The day of First Fruits is an often-overlooked holy day that occurs within the 7-day holiday of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
- First Fruits is always on the Sunday that occurs during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
- Work is permitted.
- Consider making an offering on this day.
- The 50-day Counting to Shavuot (Pentecost) begins on First Fruits.
What Is First Fruits?
In biblical times when the temple in Jerusalem still stood, the people of Israel were commanded to bring the first fruits of their barley harvest (the first grain harvest of the biblical year) to be waved before Elohim.
In fact, they were not allowed to eat any of their new grain until this offering took place.
Why It’s Still Significant Today
Even though the temple no longer stands and we are unable to observe this day as the people of Israel once did, it is still significant for two very important reasons.
Firstly, Paul tells us that Yeshua was our first fruits:
1 Corinthians 15:20
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
This represents a promise to us that just like the First Fruits came before the entire harvest, so also did Yeshua represent the first of many to be resurrected.
We can commemorate Yeshua’s resurrection not with Easter bunnies and painted eggs but through one of Elohim’s sanctioned holy days.
The second reason this day is important to us is this day marks the day on which we should begin counting the 50 days (Counting of the Omer) till Shavuot.
As you’re probably aware, the Holy Spirit was given to the apostles on Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks) which was 50 days after the resurrection and 10 days after His ascension.
How We Can Celebrate It
Without the temple, there really aren’t biblically-commanded activities that we should be doing so it’s basically up to us how we honor this day.
A few suggestions:
- Acknowledge the separation of the day at evening. Like Shabbat or any other holiday, this can include breaking bread, blessings over wine and/or lighting candles. You could even blow the shofar if you’d like.
- Verbally proclaim the day when it begins. I’d recommend welcoming the day during a prayer or by any other means that makes sense.
- Talk about it, read about it, teach your children about it.
- Give an offering. By giving an offering we are attempting to keep with the original intention of the first fruits offering.
Counting the Omer to Shavuot
Shavuot is 50 days from the day of First Fruits. Starting from First Fruits as Day 1, the 50th day will always be Shavuot and always falls on a Sunday.
For example, as of this writing, Pesach will be on March 29, 2021 and First Fruits on April 4 (which coincidentally is also the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread).
So the 50th day from First Fruits is Sunday, May 23 which is our date for Shavuot.
How We Can Count
Leviticus 23:15-16 tells us to Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath.
You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete Sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord.
Now perhaps this wasn’t intended to literally mean count every day for 50 days but rather just a way to communicate to us how the date of Shavuot should be calculated.
However, to err on the side of caution, it is recommended that we literally count off each day as well as each week as it arrives.
You can simply count stating in terms of both days and weeks plus days. If you’d like you can also add a quick blessing in front of the count to better define your intention.
For example, you can say “Blessed are you Adonai our God, King of the universe who makes us holy with His commandments and commands us to count the Omer. Today is 33 days which is 4 weeks and 5 days”.
I hope this helps you better understand this day and how you can observe it. If you have any questions, always feel free to reach out to me.
And remember, when we follow Torah it is pleasing to HaShem. So please help spread these commands and bring others closer to our Lord by sharing this and my other articles with others!