Readings: Exodus 23:14-16, Leviticus 23, Luke 24, 1 Corinthians 15:20-26
The God of Israel is a God of order and of mindfulness—He delights in memorializing His work so that His people never forget what He has done for them. In Leviticus 23, He outlines the annual holy feasts of the Jewish people, each one intended to remind them of His work in their history. One of these is called the Feast of the Harvest, or “firstfruits.”
The celebration of firstfruits would take place as part of a weeklong celebration called the Feast of Unleavened Bread, designated to begin on the fifteenth day of the first month of the Jewish calendar—the day after the commemoration of the Lord’s Passover. Firstfruits would be the first Sabbath after Passover, and an offering of the firstfruits of the harvest—literally the “first-ripe things”—would be given the next day, on Sunday, as an offering both of thanksgiving and of trust that this first evidence of the harvest signified more of God’s provision to come. The Feast of the Harvest would officially end seven weeks later with another “new” grain offering, on the day we know as Pentecost.
It’s no coincidence that our God of order and of mindfulness ordained Christ’s death for the same time that the Passover lamb would be sacrificed (Luke 22:1-23)—or that He would be raised from the dead on the first day of the week, the day of the offering of firstfruits. Paul called Him “the firstfruits of those who are asleep”: the first One to be resurrected from the dead, with the expectation of more to come. Where the traditional celebration of firstfruits required God’s people to give up the very earliest results of their labor as a gesture of trust, Christ as the Firstfruits was God giving up His own and only begotten as a gesture of guarantee for our coming resurrection.
And also not surprisingly, this Feast of the Harvest came to a close seven weeks later with the giving of the Holy Spirit—the seal of our future hope.
Having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.