JESUS' RESURRECTION AND ISRAEL'S FEAST
A little known holy day in ancient IsraeL anticipates the Christian's highest hopes
by Jason Overman
From "The Bible Advocate" - March/April 2015 - a publication of the Church of God, Seventh Day, Denver, CO. USA
EMPHASIS MINE THROUGHOUT - Keith Hunt
The God and Father of Jesus is also the God and Father of Israel. This simple truth is beautifully illustrated in how the three central gospel events of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection coincided and fulfilled Israel's early spring festivals — Passover, Unleavened Bread, and the wave sheaf offering — outlined in theTorah (Leviticus 23:4-12). The Gospels report Jesus' death and burial on Nisan 14 and 15, the dates of Passover and Unleavened Bread (Mark 14:1) — the first two annual feasts. But it is less appreciated among us how Jesus' resurrection correlated with the presentation of the first sheaf of barley harvest.
"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; on the day after the Sabbath-the priest shall wave it" (Leviticus 23:10, 11).
It was from this day, described as "the day after the Sabbath" during the week of Unleavened Bread, that the fifty-day count began to Israel's next feast, Pentecost — another day with significance for Christians, when the Spirit was poured out on the church (Acts 2:1).
All four Gospels draw attention to the fact that the first witnesses to the Resurrection occurred on the "first day of the week" (Greek: "first .day from Sabbath," Mark 16:1). For those familiar with the waving of the sheaf during Unleavened Bread, the symbolic link between law and gospel is unmistakable.
While the women and disciples were making their visits to the tomb at Sabbath's end [THAT NEVER HAPPENED; IT'S A FALSE IDEA FROM THE CHURCH OF GOD, SEVENTH DAY OUT OF DENVER, USA - Keith Hunt] and early the next morning, not far away the temple priests were following the ancient ritual of wave sheaf. In his book The Temple: Its Ministry and Services, Christian historian Alfred Edersheim describes this public festivity.
Just as the Sabbath sun was going down,* three men with sickles and baskets set to work to reap the first sheaf, but only after asking the bystanders five questions three times each:
"Has the sun gone down?"
"With this sickle?"
"Into this basket?"
"On this Sabbath?"
"Shall I reap?"
Upon hearing each question answered in the affirmative, the men cut one ephah of barley. The ears were placed in the baskets and brought into the court of the temple to be thrashed, parched, and ground into flour. Then they were stored until the morrow when the priest mixed one omer of the flour with oil and frankincense and waved it publicly before the Lord to be accepted on behalf of Israel.
While the reapers and priests followed their ritual Sabbath evening and Sunday morning, a mere stone's throw away Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, and Joanna were discovering an empty tomb and seeing "their risen Messiah "waved" in presentation and accepted of the Lord for us. [NO THEY DID NOT SEE IT; JESUS HAD TO ASCEND TO THE FATHER; SAYING, "TOUCH ME NOT FOR I AM NOT YET ASCENDED TO THE FATHER" - THE WOMEN SURE DID NOT ASCEND TO HEAVEN WITH JESUS - BUT IT DID HAPPEN THAT SUNDAY MORNING - Keith Hunt)
Paul writes that the "good news" of Jesus' death and resurrection was "according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). But which scriptures? These passages in the Torah concerning the Passover Lamb and the wave sheaf would surely have come to Paul's mind as witnesses to the Messiah's work. It is good news indeed that Jesus died for our sins, but the news gets even better when Paul, drawing on this festival imagery, later explains that Jesus has "become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep [died]" (v. 20).
Jesus' resurrection is just the beginning, the first step. Christ's rising is a microcosm of God's ultimate plan. What the Father has done in His Son is a promise of what He will do through His Son for all creation. Where death and darkness reigned, the light of life bursts forth like the first corn of spring, heralding the full harvest to come: "Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming" (v. 23).
Long before there was Easter with its pagan associations, there was the biblical wave sheaf, that first handful of the barley harvest presented to the Lord in gratitude and anticipation of the full life-sustaining harvest still to come. Jesus is our wave sheaf, presented to God for us in resurrection as a promise of renewed life — eternal life — for all who believe. Amen.
There was intense disagreement between the Pharisees and the Sadducees over whether this was the weekly Sabbath or the festival Sabbath of Nisan 15, the first day of Unleavened Bread. Edersheim agrees with the Pharisees on the point, but I believe the Sadducees had the better argument, in viewing "the day after the Sabbath" in Leviticus 23:11 as the first day of the week (The Temple: Its Ministry and Services, pp. 203-205).
EDERSHEIM WAS A PHARISEE SO HE WOULD AGREE WITH THEM. THE SADDUCEES HAD IT CORRECT, AS I PROVE IN STUDIES UNDER "SABBATH AND FEASTS OF GOD" SECTION.
FINALLY [AFTER 150 YEARS] THE CHURCH OF GOD, SEVENTH DAY, DENVER, USA, IS GETTING TO GROW IN MORE TRUTH; MAYBE THEY WILL FINALLY COME TO SEE THE FEASTS OF GOD GIVE THE PLAN OF SALVATION, AND SHOULD BE OBSERVED.