The Appointed Times of YHVH—the Festival of the First-fruits
In Rabbinical Judaism the Festival of the First-fruits (HaBikkurim) is considered a purely agricultural holiday, in the Messianic movement this day goes almost unnoticeable under the shadow of the Passover, and in the Christianity it is simply unknown. And the reason being is that this forgotten festival is seen as a festival within the Festival of the Unleavened Bread (Chag Matzot), and sadly it has become “too little” to notice.
However, the appointed time of the Festival of the First-fruits (HaBikkurim) is the most significant day in the Creator’s calendar and in the Creator’s Redemption Plan to restore the world.
In this article we will study the next appointed time in the calendar of YHVH which, sadly to say, is “the forgotten day” on the calendar.
The belief of the present author is that the Festival of the First-fruits (בִּכּוּרִים bikkurim) has been in the Creator’s plan from the time of old to restore the world, as we read,
But this is how Elohim has filled what He had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that His Messiah was to suffer. Repent therefore and turn back, for the blotting out of your sins, in order that times of refreshing might come from the presence of the Master, and that He sends Yehoshua Messiah, pre-appointed for you, whom heaven needs to receive until the times of restoration of all, of which Elohim spoke through the mouth of all His set-apart prophets since of old. (Act 3:18-21)
The Redemption Plan of YHVH and the restoration of all are dependent on the coming of a pre-appointed man in the last days. That man was appointed to be the Messiah, the Anointed One, to restore the former glory of all.
That is not to say that the other appointed times of YHVH are of lesser importance. Not at all. Each appointed time of YHVH has its own significance and prophetic meaning starting with the weekly Shabbat.
But that is to say that without the fulfillment of this festival, all other appointed times would look incomplete. The goal of the present author is to reveal to the reader in the articles of the Festival of the First-fruits the significance of this festival of YHVH, because it should have been celebrated as the festival of all festivals, and rightly so.
In the articles dedicated to the Festival of the Unleavened Bread (Chag Matzot), we studied that this festival is a sign that should be between our eyes, that the Torah of Yehovah is to be in our mouth, for with a strong hand Yehovah has brought us out of Egypt. And we concluded that we had been delivered from “our Egypt” because of the blood of the Lamb, Yehoshua the Messiah.
We read from the 23rd chapter of Leviticus,
These are the appointed times of Yehovah, set-apart gatherings which you are to proclaim at their appointed times. (Lev 23:4)
Speak to the children of Israel, and you shall say to them, ‘When you come into the land which I give you, and shall reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first (fruits) of your harvest to the priest. And he shall wave the sheaf before Yehovah, for your acceptance. On the morrow after the Shabbat the priest waves it. And on that day when you wave the sheaf, you shall prepare a male lamb a year old, a perfect one, as a burnt offering to Yehovah,‘ (Lev 23:10-12)
A few things should be noticed here.
First, we notice that HaBikkurim (the First-fruits) is an agricultural festival of bringing the first-fruits of barley crop before YHVH. This festival is closely linked to the land of Israel, as it was said, “When you come into the land which I give you, and shall reap its harvest”, then we should notice that is also closely linked to the Temple service, as it was said, “then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. And he shall wave the sheaf before Yehovah, for your acceptance.”
There is a fundamental difference between what the Torah and the Rabbis teach regarding which day of the week the first fruits shall be brought before YHVH. The Rabbis teach that this day is the day that immediately follows the first day of the Unleavened Bread. However, we find that the Torah says on the morrow after the Shabbat.
The phrase הַשַּׁבָּת מָחֳרַת “the morrow after the Shabbat”, according to the interpretation of the Rabbis, refers to the next day after the first day of the Festival of the Unleavened Bread, i.e. the sixteenth day to be the day when the first fruits are to be brought to the priest.
But this cannot be possibly correct, since the first day of the Unleavened Bread, the fifteenth day of the month, has never been called a Shabbat in the Torah. Therefore, “the morrow after the Shabbat” can possibly mean only one thing: the day after the weekly Shabbat, that is the first day of the week.
And this is the correct way to determine the day when the first fruits of the harvest to be brought to the priest, because in the Torah only two days have been called Shabbat שַּׁבָּת and they are the seventh day of the week, which is the weekly Shabbat, and the tenth day of the seventh month: Yom Kippurim, the annual Shabbat.
Therefore, the command in Lev 23:15, which establishes the counting the omer (the barley sheaf) for the next agricultural festival Shavuot is to be understood as from the day of the first-fruits, the first day of the week, we shall count seven completed Shabbats, that is forty-nine days, and the fiftieth day (Pentecost in Greek) is the Festival of Shavuot. We read,
And from the morrow after the (weekly) Shabbat, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, you shall count for yourselves: seven completed Shabbats.
And again, according to Lev_23:15 the seven completed Shabbats are to be counted. If the counting of the fifty days (Lev 23:16) is to start on the sixteenth day, according to the Rabbinical Judaism, then by no means we can count seven complete Shabbats.
The Festival of Shavuot or the Festival of the Weeks, which falls on the fiftieth day of the counting, is also called a festival of the first-fruits, that of the wheat. And since the Festival of the First-fruits always falls on the first day of the week, so does Shavuot.
Both festivals, the Festival of the Unleavened Bread and the Festival of the Weeks (Shavuot), along with the Festival of the Tabernacles (Sukkot) are called set-apart convocations or gatherings when all Israel is called by YHVH to come in Jerusalem for celebration.
The other appointed times of YHVH are not called “convocations” and the people are not required to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
We should also notice that on the day of the First-fruits a male lamb a year old, a perfect one, is to be offered to Yehovah. This is very important to remember as we will discuss the signification of this day in the next article The Appointed Times of YHVH—the First-fruits and the Messiah.
We should also keep in mind that while the Unleavened Bread always commence on the fifteenth day of the month, which makes it a fixed day, the First-fruits is a floating day and always falls on the first day of the week. This is so, because these two days follow different cycles.
In the time of the Exodus, there were three days and three nights between the day when the Israelites slaughtered the Pesach (the Passover lambs) in Egypt and the day which later would be known as the First-fruits. This is also important to remember since we will see the same pattern many centuries later.
As of writing this article, 29 March 2017, it is reported in the land of Israel that the new moon has been sighted over Jerusalem and since the barley has been found to be in the stage of the Aviv, we have two witnesses to declare that the new Biblical year (Rosh HaShanah) has commenced. What makes this day historical is that the nascent Sanhedrin is meeting in Jerusalem on Wednesday as the sun sets to observe the new moon, but also to reinstate the Biblical calendar via witnesses reporting to a Sanhedrin.
“The beginning of our redemption from Egypt began with this,” Rabbi Hillel Weiss, spokesman for the Sanhedrin, told Breaking Israel News. “Reinstating the new month and witnesses appearing before the Sanhedrin will be the true beginning of this redemption. The new moon is God sending us a sign of new beginnings, and for us to establish Pesach (Passover) in its time.”
This news has been awaited in the last 2,000 years. What is interesting this year, as Rosh HaShanah has already begun, that there will be again three days and three nights from the day of Pesach to the First-fruits. Whether the occurrence of these events is by a heavenly design or mere coincidence, we do not know, but it is worth noticing.
The fifty days of counting the omer (the barley sheaf) represent the period during which the children of Israel were led out of Egypt by YHVH until they had reached Mount Sinai where they were given the Covenant and the Torah.
The tradition says that the children of Israel so eagerly were counting the days and the weeks from their departure from Egypt until they arrived to Mount Sinai to receive the Torah, that YHVH instituted the festival which later would be known as the Festival of Shavuot (the Weeks). And for this reason the Rabbis have instituted the counting of the fifty days to Shavuot to begin on the day after the first day of the Unleavened Breads.
However, as discussed above, the counting of these fifty days is to commence not on the sixteenth day, but on the day of the First-fruits, that is the day after the weekly Shabbat. If we count fifty days from the First-fruits, we will arrive exactly on the day when the Covenant was given at Mount Sinai: Shavuot.
For a detailed counting and day-by-day analysis of the events from the day Mosheh and Aharon went to the Pharaoh of Egypt until the children of Israel entered the land under the leadership of Yehoshua forty years later, the reader may want to refer to the chapters The Beginning of Months and The First Year at Mount Sinai of the present author’s book Reckoning of Time.
So, why would YHVH institute the counting of the fifty days to commence on the day of the First-fruits and not on the first day of the Unleavened Breads, the day when the Pesach (lambs) were eaten and the day when Israel left Egypt? We will seek to find the answer to this question in the following article: the First-fruits and the Messiah.
We will also seek to find the answer to the question as to why the Festival of the First-fruits is the most significant day in the Creator’s calendar in the next article “The Festival of the First-fruits and the Messiah.”
This article is a part of series of articles dedicated to the Appointed Times of YHVH and how His Messiah Yeshua has fulfilled them. For the rest of the set-apart days of the Creator, please, visit The Appointed Times of YHVH.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.