Month Aviv 1:16, Week 3:1 (Rishon/Pesach), Year:Day 5937:016 AM|
Passover Season Day #3/8, Chag haMatazah Day 2/7
YOM HA-BIKKURIM (Firstfruits): Annual Moed #3
Gregorian Calendar: Thursday 25 April 2013
Yom haBikkurim 2013
Resurrection & the 7-50 Omer Principle
"'The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honour. Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.' Then a voice came from heaven, saying, 'I have both glorified it and will glorify it again'" (John 12:23-29, NKJV).
"And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the cohen (priest). He shall wave the sheaf before Yahweh, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the cohen (priest) shall wave it. And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to Yahweh. Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to Yahweh, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin. You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your Elohim (God); it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings" (Lev.23:9-14, NKJV).
Chag Sameach Yom haBikkurim kol Beit Yisra'el! May the grace of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) be with us as we assemble to hear the Davar Elohim (Word of God) to us today and to remember this most important of days in the B'rit Chadashah (New Covenant), the resurrection of the Son of Elohim (God)! For there is perhaps no more important historical event in the world, save the creation of the universe, than the resurrection of Yah'shua (Jesus) our Messiah.
Waving the Sheaf of Firstfruits
Let us go back in time to ancient Israel. When the standing ripe harvest was ready to be reaped, the pilgrim would take an omer or sheaf, known as the "sheaf of firstfruits", from the barley field and bring it to the cohen (priest). Then the cohen (priest) would wave it before Yahweh in the Temple. This was always done on Aviv 16, the day after the Sabbath which was always the first day of Chag haMatazah on Aviv 15.
The Omer as the Firstborn
This omer or sheaf of barley was the choicest sheaf and represented the firstborn son in a family. The firstborn son, unless revelation was given otherwise, is sent by Yahweh to a family to assume special responsibilities as his father's heir. In consequence, the firstborn son was always given a double portion of his father's inheritance. This did not represent any favouritism on Yahweh's part - the firstborn wasn't someone to be pampered. Rather, when his father died or became too infirm to manage the family any longer, it was the responsibility of the the firstborn son to assume headship over the family and to make sure that everyone's needs were taken care of. The extra portion of his father's inheritance was not for his private use but was set-apart or consecrated to helping other members of the family with special needs which they could not meet themselves. The firstborn was therefore pre-eminent not because he was 'teacher's pet' but because of his responsibilities to lead and take care of the family or clan upon his father's death, disbursing his estate and taking care of his widow(s).
The Firstfruits of the Flesh Dedicated to Yahweh
Because of His position, He was to be presented before Yahweh by his father just as the boy Samuel was. The principle of the firstborn was - and is - so sacred that all the firstborn, both human and animal, were - and are - to be presented before, and dedicated to, Yahweh for special service (Ex.13:2; 22:29).
Firstfruits of the Earth and of Wealth
Additionally, the firstfruits of the earth - the harvest - was also to be presented to Yahweh to give thanks and worship for His goodness (Dt.26:1-11). Likewise, the firstfruits of our wealth - the money we earn - is also consecrated to Yahweh, the tithe because it is dedicated to Yahweh's special service - a third of the tenth to be given to the ministry, a third of the tenth to the poor, and a third of the tenth to make adequate provisions for celebrating the annual festivals - provision for travel to assemble and provision for food.
The Third Day of Yom haBikkurim and the Threefold Tithe
One of the reasons Yahweh commanded the observance of Yom haBikkurim (Firstfruits) on the third day of the Passover Season is because of this threefold division of the tithe: it is not to be handed over as a lump sum to a 'church' or ministry but has specific uses. Those who obediently tithe according to Yahweh's tavnith (pattern) use this money for the threefold purpose that Yahweh always intended for it: the local ministry or assembly, meeting the eneds of poor people as Yahweh leads them to us, and making sure we have privisions to honour Yahweh properly at the festivals.
The Birth of the Firstborn Son of Elohim
Most importantly of all, Yom haBikkurim (Firstfruits) prefigures Yahweh's Firstborn Son, Yah'shua (Jesus):
Yah'shua Born on Passover Day
"Now the birth of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, a malak (angel) of Yahweh appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name YAH'SHUA (JESUS), for He will save His people from their sins.' So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Yahweh through the prophet, saying: 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which is translated, 'El[ohim] (God) with us.' Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the malak (angel) of Yahweh commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name YAH'SHUA (JESUS)" (Matt.1:18-25, NKJV).
Most of you here know that Yah'shua (Jesus) was born during the Passover Season. He was not born at 'Christmas' (as Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and most Protestants teach) and he wasn't born at Sukkot (Tabernacles) as most Messianics teach but on Passover itself. This is of great symbolic significance because of the gap between Pesach (Passover) and Yom haBikkurim (Firstfruits). Yah'shua (Jesus) lay in the tomb during a period of three calendar days (not 72 hours). So it is appropriate that we commemorate His birth and resurrection together at this season even though we are not commanded to specifically observe His birthday.
Firstfruits of the Resurrection for the
Barley Qodeshim - the Poor in Spirit
The first barley harvest at Yom haBikkurim (Firstfruits) therefore represents all those talmidim (disciples) who have put their emunah (faith, trust) and confidence in the resurrected Messiah, Yah'shua (Jesus) (Mt.13:39; Mk.4:26-29; Lk.10:1-12; Rev.14:14-16). The omer or sheaf that we metaphorically 'wave' today is the declaration in our levim (hearts) that Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is the firstfruits of the resurrection on behalf of those who are poor in spirit, the barley qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones), as it were, for barley is the poor-man's grain for poor man's bread.
The Wheat Qodeshim of Shavu'ot
In this morning's first passage I read to you, you will recall Yah'shua (Jesus) said that "unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain". He is speaking of wheat here, not barley - the wheat harvest is not until the summer and the next festival of Shavu'ot (Pentecost).
Barley and Wheat Believers Contrasted
When we read the passage carefully, we see that Yah'shua is talking about the maturer talmid (disciple), the one who "hates his life in this world" because he wishes to "keep it for eternal life". The difference between Yom haBikkurim (Firstfruits) and Shavu'ot (Pentecost) is the difference between the new and the maturer believer, between barley and wheat, between milk and meat, between a child-like emunah (faith) and the maturer walk in Torah, between a couple getting engaged and a couple making the permanent committment in betrothal. It is the difference between initial resurrection life that is mediated through the Ruach haShleshi and the further filling of the Ruach (Spirit) mediated by the Ruach haRevee. These two festivals therefore respresent distinct statges in spiritual growth and maturity. If Yom haBikkurim is first fruits of the barley harvest then Shavu'ot may rightly be termed second fruits or the wheat harvest.
Why 7 Sabbaths and 50 Days?
From today we are commanded to start counting the omer - seven sabbaths plus 50 days - to take us to Shavu'ot. Why has Yahweh commanded us to do this? Yes, we are elsewhere commanded to plot the moedim or divine appointments using the luni-solar calendar but between no two other festivals are we commanded to count seven weeks and then 50 days. Why this attention to such detail? And why is it important for us to be reminded of this count, first weekly for seven weeks, and then on a daily basis for 50 days? Why a week count and then a day count?
Symbolism of the Number 7
Seven is the number of completion and of spiritual perfection. We are on such a journey and are reminded of this sevenfold spiritual walk in the seven festivals, the seven days of the week, the seven days of Chag haMatzah and the seven days of Sukkot. The exact number of days between the first and seventh sabbaths will depend on the number of New Moons and extra Rosh Chodesh Preparation days there are. This year there are 43 days in all.
Seven Sabbaths are Not 50 Luni-Solar Days
When Talmudic Jews and Messianics who follow their calendar explain why they count only 50 days and don't include the extra seven sabbaths, they claim that they are one and the same, viz. the seven sabbaths are the 50 days. But this only works for their corrupt solar calendar. If you are following the correct luni-solar calendar the 7 sabbaths and the 50 days cannot be the same because the 7 sabbaths do not compute to 50 exact days. The is more evidence in support of the Creation Calendar.
The 50 Days Dissected
Likewise, the 50 day section of the count is not equivalent to 7 whole consecutive weeks folllowed by an extra day as this will again depend on the number of New Moons and Preparation Days and their juxtapositions. This year, for example, there are three seven-day weeks followed by a Rosh Chodesh followed by 4 seven-day weeks. In a cycle where there is a Rosh Chodesh and a Preparation Day there may not be 7 whole weeks of seven days but 6 seven-day weeks, a six day partial week, Rosh Chodesh and the Preparation Day. So we must be careful with our symbolism.
Thus the "7 sabbaths" and the "50 days" are slightly different units of time. What is important in the "50 days" symbolism is the number 50, not how it is broken down. And we'll see what they refer to in terms of two other moedim (appointments) in a minute.
Multiplying Newness of Life in Yah'shua
So whilst we receive newness of life at Yom haBikkurim (Firstfruits) we also receive more newness of life at Shavu'ot (Pentecost) and yet more newness of life at Sukkot (Tabernacles). And the more chayim (life) we receive from the Saviour the more eager we are to have yet more - hence we start counting the days rather than just the weeks!
Three Levels of Resurrection Power of the Pilgrim Festivals
So many Christians believe that the Pentecostal infilling (and I am not talking about Pentecostal Denomination- or Charismatic Movement-type 'tongues' and all the other psychic junk that often follows) is the 'end-of-the-road' as it were, that's there's nothing more. It's the completeness. And yet others never even experience that, subsisting on a dry and lifeless emunah (faith) that is not of the fullness because they are not properly submitted or obedient. But there is more - lots more! The resurrection power is available on three primary levels corresponding to the three Pilgrim Festivals as we also understand from the three glories of resurrection that Paul talks about.
Changing Gear From Weeks to Days as Spiritual Hunger Grows
The 7-50 tavnith (pattern) teaches us that the more we taste of Yah'shua (Jesus) the more we want of Him! No longer content to mark time weekly as we do at the beginning, metaphorically counting 7 sabbaths, we eagerly start searching for Him daily. Ask youself why Yahweh didn't just command us to count 21 weeks and 1 day? Why 7 weeks and then 50 days? Because He is trying to show us that the soul that is growing in Messiah gets hungrier and hungrier for emet (truth) and chayim (life)! It's a sign of one who is growing in Yah'shua (Jesus) - these qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones) don't reach a summit and suddenly plateau...or start stagnating and declining in the emunah (faith) as so many believers do because this count on one level lasts our whole lifetime. That's why Sctripture tells us we cannot continue indefinitely on a spiritually milk diet without eventually starving. We are counting the weeks and then, as we get older, the days - one at a time - before we come home to Yah'shua (Jesus) in heaven. Time speeds up as old folk will tell you both temporally as well as spiritually.
The Eternally Expansing Cosmos of the Creator
The Heavenly Kingdom is not static but constantly growing and expanding and will do so throughout eternity even after the resurrection.
For those who seek the fullness there will be this everlasting growth. For those who do not - who are content to stop where they are and go no further - there can neither be expansion and growth either here or in the eternities. Only the children of the first resurrection will be a part of this expansion.
"Of the increase of His government and shalom (peace) there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of Yahweh of hosts will perform this" (Isa.9:7, NKJV).
The Passive and Active Aspects of Spiritual Growth
But notice that Yahweh did not in any case say "count seven weeks" but "seven sabbaths". This chouce of words is no 'accident' either. You see, the seven "sabbaths" denote the calm, restful and peaceful aspect of this searching and growing, whereas the the 50 days represent a much more 'active' and 'exciting' aspect. Our walk with Messiah is both extremely peaceful and restful as well as thrilling and exhilarating. Here we see the female (passive) and male (active) aspects of discipleship in balance.
The Sabbatical and Jubilee Years
There is one more important symbolic emet (truth) that we must talk about in the 7-50 principle and that is the Sabbatical Year and the Jubilee. Every seventh year was designated as a year of rest of the land, meaning, that fields were to lie fallow:
A Commandment With a Promise
"Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to Yahweh. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to Yahweh. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land. And the sabbath produce of the land shall be food for you: for you, your male and female servants, your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you, for your livestock and the beasts that are in your land -- all its produce shall be for food" (Lev.25:2-7, NKJV).
Whatever grew wild that year was to be left for the poor to glean and everything else was for the animals (Ex.23:11; Dt.15:2-18). Yahweh provides for all. He also promised that the sixth year would provide enough for three years to include the Land Sabbath or Sabbatical Year with more to spare (Lev.25:20ff). Indeed one of our next and most urgent tasks is to determine when the sabbatical years are to to obey this mitzvah (commandment) and to receive its promises fotr it will be impossible to live without the supernatural provision of a triple harvest on the sixth year before the Sabbatical one.
Observing the Sabbatical Year is a Commandment
The Sabbatical Year was certainly observed throughout Israelite history when the people were walking with Yahweh (Neh.10:31). It was never an option Torah: Yahweh displays His anger when this mitzvot (commandment) is disobeyed (Lev.26:34-43; 2 Chr.36:21; Jer.34:14-22) precisely because it was designed to bless the poor in addition to taking care of the faithful. And here we are being reminded of it indirectly in the omer count. That is no accident. Indeed, it seems to me that Yahweh knew beforehand that as the restoration of the Besorah (Gospel) got underway that the Bereans amongst us would find these hidden keys and reminders, and be keen to implement them. He has prepared His Davar (Word) with these end-time generations in mind too. So here is the 7-50 reminder!
We Need the Sabbatical Observance to Survive the Last Days
As the remnant prepares for the Final Gathering so it must also prepare to abide by the Sabbatical covenant otherwise it will not receive the protection needed to survive and prosper in the days leading up to - and including - the Great Tribulation. The emunah (faith) needed to no sow or harvest on the seventh year when food is scarce which is why Yahweh's people will need the assurance of His supernatural provision by giving Messianic Israel a bumper crop in the sixth year.
The Jubilee, Release and the Number 50
But there is to be yet one more count at the culmination of 50 years, namely, the Yovel or Jubilee, a moed (appointment) heralded by the blowing of the shofar. Not only was a regular Sabbatical Year enforced but in addition property reverted to its original owners, debts were cancelled, and Hebrews put into indentured service because of debt or some other reason were released as freemen. It was a time of thanksgiving and an occasion for the exercise of emunah (faith) that Yahweh would provide for food (e.g. Lev.25:8). Whether we will obey one of these Jubilees before Yah'shua (Jesus) returns will depend where we are in terms of the years since Creation. This calculation we have not yet made because we have not been show how to yet. Identifying the Jubilee Year, along with the Sabbatical Year, is one of our chief priorities over the coming year. Then, by the grace of Yah, we will have the entire Creation Calendar restored.
The Jubilee and Universal Graded Salvation
Now the seven year sabbatical is not, of course, just about sensible soil chemistry and it has nothing to do with similar Canaanite practices, for this is also a year of rest for Yahweh (Lev.25:2,4) - a time of completion. It is connected to the first day of rest after Creation because it points to a future rest of souls after life's probation is over. 50 is the number of deliverance as well as being the number of grace, 5 multiplied by the perfect order of 10. This is a huge subject I don't have time to go into today but it relates to universal graded salvation which I have spoken of in depth elsewhere. The important point is is that one day there will be a Cosmic Jubilee when all those who have been enslaved because of their sins and their rejection of Messiah will be liberated from hell to receive a place of rest in a lesser glory that Paul likens to the glory of the stars:
A Multiply Encoded Plan of Deliverance
"There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead" (1 Cor.15:40-42, NKJV).
Hidden in the counting of the omer which commences on this Day of Firstfruits that marks the resurrection of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is this promise of final redemption for all. Do you see how Yahweh encodes His Plan of Salvation on so many different levels?
Comfort from the Cosmic Jubilee
The resurrection that we celebrate today is for all in the right season according to their emunah (faith) and works. He who notices the smallest sparrow also has a mind and lev (heart) for every single human being. And though that Cosmic Jubilee is far off, we can draw comfort from it now and come to appreciate with ever greater grattitude the enormous ahavah (love) of our Heavenly Father.
The Talmudists Celebrate Shavu'ot 7 Weeks Too Early
It can be no accident that those who follow the false Talmudic Calendar, whether Jews or Messianics, do not count the seven sabbaths but only the fifty days and in consequence celebrate Shavu'ot (Pentecost) seven weeks too early. If there is time during this Passover Season I will devote a teaching to showing that Shavu'ot (Pentecost) was celebrated in New Testament times more than 50 days after Yom haBikkurim (Firstfruits).
The Earliest Creed
Let's finish today by returning to an essential emet (truth) about the importance of the physical resurrection of our Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus). Earlier I said that the Resurrection was the second most important historical event after the Creation itself. In what must be one of the first formally written apostolic credes of the emunah (faith) of the first apostles, Paul wrote:
The 500 Witnesses and the Resurrection to Come
"For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas (Kefa, Peter), then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep (died). After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time" (1 Cor.15:2-8, NKJV).
This testimony is vitally important. There were over 500 witnesses to this event which had never before happened in hisory and has never been seen since. This historical event means that we have real hope of life everlasting. Further on Paul wrote:
"Flesh and blood cannot share in (inherit) the Kingdom of Elohim (God), nor can something that decays share in what does not decay. Look, I will tell you a secret - not all of us will die! But we will all be changed! It will take but a moment, the blink of an eye, at the final shofar. For the shofar will sound, and the dead will be raised to live forever, and we too will be changed. For this material which can decay must be clothed with imperishability, this which is mortal must be clothed with immortality. When what decays puts on imperishability and what is mortal puts on immortality, then this passage in the Tanakh (Old Testament) will be fufilled:
"The sting of death is sin; and sin draws its power from the Torah; but thanks be to Elohim (God), who gives us the victory through our Master Yah'shua (Jesus) the Messiah!" (1 Cor.15:50-57, JNT/CJB).
'Death is swallowed up in victory' (Is.25:8),
'Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?' (Hos.13:14)
Today - the biblical Yom haBikkurim (Firstfruits) - is Resurrection Day, not the false, pagan Easter rebaptised by the Catholics to make it seem to be 'Christian' and nowhere to be found in the Bible (except one terrible KJV translation). We are therefore assembled on it in obedience to a mitzvah (commandment) and according to the correct calendar.
We're also here to testify that the resurrection power of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is available to everyone who will receive it on the terms it is given: trusting in the Pesach (Passover) blood of atonement which cleanses away the sins of all those who trust in Yah'shua (Jesus) and repent of their sins and removing them from their lives as they become aware of them in the spirit of Chag haMatzah (Unleavened Bread). We testify of our emunah (faith) that Yah'shua (Jesus) literally rose from the dead and has conquered death and the demonic hosts and that we too shall arise one day either to a resurrection of glory or to one of damnation. Satan has been served notice and all we have to do is get onboard and start living a Torah lifestyle to demonstrate our love for the Master and to be obedient to Him as He demands. We testify that He has supernaturally changed our lives, empowering them to overcome and find both the shalom of the 7 and the simcha (joy) of the 50.
We testify that resurrection power sets us free to do what we cannot otherwise do. It enables us to do the "impossible", where this is in Yahweh's will, because nothing is impossible for Yahweh (Lk.1:37). Once we are endowed with resurrection power because we believe in and accept the resurrection and are surrendered to Elohim (God), we are given tasks to do that aren't easy by human standards, but we can do them because we know He can work in the situation to which we have been called to labour in.
The hope of the resurrection changes the way we view everything, causing us to dare to do things we would never have done without that hope. And because we do what unbelievers do not dare to do, we are riddiculed, especially when it is evident to them that there is a cost to ourselves. And, yes, there is a price to pay to live according to Elohim (God). Though unbelievers and nominal believers may think we are fools, we know things they do not. What we do makes complete sense to us in the light of the resurrection. Seen in the context of trusting Yah'shua (Jesus) and obeying His Torah, everything makes perfect sense eventually as our diligent emunah (faith) is rewarded with understanding.
We know in whom we trust for we have tasted of those bikkurim - those first fruits - and the taste is tov (good). If you've never met Yah'shua (Jesus), are seeking Him and need guidance, please feel free to contact us. Amen.