THE LIFT OFFERING AND THE COUNTING OF PENTECOST

Unfortunately, the  English translations of the scriptures concerning  the Lift Offering  cloud the meaning and intent of God's instructions concerning how to calculate  the day  of Pentecost. Fortunately, however, it is possible to understand God's intended meaning through the original Hebrew language in which these instructions were given.

Most  people avoid researching topics in the original language of  the Bible  and  rely on various commentaries and Bible helps  as  the last  word in Bible research. However, this is a  very dangerous practice  when it comes to difficult biblical concepts, because most Bible  commentaries and helps are very biased in their presentations.  Admittedly, it is difficult to do Bible research using the original languages; however, the rewards are worth the effort.

The Bible is structured in a very careful and logical manner.  The Creator's instructions as to the day on which to give  the Lift Offering and how to calculate the Feast of  Pentecost were presented in a way that would ensure that there could be no  mistake made in the day of its observance.

During  Christ's Lifetime

During Jesus' lifetime, there were two primary schools of thought concerning  how  to calculate the date on which  to  observe  the Feast of Pentecost:

Although  the majority of the  Sadducees were of the  priesthood and had the responsibility  to maintain the integrity of  the  worship system, they  were outnumbered by the Pharisees  who  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 comply with the Pharisees instructions concerning many rituals.

The biblical record clearly shows that the Sadducees were correct in their method of calculating the Lift Offering and the Feast of Weeks, because they correctly  understood  the word 'shabbat' in Leviticus 23:11 to mean  the  weekly Sabbath, not the first festival day of Unleavened Bread.

There were four reasons why the  Pharisees  were  incorrect in their belief that the 16th of Abib/Nisan was  the day to observe the Lift Offering:

1. Although it is clear from the instruction concerning the first and last days of  the Festival of Unleavened Bread that all work of labor is prohibited on these days and that these are commanded festivals, nowhere in the Bible are these two days referred to as a Shabbat or a Shabbat Shabbaton. This omission would seem to indicate that God wanted to clearly establish that the day of the Lift Offering was to be after a weekly Sabbath (shabbat), which was the day from which to begin the count toward the Festival of Pentecost.

2. The day of this Lift Offering was the day to  begin  counting toward Pentecost (Deut.16:9; Lev.23:15-16). The following weekly Sabbath was the seventh day, which made the seventh Sabbath the 49th  day and the next day the 50th day. This 50th day always fell  on the first day of the week, which was 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.

4. The  biblical record of the death and resurrection  of  Jesus Christ confirms that the Sadducees' method of calculation was correct.

The Festival Instruction

Leviticus 23:1-16

"The lord said to Moses, 'Speak to the Israelites and say to them'. These are my appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies. There are six days when you may work,  but the seventh day is  a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do  any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord" (vs.1-3 NIV).

The  English word 'Sabbath' is translated from the Hebrew  word 'shabbat', which specifically refers to the seventh day of  the  week. This  is  very important to understand, because  nowhere  in  the scriptures is  an annual festival ever referred to by  the  word 'shabbat'  by itself, because the weekly Sabbath and  the annual festivals  are distinctly different types  of  celebrations.

With  the knowledge of the difference in vocabulary  between  the weekly Sabbath and the annual festivals, there can be no confusion as  to  which  day is being spoken of as the day  from  which  to calculate Pentecost. However, the Pharisees interpreted the word  'shabbat'  in  Leviticus 23:11 as referring to the first day of Unleavened Bread.

Next we see the annual festivals mentioned:

"These  are  the feasts of the Lord, even  holy  convocations  to proclaim  in  their seasons. In the fourteenth day of  the  first month at even is the Lord's Passover. And  on  the  fifteenth day of the same month is  the  Feast  of Unleavened  Bread.  Seven days you must eat unleavened bread. In the first day you shall have a holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein" (vs.4-7 KJV).

Notice that, on the first and last days of Unleavened Bread,  there are  to  be holy convocations in which doing one's  work  is prohibited:

"But you shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation; you shall  do no servile work therein" (v8 KJV).

There are two very important things to take note of at this point in our study:

1. There are only two days during this festival on which there is to be a holy convocation (apart from the normal observance of the Sabbath).

2. The  word 'shabbat' is not used in relationship  to  either  of these two days.

The absence of any reference to either  of  these days being a Sabbath is very important to understanding which day to offer the Lift Offering, and how to calculate the correct day  on which to observe Pentecost.

The following verses are very important because the meaning of the  Hebrew  words used are very clear. God says to wave the sheaf  of grain after the weekly Sabbath:

"The Lord said to Moses, "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 that it will be  accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the  day after the Sabbath" (vs.9-11 NIV).

"And you shall count from the morrow after the Sabbath, from  the day  that you brought the sheaf of the Wave Offering, seven  Sabbaths  shall be complete, even unto the morrow after the  seventh Sabbath shall you number fifty days and offer a new meat offering to the Lord" (vs.15-16 KJV).

The word 'shabbat' is used in the phrase 'on  the morrow  after the sabbath'—'Mi Mahorat ha Shabbat'.  Remember that  the word 'shabbat' is only used to define the  weekly  Sabbath.

In  the remainder of Leviticus, the rest of the  annual  festivals are  referred to with various instructions as to how they should be observed.  Again,  none of them are referred to as a 'shabbat' in  the original Hebrew language.

Note:

With the exception of the first and last day of Unleavened Bread, the  sacred  assemblies of the annual festivals are  referred  to using  the  word  'shabbaton', and the Day  of  Atonement is described as a  'Shabbat-Shabbaton' because of the prohibition of all  work including food preparation. See our study concerning  the differences between the Sabbath and the  days  of holy convocation.

In Leviticus 23, the careful use of the term 'holy convocation' to refer to  the annual festivals is extremely important. Without this careful use of the Hebrew language in chapter 23, it would be very difficult to determine whether it is the first day of Unleavened Bread  or the Sabbath day which occurs within the Feast of Unleavened  Bread that must  be used in calculating the date of Pentecost.

A Review

The Feast of Unleavened Bread is the reference point from which to calculate the day on which to observe the Feast of Pentecost. Moreover, neither  the  first or the  last day on which there  are  to be sacred assemblies are defined as Sabbaths.

The following are the  instructions concerning  which  day  to observe  the  Wave Sheaf Offering and where to begin  and  end the Pentecost calculations:

"He  is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so that it will be  accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day  after the Sabbath" (Lev.23:11 NIV).

The  original  Hebrew language confirms the  NIV  Translation  of verse 11 using the words 'Mi Mahorat ha Shabbat', which  literally means 'on the day after the shabbat' (i.e., 'on the day after  the weekly Sabbath').

God inspired Moses to write the following  in order to eliminate any confusion in calculating the exact day  on which to observe Pentecost:

"And you shall count from the morrow after the Sabbath, from  the day  that you brought the sheaf of the Wave Offering, seven  Sabbaths  shall be complete, even unto the morrow after the  seventh Sabbath shall you number fifty days and offer a new meat offering to the Lord" (Lev.23:15-16 KJV).

Again, the  original language uses the word 'shabbat',  which can  only refer to the seventh day of the week (the weekly Sabbath)  as  the day from which to begin to count  the  days  to Pentecost. Notice that  seven 'shabbats' (49  days) must be completed, and the day after the   'shabbat'  (the first day of the week—Sunday) is the 50th day (Pentecost).

"Count  seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle  to the  standing  grain.  Then celebrate  the  feast  of  weeks . . ." (Deut.16:9-10 NIV).

The Jubilee Year

The calculation process for the year of Jubilee is a clear  example  of  how God intends a sacred cycle of 50  to  be  calculated using a sacred cycle of seven. A Jubilee year occurs on the  50th year, which is actually the first year of the next Jubilee  cycle of  7, seven-year cycles that equal 49 years. The calculation for the Feast  of Weeks follows this same pattern, except it consists of days instead of years to indicate  the time of its observance. See Lev.25:1-12.

The historical evidence and the scriptures clearly show that the seven weeks noted in verse 9 refer to God's sacred weekly  cycle of  seven days, which begins with the first day of the week  (Sunday) and ends with the seventh day of the week (Saturday).

If we count 49 days beginning with the first day of one week (Sunday)  and  ending  with  the  last day  of  the  seventh   week (Saturday)  and  add one day to make 50 days, we arrive  at  the first day  of the eighth week, which is a Sunday—the  Feast  of  Weeks (Pentecost).

Facts:

LOGIC:

Because  there  is never a reference to the first or last  days  of Unleavened Bread being a Sabbath in any way, shape, or form, the only logical conclusion that can be made when one makes an analysis of the original language contained in these  scriptures  is that the word 'shabbat'  refers to the first weekly Sabbath that occurs within the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Why Count?

If Pentecost was to be observed on a  fixed date of the month, there would  be  no reason  for  the instruction to count 50 days. The  only  logical reason  to count is that Pentecost will occur on a different date  on the sacred calendar from year to year, but it will always  be  on the same day of the week—Sunday.

If  the  Pharisees' method of calculation was  correct,  why would  God give such seemingly ridiculous instructions to count toward a day  that  always fell on the same calendar date?  Obviously the Pharisees were wrong, and the counting should start on the  day after the weekly Sabbath during the Festival of Unleavened Bread.

Prophetic Fulfillment

In  order  for Jesus to fulfill the prophetic  symbolism  of  the Passover  and the Lift Offering in exact detail, both events had  to occur in a sequence that would allow for Jesus' death,  resurrection, and ascension to God the Father within a three day period.

Just as surely as Jesus rose from the dead on the third day  according  to  the scriptures (1.Cor.15:3), Christ's acceptance as the first fruits of humanity (1.Cor.15:20,22) was the fulfillment of  the prophetic meaning of the  Lift  Offering.

The Problem

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

How  did God resolve this error 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, and that history records that many of these prophetic events occurred exactly  as scheduled. It is beyond  comprehension that God the Father would allow the most important prophetic event of all time to occur on the wrong day.

The  logical solution to this problem is for Jesus'  crucifixion, to happen on the sixth day of the week (Friday), which indicates that the 15th of Abib/Nisan must have been a weekly Sabbath. This would also mean that the  Sabbath was on the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, which was noted by the apostle  John  (Jn.19:31).  Therefore, the day  after  the weekly   Sabbath was  the 16th   of Abib/Nisan.  In  this way, the Pharisees and the  Sadducees  would  be in agreement and would be observing the Lift Offering at the same time.

From the beginning of Jesus Christ's ministry to this present day, there  have been very few times when the Passover, the first  day of  Unleavened  Bread, and the Lift Offering have fallen  on  days that would fulfill all of the prophetic requirements of the  two methods of determining the Lift Offering and Pentecost.

One of these rare times in history occurred in 30 A.D., when  the Calendar  Court sanctioned two consecutive  Passover  observances because  of  some confusion as to the day of the new  moon, which began the month of Abib/Nisan. During that year, the second Passover meal was just after sunset on Friday and in the evening of the weekly Sabbath, which was also the first day of Unleavened Bread.

Both  the Pharisees and the Sadducees were  counting  from  the Sabbath that was within the Feast of  Unleavened Bread, which made the day of the Lift Offering the first day of  the week (Sunday). Thus, the requirements of God overcame the error of the  Pharisees and  the lifting up of his Son occurred at the same time as the lifting up of  the grain of the first-fruits of the barley harvest in the Temple.

The witness of these events is without question and happened  on days and dates which would satisfy the prophetic symbolism of the Lift  Offering. Moreover,  both the Pharisees'  and Sadducees'  beliefs concerning  the date of the Lift Offering and the calculation  of the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) were in agreement.

By B. L. Cocherell, file b5w56