Listen to sermons at FreeGraceRadio.com
“The Oblation of Firstfruits
“As for the oblation of the firstfruits, ye shall offer them unto the LORD: but they shall not be burnt on the altar for a sweet savour. And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt. And if thou offer a meat offering of thy firstfruits unto the LORD, thou shalt offer for the meat offering of thy firstfruits green ears of corn dried by the fire, even corn beaten out of full ears. And thou shalt put oil upon it, and lay frankincense thereon: it is a meat offering. And the priest shall burn the memorial of it, part of the beaten corn thereof, and part of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof: it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD.” (Leviticus 2:12-16)
In the drama written by John Mansfield, The Trial of Jesus, there is one passage in which the Roman centurion who was in charge of the soldiers at the cross comes back to Pilate to give his report. After he had given his report of the day’s barbaric work, Pilate’s wife motions for him to come over to her and asks how the prisoner called Jesus had died. Once the story was told, Pilate’s wife asks the centurion, “Do you think he is dead?” “No, Lady, I don’t.” “Then, where is he?” To that question the centurion replies, “Let loose in the world, Lady, let loose in the world, where no man can stop his truth.”
Because the Lord Jesus Christ who died at Calvary has been raised from the dead and let loose in the world where no man can stop his truth and his kingdom or hinder his purpose, believing sinners celebrate his resurrection in anticipation of our own.
The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is a fact which cannot be reasonably disputed. It is a revealed fact, an historical fact, and an indispensable fact. The Lord Jesus Christ, the God-man Mediator, he who put away our sins by the sacrifice of himself, is risen from the dead. — Rejoice! He has ascended up on high, leading captivity captive, conquering death, hell, and the grave! And he is exalted King of kings and Lord of lords.
This risen, exalted, almighty Christ has empowered and commanded his church to preach the gospel to all men, making known to all both the fact and (more importantly) the meaning of his resurrection.
The resurrection of Christ was as plainly and clearly prophesied in the Old Testament Scriptures as were his incarnation, obedience, and death as our covenant Surety (Psalm 16:9-11; Isaiah 26:19; 53:10-12). And his resurrection was portrayed in the typical sacrifices of the Old Testament. That is what is represented in “the oblation of the firstfruits” spoken of in Leviticus 2:12-16. Here, we are given a clear, instructive picture of our Lord’s resurrection, of our own resurrection, and of faith in and consecration to the risen Christ.
“As for the oblation of the firstfruits, ye shall offer them unto the LORD: but they shall not be burnt on the altar for a sweet savour” (v. 12). — This oblation was not to be burned on the altar. Without question, these firstfruits were offered as a voluntary acknowledgement of God’s goodness in providing his people with daily bread. They are included in the meat offerings described in this chapter, because they were freewill offerings of thanksgiving, gratitude, and praise. They certainly speak much concerning both the worshipper and his property.
However, you will notice that the firstfruits here described were brought to the altar because they primarily represented and typified the Lord Jesus Christ in his resurrection glory. There is no burning here. His burning is over. His suffering is done. His sacrifice has been made and accepted. Justice is fully satisfied. Sin is gone! Yet, as we shall see, there is always the reminder of his suffering and death as our Substitute.
Seasoned with Salt
“And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt” (v. 13). — Salt represents preservation and security. Salt indicates corruption removed and corruption prevented. Salt speaks of covenant grace (Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5). And salt was used in ancient times as a symbol of friendship.
God almighty, in all his fulness and in all that he does, is ours in Christ. Though we were once, at heart, enmity against the Almighty, he has brought us to himself in a covenant of everlasting friendship! In Christ God sups with man and man sups with God (Revelation 3:20). He blesses us in our souls, in our homes, in our fields, and in our store. In all things, God says, “Say ye to the righteous, It shall be well with him” and “there shall no evil happen to the just!” God our Father has made even the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air to be our friends (Job 5:23; Hosea 2:18; Romans 8:28).
By requiring that all sacrifices be offered with salt, the Lord God declared that the satisfaction he has in the sacrifice of Christ (the burnt offering) is unchanging, abiding, eternal, and indestructible, and that he will forever remain faithful to his purpose, his promise, his covenant, and his people for Christ’s sake.
Green Ears of Corn
“And if thou offer a meat offering of thy firstfruits unto the LORD, thou shalt offer for the meat offering of thy firstfruits green ears of corn dried by the fire, even corn beaten out of full ears” (v. 14). — These green ears of corn represent our Lord Jesus Christ (John 12:24). They had to be “green ears,” portraying our Savior who was cut off, like green ears of corn, in the prime of his life. The words might better be translated “ears of the best kind.” — That is our Savior. He is Alpha and Omega. He is the perfect God, the perfect Man, the perfect Sacrifice, the perfect Savior!
These ears of corn were to be “dried by the fire.” Though there is no blood in these offerings of praise, there is always a reminder of it. Our thanksgiving and worship, our gifts and sacrifices, our firstfruits of thanksgiving are offered and accepted because of what Christ endured as our Substitute to put away our sins (Psalm 22:14; 102:4).
What a picture this is of the Man of Sorrows! All his life long, he was being dried in the fire. It is true, he did not make atonement but by his blood in his death upon the cursed tree; but everything he endured as a Man and in anticipation of being made sin, dried up his life and withered his physical frame. At 33 he appeared to be a man 50 years old.
Then, these ears of corn had to be “beaten out!” Andrew Bonar suggested that this “represents the bruises and strokes whereby he was prepared for the altar.” — “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10).
Christ the Firstfruits
In all these things, Christ is the Firstfruits. Firstfruits imply that many more shall follow. He is the Firstfruits. Those that follow are like the firstfruits. The full harvest conforms to the firstfruits (Romans 8:28-30; Philippians 3:10, 21). The Scriptures do not leave us in the dark about these types and pictures. Rather, the Holy Spirit has given us full instruction concerning these sacrifices, these oblations of the firstfruits.
First and foremost, as I have shown you, the firstfruits speak of our Lord Jesus Christ in his resurrection glory (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). Then, the firstfruits represent our regeneration, our spiritual resurrection with Christ (James 1:18; Romans 8:22-23; 16:5).
The Apostle Paul spoke of one of his beloved friends, Epaenetus, as “the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.” That means, he was the first one in Achaia who was born of God and brought to Christ. Being born of God the Holy Ghost, we now have the firstfruits of eternal life and heavenly glory (Romans 8:22-23). If we have the firstfruits of the Spirit, grace, eternal life, and everlasting salvation in Christ, peace, pardon, justification, acceptance with God, what will eternal glory be?
The oblation of the firstfruits was also a picture of believers honoring God with their substance (Proverbs 3:5-6, 9-10). Giving, like the offering of the firstfruits, is an act of faith. God deserves and demands the firstfruits. All offerings to the Lord our God must be of the first and best. To offer otherwise is mockery. We are to bring our God our best, only our best (Malachi 1:14). God’s gift of his Son, our all-glorious Christ, to which the firstfruits oblation pointed, is his gift of the best. Christ is the first and the best. He was offered upon the altar of God as an offering in the prime of life. And he is the sin-cleansing sacrifice of fire (Hebrews 9:14). Dare we bring him anything less than our best?
Giving God the firstfruits is a declaration that all is his. And giving him the firstfruits is an act of faith. We must give him the first (the best) of all things (time, labor, money, and life), trusting our Father to provide the rest. And he has promised that he shall (Exodus 34:23-24).
The oblation of the firstfruits was also a prophetic picture of and expressed the believing sinner’s hope of his own resurrection glory with Christ (1 Corinthians 15:23; Revelation 14:4). When we at last stand before God with Christ in glory, there will still be yet more to come. After that, after the firstfruits of the resurrection, comes the reconciliation of all things and eternity with Christ!
“And thou shalt put oil upon it, and lay frankincense thereon: it is a meat offering. And the priest shall burn the memorial of it, part of the beaten corn thereof, and part of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof: it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD.” (Leviticus 2:15-16)
The smoke and the frankincense ascend up to heaven, declaring that all is accepted: first the Lord Jesus Christ himself, then his redeemed and all that is ours! Our blessed Savior passed through the suffering, the fire, and the flame. Only then was he received up into heaven. Now, because we are one with him, we are treated as if we had ourselves passed through the suffering, fire, and flame of God’s holy wrath and justice, because in union with our dear Savior we truly did pass through the suffering, fire, and flame of God’s holy wrath and justice with him! And in Christ we are accepted of God: accepted because he is accepted, as he is accepted, forever accepted!
That is the meaning of “the oblation of the firstfruits.” And that is the message of the resurrection (Romans 4:25-5:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; Revelation 20:6).