The Day of the Wave Sheaf
On which day was the wave sheaf (Heb. "omer") to be offered? "And he [High Priest] shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow (Heb. mimohorat) after the sabbath..." (Lev. 23:11).
But which sabbath? The Pharisees (and modern Jews) took this word "sabbath" to mean the first day of Unleavened Bread, which was an annual sabbath. The Essenes understood "sabbath" to mean the first weekly sabbath which followed the seven days of Unleavened Bread.
The Sadducees, and later, the Church of God, took the word "sabbath" to mean the weekly sabbath which (in about nine times out of ten) fell during the seven days of Unleavened Bread.
We know those who count Pentecost from the 15th of Nisan are wrong. They always keep Pentecost on a fixed day, the 6th of Sivan. Had God wanted us to observe Pentecost on the fixed date, He would have plainly told us so. All of the other annual sabbaths are plainly, clearly commanded to be observed annually on a set day of the sacred calendar.
We also know the Essenes were wrong in the way they counted the fifty days to Pentecost — by counting from the first Sunday following the weekly sabbath after the days of Unleavened Bread.
Here, then, is the crucial question: how should we count the days to Pentecost? From the Sunday during the days of Unleavened Bread? Or, should Pentecost be counted from the Sunday immediately following the weekly sabbath which must occur during the days of Unleavened Bread? In other words, is it imperative that the weekly "SABBATH" fall during the days of Unleavened Bread? Or is it essential that the SUNDAY following that particular weekly "sabbath" must fall within Unleavened Bread?
These are more crucial questions than might appear at first; for in those years where the last day of Unleavened Bread also happens to fall on a weekly sabbath (producing a "double sabbath"), the offering of the wave sheaf is made to fall after, outside the days of Unleavened Bread. This is, indeed, what is happening this year. This situation will occur three more times during this century: 1977, 1981 and 1994.
Christ Offered up During Unleavened Bread
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong mentioned in a conference (attended by Messrs. GTA, DLA, HLH, AAF, FLB, RFM and Dr. Kuhn — 31 January 1974) that he thought it was imperative that the wave sheaf be offered during the days of Unleavened Bread — since Jesus Christ (the ante-type) was offered up to the Father on a Sunday during those days.
In 31 A.D. Christ was crucified on the daylight part of the 14th of Nisan. This was on a Wednesday. He was resurrected at the end of the sabbath ("the third day") and was offered to the Father as the first "wave sheaf" on a Sunday during the days of Unleavened Bread (John 20:37; Matt. 28:9; Lev. 23:14).
It APPEARS that the "omer" must be offered on the Sunday during the days of Unleavened Bread.
But, according to the calendar which we have already sent out for 1974, the 'wave sheaf" (Heb. omer) is thrown outside the days of Unleavened Bread: and this appears to be unbiblical.
Is it not therefore imperative that this matter be discussed thoroughly by Mr. Armstrong and the top ministers here at Headquarters? We need to make certain we are following the Bible instructions in this matter.
Any Bible Proof?
Again, we need to ask: Is there any scriptural evidence to show us whether it is the weekly sabbath which must occur during the days of Unleavened Bread, or whether it is the Sunday ("morrow after the sabbath") which must always fall within that seven day period?
It appears that the book of Joshua gives us the answer to this important question: Notice (from the Jewish translation) the wording of Joshua 5:13, 12: "And they [Israel] did eat of the PRODUCE of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes and parched corn [grain], in the selfsame day. And the manna ceased on the morrow, after they had eaten of the PRODUCE of the land: neither had the children of Israel manna any more: but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year."
The King James Authorized Version and Young's Literal Translation of the Bible use the words "old corn" in Joshua 5:11, 12; but at least a dozen other English translations render it as "produce." Still others render it as just "corn," "new corn," "grain," "wheat," "oats," "fruit," or "frumenty."
When these verses are carefully compared with other verses in the book of Joshua they appear to prove that the omer had to have been offered on the day after the Passover, the 15th of Nisan, which would have been (as always) on a Sunday! This would mean that the 14th, the Passover day, would have been on a weekly sabbath that year; for the omer had to be offered "on the morrow after the (weekly) sabbath."
Both the weekly sabbath and the Sunday following it, according to today's sacred calendar, fall within the days of Unleavened Bread in approximately nine out of ten years.
But about every tenth year, when the weekly sabbath coincides with the last day of Unleavened Bread, this causes the wave sheaf Sunday to fall after those days — unless in those years where there is a "double sabbath," the omer is to be offered on the morrow after the weekly sabbath which immediately pecedes the days of Unleavened Bread. This would still keep the "wave sheaf" within the Days of Unleavened Bread.
A careful study of the first six chapters of Joshua appear to make it clear that the children of Israel did in fact not eat of the "old corn" but instead ate of the "produce" or "new corn" (probably barley) of the land of Canaan on the first day of Unleavened Bread in the very year in which they entered the Promised Land.
Here are a few facts which must be borne in mind: 1) The Israelites had been subsisting on "manna" up until the very day on which they first ate of the "produce" of Canaan (Josh. 5:12). They had not been eating any kind of "corn" or "grain" for forty years.
2) They entered the Promised Land on the "tenth day" of Nisan — just a few days before they were to celebrate their first Passover in the Land of Promise (Josh. 4:19).
3) All of the males (except a very few of the ancients) were circumcised either later on the 10th of Nisan, or on the next day (Joshua 5:1-8). And it would have been three or four days before these men would have been healed so they could move about (either to do battle or to procure food). On the "third day" after being circumcised the men would have been painfully "sore" (Gen. 34:25).
It is, therefore, most unlikely that the Israelitish men would have made any forays into the land of Canaan to procure "corn" for food. And we are expressly told: "And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole" (Josh. 5:8).
This indicates that the men of Israel did not in fact go out and procure grain between the 10th and 14th of Nisan. had no need for "corn" at this time — since manna from heaven was still a daily occurrence (Josh. 5:12).
4) Furthermore, it appears certain that the Canaanites in the vicinity of Gilgal-Jericho would have gathered any grains which they had already harvested into the city of Jericho; for it is certain that they were terrified of the coming invasion by these people of God. "Your terror is fallen upon us," said Rahab (Josh. 2:9). And we are told that "Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in" (Josh. 5:l).
Also consider these facts: This was the very time of the harvest in Palestine, especially in the Jericho area (Josh, 3:15; 4:18).
And we must remember that God has expressly forbidden the Israelites to partake of the grain (produce) of Canaan until after the day of the offering of the wave sheaf: "When ye become into the land which I give unto you..." (Lev. 23:10).
He sternly commanded them: "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" (Lev. 23:14).
Since the children of Israel did eat of the produce (grain) of the land on the day after the Passover (the 15th of Nisan) and since they could not have eaten of the grain until after they had offered up the omer — they must have, therefore, offered the wave sheaf on the morning of the 15th which would have been on a Sunday.
This, in turn, would mean that the Passover day (the 14th of Nisan) was a weekly sabbath; and this would show that in those years when the last day of Unleavened Bread coincided with the weekly sabbath, God directed the priests to count Pentecost from the Sunday following the weekly sabbath which immediately preceded the days of Unleavened Bread. Thereby the wave sheaf would always fall within the days of Unleavened Bread.
Must the Wave Sheaf Sunday Fall During Unleavened Bread?
How should Pentecost be counted? From the Sunday during the days of Unleavened Bread? Or, from the Sunday immediately following the weekly sabbath which must occur during the days of Unleavened Bread? Is it imperative that the pre-wave-sheaf weekly sabbath fall during Unleavened Bread? Or is it mandatory that the Sunday (the "morrow after the sabbath") following that particular weekly "sabbath" must fall within the days of Unleavened Bread?
We know that God's annual feasts picture step by step the complete master plan by which God is working out the salvation of mankind. Furthermore, the annual festivals picture in a chronological manner that plan. 1
Notice that all of the festivals of God picture in perfect chronological order the step-by-step plan by which God will offer salvation to all mankind. This we know.
But few realize that the "wave sheaf" which was offered during the days of Unleavened Bread also pictures an important event in that plan.
So where does the "wave sheaf" fit into this plan of God? What does the annual offering up of the wave sheaf during the days of Unleavened Bread picture in that Plan? It is well known that the "wave sheaf" was always offered
11) The Passover pictures the sacrifice of Christ — sacrificed for all humanity. on a Sunday within the Unleavened Bread season. It is also clear that Christ, the human wave sheaf of God, was offered up to the Father, and accepted by him on the SUNDAY of the Unleavened Bread period during the week of Christ's crucifixion.
2) The days of Unleavened Bread picture putting sin completely out of the lives of the children of God.
3) Pentecost (or the Feast of Firstfruits) depicts the coming of the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit and calling out and "ripening" of the first harvest of souls during the New Testament era.
4) The Festival of Trumpets pictures the second coming of Jesus Christ at the 7th and last trump. The Day of Atonement pictures the time when the sins of the world figuratively will be placed on the Devil, when he will be bound and banished from the presence of mankind.
6) The Feast of Tabernacles pictures the great harvest of souls during the Minennial-day rule of Christ and the saints on this earth.
7) And the Last Great Day of the Feast, the 8th day, depicts the Great White Throne Judgment of God (not necessarily 100 years long) — when all who have died without having had their chance will be raised to receive an opportunity for salvation.
But, some think the wave sheaf did not always necessarily have to be offered during the days of Unleavened Bread. According to some of them, the wave sheaf Sunday does not necessarily need to fall during the days of Unleavened Bread. They, however, think it is vital that the weekly sabbath which precedes the wave sheaf Sunday should fall during Unleavened Bread.
Is it imperative that the wave sheaf always falls during the days of Unleavened Bread?
The Passover pictures the very first step in the plan of God — the sacrificing of Jesus Christ as the Passover sacrifice for all mankind.
But what occurs next in God's plan? The very next important event in that plan is the ascending to Heaven, and the joyful acceptance by the Father of that Paschal sacrifice for humanity. And that event had to occur on the day of the offering of the wave sheaf. Before anyone could be saved, Jesus Christ not only had to be sacrificed, but he had to be ACCEPTED by the Father as that substitutionary sacrifice for all mankind.
This year the weekly sabbath during the days of Unleavened Bread falls on the last day of the feast, producing a double sabbath. If that particular sabbath is the "sabbath" mentioned in Leviticus 23:15, then this will cause the offering up of the wave sheaf to occur on the day after the feast of Unleavened Bread. This means that the offering of the wave sheaf will occur totally outside the days of Unleavened Bread, And by so doing we completely destroy the chronological sequence of events picturing the plan of God.
This would mean that we first have the Passover (picturing the sacrifice of Christ), then we have Christians putting sin completely out of their lives (pictured by Unleavened- Bread) before the Lamb of God has been accepted by the Father. In other words we have: 1) the Passover (sacrifice of Christ), 2) the Christian putting sin completely out of his life, and 3) then comes the acceptance of Christ by the Father as the perfect sacrifice for mankind.
What is wrong with this three step sequence of events? Should not the wave sheaf come in the middle — between the Passover and the termination of the days of Unleavened Bread as follows?
1) The Passover, 2) the acceptance by the Father of that perfect sacrifice and 3) then the believer putting sin completely out of his life, by accepting that sacrifice which the Father has first accepted in payment for the sins of all mankind.
A final point. Mr. Ted Armstrong has pointed out that since a Wave Sheaf Offering was strictly commanded (Lev. 23:ll-14) before Israel could eat any kind of grain or bread,2 and since Joshua was leading Israel in righteousness (meditating on the Law, Joshua 1:7-9, seeing the Captain of the Host, Joshua 5:13-15, obeying in all points such as circumcision and Passover, plus needing God in the great conquest ahead), it is unthinkable that they would have ignored the wave sheaf command and thus have incurred sin! When the manna gave its double portion on Friday, Nisan 13, and then did not appear on Sabbath the 14th (usual) and then did not appear on the 15th (unusual), the Israelites were thrust necessarily upon the harvest of the land.3
Putting these points all together, it appears that the wave sheaf must always have been offered during the days of Unleavened Bread — and not after that period.
"Bread...parched grain...green ears are the three forms in which grain was commonly eaten, and the expression is equivalent to forbidding its use in any form whatever before the waving of the sheaf of firstfruits." Gardiner in Lange's Commentary, Lev. p. 175, 1960 ed.
3 The expression "on the morrow" can be taken either of two ways. The first way, there are 3 days involved: a whole day for Passover, a whole day for the Wave Sheaf and eating the new harvest (15th), and another whole day on which manna ceases (16th). This explanation would mean that manna fell for the last time on Sunday — just one day of that week.
The second explanation is more logical and treats the Hebrew more accurately. Only two days are involved in it, and the second "on the morrow" (Josh. 5:12) would mean the same day as the first "morrow" — the 15th. There is a day for Passover (Sabbath) and a day (Sunday) on which there was no manna — it "failed to appear" (Heb. rested/ceased/completed) "IN (during) their eating;" not as the JPS, "after they had eaten," which incorrectly implies a third day — but on which the wave sheaf was offered and Israel ate from the harvest. So manna fell the last time on Friday, and the usual Friday double portion carried through sabbath. On Sunday there was no manna; so a wave sheaf had to be offered and produce had to be harvested.