It’s another FEAST OF WEEKS (because it is occurs seven Sabbaths/weeks after the sabbath in the midst of the Feast Of Unleavened Bread), also known as CHAG SHAVUOT in the Hebrew, or FEAST OF FIRST FRUITS (seeing that it’s a celebration of some harvest of some sort), or FEAST OF PENTECOST (as in the New Testament/Covenant era). Personally, this is one feast I enjoy to the fullest not just because of the so much food that attends it, but for what it connotes physically as well as spiritually.
The feast may not be popular today amongst people who claim to follow the Bible, but not so for Jewry, messianic, orthodox or the likes. However, there remains a controversy as to the date in which it should be celebrated. This missive isn’t directed at that, only that I’d state here that I do stand with those who believe that the feast always have to be on a Sunday, the day (in actual sense, at evening since the Jewish day starts and ends between two evenings) after the seventh Sabbath, counting from the sabbath in the Feast of Unleavened bread (Leviticus 23:15) or counting fifty days (verse 16 from where the Greek Pentecost is derived), the Sabbath after which we are meant to wave the SHEAF of the first fruits of our harvests “… before YAHWEH, to be accepted for you:” (Leviticus 23:11). The controversy is associated with which particular Sabbath is been referred to, seeing that the first and last days of the feast of unleavened bread are also “Sabbaths”, being HOLY CONVOCATIONS, though not the weekly Sabbaths, such that for those who think the “Sabbath” in question is that first day of the feast of unleavened bread, the Feast of Weeks will fall on any day of the week, should that day be on any other besides the weekly Sabbath. I do not want to believe that refusing to hold a feast because it fell on a day dedicated to the worship of the “Sun God” is at the heart of the concerted efforts by Sabbatarians at turning interpretations to mean other days, even when such feasts fall on a Sunday.
I will leave that for now, and go for the fun part, the main reason why I’m writing this in the first place. Now, to make a success of the Feast of Weeks, we must have laid the foundation in the feast of unleavened bread by ensuring to wave the sheaf, so that we may be able
to eat of the fruit of the land before it is officially or better still, spiritually “legal” (if you know what I mean) to begin to eat thereof. That’s too say, ideally it isn’t right to taste of the wheat, grain, barley etc harvest until the Feast of Pentecost, but because more often than not, these harvests would be ready even before the Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread, about fifty days before Pentecost, and keeping it out of the shelves (for the Jew) will be akin to punishing him, though he may have to desist from consuming such before the feast of Passover in the month of Aviv/Abib (beginning of months for Jews usually sometime in April or late March).
I will tell you a little story that’s somewhat related to what happens at the Waving of Sheaf. In Chinua Achebe’s novel “ARROW OF GOD” set in colonial era eastern Nigeria, he talks about the village priest, Ezeulu who would prepare a meal of roast yam to ULU the god of the village after sighting the moon, to signify the beginning of a new month, and would do that twelve times, the last of which will herald the harvest. However, on this particular occasion, he’d been called for questioning by the “white” man in charge of his village (and several others), and while he was detained none of his people made any form of representation or protestation on his behalf, leading to him not been available to perform his ritual at the appropriate time when the new moon appeared.
Hence by the time of the harvest, sometime after his release, he still had but one moon/yam to eat at a new moon having missed one while he was incarcerated, and maintained that he must wait for the next moon, about a month, to eat that remaining piece of yam. Frustrated villagers who couldn’t stand the sight of their yams rotting away underground in their farms because of a stubborn priest, accepted the offer by the church, which had been aggressively looking to convert them, to bring their yams there for consecration and protection from the village gods for defying the Ezeulu. It is the likes of these that the waving of the sheaf seeks to avert, by allowing Jewry worldwide to eat of the harvest of first fruits or barley etc, before the official time of harvest. Let me quickly quip in here that the harvest of first fruits is different from the big harvest later in September or thereabouts, when we observe the Feast of Tabernacles.
Today’s feast therefore involves presentation before YAHWEH, at least two loaves of bread, as well as proceeds
from our harvests, which because we aren’t living mainly in agrarian societies, will be redeemed by any other thing else, including monetary equivalent of our offerings, to “….. wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before YAHWEH,….” (Leviticus 23:20). This feast is of utmost importance, that apart from the fact that “… it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations” (Leviticus 23:21), it is one of the three times in a year in which, “… all MALES shall appear before YAHWEH your Elohim in the place which HE shall choose”. (Deuteronomy 16:16). Males, because that’s how families are counted before YAHWEH (I still don’t know how familial representation works in matrilineal societies though), and not necessarily because HE has ought against women. These males are further admonished not to “… appear before YAHWEH empty” (Deuteronomy 16:16).
Now, unlike what you’d find in commercialized religion, “Every man shall give as he is able,…” (Deuteronomy 16:17) not under duress or compulsion, as we see these days, where people now have to indulge in financial indiscretion just to satisfy the whims and insatiable appetites of some pastors, while they may even be languishing in poverty, “… according to the blessing of YAHWEH your Elohim which he hath given you.” (Deuteronomy 16:17)
Besides, what we bring before the altar during the harvest, of great importance still is what we do with the harvest itself, i.e. “income” in our day. In Leviticus 23:22, we are reminded that, “… when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not make clean riddance of the corners of the field when you reap, neither shall you gather any gleaning of your harvest: you shall leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger..”, in other words, we should share some of your income with the less privileged, as much as possible covertly. Indeed, Yahshua lauded this over and above any form of gift one may present in church (Mark 7:9-13), especially as regarding ones’ aged parents. That’s about covered the physical of this feast.
The spiritual aspect of the Feast of Firstfruit is one that has to do with us presenting ourselves as “…LIVING SACRIFICES, holy and pleasing to YAHWEH, as this is (y)our true and proper worship before YAHWEH” (Romans 12:1), as exemplified by the apostles on the day of the Feast of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon them, visible
amongst men present on the day, as “tongues of fire” on their heads, and beyond that as “firstfruits” after Yahshua at the time of Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:23). You can’t but agree with me that this is just one all encompassing feast that caters to both the physical and spiritual needs of YAHWEH’s people, and we will do well to observe it, even pass it on to the next generation, like it was passed on to us. Chag Shavuot Sameach!!
– THE WORD OF YAHWEH, © 2000