(Lev 23:15-22) ‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day 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 after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD. You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the LORD. And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs of the first year, without blemish, one young bull, and two rams. They shall be as a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to the LORD. Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats as a sin offering, and two male lambs of the first year as a sacrifice of a peace offering. The priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the LORD for the priest. And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the LORD your God.’”
The instructions for this feast have the same key elements of the earlier feast of firstfruits with a few important differences:
- Just as before, the first grain from the ground should be brought to the priest and waved before the Lord
- As the earlier firstfruits harvest corresponded to the smaller and earlier barley harvest, this feast corresponds to the larger and later wheat harvest
- Always a Sunday – day after a seventh day Sabbath
- The Sunday will be considered a rest day and a day of holy convocation
- Calculating the date: starting with the 7th-day Sabbath day within the week of unleavened bread when firstfruits is celebrated, exactly 50 days or 7 weeks X 7 days = 49 + 1 day after the Sabbath = 50 days from firstfruits this feast should be held. (As discussed in the earlier section)
- Several offerings should be brought to the priest including leavened bread, symbolizing our sinful life, presented to God as contrasted to the sinless unleavened bread of Christ’s life
EARLY VERSUS LATE HARVEST
In the ancient world barley and flax formed the early harvest. The late harvest consisting of wheat and summer wheat (mistranslated as spelt) made up the later harvest as seen here:
(Exo 9:31-32) Now the flax and the barley were struck, for the barley was in the head and the flax was in bud. But the wheat and the spelt were not struck, for they are late crops.
GOD PLANTS THE SEED, WE COLLECT HARVEST
The work of Christ in telling the Gospel and the Holy Spirit in inspiring the Gospel message is the planting of the Gospel. Jesus Himself referred to the sending out of the disciples as the act of harvesting that which God has already sown:
(Luk 10:1-2) After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.
PENTECOST AND THE FEAST OF WEEKS
Just as Christ’s death perfectly fell on the day of the Passover, the harvesting of those who had heard and accepted Christ’s message fell perfectly on the Feast of Weeks following the Passover when Christ died. Another name for the Feast of Weeks is Pentecost or in Greek pentēkostē, which simply means “50”, representing the count of 50 days. As the Bible prescribed a day of rest and holy convocation, this most famous gathering of Pentecost took place in Acts 2
This message is the message that convicts the world and founded the Christian church. If the message does not contain the following elements, then it is not inspired by the Holy Spirit:
- convict the world of sin, because without understanding the sin problem there is no belief or faith in God
- teach the world of righteousness, because Jesus is no longer in the world and His character and actions must be described
- teach and convict the world of judgment, because Satan (the ruler of this world) and those who follow Satan will be judged
Without an understanding of the essentials of this feast which is the work of the harvest that Jesus calls us to do, we fail to do God’s work and contribute to Christ’s lament that the workers are few.
A PROMISE OF RESURRECTION
A final parallel here is the act of life coming up from the ground. Christ is the first resurrection presented to God. We are the larger and later second resurrection which Christ promises to remove us from the earth, restore life to us, and also present us to God.
(Exo 25:23-30) “You shall also make a table of acacia wood; two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its width, and a cubit and a half its height. And you shall overlay it with pure gold, and make a molding of gold all around. You shall make for it a frame of a handbreadth all around, and you shall make a gold molding for the frame all around. You shall make its dishes, its pans, its pitchers, and its bowls for pouring. You shall make them of pure gold. And you shall set the showbread on the table before Me always.
Seasons and Times
(Gen 1:14-19) Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
This next time period has many parallels to Pentecost. The gap is from Joseph’s death until the time when the descendants of the children of Israel grew into a large nation. This era starts with the description of the nation found in Exodus 1. The focus is upon the actions of the nations of Israel and Judah, their blessings of life and prosperity when they listened to God and the consequences of disobedience. Themes include the reintroduction of the Sabbath to the children of Israel as a time of rest and meeting with God, (Exo 5) God delivering His people through His power, (Exo 14) teaching righteousness and sin (Exo 20-23) The delay between the first deliverance from Egypt for the first generation and the deliverance of Canaan to the second-generation (Jos 5), letting God do the work and collecting the harvest (Jos 6) and the many examples where following God leads to receiving His blessings, turning away from God removes the blessings that God provides (Judges, 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles)
Pentecost represents the understanding of Christ seen in the fruit of the life of a true and mature Christian. The true Christian produces a harvest of good works and the action of sharing the gospel seed with others.
(Return to the Sabbaths of Leviticus 23)