COUNTING THE OMER TO SHAVUOT
Wayyiqra (Lv) 23: 9 And יהוה spoke to Mosheh, saying, 10 “Speak to the children of Yisra’ĕl, and you shall say to them, ‘When you come into the land which I give you, and shall reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first-fruits of your harvest to the priest. [Deut 26:2]; 11 ‘And he shall wave the sheaf before יהוה, for your acceptance. On the morrow after the Sabbath the priest waves it. 12 ‘And on that day when you wave the sheaf, you shall prepare a male lamb a year old, a perfect one, as an ascending offering to יהוה, 13 and its grain offering: two-tenths of an ĕphah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to יהוה, a sweet fragrance, and its drink offering: one-fourth of a hin of wine. 14 ‘And you do not eat bread or roasted grain or fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your Elohim – a law forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 15 ‘And from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, you shall count for yourselves: seven completed Sabbaths. Deut 16:9; [Acts 2:1]; 16 ‘Until the morrow after the seventh Sabbath you count fifty days, then you shall bring a new grain offering to יהוה. 17 ‘Bring from your dwellings for a wave offering two loaves of bread, of two-tenths of an ĕphah of fine flour they are, baked with leaven, first-fruits to יהוה. [Neh 10:37]; 18 ‘And besides the bread, you shall bring seven lambs a year old, perfect ones, and one young bull and two rams. They are an ascending offering to יהוה, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering made by fire for a sweet fragrance to יהוה. 19 ‘And you shall offer one male goat as a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old, as a slaughter of peace offerings. 20 ‘And the priest shall wave them, besides the bread of the first-fruits, as a wave offering before יהוה, besides the two lambs. They are set-apart to יהוה for the priest. 21 ‘And on this same day you shall proclaim a set-apart gathering for yourselves, you do no servile work on it – a law forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations. 22 ‘And when you reap the harvest of your land do not completely reap the corners of your field when you reap, and do not gather any gleaning from your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the stranger. I am יהוה your Elohim.’ (TS2009)
WHEN DOES THE COUNT BEGIN?
Following along in our ongoing study of the Mo’edim (appointed times) of יהוה (B’H), we come to another somewhat controversial date that is described in the Torah as “the day after the Sabbath”, and that is the day that the first fruits of the barley harvest are presented as a ‘wave’ offering in the Temple at Y’rushalayim which in turn begins the count of the omer to Shavuot.
The controversy that began in ancient Yisra’el, and continues to this day is wrapped up into the following question; “do we begin the count to Shavuot on the day after the weekly 7th day Shabbat during the week of Unleavened Bread, or do we begin the day after the first day of Unleavened Bread (U.B.), which is of itself a ‘no work’ Shabbat, on whatever day of the week it falls on? This question and it’s surrounding debate was a hot issue during the first century C.E. between the Tzaddukim (Sadducees) and the P’rushim (Pharisees), and by extension, to the “…the sect of the Natsarenes.” (Acts 24:5).
We will use the Biblical and historical record, along with the example left for us through the life and death of Y’shua, to make our determination as to when the Natsarene observed the wave sheaf.
THE TIMING OF THE WAVE SHEAF AS UNDERSTOOD BY THE TZADDUKIM
The Sadducees, who controlled the Temple but did not accept the ‘Mosaic Oral Law’ or the teaching of the ‘resurrection’, interpreted this phrase to mean ‘the day after the regular weekly Sabbath’ during Chag HaMotzi. In other words, the annual wave offering (the beginning of the count of the Omer), was made on the first day of the week (Sunday) following the weekly Shabbat during the Feast of U.B. Thus it did not matter to them on which day Pesach fell, the wave sheaf would always be on a Sunday. That’s why they were so sad, you see! This teaching as adopted by the pagan church, played right into their scenario of a counterfeit ‘sun’ day resurrection.
If we were to chose to follow the pattern set by the Tzedukim, this year (2019) would place the Wave Sheaf on April 28, ALMOST A WEEK AFTER THE FIRST DAY OF U.B.! In their misguided attempt to keep the day of the wave sheaf as always being the day after the weekly 7th day Shabbat, instead of the day after the Shabbat of the 1st day U.B.; their count of the Omer, and the resultant day of Shavuot, will never be correct. That would rob the prophetic significance of Y’shuas resurrection on Abib 16 (April 23, 2009), and remove one very important piece of His identification. How can we prove Y’shuas authentic claim by using the Mo’edim, if we move the Appointed Time so that it does not coincide with the event? The Wave Sheaf would then always be the day after the weekly 7th day Shabbat and may or may not be the day of His Resurrection!. So much for following the path of the Sadducees!
THE TIMING OF THE WAVE SHEAF AS UNDERSTOOD BY THE P’RUSHIM
If there is any particular group or sect of Judaism that deserves criticism for adding to or taking from HaTorah, it is the P’rushim! Changing times and laws has been synonymous with them since the earliest of days, and the days of Pesach and 1st-day U.B. are a good example of this. However, the day of the Wave Sheaf offering was always understood and taught by them to be the day after the Sabbath of the first day of Unleavened Bread.
Remember that Rabbi Sha’ul was a ‘P’rush of P’rushim’, taught the resurrection, and was labeled a ‘ringleader’ of the sect of the Natsarene. Contrary to what is taught throughout Christianity today, accepting Y’shua as Mashiyach had no effect upon His observance of Torah and the traditions of his fathers, as they conformed to the life and teachings of Y’shua (2 Thes. 2:15;3:6). This, of course, is contrary to what is taught throughout Christianity today. It follows then that just as the P’rushim followed the day after the Shabbat of 1st day U.B. with the Wave Sheaf, so the Natsarene of the first century c.e., and consequently the modern-day restoration of that faith would also do in our time and understanding of Torah.
THE BIBLICAL PATTERN AS ESTABLISHED FOR THE WAVE OFFERING, AND ITS’ FULFILMENT BY Y’SHUA
Was the chronology and pattern set by the Mo’edim of יהוה (B’H’), established through chance or happenstance? Of course, the answer to that question is a resounding ‘no’! Every letter, word, number, ‘jot and tittle’ of Scripture carries with it the mind, person, and plan of our Creator and Redeemer. They present the perfect explanation of our current condition and the exact plan of our rescue from it. When any of this is tampered with by imperfect man, it becomes a lie, a misrepresentation, an inaccuracy, a conflict, a deception, a stumbling block. The pattern of events as spoken of in our introductory text from Vayikra (Lv.) 23,9-14, is a pattern that would be used in conjunction with other Torah texts to prove out exactly, and without error, who the Anointed One of Yisra’el was, is, and will be. It is a pattern that will be seen over again throughout the Mo’edim of יהוה (B’H’).
From ancient times, the Sages of Judaism have repeatedly testified that the Mashiyach of Yisra’el must live a life of perfect obedience in fulfillment of HaTorah, the ‘pattern’ and ‘proof’ for all things. And, as any unbiased student of scripture with an inquiring mind will clearly see, this requirement was, is, and is being met by Y’shua who is Emmanu’el, El who is with us.
So looking at the pattern of the Holy Days immediately surrounding Pesach as described in Lv. 23 we see Chag HaPesach (The Feast of Passover) on Abib 14, followed by the first day of Chag HaMatzot (The Feast of Unleavened Bread, a Shabbat) on Abib 15, followed immediately by First Fruits, and on Abib 16, the day of the Wave Sheaf Offering (whatever days of the week they would fall on would make absolutely no difference). There were no additional days provided for anyone or for any other reason within the pattern set by these three Torah witnesses. Change this pattern in any way, and Y’shua looses His claim to the title “HaMashiyach”!
On the eternal heavenly clock of Elohim, the three- day cycle of Pesach, 1st Day Chag HaMotzi, followed immediately by the 3rd day of the Wave Sheaf would be maintained, and fulfilled exactly by Y’shua (the sign of Yonah), as another sign of His true identity. That He would resurrect as our wave sheaf offering, being the first of the harvest to come, was a lesson sadly lost on those who followed the teachings of the Sadducees (who by the way, did not believe in, or teach the resurrection). Does this mean that Y’shua really did resurrect on a 1st day (Sunday)? It certainly did in the year 30 C.E., exactly 40 years to the day that the Temple would be destroyed by the Roman Army.
DO WE AS NATSARENE CELEBRATE THE RESURRECTION?
But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, and has become the first-fruit of those having fallen asleep. 1Cor 15:20 TS2009 P.P. Col 1:18; 1Pet 1:3; Rev 1:5;
We are not given the mitzvah (commandment) to observe the Wave Sheaf as resurrection day, but yes, while observing this day as commanded we recognize its Messianic fulfillment by YHWH Y’shuati (B’H). His ‘unspeakable gift’ to all those who had, and would repent and return to our Father while living by the laws of His House, was realized as He fulfilled the promise of the Wave Sheaf.
We celebrate it’s fulfillment through His victory over she’ol and the penalty of sin, by celebrating THE FIRST OF THE SPRING HARVEST, as the day our Messiah presented Himself as the firstfruits of those who would follow. The day of our celebration will always immediately follow Abib 15; the Shabbat of Unleavened Bread, meaning that it might land on the first day of the week, or any other day for that matter, but it will always be on Abib 16, the day of the Wave Sheaf Offering AND the day of His Resurrection!