Sunday, August 28, 2011

"But each one in his own order: Christ the first fruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. (1 Corinthians 15:23) The "first fruits" and

In order to understand the biblical view of the resurrection, we must first understand the concept of the "first fruits" and "the harvest" according to the language, and culture and historical setting in with scripture was originally written. How did the Biblical Jews understand the concept of first fruits and the harvest?

Where did this idea of "first fruits" originate? "On the same general principle that the firstborn of man and beast belonged to the God of Israel and were to be devoted to Him (Nehemiah 10:35-39).

The first fruits, including the first grain to ripen each season, were to be brought as an offering to God. Every Israelite who possessed the means of agricultural productivity was under this obligation (Exodus 23:19; 34:26; Numbers 15:17-21; 18:12-13:). "Speak the to children of Israel, and say to them." When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. 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 (Leviticus 23:10-11).

The first fruits were brought in a basket to the sanctuary and presented to the priest, who was to set the basket down before the altar. Then, the offering recited the story of Jacob’s going to Egypt and the deliverance of his posterity from there. He then acknowledged the blessings with which God had visited him (Deuteronomy 26:2-11).

It would be natural for Paul to have thought of Christ as the first fruits, because the day of Christ’s resurrection was the second day of Passover week on which the first ripe sheaf of the harvest was offered to the Lord (Lev 23:10-11,15).

Paul was also establishing another basic point. While Christ was the first fruits of the resurrection. The first century saints were also the significance of the "first ripe sheaf" (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:15; James 1:18). All of the first century saints who put their trust in Christ, we're a part of collective believers known as first fruits to God. This select group of Christians was purchased from the earth as a FIRST FRUITS offering to God. (1Corinthians 6:20, 7:23) The Greek for purchase, means to go to the market. It is a picture of God coming to the earth, to select His FIRST FRUITS representative of a whole harvest before God (Revelation 14:4).

Eternal Life, or resurrection was a gift to the first fruits Christians. The time for death to be abolished had arrived. (2 Timothy 1:10) One of the principles that a first fruit offering taught was that a future harvest was promised - the first fruit was just a taste of what lay in store at the end of the full ingathering of the harvest. Every Jewish Christian understood this Old Testament concept. The second important truth inherent in the first fruits figure is the readiness of the harvest to be gathered as signified in the offering of the first fruits. The act of reaping had already begun, with the first fruits and the harvest would soon be ready to be cut (Revelation 14:15).

The harvest was all the saints who had died under the Old Covenant and had not received the promise of resurrection. Paul clearly taught that the resurrection was the hope of Israel. Acts 26:6-8 (NKJV) "And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. 7 "To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. 8 "Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?

These were people like Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Job, Isaiah, and Daniel etc. These "Old Covenant saints" where the rest of the harvest, the general resurrection. These were the ones Jesus addressed "though he may die, he shall live in. (John 11:23). Knowing the biblical concept of the first fruits and the harvest we can appreciate why God said: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living (Matthew 22:32; Mark 12:27; Luke 20:38).

The harvest, follows the ripening "perfecting and offering of the first fruits saints." With the return of Christ and the destruction of the temple, the way into God presence was now fully opened. (Hebrew 9:8) The Hadean realm was emptied, and all the Old Covenant saints harvest were gathered in the general resurrection in A.D.70. This is the second resurrection that John mentioned in the first part of verse 5 of chapter 20 of Revelations.

God is a God that cannot lie Hebrews 6:18 and he fulfilled his promise of resurrection to Israel. The term "first fruits" itself implies, that the remainder of the harvest was ripe and ready to be gathered.
I dare say the harvest was gathered and is not rotted.