Leviticus 23:10–11 says, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.’”
God instructed the Jewish people to offer the first fruits of their barley harvest to the Lord on the day after the Sabbath of Passover week. The Jewish people were to bring their initial sheaves of grain to the priest, who would then wave the sheaves before the Lord. No additional grain could be harvested until these first fruits were first offered to the Lord. Bible commentator Richard O. Rigsby writes,
As a part of the celebration of Passover, Lev 23:10–14 (and Exod 23:16, 19) prescribes the waving of a sheaf of first fruits before Yahweh to acknowledge the dedication of the grain harvest; this was a public ceremony performed on behalf of the nation. This initial sheaf was of barley, for barley ripens earlier than wheat. . . . Flavius Josephus (Ant 3.10.5) affirms that this was indeed a sheaf of barley. No additional harvest work could be accomplished before this ceremony was enacted. The second public occasion involving first fruits occurred seven weeks later, at Pentecost, when the first fruits of the wheat harvest were presented, as specified in Exod 34:22.
This first fruits offering to the Lord was an act of obedience, thanksgiving, and faith. It required obedience and great faith to offer the first and best of one’s harvest at a time when very little barley had grown. The Israelites were to offer these first-fruit sheaves with thankfulness for what God had begun to provide, and with faith, trusting God to provide the fuller harvest to come.
First Fruits and the Resurrection of Jesus
It is no coincidence that Jesus, after He was crucified on Passover, rose from the dead on the day of first fruits. The apostle Paul wrote,
But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Messiah the first fruits, after that those who are Messiah’s at His coming. (1 Corinthians 15:20–23)
Just as the first fruits of the barley harvest foreshadowed the fuller harvest to come, so too does Jesus’ resurrection foreshadow the future resurrections to come. His resurrection guarantees that we who are in Messiah will likewise be raised from the dead at His return. This future resurrection on the last day has been the hope of the Jewish people for thousands of years. We look forward to the full realization of this hope when Yeshua our Messiah returns!
by Jennifer Miles
 Richard O. Rigsby, “First Fruits,” in The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, ed. David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 797.