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 on the day after the Sabbath (Leviticus 23:10b, 11 NIV).
God had hidden a beautiful truth in this simple ceremony. This was the Feast of Firstfruits. It was a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Paul wrote: “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20 NIV). So, it will be worthwhile to try to understand the beauty of the truth of the firstfruits. For, it signifies the hope of our resurrection!
The thing to note is that God asked the Israelites to bring the first sheaf of grain and wave it before the Lord on a Sunday, that is, on the day after the Sabbath. Jesus too, rose from the dead on a Sunday. He thus became the firstfruits of those who came out of the earth from death.
Maybe you can also think that sheaves of grain come out of the ground when a grain falls into the ground and dies and produce stalks. Likewise Jesus also came out of the heart of the earth in His resurrection.
Since He died and came back to life it meant that multitudes more would come up out of death into life as Jesus Himself pointed out (Ref. John 12:24).
Now the offering of the firstfruits also had another significance. The Israelites offered the firstfruits to God at the beginning of the harvest. So the firstfruits became a kind of promise of the harvest that was to follow.
Fifty days later, again on a Sunday, they came with bread baked out of the first grain they harvested and waved it before the Lord. Remember, the first time, they came with the sheaf of new grain. This time, they come with baked bread out of the new grain (Leviticus 23:15–21). That signified the gathering of the harvest.
This fiftieth day came to be observed as Pentecost. And on Pentecost Sunday, exactly fifty days after Jesus was risen from the dead, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples.
After Peter preached the first sermon in the power and filling of the Holy Spirit, three thousand people were added to their number that day (Acts 2:41). That was the harvest.
Thus Christ was symbolized in the offering of the firstfruits. He was the first to rise from the dead. That promised to humanity that there was going to be a great harvest of resurrected people to come later.
If you trust in Him, you too will be part of the great harvest of souls; who will resurrect. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is its sure promise!