“Do not remove from my mouth the word of utmost truth (Torah), because I hoped for Your judgment. I will safeguard Your Torah constantly, forever and ever. Then I will walk in broad pathways (Freedom), for I sought Your precepts.” Psalms 119:43-45
What did Messiah Yeshua truly come to do on His first coming as prophesied in the Tanakh (Old Testament)? If HaShem truly reveals the end out of the beginning and does nothing without first revealing it to His prophets first coupled with the fact there is nothing new under the sun, then there MUST be some indicators HaShem has left for us to find in His Tanakh! The answer is, yes He has done so, over and over and over again. Keep this in mind as we proceed in this Op.
Additionally, as I post this Op, it is currently the Third Day of Chanukah, the Festival where we celebrate and prepare ourselves for the re-dedication of the Temple of HaShem, to ensure we set ourselves apart for service unto Him and to further apply the concept of kedusha (Holiness) into our daily lives so that we can reflect the Light of HaShem into a very dark, oppressed and deadly world. On a side note, for those who say Chanukah is not commanded by HaShem, therefore we should not acknowledge it, they would be wrong, Chanukah IS commanded and can be found in the book of Haggai the Prophet! I digress.
There is much confusion today concerning the mission of the Messiah of HaShem. Many have and continue to teach that Messiah came solely to be the final chatat (Sin) offering in order to free humanity from the Torah, to challenge and destroy the Temple Services, to end the korbonot (Offerings), to ‘fulfill’ Shabbat along with the annual Feasts of HaShem and then replace it all with a brand new, never before heard of covenant devoid of everything of what I mentioned here above.
Others have and continue to teach that before the advent of Messiah, the world was devoid of love and was bound under the dark, crushing oppression of the Law and that through the fulfillment of the Law, Law was once and for all tossed aside and love finally came flooding into the world. Now the only requirement is for everyone to love each other. Is there any truth to any of this? Right up front, the answer is an emphatic NO!
In this last Torah portion i.e. ‘Vayeshev’ which is found in Bereshit (Genesis) 37:1-40:23, this portion discusses Ya’akov settling down and the narrative for what will later become Messiah Ben Yosef (Messiah Son of Joseph) and I will briefly explain.
I should first note, with regards to the concept of Messiah in ancient Judaism, there two concepts i.e. Messiah Ben Yosef or otherwise known to be Messiah the Son of Yosef or Messiah the Suffering Servant. Then there is Messiah Ben David or Messiah Son of David, the Conquering and Ruling King. Yeshua first came as Messiah Ben Yosef, now we await HaShem sending Him as Messiah Ben David! Keep this all in mind as it is very important to this Op.
Yosef, the son of Ya’akov, favored by his father, grew up and experienced two prophetic dreams in which he saw himself being established as a ruler and leader. He then tells his dreams to his eleven brothers who end up hating and despising him for it. They initially conspire to kill him, but instead sell him to Ishmaelite traders who take Yosef to Egypt and sell him to Potiphar, the servant of Pharaoh. Yosef suffers greatly by this betrayal of his brothers, but HaShem is watching over him and Yosef NEVER forgets who he is nor does he forget to Whom he serves i.e. HaShem! Ultimately, Yosef is falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife, is thrown into prison and while in prison he interprets the dreams of two other prisoners which reaches the ears of Pharaoh. Then in the following Torah portion ‘Mikeitz’, Pharaoh has a troubling dream but no one could interpret it. Yosef is brought before him and is able to interpret it by the revealing of HaShem. The dream from HaShem warns of a coming famine which will be long and very severe. Pharaoh then declares Yosef to be the Viceroy over ALL of Egypt i.e. second in command and Yosef, by the hand of HaShem, mission is to prepare Egypt for this famine and he ends up saving all of Egypt along with Israel when Israel descends into Egypt during the time of this great famine. It is at this point that Yosef’s brothers approach him, not knowing who they are talking too. Yosef indeed knows who they are, he has not forgotten them. Yosef then reveals himself to them and they are all reunited and restored! All of which is a picture of Yeshua, second in command under HaShem, saving all of Israel along with the world, then He will one day rule over ALL of the world from Jerusalem, leading the world in service to HaShem! Baruch HaShem! May it be very soon in our days!
The following is an excerpt from the book, ‘The Messiah Texts’ by Raphael Patai. This book encapsulates what ancient Judaism understood and prepared for with regards to the concept of the Messiah of HaShem. For the record, it is not to be taken literally, but the to understand the concepts and the pictures being painted by the author as he references the texts of ancient Judaism. As I have said before, it is an astounding book and helps to understand what the people of Israel during the time of Yeshua actually thought as it is vastly different from what Christendom teaches. I digress.
On page 104-105 of this book, it states “The Messiah himself, on the other hand, must spend his entire life, from the moment of his creation until the time of his advent many centuries or millennia later, in a state of constant and acute suffering. Despised and afflicted with unhealing wounds, he sits in the gates of Great Rome (Figuratively) and winds and unwinds his bandages of his festering sores; as a Midrash expresses it, ‘Pains have adopted him.’ According to one of the most moving and at the same time psychologically most meaningful, of all Messiah legends, Elohim, when He created the Messiah, gave him the choice whether or not to accept the sufferings for the sins of Israel. And the Messiah answered: ‘I accept it with joy, so that not a single soul of Israel should perish.’ In the later Zoharic formulation of this legend, the Messiah himself summons all the diseases, pains and sufferings of Israel to come upon him, in order thus to ease the anguish of Israel to which otherwise would be unbearable. In all this the Messiah becomes heir to the Suffering Servant of Elohim, who, figures prominently in the prophecies of Deutero-Isaiah, and who suffers undeservedly for the sins of others.”
So we can see ancient Judaism understood the concept of a Suffering Servant of HaShem Who would come twice…once to redeem Israel and the second to conquer, gather all of Israel from around the world, defeat the enemies of Israel once and for all and rule from Jerusalem for a thousand years from where the Torah will go out to the entire world, preparing the world for the World to Come.
You may be asking how, per the title, First-fruits plays into this? Glad you asked! We will discuss this shortly, but before we jump into this topic, always remember and consider the following:
– HaShem never changes per Num 23:19/Mal 3:6/Hebrews 13:8/James 1:17
– His Word is firmly established per Psalm 119:89
– He reveals the end out of the beginning per Is 46:10
– He does nothing without first revealing it to His prophets per Amos 3:7
– He says there is nothing new under the sun per Ecclesiastes 1:9
– He says His Torah is eternal per Proverbs 3:19 and Psalm 119:160
– He says His Torah is perfect and restores the soul per Psalm 19:7
– He says His Torah makes the simple one wise per Psalm 19:7
– He says His Torah Is freedom and liberty per Psalm Ps 119:45 and James 1:25
– He says His Torah is the only good doctrine there is Proverbs 4:2
– He says His Torah will add length of days and years of life and peace per Proverbs 3:2
– He says all of the ways of His Torah are ways of pleasantness and peace per Proverbs 3:17
– He says His Torah is for our good and well-being per Deuteronomy 6:24
– He says His Torah is health for our lives per Proverbs 3:8
– He says His Torah is life to our soul and a graceful ornament for our neck per Prov 3:22
– He says His Torah is better than pearls and all desires cannot compare to it per Prov 8:11
– He says those who walk with His Torah are praiseworthy per Psalms 119:1
– He says observing His Torah is how we purify our path per Psalms 119:9
– He says His Torah is better than thousands in gold and silver per Psalms 119:72
– He says His Torah brings abundant peace to those who love Him and His Torah per Psalms 119:165
– He says there is one Torah for all per Exodus 12:49/Leviticus 24:22
– He says those who hate His Torah love death per Proverbs 8:36
‘Bikkurim’, the Hebrew word for ‘Firstfruits’ which is derived from the Hebrew word ‘Bechor’ are the Firstfruits of agriculture, kosher animals and firstborn human sons, which are all marked, set apart for HaShem, then are brought to the Temple of HaShem in Jerusalem, redeemed and given to the Kohanim (Priests) and Levi’im (Levites). The Kohanim and Levi’im then offer them up on the Altar to HaShem and eat them within the walls of Jerusalem because they have a kedusha (Holiness) level attached to them. I will explain in much more detail as we proceed because HaShem is very much teaching us a concept and it will also explain what we are reading the Apostolic Writings!
Per Tractate Bechoros in the Talmud Bavli in the general introduction it states the following: “When Elohim redeemed the Children of Israel from Egypt and destroyed all the firstsborns of Egypt, from humans to livestock, in the last of the ten plagues, He forever sanctified the firstborns of Israel by sparing them per Bamidbar (Numbers) 3:13 (‘For every firstborn is Mine: On the day I struck down every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified every firstborn in Israel for Myself, from man to beast; they shall be Mine, I am HaShem.’) The laws defining this sanctification were then given to Moshe to teach the people per Shemot (Exodus) 13:2, 12-16.”
Lets examine Shemot 13:2 which says “Sanctify to Me every firstborn, the first issue of every womb among the Children of Israel, of man and beast, is Mine.”
Now lets look at Shemot 13:12-16 which says “Then you shall set apart every first issue of the womb to HaShem, and every first issue that is dropped by livestock that belong to you, the males are HaShem’s. Every first issue donkey you shall redeem with a lamb or kid; if you do not redeem it, you shall axe the back of its neck. And you shall redeem every human firstborn among your sons. And it shall be when your son will ask you at some future time, ‘What is this?’ You shall say to him, ‘With a strong hand HaShem removed us from Egypt from the house of bondage. And it happened when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to send us out, that HaShem killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of man to the firstborn of beast. Therefore I offer to HaShem all male first issue of the womb, and I shall redeem all the firstborn of my sons. And it shall be a sign upon your arm, and an ornament between your eyes, for with a strong hand HaShem removed us from Egypt.'”
Very interesting verses!! Can you see the connection to the Exodus and deliverance from Egypt with the Firstfruits? If HaShem reveals the end from the beginning then what does this mean for us, here and now today at the end? Let’s keep exploring.
HaShem commands in Devarim (Deuteronomy) 26:1-5 says “It will be when you enter the Land that HaShem, your Elohim, gives you as an inheritance, and you possess it, and dwell in it, that you shall take the first of every fruit of the ground that you bring in from your Land that HaShem, your Elohim, gives you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that HaShem, your Elohim, will choose to make His Name rest there. You shall come to whoever will be the Kohen in those days, and you shall say to him, ‘I declare today to HaShem, your Elohim, that I have come to the Land that HaShem swore to our forefathers to give us.’ The Kohen shall take the basket from your hand, and lay it before the Altar of HaShem, your Elohim.”
Okay, so we now see HaShem is setting up the principles of His Kingdom via His Torah with the setting apart not just the firstborn sons and kosher animals, but also the agriculture of the field from the Land of Israel!
Then HaShem says in verses 5-10 “Then you shall call out and say before HaShem, your Elohim, ‘An Aramean tried to destroy my forefather (Laban who tried to deceive Ya’akov). He descended to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, strong and numerous. The Egyptians mistreated us and afflicted us, and placed hard work upon us. Then we cried out to HaShem, the Elohim of our forefathers, and HaShem heard our voice and saw our affliction, our travail, and our oppression. HaShem took us out of Egypt with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm, with great awesomeness, and with signs and with wonders. He brought us to this place, and He gave us this Land, a Land flowing with milk and honey. And now, behold! I have brought the first fruit of the ground that You have given me, O HaShem!’ And you shall lay it before HaShem, your Elohim, and you shall prostrate yourself before HaShem, your Elohim.”
Can you again see the connection to bringing the Bikkurim to the Temple and the Exodus from Egyptian bondage? I will say it for the umpteenth time….If He reveals the end from the beginning, then what does this mean today at the end?
Why do we bring our Bikkurim to the Temple? Devarim 26:11 says “You shall rejoice with all the goodness that HaShem, your Elohim, has given you and your household, you and the Levite and the proselyte who is in your midst.” So we do this to rejoice in what HaShem has blessed us with!!
So what Bikkurim are considered acceptable for bringing to the Temple of HaShem in Jerusalem? Remember the Bikkurim have to be free of blemishes, no defects and must literally be the best of the crop is what is set apart to HaShem. This said, is any ole produce acceptable, whatever we decide? Actually, HaShem tells us what is acceptable and there are seven species of agriculture that are acceptable per Devarim 8:8:
- Oil Olives
- Date Honey
Of the animals, only the kosher animals are acceptable i.e.:
When where the Bikkurim brought to the Temple of HaShem? They began bringing them on Shavuot (Erroneously known as Pentecost) per Shemot (Exodus) 23:16 in what is also known as ‘The Feast of Harvest’ as well as the ‘Feast of In-gathering’ which is another name for the Feast of Sukkot. They could continue to bring their Bikkurim through Chanukah which is very significant in itself which we will discuss shortly!
How did they bring the Bikkurim to the Temple of HaShem?
Tractate Bikkurim in the Mishnah is very clear that the time for bringing the Bikkurim into Jerusalem was a GIGANTIC celebration and rejoicing! One commentator said that a person has not observed true rejoicing and celebrating in their lives until they witness the Bikkurim celebration at Shavuot!!!
Chapter 3.2 from Tractate Bikkurim in the Mishnah says “How do we bring the bikkurim up to the Beit HaMikdash (Temple)? All the people of the cities in the maamad (Delegation of Israelis officials which correspond to one of the 24 weekly shifts of the Kohanim serving in the Temple) gather in the city of the maamad. They stay overnight in the town square and they would not enter the houses. And in the morning, the appointee would say ‘Let us rise and ascend to Zion, to the House of HaShem our Elohim’ quoting Jeremiah 31:5.”
Chapter 3.3 says “The near ones bring fresh figs and grapes, while the far ones bring dried figs and raisins. And the ox walks ahead of them, and his horns are overlaid with gold, and a wreath of olive branches is on his head. The flute plays before them, until they reach close to Jerusalem. When they reach close to Jerusalem, they sent messengers ahead of them, and they adorned their bikkurim. The princes, the leaders, and the treasurers go out to greet them according to the honor of those entering they would go out to greet them. And all the craftsmen of Jerusalem stand up before them and inquire into their welfare: ‘Our brethren, the people of such and such a place, have you arrived in peace?'”
Chapter 3.4 says “The flute plays ahead of them until they reach the Temple Mount. When they reach the Temple Mount, even King Agrippas takes the basket on his shoulder and enters, until he reaches the Temple Courtyard. When he reaches the Courtyard, the Levi’im break out in song: ‘I will exalt You, O HaShem, for You have uplifted me and You have not let my enemies rejoice over me. HaShem, my Elohim, I cried out to You and You healed me. HaShem, You have raised up my soul from the Lower World, You have preserved me lest I descend into the Pit. Sing to HaShem, His devoted ones, and give thanks to His holy Name. For His anger endures but a moment; life results from his pleasure; in the evening one lies down weeping, but with dawn, a cry of joy! I had said in my serenity, ‘I would never falter.’ But HaShem, it was Your good will alone that supported my greatness with might. You but conceal Your face, I would be terrified. To You, HaShem I would call and to my Master I would appeal. What gain is there in my death, in my descent to the Pit? Will the dust acknowledge You? Will it tell of Your Truth (Torah)? Hear, HaShem, and favor me HaShem, be my helper! You have changed for me my lament into dancing, You undid my sackcloth and girded me with joy. So that my soul might sing to You and not be stilled, HaShem, my Elohim, forever will I thank You.'” Quoting Psalms 30.
It should be noted that each day of the week there is a daily Psalm which was and is recited. During the time of bringing in the Bikkurim the sing Psalms 30, which is listed above, but also during Chanukah, the daily Psalm which is read during these eight days is also Psalms 30! Coincidence? Not a chance!
Chapter 3.5 says “The young birds which were on the baskets were Olah (Burnt) Offerings, and that which was in their hands, they gave to the Kohanim.”
Chapter 3.6 says “While the basket is still on his shoulders, he reads from ‘I have declared today to HaShem your Elohim’ (The declaration we discussed above from Devarim 26) until he finishes the whole section. When he reaches ‘An Aramean planned to destroy my father’ he lowers the basket from his shoulder and holds it from its rim, and a Kohen places his hand under it and waves it before HaShem. And he reads from ‘An Aramean planned to destroy my father’ until he finishes the whole section. And he places it on the side of the Altar, and he bows and he leaves.”
Can you see there is a set protocol for how and when to bring the Bikkurim to HaShem in His Temple in Jerusalem? As I have said before, the Torah is the constitution per se for the system of government in the Kingdom of HaShem and at some point, hopefully very soon, the entire world will be living under the Torah with Yeshua leading from the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem! I digress…got ahead of myself a bit.
Now remember, HaShem is teaching us a concept here with the Bikkurim such as kedusha (Holiness), being set apart to Him, don’t be like the world, etc, for He commands we as His people are to be kadosh (Holy) as He is kadosh per Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:2/20:7/20:26/26:8 and I Kepha (Peter) 1:16, etc.
So how does all of this tie in with Yeshua? First we must remember that in the end, Yeshua will be both King and Kohen HaGadol (High Priest) in the order of Melchizedek and will serve in the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem per Ezekiel chapters 40-48! Very important to remember this because Yeshua is NOT a Levite, so how can He be Kohen HaGadol if that is reserved only for Levi? The answer is below!
Tractate Bechoros in the Talmud Bavli says “The unique esteem in which firstborns were held is evident not only from the fact that their destruction was the final blow that shattered Egyptian resistance to the emancipation of the Israelites. Long before this, from the times of Adam, it had been the practice to assign the performance of the avodah (Sacrificial Service) to the firstborns per Bereshit (Genesis) 25:31. This remained the practice of the Jews until the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was erected in the Wilderness. At that time, the firstborns were superseded in the avodah by the Kohanim and Levi’im, the only group that had not participated in the sin of the Golden Calf.”
WOW…do see how significant this is in relation to Yeshua? Yeshua is constantly prophesied to be the King and Kohen HaGadol (High Priest) in the order of Melchizedek. Yeshua is NOT a Levite therefore He technically cannot serve as Kohen HaGadol in the earthly Temple because that is only reserved for Levi, because Levi didn’t bow to the Golden Calf incident! If the Priesthood was originally relegated to the firstborn sons, beginning from Adam on down, and Yeshua is called the Last Adam (I Corinthians 15:45), and Adam functioned as both King and Kohen unto HaShem in the first Temple i.e. the Garden of Eden, then this is why Yeshua can be both King and Kohen unto HaShem in the end because He reveals the end from the beginning! Yeshua isn’t setting up some new Kohanim order, He is simply performing the avodah as the Firstborn of HaShem as originally intended by HaShem!! In other words Yeshua is RESTORING what was lost, NOT ushering in something brand new as Christendom in its Replacement Theology claims! Nothing changes, nothing new under the sun and He reveals the end out of the beginning!! Very exciting to understand this, Baruch HaShem!
Now it makes MUCH more sense when we read in the Apostolic Writings in I Corinthians 15:20-23 which says “But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, and has become the FIRST FRUITS of those having fallen asleep. For since death is through a man (Adam), resurrection of the dead is also through a Man (Yeshua – The Last Adam). For as all die in Adam, so also all shall be made alive in Messiah. And each in his own order: Messiah the FIRST FRUITS, THEN those who are of Messiah at His coming.”
Very interesting because Yeshua suffered as Messiah Ben Yosef i.e. the Suffering Messiah on behalf of Israel in order to redeem and restore Israel and as the First Fruits is raised up by HaShem on the Feast of First Fruits, three days after His death on Pesach, no coincidence by the way, He is the first of humanity to be raised from the grave into eternal life, serving HaShem for eternity free from the sin nature we all are born with!
Further evidence is found in Yochanan (John) 20:15 says “Yeshua said to her (Miryam), ‘Woman, why do you weep? Whom do you seek?’ Thinking He was the gardener, she said to Him, ‘Master, if You have carried Him away, say to me where You put Him, and I shall take Him away.'” Why is this significant? Because Miryam thought she was talking to the gardener. Why did she think this? Because Yeshua was wearing His all white, Priestly garments, which are worn when approaching the Most Holy Place. How do we know this?
Yochanan (John) 20:17 says “Yeshua said to her, ‘Do not hold onto Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father. But go to My brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My Elohim and your Elohim.'” When the Kohen HaGadol is set apart for approaching HaShem in the Most Holy Place, he is separated out and cannot be contaminated by anything, even a human touch could contaminate him and prevent his approaching HaShem! Here Yeshua tells Miryam NOT to touch Him for just this very reason while He is wearing His all white Priestly garments!! He is the FIRST FRUITS as confirmed in Colossians 1:15 which says “Who (Yeshua) is the likeness of the invisible Elohim, the FIRST BORN of all creation.”
Now consider Revelation 14:1-4 which says “And I looked and saw a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him 144,000, having His Father’s Name written upon their foreheads. And I heard a voice out of the heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder, and I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a renewed song before the throne, and before the four living creatures, and the elders. And no one was able to learn the song except the 144,000 who were redeemed from the earth. They are those who are not defiled with women, for they are maiden. They are those following the Lamb wherever He leads them on. They were redeemed from among men, being the FIRST FRUITS to Elohim and to the Lamb.” Now does this make a little more sense when we read this? And how are they the First Fruits of HaShem?
Ya’akov (James) 1:18 tells us “Having purposed it, He brought us forth by the Word of Truth (Torah), for us to be a kind of FIRST FRUITS of His creatures.” Point is, once more, He tells us the only way to be set apart to Him as His people is by doing the Torah! Remember this is NOT talking about salvation…this is talking about walking in service to HaShem in our daily lives. Yeshua walked out the Torah perfectly and we are to emulate Him as He currently serves HaShem in the Heavenly Temple on our behalf as our Kohen HaGadol in the order of Melchizedek!
Its ALL about being the FIRST FRUITS i.e. kadosh unto HaShem!! This is why we need the Temple in Jerusalem to be rebuilt soon in our days…may it be VERY VERY soon!!
Chag Chanukkah Sameach
- The Stone Chumash by Artscroll
- Tractate Bikkurim from the Mishnah
- Tractate Bikkurim from the Talmud Bavli
- The Scriptures by the Institute for Scripture Research
- Tehillim – The Psalms by Artscroll