Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

Journey With Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive

Journey Cover

To Purchase

“Treat the Messiah as holy, as Lord in your hearts; while remaining always ready to give a reasoned answer to anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you —” (1 Peter 3:15).

Journey with Jeremiah is a compilation of reasoned responses written to answer questions regarding a ‘gentile’ walk of faith in the Jewish Messiah of Israel. It will challenge a gentile’s spiritual attitudes and how they live out their love for the God of Israel and His Son, Jesus (Yeshua). It will move the non-Jew from a crossroads in their faith onto the ancient paths bringing nourishment to the wild olive.

Part One explores many of the misunderstood doctrines in historical Christianity: the new covenant, the problem in Galatia, the law vs. the Law, Peter’s vision, and the timing of Jesus’ birth. Part Two brings the ancient shadows into the reality of Yeshua giving prophetic insights into the unexplained ‘Jewish festivals’ that leave holes in the pages of the New Testament. Part Three gives simple recipes, study guides and crafts to use when celebrating the Biblical holidays.

Note: Purchases are made through CreateSpace and Amazon.com with a credit card.  If you need to purchase through Paypal, please contact me directly: julie@tentstakeministries.

Kindle Edition

Comments from those who have read the book:

“This book is so good I can’t put it down.  Everyone should have a copy!” D. Carlson

“My Bible study group could learn so much from this book.” A. David

“I am going to buy a copy of this book for everyone in my family.”  K. Pilger

“I am so excited that all of your writings are now in one book that I can read and reread.” P. Nelson

“Thanks so much for writing this book.  I look forward to joining you on your Jeremiah Journey!”  D. Griffith

The Easter Women

When my children were young, I had a little book I read to them every Easter about the women going to the tomb and seeing the empty grave.  It wasn’t until I understood who the Easter women really are that I stopped reading the book.   I realized that combining the holy with the profane didn’t bring revelation of God’s plan of salvation through Yeshua to the world, but kept alive the worship of foreign gods and goddesses that couldn’t be in the lives of my children.

“So Samuel said to all the Israelites, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines’  (1 Samuel 7:3).

Nimrod, from Genesis 10, had wife whose name was Semiramis.  She was an adulteress and an idolator.  When her husband died, she gave birth to an illegitimate son claiming that he was supernaturally conceived in order to hide her own immoral behavior.  She even claimed that he was ‘the promised seed’ so there would be no judgment against her behavior.  When the child was born,  she named him Tammuz and declared that he was Nimrod reborn. This  allowed her to have an immoral mother-son relationship.  Not only was Tammuz worshipped, but so was his mother, Ishtar,  from whom we derive the English word, Easter, and the Hebrew concept of Ashtoreth.

Tammuz became a shepherd and one day while herding his flocks, he was killed by a wild boar.  Ishtar, his mother turned lover, mourned for him.  She descended into the underworld, or Hades,  to deliver him from death.   She weeped for 40 days which eventually made the god of water and wisdom send a heavenly messenger to Hades to rescue her and her son.   All women in Babylon began this 40-day time of mourning on the second day of the fourth month. According to the prophet Ezekiel, this lamenting time was detestable to the LORD.  

“Then he brought me to the entrance to the north gate of the house of the LORD, and I saw women sitting there, mourning for Tammuz.  He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this” (Ezekiel 8:14)

After the 40 days, when Istar and Tammuz were set free from the underworld, there was a festival that was full of sexual immorality and dancing around Asherah poles on the ‘high places.’ The worship of Ashtoreth (Ishtar) and Asherah combined over time and became  known in ancient Israel as the Queen of Heaven.

“Judah’s sin is engraved with an iron tool, inscribed with a flint point, on the tablets of their heart and on the horns of their altars. Even their children remember their altars and Asherah poles beside the spreading trees and on the high hills” (Jeremiah 17:1-2).

Like Christmas, the catholic church embraced the pagan worship of Nimrod, the Queen of Heaven and Tammuz and tweaked it.    As preparation for Easter, there is a 40-day period called Lent.  The day before Lent begins, there is great feasting with immoral parties.  Remnants of these pagan traditions are embedded in Carnival of Brazil and Mardi Gras in New Orleans.   When the first day of Lent arrives or Ash Wednesday, those same immoral  crowds, including Protestants and Evangelicals who have embraced catholic doctrines, flock to churches to receive ashes on their forehead, symbolic of mourning and sorrow for the dead.  For the next 40 days there is ‘soulful preparation’ through denial and fasting culminating in the great celebration called Easter or the memorial of Tammuz, the son of the Queen of Heaven, Ishtar,  being released from Hades.  

“The children gather the wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and, just to provoke me, they pour out drink offerings to other gods!” (Jeremiah 7:18).

How nicely the catholic church gave this pagan traditional a Biblical twist! Still, the God of Israel warned his people about the worship of Tammuz and honoring the Queen of Heaven with cakes or hot cross buns.  Dancing around a ‘May Pole’ also honors the the pagan goddess Asherah with a sexual symbol made from a tree.  Even the idea of coloring eggs has been embraced by the church.  Traditionally, during the season of Lent, all eggs were removed from the home for forty days when they were  colored red for a ‘blood sacrifice’ for Ashtoreth and Asherah.  The Easter ham is nothing more than a massive sacrifice of pigs as a way to atone for Tammuz’ death from a wild boar.

“Then all the men who knew that their wives were offering incense to other gods, along with all the women standing by, a huge crowd … answered Jeremiah: “As for the word you have just spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you.  Instead, we will certainly continue to fulfill every word our mouths have spoken: we will offer incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we and our ancestors, our kings and our leaders, in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food; everything was fine, we didn’t experience anything unpleasant.  But since we stopped offering to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything, and we have been destroyed by sword and famine” (Jeremiah 44:15-18).

Jeremiah’s warning is not heeded by the men or women of Israel. They didn’t care that they worshipped other gods contrary to what God commanded. Instead they remained rebellious in their stony hearts and fervently declared they weren’t going to change their wicked ways.  They believed that their prosperity came from the Queen of Heaven and not from the God of Israel so they continued in their abominations until judgment came.

“For everything written in the past was written to teach us, so that with the encouragement of the Tanakh we might patiently hold on to our hope”

(Romans 15:4).

We are to learn from Israel’s mistakes and not imitate their abominations.  We are not to have hardness of heart when we hear God’s voice;  read His Word, learn from His Son.   As the nations join with Israel through faith in Yeshua, each of us must repent from these disgusting pagan practices and return to a pure worship of the God of Israel as outlined in His Word.   Cutsey little stories or poems  cannot justify unholy traditions that are abominable to the God of Israel.  We have been given the promise of eternal life through the  death and resurrection of the Messiah of Israel and not with the traditions surrounding a pagan god murdered by a wild pig that honors Ishtar, the Queen of Heaven.

©2015 Tentstake Ministries, chapter from Journey with Jeremiah on amazon.com

Sign of Jonah: Three Days and Three Nights

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).

Many people wonder about the three days and three nights of Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection.  Let’s face it, Friday night to Sunday morning is NOT three days and three nights no matter how you interpret the days, the hours, the times, the kingships or even the Jewish and catholic traditions.  Yet, Yeshua’s own words prophesied that he would be in the grave three days and three nights, no less, no more. 

Creating a Timeline

Using Scripture along with the Feasts of the LORD is the perfect way to determine when Yeshua died, was buried and rose from the dead.  To create the timeline,  it may be more effective to work backwards from Yeshua’s Resurrection and the Sabbath day, to Unleavened Bread and to Passover in order to understand the timing of the events.  All ‘days’ go from evening to morning as established by God at Creation.  The sunset time of 6:00 p.m. is an arbitrary time that I chose to make my timeline and may not have been the actual time of sunset in the year that Yeshua died and rose from the dead.

The Resurrection – The Feast of Firstfruits

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell the people of Israel, ‘After you enter the land I am giving you and harvest its ripe crops, you are to bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.  He is to wave the sheaf before the LORD, so that you will be accepted; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath” (Leviticus 23:9-11).

Paul says that Yeshua is  ‘the firstfruits of those who have died’  using the same terminology as the Feast of Firstfruits found in Leviticus.  The Feast involved the waving of a sheaf of grain on the ‘day after the Sabbath’ or ‘the first day of the week’ (Sunday).  In agreement with the LORD’s ‘appointed times,’ the evidence in the gospels, and the explanation in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Yeshua rose from the dead as a firstfruits on the day after the Sabbath.

“But the fact is that Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have died” (1 Corinthians 15:20).

Day After the Sabbath

“After Sabbath, toward dawn the first day of the week, Miriyam of Magdala and the other Miryam went to see the grave” (Matthew 28:1).

The details surrounding the tomb are recorded in Matthew 28 and Luke 24.   On the first day of the week, after the Sabbath, before dawn, some women found Yeshua’s tomb empty.  It wasn’t until AFTER the Sabbath that the women found the tomb empty because they rested according to the commandment regarding the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8-11). Only the seventh-day Sabbath command comes before the ‘first day of the week.’

“On the Sabbath, the women rested, in obedience to the commandment; but on the first day of the week, while it was still very early, they took the spices they had prepared, went to the tomb, and found the stone rolled away from the tomb!” (Luke 24:1).

Sometime before the light of dawn on the first day of the week, Yeshua must have risen from the dead because he was not in the tomb.    In other words,  during the hours between Saturday’s sunset (ending of Sabbath) and Sunday’s sunrise, Yeshua rose from the dead.  There is no specific time given for his Resurrection so for sake of explanation, let’s say the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday) ended at a 6:00 p.m. sunset.  It is possible that at 6:01 p.m., the beginning of the first day of the week, Yeshua rose from the dead.  However, it is also possible that he rose at 5:59 p.m. which will become clear.

Sabbath: Big ‘S’ or little ’s’

In Leviticus 23, when the LORD gave His ‘’appointed times’ to the Israelites, the first festival commanded is the weekly Sabbath.  It is the only ‘appointed time’ that He called ‘Sabbath’ – all of the other ‘appointed times’ were given specific names: Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Firstfruits, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Trumpets and Feast of Tabernacles.  Though several of the commanded Feasts included ‘no regular work’ like the seventh-day Sabbath, the LORD did not call them Sabbath with a Capital S.    It is only when the  Jewish tradition designated the LORD’s ‘appointed times’ as ‘sabbaths’ that confusion with the holy days began. 

For example, Leviticus 23:15 outlines the timing of the Feast of Weeks or  Pentecost, “From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks.”

If this verse is read with the Sabbath being the seventh-day weekly Sabbath given only 12 verses earlier, then the counting of seven full weeks would begin on the ‘day after the Sabbath’ or Sunday.   Counting this way would allow for Feast of Firstfruits to consistently fall on a ‘first day of the week’ which has tremendous prophetic significance for the Resurrection.

However, when the first day of another festival like Unleavened Bread is referred to by traditional Judaism as a sabbath, confusion  begins.  Depending on which day of the week the Unleavened Bread ‘sabbath’ falls, counting from the ’day after that sabbath’ makes  the day of Firstfruits change yearly and there is no recognition to the Feast of Firstfruits Resurrection.  Also according to Jewish tradition,  some ‘sabbaths’ are considered ‘higher’ than others; some weekly Sabbaths more important when they fall during a festival week.  Though these delineations may not be departing from God’s commands to keep His ‘appointed times,’ it does cause disunity between the Jews and the Body of Messiah regarding the celebration of  the Resurrection of  Messiah.

Yeshua followed many Jewish traditions because he was Jewish and lived as a Jewish man.  However, when those traditions nullified the commands of God, he refuted them and taught the correct view.  It would follow that if a Jewish or even Christian tradition nullified the ‘’appointed time’’ of a feast, Yeshua would celebrate it correctly and so in regards to Firstfruits, Scripture should be used over Jewish tradition.

Unleavened Bread – Day 3, Day 2, Day 1

“In the first month … on the fifteenth day of the same month is the festival of matzah (Unleavened Bread); for seven days you are to eat matzah (unleavened bread).  On the first day you are to have a holy convocation; don’t do any kind of ordinary work.  Bring an offering made by fire to Adonai for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work” (Leviticus 23:6-8).

Counting backwards from the time of the Resurrection,  we need three nights and three days for grave time.

Once again, let’s use 6:00 p.m. as the beginning time for each day. 

Day 1 would be from 6:00 p.m. Saturday evening to 6:00 p.m. Friday evening.  This would be the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday), Day 3 of Unleavened Bread, Day three in the tomb.

Day 2 would be from 6:00 p.m. Friday evening to 6:00 p.m. Thursday evening.  This would be Friday,  Day 2 of Unleavened Bread, Day two in the tomb.

Day 3 would be from 6:00 p.m. Thursday evening to 6:00 p.m. Wednesday evening.  This would be Thursday,  Day 1 of Unleavened Bread, Day one in the tomb. 

Using this timeline,  Yeshua would have been put in the tomb sometime BEFORE 6:00 p.m. Wednesday evening which began the first of the prophesied three nights and days  in the tomb (Thursday,  Friday, Saturday).  As mentioned earlier, by being buried in the tomb before 6:00 p.m., three days and three nights would have him rise  sometime before the Sabbath day ended.  It was only after the Sabbath day and the command to rest that Mary and the others went to the tomb to find it empty. 

The first day of Feast of Unleavened Bread was and is considered by Jewish tradition ‘a sabbath day.’  In the year of Yeshua’s death,  this Unleavened Bread would begin, according to the three days outlined above, on Wednesday evening at 6:00 p.m.  Before it began at sunset, the daytime hours were known as Preparation Day.   It was on Preparation Day of Unleavened Bread that Yeshua’s body was removed from the cross.   He needed to be buried before the start of the Unleavened Bread, ‘a special sabbath’ which began at sunset, the 15 day of the first month.

Yeshua was placed in the tomb as the unleavened, sinless bread from heaven.  He was wrapped in linen and placed in the tomb of a rich man from Jerusalem. He was in the tomb for the first three nights and days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

“There was a man named Joseph, a member of the Sanhedrin.  He was a good man, a righteous man, and he had not been in agreement with either the Sanhedrin’s motivation or their action.  … This man approached Pilate and asked for Yeshua’s body.  He took it down, wrapped it in a linen sheet, and placed it in a tomb cut into the rock, that had never been used.  It was Preparation Day, and a Sabbath was about to begin” (Luke 23:50-54).

Passover

“In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between sundown and complete darkness, comes the Lord’s Passover” (Leviticus 23:5).

According to the timeline, the LORD’s Passover on the ’14 day of the month’ would begin at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday evening and end at sunset,  6:00 p.m. Wednesday evening.  After sunset, between twilight on Tuesday evening and complete darkness, the Passover meal was celebrated. 

“He [Yeshua] replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My ‘appointed time’ is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house’” (Matthew 8:29).

According to Luke 22:15, Yeshua had a great desire to celebrate this  Passover seder with his disciples.   This specific Passover was God’s ‘appointed time’ for Yeshua and he had to fulfill its purpose as the Lamb of God.    

The Passover celebrated by Yeshua was only a memorial to the Passover that occurred in Egypt.  No one put on sandals or carried staffs.  No one prepared for a great exodus from Egypt into the wilderness.  No one went outside their door to sacrifice a  lamb and put its blood on their doorposts.   Israel was no longer a people enslaved by Egypt and they celebrated their freedom with a traditional meal called a seder.

The Passover seder included four cups of wine and matzah or  unleavened bread.  During this unique seder, Yeshua would turn the focus from the past to the present and future.  He used one cup of wine to offer a renewed marriage covenant to his disciples.  As they shared the cup of wine together, they became his betrothed bride.   With the second cup of wine, he took the unleavened bread and explained the bride price would be his broken body and blood.   His death would be ‘the death of the firstborn’ and his blood would bring in the new covenant promised by the prophet Jeremiah. 

Matthew records that ‘when evening came Yeshua reclined with his disciples.’ He had a lot to tell his disciples and his words are recorded in Matthew 26, Mark 14 , Luke 22, and John 14-16.  After the Passover meal, they went to the Mount of Olives.  Yeshua prayed.   He asked that the final cup of Passover be removed, but submitted to the will of His Father.  While his disciples slept,  he prayed for all who would believe in him through the testimony of his followers.    Soldiers arrive in the darkness with the high priest.  They arrest him,  take him to the Sanhedrin and to Pilate.  Before sunrise, Peter denies Yeshua three times.  The crowds want him crucified.  Yeshua is beaten, bruised, mocked, and condemned to death.  He goes to Golgotha where he is nailed to the cross and dies quickly without having any of his bones broken.

The events of the 14th day of the first month, (Tuesday evening to Wednesday evening) were completed.  Yeshua gives up his spirit with the words “It is finished.”  The Passover’s final Cup of Completion, the death of the Lamb of God, was poured out at the exact same time the priests were offering the last Passover sacrifice at the Temple before sunset on Wednesday.

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life” (Matthew 27:51-52).

Two Feasts with Matzah

“On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” (Matthew 26:17).

Though this verse suggests that Passover and Unleavened Bread start at the same time, Yeshua would have celebrated the actual dates of Passover and Unleavened Bread exclusive of Jewish tradition.  Even though unleavened bread was eaten at Passover, the two ‘’appointed times’ have different dates, memorials and purposes. 

The LORD’s Passover was the 14th day of the first month.  It began in the evening at twilight and lasted until the next evening.  Historically, the Israelites did not kill the Passover lamb and then suddenly leave Egypt.  They had to wait throughout the night for the ‘death of the firstborn’ until the next morning when they prepared to leave Egypt and plundered the Egyptians. On the fifteenth day of he first month,  Israel left Egypt.  For both festivals, unleavened bread was eaten. 

“Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.  From the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month until the evening of the twenty-first day, you are to eat matzah” (Exodus 12:17).

Some say that Yeshua could not celebrate Passover AND be the Passover lamb at the same time, however, one must understand the sacrificial system.  Every day, there were evening, morning and afternoon sacrifices. At the evening sacrifice, the beginning of Passover, Yeshua celebrated the seder with his disciples telling him that he would be broken and bleed for them.  By the morning sacrifice, he had been arrested, judged and condemned to death.   By the final afternoon sacrifice, he had walked to Golgotha, been nailed to the cross and died. He was buried quickly before the evening sacrifice that began the Feast of  Unleavened Bread.

Because our modern-day calendar differs from the Biblical one,  Passover will fall on a different day each year.  This means there needs to be unity when celebrating the most significant event of all time, the Resurrection of Messiah on the Feast of Firstfruits.  According to Scripture, the Feast of Firstfruits must come after Passover and it has to fall on a ‘first day of the week’ after the weekly Sabbath.  It’s that simple.  If Passover falls on any day of the week except Sabbath, the following Sunday will be the Feast of Firstfruits because there is a weekly Sabbath between the two.  If Passover falls on the Sabbath, then Firstfruits is the next day. 

The Biblical Three Days and Three Nights

In the year that Yeshua died, was buried and then resurrected,  he celebrated the Passover (14th day of the first month) with his disciples on a Tuesday evening.  Tuesday, during the night, he prayed for his disciples and those who would believe in him through their testimony.    He sweat drops of blood and submitted himself to death.  He was arrested before sunrise, beaten, hung on a cross and died late afternoon Wednesday at the exact time of the final Passover sacrifice.  The Temple curtain was torn in two; many who saw the events of the darkened sun and earthquake, knew he was the Son of God. He was taken from the cross, buried before the sun set while it was still Preparation Day for Unleavened Bread.

Wednesday evening to Saturday evening, the first ‘three nights and three days’ of Unleavened Bread,  his followers mourned.  A Roman centurion pondered why he felt the earth shake and knew at that moment that Yeshua was truly the Son of God.  Mockers who had seen the sign, “The King of the Jews”  were wondering why many who had died were walking around Jerusalem.    Peter and John and the rest of the disciples went into hiding for fear of their own lives.  The women who followed Yeshua went home grieving.  They prepared spices knowing they had to wait three days until after the Sabbath to prepare Yeshua’s body. The soldiers anxiously guarded the tomb hoping no one would steal the body.  All Israel rested on the seventh-day Sabbath day according to the command.  For the followers of Messiah, it was a long three days and nights.  It seemed like an eternity.

After resting on the Sabbath, before dawn on the first day of the week,  as the time for waving the sheaf in the Temple approached, several women went to the tomb.  They carried spices and walked through a garden wondering who would roll away the huge stone.  They could hear the whoooosssshhhhhhh of the sheaves being waved back and forth by the priests at the Temple nearby.  It was the Feast of Firstfruits.    After a long, confusing, heart-wrenching week of Passover, and then a seemingly endless Sabbath, could they endure another  ‘appointed’ of God?

“Yeshua said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Whom are you looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you’re the one who carried him away, just tell me where you put him; and I’ll go and get him myself” (John 20:15).

“Yeshua said to her, “Miryam!” Turning, she cried out to him in Hebrew, “Rabbani!” (that is, “Teacher!”)   “Stop holding onto me,” Yeshua said to her, “because I haven’t yet gone back to the Father. But go to my brothers, and tell them that I am going back to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:15-17).

The sorrow of the women turned to joy at seeing Yeshua risen and alive.  They were so excited they wanted to touch their Rabbi, but he needed to return to his Father.    The women obeyed his command and went to the disciples with the amazing news that ‘He is Risen.’  While the priests in the Temple waved the firstfruits grain offering, Yeshua went to his Father and offered himself as the Firstfruits of those who are raised from the dead.  The counting of the weeks began.

Yeshua’s Last Week Chart

©2010 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, excerpt from Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive on amazon.com

The Feast of Firstfruits – Yom Habikkurim

Sheaf Offering

“The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the LORD so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the LORD a lamb a year old without defect, together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with olive oil—a food offering presented to the LORD, a pleasing aroma—and its drink offering of a quarter of a hin of wine. You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your God. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live” (Leviticus 23:9-14).

The Offerings

When Israel entered the Promised Land, they were to celebrate the day of Firstfruits by offering an individual sheaf of grain from their harvest.  The sheaf was to be waved by the priest along with a burnt offering of a lamb, a fellowship offering of fine grain mixed with olive oil and a drinking offering of wine.

For the burnt offering, a lamb without defect was presented to the LORD.  Laying hands on the animal’s head was called semichah. It implied a physical ‘leaning’ on the animal so that the weight of the person was transferred to the animal.  This was symbolic of transferring the identity of the person onto the lamb. In effect,  the lamb represented him/her before God.  The lamb was sacrificed and its blood was splattered on the sides of the Altar.  Then the lamb was completely burnt up on the Altar as a food offering and a pleasing aroma to the LORD. 

The grain offering was a free will offering.  It was to be fresh kernels, dry roasted and covered in olive oil and frankincense or, it could be a fine flour mixed with olive oil and frankincense poured over it.  A grain offering could be baked in an oven like bread, cooked on a griddle like a pancake or boiled in a pot like a dumpling. 

A hin of liquid was equal to about 1.5 gallons or 5.7 liters.   The drink offering was a quarter of a hin of wine or close to one liter – the size of a modern-day Coke.    It was to be poured out at the foot of the Altar as part of the burnt and grain offering. 

These three firstfruits offerings of the lamb, the grain, and the wine were Yeshua’s reality within the Passover that had occurred several days earlier:  the Lamb of God, his broken body and poured out blood.  These offerings were presented to God by the priest bringing individual atonement for sin.

The Sheaf of Grain

“Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them” (Psalm 126:6).

There was another offering on firstfruits, a sheaf of grain.  According to Zondervan’s Bible Dictionary, sheaves are the stalks of grain left behind by the reaper.  It is gathered by the handfuls and bound by women or children in a joyful manner.  Collected sheaves were carried by donkeys or on heavily loaded carts to the threshing floor.  Some sheaves were left behind for the poor.  The sheaves that were offered as Firstfruits were only the amount that an individual could hold or just a handful.

According to the Biblical command, a handful of sheaves from the spring harvest was to be brought to the priest.  He became the intercessor between the individual and God as he waved it before the LORD as an acceptable offering. Until the Firstfruits sheaf was accepted by God,  no one could eat any roasted or new grain.

Yeshua, the Firstfruits

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24).

In the beginning, eternal fellowship with God was cut short by sin and death.  God promised a Seed who would have victory over death and restore fellowship with Him.  In order to have a sheaf of grain, there has to be a planting of one seed.  Once put into the ground, it dies and then produces a harvest.  Yeshua is the promised Seed.  He was buried in the ground and rose to life producing a Firstfruits sheaf of grain becoming the Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

“But Messiah has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20).

Notice that he is the plural Firstfruits of those raised from the dead, not the singular.  According to the gospel of Matthew, at the moment of Yeshua’s death, when the temple curtain was torn in two, the bodies of holy people who had died were raised to life.  A Firstfruits  resurrection of the dead had occurred. 

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.  They came out of the tombs after Yeshua’s resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people” (Matthew 27:52-23).

The Day After the Sabbath

Over the centuries, confusion has developed over the meaning of the ‘day after the Sabbath’ because the first and last days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread are also called ‘sabbaths.’ God never called these days ‘sabbath’ even though He commanded complete rest.   This subtlety is a manmade tradition that has caused the Feast of Firstfruits to occur on whatever day of the week the ‘day after the sabbath’ of Unleavened Bread begins.  This rendering has blurred the tremendous differences between the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Firstfruits and put much less emphasis on the day of the Firstfruits and the resurrection of the dead.  If the sheaf were to be waved by the priest on the day after the weekly Sabbath during the week of Unleavened Bread, this would always put Firstfruits on the ‘first day of the week’ and create a powerful reality of Yeshua in another of God’s ‘appointed times.’

“When the Sabbath was over, on the first day of the week when it was still dark, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so they might go anoint Yeshua’s body.  Just after sunrise, they were on the way to the tomb and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’ When they arrived at the tomb, they saw the stone had been removed from the entrance.  They entered, but they did not find the body of Yeshua.  While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.  In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ Then they remembered his words.  ‘Go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has risen from the dead….’ They told this to the apostles, but they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.  Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb.  He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Yeshua’s head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed” Matthew 28:7-10, Mark 16:1-3, Luke 24:1-8, John 20:1-8 15-16).

Yeshua’s Sheaf

“Yeshua said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’” (John 20:17). 

In order for the sheaf  of grain to be accepted on Yom Habikkurim, the high priest had to wave it before God. After being raised from the  dead, our High Priest, Yeshua, ascended to his Father to offer his sheaf of Firstfruits.   Once his sheaf of grain, filled with innumerable seeds was accepted, the spiritual harvest of souls could begin.  Yeshua’s family would not only include his brothers and sisters in Israel, but those brought forth in a harvest from the nations.

“…Because those whom he knew in advance, he also determined in advance would be conformed to the pattern of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers…” (Romans 8:29). 

While the priests were preparing for the Firstfruits offering in the Temple, the women found the empty tomb, met with angels, and spoke with their risen Lord.  While the women ran to tell the disciples that Yeshua was alive, the men of Israel began to offer their lambs, grain and wine.  As the individual sheaves of grain were taken by the priests, Yeshua ascended to his Father and presented himself as a sheaf offering.  As the sheaf of grain was being waved, a gentle breeze drifted throughout the Temple.  Yeshua’s offering to His Father was accepted.  The disciples entered the empty tomb and saw the strips of linen and  the cloth that had been wrapped around Yeshua’s head separate from the linen.  They knew and believed he had risen from the dead. Yom Habikkurim, the day of Firstfuits had been become reality.  It was time to begin counting the days to the celebration of the final spring harvest.

©2014 Tentstake Ministries, chapter from Journey with Jeremiah on amazon.com