Continuing my study of Jewish feasts…
Sfirat HaOmer, or First Fruits, is the second spring festival celebrated by the Jews. Its name means “the counting of the sheaf,” and it celebrates the barley harvest in Israel, following closely on the heals of Passover. In fact, First Fruits takes place on the first day of the week following Passover.
Traditionally, this was the day the Jews brought their tithe of barley to the priests at the temple, where the sheaves would be waved for everyone to see. It is a celebration of God’s provision and a picture of the greater provision He had planned for the future.
Because it is also the day Christ rose from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection was the fulfillment of First Fruits.
Paul, in speaking of the the order of Resurrection, writes in I Cor. 15:22-23, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.” And John, in chapter 12, verses 24 and 32, records Jesus’ words as he speaks of his approaching death. “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds…But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”
Now, when we raise the grain offering, we are testifying to the Resurrection and the provision God made through his Son, our Messiah, Jesus Christ.
First Fruits also begins the counting of the Omer. In Lev. 23:15-16, God instructed his people, “‘From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD.”
Fifty days separate Sfirat HaOmer, the festival of the early first fruits, from Shavuot, the festival of the later first fruits, which coincides with the wheat harvest in Israel. Each evening during this interim, Jewish families recite blessings and count off another day.
This year, on Easter Sunday, which happens to be the first day of the week following Passover, my kids and I are going to add to our Easter traditions by celebrating First Fruits. And then we will begin our count-up to Shavuot, when we will discover the next revelation in God’s plan, and the incredible fulfillment He arranged 50 days after Messiah’s resurrection.