Saturday, 14 March 2015
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:20
After stating the terrifying consequences for believers if Christ isn’t raised, Paul now begins a much happier thought with the resounding word “But.” In contrast to the hopelessness of his previous words, there is the absolute assurance and promise that “Christ is risen from the dead.” The many witnesses, the truth of the apostles’ preaching, the reality of changed hearts and lives – they are all a testament to the surety of the believers’ hope in this life and in the promised wonders of the time to come.
And in what is a response to the previous notion of verse 12 which said that “some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead,” he shows that this was more than a single occurrence, but one which will include all believers of Him. Yes, “Christ is risen from the dead,” but even more He “has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” This word, firstfruits, is Old Testament symbolism found in Leviticus 23; the passage where the “Feasts of the Lord” are detailed. Each of these feasts points to the work of Christ, and their fulfillment is in Him.
There are eight feasts noted in Leviticus 23. In order they are –
2) Passover & 3) Unleavened Bread (at times these are combined in terminology)
Each of them has been fulfilled in His work. For example in 1 Corinthians 5:7, Paul showed that “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” His cross for our redemption was the fulfillment of the Passover. In that same verse he also said, “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened.” His sinless perfection, imputed to us, is the fulfillment of Unleavened Bread. Such is the case with all of these feasts.
Firstfruits is a picture of the resurrection. Here is how the feast is described in Leviticus 23 –
“When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12 And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the Lord. 13 Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the Lord, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin. 14 You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.”
The “sheaf of the firstfruits” was a representation of all of the harvest to come. It was offered with the expectation that all of the rest of the harvest would follow to maturity. This was “on the day after the Sabbath.” Christ was crucified on a Friday, was entombed over the Sabbath, and rose early on the morning of the first day of the week.
Everything about the rites and rituals of this feast pointed to the work of the Lord. He “has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Just as He slept the sleep of death, but was raised by the power of God, so we too have the absolute assurance that even if we sleep in Christ, we too will be raised by the same great power of God. As His life is eternal, so we too shall be granted eternal life. Paul’s words show us the absolute assurance we have; because of Christ, we also!
Life application: The Old Testament is only old in that it finds its fulfillment in Christ. Never stop reading it and searching it out. Every detail contains hidden gems, pointing us to Him. We mature in our understanding of Christ by understanding the Old Testament as well as the New.
O God! It is so amazing to read the Old Testament and see Christ revealed on every page and in every detail. The Feasts of the Lord in Leviticus 23 are all pointing to Him and they are all shown to be fulfilled in Him. We have unconditional assurance in knowing that the truth of Scripture is absolute and pure. It is all about Your wondrous Son, our Lord Jesus. Hallelujah! The Messiah of Israel is the Christ of the nations. Amen.