The Wave Sheaf Offering -- The Forgotten Holy Day?
by Jack M. Lane
From a Bible study given during the Days of Unleavened Bread, 2004
Today is the Sunday during the Days of Unleavened Bread (DUB), the day on which the Wave Sheaf was offered in ancient Israel. Today is also Easter Sunday. This is not a coincidence. There is something very important both days have in common. Both days celebrate an empty tomb!
If you spent years in a church that taught the holy days, as we did, you might be able to recite from memory the instructions for this day found in Leviticus 23. It’s right between the instructions for the Days of Unleavened Bread (DUB) and the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost. It goes something like this (or does it?): "On the morrow after the Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread is the Wave Sheaf Offering." That’s the way many people learned it.
This ceremony was established in the list of holy days in Leviticus 23. The day of the Wave Sheaf offering is the day we begin our count toward the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost (Greek for "count fifty"). This day and its activities also coincide with what many believe to be the timing of Messiah's resurrection – Saturday evening – and the time of His first ascension to the Father, as the personification and fulfillment of the Wave Sheaf Offering, on that Sunday morning so long ago.
Let me explain that point briefly. Yeshua was dead and buried for three days and three nights. The following two scriptures indicate that this would be the sign of His being the Messiah.
Matthew 12:38-40 (NIV throughout, unless otherwise noted):
38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, "Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you."
39 He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
18 Then the Jews demanded of him, "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?"
19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."
20 The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?"
21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body.
22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
This was the one true sign He gave to the antagonistic Jewish leaders that He was the Messiah. When He died, He was laid to rest just before sundown, or about sundown. He came to life again three days later, just before sundown. The women who came to the tomb found that He was already resurrected and gone when they arrived Sunday morning. Sunday morning was not the time Messiah was resurrected. The angel said He had gone ahead to Galilee, as He said He would do:
30 When they [Yeshua and His disciples] had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
31 Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'
32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."
4 But when they [the women at the tomb] looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.
5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.
7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'"
He was not there because He had already been resurrected! He awoke Saturday evening, about sundown. Counting backward three days, we can see that He had died on Wednesday afternoon, and was buried Wednesday evening, just before sundown, or about sundown.
Many churches teach that the crucifixion took place in the year 33 A.D., because Passover fell on a Friday that year. If the three-days-and-three-nights scenario is correct, the year of the crucifixion would have been 31 A.D., a year when Passover fell on Wednesday. This would bring about the following scenario:
- Messiah was crucified on Passover, dying late that afternoon;
- He was put into the tomb Wednesday evening about sunset, wrapped and spiced by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (John 19:40);
- Everyone rested on the next day, Thursday, which was the First Day of Unleavened Bread, an annual high holy day (John 19:31),
- On Friday the women went to buy additional spices to anoint His body, then rested on the weekly Sabbath day (Mark 16:1; Luke 23:55-24:1);
- When the women arrived at the tomb on Sunday morning, He was already gone (Luke 24:1-3).
There is also a prophecy in Daniel which validates the idea of a Wednesday crucifixion. Daniel received from God this astonishing prediction:
Daniel 9:24-27 (NKJV):
24 "Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.
25 "Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.
26 "And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate."
The details of Daniel’s prophecy may be somewhat vague, but these verses seem to indicate that Messiah would be cut off in the midst of both a prophetic “week” and, quite possibly, a literal week!
As the cutting of the grain for the Wave Sheaf offering took place on Saturday evening during the DUB, so Messiah was resurrected at the same time, on the same day. That should give us a clue as to what this day is all about.
As the wave sheaf was raised and then lowered Sunday morning, so Messiah ascended to heaven that Sunday morning as the Wave Sheaf Offering for us, yet He returned to earth that same day (John 20:16-19; Matthew 28:9-10).
The Bible instructions
Let's look at the command YHVH gave to Moses, in Leviticus 23:9-14:
9 The LORD said to Moses,
10 "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.
11 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.
12 On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the LORD a lamb a year old without defect,
13 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.
14 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.
Beginning with the year Israel entered the Promised Land, and right on through all time, they were to observe this ordinance. When it came time to harvest the spring crop, the first sheaf of the firstfruits had to be offered to God first, before the rest of the harvest could be gathered in.
The sheaf represents Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:20-23:
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.
22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
(See also Acts 26:23; Romans 8:29; Hebrews 1:6).
Part of the process of making peace through Messiah’s blood is demonstrated year after year in the Wave Sheaf offering.
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.
In an article in the June 1975 Good News entitled "The Wavesheaf Ritual – Proof of Christ and the Bible," Lawson C. Briggs wrote, "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).
Here’s a quote from another source, a Bible study tape by Herman Hoeh: "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, [and the] ascension occurred when it was waved before the altar...” (Herman Hoeh, Pasadena Bible Study, June 9, 1978).
Messiah 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 being the Messiah! (Matthew 12:39-40) If Messiah was to come back to life on a Saturday evening, three days and three nights after His dead body was laid to rest, that means that, when He died in the afternoon of Passover Day, that day was a Wednesday!
Messiah 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. It’s interesting to see that Leviticus 23, which outlines the holy days, the days which show us the plan of God, gives us this picture: right at the moment the priest cut the sheaf from the ground, that was the moment Yeshua Messiah rose from the dead, which gave Him a new identity – the first fully born Son of God, born from the dead.
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God –
2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures
3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David,
4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
5 Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.
6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
On a Saturday evening in Jerusalem long ago, a Levitical priest shouted “Shall I reap?”, and a joyful crowd shouted back, “Reap!” Meanwhile, across town, in a borrowed tomb, our Savior came back to life, and from that moment to this He has been the resurrected, fully born Son of God.
That’s what this day of the Wave Sheaf Offering pictures. That’s the general overview.
But there have been a few areas in our understanding that may need updating. I noticed a few things in reference to this ceremony that I haven’t read or heard discussed elsewhere, and I’d like to share these ideas with you, for your consideration.
What is it called?
The Bible does not actually refer to this ceremony as "the Wave Sheaf offering." There are three references in Leviticus 23 (verses 11, 12 and 15) to bringing the sheaf and waving it, so it's a simple enough matter to see how the name came about. But it's not a biblical name. This really isn't an important point when compared with the others, but I thought I should at least mention it. It seems appropriate to call it "the wave offering." I’ve referred to it as the "omer elevating ceremony," which I’ll explain in a minute. But, as is the case with the Last Great Day, the familiar but inaccurate name serves to identify the occasion suitably, so there is no real need to change it.
What did they wave?
We tend to picture in our minds the priest actually waving sheaves of grain at the altar, picking up a bundle of the long stalks and waving them back and forth. This is probably not correct.
Notice in Leviticus 23:10: "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.'"
"Sheaf" can be seen as a mistranslation from the Hebrew word omer (Strong's #6016). An omer is a unit of dry measure, rather than a stalk of grain. So when it says to wave a sheaf, it's really saying to wave, or elevate, an omer.
How much is an omer? Here is a dictionary definition: "Omer (Heb. 'omer, cf. Arab. 'umar, 'a small bowl') occurs only in the account of the collection of manna (Ex. 16), being used both of the measure itself (vv. 18, 32-33) and of the amount measured (vv. 16, 22). The 'omer was equal to 1/10 ephah (v. 36). ... Ephah ... is the name of a vessel large enough to hold a person (Zc. 5:6-10), and thence of an exact measure (Lv. 19:36). ... The ephah was equal to the liquid measure bath, both being 1/10 of a homer (Ezk. 45:11)" (New Bible Dictionary, article "Weights and Measures"). The same article defines an omer as being equivalent to 2.4 liters (wet or dry measurement) in our modern measuring system. So think of a two-liter bottle of Pepsi, and that’s about the amount of grain that would be elevated. Obviously, we're not talking about stalks of grain here!
By the way, there are two similar words in this dictionary definition, which may cause some confusion: Remember that one homer is made up of 100 omers. Ten omers equal one ephah, and ten ephahs equal one homer. Think of a penny, a dime, and a dollar – ten pennies make up a dime, and ten dimes make up a dollar. As one hundred pennies equal one dollar, so one hundred omers equal one homer.
The harvested first sheaf underwent a rigorous preparation before the omer elevating ceremony. The heads of grain were separated from the stalks as part of the preparation before they were elevated before the altar. Notice in these quotes from the Mishnah regarding how the grain was removed from the sheaves and prepared for the elevating ceremony:
"'They used to parch it with fire. ... They used to beat it with reeds and the stems of plants that the grains should not be crushed. ... [They] put it in a grist mill and took therefrom a tenth which was sifted through thirteen sieves. ... They put in oil and the frankincense thereof" (Menahoth 10,4).
You might see some similarities to what the Messiah experienced, being beaten with rods, and scourged to within an inch of His life, but without breaking any of His bones. The oil would represent the Spirit of God, which He had without measure, and the frankincense would reflect His prayers (Revelation 8:3).
An omer of grain was also used in other Levitical sacrifices as a measure for a sin offering. For example, in Leviticus 5:11: "If, however, he [an Israelite bringing a sin offering] cannot afford two doves or two young pigeons, he is to bring as an offering for his sin a tenth of an ephah [one omer] of fine flour for a sin offering. He must not put oil or incense on it, because it is a sin offering."
Remember that one omer is equal to one tenth of an ephah. I can’t help but wonder if it might somehow be significant that the omer of grain to be elevated – representing the Messiah who was accepted as the sin offering and Passover sacrifice to atone for our sins – was one-tenth, or one tithe of, the measure or volume of a man? Is there significance to His being likened to a tithe of humankind in some sense? I can't help but wonder.
As with many other types of offerings, the priest would take the omer of grain, elevate it over the altar before YHVH, and bring it back down again. The picture we may have had, where the priest would wave actual sheaves of grain back and forth, is not supported by scripture, other than the mistranslations into English. After all, which would be better in portraying the meaning and significance of this ceremony – to simply cut stalks of grain from the earth and fan them over the altar, or to suitably prepare this sacred offering to elevate before YHVH, an offering that meant more than generations of priests ever realized?
Many priests over many generations participated in the harvesting and preparation of the sheaf (omer) to be waved (elevated). Perhaps that's why so many of the priests in the first century A.D. came to see that the new sect of Yeshua's followers, which came to be called the sect of the Nazarenes (Acts 24:5), was truly the new and right way to go (Acts 6:7)!
When was it waved?
Here is another area where what we thought was plainly written in scripture is simply not there! Nowhere in the biblical instructions, in Leviticus 23 or any other scripture, does it say that the omer of grain is to be elevated during the Days of Unleavened Bread (DUB)! Nowhere! The expression is not "on the morrow after the Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread," but merely, "on the morrow after the Sabbath."
It's astonishing to realize that the Bible does not tie the wave offering directly to the DUB. Notice how the instructions begin, in Leviticus 23:9-10: Following the commands regarding the Passover and the DUB, then "The LORD said to Moses, 'Speak to the Israelites and say to them...'" It's a new thought, a new section. It's not part of the instruction regarding the DUB at all!
Continuing: "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 [omer] of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave [elevate] the sheaf [omer] before the LORD so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave [elevate] it on the day after the Sabbath'" (verses 10-11).
On which Sabbath is this being done? The Hebrew word translated "Sabbath" here is the regular word signifying the weekly Sabbath (shabbath, Strong's #7676), rather than the more proper or formal word used to designate special, annual Sabbaths (shabbathown, #7677). It seems pretty plain that a weekly Sabbath was to be the day before the Wave Offering. I don’t see that the scriptures tell us to do the omer elevating celebration on the day after the first Day of Unleavened Bread, as some people think. It’s the weekly Sabbath.
Why do I make this point? According to what history I could glean, the Sadducees in Yeshua's day elevated the omer and began their count toward Pentecost beginning with the day after the weekly Sabbath during the DUB, which is the method used by most people we know. That’s what the Sadducees did. The Pharisees, however, apparently began their count from the day after the first Holy Day, a practice which is apparently still followed by most of the Jewish community and some Christian groups.
These are two ways to begin the "count" to Pentecost. I put the word "count" in quotation marks because the date of Pentecost, as determined by the second method, would not be counted at all, but would always be the same calendar date (Sivan 6 on the Hebrew calendar), since the "count" would begin on the same calendar date each year (Abib 16). Using this method, Pentecost would not fall on the morrow after the seventh Sabbath (that is, the first day of the week – Leviticus 23:15-16), but could fall on any day of the week.
Let’s briefly review the verses in Leviticus 23 that tell us how to count:
15 "'From the day after the Sabbath [the weekly Sabbath, not the holy day], the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks.
16 Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD.
The weekly Sabbath ends a week. Starting with the next day, which we call Sunday, we would count off seven full weeks. That takes us to a Saturday again. That’s 49 days. We want 50 days. So we are to count up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, which would be a Sunday, and would also be the 50th day. That’s how we figure Pentecost. That’s also how the ancient Sadducees figured Pentecost, counting from the day after the weekly Sabbath. The Pharisees, on the other hand, began their count with the day after the First DUB.
However, an important point we should recognize is that both groups, Pharisees and Sadducees, agreed that the count to Pentecost should begin from a point within the DUB (although they disagreed as to which point). Why? Was it simply to standardize the practice, not only throughout Judea, but for Jews throughout the world? If the count toward Pentecost begins on the day the omer is elevated, yet the day the omer is elevated is not necessarily one of the DUB, what would we use as a starting point for our count to Pentecost? We don’t elevate the omer, of course; but we do need to know when to begin the count to Pentecost!
The ceremony would have to be scheduled at the time the spring crops in the holy land are ready for harvest. The ceremony begins the harvest of the crop, after all. But is it coincidence that the omer elevating ceremony takes place within the DUB?
What would happen if the date of the omer elevating were to be set in each local area based on when their local crops come ready for harvest? If that were the case, then, in various places around the world, the wave offering (and consequently Pentecost) could conceivably come at wildly varying times during the year. The simplest answer would be to standardize the world's observance to Jerusalem's observance.
Setting the New Year
Since I originally wrote about the Wave Sheaf Offering some years ago, we have learned much regarding the beginning of the year in the spring. We have learned that we ought to look at two things to set the new year – the spring equinox and the state of the barley. We thought the name of the first month, Abib (or Aviv), meant "green ears," so when we see green, it must be spring. It’s like “January” – that’s the name of the first month of the year. We call the first month “January,” you call the first month “Abib.” But it’s not as simplistic as that.
We learned that abib is a word that describes the state of barley about two weeks before it is ready to be harvested. We learned that when the new year is set according to the abib state of the barley, that would put the time of harvest about two weeks into the new year, which would be right around Passover and DUB. Therefore, it would be very likely that the messenger of the priest would be able to go out during the DUB and find some barley ready to harvest, and he would be able to get it ready for the priest to come out and cut the ceremonial first stalk of barley. Following the omer elevating ceremony the following morning, the harvest would begin in earnest. Because of the way the new year was set, it would almost be guaranteed that the wave sheaf day would fall during the DUB. So, as it turns out, it’s a safe bet that if you schedule the wave sheaf ceremony during the DUB, you’d be right!
It seems most prudent to continue the practice of beginning the count toward Pentecost from the Sabbath during the DUB, especially in the light of Yeshua’s own resurrection and elevation taking place within that time frame.
We don’t have a priest!
The omer elevating ceremony is there, for all generations to observe. But we don’t observe it! We have indeed neglected it, but for a good reason. We don't observe the elevating of the omer for the same reason we don't sacrifice animals – we have no Levitical priesthood to carry it out! It needs to be a priest who does this ceremony. Plus, we now have a High Priest in heaven (Hebrews 4:14, etc.), and we understand a number of ceremonial activities in a new way, with a new application.
Consider this: Using the physical, Old Testament way of looking at things, the day of the elevation offering began the count toward the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost. By observing the wave offering, one could anticipate Pentecost 50 days later. Under a spiritual, New Testament way of looking at things, if the elevation offering represents the Messiah's resurrection, then once we have participated in the picture of His death and resurrection (see Romans chapter 6), we are, in effect, eagerly "counting the days" until our own resurrection and rising in the air (1 Corinthians 15; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), as pictured by the leavened loaves of bread elevated by the priest on the Day of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15-17)!
Here’s another surprise. Notice in Leviticus 23:11 that, during the elevation offering, the priest elevates the omer of grain "to be accepted for you" (KJV) or "so it will be accepted on your behalf" (NIV), or "that you may find acceptance" (NRSV). This is not an offering so that the Messiah would be accepted, but rather that we (physical Israel then, spiritual Israel now) would be accepted. The omer of grain represents Messiah, but it is being elevated so that we followers of YHVH will be accepted by our Father in heaven! From that point it is, literally, only a matter of time until we ourselves rise in the air (as pictured by the loaves elevated at Pentecost)!
How would we observe it today?
We can't escape the fact that the elevation offering day is listed in the table of feast days, and that Leviticus 23:14 says, "This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live." Although the day is not listed as a holy convocation or a sabbath, it does seem odd that we have totally neglected this important day for so many years.
Then the question naturally arises: If we are going to do something to observe or commemorate the wave offering, how would we observe it? We are not priests of the sanctuary, descended from Aaron, although we are priests in God's spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 5:10). Who would perform the ceremony? Should a ceremony be performed? Perhaps there should be a spiritual application or observance of some kind.
If the high priest elevated the omer, is that ceremony now performed in archetype by Messiah, our High Priest in heaven (Hebrews 3:1; 4:14; 6:20)? Or has it been fulfilled, with no future application?
What is different about this day? On Saturday evening some stalks of grain were cut. The grain was taken to an inner room to be prepared for offering. On Sunday morning the bowl of grain was offered up to God. After that, the harvesting of the crop began.
The difference is the part we play in this day. Every other sacred day listed in Leviticus 23 involves all the faithful. We are all to observe the weekly Sabbath, Passover, the DUB, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the convocation of the eighth day of the Feast. These days are set aside for us. They are convocations, times when God's people come together for worship, rejoicing, and fellowship. We rest on the Sabbath, we take the Passover symbols, we put leavening out of our homes, etc.
On the Saturday night when the first stalk of grain was reaped, it wasn't the people who did it, it was the priest. On Sunday morning, when the bowl of grain was elevated, it wasn't the people who did it, it was the priest. There was no convocation. There were no multitudes of sacrifices. It was, if anything, a small, relatively quiet ceremony. Messiah's resurrection was not observed by people. His ascension into heaven to be received on our behalf was unobserved by humans. And so it is that the priest cutting the grain and elevating the omer represented Messiah, and did this service before a relatively few number of people.
Why is it we don't slaughter a lamb to eat as our Passover observance? Because Yeshua, as the Lamb of God, fulfilled what Passover pictured. He gave the observance a new meaning, along with new symbols -- His body is represented by bread, not lamb flesh. We are no longer commemorating the tenth plague on Egypt. We are observing the Lord's death until He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26). We are no longer commemorating Israel's exodus from Egypt in the Days of Unleavened Bread, we are reminding ourselves of our own journey out of slavery to sin (Romans 6) and into a spiritual wilderness.
So it is that the Wave Sheaf offering has also changed meaning. It is no longer simply a harvest festival to YHVH. We have a New Covenant understanding of how the omer was elevated for our acceptance by the great God of heaven on a Sunday morning, following a Saturday evening when the firstfruit of the harvest was cut free of the earth.
There is no commanded assembly or holy convocation associated with this day. However, the day the omer is elevated begins the count to Pentecost, which is the day that symbolizes the resurrection of the church at Messiah's return, pictured by the loaves of leavened bread elevated and brought down.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives...
Since the elevating of the omer was a priestly function, we ought not to take to ourselves any type of priestly ceremony. In the days of the Temple, the high priest would have done the ceremony. In our New Covenant status, we have a High Priest in heaven. Therefore, we should not try to invent a religious ceremony or ritual, since believers have been led astray by doing such things. At best, in my opinion, we might want to do some small thing to recognize this day, as we often do some small thing at the new moon to note the beginning of a month. But we should avoid establishing a religious tradition or ceremonial function as if we are priests. Please don’t go out to your yard and cut off some tall grass or put up an altar so you can stand before it and elevate an offering. This is not appropriate for us to do. Please don’t let yourself be carried away by religious fervor and run off into error.
The purpose of this article is to inform the readers about this ceremony, its fulfillment in Messiah, and to explore possible meanings for us today. Unfortunately, there is no tidy ending for this article. This may leave the reader with the same feeling that I have, that this is “unfinished business.” Perhaps we can look at this subject again in future years.