The Day of Firstfruits

In His instructions to Moses, the Lord told the Israelites that the firstborn of either man or animal was to be consecrated to the Lord. (Exodus 13:2) Later in Leviticus the Lord gave instructions for the various feasts, or appointed times. The first Sunday after Passover was to be the Day of Firstfruits. (Leviticus 23:9-14) Except for the Sabbath, the days of the week were not named in the Old Testament, so Sunday was described as the day after the Sabbath. It was on the Day of Firstfruits that the Children of Israel were to bring the first of the spring harvest to the Lord.

By piecing together the Scripture, we find an interesting picture, a pattern, a foreshadow, in the story of the Battle of Jericho. Chapter three of the Book of Joshua begins by telling us that the Children of Israel left the place they had stayed and went to the Jordan River where they camped for three days. Because they would not have broken camp and traveled on the Sabbath, it can be assumed that this occurred on Sunday, the day after the Sabbath.

Joshua 4:19 tells us that the Israelites crossed the Jordan on the tenth day of Nisan, the first month. If they camped by the Jordan for three days beginning on Sunday, that would make the crossing on a Wednesday. That day the covenant with the Lord was renewed and all the men of Israel were circumcised. They remained in camp until they healed.

At evening on Nisan 14 the Israelites celebrated the Passover. If Nisan 10 was a Wednesday, then Passover was celebrated Sunday evening after sundown. According to Joshua 5:11 the next day the Israelites ate food grown in the Promised Land, and the manna stopped. The very next thing, apparently on the same day, which would be Monday, Joshua encountered “the Commander of the Lord’s Army.”

Joshua bowed before this being, and unlike angels, this person did not instruct Joshua to not worship him. I think that the Commander of the Lord’s Army was the very person of the Lord Jesus. He gave Joshua the now familiar instructions for the Battle of Jericho. According to Scripture, Joshua went to the priests that day and told them to take the Ark of the Covenant and he ordered the people to march around the city. Again, it appears this still would have been Monday.

As we all know, the Children of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, on the seventh day the walls fell, and the people plundered the city. However, the plunder was all to be given to the Lord. Jericho was the Firstfruits of the Promised Land, and the Firstfruits were to be dedicated to the Lord.

Passover, Nisan 15, would have been on a Monday. It was celebrated Sunday evening because the day starts at sundown according to the Lord’s reckoning. The Israelites marched around Jericho from Monday until Sunday, when the walls fell. Sunday would have been the Day of Firstfruits, which is entirely appropriate since it was the “first day after the Sabbath” following Passover. Jericho was the Firstfruits of the Promised Land.

Almost fifteen centuries later, the Lord Jesus was resurrected on the first Sunday after Passover. Jesus was the Firstfruits of the grave! (First Corinthians 15:20) Praise the Lord for the hope we have because of Jesus. Praise the Lord for the orderly patterns He has given us in His Word.

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