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 meaning of this ceremony is important, even though it is no longer performed, since the Old Testament priesthood is no longer needed.
This sheaf is called the "sheaf of the firstfruits" or the "wave sheaf" (Leviticus 23:10-11.) Before they could reap of the harvest, they had to bring a sheaf of the firstfruits to the priest (Leviticus 23:10).
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".)
Notice that the words ‘sheaf’ and ‘omer’ are singular in number.
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 to clearly 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?’ - 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."
Let’s notice a couple of points. The cutting of the sheaf took place after the sun went down after the Sabbath and it was offered in the Temple on Sunday morning. The first part of the spring grain harvest was to be waved before God and accepted by Him (Leviticus 23:11-12.)
The word "wave" should be translated as "lift up or elevate" which could picture a type of resurrection.
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"
One of the points in all of this was that no one was permitted to eat of this early harvest before the wave sheaf was offered (Leviticus 23:14).
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.
Who was the first to be resurrected from the dead? The apostle Paul said: "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" (Acts 26:23 .) Jesus was the first of God's spiritual harvest to be resurrected (see also Colossians 1:13-18) and He had become the first (firstborn) or the first of the firstfruits of those who have died.
Now if the Scriptures say that Jesus was the firstborn from the dead, then that means that no other man before him could have died and gone to heaven, which would include Abraham, Moses, Elijah, David and so forth. Now let’s take brief look at David, who was a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22) and will be in the Kingdom in the millennium (Hebrews 11:32, 39) as the faith chapter indicates. Let’s notice two points from the apostle Peter’s Pentecost sermon in which Peter said: "the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day" (Acts 2:29) and "For David did not ascend into the heavens" (Acts 2:34.) Obviously this agrees with Jesus’ comment that John recorded: "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven" (John 3:13.) The point of these scriptures is that NO man could precede Jesus Christ into the presence of God the Father in heaven. NO man could be "harvested" before Jesus was presented as the "firstfruits" from the dead.
Early in the morning after Jesus had been resurrected He had not yet ascended to the God the Father (John 20:10-17). Mary Magdalene had gone to Jesus’ tomb and saw Jesus there and He said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father" (Verse 17.) Later that day Jesus allowed His disciples to touch Him (Matthew 28:9-10.) 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.
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 (Leviticus 23:15-16.) 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.
In Conclusion: The cutting of the wave sheaf pictures when Jesus was cut out of the earth, resurrected from death after being in His tomb for three days and three nights (Matthew 12:40.) This happened shortly after the Sabbath had ended (at sunset) on the beginning of the ‘first day of the week’. The priest waving, elevating or lifting up of the wave sheaf "omer" in the Temple pictures Jesus’ ascension and being presented to God the Father in heaven and the Father accepting Jesus as the firstfruits offering. Jesus is the first of the firstfruits (1 Corinthians 15:20-23) a singular offering of one. Thus Jesus fulfilled the Wave Sheaf offering.