Book: The Appointed Times of Jesus the Messiah
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How the Wave Sheaf Offering Pictures
Jesus’ Acceptance as the First of the Firstfruits

The scriptural records and the computations of the Calculated Hebrew Calendar (CHC) prove conclusively that “the appointed time” of Jesus’ resurrection occurred as the sun was setting toward the end of the weekly Sabbath. Although the Gospel accounts do not give specific details, we can piece together what Jesus must have done from the time He was resurrected until He ascended into heaven the following morning to be accepted by God the Father as the true, premier “wave sheaf offering.” As we will see, Jesus’ ascension to heaven was for the specific purpose of being accepted by the Father as the “first of the firstfruits”—a crucial “appointed time” in the role of the Messiah.

The account in the Gospel of John gives us an understanding of what Jesus did first when He came back to life in the tomb: “Then Simon Peter came following him, and he went into the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin that had been on His head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself” (John 20:6-7). This shows that when Jesus came back to life, He rose straight out of the burial wrappings without disturbing them. When Peter entered the tomb, he saw Jesus’ burial wrappings still in the form of His body. This was absolute proof that Jesus had risen from the dead, and that no one had taken His body (if someone had taken away His body, it would still have been wrapped with the linen burial cloths).

After rising out of the burial wrappings, Jesus took off the napkin that covered His head and neatly folded it and placed it close by, separate from the other burial cloths. This was another proof that He had been resurrected. If anyone had taken His body, the napkin would have either remained on His head or fallen to the ground. It would not have been folded and placed neatly by itself. The apostle John, who was with Peter, saw these things and believed (verse 8).

Upon folding the napkin, Jesus undoubtedly offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God the Father for raising Him back to life. Perhaps Jesus thought of the prophecy of His resurrection in Psalm 16: “The LORD is the portion of My inheritance and of My cup; You shall uphold My lot. The lines have fallen to Me in pleasant places; yea, I have a beautiful inheritance…. Therefore My heart is glad, and My glory rejoices; My flesh also shall rest in hope, for You will not abandon My soul to the grave; neither will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will make known to Me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy. At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (verses 5-6, 9-11).

After offering His prayer of thanksgiving, Jesus left the tomb. In fact, it is certain that He left almost immediately after He was resurrected. Remember, Jesus had said that “the Son of man shall be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.” If He had remained in the tomb for any length of time after His resurrection, He would have been in the heart of the earth for more than three days and three nights.

When Jesus was resurrected from the dead, He was once again a Spirit Being and had the ability to pass through matter. Therefore, He did not need to have the stone removed from the entrance of the tomb in order to leave. He simply walked through the stone and left. Luke records that approximately twenty-four hours after His resurrection, Jesus suddenly appeared in a closed room where the disciples were assembled. This took place late on the first day of the week, after He had walked with two of the disciples to the village of Emmaus: “And they [the two disciples] rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and those with them assembled together, saying, ‘In truth, the Lord has risen! And He has appeared to Simon.’ Then they related the things that had happened to them on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of the bread. Now as they were telling these things, Jesus Himself stood intheir midst and said to them, ‘Peace be to you’ ”(Luke 24:33-36).

The apostle John also wrote of Jesus’ sudden appearance: “Afterwards, as evening was drawing near that day, the first day of the weeks, and the doors were shut where the disciples had assembled for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be to you.’ And after saying this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples rejoiced, because they had seen the Lord” (John 20:19-20).

Where did Jesus go after He left the tomb? The Scriptures do not specify. However, it is probable that He went to a place on the Mount of Olives. Luke records that Jesus was accustomed to going there—where He had a special place of prayer. On the Passover night, after Jesus instituted the New Covenant ceremony, He and the disciples had gone to the Mount of Olives: “Then He left the house and went, as He was accustomed, to the Mount of Olives; and His disciples also followed Him. And when He arrived at the place, He said to them, ‘Pray that you do not enter into temptation.’ And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw; and falling to His knees, He prayed” (Luke 22:39-41).

In his account, Matthew identifies the place of prayer as Gethsemane: “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, ‘Sit here, while I go onward and pray’ ” (Matt. 26:36). This is the place where Jesus prayed for nearly three hours before He was arrested (verses 37-44).

Since Jesus did not ascend to the Father until the morning after His resurrection, it is likely He went to the Mount of Olives to His special place of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Once there, Jesus would have offered up prayers of praise and thanksgiving to God the Father during the entire night for having raised Him from the dead. We are able get a glimpse of what Jesus might have prayed from the prophecies in the book of Psalms that foretold Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Jesus Christ had unwavering faith that God the Father would raise Him from the dead. Psalm 108 verifies Jesus’ faith for that deliverance: “O God, My heart is fixed; I will sing and I will give praise, even with My glory. Awake, harp and lyre; I will awake early. I will praise You, O LORD, among the people; and I will sing praises to You among the nations, for Your mercy is great above the heavens; and Your truth reaches unto the clouds.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Your glory above all the earth, so that Your beloved [Jesus Christ, the Father’s beloved Son] may be delivered [from the power of death]; save with Your right hand, and answer Me. God has spoken in His holiness [to raise Jesus from the dead]: “I will rejoice…” (Psa. 108:1-7).

Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews testifies that while Jesus was still in the flesh He cried out to the Father to save Him from death: “Who, in the days of His flesh, offered up both prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears to Him Who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because He feared God. Although He was a Son, yet He learned obedience from the things that He suffered; and having been perfected, He became the Author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him…” (Heb. 5:7-9). During His life in the flesh, Jesus prayed fervently to the Father for strength to resist temptation. Because He prayed so fervently before He died, He must have been equally fervent in thanking and praising the Father for having raised Him from the dead.

We know that the words of Psalm 22 were uttered by Jesus as He was dying on the cross. The following psalm, Psalm 23, has far more meaning when viewed in the context of His crucifixion and resurrection. Could He not also have uttered these words in His prayers to God the Father after He was resurrected?

“The LORD is My Shepherd; I shall not want [lack any thing]. He makes Me to lie down in green pastures; He leads Me beside the still waters. He restores My soul [by the resurrection]; He leads Me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death [the crucifixion], I will fear no evil, for You are with Me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort Me. You prepare a table for Me in the presence of My enemies. You anoint My head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow Me all the days of My life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever [into the ages of eternity].”

The Morning After Jesus’ Resurrection

The Gospel accounts show that as the sun was rising, early in the morning on the first day of the week, the women came bringing spices to anoint Jesus’ body. Although Mary Magdalene left home while it was still dark, by the time she arrived at the tomb it was light enough for her to see that the stone had been removed (John 20:1). Apparently, just before she and the other women arrived, an angel had opened the tomb. If it had been opened for any length of time before the women arrived, the soldiers would not have been standing guard. “And in the morning suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled away the stone from the door, and sat upon it. Now his appearance was as lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him, those who were keeping guard trembled, and became as dead men” (Matt. 28:2-4).

As the women were approaching the tomb, they were wondering who would roll away the huge stone from the entrance of the tomb in order for them to anoint Jesus’ body with the spices. But when they arrived, they saw that the stone had already been removed and the tomb was open. Mark gives this account: “And very early on the first day of the weeks, at the rising of the sun, they were coming to the tomb; and they were asking themselves, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ For it was a massive stone. But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away. And after entering the tomb, they saw a young man [the angel who had rolled away the stone] sitting on the right, clothed in a white robe; and they were very frightened. But he said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. You are seeking Jesus the Nazarene, Who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here. Look, there is the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He goes before you into Galilee; there you shall see Him, as He said to you.’ And they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them; and they did not say anything to anyone because they were afraid” (Mark 16:2- 8).

The Gospel account is emphatic! The angel told the women, “He is risen. He is not here.” Jesus was not in the tomb! Jesus was not there because He had been resurrected from the dead as the weekly Sabbath ended over twelve hours earlier. He did not need the stone to be rolled away to leave the tomb, because He had the power to pass through matter. However, it was obligatory for the stone to be removed in order for the women to see He was not there. They found the tomb empty except for the grave cloths that had been wound around His body.

When the other women left to tell the disciples, Mary Magdalene ran to tell Peter and John:

“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 from the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.’ As a result, Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. Now the two ran together, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and he stooped down and saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not enter.

“Then Simon Peter came following him, and he went into the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin that had been on His head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had come to the tomb first, also went in and saw these things; and he believed. For they did not yet understand the scripture which decreed that He must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their home” (John 20:2-10).

When Peter and John left, Mary Magdalene remained at the tomb because she thought that “they had taken away the Lord,” and she did not know where He was. “But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping; and as she wept, she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white who were sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been laid. And 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 20:11-13).

Aware of Mary’s dedication and unfailing love, Jesus returned to the tomb and appeared to her:

“And after saying these things, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ Thinking that He was the gardener, she said to Him, ‘Sir, if you have carried Him off, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ Turning around, she said to Him, ‘Rabboni’; that is to say, ‘Teacher.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Do not touch Me, because I have not yet ascended to My Father. But go to My brethren and tell them that I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’ Mary Magdalene came to the disciples, bringing word that she had seen the Lord, and that He had said these things to her” (verses 14-18).

Correcting the Misinterpretation of Mark 16:9

In the King James Version, Mark 16:9 reads as follows: “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene….” This translation incorrectly makes it appear that Jesus was resurrected early in the morning on the first day of the week. However, the Gospel accounts unquestionably show that Jesus was raised at the close of the weekly Sabbath, approximately 12 hours before the women came to the tomb. The erroneous impression that the KJV translation gives can be corrected simply by the addition of a comma in the proper place: “Now when Jesus was risen, early the first day of the week He appeared….” A more accurate translation, with the comma, clears up any misunderstanding: “Now after Jesus had risen, early the first day of the week He appeared first to Mary Magdalene….” With the proper placement of the comma, this verse harmonizes with the rest of the scriptural facts as found in the other Gospel accounts.

Jesus Fulfilled the Wave Sheaf Offering

In John’s Gospel we find this post-resurrection account: “Jesus said to her [Mary Magdalene], ‘Do not touch Me, because I have not yet ascended to My Father. But go to My brethren and tell them that I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God’ ” (John 20:17).

When Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, He did not allow her to touch Him because He had not yet ascended to God the Father. The words that He spoke to her show that He was about to ascend. We can conclude that He ascended to the Father soon after she left to tell the disciples. When Jesus ascended, He fulfilled a very special Temple ceremony that God had commanded for this day. This ceremony was the presentation of the wave sheaf offering of the first of the firstfruits of the grain harvest, which was performed at approximately 9 AM in the morning, after the morning burnt offering had been made. It was at this “appointed time” that Jesus, the resurrected Messiah, ascended to God the Father.

The wave sheaf was offered each year on the first day of the week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As the sacrifice of the Passover lamb was a fore-type of the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, so the offering of the wave sheaf was a fore-type of Jesus’ ascension to the Father. This day was a special day, but not a holy day. At the Temple, on the first day of the week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the priest would perform the wave sheaf ritual. We find God’s command for the wave sheaf offering in the book of Leviticus: “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, “When you have come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap the harvest of it, then you shall bring the premier sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD to be accepted for you. On the next day after the [weekly] Sabbath [the first day of the week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread] the priest shall wave it” ’ ” (Lev. 23:9-11).

Messianic Rabbi Alfred Edersheim records the details of the harvesting of the wave sheaf in his book The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah:

“This Passover-sheaf was reaped in public the evening before it was offered, and it was to witness this ceremony that the crowd had gathered around the elders. Already on the 14th [of] Nisan the spot whence the first sheaf was to be reaped had been marked out, by tying together in bundles, while still standing, the barley that was to be cut down, according to custom, in the sheltered Ashes-Valley across Kidron. When the time for cutting the sheaf had arrived—that is, on the evening of the 15th [of] Nisan [by Pharisaic reckoning], even though it were a Sabbath [the journey to harvest was undertaken before the end of the Sabbath, but was within the prescribed traditional “Sabbath day’s journey”], just as the sun went down, three men, each with a sickle and basket, set to work.

“Clearly to bring out what was distinctive in the ceremony, they first asked of the bystanders three times each of these questions: ‘HAS THE SUN GONE DOWN?’ ‘With this sickle?’ ‘Into this basket?’ ‘On this Sabbath? (or first Passover- day)’—and lastly, ‘Shall I reap?’ Having each time been answered in the affirmative, they cut down barley to the amount of one ephah, or about three pecks and three pints of our English measure” (The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, p. 619).

There was a dispute between the Pharisees and the Sadducees as to which Sabbath this verse is describing. The Pharisees applied this command to the first holy day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was the 15th day of the first month. In their view, the “morrow after the Sabbath”—the day for harvesting the wave sheaf—was always the 16th of Nisan. On the other hand, the Sadducees, who were in charge of the Temple during the days of Christ, understood that God’s command in Leviticus 23:11 was referring to the weekly Sabbath which occurred in conjunction with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In years when the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread fell on the weekly Sabbath, both the Sadducees and the Pharisees would observe the 16th of Nisan as the day for the wave sheaf offering. Although the Sadducees and the Pharisees generally disagreed over the correct day for the wave sheaf offering, there was never any question about the correct time of the day for harvesting it.

After it was cut, the bundled sheaf was brought to the Temple and placed alongside the altar of burnt offering. Then, in the morning, after the daily burnt offering of a lamb, the priest would “wave” or elevate the sheaf to be accepted of the Lord. This was a special ceremonial sheaf. In The Shocken Bible, Volume I, The Five Books of Moses, Everett Fox translates Leviticus 23:10-11 in this manner: “Speak to the children of Israel and say to them; When you enter the land that I am giving you, and you harvest its harvest, you are to bring the premier sheaf of your harvest to the priest. He is to elevate the sheaf before the presence of YHWH for acceptance for you; on the morrow of the Sabbath the priest shall elevate it.”

Especially note the key words in God’s instructions for the wave sheaf offering: “for acceptance for you,” meaning “on your behalf.” When Jesus Christ ascended to the Father on the wave sheaf day, as the first of the firstfruits, His sacrifice for our sins was accepted by the Father on our behalf. Jesus, as the Lamb of God, was accepted as the sin offering not only for our sins but for the sins of all mankind—as “the lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Jesus fulfilled the wave sheaf offering as the first of the firstfruits to be resurrected from the dead. The premier sheaf symbolized the risen Christ. When the priest elevated the sheaf to be accepted by the Lord, it represented Jesus Christ ascending to the Father to be accepted as the first of the firstfruits. The apostle Paul makes it clear that this premier sheaf of the firstfruits was a type of Jesus Christ after He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven to present Himself to God the Father: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead; He has become the firstfruit of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruit; then, those who are Christ’s at His coming” (I Cor. 15:20-23).

Because Jesus is the first of the many who will be resurrected from the dead as immortal children of God, He is also called “the firstborn from among the dead,” as Paul writes to the Colossians: “Because by Him were all things created, the things in heaven and the things on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether they be thrones, or lordships, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him. And He is before all, and by Him all things subsist. And He is the Head of the body, the church; Who is the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, so that in all things He Himself might hold the preeminence” (Col. 1:16-18).

In his epistle to the Romans, Paul makes it clear that many will be resurrected from the grave and be added to the Family of God as immortal, spirit-born brethren of Christ: “Because those whom He did foreknow, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His own Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29). Paul also tells the Corinthians that those who die in the faith will be resurrected at His coming. The resurrection of the saints of God to immortality and glory will mark the end of the firstfruits harvest, just as the resurrection of Jesus signaled its beginning. As He ascended to heaven in the clouds, so He will return, and all the transformed saints will rise into the air to meet Him. The entrance of the saints into the Family of God has been made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which was accepted by God the Father on the wave sheaf day.

Jesus Christ Accepted by God the Father

The ascension of Jesus to God the Father was an awesome event. Christ had finished the work that the Father had given Him to do. As God manifest in the flesh, He had lived a perfect, sinless life and had died by crucifixion to become the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. At the appointed time, God the Father had raised Jesus back to life, and on the wave sheaf day He was ready to ascend to the throne of God the Father to be accepted as the first of the firstfruits, the firstborn among many brethren, and the perfect sacrifice to propitiate the sins of the world—all in fulfillment of the “appointed times” of the Messiah.

As He was ascending to the Father, Jesus must have been filled with great joy and anticipation. He would see the Father face-to-face for the first time since He had become a pinpoint of life when He divested Himself of His power and glory as God to be born of the virgin Mary. Again, the Psalms help us comprehend some of the thoughts and feelings that Jesus might have experienced as He looked forward to being reunited with the Father: “O God, You are My God, early I will seek You! My soul thirsts for You. My flesh longs for You, as in a dry and thirsty land where no water is, to see Your power and Your glory—as I have seen You in the sanctuary. Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You” (Psa. 63:1-3).

As previously noted, Psalm 23 foreshadowed the prayers of Jesus after He was resurrected from the dead. The psalm to follow, Psalm 24, is in prophetic sequence and depicts Jesus’ ascension to be received of God the Father. When He arrived in heaven, the angels sang and shouted for joy. Perhaps this psalm was sung by the angels as they opened the everlasting doors and announced that the King of glory was entering into the presence of God the Father:

“The earth is the LORD’S, and the fullness of it, the world, and those who dwell in it, for He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to vanity and has not sworn deceitfully [the perfect life of Jesus Christ]. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Lift up your heads, O you gates; and be lifted up, O you everlasting doors; that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle [He was victorious over human nature, sin, Satan the devil and death]. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you everlasting doors; that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory” (Psa. 24:1-5, 7-10).

What a magnificent scene of splendor and glory Jesus would have seen when He entered through the everlasting gates of heaven! Standing on the sea of glass, He would have seen the resplendent glory and awesome majesty of God the Father seated on His throne with the heavenly host round about. The apostle John, the one whom Jesus loved, saw a vision of God’s throne and recorded it in the book of Revelation. What John recorded is what Jesus would have seen when He ascended to the Father.

“After these things I looked, and behold, a door opened in heaven, and the first voice that I heard was as if a trumpet were speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you the things that must take place after these things.’ And immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one was sitting on the throne. And He Who was sitting was in appearance like a jasper stone and a sardius stone: and a rainbow was around the throne, like an emerald in its appearance.

“And around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments; and they had on their heads golden crowns. And proceeding from the throne were lightnings and thunders and voices; and seven lamps of fire, which are the seven Spirits of God, were burning before the throne. And before the throne was a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne and over the throne were four living creatures, full of eyes before and behind; and the first living creature was like a lion, and the second living creature was like a calf, and the third living creature had the face of a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. And each of the four living creatures had six wings respectively; and around and within they were full of eyes; and day and night they ceased not saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was, and Who is, and Who is to come.

“And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanksgiving to Him Who sits on the throne, Who lives into the ages of eternity, the twenty-four elders fall down efore Him Who sits on the throne; and they worship Him Who lives into the ages of eternity, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are You, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power because You did create all things, and for Your will they were created and exist’ ” (Rev. 4:1-11).

This was the splendorous scene that Jesus would have seen as He walked forward in triumph to present Himself to His Father as the perfect sacrifice for sin. He was rightfully the first of the firstfruits and the firstborn from the dead. As He walked on the sea of glass toward the Father sitting on His throne, the angels, the twenty-four elders, and God the Father would see on His body the wounds of the lashes that He had received when He was beaten with the cat-of-nine-tails which tore open His flesh. They would see the wounds in His hands and feet where the soldiers had brutally nailed Him to the cross. When the Father’s beloved Son reached Him, They must have opened their arms and embraced each other in profound love and shed tears of great joy. Thus Jesus, the Lamb of God, was accepted by God the Father on the wave sheaf day—an “appointed time” of the Messiah.

After He was accepted of the Father, Jesus was selected to open the seven seals. He and He alone was qualified, because He had overcome all. The apostle John saw this tremendous scene in the vision and recorded it:

“And in the right hand of Him Who sits on the throne I saw a book, written within and on the back, which had been sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the book and to loose its seals?’ But no one in heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth was able to open the book, or to look inside it. And I [John] was weeping greatly because no one was found worthy to open and to read the book, or to look into it.

“Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion Who is of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome to open the book, and to loose its seven seals.’ Then I saw, and behold, before the throne and the four living creatures, and before the elders, was standing a Lamb as having been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God that are sent into all the earth; and He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him Who sits on the throne.

“And when He took the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having harps and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

Worthy are You to take the book, and to open its seals because You were slain, and did redeem us to God by Your own blood, out of every tribe and language and people and nation, and did make us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth.’

And I saw, and I heard the voices of many angels around the throne, and the voices of the living creatures and the elders, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory and blessing.And every creature that is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and those that are on the sea, and all the things in them, I heard saying, To Him Who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing, and honor, and glory, and sovereignty into the ages of eternity.And the four living creatures said, Amen.’ And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him Who lives into the ages of eternity” (Rev. 5:1-12).

This is the glory and majesty that Jesus Christ received when He was accepted by God the Father as the Savior and Redeemer of mankind on the wave sheaf day. Jesus had overcome sin in the flesh and gained complete victory over death and Satan the devil, opening the way for the redemption and salvation of all mankind through faith in Him. Now He lives in eternal glory, as the first of many sons of God who will be resurrected at His second coming to share His eternal glory and immortality. Those who are Jesus Christ’s are now being perfected through the love, grace and power of God the Father. They will be granted the spiritual existence that the Father and the Son have. They will be the sons and daughters of God the Father, and the brethren of Jesus Christ. Jesus shared human existence with mankind in order to become the sin offering for the world so that all who believe in Him may ultimately share His eternal existence and glory in the Family of God throughout the ages of eternity.

The Feast of the “Firstfruits” is Key

The agricultural cycle of ancient Israel revolved around two harvests, one in the spring and the other in the fall. As we have seen, the wave sheaf offering was a ceremony tied to the spring harvest. The children of Israel were forbidden to begin harvesting the spring grain crop of barley and wheat until this special offering had taken place (Lev. 23:10-11, 14). In a sense, this unusual ceremony served to inaugurate the spring harvest season. Once the offering of the premier sheaf was “accepted” by God, the grain harvest would immediately begin.

The timing of this offering was also important, as it initiated a 50- day count to the next annual high day, the feast of firstfruits (Pentecost). As noted earlier, the offering is always “waved” on the first day of the week— “the morrow after the [weekly] Sabbath” (KJV). Thus commenced a count of seven complete weeks—Sunday through the Sabbath—for a total of 49 days. The next day, the 50th day, was then celebrated as an annual feast or high day—known today as Pentecost.

Continuing in Leviticus 23: “And you shall count to you beginning with the next day after the [weekly] Sabbath [a Sunday], beginning with the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete [49 days]. Even unto the day after the seventh Sabbath you shall number fifty days…” (verses 15-16).

The significance of the wave sheaf offering—along with its connection to Pentecost—is of primary importance for Christians today. Jesus’ acceptance by the Father as the “first of the firstfruits” opened the way for the firstfruits—the Church—to receive salvation. Moreover, a second harvest— which was concluded and celebrated in the fall of the year—pictures the saving work of Christ on behalf of the remainder of mankind, ultimately bringing billions into the family of God.

After “Firstfruits”—the Greater Fall “Harvest”

The apostle Paul writes that many of the physical events occurring in the history of Israel were designed to be types of the spiritual (I Cor. 10:11; the Greek tupos means type or pattern). Accordingly, the spring and fall harvests of ancient Israel were types of the spiritual “harvesting” of humans, wherein they are granted eternal life. Contrary to the Protestant idea that God is now trying to “save” all of mankind, the Scriptures actually teach that God’s plan of salvation occurs in stages which distinctly follow the pattern of the biblical holy days. Thus, the holy days are, in effect, God’s prophetic “appointed times.”

The spring harvest, followed by the fall harvest, completed the annual harvest cycle. Notice Exodus 23:16: “Also [observe] the [spring] Feast of the Harvest of the Firstfruits of your labors, which you have sown in the field. And [later, in the fall, observe] the Feast of Ingathering [Tabernacles], in the end of the year, when you have gathered in your labors out of the field.” Anciently, this “Feast of Firstfruits” (later known as Pentecost, meaning to “count fifty”) was held in celebration of the spring harvest. But notice that the spring harvest was only the firstfruits—that which is harvested first in sequence. If there are first fruits, then there must be additional fruit to be harvested. This is where the second harvest festival comes into play—the Feast of Ingathering, also called the Feast of Tabernacles. This feast was held in celebration of the completion of the fall harvest—when all remaining fruit had been gathered in.

Again, God is not now trying to “save” all of mankind. He has a plan, which involves offering salvation only to a select few first, ahead of the masses of humanity. This is what James was referring to in the following passage: “According to His own will, He begat us by the Word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all His created beings” (James 1:18). The harvest of the firstfuits—which takes place in the first resurrection— includes all the faithful patriarchs from Abel until Jesus’ first coming, as well as all who are called, converted and faithful to the end of their lives up to His second coming. Those saints who are alive “unto the coming of the Lord” will be changed from flesh to spirit in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (I Cor. 15:51-55; I Thess. 4:15-17). Finally, the firstfruits harvest includes those who are saved out of the Great Tribulation—the 144,000 and “innumerable multitude” of Revelation seven.

The Festival of Firstfruits, or Pentecost, pictures this key part of God’s plan—the calling of the elect, the Church of God, the bride of Christ to salvation—ahead of the remainder of mankind. The same feast was observed in the New Testament—then called Pentecost. It was most fitting that the Holy Spirit was given on Pentecost, as it is through God’s Spirit that the firstfruits are given the power to become deeply converted, to grow and overcome—all in preparation for their collective marriage to Christ at His second coming.

Again, it is through the wave sheaf offering that the “count” to Pentecost begins—and Pentecost ultimately pictures the salvation of the firstfruits, the Church. Anciently, the premier sheaf of grain had to be accepted by God before any other grain could be harvested. All of this points to Jesus Christ as the first—the forerunner—of the firstfruits. Only when Jesus had been raised to life and subsequently presented before God the Father in heaven for His acceptance could salvation even begin to be offered to man. As Paul brings out, “now Christ has been raised from the dead; He has become the firstfruit of those who have fallen asleep.” Others will be likewise raised, “but each in his own order: Christ the firstfruit; then, those who are Christ’s at His coming” (I Cor. 15:20, 23).

But the granting of salvation to the firstfruits is only the beginning. God has promised to Abraham that his seed would become innumerable (Gen. 13:16; 15:5: 16:10)—pointing to the time when the entire human family will become heirs of the promises of the New Covenant—when the Kingdom of God will have grown until it fills the earth (Matt. 13:33; Rev. 21:3). Those of the firstfruits harvest will be the kings, priests, leaders and teachers used under Christ to bring salvation to the masses in the age to come (Rev. 5:10; 20:6).

The fall Feast of Ingathering (Feast of Tabernacles), pictures this time of the harvesting of all mankind into the Kingdom of God—all of which is initiated and made possible by the saving work of the Messiah, the premier Wave Sheaf Offering of God the Father, offered at the “appointed time.”