What is the Meaning of the Wave Sheaf Mentioned in Leviticus 23?


The three periods of the year in which annual Holy Days fall are mentioned in Exodus 23:14-19. Note verse 19, which states, “‘The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God…’” (also, Exodus 34:26).

While God requires an offering of all kinds of “firstfruits,” the emphasis in Exodus is of “the FIRST of the firstfruits.” In the more extensive presentation of the feasts of the LORD as found in Leviticus 23, we find the offering of the “wave sheaf” described (verses 9-14). It was to be presented as the very firstfruits of the harvest (verse 10).

The timing of the wave sheaf offering was to take place following the weekly Sabbath associated with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. That always placed this ceremony on a Sunday within the Days of Unleavened Bread, and the rendering of the King James Version for Leviticus 23:11 is:

“‘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.’”

The idea conveyed here is that the wave sheaf was to be offered in the morning of the first day of the week. In actual fact, the practice of the priests during the existence of the Tabernacle and then the Temple was to perform this waving of the firstfruits of the harvest around the third hour—that is 9:00 AM.

All the Holy Days of God are representative of actions and events—some historical, while others foreshadow future occurrences. For instance, Passover was first observed by the Israelites to commemorate God’s deliverance of their families from Egypt (compare Exodus 12:26-27). However, Passover holds much greater meaning, for it points to the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins (compare 1 Corinthians 5:7). Christians are to continue to observe Passover with its greater implications and meaning (compare 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

While it is of paramount importance that we deeply comprehend that it required the death of the Son of God for humanity to have the chance to be reconciled to God, it is also vital that we understand what has followed. God resurrected Jesus Christ from death. Peter made this fact key to what he preached to those assembled on the Day of Pentecost:

“‘Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it’” (Acts 2:22-24).

Upon His resurrection and in addition to appearing alive to some of His disciples, Jesus fulfilled the meaning of the wave sheaf—the FIRST of the firstfruits. In fact, Paul explicitly taught this in relationship to Jesus being resurrected:

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:20-24).

Jesus is the first one to be resurrected from death to eternal, Spirit life. As the above verse shows, there are other firstfruits. Yet, it is Jesus alone Who is the FIRST of the first! He only fulfills the wave sheaf offering! The Feast of Pentecost portrays those who are called and receive the Holy Spirit in this day and age, to be resurrected in the future and receive eternal life—joining Jesus Christ and the Father in the Family of God, that is the Kingdom of God.

The wave sheaf offering is a type of far greater significant fulfillment than merely having grain sheaves waived by the priests. Jesus Christ Himself, ascended to the Father to be formally accepted by God. Jesus spoke of this:

“Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was’” (John 17:1-5).

Following His resurrection, Jesus announced His imminent return to the Father:

“Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, “I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God”’” (John 20:17).

The precedent of the timing for presenting the wave sheaf at about 9:00 in the morning coincides with what Jesus Christ would have done as He was presented in formal ceremony to the Father.

This dramatic event is recorded in the Book of Daniel:

“‘I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed’” (Daniel 7:13-14).

Following His resurrection, glorious acclamation is given to Jesus:

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).


“…according to the working of His mighty power  which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all’” (Ephesians 1:19-23)

And we have this testimony from Jesus:

“‘…Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.  And I have the keys of Hades [better, grave] and of Death’” (Revelation 1:17-18).

The wave sheaf offering symbolized Jesus Christ as the FIRST of the firstfruits in God’s unfolding plan for mankind’s salvation! As the Word of God so clearly shows, Jesus Christ’s offering of Himself has culminated in His acceptance by the Father.

Now, the way is open—because of the offering and acceptance of Jesus Christ—for the next part of the Holy Days of God, the Feast of Pentecost. This next Holy Day pictures the firstfruits who receive the Holy Spirit in this day and age, in order to qualify to live and reign with Jesus Christ in the Millennial rule of the Kingdom of God over all the earth.

Lead Writer: Dave Harris

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