Firstfruits and God’s Timing – A Letter to my Children

Chag Sameach Yom HaBikurrim!  Happy Firstfruits!  Yeshua is Risen!

This is a letter I wrote to each of my children for outlining Feast of Firstfruits.

When you were children, you spoke like children, acted like children, reasoned like children and expected me to keep you informed about the timing of the Biblical feasts (1 Cor. 13:11).    Now, you are all adults or young adults and it is time to put childish ways behind you.  You have to have your own walk before YHVH and need to obey His commands according to His Word – not mine or anyone else’s.  For this reason, it is important that each of you to understand the ‘Appointed Times’ and how they occur in God’s perfectly ordained calendar.

If there is one thing that I hope I have given you in this life, it is the knowledge that God’s Word is Truth and inerrant.   You need to read it, know it, understand it, and be able to teach it correctly.  If I have not done that, then I have failed miserably in passing on the faith that I cherish so deeply.

You may hear teachers or others that blur what I am going to write, but it is important that I at  least share what I’ve learned as part of your ‘pot of information.’  Please keep this letter in a safe place because I believe the days are evil and many false prophets and teachers are arising to deceive many and will lead those who are easily persuaded and do not know the Word away from the Truth  – not only of the Appointed Times, but of faith in the Messiah of Israel.

Sun, Moon, Stars

In the beginning, God put lights in the expanse of the sky – the sun, the moon, and the stars – to mark the days, weeks, seasons and years.  It is important to remember that these lights work together and not individually or separately.  Though I do not understand it all because I have not studied astronomy, I know they all function and move together in the unique way of a Creator’s design.

The Sun

The sun guides the day.  A day or ‘yom’ is sunset to sunset.  Yahweh never gave the days names, but they were numbered. Remember when you learned Hebrew that the days of the week were Yom Rishon, Yom Shinee, Yom Sheshee, etc. and were numbered not given names.  The only day that had a name was the Sabbath.

“Teach us to number our days rightly that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

A seven-day cycle of sunsets to sunsets is a week and is culminated by the Sabbath.  Sabbath to Sabbath outlines a week.

“And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating he had done” (Genesis 2:3).

The Moon

The moon guides the weeks into a monthly cycle of approximately 28 days.  A new moon is a dark moon as described in the Hebrew of Psalm 81.  If this is in question, count forward 14 days from a full moon and voila! –  the new moon.  As a new day begins in darkness, so too a new month.

“Also at the times of your rejoicing – your Appointed Times and New Moon festivals – you are to sound the trumpets …” (Numbers 10:10).

The Stars

The constellations guide us into the seasons.  As certain constellations appear in the sky or appear to fall from the sky as they lower beneath the horizon, the seasons of spring or fall arrive.  The Biblical new year is set – at a sunset, on a new moon, with certain constellations returning or receding in the heavens.

“He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south” (Job 9:9).

Appointed Times

With the arrival of the new year that is determined by the constellations, the new moon, and the setting of the sun, the Appointed Times of Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Shavuot are determined.

“YHVH said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them, ‘These are my appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of YHVH, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies” (Leviticus 23:1-2)

Sabbath

“There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly.  You are not to do any work; where ever you live, it is a Sabbath to YHVH” (Leviticus 23:3).

Sabbath is the first appointed time given to the Israelites in Leviticus 23.  It is this Sabbath that sets the foundation for the rest of the Appointed Times – days and weeks –  to follow.

Passover

“These are YHVH’s appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their Appointed Times: YHVH’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. (Leviticus 23:4-5).

The Passover memorial was to begin on the 14th day of the Biblical first month.  Fourteen days after the new moon is a full moon.  This festival would always be held on the first full moon, in the first month at sunset/twilight.  It would last from sunset (the beginning of day 14) to sunset (the beginning of day 15).

Unleavened Bread

“On the fifteenth day of that month YHVH’s Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast.  On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.  For seven days present an offering made to YHVH by fire.  And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work’” (Leviticus 23:6-8).

At sunset at the end of the Passover, the next appointed time begins – the 15th day of the month.  The first day is a sacred day and no regular work is performed as well as the seventh day.   Please note that though there is no regular work done, there is no mention of calling the days of rest, sabbaths.  There is and was, up to this point, only one Sabbath given by YHVH, set apart from all other days and made holy, the weekly Sabbath.

Feast of Firstfruits

“YHVH 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 is harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest.  He is to wave the sheaf before YHVH so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath (Leviticus 23:9-12).

The ‘day after the Sabbath’ would always be a first day of the week (Yom Rishon) based on the weekly Sabbath that was initially given by God to determine the weeks of Appointed Times.  Yom HaBikkurim would always fall on a ‘first day of the week’ (in our time with days given names, Sunday).

Feast of Weeks – Shavuot

“From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count out fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to YHVH” (Leviticus 23:15-16).

The ‘day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering’ is in reference to the Feast of Firstfruits.  From the day of Firstfruits that fell on a first day of the week, the counting of seven weeks or 49 days began.   The 50th day would be the ‘day after the seventh Sabbath’ or a ‘first day of the week’  (Yom Rishon/Sunday).

Confusion 

Over the years confusion has developed for several reasons.  First, the first day of Unleavened Bread is considered a ‘sabbath’.  It is not.  As pointed out above, YHVH gave only one Sabbath, the weekly one.

Second, if one would begin counting the first day of the week after the ‘sabbath’ of Unleavened Bread, how are subsequent Sabbaths counted for the Feast of Weeks?  For example, if Unleavened Bread falls on a Wednesday, then the counting would begin on the next day, Thursday.  That is NOT a Sabbath nor would any other Thursday be considered a Sabbath for counting 7 weeks of Sabbaths.   Yet, this is how the ‘tradition of the elders’ is done.  This type of rendering the festival days nullifies the command of the weekly Sabbath being the way weeks are counted from the beginning of time!    Also, if man can determine which day is a ‘special Sabbath’ like the ‘first day of Unleavened Bread’,  what argument remains for the weekly Sabbath?  As many Christians claim, any day can be the Sabbath because we consider it so.  Is Romans 14:5 really about giving man the freedom to re-set YHVH’s Appointed Times?  Or does this rendering make the Appointed Times subjective to each person celebrating it whenever they think it’s right?

A third error is that Passover and Unleavened Bread are joined together.  Because unleavened bread is eaten at Passover as a memorial, it has been lumped together with the 7-days of Unleavened Bread. .   This is not seen nor outlined by YHVH in Leviticus 23.  Though there are Scriptures that imply the combining of the two days (for the reason of unleavened bread being eaten during Passover), the 14th day of the month and the 15th day of the month are still two different days.

The Appointed Times were shadows of things that were coming with the Reality in Messiah.  This means that YHVH had two different works to accomplish on two different days that needed to be remembered in two different ways.  The Passover lamb’s blood as redemption from death on the 14th day.    Unleavened Bread was a memorial to deliverance from Egypt on the 15th day.   The Reality of Yeshua within the festivals –   he was the sacrificed Passover Lamb followed by  his burial on Unleavened bread.  Two events on two different days.  Consider:  If you were to get a consultation for surgery on the 14th day of the month and the surgery on the 15th day of the month, would you tell everyone you were having a consultation and surgery on the same day?  Would you prepare for the consultation and surgery in the same way?  Though you may find yourself in the doctor’s office on both days, each day had a different purpose.

None of these confusions were in existence at the time of Yeshua and were developed to negate the words of Yeshua.  He said that he would be in the grave three days and three nights.  If Passover and Unleavened Bread are the same day, then he died and was buried at the same time.  If they are two consecutive days, but the first day of Unleavened Bread is ‘the sabbath’ followed the next day with Firstfruits, then Yeshua died on Passover, was buried on Unleavened Bread, and rose the following day.  This does not support his sign of ‘three days and three nights’ in the tomb.

Then, of course, you have the situation when the Passover falls on a Sabbath – Friday to Saturday; Unleavened Bread – Saturday to Sunday; and then everyone deciding to celebrate the RISEN LORD on the ‘first day of the week’ (Easter Sunday) without there ever being a weekly Sabbath.   How that worked, I can’t even figure out.  If one desires to follow the ‘traditions of the elders’ that Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection were consecutive days,  then Firstfruits would have to be on Monday.

A Biblical Approach

When Passover falls on a weekly Sabbath, YHVH allowed for the length of time between Passover and Firstfruits with a 7-day, week long, appointed time called Unleavened Bread that began with a ‘day of rest‘ and ended with a ‘day of rest.‘    When Passover falls on the weekly Sabbath and Unleavened Bread falls on the first day of the week, 7-days later the  final ‘day of rest’ would fall on a weekly Sabbath.  The next day, ‘first day of the week’ would be Firstfruits.

Why is this important?  Maybe it’s not at all.  We all know Yeshua is risen and that he doesn’t die and rise every year.    However, with all of the arguments and confusion that surround the sliver/crescent new moon beginning the new month; the new year being determined by unbelieving Karaites with the appearance of barley;  it is important to clarify everything with Scripture so we know the Truth and aren’t led astray by confusion and disorder.   It would seem that celebrating the spring Appointed Times correctly would be the easiest and simplest thing to accomplish since they are all outlined pretty specifically in Scripture.  It really isn’t supposed to be ‘everyone doing what is right in their own eyes’ like in the time of the Judges.

Tradition of Elders

When following of the ‘traditions of the elders’ in celebrating the Appointed Times,  we have to remember two important things.  First, the Jewish people, as a nation,  still reject Yeshua as the Messiah – all Israel is still not saved.   They do not celebrate the Feast of Firstfruits in accordance with Torah and have not since the destruction of the Temple nearly 2000 years ago.  They lump it together with Passover and Unleavened Bread.  They do not understand the Reality of Messiah in the Appointed Times and therefore, for them, Firstfruits has no purpose when, in fact, the Feast of Firstfruits is the MOST IMPORTANT of the Appointed Times.  Without Yeshua’s resurrection, our faith is meaningless.  Furthermore, when we have the opportunity to celebrate Firstfruits APART from pagan Christian Easter, what an opportunity to really live the Truth and make the Jew see the difference and make them envious!

Secondly, Yeshua condemned traditions of men that nullified the commands of YHVH.  With Yeshua being the Reality of the Appointed Times, he would not have followed the traditions of men and abolished the command, but he would have lived (and died) them out correctly, so as to fulfill them (Matthew 5).  Scripture is clear that this is exactly what Yeshua did.  He celebrated his last Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits in the order and timing they were to be celebrated so that he could be in the tomb three days and three nights.

He celebrated Passover, at sunset beginning the 14th day of the month and died at the afternoon sacrifice before the beginning of the 15th day at sunset.   He was buried before the actual sunset of the 15th day because the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was considered a holy day.  Yeshua was in the tomb the first three days and three nights of Unleavened Bread as the sinless bread of life from heaven.    His Resurrection occurred sometime before the end of the weekly Sabbath and on the ‘first day of the week when the priests were waving the sheaf of grain in the Temple on the Feast of Firstfruits, he ascended to his Father as the Firstfruits offering.  The Gospel words around the women’s visit to the tomb are exactly as those found in the command for Feast of Firsfruits.  It was ‘on the first day of the week’ after the women ‘rested according to the command’ of the weekly Sabbath that Yeshua’s tomb was found empty!

If this is NOT how it happened, then Yeshua lied and was not in the tomb three days and three nights and he is not the Messiah.  If this is NOT how it is to be remembered by believers, then Yeshua is NOT the Firstfruits of those who were raised from the dead, and he is still in his tomb.  Since I believe Yeshua is risen and alive, then I have to read the Scriptures and observe them at face value.

Finally, I am teachable.  VERY teachable.  This is how I learned what I know.  I was taught by wise men (and a couple of special women) who knew the Truth and the Spirit of God guided me into the Truth.  If anyone of you takes the time to study, learn and become Biblically convinced of something other than what I have outlined here, please share it with me.  I am not opposed to learning something new, but I am also not going to be easily tossed around by every wind of new doctrine that is presented by people who follow teachers who completely deny Yeshua or who put the traditions of men above the commands of God.   As of this point in time, I have yet to hear a teaching that makes Biblical sense, supports what Yeshua did, and encourages true grafting into the Olive Tree as part of the ‘commonwealth of Israel.’

Apart from understanding Yeshua’s reality in the shadows of the Biblical festivals and how those realities can be lived out in my life,  I am not interested in re-enacting Passover nor finding ways to support some ignorant rogue group’s point of view until they have an epiphany and come to unity of faith and maturity in Messiah.  I do not believe that Yeshua was a Christian nor came to teach a new religion called Christianity.  As long as a tradition of men does NOT nullify Yeshua’s teachings about the Kingdom nor obedience to the Scriptures,  then I am willing to hear about it and put it into practice.  This why our family does a semi-traditional  Passover seder with a Haggadah – because it does not nullify the command to remember the Passover.

Yeshua came to teach about the Kingdom of God/the Kingdom of Heaven and how it is expressed here on earth. Through the Appointed Times we walk that Kingdom out in Spirit and in Truth.

In Summary

Feast of Firstfuits is ALWAYS on the ‘first day of the week’ after the weekly Sabbath after there has been a Passover.  This is how it was done in the millennia before Yeshua, in the days of Yeshua and as recorded by the priests who lived in Qumran.  In the event of the Passover falling on a Sabbath, then Feast of Firstfruits will be ‘on the first day of the week’ following the last ‘day of rest’ of the 7-day celebration of Unleavened Bread.

May each of you personally know the power of Yeshua’s resurrection in your lives.  May that power transform your hearts, minds and souls so that you focus on Him, live for Him, know Him, understand Him and become intimate with Him. May you be filled with the fruits of the Spirit that enable you to wait for Him with great expectation and hope for the Millennial Kingdom and the new heavens and new earth.  May you also be guided by the Spirit of Truth so that you can learn and teach others about the death, burial and resurrection of Yeshua using the  teachings tools called the Appointed Times of YHVH.

HalleluYAH, Yeshua is alive!  He is Risen!  “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. … For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, and he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures ….  Messiah has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For as in Adam all die, so in Messiah all will be made alive.  But each in his own turn:  Messiah, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him…” (1 Corinthians 15:2-4, 20-23).

©2012 Tent Stake Ministries

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