Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you be come into the land which I give to you…
I. WE shall endeavour to show THAT THIS SHEAF OF THE FIRST-FRUITS WAS A TYPE OF CHRIST, AS TO THE MATTER OF IT, BOTH IN RESPECT TO QUALITY AND QUANTITY. With respect to quality it was a sheaf of barley, as to its quantity it was a single sheaf, or, however, such a quantity as only one omer of barley was taken from it and waved before the Lord by the priest. Now this being of barley, which is a mean sort of grain, may denote the mean estate of our Lord Jesus Christ in His humiliation. But this sort of grain, though mean, was used for food; so Christ, in His mean estate of humiliation, is suitable food for faith. He is held forth in the everlasting gospel as food for the faith of His people under the character of Christ crucified. So much for the quality of this sheaf of the firstfruits: it was of barley. Next, its quantity. It was but one — one sheaf that was waved — one omer, which was the tenth part of an ephah. It was as much as a man could eat in one day. Christ in many respects is but one. One with His Divine Father in nature and essence. Christ is one in His person, though He has two natures — human and Divine. This is the great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh. "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." Christ is but one in His office as Mediator, the one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus, who has interposed between God and man, and made up the breach between them, who is our Peace, and by whom the way is opened for us to God. He is the one Lord, as the apostle says, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism." He is the only Head of the Church whom the Father has given to be head over all things unto it — a Head of eminence to rule over and guide and protect it. A Head of influence, as the natural head is to the body from which it receives its nourishment and increases. And He is the only Husband of the Church — "Thy Maker is thine Husband, the Lord of Hosts is His name." Thus in many respects Christ is but one, as this sheaf was. Bat then, though this sheaf was but one, it had many stalks, many ears of corn, and many grains in it. And so Christ, though He is but one in various respects, as we have seen, yet in Him there is a complication of blessings of grace. Jehovah has presented Him from all eternity in the council and covenant of grace and peace with all the blessings of grace and goodness for His people; He has put them all into His hands, and blessed them with all spiritual blessings in Him. Moreover, He has not only a complication of all blessings in Him; but as this sheaf of the firstfruits represented the whole harvest, and was a pledge and earnest of it, so Christ the Sheaf of the firstfruits represents all His people. They are all gathered together under one head in Him, and when He was crucified they were with Him; when He was buried they were with Him; when He rose again from the dead they rose again with Him; and are now sat down in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. And besides, as the sheaf of the firstfruits had a connection with all the rest, so He with all the people of God. It was for their sakes He suffered, died, and rose from the dead.
II. IT WAS SO WITH RESPECT TO WHAT WAS DONE UNTO IT AND DONE WITH IT. First it was reaped. And this was done in a very solemn and pompous manner according to the account the Jews give of it, which is this: The messengers of the Sanhedrin went out (from Jerusalem over the brook Kidron to the fields near it) on the evening of the feast, and bound the standing corn in bundles that so it might be more easily reaped, and the inhabitants of all the neighbouring villages gathered together there that it might be reaped in great pomp, and when it was dark, one said to them, "Is it sunset?" They said, "Yes." "With this sickle shall I reap it?" They said, "Yes." "In this basket shall I put it?" They said, "Yes." If on a Sabbath-day he said to them, "On this Sabbath-day shall I do it?" They said, "Yes." These questions were put and answered three times; then they reaped it, and put it into the basket, and brought it to the court. Now this reaping of the sheaf of first-fruits was an emblem of the apprehending of our Lord Jesus Christ by the Jews, or by officers which they sent to take Him. They attempted it once and again before they accomplished it. We are told in the seventh chapter of John that, "at the Feast of Tabernacles they sought to lay hold of Him; but His time was not yet come." The very officers were dispirited, and when they were called to an account by the chief priests and Pharisees for not bringing Him they said, "Never man spake like this Man." They could not take Him. But when the set time was come He was easily apprehended by them. And as we are told they bound the ears of corn, that they might be the more easily reaped, so they bound Christ, and brought Him to the high priest. This was done at night when it was dark. And as the sheaf was reaped by a deputation of men sent by the grand Sanhedrin at Jerusalem, so our Lord was apprehended by officers sent by chief priests and Pharisees, who were assembled together in council as the great Sanhedrin of the nation. Likewise the circumstance of the sheaf of firstfruits being reaped near the brook Kidron exactly agrees with the apprehending of Christ near that brook. When this sheaf was reaped, then it was brought to the court; so Christ, when He was first apprehended, was brought to Annas, then to Caiaphas, then to the court, where, after His arraignment and trial, He was condemned to death. This sheaf being brought to court was threshed, winnowed, dried, and parched by the fire, and ground in a mill, all which set forth in a lively manner the dolorous sufferings of our Lord. The sheaf being threshed was expressive of His being smitten by men, of His being buffeted and scourged by the order of the Roman governor by the soldiers, all in perfect agreement with the prophecy that "they should smite the Judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek"; "that He should give His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to them which plucked off the hair." This sheaf of the firstfruits as it was beaten out so it was dried and parched by the fire, which may be considered as expressive of the wrath of God which Christ endured, which is compared to fire, and by which (as it is expressed in the Psalms concerning Him) "His strength was dried up like a potsherd." It was ground also in a mill (as was the manna, another type of Christ), which was another circumstance that pointed out the sufferings of the Redeemer, who was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities. Upon the omer of flour that was taken oil and frankincense were poured, which may denote the acceptableness of Christ in His sufferings, death, and sacrifice to His Divine Father. He gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice unto God for a sweet-smelling savour. And then the waving of this by the priest before the Lord seems to denote His resurrection from the dead. It is also expressive of His connection with His people whom He represented, and whose resurrection is the pledge, earnest, and security of theirs. For as the firstfruits sanctified the rest of their harvest, represented the whole, gave a right to the ingathering of it, and insured it, so our Lord's resurrection from the dead sanctified and secured the resurrection of His people. Because He lives they shall live also, or as sure as His dead body arouse, so sure shall theirs rise also.
III. WHAT WERE THE CONCOMITANTS OF IT? What accompanied the waving the firstfruits were a burnt-offering and a meat-offering. The first of these was an eminent type of Christ, as all the burnt-offerings were. It was a lamb — a figure of Christ the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. A lamb without blemish — a type of the immaculate Lamb of God. This was a burnt-offering, so a fit emblem of the dolorous sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then there was a meat-offering which always went along with this, which was also typical of Christ. From hence we see the great advantages we receive from Christ. He is the firstfruits, and all our fruit is from Him. And therefore many are the obligations we lay under to give thanks unto His name and not forget His benefits. We ought, through the constraints of His love, to live to Him who died for us.
(John Gill, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest:
WEB: "Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them, 'When you have come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap its the harvest, then you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest: