Bringing In The Sheaves
Leviticus 23:10-11 (10) Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: (11) And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. One of the richest rewards of the “more sure word of prophecy” (2PE 1:19) which is Christ's New Testament is the light that it sheds upon the Old Testament so that a believer can now more fully search the Scriptures that testified of Christ (JOH 5:39) and find Him not only in the Law's prophecies but also in its shadows. The Law was a “...shadow of good things to come...” (HEB 10:1), “...Christ being come an high priest of good things to come” (HEB 9:11), satisfying all of the Law's demands for justice and fulfilling its types and figures. Paul tells us that the O.T. tabernacle service and the Levitical priests' work served “...unto the example and shadow of heavenly things” (HEB 8:1-5), those heavenly things being purified by Christ (HEB 9:23-24). In those ancient ministrations, Christ and His work may be found. As we study the New Testament, we see Christ fulfilling the type of the passover lamb (1CO 5:7), the blood of which God accepted for Israel's deliverance from death (EXO 12:1-13). We see Him fulfilling the types of the sacrificed goat and its bloodshed for the people (LEV 16:15) on the Day of Atonement and also on that day the scapegoat which bore “...upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited...” (LEV 16:22): “...Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (JOH 1:29); He “...shall bear their iniquities” (ISA 53:11). We even see Him fulfill the sign of Jonah in His entombment: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (MAT 12:40). Today's text touches on a particular ceremonial type which Christ fulfilled. On the morrow after the sabbath (per our text) during the feast of harvest (EXO 23:16), the firstfruit wave sheaf offering was to be observed. It is important to note that this observance was only to be kept, “...When ye be come into the land...” (LEV 23:10); it did not pertain to the time of Israel's wanderings when they were provided with bread from heaven (EXO 16:35) prior to entering the Promised Land. Upon entering Canaan, Israel was not to partake of the firstfruits of their harvest until the priest had waved a sheaf of it before the LORD (c/w LEV 23:14). This was consonant with a general principle in Scripture: the firstfruits belong to God and, hence, Abel's firstlings of his flock was offered by faith and accepted (GEN 4:4 c/w HEB 11:4); the firstborn of man and beast was God's (EXO 13:2); Jericho was, in essence, the firstfruits of Canaan's conquest and therefore any spoils belonged to God (JOS 6:17-19), etc. The children of God are deemed His firstfruits: “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (JAM 1:18), the redeemed “...being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb” (REV 14:4). This same crowd are also “...the children of the resurrection” (LUK 20:36) of which Jesus was the first of the harvest of the firstfruits: (1 Corinthians 15:20) But now is Christ 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 Christ shall all be made alive. (23) But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. As the sheaf of the wave offering was the first to be harvested and accepted by God for Israel (our text), Jesus Christ was accepted by God as the firstfruits of the spiritual harvest of the earth for us. Scripture makes clear that Christ was already risen before the women arrived at the tomb in the dark early morning following the weekly sabbath (MAR 16:1-3 c/w JOH 20:1-2). Interestingly enough, on the morrow after the sabbath (as our text states) when the risen Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, He told her, “...Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (JOH 20:17). The man, Christ Jesus, had evidently not yet ascended to the Father to be accepted for you (our text) in satisfaction of this Old Testament wave offering. Later that day He appeared to the disciples and allowed them to touch Him (MAT 28:9), and may we thank God that we have a High Priest that can be touched (HEB 4:15)! Having ascended to heaven and presented Himself as the firstfruits of the children of the resurrection (i.e., His elect), God accepted His sacrifice for us, and “...made us accepted in the beloved” (EPH 1:6). As Israel of old was restricted from partaking of the harvest until God had received His firstfruits, it was only after Christ ascended to the Father that God's children could touch His glorious resurrection body, the kind of glorious body they would also one day receive (PHIL 3:20-21). And, as the wave offering of the firstfruits under the Law only pertained to the earthly promised land (not the period of the manna prior to that), so Christ's resurrection and ascension to the heavenly Promised Land was needed to cap His ministry on earth in which He was the “...true bread from heaven” (JOH 6:32-33) given “...for the life of the world” (JOH 6:51). In His humiliation on earth He died for us; in His glorious resurrection body in heaven He was accepted for us that we might someday rise in like manner (ROM 8:11). He “...was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (ROM 4:25), the firstfruits of them that slept Who presented Himself to the Father in heaven FOR US, “...a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (JAM 1:18). He obeyed PRO 3:9, “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase.” But Christ's resurrection and ascension is not the end of the “firstfruits” story. Consider that Paul tells us that all who belong to Christ are considered the precious seed who inherit His promise (GAL 3:28-29 c/w ROM 9:6-8). Christ as the “...man of sorrows...” (ISA 53:3) wept mightily in anticipation of what He had to do to save us (HEB 5:7), as He bore us representatively to Calvary and unto death. But He weeps no more; He now lives “...the joy that was set before him...” (HEB 12:2) in power as the firstfruits of the resurrection, awaiting the day that He will return with the souls of His saints to gather in the rest of the harvest: (1 Thessalonians 4:14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. c/w (Psalms 126:6) He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.