The First of Firstfruits and the Resurrection
Resurrection Day, on which Jesus rose from death, is a memorial to commemorate God’s great power. In the Old Testament times, this day was known as the Day of Firstfruits. It is a sacred feast of God celebrated on the day after the Sabbath following the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev 23:9-14). The Church of God, which faithfully obeys every teaching of the Bible, celebrates Resurrection Day on the date specified in the Bible. On this day, the Church of God breaks the bread that God promises will open our spiritual eyes.
Let’s correctly understand the Day of Resurrection, as it was given in the Bible, so that we can celebrate the feast and keep it holy.
- Origin of the Feast
When the Egyptian army was chasing the nervous Israelites, God allowed the Israelites to cross the Red Sea under His protection, even though they were so terrified. When God put the divided Red Sea back in its place, the Egyptian army that had pursued them was drowned in the water. God commanded the Israelites to commemorate, year after year, the day when they had landed on the other side of the Red Sea so that they may never forget God’s great power revealed on that day. This is the origin of the Day of Firstfruits (Ex 14:26-31).
- Prophecy and Fulfillment
As God had commanded, the priests were to wave a sheaf of the Israelites’ first grain before the LORD on the day after the Sabbath—the first day of the week—so that God would accept their offering.
Leviticus 23:10-12 『“When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the LORD so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath.”』
Here, the first grain—the firstfruits–stands for Christ, who was raised from the dead as the firstfruits of those who had fallen asleep.
1 Corinthians 15:20 『But Christ had indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.』
The offering to be presented on the Day of Firstfruits, a sheaf of the first grain, was to be brought to God on the day after the Sabbath—that is, Sunday. The firstfruits stand for Christ, so it is only logical that Resurrection Day, the day Jesus rose from death, would be on Sunday, the day after the Sabbath.
Mark 16:2-6 『Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away…”You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.”』
The Day of Firstfruits is the shadow of Resurrection Day. As the Day of Firstfruits was celebrated on the day after the Sabbath, Sunday, so Resurrection Day is to be celebrated on Sunday, in fulfillment of the prophecy. Therefore the Day of Firstfruits, Resurrection Day, is celebrated on Sunday every year. By rising from the dead as the firstfruits of those who had fallen asleep, Jesus became the true offering of the Day of Firstfruits, belonging to the seven feasts of three times.
Matthew 27:52-53 『The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.』
In those days, the holy people who had been saved through the gospel became the ripe grains of the wheat harvest, and today, we have become the ripe grains of the last autumn harvest (Ex 23:16).
The word “firstfruits” reveals its meaning. On the day after the Sabbath, the Israelites brought a sheaf of the first grain to the priest, and the priest waved the sheaf before God so that it could be accepted on behalf of the people (Lev 23: 9-11).
On the same day, in the New Testament times, Jesus gave bread to two disciples who were traveling to a village named Emmaus. After the disciples broke the bread that Jesus had given to them, their spiritual eyes were opened, and they recognized Him (Lk 24:13-35).