In the last number I showed what I believed to be fairly convincing evidence for the existence of two resurrections. If this be so, then can we find substantiating evidence within Old Testament Law to uphold that assertion? I believe a positive answer may be found in the laws relating to Passover and Pentecost, each of which is said to be a “firstfruit” occasion.
As it so happens, the Jews are celebrating Pentecost this very day, Thursday 24th May, 2007. However this is where they have got it very wrong, and I’ll show why in a moment. Pentecost hasto be celebrated on a Sunday, just as the Firstfruit offering had to be celebrated on a Sunday. The O.T. is very clear about that. Whereas the Jews are normally most particular about observing their own laws, they fall down with regard to Pentecost in a most lamentable way. Here’s the evidence.
“When you come into the land which I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, that you may find acceptance. On the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.” (Lev.23:10-11) There can be no doubt about the fact. The firstfruit is waved on a Sunday. Our Lord was the True Passover Lamb, of which all other lambs were adumbrations in earlier history. He died on Good Friday, and rose on Sunday morning, 5th April, A.D. 33. Being a Sunday that year, He was raised on the day of the waving of the firstfruit, and as the Firstfruit Himself, He was presented to His Father and accepted.
“And you shall count from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, seven full weeks, counting fifty days to the morrow after the seventh Sabbath, and you shall present . . . two loaves of bread to be waved . . .as firstfruits to the Lord.” (Lev.23:15-17) Furthermore it is stated quite clearly that “they shall be baked with leaven.”
The English Church Calendar makes this coming Sunday, May 27th 2007 Whit Sunday, (named after the white robes that used to be worn by the candidates for Confirmation), but which is in fact Pentecost Sunday. And so, in this one respect alone, the British Church is more accurate in its chronology than the Jews. It is most important that both events should take place on Sunday, because Sunday is in type the 8th day of the week, and 8 is the number of resurrection.
Therefore we now have two firstfruits waved before the Lord. And the period of time between them is very definitely stated to be seven weeks. Therefore these offerings are connected. That which began at Passover with the Lord’s resurrection is completed at Pentecost with the resurrection of believers.
However, we have been presented with the clear impression that “Christ the Firstfruit” has not been completed through the resurrection and acceptance of the Lord Jesus alone. The word “Christ” is a corporate word, to include both Head and Members of His Body. Paul said that he was “filling up that which is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His Body, which is the Church of which I became a minister . . . to make fully known the Mystery hidden from the ages.” (Col.1:24-25) He was therefore the forerunner of all those who have likewise shared in the ministry of suffering of the Body of Christ, and who will share in our Lord’s resurrection when the Father sees the fulness of this grand purpose.
It is therefore expected that there will be a firstfruit resurrection of the members of the Body of Christ, all those whom Paul says are “in Christ”, before the resurrection of the rest of those who are “of Christ”. This last expression is exact in the Greek of 1 Cor.15:23 “each in his own company, Christ the Firstfruit, then those who are of Christ at His coming.”
This earlier resurrection is silent. It is not connected with the trumpets. It is an out-resurrection, a “better resurrection”, a “calling on high” a “prize”, for which we are enjoined to recognise, seek after, prepare ourselves for the difficult journey, and wait in sure hope and expectation for the moment of change. It is the former part of what John calls the “first resurrection” in Rev. 20. The latter part, the Pentecost company, is connected inseparably by the 50-day time line insisted on by Mosaic legislation.
I have found it difficult to write about this deeper mystery of the Body of Christ, and some may find it unacceptable exegesis. But I hope that it may have triggered off new thoughts, and in due course I should be most grateful for readers’ comments, and hopefully additional material to help in the understanding of resurrection.
“This is a faithful saying,
If we have died with Him, we shall also live with Him,
If we endure, we shall reign with Him,
If we deny Him [the endurance], He will deny us [the reign]
If we become faithless, He remains faithful,
He cannot deny Himself.”
(2 Timothy 2:11-12)
In the next part I shall be looking at the expression “then comes the end.”