Welcome to the fourth week of the year on the Biblical calendar! This week is bursting with activity starting with a day called Firstfruits. Firstfruits, “Bikkurim” in Hebrew, means a “promise to come”.
Did you know the earliest followers of Jesus counted the days and weeks every year from Resurrection Sunday until Pentecost? The counting started on the day of Firstfruits when the first fruits of the barley harvest were offered to the Lord. They gave the first and best in anticipation of a plentiful harvest seven weeks and a day later. The 50th day was a big harvest party!
The tradition of counting, which began in the time of Moses, came to be known as "counting the omer". The "Omer" (sheaf) is an ancient measurement of volume, the amount of grain used for the Temple offering. Instructions for counting said to start on Saturday night, the day of Firstfruits, and count for 49 days or 7 weeks (Leviticus 23:15-16). The next day, Sunday, is a harvest party called the "Feast of Weeks" (later renamed Pentecost) when the seven species mentioned in Deuteronomy 8 were joyously brought to the Lord.
Why did God ask people to count days on the calendar every year? And why these days? Maybe He was trying to keep people focused on the hope of anticipation. During these days of "counting the Omer" Jesus told His disciples not to go home after His resurrection but to stay in Jerusalem. Jesus appeared for the first 40 of these days, and 10 days later, the Holy Spirit came to those waiting in the Upper Room (Acts 1:3). The harvest 50 days after His resurrection was like none other: the arrival of the Holy Spirit, the gift of tongues and 3000 souls brought into the Kingdom (Acts 2).
What does all this mean for us today? The day of Firstfruits was designed for offering the first and best of our lives to the Lord. He is worthy. Counting these days builds anticipation and turns our focus toward Him. Now you can "count the Omer" like the earliest Christians. We prepared a short daily reading and prayer to help you do just that! Grab the family before bedtime and circle around. The second day of counting starts on Easter, at twilight! Click here to get started!
While Firstfruits appears to be an obscure and perhaps minor day on the Biblical calendar, the command to celebrate (Lev 23:14) has significant meaning for Christians today. The strategic placement of Firstfruits on the calendar, placed there long before Jesus, is like a giant sign with Kingdom significance. His resurrection on that day was like a signpost to identify Jesus as our resurrected Messiah.
While we watch Jesus fulfill all He has begun to do in our lives today, we can be filled with anticipation and joy. Jesus is our First fruits, our “bikkurim”, now serving as our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14). He carries a promise of good things to come.
Join us here to “count the Omer” together this year.
- All creation is crying out for freedom from corruption. The first fruit is a promise of what will come. Christ is the first fruit of those sleeping (1 Corinthians 15:20).
- When Firstfruits comes around, the Festival of Unleavened Bread is still in progress. The wave offering occurred during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6-11)
- “On the day of Firstfruits, when you present to the LORD an offering of new grain during the Festival of Weeks, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work” (Numbers 28:26).
- Romans 8:23; Lev 23:14-15; Neh 10:35, 1 Corinthians 15:20
- On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it (Leviticus 23:9-14).
Gracious Father, thank you for your mighty work in history. Thank you for establishing traditions that remind us of our place in your plan for salvation. Thank you for making a way for forgiveness. Take my life today and remove the sin so that I may serve you better. Amen.