Christ’s Death, Resurrection and Ascension
(10) Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: (11) And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
(9) Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn.
King James Version
If we study these passages together, we will see that the waving of the sheaf occurred on the day after the weekly Sabbath that fell during the Days of Unleavened Bread. The Bible does not say, specifically, when the wavesheaf was cut, but it obviously must have happened sometime before it was waved.
We have long understood that Jesus fulfilled the waving of the sheaf at His ascension. However, it has not been emphasized that He also fulfilled the type of the cutting of the wavesheaf upon being resurrected.
During the Second Temple period, when Jesus died, the sheaf was reaped from the field as the Sabbath ended and Sunday began. This is the period of the day called ben ha arbayim. It was the time at dusk when one day was ending and the other was beginning.
We know this from the Mishna (a record of all the services and small observances that the Jews did and the directions for doing them), which says: “Rabbi Hananiah, prefect of the priests, says it [meaning the barley sheaf ] was reaped on the Sabbath. He [that is, the priest] says to them, ‘Shall I reap on this Sabbath?’ And they [a kind of chorus that had gathered around: the other priests, the Levites, and other spectators] shall say, ‘Yes.’ ”
He repeated this three times. “Shall I reap on this Sabbath?” “Yes!” “Shall I reap on this Sabbath?” “Yes!” “Shall I reap on this Sabbath?” Yes!”
“With this sickle?” “Yes!” “With this sickle?” “Yes!” “With this sickle?” “Yes!”—and so forth. So what we see is that, during Jesus’ lifetime, at the end of the Sabbath, at dusk, the priests put the sickle to the grain, as it says in Deuteronomy 16:9.
Now the reaping of the sheaf symbolizes Israel giving the firstfruits, the very best of their produce, to God, and this is exactly the symbolism that Jesus fulfilled (I Corinthians 15:20-23). Christians are also called the firstfruits of God.
So as the weekly Sabbath was ending, exactly seventy-two hours from His burial, God resurrected His Son from the dead. He became the perfect wavesheaf offering that would be waved the next day. He was the first and perfect Firstfruit. In a very real sense, God reaped the best and the first of His spiritual harvest.
One might wonder why this happened on the Sabbath. What is the significance of this being done on the Sabbath? It is the Sabbath that commemorates God as Creator. This same God rested on the seventh day of creation. This is Jesus Christ—the Word of God!
— Richard T. Ritenbaugh
To learn more, see:
Christ’s Death, Resurrection, and Ascension