Before paganism infiltrated the Church, Jesus’ resurrection was celebrated on the biblical holiday of Feast of Firstfruits. The Lord has been teaching about the amazing Passover & Firstfruit season that we are coming into, but I felt that I had to define the holidays for those not familiar with them before jumping into that post. God has taken me on quite an adventure to reveal some things to me and I’ve come to discover that I will probably be contradicting long held practices of both the English speaking Christian Church AND most of those who hold to a biblical calendar. I didn’t expect all that when I sat down to write, but I”ll share what the Lord is showing me none the less… This post will seek to explain the reason for and the importance of Passover & Feast of Firstfruits from a biblical and historical context. Before Passover on Wednesday night, I plan to have the other post about this season posted.
My goal is not to have you establish a religious practice (Col 2:16). But I would be delighted if you gave up idol worship in the name of worshiping the Lord! That said, certain holidays were established by God and have eternal meaning. If you’re not aware of what God is doing in and through these holidays, in my opinion, you are really missing out. Perhaps you’ll get a glimpse of that in this and the next post. If you already practice biblical holidays, there’s a strong chance that I’m going to challenge the date you celebrate one or two of them (depending on if you bother to celebrate these two days or not.)
First let’s look at the biblical holidays of Passover & Firstfruits
Passover is the holiday God gave to Moses to commemorate God passing over the houses of the Israelites who were in slavery in Egypt and not killing their first-born sons because of the blood of the lamb. The first-born sons of every other family in Egypt were killed that night and that was the final straw that broke Pharaoh so that he allowed the people to leave Egypt. This led to Moses leading the people to pass over (or pass through) the Red Sea which sealed their freedom because Pharaoh and his army were engulfed in the Red Sea when they tried to chase the Israelites. This also led to Joshua passing over (or through) the Jordan River (on Passover) to lead the people into the promised land 40 years later.
And orthodox Jew today will tell you that the three major feasts of the Lord are “rehearsals” for what is to come. What the non-Messianic Jew does not know is that two of the three major rehearsals have already been fulfilled, leaving only one to still be fulfilled. And Zechariah says that one day everyone in the world will worship the Lord each year for the Feast of Tabernacles, but that’s in the Autumn and this post is about the Spring holidays.
So if Passover was a rehearsal that has been fulfilled, what is it?
In order for the Lord to pass over their house, each Israelite family was to…
- kill a perfect lamb without breaking any bones and
- consume it entirely while putting the blood on the door frames of their home. Thus when God saw the blood,
- He would not judge that house/family but move onto the next. (See Exodus 12)
Jesus fulfilled the rehearsal by being the Passover lamb (1 Cor 5:7)…
- He was the only perfect man,
- he must to be consumed (John 6), and
- His blood saves us from judgement.
There are many more parallels and it’s a wonderful thing to take time with the Lord on. For instance, I just noticed for the first time in all my readings as I’m writing this that God explicitly told the Israelite families to take the lamb in for 4 days and care for it before they slaughtered it. Well, I just did the math and Jesus was worshipped in Jerusalem for 4 days before the day He suffered torture and crucifixion! (see Exodus 12 & John 12) I shared this observation with a friend who has probably studied the biblical roots of our faith more than I have and she responded…
Yes! The citizens of Jerusalem chose their Passover Lamb on the 10th of Aviv/Nissan when they shouted “Hosanna in the Highest!”
If you’re curious about the biblical timeline of “Passion Week”, I recommend this video that will give you biblical evidence of why Jesus was not tortured and crucified on “Good Friday”. If this happened on a Friday then Jesus was wrong in Matthew 12:40. So you’ll have to decide if the religious tradition is correct or if Jesus was correct. Check out this video. https://vod.whitedoveministries.org/webinar-35-understanding-passion-week/
Firstfruits is a far less mentioned holiday that is grouped into the Spring holidays of Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits. Moses did not make it super clear which day it was that should be celebrated. Here’s what the word says…
10 “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.” (Leviticus 23:10-11)
One year ago, God started teaching my wife and I about Firstfruits. We didn’t know much about it (and didn’t spend any time thinking about it or trying to understand it) so I opened the bible and read the above and understood very easily which day Firstfruits is. It was only after I wrote about it and conferred with others that I found out there was controversy surrounding the dating of Firstfruits.
Apparently, the Sadducees and the Pharisees used to argue over which Sabbath is referred to here because the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is also a high holy day and the Pharisees argued that this made it a Sabbath since no work was to be done, but Moses did not call it thus. That thinking came later. So if you take this position (as most of the biblical calendar keeping people of the world do today) you could argue that God meant the day after the first or last day of Feast of Unleavened Bread is the Feast of Firstfruits.
Since God revealed a lot about the holiday to me last year (as written about here) and again this year, I will argue that the regular Sabbath occurring during the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the Feast of Firstfruits. And since that was the day that Jesus was resurrected on, I believe my argument is overwhelming compelling. But you’re free to think what you want of course. This is my position as I expound on the meaning of this holiday in this and the next post.
Jesus is the Firstfruits offering that we might be accepted by the Lord as pictured in Lev 23:11.
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Romans 8:29 (ESV)
“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” (Hebrews 2:10)
Jesus is also pictured in the description of the sacrifice of Feast of Firstfruits in Leviticus 23:12 which shows that Firstfruits should also have a perfect 1 year old Lamb just like Passover required. This is because Jesus was both the Passover Lamb (John 1:29 & 1 Corinthians 5:7) and the firstfruit of life in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)
One of the things that has stood out to me this year as we prepare for these holidays is that the early Church in large part used to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on the Feast of First Fruits. The Church in the first couple centuries was scattered across thousands of miles and tended to worship & celebrate the Lord differently. Some focused their celebration on Jesus’ role as the Passover Lamb on that date. From what I’ve read, it was more common to focus the greatest celebration on the resurrection on Feast of Firstfruits (the Sunday after Passover, although I’m not sure what they did on years when Passover was a Saturday.) This tradition has been passed on as Resurrection Sunday. Most of the Christian world gives this day a name related to Resurrection or Passover, but it is most commonly “Easter” in the English speaking world. Spanish used the word “Pascua” which is a direct translation of Passover.
The Jews practiced the correct date of Firstfruits and Passover in the days of Jesus because the Sadducees were the high priests and they got to set the rules. After the Temple fell, the Pharisees survived and passed their beliefs into the Rabbinic tradition. Thus, if you hold to the rabbinic tradition, then you must assume that Luke is wrong when he says that the Holy Spirit was given on Pentecost/Shavuot because that was the way of reckoning in place at the time in Jerusalem and there is a different mainstream way of reckoning the date today.
If I’m correct on the date of Firstfruit then the ancient Christians had the date of Shavuot correct even though the Jews had it wrong after 70AD when the Temple fell and the Pharisaical way of thinking won over the Jewish world through Rabbinical tradition. Still today the Jews have it wrong most years and western Christians have it wrong often for an entirely different reason.
Shavuot/Pentecost should always be a Sunday according to Leviticus 23:16 and the modern prevalent Jewish rendering usually does not place it on a Sunday. This is more evidence that what I’m presenting is correct and not the more common understanding. There is a small sect of orthodox Jews called the Karaites who do render these dates correctly. Since my wife’s name is Kara, I found that interesting.
After the Council of Nicea, the Western Church changed the calendar a couple of times. Protestant Christians came out of the Roman tradition and kept the Roman calendar. The Church now used a solar calendar date instead of the biblical lunar calendar. So these are very often going to give different dates to holidays. But I find it very interesting that on this important year both calendars line up to give us the same Firstfruits holiday (Resurrection Sunday) to bring all into the new season together. Actually, I found out something far more amazing about the date of this year’s holiday season, but I’ll leave that for the next post.
I must admit that even though I have no problem saying the Orthodox Jews who don’t know their Messiah are wrong in missing His coming…I was very hesitant to say they are wrong about keeping the biblical calendar since they’ve been doing it for thousands of years. But I think I’ve put a lot of evidence for the truth of this position above and I also found a great article which provides even more evidence for this position being correct. I do not know anything about this person/ministry other than this article I found when I was trying to discover which date was used for Firstfruits/Shavuot in Jesus’ time.
Once again, based on the fact that the early Church used the Sunday after Passover as the day they celebrated Jesus and counted the Omer (days till Shavuot/Pentecost) from there, they were keeping up the correct Sadducee understanding of Firstfruits and Shavuot/Pentecost. That’s not to say they agreed with the Sadducees on much of anything else, but they would have seen God Himself begin the work of the Spirit amongst His people on that day and they would have held that day as a very important holiday. It wasn’t until the Romans started mixing in the pagan beliefs and changing the calendar that most of the Church got away from these things.
And as the Lord has been awakening many to the importance of the biblical holidays, they have naturally turned to the Jews for the dates. Unfortunately, the Jews had changed the dates of the two holidays that don’t specifically have a date listed in the Bible because of the Pharisaical understanding after the Fall of the Temple.
What about Easter & other common Church dating practices?
Now that you know the Council of Nicea decided that everyone should celebrate the same way and that the biblical calendar should be minimized do you think that a group of men setting up traditions that go against the bible is a good or a bad idea. I bet you agree it’s a bad idea! But do you still agree when you realize you have practiced these traditions your whole life and have fond memories tied to them?
If you think of yourself as a bible believing Christian, then how do you rationalize pagan idol worship? In the bible, the people of God thought it was not a big deal to mix the worship of God with the worship of Idols, but God said over and over again that it’s a very big deal and brought down judgment many times.
I’m not going to belabor it because the choice to follow God or follow Man is a decision of the heart. But I do want to point out some things in case you, the reader, are unaware.
Most of the Christian world celebrates “Resurrection Sunday”. They might get the date wrong, but they don’t bring a fertility goddess into it (although those egg and bunny traditions have spread like wildfire as fallen ideas tend to do.)
Easter is the name of a fertility goddess. Bunnies and eggs are fertility symbols. These have nothing to do with Christ and Him resurrected. Of course, you could make up a story to comingle them. And perhaps you have been taught such a story and you’re comfortable with that. But if you’ve read the bible, God is not at all comfortable with it and He has judged His people many, many times for such behavior. And each time, they thought, yeah, God judged those bad people in the past, but God loves me and only wants good for me. (I wrote this yesterday and just this morning read 2 Kings 17:7-23 which is one of the many, many scriptures that makes this truth abundantly clear. Yet the heart of fallen man is always to think this doesn’t apply him.
It is true that God loves you! And He only wants good for you! But that doesn’t mean feeding your carnal nature. It means, leading you to pick yourself up out of the muck and learn His ways. Which are far better than your own fallen ways.
It’s not at all easy to break away from the evil you inherit as your tradition. Read the books of 1st & 2nd Kings or just about any book of the Old Testament. The good kings almost always had to break away from evil practices they inherited when they came into power. Both Israel and Judah had many kings that God was not happy with who mostly just kept doing what their fathers did. It seems easy and obvious when you read the bible and it’s someone else who is doing the sinning. Why didn’t they just read the word of God and do what He said to do and reap all the wonderful promises that He made in the covenant with them?
Well, when it’s pointed out to you that you are practicing ways that God abhors, what will you do? It’s not so easy when these are the practices you grew up with, is it? Jesus said, “Pick up your cross and follow me?” Do you think He meant it would be nice and easy to follow Him or that you would have to die to your old life? What will you choose?
Here’s some wonderful news for you! God has broken your old habits for you. You get to decide how you spend your holiday season this week because you can’t do it the old way this year! God is drawing a line that will become clear between those who love Him and those who don’t. The line will not be drawn based on how you worship Him this week. But how you worship Him in this time that He has set apart for you is crucially important. We’ll discuss that more in the next post. But why not take these issues to God in prayer and see where He leads you? Maybe you’ll come up with some new Godly traditions. My wife and I started some last year with the kids and we plan to come up with more ideas this year. Isn’t this a fun opportunity for you to seek the Lord in a new way and see what He will do in your life in this new year?
Here’s an excellent video from Terry Somerville who speaks about tearing down idols in your heart which also shares some scripture from Ezekiel about the evils of mixing the worship of God with pagan idolatry. The video is not about easter or holidays at all, but can easily be applied there or perhaps in any other area where you might be struggling.
I don’t want to make too big a deal over one day because this is about a way of life, not how you spend one day out of your year. But this is a season of Passover. It’s a season of passing over from death to life. From slavery to freedom. From living as an orphan to being a son of God. God has planned so much more for you and I than we can imagine. And to receive it, we must follow Him! Not after we die, but now! My next post will be go much deeper into this subject, but I wanted to describe these holidays in case you are unfamiliar with them.
I apologize for the rambling nature of this post, but I don’t have the time to tighten it up and I kept finding more and more and just throwing it in. To summarize the dates for your reference…
Passover is Nissan 14. In ancient times it was always celebrated on the 14th. Many modern Jews don’t really begin to celebrate until Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on the 15th, but this is not biblical. God does tell Moses to continue the ritual celebration into the night time hours of the 15th, but the week long holiday after Passover is called Feast of Unleavened Bread, not Passover. Passover is the 14th of Nissan/Abib and this year is Wednesday, April 8th, 2020.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread which I didn’t discuss much here is the following 7 days which represented the time to get out of Egypt and pass through the Red Sea.
The Feast of Firstfruits is the Sunday after the regular Sabbath that occurs during the week long Feast of Unleavened Bread. This date changes year to year depending on when the Saturday/Sunday fall on the lunar calendar.
This year the Feast of Firstfruits is Sunday, April 12th, 2020.
This begins the counting of the Omer for 50 days which takes us to Shavuot/Pentecost which is also always a Sunday and this year will be on Sunday, May 31, 2020.
The next post will focus more on what God has been showing me about Passover season this year.
This ended up being a 3 part series, so I will briefly describe each part for your reference:
- A description of the holidays of Passover, Firstfruits and why God established these as the only correct way to celebrate/worship Jesus’ crucifixion & resurrection.
- A word about the importance of this year’s Passover/Firstfruit season and what God is doing.
- A sign to confirm us of the importance of this season?