The choice examples of a crop harvested first and dedicated to God. In accordance with Mosaic law, individual Israelites brought to the house of the Lord “the first (that is, “the best”) of the firstfruits of thy land” (Exodus 23:19;
Exodus 34:26), including grain, wine, and oil, which were used—except for the grain (Leviticus 2:14-16)—for the support of the priests (Numbers 18:12;
Deuteronomy 18:4). According to
Deuteronomy 26:1-11, the offering was brought in a basket to the sanctuary for presentation. The Book of Proverbs promises prosperity to those who honor the Lord with the firstfruits (Proverbs 3:9).
Leviticus 23:9-14, the first sheaf of the new crop of barley was presented as a wave offering before the Lord. This took place on the day after the Passover sabbath and was a public acknowledgment that all came from God and belonged to Him (Numbers 28:26; compare
Exodus 34:22). Not only were the Israelites to be mindful that the land of Canaan was the Lord's possession and that they had only the rights of tenants (Leviticus 25:23), but they were also to be aware that the fertility of Canaan's soil was not due to one of the Baals but rather to the Lord's gift of grace.
Israel was described as God's “firstfruits” (Jeremiah 2:3). Christ in His resurrection is described as the “firstfruits” of them that slept (1 Corinthians 15:20,1 Corinthians 15:23). The Holy Spirit is spoken of as a “firstfruits” (Romans 8:23), and believers are also spoken of as “a kind of firstfruits” (James 1:18). The saved remnant within Israel is described as “firstfruits” (Romans 11:16), as are the 144,000 of the tribulation period (Revelation 14:4). The first converts of an area were designated “firstfruits” (Romans 16:5;
1 Corinthians 16:15). In each case the emphasis was on special dedication and blessing.