As most of you know, we are now moving ahead in God’s Spring Holy Day season. But as a New Testament Christian Church, why are we keeping or celebrating “Jewish” holidays? Doesn’t even our annual calendar designate certain days of the year as religious observations? Of course they do! So why do we stick out like a “sore thumb’ among other Christian groups because of our Jewishness?
Old Testament Feast Days have Great Meaning
It’s because we have proven, from the Bible, that, indeed, these days have great significance and are certainly binding on Christians to observe. Let’s go back to the beginning of all these days given in the Old Testament. Exodus 12:5 “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it from the sheep, or from the goats. 6 and ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth of the month: and the whole assembly shall kill it in the evening.” Next in time sequence: Verse 15 “Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread--” 17 “And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordination for ever.”
So why did the apostle Paul instruct the Corinthian Church to continue to observe these days? I Corinthians 5:7 “---For even Christ, our Passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, (feast of unleavened bread, as anyone with eyes can see!), not with old (physical) leaven, neither with the leaven (spiritual) of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” How plain! But Satan has blinded this world to these marvelous truths! The religious leaders are more guilty of this cover up than anyone else!
Old Testament Israel, all twelve tribes, not just Judah, failed in faith and in obedience to God. The mistakes they made were examples for our learning. I Corinthians 10:4 “---:For they drank of that Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.”
God’s Feasts binding on New Testament Christians
Now I’m not going to rehash the entire Holy Day agenda, but suffice it to say, they are all binding on New Testament Christianity, whether they believe it or not! But, since we are now heading toward the Day of Pentecost, I want to focus on the Wave Sheaf Offering. Who or What is it a type of, for us today? We’ll find out! Leviticus 23:9 “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, when ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf (omer or handful) of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: 11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12 And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD. 14 And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: It shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.”
As we know, animal sacrifices are no longer binding under the New Covenant. (Hebrews 9:9 - 14) But as the Wave Sheaf Offering, Jesus offered His blood to the Father on this very day, as we will see later on.
Statutes are a type for Christians
I want to particularly emphasize these next few verses, because they are critical to establishing the correct Day of Pentecost in the New Testament. There is a definite correlation! Leviticus 23:15 “And you shall count unto you from (beginning with - Jewish translation) the morrow after the Sabbath, from (beginning with) the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths (can mean weeks, as it is translated in Deuteronomy 16:9,10) shall be complete. 16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number FIFTY DAYS ; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD. 17 Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenths deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD.”
Now I want to explain, as simply as I can, how to count these fifty days and to arrive at the right day of Pentecost. The first rule is to begin your count ON or BEGINNING WITH the MORROW AFTER THE SABBATH or the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK. This is a Sunday, as we reckon time by the Gregorian calendar. If this is your starting point, after counting seven days, you will end on the seventh day or Sabbath. If you continue to follow this pattern, until seven weeks are complete (49 days), you will still end up on the Sabbath.
BUT GOD SAID TO COUNT FIFTY DAYS! So you must add one more day and that brings you to a Sunday, as the day of Pentecost. The day of the month may vary, but it will still remain on the same day of the week. This is why it must be counted!
On this note, I want to quote from lesson 35 of “Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course”: “The Church in God’s Master Plan”, page 4: “Too many people have felt merely because God records the method by which Pentecost is counted, they are qualified to come to independent conclusions about when Pentecost should be kept! They are WRONG! They have attempted to take to themselves a responsibility that God placed ONLY in the hands of His called and chosen ministers!
Notice that the instructions for counting Pentecost are given in the book of Leviticus - the book for the Levites. The Levites were God ’s priests doing the work of the ministry in the Old Testament. Leviticus is written, not so the common lay members of the church could “second guess” God’s ministry, but so His ministers could know how Pentecost is to be properly counted. The ministers then were to pass this information on to the whole congregation.
The Wave Sheaf in The New Testament
God established His Holy Days - memorials of the PLAN of God - in conjunction with the two ANNUAL HARVESTS in Palestine. God uses the physical harvest seasons as a pattern or type of two SPIRITUAL HARVESTS. The first harvest was a small spring harvest, following the winter rains.It begins on the day of the Wave-Sheaf offering, and ends at the Day of Pentecost. This Day of Pentecost pictures the VERY SMALL early harvest. But the Wave Sheaf, itself has very significant meaning! IT IS A VERY TYPE OF JESUS CHRIST!
Christ the Wave Sheaf
Remember, on Sunday morning, following the weekly Sabbath, during the Days of Unleavened Bread, a small handful of newly cut stems and heads of barley was brought to the priest to be accepted by God. This was the “Wave Sheaf Offering” or the “first of the firstfruits”.
Does this correlate with anything we find in the New Testament? It surely does! I Corinthians 15:20 “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection from the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming.”
How, or rather when, was Christ accepted as the Firstfruits? The Bible tells us! John 20:1 “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, (before daybreak) unto the sepulchre. 2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid Him. 3 - 4 So they ran both together; and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulcher 5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. ---10” Verse 11 “But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher, 12 And seeth two angels in white, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him. 13,14,15,16” Now comes an all-important verse!
Verse 17 “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to My father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” Jesus had not gone to the father, YET, to be accepted as the WAVE SHEAF OFFERING for all of mankind! It would have defiled Him if He was touched before His ascending. Let’s read: Verse 19 “Then the same day at evening, being first day of the week, (Sunday, following the weekly Sabbath, during the Days of Unleavened Bread! THE DAY OF THE WAVE SHEAF OFFERING of the Old Testament!!) when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.”
Now we can read Verses 20 through 28 and find that Christ now allowed these disciples to touch and handle Him, without reservation.
Because Christ was a Holy Sacrifice, and became the first human being to be resurrected SPIRITUALLY, He fulfilled the symbolism or type of the Wave Sheaf Offering.
The morning after He was resurrected, (which happened at sunset of the Sabbath Day) He had to go before God the Father to be accepted as that consecrated Wave Sheaf or First of firstfruits.
The Firstfruits in God’s Plan
It is very important to be included in God’ s Plan as a firstfruit, because they are mentioned in several places. First, we’ ll return to the Old Testament: Leviticus 23:17 “Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD.” (We read this earlier when we were learning to count Pentecost, beginning with the Wave Sheaf Offering) Notice there are two loaves, covering the two periods of the Old Testament and the New Testament Church. Also we see these two loaves had leaven in them. Since the Bible uses leaven as a type of sin (I Cor.5:7) it means that there is still sin in the Church.( I John 1:8 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Only Christ is without sin, and qualified to be the First of the firstfruits, the Wave Sheaf Offering, but we should be striving to eliminate sin from our lives, shown by the Days of Unleavened Bread.
The New Testament also has much to say about “firstfruits”. James 1:18 “Of his own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”
After the coming of the Holy Spirit, in 31 AD, the term “firstfruits” is applied to specific living Christians in God’s Plan. Romans 16:5 “Likewise greet the church that is in their house, Salute my well beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.”
After Christ was accepted as the Wave Sheaf, the general harvest of firstfruits could begin. But still, only a small harvest of people during this age is to be reaped at the second coming of Christ. God is not trying to save the world at this time, as some believe. Pentecost or Firstfruits pictures to us the first part of the spiritual harvest, the “calling out” of God’s True Church -- a few people and a small harvest. God is not dealing with the vast majority today. Colossians 1:18 “And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. ” Revelation 14: 4 “---These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.”
The outstanding characteristic of those who are called “firstfruits” is found in this verse: John 15:10 “If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept my Father’s Commandments, and abide in his love.” As the sinless Wave Sheaf Offering and the First of the firstfruits, Jesus Christ did that perfectly!