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God's Salvation Plan in the Biblical Feast Days

 - The Wavesheaf Offering (Beginning of the Harvest/Reishit Katzir or Day of the Firstfruits/Yom HaBikkurim)

by Bill Wong

 


 


2.  The Wavesheaf Offering  (Beginning of the Harvest/Reishit Katzir or Day of the Firstfruits/Yom HaBikkurim)

 

 

The day after the weekly Sabbath that falls during the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread:

 

Leviticus 23:9-14

 

 

 

Tanakh ("Old Testament") -

 

Upon entering the Promised Land, the High Priest presents a wave sheaf/omer of the firstfruits of the Promised Land as an offering to God on behalf of all the people.  Israel could not eat of the produce of the new land until this was done.  This was accomplished under Joshua's leadership (Deuteronomy 1:38; Joshua 5:9-12 in fulfillment of Leviticus 23:10, 14).

 

 

 

B'rit Hadashah ("New Testament") -

 

The Lord Jesus is the very first of all firstfruits of those who have conquered death and hence has entered the spiritual Promised Land as the firstborn from the dead:

 

1 Corinthians 15:

20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  (NKJV)

 

Colossians 1:

18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,

      that in all things He may have the preeminence.   (NKJV)


Revelation 1:

5  and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,    (NKJV)

 

 

As the very first of the firstfruits from the dead, He is also the resurrected heavenly High Priest:

 

Hebrews 4:

14   Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

15   For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

16   Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.    (NKJV)



The Son of God, the resurrected heavenly High Priest, approaches His father as the very first of all firstfruits, the firstborn from the dead to eternal life, who makes the remaining harvest possible and acceptable to God (Romans 11:16). As the heavenly High Priest who presents the offerings, He of course must be resurrected first in order to present any offerings even if He is also an offering. He presents Himself as the wavesheaf offering of the barley harvest – representative of the very first firstfruit of all the harvests of those who have conquered death.  When He ascends to His father, He is doing so as both the High Priest and the firstfruit wavesheaf offering the High Priest brings as representative of the first of the harvest – He is both High Priest and firstfruit wavesheaf offering at the same time (there are others He also offers as part of this firstfruit offering who were raised shortly after He was which we will read about later). 


In John 20:11-17 we see after His resurrection, He still needs to ascend to His father first:

 

John 20:

11   But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher,

12   And sees two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

13   And they say to her, Woman, why weep you? She said to them, Because they have taken away my LORD,

         and I know not where they have laid him.

14   And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

15   Jesus said to her, Woman, why weep you? whom seek you?  She, supposing him to be the gardener, said to him,

         Sir, if you have borne him hence, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.

16   Jesus said to her, Mary. She turned herself, and said to him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

17   Jesus said to her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brothers, and say to them,

         I ascend to my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.     (AKJV)



John 20:11-17 fulfills what we read about the Feast of Firstfruits in Leviticus 23.  The Lord Jesus is raised as our heavenly High Priest who offers Himself as the wavesheaf offering of firstfruits on behalf of God’s people on the day after the weekly Sabbath at about 9am (which is the 1st day of the week – Sunday) that falls during the Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread.


The evidence that He is the firstfruit wavesheaf offering can be seen between the relationship of the timing of His resurrection from the grave to the ancient practice of preparing the wavesheaf offering.  Messiah was already risen from the grave before sunrise of the 1st day of week, Sunday (He was resurrected the day before, but was offered on the 1st day. And since He was put into the grave right at the end of the day just before sunset and was there for exactly 3 days & 3 nights, this means He was resurrected at the end of the 7th day Sabbath just before sunset of the night/beginning portion of the 1st day of the week (see the article: ‘Jesus was raised on the Sabbath, not Sunday’ for more information). 


What also happens right at the end of the 7th day Sabbath and the beginning of the 1st day of the week at sunset?  The priests go and cut the barley to prepare the wavesheaf offering to be raised up to God at 9am in the morning.  At the exact same time Messiah is raised from the dead, the priests are harvesting the barley for the firstfruit wavesheaf.  And we know in the Bible, the harvests and their firstfruit offerings are always symbolic of the harvesting (reaping/resurrecting) of people: those who have overcome death.  So what we see is that the Messiah Himself is resurrected (reaped) as the very first of the harvest at the exact same time the barley is harvested/reaped to prepare the wavesheaf!  Messiah IS the firstfruit wavesheaf that will be offered to His father to be accepted on our behalf the next morning – He was literally “risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 15:20). 



The ascension of the resurrected Messiah as our heavenly High Priest on this day is also the fulfillment of the vision/prophecy found in the Book of Daniel.  The Son of Man presented before the Ancient of Days is the glorified Messiah, the High Priest and one mediator between God and man who is also the atonement/ransom (1 Timothy 2:5-6):

 

1 Timothy 2:

5    For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

6    who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.    (ESV)


Daniel 7:

13   "I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him.

14   "And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.    (NASB)

 


 

With His ascension to His father, He also offers some other firstfruits of this new barley crop – a select chosen saints (Matthew 27:52-53).  These saints were resurrected shortly after the Lord Jesus Himself was resurrected:  

 

Matthew 27:

52   and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised;

53    53  and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.     (NKJV)

 

 

These select saints may be the chosen of God from Adam to Christ where some are the 24 elders who are already present in heaven in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 4:4,10; 5:5,6,8,11,14; 7:11,13; 11:16; 14:3; 19:4).

Messiah is the first of the firstfruits who is both the High Priest and is offered to God as the wavesheaf offering, because He alone is the one who conquered death and allows for the rest of the harvest to also be reaped/raised to everlasting life.  There is a range of firstfruits in the barley harvest: Messiah is the very first of the first and then there are the rest, other firstfruits.  These other barley firstfruits that are not the very first are those raised shortly after His resurrection as we just read in Matthew 27:52-53 who are also part of the firstfruit barley wavesheaf offering. 

And these barley firstfruit saints are just a small part of the larger harvests and a small reflection of the great gift of eternal life He gives to all men:

Ephesians 4:

7    But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.

8    Therefore He says: " When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men."    (NKJV)


This sequence that Messiah is the heavenly High Priest and therefore also the first of the first into the heavenly Promised Land, who brings with Him an offering of other firstfruit barley can help us understand the sequence of resurrections and the truth that no other has ascended into heaven before He did when He was resurrected (Enoch and Elijah were not taken to heaven without dying).  Messiah said as much when He said no one preceded Him in ascending to heaven:

John 3:

13   No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.    (ESV)



This is also seen in 1 Corinthians 15 (note that there is no punctuation in Greek) when we are told Messiah, being the first of all firstfruits and High Priest who must precede all, is then followed by a firstfruit offering beside Himself (those part of the barley wavesheaf offering in Matthew 27:52-53), and then later those who will hear His voice and rise again at His return in power.  Most translations just have Messiah as the firstfruits (which He is), but then leave out the resurrection of the saints of Matthew 27.  This is how most translations read:


1 Corinthians 15:

23   But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.    (NKJV)


But it should really read like this to make sense and include the saints raised in Matthew 27 which are part of the firstfruit barley harvest offering; this clearly shows that Messiah precedes all and is first of the first in the resurrection from the dead to eternal life:

1 Corinthians 15:

23   But each one in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.


The Messiah is both the atoning sacrifice and mediating High Priest.  He is the Lamb of God who was slain as our Passover on.  As the risen heavenly High Priest in the order of Melchizedek, He also presents Himself to His father as the barley wavesheaf offering, the firstfruit of all firstfruits – the very first to enter the spiritual and eternal Promised Land who has conquered death to live forever, and has prepared the way for all others to do the same (and He brings some of these as a sample, as part of the offering, who were raised shortly after Him).


He is our everything.



For more information about the barley harvest, see the article: ‘When the Biblical New Year Begins’.



Occurs on the day after the weekly Sabbath of Passover (and not after the 1st day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread)

The Wavesheaf Offering (Reishit Katzir) is an important part of the Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread (Pesach/Hag HaMatzot); indeed, the Wavesheaf Offering is the crucial link between our Passover and the Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread with the next feast --- Pentecost/Shavuot (see next section). 

 

It is very important that we know when this day of Wavesheaf Offering is not just for itself, but also because it begins the count to 50 to Pentecost/Shavuot.  The Wavesheaf Offering is on the day after the weekly Sabbath and it is day #1 of the count to 50 to Pentecost; this makes the Wavesheaf Offering always on a Sunday, and Pentecost also always on a Sunday.

 

However, there is a view which states that the day the wavesheaf is offered is not the day after the weekly Sabbath, but the day after the first annual Sabbath which is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (most Jews observe this as well as some non-Jews).  Since the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is on the 15th of the first month of Abib, this makes the Wavesheaf Offering always occur on the 16th of the first month (and any day of the week).  This 16th of the month would then always be day #1 to 50 for Pentecost (which can now also be any day of the week). 

 

The Bible does not teach that the Wavesheaf Offering and count to Pentecost starts on the 16th of the month of Abib.



The word ‘Sabbath’ (Strongs #7676, shabbath means to cease, desist, rest (from labor)) which refers to the weekly 7th day is mentioned in Leviticus 23:3 before all the annual feast days.  It must be noted, however, that in Leviticus 23:10-11 the first and last days of Unleavened Bread are not called Sabbaths at all where the weekly Sabbath is.  Therefore, references to the day after "the" Sabbath in verses 11, 15 & 16 can refer only to the weekly 7th day Sabbath (‘shabbath’) which appeared first early in the chapter:

 

Leviticus 23:

11   He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.

 

15   And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering:

        seven Sabbaths shall be completed.

16   Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.   (NKJV)  

 

 

It must be noted also that Leviticus 23:15 provides proof that the weekly Sabbath is being referred to in other ways, though usually hidden.  In the NKJV translation above, verse 15 mentions “seven Sabbaths shall be completed”.  However, the word ‘complete’ is the Hebrew word ‘tamim’ (Strong’s #8549) which also means ‘without defect’,  ‘blameless’ and ‘perfect’, showing us that completeness is tied to it being perfect.  The Young’s Literal Translation has it phrased this way:

 

Leviticus 23:

15   `And ye have numbered to you from the morrow of the sabbath, from the day of your bringing in the sheaf of the wave-offering: they are seven perfect sabbaths;    (YLT)

 

 

The use of the word ‘completed’ makes people think that seven Sabbaths “just” has to pass which also makes them think it can refer to weeks with these weeks beginning on any day in seven.  Note:  The word ‘shabbath’ can only mean ‘week’ in one special circumstance (see below), but the word ‘shabuwa’ (Strong’s #7620) does mean ‘week’ as any period of seven.

 

However, when we see it is seven “perfect” Sabbaths (‘shabbath’), then we can see more clearly that it is referring to the 7th day weekly Sabbath, because it is the true end of a week of 7 days, and indeed, it is the true and perfect week since the first Sabbath of the Creation week.  So while ‘shabbath’ does not truly mean week as any period of seven, but it means the weekly 7th day Sabbath, it is implied it is a week of 7 days ONLY if the week is a perfect week which starts on day 1 of the week and ends on day 7 of the week, the Sabbath.  This is the reason why the definition ofshabbath’ may also include “week” (as seen in Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon), but it is only if that week starts from a special point #1 to a special point #7 (usually days, but can be years), the Sabbath. 


The Greek word for Sabbath, ‘sabbaton’ (Strong’s #4521) shows that a Sabbath can mean a week only if it ends on the 7th day Sabbath when it defines it as a week that is “the interval between two Sabbaths”.  In truth, the existence of a separate word ‘shabuwa’ for weeks already tells us that a Sabbath “week” is different and unique, which is that it only means a week when it has these specific beginning and end points; it is a perfect/complete Sabbath week.


And again, a Sabbath meaning a week only as “the interval between two Sabbaths” with the 7th day ending the week, is the reason why the shabbath’ (Strong’s #7676) in Isaiah 66:23 - “from Sabbath to Sabbath” means from week to week --- but very clearly and undeniably it can only mean a week if they are perfect weeks (not mere ‘shabuwa’), from the 7th day to 7th day Sabbath, and not just any sequence of 7 days:


Isaiah 66:

23   "And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me," says the LORD.     (NASB)


 

And this would be the case from the very first week – the Creation week that ended with the 7th day Sabbath:


Genesis 2:

1    Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.

2    And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.

3    Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

4    This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,     (NKJV)




Therefore, the Wavesheaf Offering day is the day after the weekly Sabbath and always on the 1st day which is "Sunday", and the count to Pentecost begins on this day where the day after the seven perfect Sabbaths (49 days),  is the 50th day, Pentecost, which is also always on the 1st day, Sunday.   As Leviticus 23:15 states, the count starts on the day after the weekly Sabbath which is when the wavesheaf is offered, and there are seven Sabbath “weeks” --- the intervals between seven Sabbaths, which must complete.  And then according to Leviticus 23:16, we must add 1 day after the last and 7th Sabbath to make 50 days, which will be the 1st day of the week and Pentecost/Shavuot when there will be another offering.


The count to Pentecost/Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, is not just any seven weeks which can begin on any day in seven.  Yes, the Feast of Weeks is based on counting weeks, but these weeks that are counted are not called mere weeks ('shabuwa'), but are called seven perfect Sabbaths ('shabbath') --- each week being a perfect week, starting with Day #1 and ending with Day #7.  These seven perfect Sabbaths, plus one day, count to the 50th day which is always the 1st day of the week. 

 

In other words, by the Bible's use of complete (or full) Sabbaths in the count ('shabbath' and not 'shabuwa'), the Almighty is telling us that weeks are intended in the count (hence Shavuot, Feast of Weeks) – however, the weeks being referred to are NOT any group of 7 days (a "defective" week), but they are to be perfect weeks which start with day 1 to day 7, ending  with the 7th day weekly Sabbath (they are "complete" or "full" weeks, not "defective" weeks).

 

 

The weekly Sabbath is both called a Sabbath using the word 'shabbath' by itself and also described as a "Sabbath of solemn rest" in the NKJV and a "sabbath of complete rest" in the NASB, using the words 'shabbath' and 'shabbathown' (Strong's #7677, a special rest) together:

 

Leviticus 23:

3   Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation.  You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.    (NKJV)

 

Leviticus 23:

3   For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation.  You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the LORD in all your dwellings.   (NASB)

 

 

A doubling of a word or a word with a related word in Hebrew demonstrates additional emphasis and impact.  This reveals the fact that the weekly Sabbath is extra special and important, more involved.  Hence why it is called a "solemn" or "complete" rest. 

 

We see further evidence that it is the weekly Sabbath being referred to, because in English the Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24) is described using the word Sabbath, but in reality the Hebrew is a different word, the word ‘shabbathown’ - the very same word the weekly Sabbath also uses in addition to 'shabbath'.  The Fall holy days of the Feast of Tabernacles and the 8th Day of Assembly are later also described using the word 'shabbathown'. 

The fact that the first and last days of Unleavened Bread are not called either a ‘shabbath’ or a ‘shabbathown’ means at the very least that these two days are neither – or if they must be one or the other, than they would be ‘shabbathown’ just like the Feast of Trumpets and the 8th Day of Assembly are called, while the weekly Sabbath uses both the words ‘shabbath’ and 'shabbathown' to describe it. 


The use of the word 'shabbath' alone and the two words 'shabbath' and 'shabbathown' together for the weekly Sabbath emphasizes the fact that it is the day after the weekly Sabbath which we are to have the Wavesheaf Offering (and begin the count to Pentecost/Shavuot).  Why?  It is because these words, 'shabbath' alone as well as with 'shabbathown' are specifically used for the weekly Sabbath at that point and 'shabbathown' is not mentioned alone at all until later in the Feast of Trumpets, so when we describe the Wavesheaf Offering as occurring the day after the Sabbath, it cannot be referring to the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  At that point the only reference to a Sabbath (whether 'shabbath' alone or 'shabbathown' alone, or combined) is to the weekly Sabbath, while the days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread use neither.

It must be emphasized also that even without using “perfect” to describe the Sabbaths, the day after the seventh Sabbath in verses 15 & 16 still uses the word 'shabbath'.  So we see again that it is not referring to seven regular/normal weeks (a period of 7 days starting and ending with any day of the week) or otherwise the word 'shabuwa' (weeks) would be used.  As discussed earlier, if it must be weeks, then it must be perfect/complete weeks which start with the 1st day and end with the 7th day Sabbath.  Also it cannot be the day after the seventh 'shabbathown', which when used alone means a special rest of an annual feast day (the Feast of Trumpets and the 8th Day of Assembly specifically according to the Bible), but this would make no sense, because it would translate to mean the day after seven consecutive annual feast days oveseven weeks. 

The reverse, of course, is that if seven ‘shabbaths’ must mean regular seven weeks and not seven ‘shabbathown’, then the day after the ‘shabbath’ in the beginning of verse 15 must mean a regular week also.  This would make it “the day after the week” which actually implies a day after a perfect Sabbath week, because the only point of reference for what a week means is the creation week which ends with the Sabbath – and therefore still show that the Wavesheaf Offering is on and the count to 50 begins on Sunday.  However, the view that the Wavesheaf Offering and count to Pentecost begins on the 16th of the first month (after the 15th of the month which is the first day of Unleavened Bread) goes to great lengths to prevent this and distorts the translation.


And the Bible tells us in yet another conclusive way that the Sabbath in “the day after the Sabbath” is referring to the weekly Sabbath during Passover and not the first day of Unleavened Bread.  The Bible shows us again it is an identification and separation between those days that can be called ‘shabbath’ and those that cannot.  All the annual feast days are on one side while the weekly Sabbath stands alone on its own side.  Take a look at Leviticus 23:34-38 below:

Leviticus 23:

34   "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD.

35   On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it.

36   For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.

37   'These are the feasts of the LORD which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the LORD, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, everything on its day ---

38   besides the Sabbaths of the LORD, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to the LORD.    (NKJV)

 

We see that after the Almighty finishes mentioning each one of the annual feast days in the chapter (verses 34-36 finishes the last one which is the Feast of Tabernacles and the 8th Day of Assembly), God in verse 37 then refers to them collectively as His feasts or appointed times (which includes the Day of Atonement), and we should do whatever we need to do that is specific to those days.  But then in verse 38 God tells us that the things of these feasts/appointed times are in addition to or “besides (the things to be done for) the Sabbaths of the LORD”.

Do you understand what God is saying?  God is saying unequivocally that the annual feast days – even Atonement in this case, are NOT the same as His weekly Sabbath.  He is telling us that the weekly Sabbath is different than the feast days and truly only the weekly Sabbath is called “shabbath” with no special or added qualifiers.  God is clearly differentiating and separating the weekly Sabbath, His ‘shabbath’ from His annual feasts/appointed times – the annual feasts have their things to be done for them, but it is in addition to those to be done for His weekly Sabbath.  This shows us without a doubt that the day after the Sabbath for the Wavesheaf Offering which is day #1 of 50 to Pentecost, can only be referring to the weekly Sabbath.  There can be no debate and there is no way around it – the Bible clearly shows that the ‘shabbath’, the Sabbath of the LORD, differs from and stands apart from the rest of His holy days, the annual feasts/appointed times.  But of course this is so and we know this --- this is why the weekly Sabbath is mentioned first in Leviticus 23 before the annual appointed times.


The view that the Wavesheaf Offering and 1st day to 50 count to Pentecost is on the day after the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (the 15th of the first month), which makes it the 16th of the first month (Abib 16), is being selective with how ‘shabbath’ is to be used – even in the same verse.  It says the first appearance of ‘shabbath’ in Leviticus 23:15 refers to the first holy day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (the 15th of Abib) even though it should be at most a ‘shabbathown’ (not called this either in Scripture), but the second use ofshabbath’ in verse 15 it means regular weeks.  Then, in verse 16 it still means regular weeks:

 

Leviticus 23:

15    'And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed.

16    Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.    (NKJV) 

 

This steps outside the true meaning of the word and its context, completely distorting what is being said.  We have already seen that the seventh ‘shabbath’ in verse 16 cannot mean 7 consecutive annual holy convocations.  It either means a perfect week that ends on the Sabbath (or otherwise ‘shabuwa’ would have been used) or annual holy day and not a convenient and incorrect combination of regular weeks and ‘shabbathown’ which is not there. It is the very same word ‘shabbath’ being used throughout, but it is being twisted to use various incorrect meanings and insertions to make it fit the view of the day after the 15th of Abib, the first day of Unleavened Bread. 

 

What is being overlooked by this view that believes the Wavesheaf Offering is on the 16th of Abib and the count to Pentecost/Shavuot begins on the 16th of Abib, are four things which we cannot/should not do or otherwise there is no sense and confusion reigns:

 

1)  It is trying to make the word ‘shabbath’ refer to the first and last days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread when ‘shabbath’ is not even used to describe any of the days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the first place.  At the point these days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread are mentioned, ‘shabbath’ is only used of the weekly Sabbath and therefore can only refer to it.

 

2)  It tries to make the word ‘shabbath’ mean a regular week.  The only way it can mean week’ in any manner at all, is if the week is a complete/full/perfect week which starts with day 1 and ends with the 7th day Sabbath.

 

3)  It tries to make the word ‘shabbath’ mean an annual Sabbath.  We have seen the only time this happens is with the Day of Atonement which is, except fasting, the day closest to how we are to observe the weekly Sabbath.  The Day of Atonement uses ‘shabbath’ alone and ‘shabbath’ combined with ‘shabbathown’ just like the weekly Sabbath, while everything else only uses ‘shabbathown’ or nothing at all.  All other times, ‘shabbath’ is used for the weekly Sabbath only.

 

4)  It tries to make ‘shabbath’ mean both an annual Sabbath and a normal week within the same verse when in reality ‘shabbath’ cannot be used as either (see above items).

 

 

All this indicates that “the day after the Sabbath” ('shabbath') to offer the wavesheaf in Leviticus 23:11, 15 & 16 is talking about the weekly Sabbath and not the first day of the Feast/first annual Sabbath.  And again, if the first day of the Feast must be called a Sabbath, it would be ‘shabbathown’, like some of the other annual holy days are called.


The truth that the Sabbath referred to is the weekly Sabbath and that the 7th day Sabbath can refer to a week only if it begins with point #1 to point #7 is seen in the mistranslation of Matthew 28:1.  Most translations have it incorrectly worded as follows:

Matthew 28:

1    Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week,    (NKJV)



However, the original Greek shows that the words ‘Sabbath’ and ‘week’ in this verse are both the word ‘sabbaton’ (Strong’s #4521) and in both instances, it is plural.  This can be looked up in any good translation or interlinear/Greek New Testament with grammar tags.  So in truth, the verse should read as follows:


Matthew 28:

1    Now after the Sabbaths, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the weeks,    (NKJV)

 


The truth shows there were two Sabbaths.  The first occurrence of ‘sabbaton’ which is translated plural ‘Sabbaths’ are the two Sabbaths: an annual Sabbath (in Hebrew, ’shabbathown’) that happened first (the 1st day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread which came at sunset right after Messiah was placed in the tomb), and then the weekly 7th day Sabbath (in Hebrew, ‘shabbath’) three days later.  The second occurrence of the plural ‘sabbaton’ shows it contextually being used as plural ‘weeks’. 


So we see a couple of things:


1)  The Sabbath can be a weekly Sabbath or a high day annual Sabbath.  However, the Greek is not as specific like the Hebrew which has two distinct words for such a Sabbath: the specific Hebrew word for weekly Sabbath is ‘shabbath’ (the Day of Atonement only is called this as well); and the specific Hebrew word for annual Sabbath or special rest day is ‘shabbathown’ (the weekly Sabbath is called this as well).  As we read earlier, only the weekly Sabbath and the Day of Atonement uses both Sabbath terms ‘shabbath’ and ‘shabbathown’ to describe it.


2)  The meaning of “first day of the weeks” (the word ‘day’ is inserted) tells us that the weekly Sabbath is being referenced in the description “the day after the Sabbath” in Leviticus 23:11 & 15 (and not the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread).  This is because Matthew 28 clearly shows a Sabbath “week” beginning on the 1st day of the week (after the 1st day of Unleavened and then the weekly Sabbath as seen in “after the Sabbaths” --- see previous item #1 above), explaining to us what a perfect/complete Sabbath is --- it is a Sabbath week that must start with point 1 and end in point 2, which in this case starts with Day #1 (Sunday) and ending with Day #7 (the Sabbath).  It tells us the only way and how a Sabbath week is defined; it is a week that must begin on day #1, the first day of the week and end on day #7, the weekly Sabbath. 


The term “first day of the weeks” also tells us that the count to Pentecost starts this 1st day of the week Sunday which is the Wavesheaf Offering day and it is the first of seven perfect Sabbaths (seven Sabbath “weeks” beginning with day 1 to day 7).  And then we add one more day after these seven Sabbaths to get 50 days, which will always be the 1st day of the week, Sunday, as Leviticus 23:16 explains (“count 50 days to the day after the 7th Sabbath”).


Another piece of evidence that tells us “the day after the Sabbath” means the weekly Sabbath is the very truth that the day He was resurrected was a weekly Sabbath (remember He was already resurrected before Sunday morning – it was still dark and He was already gone).  Abib 15 cannot be the intended Sabbath, because this would mean that Friday was Passover, Abib 14, but as we see explained in the article: ‘Jesus was raised on the Sabbath, not Sunday’, such a scenario simply does not fulfill the one and only sign Messiah gave that He is the Messiah: He had to be 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:38-40).  A Friday Passover, Abib 14 and Saturday first day of Unleavened Bread, Abib 15 is in reality at most only 2 nights (Friday and possibly Saturday) and 1 day (Saturday).  This absolutely in no way fulfills Jesus’ own sign/prophecy of His resurrection and again tells us that “the day after the Sabbath” refers to the day after the 7th day Sabbath and rules out it being after the first day of Unleavened Bread.

The Lord Jesus was resurrected on the weekly Sabbath day after being 3 days and 3 nights in the grave, and then the next day which is the 1st day of the week, He ascends as the High Priest who offers Himself as the first of all firstfruits along with a select few other firstfruits who were raised shortly after Him (Matthew 27:52-53) – He and they are the Beginning of the Harvest/Reishit Katzir from which the name of this holy day comes.  This firstfruit offering which represents the entire harvest is what is referred to as putting the sickle to the grain that begins the count of 7 weeks (7 x 7 = 49) plus 1 day for 50 days to Pentecost/Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks).  And it begins on the 1st day of the week during Passover, following the example of Messiah Himself who lived it and fulfilled the day and prophecy literally when He ascended on the 1st day of the week – which starts the first complete and perfect week count toward Pentecost: 

Deuteronomy 16:

9    "You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain.    (NKJV)

The count only happens after His resurrection after 3 days and 3 nights, and cannot be before this amount of time.  This shows, again, that the count of seven weeks (it is ‘shabuwa’ here in Deuteronomy 16) and then adding one day to make 50 days, begins on the 1st day of the week and therefore are perfect/complete weeks or Sabbath weeks that begin on day #1 and end on day #7, the weekly Sabbath.  This shows us that day #1 of the count to Pentecost begins on this 1st day of the week, Sunday and are seven perfect/complete Sabbath weeks, and then the 50th day (“count 50 days to the day after the seventh Sabbath”) which is Pentecost/Shavuot will also be on a Sunday.


Further evidence that the weekly Sabbath is referred to in the description “day after the Sabbath” for the Wavesheaf Offering is seen when Joshua led Israel to cross over the Jordan to the Promised Land. They offered the Wavesheaf of the barley firstfruit harvest on the day after Passover (Abib 14) which means they offered the Wavesheaf on Abib 15: 

 

Joshua 5:

10   While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho.

11   On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain.    (NASB)



However, the view that counts to Pentecost/Shavuot beginning on the day after the annual Sabbath of the first day of Unleavened Bread (Abib 15) would place the Wavesheaf Offering on Abib 16, which is incorrect.  This view tries to explain this away by saying “the day after the Passover” means the day after the 15th, but this makes absolutely no sense as it wants us to believe that nothing happened on the day portion of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread except Israel waiting over 24 hours for the next day, the 16th to wave the offering of barley firstfruits.  It must be noted that the same context and language is used to describe the Exodus.  The self-same day that Israel observed the beginning of the harvest, the wavesheaf offering of barley and the very same day Israel left Egypt was the day portion of the 15th which is the day after the 14th, Passover:


Exodus 12:

17   'You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance.

18   'In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening.     (NASB)



The Bible tells us Passover is the 14th and the day after it is the 15th.  The Bible shows us plainly in Joshua 5 that since Abib 15 was right after Passover and they offered the Wavesheaf, then Abib 15 was the day after the weekly Sabbath which is the 1st day of the week (Sunday).  Abib 15 could not have been the day after the annual Sabbath of the first day of Unleavened Bread or it would have been on Abib 16 which is not after Passover (Abib 14).  The Bible tells us that in both the beginning of the Exodus and the beginning/entrance into the Promised Land (and waving the barley firstfruits offering) was on the very same day of the 15th day of Abib, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread – and therefore the Wavesheaf Offering is not the day after the 15th of Abib.

Joshua 5 confirms it is the weekly Sabbath which the Wavesheaf Offering follows on the very next day, and it therefore also confirms that the Wavesheaf Offering will always fall on days 15-21 of Abib.

God accepts this wavesheaf offering of the heavenly High Priest which is a foretaste of the larger crops to come that it has made possible. 

 

Again, let us be reminded that it is very important that we know when this day of Wavesheaf Offering occurs (which is the correct “Sabbath” – weekly or annual holy day), because this day after the Sabbath is also when we begin the count to 50 for Pentecost/Shavuot.  The Bible tells us that the Sabbath in the description "the day after the Sabbath" is the weekly Sabbath, and therefore it is Sunday, the first day of the week, which is the start of the count to 50 days toward Pentecost (Pentecost means 50).  The count from Sunday starts 7 perfect Sabbaths of weeks (7 x 7 days) for 49 days, plus 1 day (Leviticus 23:15-16).  A bit more of the Wavesheaf Offering day and the count to Pentecost is covered in the article about Pentecost.




Closing note

His atoning sacrifice has made it possible for all of us to enter the spiritual Promised Land, where we can now partake of the bounty God provides to those who love Him; this Beginning of the Harvest (Reishit Katzir) or Day of the Firstfruits (Yom HaBikkurim) leads into the Feast of Pentecost/Weeks or Shavuot to which it is very closely related.   The Lord Jesus is the resurrected High Priest and the barley firstfruit wavesheaf offering (remember He was raised/reaped at the same time the barley was reaped for the offering) who is accepted on our behalf as the firstborn from the dead to everlasting life and the first of anyone in the true Promised Land on the day after the weekly Sabbath, which begins the count to 50 on this day.  This day, like Pentecost, is about firstfruits:  those who have overcome death of which He is the first who made it possible for everyone else by His blood.

The count to 50 days which begins on the Wavesheaf Day and ends on Pentecost is a continuation of the Biblically-commanded theme that began on Passover/the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which reminds us to focus on what Christ has done for us and how we must be holy and sinless (unleavened) children of God.

NOTE:  God’s feast days about His salvation plan in Messiah are given to all His people, both Jew and non-Jew, to observe.  The different views about the Biblical calendar such as when a new moon/year begins and when the Wavesheaf Offering is (and therefore when the count to 50 days begins to Pentecost/Shavuot) should absolutely not to be used as an excuse to prevent you from observing God’s feast days in the Bible.  Jesus is our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:6-8) and more – He is also the first of all firstfruit raised from the dead and offered in the true Promised Land, and we are commanded in the Bible to observe the feasts. The apostles, disciples and Messiah Himself kept them and Messiah Himself lives them.  You should keep them as God’s spirit leads you and He will reward your heart and effort to walk in obedience and true worship.  Also, the difference in views should not be used as a wedge/divisive issue to distance or disassociate ourselves from our brothers and sisters who observe differently.  They are not just friends – they are part of our one family in Messiah who we love and also diligently seek God’s truth.  As the days grow darker toward the glorious light of His return, the brethren must be united now more than ever.  

The Wavesheaf Offering is closely related to the next feast day, Pentecost/Shavuot, and should be read together with it.

 

 

 

 

Please see next article in the God’s Salvation Plan in the Biblical Feast Days series: Pentecost (Shavuot)

  

Link to God’s Salvation Plan in the Biblical Feast Days articles outline


 

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