The Wave Sheaf Offering


Once we have kept God’s Passover, the Night to be Much Observed and the first Holy Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we anticipate the second Holy Day – the day we refer to as the Last day of Unleavened Bread.


But there a few more special days in there too.


There are some days in the year that God had purposely mentioned and marked in His Word – days that are special, but not Holy Days, per se.  We might even think of them as “semi-holy days.”


The Passover Day – Abib 14 – is one of these.  It is included in the listing of the Feasts of the LORD in Leviticus 23; but it is not set aside as a Holy Day.  It is not a Sabbath of rest.  New Moon days might also perhaps be other examples of this.  They are not specified as Holy Days in the Holy Day chapter – Leviticus 23; but were observed by God’s people in both the Old and New Testament eras.


In this article I would like to discuss two other “semi-holy days” – days that are mentioned in Leviticus 23; but are not actual Holy Days.  These two days are Wave Sheaf Offering Sunday and the Sabbath Day that precedes it.


We tend to talk about the Wave Sheaf Offering only on those somewhat controversial “odd years” when the Last Day of Unleavened Bread falls on the weekly Sabbath.  However, I feel that it is important to at least make mention of it every year.  It is very important that we do not forget its significance.  Why mark all of the other verses of Leviticus 23 every year; but not the ones that deal with the Wave Sheaf Offering?


Let me begin by asking some questions.


My first question is this: For the many professing Christians, what special day often falls around the time of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread? 


Easter, of course.


My second question is this: Should God’s people keep Easter? 


The correct answer is: No, of course not!  We all know that Easter is a left-over from paganism, and that it is one of Satan’s counterfeit holidays – this one attempting to replace God’s true Passover.  Just as a reminder, here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on Easter:


The modern English term Easter is speculated to have developed from the Old English word ēastre or ēostre or eoaster, which itself developed prior to 899AD.  The name refers to Eostur-Monath, a month of the Germanic calendar attested by Bede {a well-known English Catholic monk who lived from 672 to 735AD} as named after the goddess Ēostre of Anglo-Saxon paganism.  Bede notes that Eostur-Monath was the equivalent to the month of April, and that feasts held in her honour during Ēostur-Monath had died out by the time of his writing, replaced with the Christian custom of Easter.


This Christian custom of Easter has been adapted to memorialize the resurrection of Jesus.


The Sabbath preceding Wave Sheaf Offering Sunday


This brings me to my third question:  Should God’s people mark the day of Jesus’ resurrection?


The answer to this question is not as obvious or as definite as the first two.


In his teachings against the observance of Easter, Herbert W. Armstrong sometimes said that God commands us to mark the death of Jesus – not his resurrection.  He said this in accordance with this scripture:


For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. (I Corinthians 11:26)

Although I hesitate to disagree with Mr. Armstrong, whose memory I greatly respect and most of whose teachings I concur with, I believe that this may not be one hundred percent totally accurate. 

Yes, of course, the death of Jesus is very important and certainly should be marked each year on Passover night.  And we do. 


But is His resurrection any less important and worthy of annual note?  God answers this question through the apostle Paul:


For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.  (Romans 5:10)


For this reason, the Sabbath that falls within the Feast of Unleavened Bread is important and worthy of note.  Why is it important to mark this day? 


Firstly, because it is specifically mentioned by God in the Feast chapter – Leviticus 23.  And secondly, because it was the very day that Jesus rose from the dead.  He died on a Wednesday afternoon – Abib 14 – at about 3:00pm:


And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"  Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, "This Man is calling for Elijah!"  Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink.  The rest said, "Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him."  And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.   (Matthew 27:46-50)


He was laid in the tomb of Joseph Arimathea sometime later – but definitely shortly before sunset:


Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man.  He had not consented to their decision and deed.  He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God.  This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before.  That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near.  (Luke 23:50-54)


That Preparation Day was the daytime portion of Abib 14 and the “Sabbath” mentioned here was the annual Sabbath of the First Day of Unleavened Bread – Abib 15.  Here is John’s parallel account:


After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission.  So he came and took the body of Jesus.  And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.  Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.  Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.  So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.  (John 19:38-42)


We know that Jesus’ body lay in the tomb for three days and three nights – seventy-two hours (compare Matthew 12:38-40 with Jonah 1:17).  So, if He was laid in the tomb shortly before sunset on the Wednesday afternoon of Abib 14, then He must have come out of the tomb on the following Sabbath afternoon – Abib 17 – shortly before sunset.


This is why it is important for us to mark the Sabbath Day which falls within the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Again, we are not told to mark it as an annual Holy Day; just to note it, observe it and perhaps to ponder about what happened on this day.


Wave Sheaf Offering Day


The following day – Wave Sheaf Offering Sunday – is also a special day though again, not a Holy Day.  No, not because it happens to coincide with Easter Sunday on some years.  Of course not! 


One of the reasons it is special is because God marked it as such in His Holy Day chapter – Leviticus 23.  Let us go there!


Each year, the day following the weekly Sabbath which falls within the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a very special day.


Prior to the New King James Version’s Wave Sheaf Offering section in Leviticus 23:9-14, the Nelson publishers’ have added an unscriptural sub-heading: “The Feast of Firstfruits.”  But again, the Wave Sheaf Offering day is not really one of God’s Holy Days per se.  It is not – and never was – a true “Feast” Day and so is wrongly termed by the Nelson publishers.


Although some special sacrifices and offerings were commanded for the Wave Sheaf Offering day, there is no command for a holy convocation, as there were for the seven major Holy Days:


And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.  He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf…  (Leviticus 23:9-11)

The Timing


When was this sheaf-waving to take place?  Continuing in verse 11:


… on the day {Hebrew “mochorath” – the King James Version renders the word as “morrow”} after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.  And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the LORD.  Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the LORD, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin.  You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings….  (Verses 11-14)


Some scholars believe that the Israelites may have performed two wavings: 

The first one shortly after the sunset that ended the weekly Sabbath and which began “the morrow after the Sabbath” at which time the “raw” un-threshed wave-sheaf was initially cut from the crop.  This would be on the Saturday evening, just after sunset. 

The second one during the day-time portion of “the morrow after the Sabbath” – i.e. on Wave Sheaf Sunday – after the sheaf had been threshed and winnowed into an omer-sized bowl of grain.


Continuing in verse 15 of Leviticus 23, God tells us how to count from the Wave Sheaf day to the Feast of Shavuot – the Feast of Weeks – the Feast of “Count-Fifty” – the Feast of Pentecost:


And you shall count for yourselves from the day {morrow} after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed.  Count fifty days to the day {morrow} after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.  (Leviticus 23:15-16)


Many Jews claim that the first “Sabbath” mentioned in verse 15 is not the weekly Sabbath, but rather, is the annual Sabbath of the First Day of Unleavened Bread. 


If we were to do as these Jews tell us, and we were to count fifty days from the day after the First day of Unleavened Bread – i.e. Abib 16 – then Pentecost would always fall on the same date of the sacred calendar every year – i.e. Sivan 6.  And that is when most Jews erroneously keep it.  Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on Shavuot:


Shavuot (or Shavuos – literally "weeks") is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan (late May or early June).   Shavuot commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai.  It is one of the Shalosh Regalim, the three biblical pilgrimage festivals.  It marks the conclusion of the counting of the omer.


But why even bother “counting the omer”?   Why count from the Wave Sheaf Offering day at all if God wants Pentecost to be kept on Sivan 6 every year?   Why would God set Shavuot/Pentecost on a specific day of a specific month, just like the other six holy days; but, unlike them, make us count to it?  And for no apparent reason?  If God really wanted us to keep Pentecost on a fixed day of a fixed month, why didn’t He just say (as He did with the other Holy Days): “On the sixth day of the third month (Sivan), you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD”?


But He didn’t!  He commanded us to count!


Without taking the time and space to go into all the fine detail disproving the mainstream Jews’ view, it just does not make grammatical or mathematical sense – neither in Hebrew nor in English – when compared with the “counting scriptures” in Leviticus 23.  For example, I challenge you to reconcile a Sivan 6 Pentecost with the necessary fifty days and seven weekly Sabbaths following a First Day of Unleavened Bread that falls on, say, a Tuesday.


The Sabbath mentioned in Leviticus 23:11 and 15 must be a weekly Sabbath!  It is the only logical explanation as to why God wants us to count fifty!


For the calculation of the Feast of Pentecost, the LORD is making a change from that for the other Holy Days.  He is changing it from just picking a specific day of a specific month – as He does with all the other Holy Days… to counting from a specific day of the week – counting fifty days (inclusive) from the morrow (Sunday) after a specific weekly Sabbath. 


So which weekly Sabbath is it?  Although God does not tell us specifically, we must use our “little grey cells” in addition to the Holy Spirit He has given us to reason and work it out logically from the placement of the command – i.e. after the instructions regarding the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Hence, the weekly Sabbath in question is the one that falls within the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread.


But another question arises.  Is the weekly Sabbath the correct “anchor day” that must fall within the Feast of Unleavened Bread?  Or is it, as many of the Church of God groups claim – “the morrow after the Sabbath” – the Sunday – that must fall within the Feast of Unleavened Bread?  Again, we must use our “little grey cells”!


If these groups are correct, then why didn’t God just specify the count to start on “the first day of the week” rather than on “the morrow after the Sabbath”?  Why did He even mention “the Sabbath” at all?  The very mention of the Sabbath makes it plain that the weekly Sabbath is the anchor day. 


Please don’t misunderstand.  I’m not saying that the count must be started from the weekly Sabbath rather than from the Sunday.  What I am saying is that it is the Sabbath that must fall within the Feast of Unleavened Bread – not the morrow – not the Sunday. 


In most years both will fall within the Feast of Unleavened Bread; but very occasionally, the Sabbath will fall within the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the morrow – the Sunday – will not.


Verse 16 makes it even clearer:


Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.  (Leviticus 23:16)

God gives us two ways of counting to Pentecost.  The first is to count fifty days.  The second is to count seven weekly Sabbaths.


It may also be significant that, in Leviticus 23, the only days that are given the Hebrew term “shabbath” (Strong’s 7676) are the weekly Sabbath and the Day of Atonement.  Three other Holy Days are given the term “shabbathown” (Strong’s 7677): e.g. The Feast of Trumpets (verse 24), the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day (verse 39).

Why is the Wave Sheaf Offering Day so important?


So, if the Sabbath within the Feast of Unleavened Bread is important because it is the day of Christ’s resurrection, why is “the morrow” – the Wave Sheaf offering day – important for us to mark, note, ponder and remember? 


The answer is because the morrow – the Sunday – was the important day that Jesus returned to His Father’s throne in heaven and presented His “blood offering” to his Father.  In this, the Wave Sheaf Offering Day is inextricably coupled with the Day of Atonement:


But into the second part {the physical Most Holy Place} the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance… but Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.   Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood {that was shed on Passover Day} He entered the Most Holy Place {the “true” one in heaven} once for all, having obtained eternal redemption… For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another.  
(Hebrews 9:7, 11-12, 24-25)

It was on the Day of Atonement each year that the Aaronite high priest went through the second veil and into the Most Holy Place of the physical temple to present a blood offering.  But it was on the Wave Sheaf Offering Day of the year of His crucifixion and resurrection that Jesus – the High Priest of the Melchizedek priesthood – went into the true Most Holy Place in heaven and presented His blood offering to His Father.


We do not have any details of that special visit.  We know that He certainly did make the trip, by comparing two events of that Wave Sheaf Offering Sunday – one earlier in the day and one later:


Jesus said to her, "Mary!"  She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher).  Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me (KJV:  Touch me not) for I have not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.’"  (John 20:16-17)


Please notice this last phrase in which Jesus told Mary to go to His brethren (likely both His physical brothers and His disciples) and to tell them that He was ascending to his Father – probably implying that He was going to heaven right away – as soon as He had finished talking with Mary. 


Late that afternoon, He met and dined with two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).  Then, as that first day of the week – that Wave Sheaf Offering Day – was drawing to its close (John 20:19), He appeared to the disciples who were gathered:


Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you."  But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.  And He said to them, "Why are you troubled?  And why do doubts arise in your hearts?  Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself.  Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."  When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. (Luke 24:36-40)


We know for sure that Jesus must have returned to his Father by this time.  Why?  Because He told Mary earlier in the day not to touch Him – because He had not yet ascended to the Father.  He then told her that He would ascend to His Father.  Then He allowed – nay commanded – His frightened disciples to “handle” Him.


Did you ever wonder what Jesus said to his Father when He arrived in heaven on that momentous occasion?  We don’t know.  But perhaps He may have repeated one of these phrases:


It is finished.  (John 19:30)


I have glorified you on the earth.  I have finished the work which you have given me to do.  (John 17:4)


In conclusion then, we can be confident that the Wave Sheaf Offering Day and the Sabbath Day that precedes it are not irrelevant afterthoughts to the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread season. 


Rather, they are highly significant, symbolic and very special days.




John Plunkett

The Church of God

Qualicum Beach, British Columbia, Canada

March 26, 2016