Another feast day is come upon us. A very important one because of it’s significance.This feast is the third in the Jewish calendar and is called the FEAST OF FIRST FRUITS, WEEKS or PENTECOST or in the Hebrew, CHAG SHAVU’OT.
The Jews relate it to the day Moses received the LAW, and Christians to the day the HOLY SPIRIT descended on the apostles in tongues of fire.
The first mention of this feast in the Bible is in EXODUS Chapter 23 verse 16, where YAHWEH listed it as one of the three times in which all MALES of the children of Israel “….shall appear before HIM”, he says further in verse 19 that “The first of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of YAHWEH your Elohim – noting that not all would be farmers, and that some of them could even be herdsmen, as many of us are into many professions today, the next line is instructive- “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk”. That is to say, a suckling kid, which though may be the first of first fruits cannot be presented before YAHWEH, probably for reasons relating to animal cruelty. The law therefore isn’t strict as regards what must be presented as “first of FIRSTFRUITS”.
The feast of first fruits is referred to as the “…FEAST OF WEEKS, of the first fruits of WHEAT HARVEST” as against the “….FEAST OF INGATHERING at the year’s end” in Exodus chapter 34 verse 22, in which we are admonished to observe them, as two of the three feasts in a year in which “…. all your men children appear before YAHWEH, the Elohim of Israel.
Amongst many observers of this feast, the bone of contention is the day in which the feast is meant to be observed. The key however to determining this day is another day of great significance from which the
count is made to arrive at the FEAST Of FIRST FRUITS. This day is the day or that moment in which “…..ye shall bring a Sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest unto the priest:”, as it is written in Leviticus 23 verse 10. This SHEAF is to be waved before YAHWEH, “…to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath…” (Leviticus 23:11).
Amongst many a Jewry, the fifty days that determines the day on which the feast falls (the reason why it’s called the Pentecost in some quarters) is counted from the day after the FEAST OF PASSOVER, following the FEAST of UNLEAVENED BREAD, considered and rightly so, a HIGH SABBATH at evening, regardless of the day it falls on. This makes its observance fall on any day of the week.
Some Messianic Jews emphasize the “….SEVEN SABBATHS shall be complete” part of LEVITICUS Chapter 23 verse 15, “…and ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; Seven Sabbaths shall be complete:
(16) Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty days…”, which will make the Feast of Weeks fall on the first day of the week, a Sunday every year.
They derive the backing for this doctrine from the context of the body of Leviticus Chapter 23 in which though the feast days mentioned were all referred to as HOLY CONVOCATIONS, none were particularly referred to as Sabbaths (which is also a holy convocation) save for the SEVENTH DAY of the week. This Sabbath was only once again mentioned in verse 15 – “… And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; Seven Sabbaths shall be complete:”
This Sabbath in the midst of the seven day long feast of unleavened bread is considered as a “High Sabbath” by this group, and the waving of the sheaf is done at its end, for which seven Sabbaths are then counted, and the Feast of First Fruits held the next day, a Sunday!
I will rather not dwell too long on the day the feast is meant to be celebrated since I’ve no intention (besides just mentioning it), to prove that one angle is right over the other. Other sources make better documentation of this issue than I would prefer to dabble into for now. It is pertinent however to note the importance of the “waving of the sheaf” besides just been the indicator for determining a great feast.
In waving the sheaf, the priest (as pastors and Cohen of today do) back in the day prayed on behalf of the people to begin to consume of the first fruits (mainly of barley, wheat and corn) before they are officially presented before YAHWEH, FIFTY DAYS later in the feast of First Fruits. It will probably be unreasonable to have people wait till the feast of Pentecost before partaking of the first fruits, though in Leviticus Chapter 23 verse 14, we are admonished to “….eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto YAHWEH your Elohim: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings”, that is, between the time we notice the sprouting of these fruits to the time the sheaf is waved during the feast of unleavened bread. Interestingly, the account in Joshua Chapter 5 verse 11 and 12, suggests that once the children of Israel ate of the “old” the corn of the land of Canaan the day after the Passover, MANNA which they had been feasting on for some forty odd years ceased to fall.
The importance of the feast of first fruits is further emphasized in Deuteronomy Chapter 16 verse 16, where the feast is again listed as one of the three in which all males shall appear before YAHWEH, not empty handed but “….shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of YAHWEH thy Elohim which he hath given thee.” (verse 17).
Because this feast is decreed to last through all generations in all your dwellings as stated earlier you will find that the tradition continued even away from the wilderness, where this instruction was given to the Israelites, even to the promised land as seen with Hezekiah in “2 Chronicles Chapter 31 verse 5”, to the dispersion and return from exile of Judah (Nehemiah 10:35), and on to the New Covenant with YAHSHUA where the event of note is the account in the Acts of The Apostles Chapter 2, where the apostles became empowered following the descent of the HOLY SPIRIT upon them in “cloven tongues like as of fire”, enabling them to bring to fulfillment the words spoken by the prophet Joel in chapter 2 verses 28-32.
Infact it was to this feast of Pentecost that Paul purported to attend in Jerusalem when he was arrested, as Acts Chapter 20 verse 16 records as follows: “For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost”.
All of what I have stated so far are important, but of much importance is the significance of celebrating this feast. 1 Corinthians Chapter 15 verse 20 says- “But now is the Messiah risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept”
(21) For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
(22) For as in Adam all die, even so in the Messiah shall all be made alive.
(24) But every man in his own order: the Messiah the firstfruits; afterward they that are the Messiah’s at his coming.
Therein lies our hope, as it goes beyond just “meat and bread”, but rather a meaning to our existence, especially in the hereafter. Regardless of whether you celebrated yours yesterday or will do, next Sunday, the feast of firstfruits, or weeks, or Pentecost is but a parable of what we could and will be if we observe to do the will of YAHWEH. The promise of rising after death remains an enticing prospect especially when it is to give up the corruptible for the incorruptible, as the firstfruits of the RESURRECTION, definitely not something I wish to pass up on, and hopefully neither do you.