A Guaranteed Harvest
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.’” Leviticus 23:9-10
Three Jewish spring festivals—Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of First Fruits—occur during a seven-day period. The Feast of First Fruits takes place two days after Passover.
According to Leviticus 23:10, all Israelites were to “bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain” they harvested. The priest waved the sheaf over the altar. Then he offered a sacrifice to God, which included an unblemished lamb, flour mixed with oil, and four quarts of wine (23:11-14). This offering, called the Feast of the First Grain, or the Feast of First Fruits, was celebrated at the beginning of the barley harvest. God wanted to remind His people that both the land and its harvest were His gifts (23:10). By bringing the first fruits to God, the people demonstrated their confidence in the abundant provision that would follow.
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul attached an eternal significance to the Feast of First Fruits. He told the Corinthians that Jesus “has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have [died]” (1 Corinthians 15:20). In other words, Jesus, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed on Passover; Jesus, the Sheaf of Grain, became the First Fruits of the Resurrected when God the Father raised Him from the dead.
Also, in Romans 8:23, Paul said that Christians “have the first fruits of the Spirit,” which the Amplified Bible explains as “a joyful indication of the blessings to come.” That explanation is verified in 2 Corinthians 1:22, where Paul wrote, “By His Spirit, He has stamped us with His eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what He is destined to complete” (MSG).
Originally, the Feast of First Fruits signified that the God who had provided the first fruits of a harvest would continue to provide future harvests. Similarly, we can place our confidence in God’s future provision. One day we will “be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). The presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives guarantees it.
Are you rejoicing in the guaranteed harvest God has promised you?
Read 1 Corinthians 15:20-28. Other than the hope of eternal life, what else is guaranteed to happen because Christ is the first fruits of those who have died?
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. After Paul explains the “guaranteed harvest” that Christians anticipate, what does he advise his readers to do? How can you act on his advice this week?
Read Proverbs 3:9. Most of us aren’t farmers, so how can we apply the principle of honoring God with the “first fruits of all [our] crops”? What blessing is promised if we do?
Learn more about the relationship between first fruits and another Jewish festival in this devotion: Two Pentecosts, Part One.
Note: Learn more about the connections between Jewish Feasts and Christianity at http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Calendar/calendar.html.