The Significance of the Wave Sheaf

This ceremony depicts an integral part of the the plan of salvation. It was planned out well ahead of time — even before the physical creation and was given to the Israelites before they were able to implement it.

Leviticus 23:9 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
Leviticus 23:10 “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.

While they were still in the wilderness and before they entered the promised land, they were given these vital instructions. This is very interesting as we will see later when they came into that land.

Firstfruits: the first production of the crop; the first fruit of labor; in this case it was the earlier barley

Leviticus 23:11 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.

The word translated “the Sabbath” is HaShabbat. This Hebrew word is translated some 90 times as “the Sabbath” — ALWAYS referring to weekly Sabbath and NEVER to an annual/high Sabbath (holy day).

As a word of caution the Jewish Publication Society translates this same word 87 times as “the Sabbath.” The three times that it is not translated correctly are in this chapter!

Because of a wrong belief that they have (on when the wave sheaf is), they have to change the clear meaning of this word.  This should be a warning to us in how we study and being honest with word of God!

It is crucial to understand when the wave sheaf is to be offered since Pentecost is tied into it.

Leviticus 23:12 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.

This spotless male lamb fits in perfectly with the meaning of the wave sheaf as well.

Leviticus 23:13 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.
Leviticus 23:14 You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your Godit shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

They were not able to eat the NEW grain until after the wave sheaf offering. This also is important to understand since it will come into play later as well.

So the spring harvest, the ability to reap, was contingent and predicated on this singular sheaf being offered.

What is a Wave-Sheaf

The wave-sheaf of grain is an omer (dry measure).  In fact the word sheaf comes from the Hebrew word omer. It is approximately 2-quarts though some commentators say it is more and some less. Presumably this is the amount of grain that would come from a sheaf of barley.

The Harvests

To understand this offering it helps to understand the:

Three Seasons that we keep the Holy Days

Spring, Summer, and Fall

Exodus 23:14 “Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year:
Exodus 23:15 You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib [first month and in the Spring], for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty);
Exodus 23:16 and the Feast of Harvest [50 days late Spring/early Summer], the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.

  • The first harvest of grain begins to ripen early in the spring and it is from this crop that the wave-sheaf is gathered during the Days of Unleavened bread.
  • The early harvest is completed in late May or early June at the time of Pentecost.
  • The last and larger harvest comes at summer’s end and autumn’s beginning – when we go to the Feast of Tabernacles

Parallels to Resurrections

Matthew 13:36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”
Matthew 13:37 He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.
Matthew 13:38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.
Matthew 13:39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.

There is a connection and analogy between the harvests and resurrections.

These three seasons correspond to:

  1. Resurrection of Jesus Christ as represented by the Wave Sheaf — which is only a single man.
  2. Resurrection of First Called is represented in Pentecost — a small harvest
  3. Resurrection of Second Called is seen in the Feast of Tabernacles – the final and large harvest

Christ Fulfilled the Wave Sheaf

Background: Passover was Wednesday in the year of His crucifixion. On this day He dies at the 9th hour which is 3 pm. So now they have about three hours before sunset to prepare Jesus Christ for burial.

They rush to get Jesus Christ into the ground before the Annual Sabbath day of First Day of Unleavened Bread which is also the Night to be Much Remembered. He would remain there for 72 hours which would make His resurrection at the end of the Sabbath (Saturday evening).

John 20:1 Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
John 20:2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”
John 20:3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb.

John 20:9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.
John 20:10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.
John 20:11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.
John 20:12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
John 20:13 Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”
John 20:14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.

The timeline for this puts this in the morning/day light hours.

John 20:15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
John 20:16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).
John 20:17 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.’ “

This would have been around 9 am at the time the wave sheaf was literally happening. Since this is all lining up, then it is apparent that Christ was on a schedule.

Another point of note here is that the KJV says “Don’t touch me” while the NKJV and other more modern translations say something similar to, “Don’t cling to me,”

The use here is in the present imperative and the literal meaning is, “Stop touching me,” which would imply that Mary is already touching Jesus. But, it can also mean “she is trying to touch him and He is telling her that she should not.”

Which is it?

If it means don’t touch me so you don’t defile or contaminate me in His state, then this sounds good at face value.

But Christ was spirit at this point and He had always lived a sinless and clean life in all that He had done. He was spirit before and perfect and later perfect in the flesh and had taken on the sins of the world and died for us.

Could the actions of one woman thwart the plan of God?

Sin and uncleanness is not conveyed in this way. Sin comes from our actions and uncleanness does not truly come from the physical, but it is a spiritual concept.

I am not completely discounting this concept — perhaps there is spiritual concept or point that is being made…BUT how does this fit into the plan of God or other scriptures — especially considering the fact that humans were involved in the reaping and handling of the first sheaf before it was waved and the possible ramifications of that analogy to this.

We also know Mary’s attitude — she washed Jesus’ feet with anointing oil and used her hair in the process. Also note her actions in the scriptures above regarding her wanting to tend to the dead body of Jesus.

She seems like the type to cling and not want to let go!

John 20:18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

The trip to God the Father and back happened pretty quickly

John 20:19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

Firstfruits

In fulfilling the wave sheaf offering Jesus became the first of the firstfruits.

He was the first to “spiritual mature” – He represents the beginning of the harvest.

Christ the First of the Firstfruits

Revelation 1:5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

All things were created by Him and ultimately for Him — that is when the plan nears its completion.

Colossians 1:17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
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 may have the preeminence.

He is the first. He came and set the perfect example

And because of this He qualified to rule, under God, the world and the universe and all that there is in it. Satan is currently ruler of this world (Ephesians 2:2, 2 Corinthians 4:4). Jesus defeated him in the temptations of all things.

After Christ’s death He went before God and was accepted on our behalf.

Acceptance by God

This was prophesied long ago:

Daniel 7:13 “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man [God the Son], Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days [God the Father], And they brought Him [Son] near before Him [Father].
Daniel 7:14 Then to Him [Son] was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.

Philippians 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Philippians 2:9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,
Philippians 2:10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
Philippians 2:11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

He was given the preeminence!

Ephesians 1:20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
Ephesians 1:21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
Ephesians 1:22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,

Connection with Pentecost

Leviticus 23:15 ‘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.
Leviticus 23:16 Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.

This is how we figure when we are to keep the feast of Pentecost. It begins with the wave sheaf offering.  We are to count from this significant day to come to another significant day.

Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Christ is the first of the firstfruits and those who are called before His second coming make up the rest of the firstfruits — as symbolized by the harvest associated with Pentecost.

1 Corinthians 15:20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Christ died and through His resurrection, He became the firstfruit. He had to be first to pave the way. AFTER that the rest of the harvesting could commence — those that are now dead along with those alive at His return (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

1 Corinthians 15:21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.

Since, Jesus died and was resurrected, we now all have the chance to resurrected. This why it was necessary to offer the wave offering before the rest of harvest could be reaped — He made it possible!

1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.

The opportunity for the first called to be resurrected happens at His return.

Because of this we are to count the time from His qualifying to rule until our qualifying to rule with Him on His throne (as so many Scriptures in Revelation allude to Revelation 3:21; 5:10)

These 50 days are the time from the wave-sheaf to the day of Pentecost (and the wave loaves)

So it seems like we should get this right. All the other holy days are given by specific dates (1st month 15th day; 7th month 1st day; etc). But we have to accurately count to get to Pentecost (which we have to do for no other day) and we need to do it from the correct day.

There are several different ways that people believe that it is to be done and because of this some end up keeping Pentecost on Monday, other days, or Sivan 6th (because the Jews “count” from Abib/Nisan 16th).

Misconceptions

Leviticus 23:10 “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.
Leviticus 23:11 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.

To me the main subject in question here is the wave sheaf and not the Sabbath. To me it is imperative that the wave sheaf fall with in the Days of Unleavened Bread. Unleavened bread symbolizes the sinless body of Christ and for the wave sheaf to fall outside of these holy days, we lose that meaning. Also, we would lose the connection between the Days of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost.

Most of the time this is not a problem like the literal example of Christ’s wave sheaf fulfillment being on a Sunday during the midst of Unleavened Bread. (See the timeline of Christ’s burial)

But every now and then Passover will fall on the weekly Sabbath and this means that the Last Day of Unleavened Bread will fall on a weekly Sabbath. Thus we are faced with the decision of which Sabbath we start the count of the wave sheaf.

If the Sabbath that is counted from is on Passover then it is “technically” not within the week of unleavened bread. If the Sabbath that is counted from is on the last day of the week of unleavened bread then the wave sheaf does not fall within the feast season.

Fortunately we have a good example in the Bible to pull from:

Joshua 5:10 Now the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight on the plains of Jericho.
Joshua 5:11 And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day.

Leviticus 23:14 You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God [wave sheaf and other offerings]it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

It is very interesting in this light that Leviticus 23:10 …’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. [which had to happen before the harvesting and eating of the fruit of the land]

They were given the instructions when they were still a long way from entering the promised land. But when they came into the land, the first thing they had to do before reaping and eating the harvest was to offer the wave sheaf — which happened on the First Day of Unleavened Bread when they came into the promised land!

Conclusion

Scripture that sums up the importance of this day

Romans 5:10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Because Christ has done what He has done — lived a perfect sinless life and overcame Satan — He is now sitting at the right hand of God as our Savior, so that one day, at His return, we too can be accepted before God.