Key Verse: “Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.”
VARIOUS TYPICAL CEREMONIES involving the nation of Israel prefigured God’s arrangement whereby ultimately all mankind will have an opportunity for salvation. This will be either to reign in heaven with Christ, or to be subjects of a kingdom with the prospect of living on earth in a restored paradise.
Following the Passover on the 14th of Nisan, as mentioned in our previous lesson, the Jews were instructed to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. “On the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.”—Lev. 23:6
Additionally, on the 16th of Nisan, the day after the feast-Sabbath, a “sheaf,” or handful, of barley was waved “before the Lord.” This marked the beginning of the barley harvest, which would just precede the larger wheat harvest soon to come.—vss. 9-14
“Ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete.” (vs. 15) Our Key Verse indicates that the next day, “after the seventh sabbath,” there was to be a special grain offering dedicated to God for the harvesting of Israel’s wheat. This Feast of Weeks occurred fifty days after the barley sheaf was presented.
Of great importance regarding all of these commemorations by Israel is the fact that they had spiritual significance. The waving of the barley sheaf on the 16th of Nisan typified the resurrection of Christ Jesus following his crucifixion. Additionally, fifty days later, when the firstfruits of the wheat harvest were presented to God, two “wave loaves” of bread were “baken with leaven” for this purpose. (vs. 17) These picture the Little Flock and the Great Company, who would be viewed as the firstfruits of this Gospel Age.
The Day of Pentecost occurred fifty days after Christ’s resurrection and was manifested by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon consecrated believers. (Acts 2:1-4) This marked the start of the development of the heavenly phase of God’s kingdom. Christ was the “first” of the firstfruits class. However, members of his “body” who follow his footsteps and are presented in sacrifice as an offering for sin are also included as being firstfruits.
The operation of the Holy Spirit during this Gospel Age, begun at Pentecost, is for the purpose of assisting consecrated believers to live a righteous life of sacrifice. This is to prepare them to be associated with Christ in God’s kingdom to bring about blessings and the restoration of the human family. God’s purpose is that man be brought into harmony with righteous living such as existed in the Garden of Eden before sin and death occurred as a result of Adam’s disobedience.—Rom. 5:19
Peter also spoke of a future operation of the Holy Spirit that would come upon “all flesh.” (Acts 2:17) Mankind at that time will not experience a change in nature from earthly to spiritual, but will be greatly blessed—there will be no more tears, sorrow, pain or death.—Rev. 21:3,4