Feast of First Fruits and the Wave Sheaf

Excerpt from: J.K. McKee’s Moedim published 2013 by TNN Press. This resource is available for purchase here.

The Waving of the Sheaf

An important ceremony, known as the waving of the sheaf of first fruits, was to be observed in conjunction with the Festival of Unleavened Bread:[1]

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, “When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it”’” (Leviticus 23:9-11).

This first fruits offering was commanded to be presented before God, during the season of Passover and Unleavened Bread. Because there is no Temple any longer in which the priest can wave the omer or sheaf of first fruits, or present the proper offerings, its celebration was largely discontinued in Judaism after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem.[2] Leviticus 23:11-14 describes the kinds of offerings God expects to have presented to Him at this time:

“He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. Now on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb one year old without defect for a burnt offering to the LORD. Its grain offering shall then be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering by fire to the LORD for a soothing aroma, with its drink offering, a fourth of a hin of wine. Until this same day, until you have brought in the offering of your God, you shall eat neither bread nor roasted grain nor new growth. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.”

Yeshua the Messiah fulfilled the typology of firstfruits via His resurrection. Paul asserts in 1 Corinthians 15:17, “if Messiah has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” This was the time when the high priest or ha’kohen ha’gadol would enter into the Temple and wave the first fruits of the harvest before the Lord. It is representative of Yeshua’s being raised for us, as He is the first fruits of those who have been raised from the dead:

“But the fact is that the Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have died” (1 Corinthians 15:20, CJB).

Yeshua’s resurrection from the dead as first fruits— assures us that there will be a future resurrection of all redeemed saints into the restored Kingdom of God on Earth (1 Corinthians 15:12-14)![3]

 

Endnotes:

[1] Please note that as important as the waving of the sheaf ceremony is for understanding prophetic typology, that the Torah does not specify it as “Chag HaBikkurim” or the “Festival of First Fruits,” as is common in some Messianic circles.

[2] Consult the entry for “firstfruits” in Jacob Neusner and William Scott Green, eds. Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002), 228.

[3] For a discussion on what transpires in the intermediate time between death and resurrection, consult the author’s article “To Be Absent From the Body.”

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