THE LIFT OFFERING AND PASSOVER   

The Lift Offering during the Festival of Unleavened Bread, which has come to be known as the Wave Sheaf Offering, is extremely important in the prophetic rituals and sacrifices that pertain to Jesus as the atonement for the sins of humanity, because Jesus' ascension to the Father to be accepted as the first-fruits of humanity to obtain salvation fulfilled the  prophetic meaning of offering the first-fruits of the first grain harvest to God (Jn.20:17).

Lev.23:10-11 NIV

"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. 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 [mi-mohorat ha-shabbat]."

The following is a more literal translation of this scripture:

"Speak to the sons of Israel, and you will say to them, When you come to the land that I am giving you, and you will harvest its harvest, then you will bring the first omer of your harvest to the priest. And he will lift the omer before 'He Is' for your goodwill, on the morning after the Sabbath the priest will lift it."

This study will show that just as Jesus rose from the dead the third day according to the scriptures (1.Cor.15:3), a careful analysis of the Lift Offering (i.e., the offering of the first grain of the spring harvest) will reveal that this offering pictured Jesus as the first-fruits of the harvest of humanity to be accepted by God the Father as his spiritual son. (1.Cor.15:20,22).

A DIFFERENCE OF  OPINION

With the knowledge of the difference in vocabulary between the weekly Sabbath and the annual festivals, we can understand the situation involving a difference of  opinion between the Pharisees and Sadducees concerning the instructions for the lift offering of the first fruits of grain.

There is no confusion in the terminology relating to these separate kinds of special days; namely, only the weekly Sabbath can be referred to by the word 'Shabbat' alone. However, the Pharisees interpreted the word Shabbat in Leviticus 23:11 as referring to the first day of Unleavened Bread. In their thinking, the sheaves of grain were to be cut, ground into flour and offered after the first festival day of the year, which would be the 16th of Abib/Nisan.

Although the Sadducees were priests during Christ's lifetime, they were outnumbered by the Pharisees who also had the support of the general population. The opinion of the Pharisees was generally accepted as 'truth' by the people, and the temple authorities were obliged to perform many rituals at the time the Pharisees indicated.  

However, biblical evidence clearly shows that the Sadducees were correct in their interpretation that the Shabbat referred to in Leviticus 23:11 was indeed the weekly Sabbath, not the first festival day of the sacred year.

There are three reasons why the Pharisees were incorrect in their belief that the 16th of Abib/Nisan was the day to observe this offering:

1. The difference in vocabulary between a weekly Sabbath and an annual festival day.

2. The day of this Lift Offering, was the day to begin counting toward Pentecost (see Deut.16:9; Lev.23:15-16). The following weekly Sabbath was the seventh day, which made the seventh Sabbath the forty-ninth day and the next day the 50th day (Pentecost, which means count fifty). This 50th day always fell on the first day of the week—the same day of the week that the counting began.

3. If the Pharisees were correct in their method of counting from the 16th of Nisan, the 50th day would always fall on the 6th of Sivan, which would make counting the days unnecessary.

Why would God give instructions to count toward the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) if it always fell on the same calendar day? Obviously, the Pharisees were wrong, and the counting should start with the day after the weekly Sabbath during the Festival of Unleavened Bread.      

The fact of the matter is that (as the ancient Boethusians and Sadducees observed) this offering was to take place on the first day of the week, after the weekly Sabbath which falls within the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Encyclopedia Britanica 11th Edition, p.889).

Lift Offering

Because it was the Pharisees' opinion that made Temple policy and practice during Christ's lifetime,  the Pharisees' mistake in counting did create a problem because the Pharisees caused  the Lift Offering to be held on the wrong day.

How  did God resolve this error caused by the Pharisees in  order to allow Jesus to fulfill the prophetic symbolism of the Passover and  the lift offering with exact detail and in chronological order?

Any serious student of Bible history knows that the Bible is full of dates on which certain events have occurred and will occur. History records many of these prophetic events occurring exactly as scheduled. It seems to be beyond comprehension that God the Father would allow the most important prophetic event of all time, not to happen exactly as scheduled.

The logical solution to this problem is that the year of Jesus' crucifixion, the 15th of Nisan, fell on a weekly Sabbath. This, in turn, made this Sabbath the first day during the Festival of Unleavened Bread, which is noted by the apostle John (Jn.19:31). The next day after this weekly Sabbath and Festival day was the 16th of Nisan.

In this way, the Pharisees and the Sadducees both were in agreement and held the ritual at the correct time. Thus, the requirements of God overcame the error of the Pharisees and the lifting up of his Son occurred at the lifting up of the grain of the first-fruits of the harvest in the Temple.

After the Lift Offering, all the new grain in the country could be used. People not near Jerusalem who would not know exactly when the offering had occurred were simply permitted  to use the new harvest after noon on the 16th, because the Calendar Court and the priests would never be so lazy as to let the offering take place so late in the day.

Jesus The First-fruit of the Harvest

Jesus' fulfillment of the prophetic symbolism of the Lift Offering is direct Biblical proof of the time of Christ's death and resurrection. This offering also fixes the day of the crucifixion on a Friday—the day before the weekly Sabbath (Jn.19.31).

The evidence of the New Testament shows that Christ rose from the dead sometime during the first day of the week and rose up to meet his Father on that same day (Jn.20:17). It is therefore obvious that this Lift Offering of an omer of the first-fruits of the barley harvest was given on the morning following the end of the weekly Sabbath, and it pictured the resurrection of Christ and his going to heaven to be accepted by his Father as the first of the first-fruits of the harvest of humanity.

It is no wonder that Paul wrote so confidently that the resurrection of Jesus happened on the third day according to the scriptures:

"For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us" (1.Cor.5:7-8).

Paul understood the prophetic sequence of events that Jesus had fulfilled, which began on the 14th with the sacrifice of the lamb (Jesus) and culminated on the 16th with the offering of Jesus as the first-fruits of the harvest.

"But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; after they that are Christ's at his coming" (1.Cor.15:20-23).

Jesus' victory over sin and death was complete; thus, the way for redemption for all who the Father calls to salvation is open. Jesus shared the human experience with mankind in order that humanity would have the opportunity to share in an eternal existence in the Family of God.

Lift Offering Chronology of Events

Wednesday

Jesus' disciples prepare for the first Passover.

After Sundown Thursday

Jesus and his disciples eat the Passover.

About Midnight

Jesus is arrested.

The Elders select and bind the sheaves of grain for the Lift Offering (Nisan 14).

Friday Morning 3:00 PM

Jesus is nailed (bound) to the tree.

Jesus dies

Preparation for the second Day of Passover and the weekly Sabbath.

Prior to sunset Friday

Jesus placed in the tomb.

The rest of the Jews eat the Passover at the start of the Sabbath and the first day of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15).

After Sundown Friday

    

Everyone rests on the Sabbath day and observes the first annual festival day of the sacred year The 7th day of the week.
The Elders cut the sheaves of grain to be used for the Lift Offering (Nisan 16, night). After Sunset at Sabbath's end. Jesus is resurrected at the cutting of the sheaves of grain for the Lift Offering.
The High Priest presents the Lift Offering at the Temple about 9:00 A.M. (Nisan 16, day). Early the first day of the week. Jesus ascends to the Father to be accepted as the First of the harvest of humanity.

By B. L. Cocherell, file b5w38