Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The SECRET of the "Wave Sheaf"
Did Yeshua the Messiah ascended to heaven on the first day of the week to appear before the Father's throne? Was this ascension pictured in type by the "wave sheaf" which was offered during the Feast of Unleavened Bread? What does the "wave sheaf" really represent? Here is overwhelming Biblical evidence proving beyond doubt the answer to this controversial question!
by John D. Keyser
Various end-time offshoots of the Worldwide Church of God claim that Yeshua the Messiah was the spiritual antitype of the "wave sheaf" which was offered by the high priest on the "day after the Sabbath" during the feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:10-11, 15-16). They believe that the Jews offered the wave sheaf on the Sunday morning following the weekly Sabbath day. They teach that the Messiah ascended to heaven that same morning, to be "accepted by the Father," thus fulfilling the wave sheaf symbolism.
But is this scenario true? There is compelling evidence that Pentecost should be counted from the day after the weekly Sabbath during Unleavened Bread -- but are there other considerations to keep in mind? Let's understand this matter, once and for all!
Confusion and Consternation
First of all, we know that Passover can occur on different days of the week, and represents the day Yeshua died for our sins. But how many of the Churches of God realize that the weekly Sabbath can also fall on different days of the week (in the Gregorian calendar of today) since the weekly Sabbath is determined by the phases of the moon? Now since the Worldwide Church of God, and most of its offshoots, all believe the wave sheaf was always offered on Sunday after the weekly Sabbath, and since they also believe the weekly Sabbath always falls on Saturday, and since they all believe the Messiah was buried on a Wednesday and rose from the dead on the weekly Sabbath, they have a problem! With this scenario the following perplexities can occur: True, whenever Passover (Nisan 14) occurs on Wednesday, there would be "three days" till the resurrection (supposedly at the end of the weekly Sabbath), and the following day when Yeshua supposedly ascended to heaven. However, with a Sunday night Passover, the wave sheaf would not be offered until seven days later! With a Monday night Passover, there would be six days between Passover and Sunday! On the other hand, with a Saturday night Passover, the wave sheaf, according to them, would be the very next day -- allowing only one day for the Messiah to be in the "grave"!
Obviously, there seems to be something seriously wrong with this whole arrangement! Depending on the year, there could be anywhere from only 1 day between Passover and the "Sunday" of the supposed wave sheaf, to as many as 7 days! Therefore the scenario of Wednesday crucifixion, Thursday Passover, three days and nights in the grave (Matthew 12:40), and Sunday morning wave sheaf offering would only be accurate when Passover fell on a Wednesday -- that is, occasionally. Every other year the whole crucifixion-resurrection and "ascension" sequence would be thrown out of order!
The problems with this theory were amply demonstrated in a recent year when Nisan 15, the First Day of Unleavened Bread, fell on a Sunday. Since Leviticus 23 says to count from "the Sabbath," and they believe the weekly Sabbath is referred to, the question arises -- count from which weekly Sabbath? Since the Feast begins on a Sunday, one might assume they should wait and count from the only weekly Sabbath which falls within the Feast -- in that year, the last day of the Feast! But that would be seven days after Passover! Or, they could count from the weekly Sabbath before the Feast -- that is, the Sabbath the day before the First Day of Unleavened Bread! But in that case, the count to Shavuot/Pentecost would begin on the first day of the Feast itself!
What disarray! What consternation! What confusion!
Setting the Record Straight!
The first thing we have to realize is that back in the Messiah's day the days of the week did not have the pagan Roman names they have today. The Jews of Judea, and the Israelites of the Dispersion, simply numbered most of the days and only had names for two of the days: First Day of the week, Second Day of the Week, Third Day of the Week, Fourth Day of the Week, Fifth Day of the Week, Preparation Day and the Sabbath. To try and apply the Roman names we use today to the days of the week back in the first century does nothing but add confusion to the whole situation. Due to the many changes in the calendar -- and in the length of the week -- since the Messiah's time, it is all but impossible to accurately know how the days of the week in first-century Judea line up with the days of the week in our century and with our calendar! Therefore, we must thrust out of our minds the whole idea that the Gregorian system we use to today, with the Roman names of the week days, is applicable to the Messiah's time.
The second thing we must realize is that the first high Holy Day of Unleavened Bread ALWAYS falls on the weekly Sabbath! It is a fact that the Sabbath of the crucifixion week, as mentioned in Matthew 28:1, is in the PLURAL in the original Greek. Not only that, but the apostle John clearly reveals that there were TWO SABBATHS ON ONE DAY at that time -- the weekly Sabbath AND the first Holy Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread!
That the day after Yeshua's death was a weekly Sabbath can be clearly demonstrated by Luke 23:56, which reads: "On SHABBAT the women rested, IN OBEDIENCE TO THE COMMANDMENT." What "commandment" is this? The FOURTH COMMANDMENT, of course! In reference to this verse the Jewish New Testament Commentary makes this clarifying statement: "It is sometimes claimed that the New Testament says nothing about keeping the fourth commandment. This verse contradicts that claim, so it is important for a Jewish understanding of the New Testament. ON SHABBAT THE WOMEN RESTED, IN OBEDIENCE TO THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT (Exodus 20:8-11, Deuteronomy 5:12-15; also Exodus 16). Of course they did! They observed Shabbat EVERY WEEK" (David H. Stern, p. 150). Obviously, the WEEKLY SABBATH is the focus of verses 54 and 56.
Now, having established that the weekly Sabbath is the focus of these verses, let's go to John 19:31 in the Jewish New Testament and read what the apostle John has to say: "It was the Preparation Day, and the Judeans did not want the bodies to remain on the stake on SHABBAT, since it was an especially important Shabbat." The New King James Version makes it clearer: "Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the [weekly] Sabbath (FOR THAT [WEEKLY] SABBATH WAS A HIGH DAY)." What "high day" was this? My Bible references it to Exodus 12:16 -- the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread! Now consider this -- if that day had been a regular week day, John would have said "FOR THAT DAY WAS A HIGH DAY." But he says "for that SABBATH was a high day"!
The fact that the weekly Sabbath day here mentioned was also the first high Holy Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, is understood by numerous researchers. Writes Samuele Bacchiocchi, "Rabbinical sources...indicate that the weekly Sabbath was called a "high day" when it COINCIDED WITH PASSOVER, because, as well stated by Charles C. Torrey, 'its inherent solemnity was greatly heightened by the celebration of the foremost feast of the year.'" (The Time of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, chapter 3). "This information," continues Bacchiocchi, "is important because it disproves the claim that the weekly Sabbath was never called or referred to as a 'high day'".
The fact that the First Day of Unleavened Bread ALWAYS falls on the weekly Sabbath is confirmed by Exodus 16 and Joshua 5:11 -- as well as John 19:31.
The final thing we must realize is that the Messiah was NOT put to death in the middle of the week (Wednesday, as some think) and resurrected on the following weekly Sabbath (Saturday, as some think). The Messiah was NOT in the tomb -- dead and buried -- for a total of 3 days and 3 nights, or 72 full hours! This is another fallacy! The term "three days and three nights" is strictly an idiomatic expression from the first century that means "three days" counted inclusively -- NOT a full 72 hours! When you read the gospel accounts of the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah, there is absolutely no way you can insert a period of 72 hours between the Messiah's death and his resurrection without seriously violating the Biblical accounts. For further information on this subject, send for our article Was Yeshua the Messiah Really In the Grave for Three Days and Three Nights?
Just What Do You Mean, "FIRSTFRUITS"?
However, there is an even more devastating problem with the theory. The proponents of this theory all assume without any "proof" that Yeshua the Messiah was the fulfillment of the "wave sheaf offering" of Leviticus 23. They assume that he was the "firstfruits" from the dead, and therefore is comparable to the "firstfruits" of the harvest.
But the fact is, the literal translation of I Corinthians 15:20 is, "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the FIRST FRUIT [singular noun, not plural!] of them that slept." Christ is ONE PERSON -- not two, three, four, 500, 1,000, or 3,000, or 100,000 -- just one person!
Just what is the "wave sheaf" offering, anyway? Notice! The original Hebrew word translated "sheaf" is omer. This word means "a heap" -- or "sheaf" -- a dry measure. Says Gesenius Hebrew Chaldee Lexicon, it means "a measure of dry things, containing the tenth part of an ephah." An omer, according to Unger's Bible Dictionary, held about 5.1 pints.
According to Alfred Edersheim, the greatest Jewish-Christian scholar of the 19th century, during Temple times a noisy throng of Jews would converge at a field across the Kidron Valley, at the base of the Mount of Olives, following delegates from the Sanhedrin. They were to reap this Passover-sheaf in public the evening before it was offered. So they gathered on the evening following Nisan 15 (or at the beginning of Nisan 16, after sunset of the 15th), and cut down the barley which had been previously marked off.
Says Edersheim, three appointed men cut down "the amount of one ephah, or ten omers, or three seahs, which is equal to about three pecks and three pints of our English measure. The ears were brought into the Court of the Temple, and thrashed out with canes or stalks, so as not to injure the corn; then 'parched' on a pan perforated with holes, so that each grain might be touched by the fire, and finally exposed to the wind. The corn thus prepared was ground in a barley-mill, which left the hulls whole. According to some, the flour was always successfully passed through thirteen sieves, each closer than the other" (The Temple: Its Ministry and Services, p. 204-205).
Edersheim continues, "Though one ephah, or ten omers, of barley was cut down, only one omer of flour, or about 5.1 pints of our measure, was offered in the Temple on the second Paschal, or 16th day of Nisan" (p. 205).
Now notice! This is a WHOLE SHEAF of barley -- consisting of 5.1 pints, or a little over two quarts, at least! How many individual "grains" of barley would that be? There are multiple thousands of barley grains in one omer. The "omer" then was not one grain, or the grain from one plant, but many barley plants -- many grains! What does a "grain" symbolize?
The FIRSTFRUITS of YEHOVAH God
YEHOVAH God says, "For behold, I am commanding, and I will sift the house of Israel among all the nations as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet no kernel shall fall upon the earth" (Amos 9:9, Dead Sea Scrolls Bible).
The "grain" represents ISRAEL! This "omer" represented the firstfruits of ISRAEL -- that is, the "Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16) -- the 144,000 of Revelation 14!
Notice, now, the reason for the Wave Sheaf Offering --
"Say to the people of Israel, When you come into the land which I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf [omer] of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest; and he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, that you [Israel] may find acceptance; on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it" (Leviticus 23:10-11, RSV).
Through this ancient ceremony the nation of Israel was to find acceptance (Hebrew: "delight, favor") before YEHOVAH God -- NOT the Messiah! Israel -- or the Ecclesia -- is the firstfruits of the harvest of YEHOVAH God:
"Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of his harvest. All who ate of it became guilty; evil came upon them, says the LORD" (Jeremiah 2:3, RSV).
The firstfruits harvests of both barley, the first crop of firstfruits, and the wheat which came later, ALL symbolize the elect of YEHOVAH God, the firstfruits of the age of the Ecclesia, both Old and New Testament saints, prior to the Messiah's future appearance. Now the wheat harvest is the consummation of the firstfruits, of this early harvest of souls. The firstfruits' harvest was FULLY GATHERED IN at Pentecost in the summer where the ceremony -- at which the two loaves representing the firstfruits (Leviticus 23:16-17) were also waved before YEHOVAH God -- was both parallel to, and the fulfillment of, the Wave Sheaf Offering.
The Day of Pentecost pictures not only the age of the Ecclesia, but also its glorification at the resurrection. Grain is used to picture the resurrection of the dead -- notice!
"But some one will ask, 'How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?' You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body" (1 Corinthians 15:35-38, RSV).
Here we see that the resurrected saints of YEHOVAH's great spiritual harvest (both former and latter) will together make up the Body of the Messiah, and will be composed of all types of people (grain) -- as attested to by the description of the Promised Land, symbolizing the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God, found in Deuteronomy 8:8 --
"...a land of wheat and barley [the firstfruits' harvest] and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey [the latter harvest]..."
So the Messiah's sacrifice, likened to the "dying" of a grain of wheat, is directly linked to a future harvest picturing the salvation of all of mankind:
"And Jesus answered them, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit'" (John 12:23-24, RSV).
The Messiah's sacrifice for our sins was accepted immediately upon his death -- not three days later! When the Messiah died, an earthquake shook the ground, the lintel above the curtain of the Temple broke, the veil itself was ripped in two parts from top to bottom, and the bodies of many dead saints arose from the grave (recently deceased saints), to live out their natural lives (Matthew 27:50-54). Such awesome events indicate that the Messiah's greatest sacrifice of all time was accepted IMMEDIATELY when he died! But to fulfill prophecy, he had to remain 3 days in the grave, as a "sign" he is the Messiah (Matthew 12:40).
To believe that Yeshua's sacrifice was not "accepted" for several hours after his resurrection, which occurred early in the morning -- close to dawn -- of the First Day of the Week makes no sense whatsoever.
"Touch Me Not"
There is a passage in the Book of John that gives the expositors and doctrinal scholars no end of trouble:
"Jesus said to her [Mary], 'Do not hold me [cling to me], for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God'" (John 20:17).
Many assume that the reason Yeshua told Mary not to touch him, after he had been resurrected, was because he had not yet ascended to YEHOVAH God the Father to be "accepted" of Him as our "wave sheaf offering."
Is this true? Did the Messiah disappear and ascend to heaven shortly after he was seen by Mary, and return to earth shortly afterwards, before he revealed himself to all the disciples? Let's understand this!
Writes a "pastor" of one of the Worldwide Church of God offshoots --
"We know that Jesus was in the grave three days and three nights -- or 72 hours (Matt. 12:40). This period of time would begin at about 6:00 PM Wednesday evening, when He was put into the tomb, just before sunset (John 19:31, 38-42). Therefore, the 72 hours He was buried would have ended about 6:00 PM, 72 hours later -- or Saturday evening! What did Jesus do from 6:00 PM in the evening of Saturday until the next morning when He revealed Himself to Mary, and later to the other disciples?"
We are not told, in the Scriptures.
First of all, the Messiah was NOT in the grave for exactly 72 hours -- nowhere near that long, in fact! Therefore, he was NOT resurrected on the evening of the Sabbath, and did NOT have numerous hours to lollygag around before he revealed himself to Mary! As the Scriptures clearly reveal, he was resurrected early in the morning of the First Day of the Week -- probably not long before the disciples found the tomb empty and Mary encountered the risen Messiah in the garden.
Continues our confused "pastor" friend:
"Why then do some think Jesus ascended at some moment between the time He told Mary not to touch Him, and later that same day when He appeared to all the disciples? The reason is that when the women went to tell the others that angels had told them Jesus had arisen, and was going before them into Galilee, we read: 'And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him' (Matt. 28:9)."
The question is: Why did he tell Mary not to touch him, and yet the disciples held him by the feet, worshipping him? The assumption is that between these two events, he very quickly ascended to Heaven and returned, being accepted of the Father -- so now they could "touch" him. But is this assumption correct?
Let's examine John 20:17 in detail and see what it really says!
It appears that both Matthew and Luke are saying that after the Messiah's resurrection he could be "held" and "handled" while John is saying that he could not even be "touched" in some translations. To answer this apparent contradiction we first need a mini-lesson in Greek grammar.
In A Grammar Manual of the Greek New Testament by H.E. Dana and Julius Mantey, we find the following on page 301:
"(2) The Present Imperative in Prohibitions. The present tense is properly used for expressing CONTINUED ACTION. A prohibition in the present imperative demands that action then in progress be stopped.
me krinete, ina me krithete
Stop judging, lest ye be judged. Mt. 7:1
ego eklan...leyei moi, Me klaie
I was weeping; he says to me, Stop weeping. Rev. 5:4,5."
Now, let's apply this to the beginning of John 20:17. The verse also includes a prohibitive, present imperative: me mou haptou. It would be better rendered as "Stop touching me." The point? As Dana and Mantey indicated, "A prohibition in the present imperative demands that ACTION then IN PROGRESS be stopped."
So Mary is already touching the risen Messiah. But the Messiah is commanding her to stop. But why? Help in answering this question can be found by looking at the word rendered "touch."
The Greek word rendered "touch" in the KJV is haptou. Walter Baur's A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament renders the word haptou as "touch, take hold of, hold." Johannes Louw and Eugene Nida's Greek-English Lexicon gives two main definitions for this verb that fit the context of John 20:17: "hold on to" and "touch." For the former, they then give a more in-depth definition of: "to hold on to an object -- 'to hold on to, to retain in the hand, to seize.'" For the latter, the in-depth definition is, "to touch, with the implication of relatively firm contact -- 'to touch.'"
In his commentary on the Gospel of John, Merril C. Tenny summarizes the lexical connotations of this verb as: "The verb hapto DOES NOT mean to touch with the tip of a finger to test whether an object is real or not but to 'CLUTCH' or 'GRIP.'"
So Mary was not just touching the Messiah -- she was HOLDING him, GRASPING him, CLINGING to him. The Messiah is simply telling her to let go, enough is enough already! Putting all the above together, the first part of John 20:17 should be rendered, "Stop holding me..." or possibly, "Stop clinging to me..."
So the Messiah is being "held" in Matthew; he is being "handled" in Luke; and he is being "held" or "clung to" in John. There is, therefore, NO contradiction between the Gospels. In fact, the only reason there is even an "apparent contradiction" between these passages is because of the rather poor rendering of the KJV.
Compare, however, the translation of the NKJV, "Do not cling to me...." Even without using "Stop" this rendering still has the sense that the Messiah is commanding that Mary cease what she is ALREADY DOING. The Messiah would not have said "Do not cling to me" to someone who was not even touching him!
Now let's answer WHY the Messiah is telling Mary to "Stop clinging to me...."
In Clarke's Commentary on the Bible we read the following --
"Touch me not -- ...[me mou haptou], cling not to me...[Hapto] has this sense in Job 31:7, where the Septuagint uses it for the Hebrew...dabak, which signifies to CLEAVE, CLING, STICK, or be GLUED to. From Matthew 28:9, it appears that some of the women held him by the feet and worshipped him. This probably Mary did; and our Lord seems to have spoken to her to this effect: "Spend no longer time with me now: I am not going immediately to heaven -- you will have several opportunities of seeing me again: but go [immediately] and tell my disciples, that I am, by and by, to ascend to my Father and God, who is your Father and God also. Therefore, let them take courage."
In Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible we find a similar analysis --
"Jesus saith unto her, touch me not,....Not that his body was an aerial one, or a mere 'phantom,' which could not be touched...rather, because he had an errand to send her on to his disciples, WHICH REQUIRED HASTE; nor need she stay now to show her respect to him, since she would have opportunity enough to do that, before his ascension; which though it was to be quickly, yet not directly and immediately; and this seems to be the sense of our Lord's reason: for I am not yet ascended to my Father; nor shall I immediately go to Him; I shall make some stay upon earth; as he did, forty days before his ascension; when he intimates, she might see him again, and familiarly converse with him; at present he would have her stay no longer with him: but go [immediately] to my brethren..."
In Wesley's Notes we also read:
"20:17 Touch me not -- Or rather, Do not cling to me (for she held him by the feet,) Mt. 28:9. Detain me not now. You will have other opportunities of conversing with me. For I am not ascending to my Father -- I have not yet left the world. But go IMMEDIATELY to my brethren..."
When you think about it this was the MOST MOMENTOUS event in the history of mankind! Without the resurrection there is nothing -- this life is all there is, no life after death, nothing -- just a huge blank! With the resurrection of the Messiah mankind could now reach for the stars -- become kings and leaders in the World Tomorrow here on this earth -- and eventually the entire universe! Clearly Mary did not yet understand this, and instead of RUSHING immediately to inform the disciples that everything the scriptures pointed to had occurred, she clung to the Messiah and thereby received his loving rebuke.
Our misguided "pastor" friend tries to put a sexual slant on the Messiah's statement to Mary by saying: "The simple answer is revealed by the Greek expression Jesus used, when He told Mary, 'Touch me not.' The word for 'touch' in this verse is haptomai and literally means, 'to attach oneself to, i.e., to touch (in many implied relations).' It is the same word Paul used in I Corinthians 7:1, where he wrote, speaking of sexual or sensual holding or hugging, and close bodily contact: 'It is good for a [single] man not to touch a woman.'"
Such are the ways of this world -- a sexual connotation has to be applied to almost everything! The fact is, the Greek word haptomai implies no such connotation -- it simply means "to touch," "to lay hold on," "to embrace"; "to hurt," etc. (Greek-English Lexicon to the New Testament, by Dawson and Taylor). This word only takes on a "sexual" implication when used in a sexual context. Here the Messiah simply wanted Mary to stop worshipping him and RUSH and tell the disciples about the incredible event that had just taken place!
YEHOVAH's Shekinah Glory
There are those who claim the Messiah told Mary not to touch him because he was to appear before YEHOVAH God in Heaven at 9:00 a.m. that morning (the very time of the Morning Sacrifice in the Jerusalem Temple) to "wave" the sheaf or omer (representing the first-century Ecclesia and all those to follow) before his Father, and to be exalted to the right hand of YEHOVAH God and take on his NEW spiritual body.
But let me ask this question -- WHY would the Messiah zoom all the way to Heaven and then zoom back to earth when YEHOVAH's Shekinah Glory was resident in the Jerusalem Temple? Wouldn't this then be his second coming, and his future arrival at the end of the age his third coming? This presents all kinds of problems!
YEHOVAH's Glory was present in the Tabernacle and then in the Jerusalem Temples that followed. When Moses and the Israelites finished erecting the Tabernacle, the "Shekinah" of YEHOVAH God filled it:
"When Moses had finished the work, the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the PRESENCE OF THE LORD [YEHOVAH] filled the Tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting, because the cloud had settled upon it and the PRESENCE OF THE LORD filled the Tabernacle. When the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the Israelites would set out, on their various journeys; but if the cloud did not lift, they would not set out until such time as it did lift. For over the Tabernacle a cloud of the LORD rested by day, and the fire would appear in it by night, in the view of all the house of Israel throughout their journeys" (Exodus 40:33-38).
YEHOVAH's actual presence was always accepted by the Israelites as being in the Tabernacle (and later in the Temple), but was not always physically confirmed by the visible "Shekinah." However, there were occasional renewals of miraculous appearances of the "Shekinah" -- such as when the Temple of Solomon was dedicated. There was an initial appearance in a vision when the LORD (YEHOVAH) promised that He would "shakan" or dwell in the house that Solomon was building. Notice I Kings 6:11-13:
"Then the word of the LORD [YEHOVAH] came to Solomon, 'With regard to this House [Temple] you are building -- if you follow My laws and observe My rules and faithfully keep My commandments, I will fulfill for you the promise that I gave to your father David: I will abide ["shakan"] among the children of Israel, and I will never forsake My people Israel.'"
Later, when the construction of the Temple was finished and the day of dedication was at hand, the holy "Shekinah" manifested itself in a very physical way --
"When the priests came out of the sanctuary -- for the cloud ['Shekinah'] had filled the House of the LORD and the priests were not able to remain and perform the services be cause of the cloud ['Shekinah'], for the Presence of the LORD filled the House of the LORD -- then Solomon declared: "The LORD has chosen to abide ['shaken'] in a thick cloud: I have now built for you a stately House, a place where You may dwell ['shakan'] forever" (I Kings 8:10-13).
When YEHOVAH said He would dwell ("shakan") in the Temple "forever," there were conditions to this promise. Therefore, at the destruction of the First Temple, He did not allow His "Shekinah" presence to stay in the Holy of Holies (inner sanctuary of the Temple) after a certain level of corruption had taken place. What is surprising is that He stayed in the Temple for so long! Evidently, His love for His people is such that He endures far more than any human judge would deem possible. Even with all the corruption that occurred during the last days of Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin (and most of the reign of Zedekiah). Ezekiel's vision of the DEPARTURE OF YEHOVAH'S "SHEKINAH" from the Temple and city did not occur until after the beginning of the final siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and his army.
YEHOVAH God made preparations to REMOVE the "Shekinah" from the Temple and then from the very city of Jerusalem itself:
"And the cherubim lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight; when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the EAST GATE of the LORD'S house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above" (Ezekiel 10:19).
The building was still standing but no longer had YEHOVAH's Glory before it was destroyed!
Then, in Ezekiel 11:23, we read of the actual DEPARTURE of YEHOVAH's "Shekinah" from the Mount of Olives --
"And the glory of the LORD ['Cavod YHVH'] went up from the midst of the city, and stood on the mountain which is on the east side of the city [Mount of Olives]."
From the Mount of Olives the "Shekinah" departed from this earth to later return to the Temple that was rebuilt under Zerubbabel, but before the arrival of Ezra and Nehemiah. The "Shekinah" remained in the Temple from this time through the enlarging of the Temple complex by Herod, and his subsequent improvements. This is borne out by a little known but awe-inspiring incident that occurred when Herod tried to tap into the tremendous wealth of King David's tomb in order to finance his grandiose plans to rebuild the Temple.
Writes Gary Arvidson: "So, how was Herod able to finance this and other projects? Toward the beginning of his great work 'all their sacred treasures were exhausted.' We are told in this same context that people around the world sent an abundance of money for the Temple project. But there were other funds to be raised. And Herod found ANOTHER SOURCE!" (In Search of King David's Tomb, part 1, p. 27).
Arvidson goes on to say: "What we are going to find is that Herod tapped David's sepulcher as a major resource for his great works...and as a consequence gained access to David's sepulcher to finance and decorate his empire. What had been amassed for the First Temple and laid aside by Solomon, was finally used for the Second Temple period" (ibid.).
The first-century A.D. Jewish historian and priest Josephus, records that "at this time he [Herod] opened the sepulcher by night, and went into it, and endeavored that it should not be known in the city, but took only his faithful friends with him" (Antiquities 14.7.1).
Then begins the most unusual account of all. Herod was determined to explore the multi-room structure of David's tomb to the limits. Suddenly, a great miracle occurred --
"However, he [Herod] had a great desire to make a more diligent search, and to go further in, even as far as the very bodies of David and Solomon; WHERE TWO OF HIS GUARDS WERE SLAIN BY A FLAME that burst out upon those that went in, as the report was. So he was terribly affrightened, and went out, and built a propitiatory monument of that fright he had been in; and this of white stone, at the mouth of the sepulcher..." (Antiquities 14.7.1).
The physical "Shekinah" put the fear of YEHOVAH God in Herod and his surviving men and, frankly, "scared the hell" out of them!
YEHOVAH's "Shekinah" remained in the Temple all through the life and death of the Messiah and up to the year 66 A.D. -- when it was seen leaving the Temple and alighting on the Mount of Olives. Notice!
"There is also another reason why Christians in the first century were very interested in the Mount of Olives. This is because it was believed that the Shekinah Glory of God which supposedly dwelt inside the Holy of Holies at the Temple left the sanctuary and went to the Mount of Olives and hovered over that spot at the time of the Roman/Jewish War which ended in A.D. 70. The fact that the Shekinah Glory left the old Temple and migrated to the top of the Mount of Olives was an important event to Eusebius [church historian and scholar A.D. 260?-340?]" (Secrets of Golgotha, by Ernest L. Martin. 1988: ASK Publications, Alhambra, CA. p. 83).
In Eusebius' book Proof of the Gospel we find this passage --
"Believers in Christ congregate from all parts of the world, not as of old time because of the glory of Jerusalem, nor that they may worship in the ancient Temple at Jerusalem, but...that they may worship at the Mount of Olives opposite to the city, whither the glory [the Shekinah Glory] of the LORD [YEHOVAH, YHVH] migrated when it left the former city" (Book VI, Chapter 18 (288)).
According to Eusebius the "Shekinah" Glory left the Temple and hovered over the Mount of Olives during "the siege of Jerusalem" (66 A.D. to 70). However, Eusebius was not the only observer who mentioned that the "Shekinah" Glory left the Temple before the destruction of the Temple and hovered over the Mount of Olives. A Jewish rabbi named Jonathan -- who was an eyewitness to the destruction of Jerusalem -- said the "Shekinah" Glory left the Temple and for three and a half years
"abode on the MOUNT OF OLIVES hoping that Israel would repent, but they did not; while a Bet Kol [a supernatural voice from heaven] issued forth announcing, Return, O backsliding children [Jer. 3:14]. Return unto Me, and I will return unto you [Mal. 3:7], when they did not repent, it said, I WILL RETURN TO MY PLACE [Hosea 5:15] (Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations 2:11)" (Secrets of Golgotha, by Ernest L. Martin. 84).
There was yet another writer who recorded the fact of the "Shekinah" presence of YEHOVAH God moving from the Temple in Jerusalem just before the war with the Romans. Josephus mentioned that in the Spring of 66 A.D. some astonishing events took place within the Temple. He recorded three miracles associated with YEHOVAH's "Shekinah" and the Temple -- and each one showed clearly that the "Shekinah" was departing from the Holy of Holies. In War VI, 290 he stated "that a GREAT LIGHT shone over the altar for thirty minutes at 3 o'clock in the morning (a week before Passover in A.D. 66) and then it DEPARTED. He said the sacred scribes interpreted this sign as a bad omen for the Temple. It was like the Shekinah Glory moving away from the Tabernacle in the wilderness as a sign to disassemble the Tabernacle and transport it to another location" (ibid.).
Josephus goes on to say that "a few days later (during Passover itself) the enormous brass gates of Nicanor, requiring twenty men to open and close them, opened at midnight of their own accord (War VI, 293-295). This was also interpreted as showing a desolation coming upon the Temple. And then later, on Pentecost, the final sign was given which definitely showed that the Shekinah Glory was departing the Temple as the other signs indicated (ibid.):
"Moreover, at the festival which is called Pentecost, the priests on entering the inner court of the Temple at nightfall, as their custom was in accomplishment of their ministrations, stated that they first became aware of a commotion and a roar, and after that the voice of a great multitude saying 'We are departing hence'" (War VI, 299).
When we couple Josephus' information with that of Rabbi Jonathan (also an eyewitness) we can see that the "Shekinah" went directly to the Mount of Olives and remained over the top of the mountain for 3 and 1/2 years -- from late Spring in 66 A.D. to about December of 69 A.D., some eight months before the Temple was destroyed by the Romans. It then went back to heaven and has not returned to earth since!
The Wave Sheaf Ceremony
All during the times of the Tabernacle and Temples YEHOVAH God's Shekinah Glory filled the Holy of Holies. And during these times the Wave Sheaf ceremony took place on Nisan 16 at the Jerusalem Temple -- in obedience to Leviticus 23:9-11:
"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 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 [YEHOVAH], to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it" (NKJV).
According to Alfred Edersheim, "Already, on the 14th of Nisan, the spot whence the first sheaf was to be reaped had been marked out by delegates from the Sanhedrin, by tying together in bundles, while still standing, the barley that was to be cut down....When the time for cutting the sheaf had arrived, that is, on the evening of the 15th of Nisan (even though it were a Sabbath), just as the sun went down, three men, each with a sickle and basket, formally set to work....Though one ephah or ten omers, of barley was cut down, only one omer of flour, or about 5.1 pints of our measure, was offered in the Temple on the second Paschal, or 16th day of Nisan....The omer of flour was mixed with a 'log' or very nearly three-fourths of a pint of oil, and a handful of frankincense put upon it, THEN WAVED BEFORE THE LORD..." (The Temple: Its Ministry and Services As They Were in the Time of Christ, Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 1987, pp. 257-259).
So every year on Nisan 16 while the Temple stood and YEHOVAH's Shekinah Glory filled the Holy of Holies, the High Priest waved the omer of flour obtained from the sheaf of barley BEFORE YEHOVAH's SHEKINAH GLORY IN THE JERUSALEM TEMPLE! So WHY, I ask again, would people have the Messiah traveling all the way to Heaven and back in order to "wave the sheaf" when all he had to do after his resurrection was to appear before YEHOVAH's Shekinah Glory in the Jerusalem Temple and "wave the sheaf" on our behalf? At exactly 9:00 a.m. that morning -- the very time of the Morning Sacrifice in the Temple -- the Messiah appeared before YEHOVAH God in the Jerusalem Temple to "wave" the sheaf or omer (representing the first-century Ecclesia and all those to follow) before his Father.
Forty days later he ascended to Heaven and was exalted to the right hand of YEHOVAH God and to take on his NEW spiritual body.
The Messiah's exaltation and glorification was prophesied centuries before by the prophet Daniel, who wrote --
"I saw in the night visions and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man and he came to the Ancient of Days [YEHOVAH God] and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages [of Israel] should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed" (Daniel 7:13-14).
Because the Messiah's authority was now absolute and worldwide following his resurrection, and the certainty of his ascension to heaven forty days later now assured, he could say to his disciples in Matthew 28:18: "ALL authority in HEAVEN and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..." Similarly, the first-century Ecclesia could NOT have carried out this directive before they were "waved" before YEHOVAH God's Shekinah Glory in the Jerusalem Temple as a fulfillment of the Wave Sheaf Offering.
The wave sheaf -- representing the New Testament Ecclesia -- was accepted by the Father through our High Priest and Elder Brother! Then, forty days after his resurrection, Yeshua the Messiah was exalted to YEHOVAH's right hand.
To recount the events of the day, the Messiah was
1/. resurrected from the dead "early on the first day of the week" (Mark 16:9) and "toward the DAWN of the first day of the week" (Matthew 28:1).
2/. He appeared to Mary Magdalene, in his resurrected human form, shortly after his resurrection and shortly after the two Maries entered the sepulcher (John 20:14-17).
3/. At 9:00 a.m. -- the exact time of the Morning Sacrifice in the Temple -- the Messiah "waved" the omer before his Father in the Jerusalem Temple for the acceptance of the FIRSTFRUITS.
4/. Later that day (the First Day of the Week) he appeared to the eleven disciples while they were gathered together and "breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the holy spirit'" (John 20:19, 22). He also told them to "go into ALL the world [of Israel] and preach the gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15).
Clearly, at his resurrection, and following his appearance before YEHOVAH God in the Jerusalem Temple, the Messiah was given all power and authority from his Heavenly Father.
The Messiah had originally been sent only to the "lost sheep of the House of Israel" (Matthew 15:24), among whom he exercised his authority in Judea (John 5:27). Following his resurrection, however, the Messiah was now fully invested with the authority he had been promised and which he had often spoken about as receiving. So, after his resurrection, he could say -- "ALL authority in HEAVEN and on earth has been GIVEN to me" (Matthew 28:18). Because the Messiah's authority was now absolute the door of salvation was now open to all the Israelites in dispersion around the then-known world:
"Go therefore and make disciples of ALL nations [of Israel], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).
The idea that Yeshua the Messiah rose up to Heaven on the morning of the First Day of the Week -- thus fulfilling the Wave Sheaf Offering himself -- is TOTALLY FALSE. Also FALSE is the notion that the Messiah rose up to Heaven on the same morning to be exalted to the right hand of YEHOVAH God and to "wave" the omer, or wave sheaf, before YEHOVAH God for our acceptance -- them zoom back to earth to appear before his disciples! All he had to do was cross over from the Mount of Olives to the Temple precincts and appear before his Father.
The true fulfillment of the wave sheaf or "omer" is the 144,000, which are the FIRSTFRUITS of the harvest, then all of those called by YEHOVAH down through the centuries to the present time. We, today, are the FIRSTFRUITS of spiritual Israel -- the Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God!
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
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