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The Offering of the First Fruits and the Feast of Weeks

Today we are going to take a look at third annual holy day in the old testament. Among Israel this festival was known as the feast of weeks. It was a time to offer the first fruits of the wheat harvest to God. But praise and thanks for abundant crops is only the beginning of the meaning of the feast of weeks.

Offering the first fruits of the harvest  to Him is also a prophecy and foreshadow of how God will claim  first fruits from all of humanity through calling and drawing people of all nations, ancestry, and cultures into His Church.

Get more information about the biblical festivals request a copy of our free bible study guide - God's Holy Day Plan

How Do We Reckon the Feast of Weeks

The name feast of weeks comes from the method used to calculate when it occurs. This festival is unlike other holy days where we are given the date such as the 15th of Abib or the 10th day of the 7th month etc.. The date for the third holy day is determined by a cyclical event that happens during the previous festival.

During the 7 days of unleavened bread one of those days will be a weekly Sabbath. Starting on the day after the weekly Sabbath we begin counting 7 full weeks. The last day of this 7 week period is a holy day… Pentecost, feast of weeks Leviticus 23:15-16 

Leviticus 23:9-14 the wave sheaf offering is a short ceremony begins the 7 week countdown.  It was an offering of first fruits of the barley crop to to God. They were not to eat any of this new crop of grain [barley] until this wave offering to the living God was performed.

Exodus 34:9 seven weeks later [on Pentecost] there would be a wave offering of first fruits from the wheat crop . The entire span of 7 weeks begins with and ends with a first fruits offering.

The Wave Offerings Are Similar But Unique

English translations use the word "first fruits" for both offerings. However, if we drill down into the original Hebrew there is a distinction between the two. When referring to the barley offering at the beginning of the 7 weeks the Hebrew word used is reyshith. It means "the first/chief/or best of the first fruits". When referring to the wheat offering made at the end of the 7 weeks the Hebrew word is bikkur meaning simply first fruits.

Both are considered offerings of first fruits there is a distinction between the two. The reason for such a distinction becomes apparent when we project ourselves forward in time to the new covenant era.

The wave offering that is reyshith, the first of the first fruits, is a prophetic foreshadow of Jesus Christ risen from the grave and presented to the Father. He is the first of the first fruits. The best, or chief of  of all those who will be raised from the dead at His return.

The wave offering of the wheat harvest that happens 7 weeks later at the feast of weeks is the bikkur [simply first fruits]. This is a prophetic foreshadow of God’s harvest of first fruits from all humanity which is the Church of God.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 Here s a verse indicating Christ as the first of the first fruits.

Notice the typology used in this chapter. The question addressed is: what will we be like when born of the spirit? The bible compares human death and resurrection to spirit composition to seeds planted in the ground, which gives up life as seeds to grow into a plants, plants come from the seed but are different from and greater than the seed... just as spirit born eternal life will be different from physical life, greater that physical life, yet based on a beginning that takes place in the flesh. The imagery fits perfectly with the offering of first fruits of both the barley and wheat harvests.

Now some scriptures about the church as first fruits:

James 1:18 this verse emphasizes the church as first fruits of people drawn from all physical creation.

Romans 8:23 that status of firstborn [first fruits] marked and sealed with the receipt of the holy spirit. S

2 Corinthians 5:5 the receipt of the spirit is a down-payment on the promise of eternal life. Pentecost celebrates the receipt of the down payment . You could say every baptism is a day of Pentecost… and they will continue to happen until the day Christ returns. At that time all the first fruits will be raised to life together so that none has any preeminence over another.

Hebrews 12:22-23 God's calling to be part of the first born [first fruits] is put into action by placing you within His Church. Which is called to come together to present themselves before Him each Sabbath.

This is why the new covenant feast of Pentecost is now a memorial of the beginning of the new covenant church of God... which is empowered and given life through the injection of the holy spirit of God into the members of that assembly. You can read a detailed account of this event in the second chapter of Acts.

Friends, if you are not part of the assembly what exactly is your status? Lots of people run to and fro claiming they have God’s spirit… but are they doing what first fruits do? There is no biblical model for stay-at-home Christians. That is a delusion and a deception being foisted upon this end-time generation. Don’t be fooled by clever arguments!

Where Are We Now?

At present only one human life has gone through the entire process in which a flesh and blood  human being can go to the next level which is a spirit born child of God… Jesus Christ. Though He was God with all the power and glory that entailed Jesus agreed to let Himself be born of the flesh... to die in the flesh... and to be raised back to life with a body composed of spirit with the power of indestructible life built-in to it.

He did this to show us the incredible potential for human beings. For you… if you stick with the program.

No one else has gone through the entire process, that is why He is called the first of the first fruits... the captain, the author, the trailblazer, and the first born of many who will follow Hebrews 2:6-10.

The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a pledge. Witnessed by hundreds of people, recorded in writing, prophesied in advance, fulfilled in multiple detail. A pledge that this regeneration to newness of life is possible. A pledge that the second harvest will follow the first.

The Ceremony of the Feast of Weeks [Pentecost]

The feast of weeks was a joyous festival season. It began with a wave offering of thanksgiving and ended with another wave offering of thanksgiving 7 weeks later. Both related to the spring harvests.

Leviticus 23:15-22 the last day of the 7 weeks was an annual Sabbath. A day of rest, and a call to present yourself before God in holy assembly. The phrase holy assembly indicates a public reading of scripture and instruction... but there was also a special ceremony performed at the feast of weeks.

That ceremony contains instruction for us that it did not contain for them. The prophets longed to look into these matters but them understanding of it all was only opened up with the birth of the new covenant Church of God.

Like all holy days there were offerings... but on Pentecost there was a wave offering of first fruits of grain from the new crop. This time not a sheaf of cut grain... this time it was two loaves of bread baked from flour milled of the new grain. Plus, it was to be baked with leavening! Unique aspects of the Pentecost ceremony... not found anywhere else.

As a general rule grain offerings for the altar were to be unleavened Leviticus 2:1-5.

This bread waved at Pentecost is unique. Note: there is no contradiction with with Leviticus 2 because  none of this leavened bread is placed on the altar. After it is waved before God it’s given to the priests to eat along with the lambs which are fellowship offerings included with the wave offering.

The Significance of the Unleavened Loaves

Just as the unleavened bread of Passover pictured body of Christ who was without sin... the two leavened loaves represent Christians who have sin in their lives. Their sin is atoned for through the death of Jesus Christ... and the ongoing work Christ as high priest and the power of the holy spirit. Perhaps, this is why there is also a sin offering to accompany the wave offering.

The wave sheaf at the beginning of the 7 week count down is the sinless Christ "the first and foremost of the first fruits". The wave offering of the leavened loaves is those who are called and chosen. Who through a life of repentance, baptism, and overcoming sin are ready  to be raised from the grave when Christ returns. They are the first fruits of God's harvest from among all humanity. This is the church... this is you.

First Fruits and the Rest of the Crop

A first fruits is an acknowledgment of thanks to God in which offering a sheaf of barley or loves made of wheat flour was performed so that His blessing would extend to whole crop.

The setting apart [sanctification] of a small portion has a sanctifying effect on the whole  Romans 11:16.

In God's eyes Israel was a harvesting of first fruits from among all of humanity. Set apart and meant to be a blessing to all people on earth. Early in Genesis 12 He declared "through your descendants all nations will be blessed".

Jeremiah 2:3, Hosea 9:10 [bikkuraw].

Here are some of the ways in which humanity has been blessed through the nation of Israel:

· an accurate and reliable recording and preservation of the word of God

· an unbroken record and proclamation of times and seasons: a) through the maintenance of the calendar and b) faithful maintenance and observance of the 7 day weekly cycle

· a suitable society for the Messiah to be born into. That enabled Him to live a sinless life [if Jesus had been born into a pagan society how would he have lived a sinless life? How would He have remained clean and unspotted sacrifice for sin?]

Just as the whole barley or wheat crop was blessed by the offering of first fruits so the whole world has been blessed through he descendants of Abraham.

That role of first fruits drawn from among all humanity has now passed to the Church of God... the church is the new Israel. The present work that God is performing within His Church is what makes the whole messy, sin stained, project of physical creation worthwhile to Him. Otherwise He might just roll it up and throw it in the garbage can… The Church is the salt of the earth that both preserves and adds flavor... it is for the sake of the elect that God will not allow humanity to destroy itself... .  

Pentecost Ends With Fellowship

The leavened loaves were for the priest to eat and there are also two lambs offered as fellowship offerings.

Fellowship offerings [Leviticus 7:11-18] were an offering of thanksgiving rather than atonement for sin or transgression.  The fellowship offering is not all burned up on the altar... a portion of it goes to God [fat]... a portion goes to the priest [breast and thigh]... the rest is to be eaten by the offer-er, his family, and shared with others. It is an occasion of fellowship and solidarity with one another.

Notice that the instructions regarding Pentecost end with a reminder to leave the corners of the fields behind to feed the poor and the Levites. Its a good place to remind the people about this rule of harvesting [right after discussing the feast of the harvest]... but it is also a pointed  reminder that our thanks toward God should also express itself in a bond of unity, a need to care for others,  generosity and sharing with those within the covenant community.

After Peter gave his Pentecost sermon and all those people were called to repentance and baptism we are told, “they continued steadfastly in the teaching of the apostles, in prayer, and in breaking bread together. So our planned potluck after Pentecost is a perfect and biblical finale. 

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