Not sure where “Easter” came from? Try First-Fruits instead. Peter Sammons reminds us of God’s prophetic plan.
The Festival of Unleavened Bread (largely forgotten today)
Biblically, after Passover/Unleavened Bread (as part of the Festival of Unleavened Bread) on the third day at the crack of dawn a Priest from the Temple goes to a field locally and cuts a sheaf of the Barley. This opens the Jewish ‘harvest season’.
These sheaves are literally the ‘first-fruits’ of the harvest; they were taken directly to the Temple (Tabernacle). There the Priest ‘waves’ the sheaf in each direction, NSEW, acknowledging God’s provision and sovereignty over the entire world (not just Israel). In so doing the Priest is publicly trusting God for the entire harvest. So not just the ‘first’ fruits, but the entire harvest belongs to God.
The festival of Unleavened Bread has reminded the Israelites (1) of deliverance from an ancient enemy (2) that this enemy has been ‘buried’ whilst Israel has survived and (3) that God will sustain her into an uncertain future (remember, the whole harvest has not yet grown, let alone been harvested).
The next ‘item’ on the Leviticus calendar is Latter First Fruits (more correctly Shavuot / Feast of Weeks / Pentecost which is emblematic of the ongoing harvesting that takes place throughout the summer and only drawing to a close with the festival of Trumpets). Trumpets reminds Israel that it is ‘warned’ (or it is being flagged) that the harvesting period is closed and the coming ‘religious observance’ will be Atonement (when the nation atones for its sins – through sacrifice) and finally Tabernacles when the nation remembers that God Tabernacles with His People through thick and thin.
First-Fruits and Jesus (largely forgotten today)
The festival of ‘Unleavened Bread’ (collectively the three consecutive days called Passover, Unleavened Bread and First Fruits) are prophetic of the sacrifice and rising of Jesus (Yeshua).
Jesus is, of course, High Priest (Hebrews 4: 14-16). Jesus died in our place, at Passover. Jesus was buried in our place, represented by Unleavened Bread. And Jesus is the first-fruit of the eternal harvest that is still being gathered-in today. As High Priest Jesus goes into the Holy of Holies to represent us before His Father. Jesus ‘obtains’ forgiveness for us, by fully paying the debt we owe. We should have died! He died in our place at Passover. He was buried in our place at Unleavened Bread. He rises from the grave at First-Fruits because He is the first-fruit of the eternal harvest (no more dying!). The FACT that He arose is our guarantee that we also will arise.
After Passover/Unleavened Bread (as part of the Festival of Unleavened Bread) on the third day at the crack of dawn Jesus was raised from death almost certainly at the same time as the Priest was cutting that sheaf of the Barley. The Priest could not have known that what he was doing, prophetically, was symbolic of what Jesus was doing at literally the same time! Rising from the grave!
Because Jesus has risen, so the entire harvest belongs to God. And the entire harvest will be gathered from N,S,E,W, across the entire planet. This harvest is all those who place their full trust in the atoning work of Jesus upon the cross of execution.
Through Jesus we are delivered from our ancient enemy, sin. Unleavened Bread reminds us (1) of deliverance from sin – its presence, its power and its consequences (2) that our sins have been ‘buried’ whilst we survive to serve our God – Who is also our Saviour – and (3) that God will sustain us into an uncertain future (remember, the whole spiritual harvest has not yet been harvested, in many cases it has not even been born!)
First Fruits reminds us that Jesus is alive, the guarantee that the entire, full harvest will eventually be gathered during the harvest period of living fruits.
Christians understand that Latter First Fruits (“Pentecost” which happens exactly 50 days after First Fruits) is prophetic of the beginning of what some call “the church age”, that era when the New Covenant is coming in (and progressively pushing out the older Covenant) to the blessing of all peoples everywhere.
From our perspective the next ‘item’ on God’s Salvation calendar lies in the future. Today remains the Latter First Fruits era, when God’s Holy Spirit empowers us and lives in us as the guarantee of our place in His royal household. ‘Tomorrow’ (the next item on God’s agenda) is Trumpets, which reminds us that the harvesting period will, and must, draw to a close.
Trumpets reminds all people that they are being ‘warned’ (or flagged) that the harvesting period is soon to close and the coming ‘religious observance’ will be Atonement, which will then be finally and completely fulfilled. Jesus will then have called-in His full household. After that it is our glorious promise that we shall ‘Tabernacle’ with our Saviour throughout eternity. Today our God Tabernacles here with His People through thick and thin. Tomorrow we shall Tabernacle with Him through eternity.
A wonderful and glorious prospect. Happy First-Fruits!
Peter Sammons is commissioning editor at Christian Publications International. He is author of the books “Rebel Church” (2013), “The Prince of Peace” (2015) and “Three Days and Three Nights – That Changed the World” (co-authored with David Serle) in 2019: https://christian-publications-int.com/default-32.html?ID=176 .