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread are also called ‘sabbaths.’ God never called these days ‘sabbath’ even though He commanded complete rest. This subtlety of this tradition has allowed the Feast of Firstfruits to occur on whatever day of the week the ‘day after the sabbath’ of Unleavened Bread begins. This rendering has blurred the tremendous differences between the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Firstfruits putting much less emphasis on the day of the Firstfruits –– the resurrection of Messiah and the hope of the resurrection. If the sheaf were to be waved by the priest ‘on the day after the weekly Sabbath’ during the week of Unleavened Bread, this would always place the Feast of Firstfruits on the ‘first day of the week.’ This would concur with the Scriptural witness of Yeshua’s resurrection on ‘the first day of the week’ his fulfilling in another of God’s ‘appointed times.’

When the [weekly] Sabbath was over, on the first day of the week when it was still dark, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so they might go anoint Yeshua’s body. Just after sunrise, they were on the way to the tomb and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’ When they arrived at the tomb, they saw the stone had been removed from the entrance. They entered, but they did not find the body of Yeshua. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with 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; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ Then they remembered his words. ‘Go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has risen from the dead.’” They told this to the apostles, but they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Yeshua’s head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed” Matthew 28:7-10, Mark 16:1-3, Luke 24:1-8, John 20:1-8 15-16).

Yeshua’s Sheaf

“Yeshua said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’” (John 20:17). 

In order for the sheaf of grain to be accepted on Yom Habikkurim, the high priest had to wave it before God. After being raised from the dead, Yeshua, ascended to Adonai to offer himself as the sheaf of Firstfruits. Once his sheaf of grain, filled with innumerable seeds was accepted, the spiritual harvest of souls could begin. Yeshua’s family would not only include his brothers and sisters in Israel, but those brought forth in the harvest from the nations.

“Because those whom he knew in advance, he also determined in advance would be conformed to the pattern of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29). 

“Yeshua said to her, ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life! Whoever puts his trust in me will live, even if he dies; and everyone living and trusting in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” (John 11:25-26)

While the priests were preparing for the Feast of Firstfruits offering in the Temple, the women found the empty tomb, met with angels, and spoke with the risen Yeshua. While the women ran to tell the disciples that Yeshua was alive, the men of Israel began to offer their lambs, grain and wine to the priest who acted as intercessor. As individual sheaves of grain were taken by the priests, Yeshua ascended to his Father and presented himself as the sheaf offering, the intercessor between mankind and Adonai. As the sheaf of grain was being waved, a gentle breeze like the Spirit of God drifted throughout the Temple, and Yeshua’s offering was accepted in the heavenly realm. Soon after, the disciples entered the empty tomb and saw the strips of linen and the cloth that had been wrapped around Yeshua’s head. They immediately believed he had risen from the dead. The resurrection of the dead had begun with the Firstfruits and a promise of a harvest to come. Yeshua had fulfilled another of his Father’s ‘appointed times’ –– Yom Habikkurim.

 For more about Yeshua fullfilling the ‘appointed times,’ purchase Yeshua in His Father’s Feasts.

©2014 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this article,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.  

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