But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.—1 Corinthians 15:20-26 NKJV
God has a plan for the resurrection of the righteous. It takes place in three phases. The first is Jesus Christ, He is called the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep, namely New Testament believers. The second phase takes place at the rapture of the church when the church age is complete before the time of great tribulation takes place. The third phase takes place at the second coming of Jesus Christ when He sets up the Kingdom of God upon the earth. All of the Old Testament believers and those who were martyred during the tribulation hour will be raised from the dead to rule and reign with Christ.
The picture of this three phase resurrection of the righteous can be seen in the three feasts the Lord commanded Israel to celebrate at the Temple in Jerusalem. The feast of Unleavened bread, the feast of Pentecost, and the feast of Tabernacles. Each of these feast were tied to a particular harvest. Each harvest is a prophetic picture of the righteous being raised from the dead.
The feast of unleavened bread included Passover and First-fruits. During First-fruits the high priest would wave a bundle of barley before The Lord in the temple. This was a picture of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.
The feast of Pentecost was a feast that was not tied to a particular day of the month but was simply a count of 50 days from first-fruits. On that day the high priest took two fresh loaves of bread made from the wheat harvest and raised them up to God in the same way as first-fruits. This signified the resurrection and ascension or rapture of the church. It takes place at an undisclosed time. The number 50 is associated with jubilee in which everything is restored, it speaks of fulness and completion.
The feast of tabernacles included the feast of Trumpets and the feast Atonement which point to the Lord’s second coming. Tabernacles is referred to as the In-gathering, the time of the end, when the fruit harvest of figs, olives, and grapes are complete. This is a picture of the resurrection of Old Testament Saints and Tribulation Saints at the end of this age when Christ subdues all His enemies, the last enemy being death. When Christ begins His millennial rule there will be no more death for the righteous.
So you have three harvests, barley associated with Jesus Christ, wheat harvest associated with the church, and the figs, olives, and grapes harvest associated with the Old Testament believers. By the way it is no coincidence that the Lord through out scripture has used the fig tree, the olive branch, and the grape vine as a picture of His people Israel. (That’s another study in itself.)
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, yet he shall live. Do you believe this?” Only Jesus has resurrection power! Romans 8:11 says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Does His Spirit dwell in you? If you call upon Jesus to save you from your sins He will forgive you and take up residence in your heart. His Spirit will give you the assurance of eternal life and you can say He lives! The best is yet to come!
Happy Resurrection Sunday!