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Lesson: The Wave Sheaf Ceremony

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Scripture Reading: Leviticus 23:10-16.

Golden Text: 1 Cor 15:20-23

God’s annual holy day festivals are arranged around the harvest seasons and the first barley to become ripe was at Passover time. During the Passover season, which included the Days of Unleavened Bread, there was a special Wave Sheaf Ceremony that took place which had great significance. The Wave Sheaf Ceremony is described in Leviticus 23:10-14.

The meaning of this ceremony is important, even though it is no longer performed since the Old Testament priesthood is no longer needed.

1. What is this sheaf called? (Leviticus 23:10).

Note: The sheaf is called the "sheaf of the firstfruits" or the "wave sheaf".

2. Before they could reap of the harvest, were they to bring a sheaf of the firstfruits to the priest? (Leviticus 23:10).

Note: Most modern Bible translations use the word "sheaf", however, the priests did not wave a sheaf. The word "sheaf" is translated from the Hebrew word "omer", which means a measurement of about two quarts or two liters. The Jews traditionally cut a sheaf, beat out the grain, then ground the first of the firstfruits into flour and offered an omer of that flour. (See Jewish Encyclopedia, article "Omer".)

Note: Quoting from the book: "The Temple - Its Ministry and Services" by Alfred Edersheim, page 204-205: "When the time for the cutting the sheaf had arrived,.... just as the sun went down, three men, each with a sickle and basket, formally set to work. But in order clearly to bring out all that was distinctive in the ceremony, they first asked the bystanders three times each of these questions: ‘Has the sun gone down?’ ‘With this sickle?’ ‘Into this basket?’ ‘On this Sabbath (or first Passover-day)?’ - and lastly, ‘Shall I reap?’ Having each time been answered in the affirmative, they cut down barley to the amount of one ephah, or ten omers, or three seahs, which is equal to about three pecks and three pints of our English measure. ... Though one ephah, or ten omers, of barley was cut down, only one omer of flour, ... was offered in the Temple."

3. Was the first part of the spring grain harvest to be waved before God to be accepted by Him? (Leviticus 23:11-12).

Note: The word "wave" should be translated as "lift up or elevate". The Tanakh (The Jewish Bible) translation translates verses 11-12 as: "He (the priest) shall elevate the sheaf before the Lord for acceptance in your behalf; the priest shall elevate it on the day after the Sabbath. (12) On the day that you elevate the sheaf, you shall offer as a burnt offering to the Lord a lamb of the first year without blemish"

4. Was anyone permitted to eat of this early harvest before the wave sheaf was offered? (Leviticus 23:14).

Note: Now let’s notice the way in which Jesus Christ, the first of God’s spiritual harvest, became the fulfillment of the Wave Sheaf Offering.

5. Who was the first to be resurrected from the dead? (Acts 26:23). Was He the first of the firstfruits of God’s spiritual harvest? (1 Cor. 15:20, 23; Col. 1:13-15, 18).

6. How did the Apostle Paul in the New Testament see this concept of "firstfruits?" (1 Cor 15:20-23).

Note: This scripture says: "Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." So, Jesus was the very first to be "harvested" or "resurrected" from the dead.

7. David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22) and will be in the Kingdom (Heb 11:32, 39). Had David already been resurrected and living in heaven before Jesus had been resurrected? Acts 2:29-34. Note: David was still in his grave. Has any man ascended to heaven? (John 3:13).

Note: No man could precede Jesus Christ into the presence of God the Father. No man could be "harvested" before Jesus was presented as the "firstfruits" from the dead.

8. Early in the morning after Jesus had been resurrected, had Jesus already ascended to the Father? (John 20:16-17). Notice that He told Mary not to touch Him because He had not yet ascended to God the Father.

9. Are the disciples allowed to touch Jesus later on the same day? (Matthew 28:9). This makes it plain and clear that Jesus had gone to the Father in heaven and presented Himself to the Father in the period of time from early in the morning when He wouldn’t allow Mary to touch Him till this period of time that He was with His disciples.

10. When was the wave sheaf offered? (Leviticus 23:11).

Note: The wave sheaf was to be offered on the day after the Sabbath. At the same time that the priests lifted up the wave sheaf offering in the Temple, Jesus had been lifted up to heaven (ascended), and was presented and accepted by God the Father. Like the wave sheaf offering, He was offered on our behalf.

11. Are Christians also called firstfruits? (James 1:18, Revelation 14:4.)

In Conclusion: The purpose of the Wave Sheaf Ceremony pertains as to when you start counting the fifty days in order to know when to celebrate the festival of Pentecost. The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, which means "fiftieth", is always to be observed on a Sunday, which is the fiftieth day after the cutting of the wave sheaf during the Feast of the Days of Unleavened Bread. The cutting of the wave sheaf pictures when Jesus was cut out of the earth (tomb) and was resurrected. The waving, lifting up or elevating of the wave sheaf "omer" pictures Jesus’ ascension to God the Father to be accepted by Him on our behalf. Jesus is the first of the firstfruits.

Lesson  - Scriptures

(Lev 23:10-16 NKJV) ""Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. {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. {12} 'And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the LORD. {13} 'Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the LORD, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin. {14} 'You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

The Feast of Weeks

{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."

The Last Enemy Destroyed

(1 Cor 15:20-23 NKJV) "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. {21} For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. {22} For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. {23} But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming."

(Acts 26:23 NKJV) ""that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.""

(Col 1:13-15 NKJV) "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, {14} in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. {15} He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation."

(Col 1:18 NKJV) "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."

(Acts 13:22 NKJV) ""And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.'"

(Heb 11:32 NKJV) "And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets:"

(Heb 11:39 NKJV) "And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise,"

(Acts 2:29-34 NKJV) ""Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. {30} "Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, {31} "he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. {32} "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. {33} "Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. {34} "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand,"

(John 3:13 NKJV) ""No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven."

(John 20:16-17 NKJV) "Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher). {17} Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'""

The Women Worship the Risen Lord

(Mat 28:9 NKJV) "And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him."

(James 1:18 NKJV) "Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures."

(Rev 14:4 NKJV) "These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb."