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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, March 25 2021

The wave sheaf offering: Foreshadowing salvation

In ancient Israel, the beginning of the spring grain harvest was marked with an unusual ceremony. The first sheaf of the early barley harvest, called the "firstfruits" was brought to the priest, who waved it before God. Instructions for this ceremony are detailed in Leviticus 23:10-14.

The wave sheaf offering: Foreshadowing salvation
Sheaf of wheat
by Jerold Aust

Thousands of years later we find the same term used in the Bible to describe Jesus Christ. "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:20). We also find Jesus called "the firstborn over all creation" and "the firstborn from the dead" (Colossians 1:15-18).

The wave-sheaf offering was the forerunner of an additional offering brought later, on the Feast of Pentecost, when two loaves of bread, "the firstfruits to the Lord," were offered (Leviticus 23:16-17). As the wave-sheaf offering represented Jesus Christ, so the loaves from the later wheat harvest, offered on Pentecost, represented God's spiritual firstfruits, who are those who are called and faithfully obey God in this life (James 1:18). The wave-sheaf offering was the necessary forerunner to the Pentecost offering, representing Jesus Christ as the necessary forerunner to His spiritual firstfruits.

These symbols demonstrate how God's Holy Days relate to each other and are designed to convey the interdependence of the events in God's plan for humanity. For example, Passover is the first of God's annual festivals (Leviticus 23:5). God's plan for the salvation of mankind is built upon the death of Jesus Christ our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7), as the atoning sacrifice for humanity (John 1:29). Christians cannot attain everlasting life without Christ's sacrifice, which reconciles us to God.

Then the wave sheaf, offered during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6-11), portrays a resurrected Jesus now serving as our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14). Without the prior sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the fulfilment of Pentecost, which is an annual reminder of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the Church (Acts 2:1-4) could not occur.

Through these observances, God continually assures us we have the promise of eternal life through the gift of the Holy Spirit, made possible through God, who resurrected and accepted Jesus Christ, our wave-sheaf offering.