The festival of Sfirat HaOmer celebrated the earliest harvest of the year for the nation of Israel. This was the firstfruits of the barley harvest. An obscure holiday, even for the Jews today, this festival was laid out in Leviticus 23 as the Lord commanded Moses to make this one of His appointed feasts. After the feast of Passover, on the day after the Sabbath, the priest was to wave before the Lord a sheaf of the first of the barley harvest. He was to wave it in all directions, as a testimony that this was the first of a much greater harvest to come.
Generations after God had appointed the feasts for the nation of Israel, the Roman Empire had risen to power and had extended its control throughout the known world, including Israel. A man, Jesus, as we know him to be, claimed to be the King of the Jews, the Messiah who was to free Israel from bondage, and was murdered on the Feast of Passover just outside the city of Jerusalem. He was buried that same day before sundown, which signaled the start of the Sabbath day for the Jews. He lay in the tomb that whole Sabbath day and the next day, well the next day just happened to be Sfirat HaOmer, the feast of the early firstfruits. At the very first glimmer of dawn that first day of the week, the massive stone had been moved away from the sealed tomb and Jesus’ body was gone!
But the fact is that the Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have died. For since death came through a man, also the resurrection of the dead has come through a man. For just as in connection with Adam all die, so in connection with the Messiah all will be made alive. But each in his own order: the Messiah is the firstfruits; then those who belong to Messiah at the time of his coming… 1 Corinthians 15:20-23
There was no mistake or accident about it! Jesus Messiah was raised to life on the day of the first harvest of the earth. The significance of the Resurrection is so profound. In an agrarian society, the firstfruits of the harvest signified that a greater harvest was coming. So also, the Resurrection of Jesus signifies that a greater harvest is coming. A harvest of souls! And a guaranteed resurrection for those who belong to the Messiah!
Today is the feast of the early firstfruits. The day Jesus rose from the dead, conquering the power of the enemy, breaking the curse of sin and embodying the truest meaning of the festival of firstfruits.
The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Yes, indeed! I tell you that unless a grain of wheat that falls to the ground dies, it stays just a grain; but if it dies, it produces a big harvest…..As for me, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.
John 12:23-24, 32