FEAST OF FIRST FRUITS
The Day of Firstfruits, known today as Resurrection Day, is the third of the seven annual feasts of God in the Bible. As the seven feasts are grouped into three, Resurrection Day is part of the second group of feasts together with the Pentecost. Resurrection Day is celebrated the day after the first Sabbath following the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In other words, it’s the Sunday after the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This is why Resurrection Day is always on a Sunday.
Throughout the Bible, a feast can have multiple names to help show its proper meaning based on the context. In the Old Testament, the Day of Firstfruits is also called the feast of the wave offering and the festival of first harvest.
“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.”
The Day of Firstfruits is a commemoration of God’s great power through the resurrection of Christ.
Origin of the Feast of Firstfruits
After demanding the Israelites to leave Egypt, Pharaoh immediately changed his mind and sent his army to capture them. As Pharaoh’s army chased after them, God helped the Israelites cross the Red Sea on dry ground with walls of water stretched high on both sides. As soon as they crossed the sea, it went back to its place and the Egyptian army was buried in the water.
God commanded the Israelites to commemorate the day every year so that they might remember His mighty power revealed on that day. This is the origin of the Day of Firstfruits (Ex 14:26-31).
On the day after the first Sabbath following the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Israelites brought a sheaf of the first grain to the priest. The priest waved the sheaf before God so it could be accepted as an offering on behalf of the people. (Leviticus 23:9-11)
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. When you enter the land I am giving you and you harvest its first crops, bring the priest a bundle of grain from the first cutting of your grain harvest. On the day after the Sabbath, the priest will lift it up before the Lord so it may be accepted on your behalf.”
Leviticus 23:9-12 (NLT)
The Israelites kept the Feast of Firstfruits as God commanded year after year. All of this took place as a prophecy of what Jesus would fulfill in the New Testament.
Meaning of the Feast of Firstfruits
The first grain or the firstfruits represents Jesus Christ who was the first to experience resurrection from the dead.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
1 Corinthians 15:20 (NIV)
Just as God commanded the Israelites to present the first cutting of their grain harvest on the Sunday after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, so Jesus resurrected on a Sunday in fulfillment of the prophecy. And Resurrection Day is to always be celebrated on a Sunday – the day after the Sabbath.
Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!”
Mark 16:2-6 (NLT)
The Day of Firstfruits is celebrated on Sunday every year. Through His resurrection, Jesus became the fulfillment and true offering of the Firstfruits.
“The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”
Since Christ resurrected and ascended to heaven, Christians who participate in the Feast of Firstfruits also have hope for the resurrection and to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Celebrating Resurrection Day Today
In the Old Testament times, the people of God had to offer up the first fruits of their harvest (Leviticus 23:9-11)
In the New Testament times, after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to two of his disciples who did not recognize Him, and gave us the example on how to commemorate Resurrection Day.
As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him.
Luke 24:15 (NLT)
“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.”
Luke 24:19 (NLT)
After the crucifixion, the disciples forgot everything Jesus had thought them and lost hope that He was indeed the Messiah. Even as He stood in front of them and spoke with them after His resurrection, they could not recognize Him. So that night, Jesus broke bread with them – the bread of the resurrection – and allowed their spiritual eyes to open and recognize their Savior.
The World Mission Society Church of God keeps the Resurrection Day according to the teachings of Jesus by breaking bread.