As we are quickly approaching the season of Passover, I am reminded that the timing of the death and resurrection of Christ can be quite confusing since the Jews count the days from sundown to twilight of the next day as one day. I won’t go into the details of when all the events took place during that holy week because I’m still trying to wrap my own brain around that and there are many resources online to help with understanding this. I have found something fascinating with regard to Firstfruits though- an appointed time that happened during the week Christ was sacrificed and resurrected that is pretty fascinating.
In Leviticus 23:9-14, we see that God calls His people to make an offering of first fruits – the first of the barley harvest that was dedicated to God and represented the harvest that was yet to come with God’s grace and mercy. This offering was to be made the day after Unleavened Bread during the Passover week. It was only after this offering of Firstfruits, that the spring harvest available for the people to use.
Now hang in there for a minute…
According to the Jewish calendar system, Passover begins on Nisan 14 and according to Leviticus 23:11, the offering of Firstfruits is to be made the first day after the Sabbath during the week of Passover. Now this has come to mean different things to the Jews. If Nisan 14 falls on a Monday, the offering of Firstfruits would be made either the following Sunday (after the weekly sabbath) or it could be made after the first day of Unleavened Bread (a high or holy sabbath) which would have been much earlier in the week.
So obviously there was/is controversy as to what is meant by the Sabbath in Lev 23:11. Does it refer to the weekly Sabbath on Saturday? Or the “high” sabbath which could fall on any day during the week because it was always on Nisan 15?
Here’s where is gets interesting! As we blend our calendar with the Jewish calendar, it just so happens that during the year Jesus was crucified and resurrected, Nisan 14 would have been on a Thursday – this was the beginning of Passover. According to both camps, the offering of Firstfruits came the first day after the weekly sabbath which was also the day after Unleavened Bread. It doesn’t happen every year, but during the year of Christ’s death, both of these fell on the same day. There was no discrepancy between the two Jewish camps. Coincidence? Of course not! God doesn’t deal in coincidences.
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.” 1 Corinthians 15:20-23:
Paul has made the connection between this Jewish holiday and our Christian faith. All of the Jews would have been united in the offering of Firstfruits on the day Jesus rose from the dead. For all Jews and all Gentiles, during this year of Christ’s death, it was He (Jesus) who was the offering of Firstfruits for God’s people – those who were present at that day and for all who would be apart of His future harvest! During this particular year, “our Lord offered to the Father the ‘early crops’ of what will be an overwhelming harvest at the end of the age. …Yeshua is the first-begotten of the Father(Heb. 1:6); the Firstborn of creation (Col 1:15-16); the first-begotten of the dead (Rev 1:5) and the Firstfruits of those who are to be resurrected (1 Cor. 15:20-23). Baruch Hashem (blessed is God).” ~from www.hebrew4christians.com.
Here’s a brief snapshot of the significance we find in Christ through all three of the special events during this holy week that I’ve mentioned above:
- Passover: represents our justification before God. Jesus was sacrificed and His blood offered in our place.
- Unleavened Bread: represents our sanctification. It is a process to rid ourselves of sin and become more holy as God calls us to be. Just like the bread, Christ had been pierced and striped for our sake. (Isa. 53:5)
- Offering of Firstfruits: represents our glorification. The resurrection of Christ was His wave offering before the Father of the coming harvest of all His people at the end of the age.
I’m not sure where the church is in all of this… except they celebrated this a few weeks ago during Easter. However, this year happens to be one of those years where Passover (Nisan 14) falls on a Friday and the journey of Christ to the cross and through resurrection could be followed on the traditional days that we always celebrated Easter (Friday – Sunday). It is incredibly sad to me that the church and the Jewish holy days are so separated, but that’s another blog post for another time.