THE LIFT OFFERING

The  Lift Offering (the Wave  Sheaf Offering)  during the Festival of Unleavened Bread  is  extremely important  to  understand  because  of  its  historical meaning to ancient Israel, and its prophetic meaning  concerning  Jesus Christ and the  two  loaves  of  bread offered on the Feast of Weeks.

The Lift Offering was offered on the morning of the first day  of  the week that came after the first weekly Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread. This offering was an offering of the first fruits of the spring  grain harvest. Moreover, the  day  of the Lift Offering is the  starting  point  from which to calculate the Festival of First Fruits (Pentecost).

This  seemingly obscure ritual pictures Jesus'  resurrection and  his ascension to heaven to be accepted by his Father as  the first of the first fruits of humanity.

The First of the Harvest

This first ripened grain of the spring harvest clearly represents Christ  who was the first human to be transformed into a  son  of God.  The Wave-Sheaf Offering pictures Christ being  cut  loose from the earth and ascending up to be accepted by the Father.

The Offering

Leviticus 23:10-11; 14

"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' [God] for  your goodwill,  on the morning after the Sabbath the priest will  lift it" (vs.10-11 Para.).

Definition of Terms:

"You  must not eat any bread, roasted grain or new  grain,  until the very day you bring this offering to your God. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live" (v14 NIV).

OFFERING INSTRUCTIONS

Most  of the instructions given to the Levitical  Priesthood  that detail how to perform the various rituals, offerings, and  sacrifices are not specified in the scriptures. However, they were given to Moses to give to Aaron or they were directly given to Aaron.  These instructions  were then handed down through the priesthood in  an oral  or  written form, which was not recorded in the  Old  or New Testaments.

Understanding  how  the various offerings  and  sacrifices   were performed is very important when trying to sort out the  meanings of chronological events surrounding the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Therefore, it is necessary to do a detailed review  of  the Lift  Offering  (Wave Sheaf Offering) of the first grain  of  the  spring harvest.

MISHNAH SUMMARY

It is important to know that the day of the Lift Offering was  improperly  reckoned  by  the Pharisees as  the  16th   of Abib/Nisan (the day after the first day of Unleavened Bread), but it should have been after the weekly Sabbath, which is required by the biblical  text (Lev.23:10-11). For  this reason, some information from the Mishnah is useless  but  is provided here only as background information to show the  chronological order of events for the Lift Offering. Also keep in  mind that, when the Sabbath is mentioned, it is referring to the First Day of Unleavened Bread (FDUB), not the weekly Sabbath as assumed in the Mishnah.

Order  Kodashim, Tracttate Mena-chot , Chapter 10, Mishayot 1-6 (Paraphrased):

10:1 On whatever day of the week the day fell,  whether  Sabbath (FDUB)  or  a weekday, the omer was made from  three  sheaves  of grain, and the reaping was carried out by three men with three sickles and three baskets.

10:2 The omer should have come from barley growing near Jerusalem, but if such was not ripe, it could come from anywhere.

10:3 How the omer was made ready:

Messengers of the court went out on the day before the 'good day' (i.e., festival day; therefore, they went out on the day before, which was during the  day  on  the 14th  of the month) and would  bind together  a sufficient  amount  of standing grain so that it  would  be easier to reap.

The  night  before  the offering, just after sunset  and  at  the Sabbath's (FDUB) end, a group of Priests and Elders would  supervise  the cutting of one ephah of grain. The people of the  towns nearby  the chosen field would gather there so that  the  reaping would take place with great ceremony.

When  it had grown dark, a Reaper would ask the people, "Has  the sun set?" The people would reply, "Yes."

Note:

All questions and answers exchanged between the  messengers and the people during this reaping ceremony were repeated a total of three times each.

The Reaper: "This sickle?"

The People: "Yes."

The Reaper:  "This Basket?"

The People: "Yes."

If  the day was a Sabbath, the Reaper would ask, "This  Sabbath?" and the people would answer, "Yes."

The Reaper: "Shall I reap?"

The People: "Reap!"

All  of these questions and answers were spoken because of  those who said the reaping did not take place at the end of the  festival day, namely, the Boethusians and Sadducees.

10:4  The grain was reaped, put in baskets, and brought into  the temple Courts.

The  grain was threshed with reeds and plant stalks (rather  than the usual flails) so it would not be crushed. Then, the grains were put into a (metallic) perforated cylindrical tube, so fire would reach each grain. The  parched  grain was then spread out in the court to  let  the wind blow over it. Then, it was ground in a mill to a course flour. After the grinding process, the  coarse flour was sifted through 13 fine sieves and  out of the sifted flour an omer was taken for the Lift Offering. The  rest of the flour belonged to the priest and could be sold or  eaten  by anyone.

The  priest making the offering took the flour, mixed it with oil,  and poured a handful of incense onto the flour and oil mixture. After this, the priest "waved" (lifted) the  mixture forward, backward, and up and down at  the eastern side of the altar with his hands under it. The  Priest then brought the offering to the southwest corner  of the  altar, scooped up a handful of the mixture, and burned it  on the altar. The rest of the omer was eaten by the priests.

Note: This was not an offering that is actually waved; it was lifted in the fashion of being presented to God for his acceptance (see  Studies in Cultic Theology and Terminology, by Jacob Milgrom, p.133-138).

Moreover, it is not a "sheaf of grain" that is lifted, but an "omer of flour." History also shows that this offering took place at the time of the morning sacrifices (approximately 9 a.m.).

10:5  After the Lift Offering, all the new grain in  the  country could  be  used. People who were not near Jerusalem would  not  know exactly when the offering had occurred; therefore, they were permitted  to use the new harvest after noon on the 16th, because the court would never  let the offering take place so late  in  the day.

Note: Keep in mind that the Pharisees and the Sadducees differed in opinion over which day to perform the Lift Offering. The Pharisees believed that it should always be performed on the 16th, no matter which day of the week the 16th fell, but the Sadducees believed that it should be performed on first day after the weekly Sabbath that fell within the festival of Unleavened Bread. In 30 A.D., there was no conflict because the first day of Unleavened Bread (i.e., the 15th) was also a weekly Sabbath.

The Prophetic Meaning

There are a number of things within this offering and its instructions that are prophetic of  Christ and the Elect of God.

"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"  (Lev.23:10-11 NIV).

Verses 10-11 point to the future advent of the Messiah  when he would become the first of the harvest of humanity and the  events which would surround his death, resurrection, and  ascension to the Father as the perfect sacrifice for humanity.

"You  must not eat any bread, roasted grain or new  grain,  until the very day you bring this offering to your God. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live" (Lev.23:14 NIV).

Verse 14 points to humanity waiting for its salvation  until the  Messiah  (the bread of life) comes and is offered  and accepted  by the Father as the perfect sacrifice for the sins  of humanity. See Jn.20:16-17.

Jesus  is  the first human to become a son of the Father;  he  is also the first of humanity to be resurrected from death to become an  immortal son of God. Jesus is clearly the first-fruit  of  the Father's harvest of humanity.

Note:

No one could precede Christ to partake of heavenly  things: no one could receive the spirit of sonship,  enter  the Kingdom of God, or have eternal and immortal life until the advent of Christ. Therefore, during this festival, no one could eat bread or grain until  the first of the grain, which represented  Christ,  was offered and accepted by God.

Jesus: The Bread of Life

During  his  ministry, Jesus often spoke of himself as  being  the prophetic  bread  of life that must be eaten if a person  is  to have eternal life and immortality.

John 6:32-35; 47-58 Paraphrased

There  was  a belief in Christ's day that the  greatest  work  of Moses  was the bringing of manna from heaven. There was also a belief that, when  the Messiah  came,  he  would bring down bread from  heaven  and surpass  this  great  work with greater  works.  Therefore,  some wanted Jesus to prove that he was the Messiah by  bringing manna  from  heaven  as they believed Moses had  done and by performing a greater miracle than the bringing of manna:

"Truly, truly, I say to you, Moses gave you not  that bread from heaven; but my Father gives you the true bread from  heaven. For the bread of God is he which comes down  from heaven, and gives life to the world" (vs.32-33).

Jesus  spoke of himself as the one whom the Father  sent  to give  life:

"And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to me  shall  never hunger; and he that believes on me  shall  never thirst" (v35).

It  is through  a belief in him that a person can receive the gift of  eternal life:

"Truly,  truly, I say to you, he that believes on me  shall  have everlasting life" (v47).

Jesus clearly says that he is the giver and sustainer of life. It is  important to understand that the spiritual nourishment   provided  through the holy spirit is only available because  of  the sacrifice of Jesus Christ:

"I am the bread of Life" (v48).

Christ  is truly the bread of life. Without him, our life  cannot continue, because God the Father has given him  all  authority  over eternal life and death. It is through him that  all life is given and sustained. See Jn.10:27-29; 17:22; Heb.1:2-3.

"Your fathers did eat bread in the wilderness, and are dead. This is  the  bread which comes down from heaven, that a man  may  eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever:  and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (vs.50-51). See also vs.54-58; Jn.6:26-27.

Here,  Jesus speaks of  the futility of seeking to  sustain  one's life  with physical food, which can only forestall but not  eliminate death. Moreover, he speaks of himself as the giver of spiritual nourishment that gives and sustains eternal life.

Eat His Flesh and Drink His Blood

Jesus Christ is the only hope of salvation: only after his  death and resurrection could those who lived before and after him  have salvation.  It  is  only through his sacrifice  that  others  may obtain sonship in the Kingdom of God and live forever.

"As  the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father:  so that  he  that eats me, even he shall live by me.  This  is  that bread  that  came down from heaven: not as your fathers  did eat manna, and are dead: he that eats of this bread shall live forever" (vs.57-58).

Jesus' fulfillment of the symbolical and prophetic meaning of the Lift  Offering  is direct biblical proof as to the  time  of  his 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 in the New Testament shows that Christ rose from the dead early during the first day of the week, and that he  rose  up  to meet his Father on that same day (Jn.20:17). It is therefore obvious  that this cutting of the grain for the Lift Offering of  the  first-fruits of the barley harvest was shortly after the end of the weekly Sabbath, and it  pictured  the resurrection of Christ. In addition, it is obvious that the omer of  flour which was presented as the Lift Offering pictured his ascension  to heaven at the time of the morning sacrifice to be accepted by his Father as the first of the  Father's harvest of humanity.

It is no  wonder that Paul wrote so confidently about the  resurrection of  Jesus  being on the third day, according to  the  scriptures. Paul  says, "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 beginning on the 14th day of the first month with the  sacrifice  of  the lamb (Jesus) and culminating on the 16th day 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; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming" (1.Cor.15:20-23 Para.).

Jesus' victory over sin and death was complete; thus,  the way  for redemption for all those 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.

Remember what John the Baptist said in recognition of Jesus:

"Behold  the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the  world"  (Jn.1:29 Para.).

By B. L. Cocherell, file b5w47