Christian Churches of God
Wave Sheaf and the Count to Pentecost
(Edition 2.0 20090322-20210202)
The Wave Sheaf is a mandatory part of the Passover and Pentecost. Its timing helps us to know when to celebrate the Day of Pentecost. It also lets us know when we can eat the new harvest of grain. The Wave-Sheaf Offering falls on the first day of the week, Sunday, within the Feast of Unleavened Bread. We will review the facts of Wave Sheaf in the paper.
Wave Sheaf and the Count to Pentecost
As we have learned in the paper Passover, Night of Watching and Seven Days of Unleavened Bread (No. CB136) the Passover is the first annual Feast of the Lord; it is in the First month. We have seen that there are many important things that happen in the First month. In this paper we look at the day referred to as the “Wave Sheaf” in detail. This paper is based on the papers The Wave Sheaf Offering (No. 106b) and Pentecost at Sinai (No. 115).
What is the Wave Sheaf?
In Leviticus 23:9-14, we are instructed to keep the Wave-Sheaf offering (cf. also Ex. 29:24-25).
Leviticus 23:9-14: And the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, When you come into the land which I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest; and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, that you may find acceptance; on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to the Lord. And the cereal offering with it shall be two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, to be offered by fire to the LORD, a pleasing odor; and the drink offering with it shall be of wine, a fourth of a hin. And you shall eat neither bread nor grain parched or fresh until this same day, until you have brought the offering of your God: it is a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. (RSV)
Besides being a part of the Passover Feast and a mandatory part of God’s Law, the Wave Sheaf offering carries new meaning for us as Christians. It begins the count to Pentecost and explains the timing of Jesus Christ’s ascension to the Father.
There is also an instruction in Leviticus that the Israelites were not to eat of the new grain until after the Wave Sheaf was offered. We see the example of this when the Israelites encamped at Gilgal and ate of the old leaven on the morrow after Passover. The manna ceased the next day and then they ate the fruit of the new land (Josh. 5:10-12).
Today, the spiritual application relates to new understanding that is often given to the Church following the Wave Sheaf.
We see the Israelites were to bring the first of the first-fruits of the barley harvest for the Wave-Sheaf offering. They were also to offer a male lamb without blemish as a burnt offering, a cereal offering of four mixed with oil and a drink offering of wine. The male lamb represented Jesus Christ.
Like all of the other Holy Days and days of significance in God’s Calendar, the Wave Sheaf points us to an important part of God’s Plan of Salvation. The waving of the first fruits points to Jesus Christ as the first of the first-fruits (1Cor. 15:20), and gives us the timing of Jesus Christ’s ascension to the Father, following his resurrection. See the paper Timing of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection (No. 159).
Wave Sheaf and the Sacrifices
The wave-sheaf offering is the only offering where grain, in its pure unrefined state, is waved or offered as an offering (Lev. 23:10ff.).
The symbolism is that Messiah was the pure, perfect, unblemished sacrifice also offered to Eloah. From the wave sheaf offering Christ also fulfilled a number of other sacrifices.
We will now refer to the paper The Wave Sheaf Offering (No. 106b) and take a brief look at some of the sacrifices and how they were replaced (see pp. 5-7)
“Exodus 29:24-27: consecration of the Aaronic priesthood.
Christ was to consecrate the new priesthood of Melchisedek.
Exodus 29:28-30: consecration of the garments of the priesthood so they could minister in the Holy Place.
Christ sanctified the garments of the elect so they could be consecrated as priests and enter the sanctuary.
Leviticus 7:5-7: trespass offering for the priesthood.
Christ consecrated all of the elect; every person chosen and brought into the faith as a priest.
Daily sacrifice: There was always a division on duty for prayers and offerings in the nation. Everyone in Israel was responsible for the operation of the divisions of the priesthood.
The responsibility of the tribes was later the responsibility of the churches.
Leviticus 7:11-21: peace offerings through the breast and heave offerings.
Christ offered himself for peace that we might have peace and that he fulfil the prophecies of Isaiah as a Prince of peace.
Leviticus 7:32-34: heave offering; the consecration and the feeding of the priesthood are developed from the peace offerings.
Messiah’s first advent was as Priest. He was said to be the Messiah of Aaron. By these offerings Messiah consecrated us as a priesthood.
Leviticus 8:27-29: sequence of the offerings.
Another aspect of the wave offering that consecrates the priesthood and the prophets.
Leviticus 9:21: continuation of the reconciliation of the priesthood.
Leviticus 10:14-15: priesthood was given a portion in the wave offering. This now extends to the elect and shows us reconciled with Christ as part of that offering.
Leviticus 14:12-20: this offering was done by the priesthood to cleanse the individuals in Israel by blood.
Christ fulfilled this sacrifice with his own blood and cleansed us once and for all.
Leviticus 14:21-24: this text allows the poor to offer what they can afford for the sacrifices.
Christ paid the price of this sacrifice for us with his own blood. By these sacrifices Christ atoned for us and reconciled us to God.”
Significance of the Wave Offering
In Bullinger’s Companion Bible, Appendix 43 denotes the different types of offerings. The wave offering is called the Tenuphah. He states that the wave offering is waved to and fro (not up and down like the heave offering) and presented for the four quarters of the earth. The sheaf being waved to the four quarters, or quadrants, looked forward to Jesus Christ being consecrated to redeem all, even the angelic Host in rebellion.
Jesus Christ willingly gave up his spiritual existence to come to earth and live as a human being, knowing that he could fail. He willingly gave up his physical life and became our Wave-Sheaf offering to redeem not only all mankind but also the fallen Host, which required a blood sacrifice.
God’s first-born, our elder brother and now High Priest, had to show us by example what was required. We are to have the same self-sacrificing attitude that Christ exhibited. We also know that many of Christ’s disciples died by martyrdom for the faith. Satan did not have this same selfless attitude. He was proud and arrogant and thought only to elevate himself, and none of this was pleasing to God.
When Does the Wave Sheaf Occur?
Leviticus 23:10-14 shows us the sheaf is waved during the days of Unleavened Bread. As we will remember, there are seven days of Unleavened Bread and the Wave Sheaf always occurs on the first day of the week, Sunday, during the days of Unleavened Bread. This means the Wave-Sheaf offering can be on the 1st day of Unleavened Bread, the 2nd day, 3rd day, etc. all the way up to the last day of Unleavened Bread. However, it must always be on a Sunday.
Wave Sheaf is different from other days on Eloah’s Calendar in many ways. It is a very important day, yet it is not a Sabbath unless the holy days of the 15th or 21st fall on the first day of the week. It serves as the beginning / marker for the count to Pentecost. Like the Wave Sheaf, Pentecost is the only feast that is not on a pre-set day of the month on Eloah’s Calendar. One must watch and count from the Wave Sheaf to be able to keep Pentecost on the correct day.
Counting to Pentecost
Continuing in Leviticus, the Bible instructs us to count 50 days to Pentecost.
Leviticus 23:15-22 "And you shall count from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven full weeks shall they be, counting fifty days to the morrow after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a cereal offering of new grain to the LORD. You shall bring from your dwellings two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah; they shall be of fine flour, they shall be baked with leaven, as first fruits to the LORD. And you shall present with the bread seven lambs a year old without blemish, and one young bull, and two rams; they shall be a burnt offering to the LORD, with their cereal offering and their drink offerings, an offering by fire, a pleasing odor to the LORD. And you shall offer one male goat for a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old as a sacrifice of peace offerings. And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the first fruits as a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs; they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest. And you shall make proclamation on the same day; you shall hold a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work: it is a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations. "And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field to its very border, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the LORD your God." (RSV)
This number of days from Wave Sheaf to Pentecost is also significant. The number 50 is an important number in the Plan of God. There are 50 years to a Jubilee and God has allowed man 50 years to develop in the Holy Spirit. This involves the 50 years from being an adult at 20 to the average lifespan of 70 years.
Why is Wave Sheaf important to the lead-up to Pentecost?
Wave Sheaf, Messiah’s perfect acceptable sacrifice, leads us to Pentecost. It is the beginning of the three annual harvests, which depict God’s Plan of Salvation.
Jesus Christ was the first “harvest” of God. The Wave Sheaf looks forward to the first of the first-fruits – Jesus Christ. This was the beginning of the barley harvest. The second “harvest” of God will be the Church, or the elect. Pentecost looks forward to the first-fruits of the wheat harvest, which is the Church. It is the time when Eloah poured out His Holy Spirit on the Church. Finally, the third “harvest” will be for all of mankind. This is Ingathering, or the Feast of Tabernacles which looks forward to a time following the return of Jesus Christ when God’s government will be established on earth. Eventually, following the second resurrection in the Great White Throne Judgment, all of mankind will be given the opportunity to know God and follow His way of life.
Day of Wave Sheaf in 30 CE
Christ died for us on Wednesday afternoon on the 14th of the First month (Abib) in 30 CE. This was the time that the Passover lamb was being killed at the Temple (see Passover, Night of Watching and Seven Days of Unleavened Bread (CB136)). He was laid in a tomb just before sundown on Wednesday evening. When it became dark that night, it was time for the Passover meal. He was in the tomb for three days and three nights like Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights. By doing this he fulfilled part of the sequence of the prophecy of the sign of Jonah:
Matthew 12:39-40: But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (RSV)
However, this is not the full significance of the sign of Jonah. The duration of Christ’s ministry, which was less than three years, is also tied to the sign of Jonah. This prophecy is ongoing and there are other aspects to the sign. For more detailed information see The Sign of Jonah and the History of the Reconstruction of the Temple (No. 13).
We note from Matthew 4:12-17 that Jesus began to preach after the apostle John had been put in prison. This was after the Passover in the year 28 CE (cf. Mk. 1:12-14; Jn. 3:23-24). Jesus had previously been baptised by John (Mat. 3:13-17). The Jubilee year was in 27 CE and Christ began to preach after the blowing of the trumpet for the Jubilee. These aspects are explained more fully in the papers Timing of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection (No. 159) and Reading the Law with Ezra and Nehemiah (No. 250)).
After Christ died and was in the tomb for three days and three nights he was resurrected. He woke up on a Saturday at evening, as it became dark, and waited until it was time for him to ascend to his Father. The Wave-Sheaf offering was held around 9 a.m. on Sunday morning within the seven days of Unleavened Bread. Hence, we know that Jesus ascended to the Father around that time on Sunday, the first day of week in the morning.
Mary Magdalene saw him before he had ascended to God as the Wave-Sheaf offering.
John 20:1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. (RSV)
John 20:15-17 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (This means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (RSV)
Jesus was still waiting to ascend when Mary saw him. He could not be touched or he would have been a polluted sacrifice. He was going to be waved as the first of the first-fruits, so that he could take his place in heaven as our High Priest.
Jesus Christ was accepted as the perfect sacrifice. Every year during the Feast of Unleavened Bread we keep the Wave-Sheaf offering service at 9 a.m. on Sunday, in memory of this event (Lev. 23:10-14). Usually we study papers related to this event to remember Christ’s sacrifice and ascension to the right hand of God our Father.
Once again we have shown how each and every day of significance in the calendar of God has spiritual application and further explains the Plan of Salvation.
We have learned that the Wave Sheaf looked forward to the ascension of Jesus Christ to the right hand of God our Father. It was the first of the first-fruits of the barley harvest and was the beginning of the harvest of all mankind and Host into the family of God.
The Wave Sheaf marks the beginning of the count to Pentecost and always occurs on Sunday during the days of Unleavened Bread. At this offering we are also mindful of the timing of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His self-sacrifice was an example for his followers who should also be willing to lay down their lives for their brothers and be a light to the world.