The First Fruit offering given at the Temple was a pledge of hope that that full harvest would follow. The people were not allowed to eat any of the new crop until the offering was made.
By the time of Jesus, the Temple had specific fields that were “harvested” a few sprigs of barley at a time. Several fields and different parts of these fields had grain gathered to form a representative sheaf to take to the Temple. The sheaf was waved, and the corresponding offerings given and then the people could resume the full harvest. There was a certain order in which things were done.
Paul Explains the Pledge of the First Fruits
1 Corinthians 15: 20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. 21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. 23 But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.
The Pledge of Hope Comes in Surprising Timing
The Jews had looked for Messiah to come and free them from the Roman political machine. But Jesus came in an unexpected way. They had anticipated all people being raised at the end of history. Instead, here is one person, Jesus Christ, who was raised in the middle of history. When Paul speaks of the “order of resurrection,” I believe he is speaking of two different things.
First, is the chronological order of events. Jesus has become the first to rise from the dead. Others had risen from the dead both in the Old Testament and New Testament. An example of each would be, Elijah raising the widow’s son (1 Kings 17:17-24) and Lazarus (John 11). Each of these came back to earthly life, but eventually died again. However, Jesus rose never to die again.
Secondly, eventually, in Jesus’ second coming, everything that sin had corrupted would be make right again. We have hope that in this second coming we will be raised in our new bodies to live life eternally with Jesus.
The Feast of First Fruits foreshadowing Jesus acting as a pledge for the final harvest. We have a pledge of hope of eternity with our Maker. To hear more, listen here: