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Dear Refiner's Fire...

I was wondering if you could clarify something for me. I understand that you teach Yeshua was crucified on Wednesday and spent the next 72 hours in the grave. As a messianic believer I also at one point believed this. But scripturally I believe that you have overlooked something key to feast. That of the Firstfruits. If you have Yeshua resurrecting on the eve of the weekly shabbat, then how do you explain the order to Mary not to touch him because he has not yet ascended to his father (not yet presented as the firstfruits)?

According to the very teaching on your website about when to start counting the Omer, i.e. (firstfruits), you would have the Firstfruits occurring while Yeshua is still in the grave, because the day after the High Shabbat was Firstfruits or the 16 of abib. It simply does not work and is not compatible with the way the feast days were observed. Please help me understand this if I have overlooked something?

Our Response...

Thank you so much for your question! No one person has a "lock" on truth, but hopefully, we can show you that you did overlook something. Here goes:

It turns out neither one of us can be correct if Yeshua must be our Firstfruits offering and if He must be presented on a particular "day" called "First Fruits". Here is what we mean:

First, we agree that Yeshua must be "in the earth 3 days and 3 nights" do we not? (We recognize this does not have to be exactly 72 hours but the Aramaic is clear, there must be 3 night periods and 3 day periods.)

Second, I think we can also have common agreement on when the two women arrived at the tomb only to find it already empty. This was on the 1st day of the week (Sunday) as the the Gospels are fairly clear on this that they arrived "while it was still dark" on Sunday morning or after sunset Saturday. Agree?

Then by the Christian view, (though I'm not sure this is your view), they have Yeshua crucified on a Friday before sunset to rise on a Sunday, "while it was still dark", so we know Yeshua has risen by then, i.e., before sunrise on Sunday. But we also know that on the day he was crucified, His crucifixion was around noon, and by 3 pm, He died, and before sunset He was prepared and entombed. So if the Christian view is correct, and the crucifixion is Friday, and by sunset (Friday) Yeshuah is buried, and He has risen Sunday before sunrise ("while it is still dark" remember), then by any count, that is only 2 nights and one day! Does not work.

So let's look at the Christian view, but using the Scriptures to match Yeshua's crucifixion to Firstfruits:

The lamb is slain before sunset on 14 Abib (Nisan) (Exodus 12:6, Leviticus 23:5), so this means that Friday must have been 14 Abib. That means Saturday, would have been both a regular weekly Shabbat, and Pesach/Feast of Unleavened Bread. Then, according to Leviticus 23:10-11, Firstfruits would have been Sunday, 16 Abib. So far so good. But 16 Abib began at sunset on Saturday, and Yeshua had only been in the ground 24 hours at that time. While that works fine for the calendar, it does not work for the resurrection. What we see here is that by demanding that Firstfruits and the resurrection be the same day we can't meet both requirements - for Yeshua to be "3 days and 3 nights" in the earth, and rise on Firstfruits! In this view the number of days and nights between the time the lambs are slain, by sunset 14 Abib, and Firstfruits is only 2 nights and 1 day.

The Christian view fails.

The Netzari view is that He was crucified Before the sunset on 14 Nisan, which would have been a Wednesday, and rose toward the end of the weekly Shabbat - counting 3 days and 3 nights from Wednesday at sunset to Saturday at or just before sunset. This meets the 3 days/3 nights requirement. Yeshua rising about sunset on Saturday, (or even after sunset on Saturday), also meets the requirement that He had to have risen before the women arrived before sunrise on Sunday.

However, if we try to "account" for Firstfruits in the Netzari view, we still seem to have a problem. That is, 16 Abib in this case would have been Friday, which we take as the "day after the Shabbat (i.e., the day after the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Leviticus 23:6-7). If Firstfruits is Friday, and Yeshua does not rise till sunset Saturday, how can He be our Firstfruits? Well, it is a false assumption is that Yeshua can't be our Firstfruits unless he rises "on" Firstfruits.

Turns out the assumption is wrong and here's why: Firstfruits is a "thing", not a "date". Firstfruits simply "is". It is not tied to a particular "date".

Go back an look at Leviticus 23. In Verse 3, YHWH reiterates that the 7th day is the Shabbat. In verse 5 He reiterates that 14 Nisan at sunset is Pesach. In verse 6, He defines the dates for the beginning and end of the Feast of Matzah (Unleavened Bread). He has given dates! But in verse 10, He says to "bring the Firstfruits" - not specifically stating that Firstfruits is a "date" as He did with the Shabbat, Pesach, and Matzah. To "bring" something at some time, means that "something" already exists or already has happened. He does go on to say that the Firstfruits is waved on the day after the Shabbat (verse 11), but the two things are separate. That is, there is the "thing", i.e. the Firstfruits (in this case a sheaf of grain) exists - and it belongs to YHWH and it is offered to Him.

Then there is the ceremony of the "waving", which happens on the day after the Shabbat. (I recognize that this is the contention, i.e., we say the "day after the Shabbat" of the Feast of Matzah, and you may say it is the day after the weekly Shabbat. But let's discuss this in a minute.) Another example: Exodus 13:2 says "Set aside for me all the firstborn. Whatever is first from the womb among the people of Isra'el, both of humans and of animals, belongs to me." So the "first born" belong to YHWH, but YHWH did not specify that the first from the womb are His only if they were born on a certain date.

It is our estimation that the "waving" of the sheaf is not the important part of "First Fruits". The important part is that the Firstfruits belongs to YHWH. The "waving", though commanded, is only a ceremony. Applying the act of "waving" to the Mashiyach's resurrection, does not make sense. No one took Yeshua's body and held it up and "waved" it; indeed, the thought is absurd. Nevertheless, Yeshua was the "thing" - that is, He was our Firstfruits!

The reason we say that the "waving" is not the important part, is that there are other "first fruits"! Take a look at Leviticus 23:10. It says: "Tell the people of Isra'el, 'After you enter the land I am giving you and harvest its ripe crops, you are to bring a sheaf of the Firstfruits of your harvest to the cohen." So this "first fruits" is the crop that ripens early, 1st of the season. Indeed, if you look as Joshua 5:10-12, you see that the people of Israel "crossed over" into the Land, just as YHWH had promised, and it was Pesach, and they ate what the land produced - and this had to be the early crops, and we can assume that they presented Firstfruits before they ate.

But there is a 2nd "first fruits"! Look at Leviticus 23:15-17 which says "15 From the day after the day of rest -that is, from the day you bring the sheaf for waving -you are to count seven full weeks, 16 until the day after the seventh week; you are to count fifty days; and then you are to present a new grain offering to ADONAI. 17 You must bring bread from your homes for waving-two loaves made with one gallon of fine flour, baked with leaven - as firstfruits for ADONAI." What do you see at the verse 17? This offering is another "first fruits"!

So we have a "first fruits" presented the day after the 1st Shabbat of the Festival of Matzah, and the "first fruits" presented at Shavuot. Did Yeshua need to "be waved" on 16 Abib, and "presented" on Shavuot? Yeshua simply "was" our Firstfruits, and to be Firstfruits, it did not have to "happen" on a particular day! In other words, Yeshua did not have to "rise" ON any day called "First Fruits" to BE our Firstfruits. He simply "was" our Firstfruits offering.

Thus the Netzari view on the crucifixion is that it happened on a Wednesday, the resurrection happening on Saturday before or after sunset, and Yeshua, begin Firstfruits, is completely resolved.

Now let's address the main contention. That is what day was meant in Leviticus 23: 11 "He is to wave the sheaf before ADONAI, so that you will be accepted; the cohen is to wave it on the day after the Shabbat." I believe the answer is found in Leviticus 23:38. From Leviticus 23:1 to 23:36, YHWH is having Moshe document/record the designated times. Then in verse 37 YHWH concludes by saying: "'These are the designated times of ADONAI that you are to proclaim as holy convocations and bring an offering made by fire to ADONAI - a burnt offering, a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, each on its own day".

And then He goes on in verse 38: "...besides the Shabbats of ADONAI, your gifts, all your vows and all your voluntary offerings that you give to ADONAI." This is key! All of His designated times are BESIDES THE REGULAR WEEKLY SHABBATS OF YHWH. Thus, Leviticus 23:11 is not talking about a "regular" weekly Shabbat, but the special Shabbat of the 1st day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and it is thus fixed to 16 Abib, and not the "day after the regular weekly Shabbat."