Feast of Firstfruits

The harvest offering presented to God on the first day after the Feast of Unleavened Bread Sabbath--Leviticus 23:7-14.

The Day of Firstfruits begins the second evening of Passover, on the sixteenth day of Nisan (March/April).  This was neither a "holy convocation" or a "sabbath"; nevertheless, an important act of worship was performed on this day.  According to Leviticus 23:9-14, the children of Israel were to gather the "firstfruits" of the grain from the spring harvest.  The field was chosen and marked off on the fourteenth day of Nisan to be cut down in preparation for the presentation on the sixteenth day.  The Day of Firstfruits the priest would wave a "sheaf"--a bundle of cut stalks of grain--before the Lord, being the day "after the sabbath" of Unleavened Bread.  Also, an "omer"--literally "a measure" of grain about four quarts--was also offered in the Tabernacle representing the first of the grain harvest.

The Pentateuch commanded that the people count off seven full weeks--"fifty days" including the day of the wave offering--which led to the "Feast of [Seven] Weeks," also known as Pentecost (Israel's Shavuot).  Counting the forty-nine days of "omer" holds significance because it links Passover to Pentecost by a chain of time.  The bringing of the firstfruits (new grain) to the Temple marked the beginning of the harvest, which continued for the forty-nine days, and was brought to a climax at Pentecost in the offering of two loaves of bread on day fifty.

For the escaping Israelites from Egyptian bondage, the counting of the forty-nine days (or, seven weeks) was a time of preparation for the great revelation at Mount Sinai.  For the Jewish disciples of Yeshua (Jesus), the forty-nine days of preparation led to the revelation of the Holy Spirit at Jerusalem.  Both encounters with God involve signs and miracles.  In these two historical omer periods, both the Israelites and Christ's disciples had to be spiritually prepared, worthy of engagement with Almighty.

In the spiritual sense, the counting of the omer each day brings the saint closer to Mount Sinai and Pentecost--his encounter with the Living God and power of the Holy Spirit.  The day to day counting reminds the child of God of how easy one can slide back into slavery of sin from which he has been freed.  The generation of the Exodus desired to return to Egypt's idolatrous worship by erecting the golden calf.  Liberty is easy to lose for the carnal man desires to return on the route that leads back to Egypt's captivity, with its old but familiar surroundings and sinful habits.

One must not look back to sinful Egypt, but forward to Sinai and Pentecost, where the blueprint for life is written and the power to live it given.  The Ten Commandments lead to freedom from sin and the Spirit gives new birth to live a sanctified life.  The counting of the omer reminds God's people that from the Exodus until the day when the Israelites met God at Mount Sinai was seven weeks, or forty-nine days. In a spiritual sense, this short period of counting represents man's lifetime from birth to judgment, when he will encounter either grace or divine wrath.  

Jesus was crucified on Friday as the Passover drew near.  He laid in the grave on the Sabbath of Unleavened Bread--a man incorruptible--then arose the third day, the Day of Firstfruits.  As a wave sheaf, Messiah ascended to the Father and to Heaven's Sanctuary, and there presented Himself as sacrifice, holy and acceptable.  Hence, it is written that "Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep," 1 Corinthians 15:20.

As the appointed times and seasons of the last days unfold, God's people must be aware of their meaning and purpose.  As Paul states, the religious festivals are a "shadow of things that were to come," which reality is found in Christ and His workings (Colossians 2:16).  Prophecy predicts that Antichrist (in pompous clothing) will be given a mouth to "utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months [1,260 days]," Revelation 13:5.  His rule will coincide with the two witnesses sent from Heaven (Elijah and Moses--men dressed in humble attire) who "will prophesy for 1,260 days," Revelation 11:3.  Judaism expects Elijah at Passover, so we should not be surprised that the arrival of the two witnesses occur at Passover in March or April of a future year.  

Students of prophecy will anticipate the arrival of the two heavenly witnesses, while the world's attention will be turned on the Catholic leader whose coming is accompanied by miracles and signs in the skies.  Warnings of prophecy will go unheeded even by Christianity, and he will be given "authority over every tribe, people. language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the Book of Life belonging to the Lamb," Revelation 13:7-8.  

As the early church, the saints should spend the 49 days of the omer counting between Passover and Pentecost as a time of fasting and prayer in preparation for the pouring out of God's witnessing power.  Endowed with the boldness of God's Holy Spirit, the saints will boldly witness even though persecuted and killed.  "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations [for 1,260 days], and then the end will come," Matthew 24:14

More on the Feast of First Fruits from Wikipedia.