THE FIRST HARVEST
Taken from the book "The SPIRITUAL ROOTS of BARLEY"
by Dr.Mary Ruth Swope, published in 1988
".......The biblical record for this root is Leviticus
23:10-12......In this chapter, Moses is receiving very specific
instructions from the Lord God Jehovah......That sheaf from the
first crop to ripen every year was made up of leaves and fruits
GOD'S HEALTH PLAN
Being the creator, God knew what many seem to have forgotten
or ignored: that He designed all creatures with self-renewing
systems that work perfectly only when supplied with nutrition
according to His plan. It is clear that His plan was for us to
eat a varied selection of grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits
and vegetables. Within each of these categories God has
purposefully provided a wide variety of nutrients. In vegetables
for example, the part we eat may be the leaf, stem, flower,
fruit, seed, tuber, bulb or root. Surely God's supply of food is
a 'fearfully and wonderfully made' as are the ones for whom it
We tend to think of food as primarily fuel - like gasoline
in a car. But a closer look reveals God designed food for three
purposes: besides supplying energy for action, food becomes
part of our bodies as it is used to build tissue; it is also
intended to maintain the organism by regulating a myriad of body
processes in the cells, tissues, and organs throughout life.
Thus, our cells are actually built up (or torn down) by the
food we eat, digest, and assimilate. In fact, the very processes
of life are regulated by the organic chemicals found in food.
fresh food and pure water are, of course, the best sources of
When God created us from the 'dust of the earth,' He
provided for that renewal process by giving us food from the
earth that contained all the nutrients needed for renewal.
Being a perfect God, He designed barley perfectly to
accomplish these purposes. He knew that our bodies would maintain
themselves in an ongoing state of health if we obeyed His
instructions about what to put (and what not to put) into them.
We will see that His instructions include a strong emphasis on
barley as part of His health plan......
MISSING GOD'S PLAN
Modern food-marketing has resulted in our eating less and
less of the food from the earth required for the God-given
process of growth, maintenance and renewal......Ask yourself
how God's design for health and healing through renewal can
proceed unhindered if we ignore the foods we're instructed to
feed on in our User's manual (Holy Scripture), and insist on
loading our systems instead with substances they were never
designed to handle.
The Bible shows us that not following God's plan always has
How then shall we recover from the nutritional crisis we
have brought about by neglecting God's advice on how to
eat?.....For sound nutritional counsel and Godly wisdom, let's
turn to the Lord who made heaven and earth - the one who designed
our bodies and understands our metabolisms!......
PRACTICAL TRUTHS ABOUT BARLEY
......I want to introduce you to some practical truths that
interested me as I studied about barley. I believe God's
providence is clearly seen in these facts.
In our country barley is sown in November and harvested in
Barley is the first grain to ripen in the spring; wheat is
next and it takes 4-6 weeks longer to mature.
It ripens without the aid of all the 'latter rains.' This is
significant and will be referred to later.
Its vibrant growth offered the ancient people, especially, a
new sign...of new life in the spring - a sign of hope.
It brought a new taste appeal to the meals of the ancient
people whose winter diets were often measured in both types
and amounts of food.
The barley crop was a revelation of God's faithfulness; His
immutable ways were displayed in each year's new crops.
It grew wild for hundreds of years and was plentiful; it was
also plentiful after it became a cultivated crop.
Barley was cheap to buy; everyone could afford it.
It is hardy; it thrives in high altitudes and northern
climatic conditions. It resists disease.
It is not attacked by bugs, molds, fungi, or worms, which
abound later and in warmer climates.
It is thought to be the first cereal cultivated by man.
Grains found in Egypt have been tagged as 5,000 years old.
Regrettably, in america 65 percent is used in animal feed
and another large proportion goes into brewing beer and ale.
......Barley grows very well in alkaline soil, so it comes
as no surprise that the green leaves of barley test, in the
laboratory, as one of the most alkaline of all natural foods.
Spinach is its next rival in alkalinity but is only about 40
percent as alkaline as Barley Green, for example.
It is well known in medical circles that many diseases
thrive in an acid-medium; only a few can survive an alkaline pH.
Recently an M.D. made the statement that the pH of the average
American is 5.4 instead of the ideal 7.35-7.45. Why is this?
Our systemic acid condition may be attributed to our high
intake of meat (beef, pork, veal, chicken, turkey, etc.), high
sugar and soft-drink consumption and excessive consumption of
This puts us outside of God's design for our optimal
functioning. Many Americans are plagued, therefore, with
unhealthy bodies due to this....."
Dr. Mary Ruth Swope (expert nutritionist) continues in her
book giving the wonderful benefits of Barley as pertaining to
chlorophyll, enzymes, protein, vitamins and minerals, and then
continues in chapter two with:
PERFECTION: Barley, Type of the Perfect Sacrifice
"Anyone with a nutritional science background can look at
the analysis of green barley leaves and be amazed at the
near-perfect balance among the nutrients. But as a Christian, my
desire was to understand the biochemical structure, and the
function of this food within the context of God's overall design,
for only then would the essential purpose of its nearly perfect
configuration come into true perspective......
From the beginning of Israel's history as a nation and right
down to the present say, barley is the sheaf used as the Offering
of the Firstfruits in the Feast of the Passover. Of course, the
basic requirements of an offering is that it be 'perfect, without
spot or stain.' Barley, due to its early maturation, is almost
completely free of the pets and infestations other crops are
plagued with. Thus, it is naturally perfect......"
Dr. Swope goes on to recount how she came to read
Lev.23:9-11 and then 1 Cor.15:20 and saw how Scripture links the
firstfruits, barley, with our saviour, Jesus Christ. Then she
realized that we as Christians are a "kind of firstfruits of all
He created" (James 1:18, NIV). With all this in mind Dr. Swope
started an in-depth study of the Feasts of Israel. Here in part
is what she wrote as we continue in her book.
THE FEASTS OF ISRAEL
"There are three major feasts of the Lord in Israel, with a
total of seven celebrations within the three......Here are some
general facts about all the feasts:
They are God's idea - not man's; and God expects obedience
from every participant.
God want to meet man on His terms, to accomplish His purpose
in their lives.
The times and seasons for the feasts are very specific and
unvarying, as are the directions for the specific
celebrations and sacrifices in each feast.
These are holy days, a time for renewed commitment to a holy
life, renouncing sin,idolatry, and immorality.
Gentiles can attend, but only if they are believers.....
Offering of Firstfruits was a part of each feast: Passover:
the firstfruits of the barley are offered at the barley
harvest in the Spring. Pentecost: the firstfruits of wheat
are offered 50 days after Passover. Tabernacles: the
firstfruits of orchard and vineyard are offered in the fall
of the year.
.......I believe that what the Lord was really looking for
in all these feasts and offerings was a people that would
acknowledge that He was their Lord and their God and that they
were willing to obey Him even to the smallest detail.
He still desires that in us today as we receive His
sacrifice in Jesus and obey the Holy Spirit's urging to 'grow up'
in Christ and to walk as Jesus walked.....The link between the
spiritual and natural events was a primary focus of each feast.
And it is the most important fact to remember in relation to
barley. There is every reason to expect the spiritual and the
natural to work together when we walk in obedience to god's
design for our sustenance and restoration. He perfects us as we
OFFERING THE FIRSTFRUITS
Now that we have had an overview of the feasts of Israel,
let us focus on barley itself as the firstfruits of the barley
harvest......This was the crop that, in God's perfect will, would
renew and restore both His people and their animals after the
long winter of nutritionally meager foods. It would strengthen
them by cleansing accumulated internal toxins, poisons and
Another point for meditative consideration: we are, through
our union with Christ, a firstfruits people ourselves......Both
Paul (in Galatians 6:7,8) and James, the brother of our Lord,
(in James 1:14-18) warn us that we will reap what we sow. If we
sow a crop of disobedience to God's law in the realm of nutrition
and health, we're not likely to make a very perfect or lively
sacrifice, are we? We won't even be in fighting condition when
the enemy tries to steal a march on us! The lusts of the body
will cause us to reap a harvest of destruction, as Scripture
warns us. If, on the other hand, we are willing to sow good seed
to our bodies, eating what is not only physically but spiritually
good for us, we will reap a double blessing. Our bodies will be
perfected as a suitable temple for the living God, and we will be
in excellent condition should attack come from our
enemies.....And like barley, we will be available and nourishing
to those around us.
GOD'S SPECIAL 'BARLEY PEOPLE'
This brought forth another idea: it is easy to see for
ourselves that among professing Christians there are several
distinct levels of commitment to discipleship. As one pastor
said, there are curious disciples, convicted disciples, and
committed disciples. I can see how these types can be compared to
various grains. For example. let's take rye first and compare it
to being a curious disciple. This type of 'inferior wheat,' as it
is often called, is not the find that is in great demand. It is
easily threshed, but it comes to harvest later than the other
grains, for it requires all of the 'latter rains' in order to
Then there is wheat - the grain that is called the staff of
life. It is always threshed and ground before it can be best
used. It can take being whipped, flailed, and tossed about
without damage. It is even ground by being bruised, crushed and
reduced to powder. The wheat people make up the greater portion
of the consumed grain. They represent the convicted disciples who
are the real backbone of Christianity.
Now comes the best for last. God has a small group of barley
people, I believe, who truly are the committed ones. Exodus 21:5
describes these bondslaves as those who love their master so much
that they want to become a volunteer permanent slave. They are
the ones who only require winnowing - being fanned, as opposed to
beaten, by a current of air to separate the chaff from the grain.
These barley people just need to be exposed to the wind of the
Holy Spirit to have the waste material fall off and be blown
away. No heavy bruising, repeated striking or grinding as in the
case of the other grains.
The barley people have always shown superior character
qualities. They too thrive in cold climates, unfriendly
circumstances, without lots of rain, and they resist the
conditions of disease and filth in their environment. They want
to be pure, holy, righteous - yes, even perfect as is their
PERFECTION DESIGNED INTO THE
STRUCTURE OF BARLEY
.......We have learned that God's way of protecting us is to
perfect us. In looking at the principle of cell selection....
nutrition according to God's plan protects our health by
perfecting our cell structure. How is this accomplished in the
case of barley?
Barley grain has been shown by chemical analysis to contain
67 percent carbohydrates and 12 percent protein; scientists today
consider this to be the perfect balance for human nutrition.
Because of its early maturation and hardiness, barley grass
requires no artificial fertilizers, herbicides, or
Barley grows in alkaline soil, so the concentrate of its
leaves tests out as one of the most alkaline of foods......
It is clear when we look into these aspects of perfection
built into barley that God's nature is written not just into His
Word, but into His very creation......
GIVING OURSELVES TO GOD
Now let's look at what the Bible has to tell us about
offering the firstfruits, since we are to be a Firstfruits people
The giving of the firstfruits is in obedience to a direct
command from God: 'The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou
shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God' (Exodus 23:19).
There is an urgency to bringing your firstfruits: 'Thou
shalt not delay to offer the first....unto me' (Exodus 22:29).
We are not to allow other matters, even eating, to keep us
from offering our first and best to God: 'When ye are come into
the land....you shall eat neither bread....until the selfsame day
that ye have brought an offering unto your God' (Leviticus
God expects the offering to be the best you have to give:
'All the best....they shall offer unto the Lord' (Numbers 18:12).
We are to give where our gifts will be properly used to feed
the people spiritually - or even physically, if needs be: '(he)
brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits....And he said,
Give unto the people, that they may eat' (2 Kings 4:42).
I hope you have been as nourished as I have by this 'feast'
of exciting and edifying firstfruit truths. For our final course,
let us pursue the link between the natural and spiritual even
more deeply. For that, as we saw, is the main focus of the
PRINCIPLES OF SACRIFICE
......the fulfilment of the feasts is in Jesus Christ, the
Passover Lamb, who brings heaven and earth together. It is Jesus
who, through His sacrificial death, resurrection, and ascension
into heaven, completed the cycle of atonement. And it is that
atoning work that enables us believers to come to the feast,
bringing ourselves as an offering. This is ultimately the only
kind of offering God is interested in......
The significance of the Offering of Firstfruits can be
summed up in the words of Devin Conner when he said: 'So we may
say that as the sheaf (Christ) was accepted before Jehovah for
Israel (the true believers of all ages, actually) and Israel (the
true Church of Jesus Christ) was accepted of Jehovah in that
sheaf, so Christ is accepted before God for us and we accepted of
God in Christ.'
.......As Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthians: 'But now is
Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them
that slept. 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 shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order:
Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His
coming. Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the
kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all
rule and all authority and power' (1 Corinthians 15:20-24).
Again and again in the New Testament we see how the Lord
Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all the truth symbolized in
the firstfruits, and more specifically as the sheaf that was
offered on behalf of all.
He is the 'firstbegotten' of the Father (Hebrews 1:6).
He is the 'firstborn' of Mary (Matthew 1:23-25).
He is the 'firstbegotten(born) of the dead (Revelation 1:5;
He is the 'firstborn among many brethren' (Romans 8:29)
He is the 'firstfruits' of the resurrected (1 Corinthians
THE PERFECT SACRIFICE
Jesus Christ is indeed the first, the choicest, and the
preeminent 'Most Holy One,' sanctified by the Father. He is the
sheaf of the firstfruits which....barley represent in the
Festival of the Firstfruits......"
Here we end the quotes from Dr. Mary Ruth Swope's book "The
Spiritual Roots of Barley."
Written and compiled by Keith Hunt in April 2000
All articles and studies by Keith Hunt may be copied, published,
e-mailed, and distributed as led by the Spirit. Mr. Hunt trusts
nothing will be changed (except for spelling and punctuation
errors) without his consent.