Posts Tagged ‘resurrection of the dead’

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.  

Hebrews 6 – Elementary Teachings

“Therefore, leaving behind the initial lessons about the Messiah, let us go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of turning from works that lead to death, trusting God, and instruction about washings, s’mikhah, the resurrection of the dead and eternal punishment. And, God willing, this is what we will do” (Hebrews 6:1-3, Complete Jewish Bible).  

Sin that Leads to Death

“The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Sin is defined in 1 John 3:4 as breaking the commands of God.  Yeshua refers to this lawlessness as living contrary to Torah, his Father’s instructions for living in this world and preparing for the coming Kingdom (Matthew 7:23, Luke 13:27).  The consequence for sin is eternal spiritual death.  This was the result of Adam’s sin in the Garden and as his offspring, the consequence of our own sin.

After Yeshua was tested in the wilderness by the Adversary, he went back to the Galilee to live in Capernaum and began preaching the gospel, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). In Hebrew, ‘repentance’ is teshuvah and means ‘to return to God.’   By repenting from sin’s lawless deeds, we turn away from actions that lead to spiritual death and return to God and His ways (Luke 5:31-32).

This basic gospel message is considered one of the elementary teachings. This is the gospel message preached by Peter on Shavuot (Pentecost) in Jerusalem.  Sha’ul (Paul) preached the same gospel message gentiles who were putting their faith in Yeshua.

“Kefa answered them, “Turn from sin, return to God [teshuvah], and each of you be immersed on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah into forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh [Holy Spirit]! For the promise is for you, for your children, and for those far away — as many as Adonai our God may call!” (Acts 2:38-39). 

“You know that I [Sha’ul] held back nothing that could be helpful to you, and that I taught you both in public and from house to house, declaring with utmost seriousness the same message to Jews and Greeks alike: turn from sin to God; and put your trust in our Lord, Yeshua the Messiah” (Acts 20:20-21)

Faith in God

“Be assured, then, that it is those who live by trusting and being faithful who are really children of Avraham” (Galatians 3:7).

Faith or emunah is defined as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).  Our certainty of God’s existence is basic to the gospel message and considered the second elementary teaching.  

Abraham believed he was too old to have an heir, but God promised him he would have an heir.  He told him to count the stars in the sky, if he could, and his descendants would be as numerous.  “He [Abraham] believed in Adonai, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:4-6).  God tested Abraham with this heir.  He was told to take his son, his only son whom he loved, to Mount Moriah and offer him on an altar.  Abraham obeyed God because he believed God could raise his son from the dead, the greatest example of his faith (Romans 4:17).  This unwavering trust in God’s promise made Abraham the ‘father of faith.’ 

Yeshua taught that those who followed him must put their faith in God, first and foremost (Mark 11:22).  They must love God, first and foremost (Matthew 22:27).   This is a foundation stone of his salvation message.  Separating faith in Yeshua from faith in his Father leaves an incomplete and misdirected faith. There can never be two gods.  Yeshua’s purpose was to glorify his Father,  to bring salvation to the world, and to show people the correct way to have a relationship with God (1 John 4:14, John 14:6, John 17:1,6,22).

During Hanukkah in Jerusalem, Yeshua states to his Jewish brothers and sisters, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).  In Hebrew, echad means ‘one’ in unity.  He made this statement to make sure they understood that he was not another god to be worshiped or even a separate ‘person’ from his Father. By embracing Yeshua’s relationship his Father, we can put our faith in the “visible image of the invisible God” because that is who Yeshua is (Colossians 1:15).

Once a person turns from sin, they put their faith in God, Yeshua. Sha’ul preached that repentance and faith in God is for both Jews and gentiles.

I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Yeshua”  (Acts 20:26).

Instruction about Washings

“Now before the coming of Yeshua, Yochanan [John] proclaimed to all the people of Isra’el an immersion [mikveh] in connection with turning to God from sin” (Acts 13:24).”

The Complete Jewish Bible translates ‘baptism’ as ‘instructions about washings’ or a mikveh.  mikveh is an immersion for purification and done numerous times throughout a person’s life for various reasons.  During the month of Elul (August/September) there was an immersion for the repentance of sins before the arrival of the Days of Awe and the Day of Atonement.  This repentance immersion was nothing new. When John preached repentance from sins at the Jordan River, the men and women of Israel were taking part in the repentance immersion during the month of Elul. It was at this same time that Yeshua was immersed and the Spirit of Adonai came down and rested on him like a dove (Luke 3:20-22).

When the whole house of Israel was “stung in their hearts” after hearing about Yeshua who is Lord and Messiah, they asked Peter what they should do.  He responded with the first three elementary teachings.

“Kefa [Peter] answered them, “Turn from sin, return to God, and each of you be immersed on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah into forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh! For the promise is for you, for your children, and for those far away — as many as Adonai our God may call!” (Acts 2:36-39). 

After Yeshua ascended to heaven, another dimension was added to the mikveh.  The purpose for the repentance immersion was for purification, a pledge of a good conscience towards God through Yeshua’s resurrection (1 Peter 3:21). Immersion became a personal illustration of sharing in Yeshua’s death, burial, and resurrection.  The immersion became an expression of being set free from the ‘law of sin and death’ and resurrecting into a new life (Romans 6:4-5). It was an immersion into Yeshua and his resurrection.

Though there are many reasons to continue to mikveh, there is only one that expresses our faith in Yeshua. Repentance, faith in God, and teachings about mikveh lead us into the next elementary teaching.

Laying on of Hands

Do not be hasty in the laying on of  hands, and do not share in the sins of others” (1 Timothy 5:22).

Sh’mikah is the fourth elementary teaching. In Hebrew, the word sh’mikah means ‘authority’ and came through ‘laying on of hands.’  Throughout the Bible there are many examples of sh’mikah from Isaac blessing Jacob to Yeshua blessing little children (Luke 18:15-17).  One of the more significant sh’mikah is when Moshe passed his authority onto Joshua to take the Israelites into the Promised Land (Numbers 27:18-20).

One spiritual aspect of sh’mikah is physical healing through the forgiveness of sins.  Yeshua had the authority to forgive sins, and soon after his resurrection, Yeshua passed this authority onto his disciples by breathing on him.   If they forgave an individual’s sins, their sins were forgiven.  If they didn’t, the sins remained on the person (John 20:20-23).

Yeshua gave his disciples the authority to release men and women from the bondage of guilt. To hear Your sins are forgiven” releases anger, bitterness, guilt, and removes the stronghold of the Adversary. Once those deeply-rooted issues were removed, physical healing could begin (Matthew 9:5-6).   The authority that Yeshua gave to the apostles was so powerful that even their shadows healed the sick and set free the demon possessed (Acts 5:15-16).

After Yeshua ascended to his Father, the power and authority of the Ruach HaKodesh was received through laying on of hands (Acts 8:15-17).   Believers in Yeshua rejoiced when they received this power and it was so great that even ‘unsaved’ men desired. They offered the apostles money to have the power because it resulted in healing they could use to become rich (Acts 8:18-19).

Sha’ul warns Timothy about laying hands too quickly on an individual because there is always the potential of distorting the sh’mikah given to the apostles by Yeshua.  He also conveys the idea that when there is sh’imikah for forgiveness of sin, there is the danger the sins of one person being placed upon another.

Resurrection of the Dead

Resurrection of the dead is the sixth elementary teaching.  Resurrection, like mikveh, was not a new concept. Isaiah prophesied about the resurrection: “Your dead will live, my corpses will rise; awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust; for your dew is like the morning dew, and the earth will bring the ghosts to life” (Isaiah 26:19). Daniel also prophesied about those who would ‘awaken’ to eternal life or shame:  “Many of those sleeping in the dust of the earth will awaken, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting shame and abhorrence” (Daniel 12:2). 

The prophets Elijah and Elisha raised people from the dead (1 Kings 17:17-22, 2 Kings 4:32-35, 2 Kings 13:20-21).  Yeshua raised the widow’s son from the dead and the daughter of the synagogue leader (Luke 7:11-15, Luke 8:41-42, 49-55).  Peter raised Dorcas from the dead; Sha’ul raised Eutychus (Acts 9:36-41, Acts 20:9-10).

When Lazarus died, his sister Martha believed that she would see him again in the resurrection at the ‘last day’ in the Messianic Era.  She also knew that she stood in the presence of the Messiah and her faith in Yeshua brought her brother back to life (John 11:24-26). Many holy people were brought out of their tombs by the same power of God (Matthew 27:50-53).

This elementary teaching about the resurrection was not embraced by everyone in Israel.  The Pharisees believed in the eternal soul and a resurrection of the dead; the Sadducees did not.  This is the reason they tested Yeshua about Levirate marriage and the seven brothers who married the same woman. Whose wife she would be in the resurrection? (Luke 20:27-30). Peter and John irritated the Sadducees by using Yeshua as proof of the resurrection of the dead (Acts 4:1-2). Sha’ul claimed his religious affiliation with the Pharisees and their view of the resurrection (Acts 23:6).

According to the book of Revelation, there are two resurrections.  Those who take part in the first resurrection will reign with Yeshua as priests of God during the Messianic Era (Revelation 20:6-7).   The second death will have no power over these saints; they will have already entered eternal life.  The second resurrection is of all people from the beginning of time who have died. As the prophet Daniel said, some will rise to eternal life, others to eternal death.

“But if it is preached that Messiah has been raised from  the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Messiah has been raised.  And if Messiah has not been raised our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:12-14).

Eternal Punishment

As Sha’ul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, ‘That’s enough for now!” (Acts 24:25)

Eternal punishment is the seventh elementary teaching. In the days of Noah, the heavens and earth were judged by water; wicked and ungodly men were destroyed in the flood.  This present heaven and earth will be judged by fire destroying wicked and ungodly men (2 Peter 3:7).

“Just as the weeds are collected and burned up in the fire, so will it be at the end of the age” (Matthew 13:40).

The godless will experience spiritual death or eternal separation from God.  On the Day of Judgment, books will be opened and everyone will be judged by their works.  Some will find their name has been blotted out of the book of life and are no longer listed with the righteous (Psalm 69:28).  Anyone’s name that is not found written in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire along with the Adversary, the beast, the false prophet and even Jezebel (Revelation 20:11-15).

There is also an eternal judgment for some who received eternal life, but lived contrary to God’s commands.  They remain in the outer darkness, outside the gates of the New Jerusalem, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12, Luke 13:28).  Gnashing of teeth implies these people knew the Truth, heard the Truth, but chose not to obey the Truth. They have escaped the lake of fire as through flames. They do not lose their free gift of eternal life, but lose entrance to the Kingdom (Revelation 22:15).

In the days of Yeshua, gentiles were referred to as ‘dogs’ (Matthew 7:6, 15:26).  Though many gentiles receive salvation through Yeshua, they refuse to repent from pagan traditions and idolatry based on lies and deception. ‘Evildoers’ and ‘workers of lawlessness’ are those who disobey Torah or teach others to disobey ‘the law.’   These people will be least in the Kingdom according to Yeshua: Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only those who do what my Father in heaven wants. On that Day [of Judgment], many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we expel demons in your name? Didn’t we perform many miracles in your name?’ Then I will tell them to their faces, ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!'”  (Matthew 7:21-23).

 “If anyone hears what I am saying and does not observe it, I don’t judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. Those who reject me and don’t accept what I say have a judge — the word which I have spoken will judge them on the Last Day [of Judgment]” (John 12:47-48)

These are the elementary teachings: repentance, faith in God, mikveh, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead and eternal punishment. We are to leave behind these the teachings so that we can go on to maturity.

©2005 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.