By Penny Sheahan
First Fruit Blessings
Study Notes by
Oh! The excitement, the great anticipation in Israel as all the people turn their focus toward the grain-laden fields. It is obvious harvest time is near!
Sun parched stalks bow their heads heavily — asking almost audibly for the reaping to begin. As a woman, heavily pregnant and past her date of delivery, the fields seem to groan with the weight of the grain they are carrying. “How much longer?” they whisper, each breeze echoing the lament. “Hurry,” they breathe, “relieve us of our burden and gather the harvest! How much longer must we wait for the laborers to come to us?”
SUDDENLY, One reaper responds to the cries from the fields. He steps confidently into the midst of the harvest. With deft strokes, He slices a few stalks of grain, gathering them tenderly for this occasion. The occasion is an important one. This is the FEAST OF THE SHEAF OF FIRSTFRUITS. Israel bursts with hope and rejoicing! The people know that after this sheaf of FIRSTFRUITS was offered to and accepted by God in His sanctuary, ALL the grain could be taken from the field. Soon, very soon, the entire crop would be harvested (Leviticus 23:9-14).
We stand at this very point in the world today. God is gathering the FIRSTFRUITS of His people.
These “FIRSTFRUITS,” we believe, will be God’s new hand-picked, forerunning leadership. By their special dedication to Him, the harvest will begin. These “FIRSTFRUITS” leaders, once chosen and brought into God’s sanctuary, will become the catalyst to bring in the harvest of all. This chosen leadership will be so in the presence of Jesus, so close to His heart, they will feel His very heart beat. They will know Jesus’ overwhelming love and desire for mankind to come to salvation. Their praying and their preaching of the Word will be with brokenness and tears. They will be burdened in their spirits that the Lord of the Harvest send forth laborers into His harvest. A great host of laborers will soon follow the Word they preach. These laborers will continue to bring in the harvest. This is joyous news for all, for this process will usher in, we believe, the last great end-of-the-world harvest of souls (Matthew 13:39).
Before any new thrust of God, He chooses those to lead. In the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, it was Moses. In the conquest of the promised land, it was Joshua. In New Testament times, God chose Paul to bring in the Gentiles and Peter to lead the Jews. Every great revival has its FIRSTFRUIT leadership.
Psalm 126:4,5,6 says: “Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth bearing precious seed shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
This is a prophetic Psalm speaking of a spiritual harvest. This Psalm gives us an indication of what the FIRSTFRUIT leadership will be. They will be:
1. The FIRST ones brought out of captivity (verse 4)
2. The FIRST to weep for the people (verse 5)
3. The FIRST to be sent (verse 6)
4. The FIRST to gather the harvest (verse 6)
Those chosen for leadership are not usually who we expect, for God does not see as man sees. Man looks at outward ability; God looks at the heart (2 Samuel 16:7). We will see that this new leadership will not only initiate the gathering of the end-time harvest of souls, but will also exemplify Jesus’ heart.
The “heart” characteristics of FIRSTFRUIT leadership and those who follow are given to us in Revelation 14:4: “These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the FIRSTFRUITS unto God and to the Lamb.”
The characteristics of those mentioned are:
1. Cleansed (not defiled)
2. Chaste (virgins or morally pure)
3. Constant (followers of the lamb)
We urge you, people of God, and especially those aspiring to leadership, PURIFY YOUR HEARTS. Do it quickly for the time is short.
James 4:8 says, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.”
Stay close to God. Revel in His presence. Behold His glory. Be consumed with His love. We’re seeing leaders with Jesus’ heart attitude being plucked by God out of their jobs, out of their ministries, out of their cities, out of their churches, out of their countries, into a new and higher place in Him. This is such a transition for them. Remember, it is for the benefit of the whole body that these FIRSTFRUITS are being taken. The best thing we can do for these forerunning ministries is to release them to God’s purposes. He will do the rest!
Rejoice! This is the beginning of the Harvest!
“FIRST FRUIT BLESSINGS”
There are several important events that happened on the day of the Sheaf of First Fruits (also called the Feast of Unleavened Bread) in the Bible. We believe these events are prophetic, pointing to the same type of events in store for those believers who “follow the Lamb wherever He goes….being First Fruits to God and to the Lamb” (Revelation 14:4).
Re-positioning and Rest
Noah’s ark rests on Mount Ararat (Genesis 8:4).
Release from Bondage
Israel crosses the Red Sea (Exodus, Chapter 14).
Revelation and Provision
Israel eats the first fruits of the Promised Land (Joshua 5:10-12). The manna that God gave from Heaven during the days in the wilderness ceased the sixteenth day of Nisan after the people ate of the old corn of the land. The day following was the seventeenth of Nisan, the day when the children of Israel ate the first fruits of the Promised Land.
Removal of Enemies
Haman is defeated (Esther 3:1-6). In the Book of Esther, Haman plotted to kill all the Jews in Persia and Media. A decree was sent out on the thirteenth of Nisan that all the Jews would be killed. Upon hearing this news, Esther proclaims a three-day fast which would be Nisan 14-16. On the sixteenth of Nisan, Esther risked her life when she came to King Ahasuerus. The king asked her, in effect, “Tell me, what do you want?” Esther replied, “If it seems good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him.” This was the sixteenth day of Nisan. At the banquet, the king again asked Esther what she wanted, and she asked the king to come to another banquet to be held the next day, the seventeenth of Nisan. On this day, Haman, meaning “rager,” is hanged.
The MOST IMPORTANT event happening on this day was the resurrection of JESUS (John 12:24, 1 Corinthians 15:16-20).
The Lord Jesus celebrated the Festival of First Fruits by offering Himself as the first fruits to all future generations (Matthew 27:52-53).
First Fruits is prophetic of the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of those who are Christ’s at His coming
The Festival of the Sheaf of the First Fruits is prophetic of the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus prophesied that He would rise three days and nights after He was crucified upon the cross (Matthew 12:40, Luke 24:46). This was foreshadowed to happen in the Old Testament by type and shadow (Genesis 22:1-6, Exodus 3:18, 8:27).
Since Jesus was crucified on the day of Passover, the fourteenth of Nisan, and He arose from the grave three days and nights after He was crucified, Jesus arose from the grave on the seventeenth of Nisan, the day of the festival of First Fruits. This day would be the day after the weekly Sabbath during the week of Passover (Mark 16:1-6). In fact, Jesus is called the first fruits of those who rise from the dead.
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming” (I Corinthians 15:20-23).