I think perhaps I may have something to say that just might be able to help others as they come out of the Worldwide Church of God.
In April of '83 I was disfellowshipped from the WCG. I saw the importance of acknowledging every feast listed in the 23rd chapter of Leviticus. Of course, I learned from the WCG how important these days are, and that they each picture a wonderful part of God's great plan of salvation.
I wondered for years why verses 9-14 were somewhat ignored. And then, on that fatal day in April, I quoted word for word Dr. Herman Hoeh's conclusion of what the wave sheaf truly means:
"We might as well face it -- that the resurrection occurred minutes following the close of the Sabbath -- Saturday night, when the wave sheaf was cut. What we have is not the old saying that I used to have to use, that the wave sheaf represents the resurrected Christ -- but it represents the resurrection!
"This is the prophesied resurrection that we have never seen in the ceremonies of the law, and was properly done in Jewish tradition (page 506-7 of the Mishnah) -- it was a rule that it should be reaped by night, at the very beginning minutes, so there would be no delay in preparing it, and then the next morning it was to be waved.
"The resurrection occurred when the wave sheaf was cut, ascension occurred when it was waved before the altar, and the Holy Spirit came on the same day of the year, Pentecost, that the law of God was first given to define what human character, in this broad expanse, should be" (Herman Hoeh, Pasadena Bible Study, June 9, 1978).
My pastor said that Dr. Hoeh never, ever said such a thing, and that I was lying to spread my own heresy. He would not even listen to the last four minutes of that Bible study tape, from which I have just quoted. He chose instead to disfellowship me. He would not permit me to speak to anyone in the WCG. He would not allow me to watch my daughter run in YOU ["Youth Opportunities United," Worldwide's youth group] track. And he also informed me, when my daughter grew up and got married, I would not be allowed to attend her wedding!
Up until that time, I thought I was living in a free country. Up until that time, I thought that the bride's parents had something to do with the guest list. Could I have been so mistaken?
There was an article in the June 1975 Good News [WCG's magazine, not UCG's new magazine of the same name] entitled "The Wavesheaf Ritual -- Proof of Christ and the Bible," by Lawson C. Briggs. In that article, Mr. Briggs said that the wave sheaf offering acted out the death, resurrection and mission of Christ, and the birth, life and destiny of the true church!
Let's look at the original command the God of the Old Testament, who was to become Jesus Christ, gave to Moses:
"The LORD said to Moses, 'Speak to the Israelites and say to them: "When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the LORD so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the LORD a lamb a year old without defect, together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil -- an offering made to the LORD by fire, a pleasing aroma -- and its drink offering of a quarter of a hin of wine. You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your God. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live (Leviticus 23:9-14, NIV).
The sheaf of the firstfruits had to be offered first, before the rest of the harvest could be gathered in. The sheaf represents Christ (Acts 26:23; Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 15:20-23; Colossians 1:18; Hebrews 1:6).
The Mishnah, written a few centuries after the time of the first century church, describes how a messenger would go out and bind the standing stalks of grain into sheaves so that it would be easy to cut. The priest, followed by his entourage, would come to the field, sickle in hand, and ask, "Is the sun set?", to which the people would answer, "Yes!!" "Shall I reap?" "Reap!!" The priest then cut off a standing stalk of grain, then took it to be prepared for the offering the next morning.
Lawson Briggs wrote in his article, "In the time of Jesus the wavesheaf was offered on the Sunday during Passover week. This is clear since the priests -- who were mostly Sadducees -- were in charge of the Temple and all the Temple ceremony (Acts 4:1-6; 5:17). The timing and symbolism of this ceremony would have been overwhelming to those who knew the events of Jesus' death and resurrection.
"The wave sheaf had been chosen in advance, as Christ was. It was tied in a bundle, symbolizing His captivity. It was cut loose from the ground just at sunset -- just the time at which Christ rose from the dead after three days and three nights in the tomb. The cutting of the grain symbolized Christ's actual resurrection" (emphasis mine).
This is what Dr. Hoeh had said on the tape, but I never saw my pastor try to disfellowship Dr. Hoeh or Mr. Briggs!
The Wave Sheaf Feast Day may be the most important Feast Day that the Eternal God gave us. It pictures the most spectacular event in His great plan of salvation. Without what that day pictures, our Savior would still be dead, "in the heart of the earth."
Jesus rose from the dead three days and three nights from the time He went into "the heart of the earth." It was the only sign that He was to give. The length of time in the grave was the proof of His Messiahship (Matthew 12:39-40)! He went into the tomb "when even was come" (Matthew 27:57; Mark 15:42); therefore, He came out of the tomb "when even was come" -- three days and three nights later.
Pictured in the ceremonies of the law, when the priest cut the sheaf from the ground was the exact time that Jesus rose from the dead. Without the Wave Sheaf Feast Day and what it pictures, Christ is not risen -- all preaching is in vain -- faith is in vain, and we are yet in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17)!
The Worldwide Church of God, by not honoring the Wave Sheaf Feast Day, has allowed Jesus to remain dead, "in the heart of the earth." It is so sad.
In closing, I would like to suggest to anyone reading this: Analyze the sermons that you are hearing. Do they point you to the only true God and Jesus Christ? (or toward a man?) Do they teach obedience to the only true God and Jesus Christ? (or obedience to a man?)
I believe the liberty that I have found in Christ is beyond any words I can use.
We became non-aligned and non-affiliated long before it was fashionable. I believe it makes you study the Eternal's Word harder, and longer, and maybe more earnestly, when you want a direct line to the Creator (rather than going through an organization or any man).
I believe He wants each of us to have that "one-to-Him" relationship, that "He-to-me" closeness. Gets rid of a lot of idolatry that way, if you ask me. But then, you never asked me -- did you?
Mrs. Witham is a delightful youngster in her 64th year of life. She writes, "Sorry I don't have a 1.44 MB disk -- I don't even know what this is!" We're very grateful she sent us the "hard copy" of her writings, and the copy of Lawson Briggs' article, some of which is included in the present article.
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