THE FEAST OF WEEKS

The Feast of Weeks, which was also known as the Feast of  Harvest of  First-fruits  (Ex.23:16), Day of Weeks  (Lk.4:16,  Acts  13:14; 16:13), and the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1) is the second annual festival of the year  and occurs at the end of the wheat harvest:

"And the feast of harvest, the first-fruits of your labors,  which you  have sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering,  which is in the end of the year, when you have gathered in your labors out of the field" (Ex.23:16 KJV).

Ancient Israel was predominately an agricultural society, that had a spring harvest of grain and a fall harvest of fruit.  The harvesting  of grain in the spring always began with  the  barley harvest during the Feast of Unleavened Bread and ended with  the much larger wheat harvest 50 days later:

"Celebrate  the Feast of Weeks with the first-fruits of the Wheat harvest . . .. Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord, the God of Israel" (Ex.34:22-23 NIV).

This is the second annual festival season in which all  Israelite males are commanded to go before God and present him with their offerings of gratitude in the place where he chose to place his name and presence.

Leviticus 23:15-20 Paraphrased

"And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the  Sabbath, from the day of your bringing of the omer of the Lift Offering,  seven  complete Sabbaths will be, until the day after the seventh Sabbath, you will count fifty days, and you will offer  a new grain offering to the Eternal" (vs.15-16).

The Feast of Weeks is observed exactly fifty days from the day  after the first weekly Sabbath that falls during the  Feast of Unleavened Bread.

It  is important to note that both the offering of  the first-fruits of the barley harvest and the first of the wheat  harvest have great prophetic significance. Both are symbolic of the New Creation (God's elect children) who are the first of their kind. And both are presented to  God for his acceptance as something sacred to him. See Jer.2:3;  Ezk.20:40; 48:14, and our study concerning the sons of the new creation.

The  Offering of Leavened Bread

"From your dwelling places you will bring bread for a lift offering: [loaves] of two tenth deals [of an epah] of fine flour  they will  be:  With leaven they will be baked: they are first fruits to  the Eternal" (v17).

On  the Feast of Weeks, there was to be an offering of two  loaves of  bread baked with leaven. This is the only offering that  was presented  to God with leaven. However, this leavened  bread was only presented to God, it was not to be burnt on the altar.

These  two leavened loaves were presented to God at about 9  a.m. for his acceptance. As with the Lift  Offering, these loaves  were presented in a lifting motion—extending the arms  and hands upward in presentation to God who dwells in heaven.  After the  loaves  were  offered to God, they were given  to  the priests. See Lev.23:15-20.

"And  you will offer along with the bread seven  spotless  lambs, each  one year old, and one young bull, a son of the cattle,  and two rams. They will be a whole burnt offering to the Eternal, and their grain offering and their drink offering: and  offering,  a pleasant scent to the Eternal" (v18).

"And  you will offer one male goat for a  purification  offering, and  two lambs, each one year old, for a fellowship  sacrifice. And the priest will lift them, along with the bread of the first-fruits:  a lift offering before the Eternal along with  the  two lambs.  They  will be holy to the Eternal [and] for  the priest" (vs.19-20).

"And  you will proclaim in this day, you will have a holy  assembly.  you will not do any work of labor. A perpetual  statute  in all  your dwelling places for your generations" (v21).  See also Num.28:26-31.

A Day of Remembrance

Deuteronomy 16:9-12 NIV

"Count  seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle  to the standing grain. Then celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your  God  by  giving a freewill offering in proportion  to  the blessings  of  the Lord your God  has given you"  (vs.9-10).

"And rejoice before the Lord your God at the place he will  chose as a dwelling for his Name––you, your sons and daughters,  your maidservants,  the Levites in your towns, and the  aliens,  the fatherless and the widows living among you" (v11).

"Remember  that  you were slaves in Egypt, and  follow  carefully these decrees" (v12). See also verses 16-17 and Deut.26:1-11.

As  with  the Days of Unleavened Bread, during the Feast of Weeks, the  Israelites  were  to remember the slavery of Egypt and how and for what purpose God had delivered them from this slavery.

THE GRAIN HARVEST AND THE LIFT OFFERINGS

The grain harvest of Israel began with the cutting of barley  for the Lift Offering during the Feast of Unleavened Bread and  ended  with the presentation of two leavened loaves of bread  out of the wheat harvest, seven weeks later, on the Day of Pentecost.

The Barley Harvest

The  Lift  Offering that was offered from the barley harvest during the Days of  Unleavened  Bread is connected to the prophetic  and  symbolic meaning of the two loaves  of  leavened bread that were offered on the Feast of Weeks. The following are some of the prophetic and symbolic meanings of the Lift Offering:

The Father's First-born

"But  now  is Christ risen from the dead, and became  the  first-fruits of them that slept" (1.Cor.15:20 KJV).

"Who  is  the image of the invisible God, the  firstborn  of  all creation—for all things were created in him, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth; the visible and the invisible;  whether thrones, or lordships, or rulers,  or  authorities, all  things have been created through him. And he is  before all things, and all things consist in him. And he is the Head of  the body,  the church; who is the beginning, the firstborn  from  the dead,  that he be preeminent in all  things"  (Col.1:15-18 Para.). See also Acts 13:33-35; Rev.1:5 KJV.

"For to which of the angles did he say, You are my Son; today  I have  begotten You? And again I will be a Father to him, and  he shall  be a Son to me. And again when he brought  the firstborn into  the world, he said let the angles worship him" (Heb.1:5-6Para.). Quoted from Psa.2:7. See also Heb.5:5.

"And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:   God was  manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of  angels,  preached  to the gentiles, believed on in the  world, received  up into glory" (1.Tim.3:16 KJV).  See also  Matt.3:16-18; Mk.1:9-11; Jn.3:1-10; Heb.1:1-6; 5:5.

Without a doubt,  the first grain of the barley harvest that was presented to God as finely ground flour mixed with oil and incense  was prophetic  and  symbolic  of Jesus Christ who was  the  first  of humanity to be accepted by God the Father as his son.

THE WHEAT HARVEST

Both barley and wheat are symbolic of something that is the  first  of its  kind, which is presented to God for his acceptance as  something that is sacred to him. See Jer.2:3; Ezk.20:40; 48:14.

Just  as the first grain of the barley harvest was prophetic  and symbolic  of Jesus Christ as the first born of God, the  first grain  of  the wheat harvest was prophetic and  symbolic  of  all those  who would obtain salvation through the sacrifice of  Jesus Christ.

The Prophetic and Symbolic Wheat

After speaking a parable about  those who would receive the  word of  God  and how they would react to it, Jesus  speaks  a  parable about  the  wheat  and the tares through which  he  reveals  the symbolism of wheat:

"Another  parable  put he forth to them, saying, The  kingdom  of heaven  is  like a man which sowed good seed in  his  field:  But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the  wheat, and went his way.  But when the blade was sprung up, and  brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.  So the  servants  of the  householder came and said to him, Sir, did not you sow  good seed  in  your field? from where then has it tares?  He  said to them, An enemy has done this.  The servants said to him, Will you then that we go and gather them up?  But he said, No; lest  while you gather up the tares, you root up also the wheat with  them.  Let  both  grow together until the harvest: and in  the  time  of harvest I will say to the reapers,  Gather you together first the tares, and  bind  them:  but gather the wheat to my barn" (Matt.13:24-30 KJV).

This  parable specifically pertains to the question of who will  be in  the Kingdom of Heaven and at what time they will  enter into it. Notice that there are two distinct types of grain that were planted—wheat and tares. In verses 36-43,  Jesus  reveals  the exact meaning of the symbols of the wheat and the tares to his disciples. The wheat are people who belong to God and  the tares belong to the devil:

"Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his  disciples came to him, saying, Declare to us the parable  of the  tares of the field.  He answered and said to them, he that sows  the good seed is the Son of man;  The field is  the  world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares  are the children of the wicked one;  The enemy that sowed them is the devil;  the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers  are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and  burned  in the  fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.  The  Son  of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;   And shall  cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall  be wailing and  gnashing of teeth.  Then shall the righteous shine forth  as the  sun in the kingdom of their Father.  Who has ears to  hear, let him hear" (Matt.13:36-43 KJV).

In preparation for the ministry of Jesus, John the Baptist speaks of  wheat  as symbolic of those who would be the  elect  of God:

"John  answered,  saying to them all, I indeed baptize  you  with water; but one mightier than I comes, the latch of whose shoes  I am  not  worthy to unloose:  he shall baptize you with  the holy spirit  and  with fire:  Whose fan is in his hand,  and  he  will thoroughly  purge his floor, and will gather the wheat  into  his garner;  but  the  chaff he will burn  with  fire unquenchable" (Lk.3:16-17 KJV).

Notice that the wheat is spared from destruction, whereas  the chaff, which is useless as food, is destroyed with fire. The  meaning  of the wheat is inescapable; the wheat is symbolic of  the elect of God.

During the Passover meal, Jesus warns Peter that Satan  wanted to  destroy him, but that he had asked his Father to give Peter the faith it would take to overcome evil:

"And  the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has  desired  to have  you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have  prayed  for you,  that  your  faith fail not: and  when  you  are converted, strengthen your brethren" (Lk.22:31-32 KJV).

The  important point here is that Jesus again uses wheat to symbolize someone whom God has called to salvation. While speaking of his impending death, Jesus uses wheat to symbolize his death and resurrection, which would bring a dramatic  increase in the number of sons of God:

"And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the  Son of man should be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, Except  a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone:  but if it die, it brings forth much fruit" (Jn.12:23-24 KJV).

Jesus The Bread From Heaven

John 6:31-33; 48-58

"Our  fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is  written, he gave  them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said to  them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.   For the  bread of God is he which comes down from heaven, and  gives life to the world" (vs.31-33 KJV).

The  Creator God who became Jesus Christ gave the  Israelites  of the Exodus bread from heaven (manna) to help sustain their physical lives. While in human form this same being called himself the bread that was sent by the Father to give eternal life.

"I am that bread of Life. . . Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is  the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may  eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down  from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever:  and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life  of  the  world . . . he that eats of this bread  shall  live forever"  (vs.48-51, 58 Para.).  See  also Matt.26:6-13;   Mk.14:3-9; Jn.12:1-7.

The Elect of God

The writings of the New Testament describe Jesus Christ  as the bread of life, and those who are part of the body of Christ as bread:

"Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as  to wise  men;  judge you what I say. The cup of  blessing  which  we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which  we break, is it not the communion of the body  of  Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are partakers of that one bread" (1.Cor.10:14-18 KJV).

Jesus was sinless (unleavened), and because the elect are also considered  sinless by the Father and are of the body  of Christ  (the Bread of life), they are also symbolic of bread.

The Larger Harvest

The  barley and wheat harvest of ancient Israel were symbolic  of God  the  Father's first harvest of his spiritual  children.  The small  first cutting of the barley harvest was symbolic of  Jesus Christ,  and the much larger wheat harvest was symbolic  of those  who  would  become sons of God through the sacrifice  of Christ.

The Two Symbolic And Prophetic Loaves

On the Feast of Weeks there was to be an offering composed of two loaves  of  bread baked with leaven from the first grain  of  the summer  wheat harvest. These two loaves were the  only  offerings that  were  to be presented to God with leaven.  However,  these loaves  of leavened bread were only presented to God,  they were not to be burnt on the altar.

Why would God instruct these  two leavened loaves to be presented to him when the  law of the offerings prohibited any  leavening from being offered  to God upon the altar?

There are a number of prophetic and symbolic meanings attached to these two loaves of wheat bread:

Just  as  the Lift Offering of barley represented Christ  as  the first fruits of the first grain harvest, these two leavened loaves represented  the elect of God (i.e., the first-fruits of the  harvest to the Lord). See Lev.23:17.

It  is  also worth mentioning that Jesus gave several  parables which clearly show the first fruits of the grain harvest as symbolic  of the spiritual harvest that he was sent to gather. See  Matt.9:37-38; 13:19-30; Jn.4:35-37.

The Opportunity for Salvation

Before the Kingdom of God is established on earth,  there are only two groups of people who will have been offered an opportunity  for salvation:

1. Those  who were called to salvation from the time of Adam to the advent of Christ.

2. Those who have been called to salvation after the  advent  of Christ under the New Covenant.

Each  of  these two groups of people comes  under  the  sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ and will be in the first resurrection.  All others  must  wait  until the resurrection  of  national  Israel (Ezk.37) or the resurrection of the rest of the dead  (Rev.20:5). See our study about the various  resurrections:

"For  as  in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall  all  be  made alive.  But every man in his own order. Christ  the  first-fruits, Afterwards, they that are Christ's at his coming" (1.Cor.15:22-23 KJV).  See also Matt.13:18-23; Jms.1:18; Rev.14:15-16; 20:4-6.

The Prophetic Numbers

The Number 3

The  number 3 is one of the numbers that is used in scripture  to symbolize divine perfection. The Feast of Weeks, which is observed in the third month  of  the sacred  calendar,  is also the third commanded  assembly  of  the annual  festivals and the third annual festival day on which no work is to be done.

The  Feast  of Weeks is also symbolic of the third  step  in  the process of salvation after the Father leads one to Jesus  Christ (i.e.,  repentance,  baptism with water, and  the  transformation into a son of God through the power of the holy spirit).

When  God  moved  the place where his name and  presence  were  to reside,  he documented this move with visible fire. He  did  this when he moved from Mount Sinai to the tabernacle, from the tabernacle  to the temple Solomon built. He moved a third time on The Feast of Weeks  in 30 A.D., from the temple that Herod built to his people of the New Covenant.

The Number 7

The number 7 is a number that signifies completeness, perfection, completion, and bringing to an end. The number 49, which is the  product of  7x7, is the perfection of the number 7 and denotes the divine nature of completeness,  perfection,  completion, or bringing to an end.

The Lift Offering was  7 complete weeks or 49  days from the day  on which Jesus  Christ ascended to the  Father  as  the first  of his New Creation. This 49th day from the Lift  Offering is symbolic of bringing an end to the first covenant with National Israel, which  was formally discarded in 70 A.D. with the destruction of the temple.

The Number 50

The  number  50 is the product of 5x10. The number  5 signifies the grace of God, and the number 10 signifies  the law of God. It is through God's grace and law that humanity will find true freedom and happiness.

The Feast of Weeks is to be celebrated on the 50th day after  the Lift  Offering. This feast day also falls on the first day of another divine  cycle  of perfection; therefore, the Feast of Weeks  marks an ending and a beginning—the ending of  the first covenant with national Israel and the beginning of the New Covenant.

God's plan  for  the salvation of humanity through his grace and law, which leads to divine perfection and freedom, can be seen within the prophetic symbolism of these  numbers associated  with the Lift Offering and the Feast of Weeks,

By B. L. Cocherell, file b5w51