In order to see how the feasts apply to the end of the age, we must look at the feasts which have already been fulfilled. When we see the perfection with which they prophesied the first coming of the Messiah, and the exact detail in which everything took place, then we will be able to see that we can expect nothing less when it comes to the end times prophecies and how they relate to the fall feasts. Once again I quote from Dr. Jones’ book The Laws of the Second Coming.
The Wave-sheaf Offering
The law said that the priest was to wave a sheaf of barley up and down “on the day after the sabbath” after the Passover (Lev. 23:11). The Pharisees taught that this was to be done on a fixed day of the month, that is, Abib 16, the day after the Passover, which was an extra sabbath day, regardless of the day of the week on which it fell. The Sadducees, on the other hand, taught that the sheaf of barley was to be waved on the day after the WEEKLY Sabbath–that is, on the day the Romans called Sunday.
In 33 A.D. Abib 14 fell on a Friday, and the day of Passover fell on Abib 15, which was also the weekly Sabbath that year. Therefore, the wave-sheaf offering fell on Sunday, Abib 16. It met the requirements of both the Pharisees and the Sadducees that year. This was convenient for them, but unfortunate for us, because Jesus’ resurrection on that day did not settle the legal dispute or tell us which sabbath was indicated in the law.
In the early Church, Ignatius, bishop of Antioch and a disciple of John the revelator, wrote a number of letters that give us some useful information on this subject. In chapter nine of his letter to the Trallians, he writes,
“On the day of the preparation [Friday], then, at the third hour, He received the sentence from Pilate, the Father permitting that to happen; at the sixth hour He was crucified; at the ninth hour He gave up the ghost; and before sunset He was buried. During the Sabbath [Saturday], He continued under the earth in the tomb in which Joseph of Arimathea had laid Him. At the dawning of the Lord’s Day [Sunday] He arose from the dead, according to what was spoken by Himself, ‘As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man also be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’ The day of the preparation, then, comprises the passion; the Sabbath embraces the burial; the Lord’s Day contains the resurrection.”
From this we see that Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, and a Jewish Christian, saw no contradiction in the fact that Jesus was raised on the third day from His crucifixion, rather than after 72 hours that comprise a literal three days and three nights. He may have understood three days and three nights to be a Hebrew idiom meaningcontinuous time that would never contradict the many other places where Jesus said that He would be raisedon the third day. Lamsa says in his Idioms in the Bible Explained, page 46, that in the East those who are “in difficulties and a dilemma” are said to be “in the belly of the whale.” It is a Hebrew idiom, drawn, no doubt, from the story of Jonah.
In English, the equivalent of this idiom is to be “in a pickle” or “in a jam.” From the time Jesus was in the garden, where He was arrested, Jesus was “in the belly of the whale” for three nights and part of the third day when He was raised from the dead. This also occurred “in the heart of the earth,” for to the Hebrew people, Jerusalem was considered to be the center, or heart of the earth. Hence, we could say that, like Jonah, Jesus was in a stressful situation for three days and three nights in Jerusalem, the heart of the earth.
Ignatius was reputed to have been the child whom Jesus set forth in the midst of His disciples in Matthew 18:2 as an example of how one must become as a little child to enter the kingdom of heaven. While some think this to be mythical, all historians recognize that Ignatius was born about 30 A.D. and, as a child, met Jesus personally. In fact, he tells us specifically that he had personally met Jesus in his letter to the Church of Smyrna, Chapter 3. Jerome, who translated his letter into Latin some centuries later quotes him:
“In this last he [Ignatius] bore witness to the Gospel which I have recently translated, in respect of the person of Christ, saying, ‘I indeed saw him in the flesh after the resurrection, and I believe that he is’.”
Thus, Ignatius was an eyewitness of Jesus Christ not only before His crucifixion, but also after He had been raised from the dead. Though young, he was one of the 500 or so people who saw Him after His resurrection (1 Cor. 15:6). He later became a disciple of John, whom Jesus loved, and eventually he died as a martyr in 107 A.D. It is highly doubtful, then, that Ignatius would have been mistaken in regard to the date and timing of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Justin Martyr (c.114-165 A.D.) was another early Church writer. He wrote in chapter 67 of his First Apologyabout the timing of Jesus’ death and resurrection:
“And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits . . . But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn [i.e., the day before Saturday]; and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun [Sunday], having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.”
Using the names of the Roman weekdays to accommodate his audience, Justin tells us specifically that Jesus was crucified on a Friday, the day before Saturday. He also tells us Jesus was raised from the dead on Sunday. This tells us that Jesus was crucified in 33 A.D., for in that year Abib 14 fell on a Friday. Justin also agrees with all other writers of the early Church in telling us that Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday to fulfill the wave-sheaf offering.
Again, in his Dialogue With Trypho (the Jew), Chapter 107, he speaks of the sign of Jonah, obviously understanding the “three days and three nights” to mean “the third day.”
“And that he would rise again on the third day after the crucifixion, it is written in the memoirs that some of your nation, questioning Him, said, “Show us a sign;’ and He replied to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and no sign shall be given them, save the sign of Jonah.’ And since He spoke this obscurely, it was to be understood by the audience that after His crucifixion He should rise again on the third day. And He showed that your generation was more wicked and more adulterous than the city of Nineveh; for the latter, when Jonah preached to them, after he had beencast up on the third day from the belly of the great fish . . . .”
Though Justin was a Greek philosopher and a convert to Christ in the second century, he did learn the Scriptures from the disciples of the Apostles. His view is not unique in the writings of the early Church, nor does it differ from the New Testament.
Jesus’ resurrection on Sunday, Abib 16, did not tell us how to interpret the law about waving the barley sheaf on the day after the sabbath, because the Passover sabbath coincided with the weekly sabbath that year. Nonetheless, the early Church writings clearly show that from the beginning they universally adopted Sunday as their holy day in commemoration of Jesus’ resurrection. One clear statement comes from the Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter 13:
“Further, He says to them, ‘Your new moons and your Sabbaths I cannot endure.’ Ye perceive how He speaks: Your present Sabbaths are not acceptable to Me, but that is which I have made, when, giving rest to all things, I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world [age]. Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead. And when He had manifested Himself, He ascended into the heavens.”
There are some who, for various doctrinal reasons, have tried to argue that Jesus rose from the dead on Saturday afternoon just before sundown and that no one knew of it until the following morning when they came to the tomb with spices. However, this is highly improbable, since the priests did not even seal and guard the tomb until the end of the sabbath just before His resurrection. In other words, the guards were placed at the tomb about the time that Jesus supposedly was raised from the dead. This we read in Matthew 27:62 to 28:1.
62 Now on the next day [Saturday], which is the one after the preparation [that is, the day after Friday], the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, 63 and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ 64 Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, lest the disciples come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” 66 And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone. 1 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
In the original language there were no chapters and verses as we see them in our Bibles today. These were done by Stephen Langton around 1228 A.D. for easier reference. Likewise, in the original Greek there was no punctuation and no space between the letters and words. So punctuation is also a mere convenience to make it easier for us to read the Scriptures. However, at times the translators put punctuation in the wrong places. This was one of those times. The last two verses above should be read and punctuated as follows:
66 And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone, but after the Sabbath.
1 As it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
In other words, they set the seal upon the tomb in the evening after the Sabbath. They had not had time to do so on the Friday afternoon of His burial, because the Sabbath was drawing near. So they had to wait until the next evening when the Sabbath had passed. If Jesus had already been raised from the dead at that time, the stone would have been rolled away, and the soldiers would have come rushing back to report the news immediately. But the tomb was not opened, so they set a seal upon the stone.
Then the soldiers camped next to the tomb that night to make sure no one stole Jesus’ body. Then as it began to dawn the next morning, Mary and Mary came to the tomb and found it empty and no one guarding the tomb. The soldiers had already gone to report the resurrection to Pilate.
Pilate himself reported to Tiberius Caesar about these events in a letter that is now lost but what was available for centuries in the early Church. There is a document called Acta Pilati published in the late 1800’s by Rev. Mahan which purports to be the original document discovered in the Vatican Library. However, subsequent investigators disputed his claims, saying that he could not possibly have done so at the time he claimed to be in Rome and in Constantinople. According to Edgar J. Goodspeed’s book, Strange New Gospels (1931),
“Mr. Mahan . . . gives no reference to manuscript numbers which might aid anyone to find and examine the books he claims to have found. The mention of Hilderium with Shammai and Hillel (p. 215) may be a reminiscence of Ilderim in ‘Ben Hur’; there is no such Jewish name. As in ‘Ben-Hur,’ the Wise Men are a Greek, a Hindu, and an Egyptian. This with the story of Balthasar’s death on the afternoon of the crucifixion, which was absent from the original form of the “Report,” had important consequences.
“For Mr. Mahan’s colleagues in the ministry were not slow to perceive his indebtedness, in Eli’s “Story of the Magi,” published in 1884, to ‘Ben-Hur,’ published in 1880. Chief among them was the Rev. James A. Quarles, then head of the Elizabeth Aull Seminary at Lexington, Missouri, and afterward professor in Washington and Lee University. . . .
“Mr. Quarles attacked the genuineness of Mr. Mahan’s discoveries in the Boonville Weekly Advertiser, with great keenness. He pointed out that Mr. Mahan was back in Boonville on November 6, 1883, although he claimed to have been discovering manuscripts in Constantinople on October 22, 1883. We may add that the best opinion today in Boonville is that Mr. Mahan did not get farther away than Rome, Illinois, a little village north of Peoria, and that his foreign letters were dispatched from that place. He was absent from Boonville less than two months in the autumn in which he claimed to have visited Rome and Constantinople, discovering and copying manuscripts.”
Goodspeed mentions also that Mahan answered Quarles’ contentions, “admitting that there were misprints in the book,” but Goodspeed does not say whether or not Mahan had misprinted the dates that he was supposed to have been in Rome and Constantinople. Mahan apparently continued to stand by the truth of his manuscripts, though he was “summoned before the Lebanon presbytery in September 1885 to answer charges of falsehood and plagiarism.” In that investigation, General Wallace could find no evidence from U.S. Embassy officials in Constantinople or from other missionaries in the area that any of them had seen or talked with Mahan. In other words, Goodspeed says that they could find no one who could verify that Mahan had ever gone to Constantinople.
Further, when investigators contacted the Vatican to talk with Father Peter Freelinhusen, who was supposed to have shown Mahan the Acta Pilati, they were told that no one by that name was listed in the annals of the Vatican Library. Goodspeed continues,
“In the light of this and of other evidence, Mr. Mahan was found guilty of falsehood and of plagiarism, and suspended from the ministry for one year. He left the meeting of the presbytery, promising to withdraw the book from circulation. But it was reprinted in St. Louis in 1887, in Dalton, Georgia, in 1895, and in Philadelphia, by the Antiquarian Book Company, in 1896.”
We have taken the time to explain the circumstances surrounding Mahan’s Acta Pilati, because in the first edition of this book, we quoted from it and were unaware that it had been discredited by investigations shortly after its publication. This error is now corrected in our second edition with apologies for any past confusion we may have caused.
Regardless of Mahan’s forgery, the fact remains that Pilate did issue an official report to Tiberius Caesar regarding the death and resurrection of Jesus. Around the year 200 A.D., the Roman Christian lawyer, Tertullian, referred to Pilate’s official report to Tiberius in his Apology, V, saying,
“Tiberius accordingly, in whose days the Christian name made its entry into the world, having himself received intelligence from Palestine of events which had clearly shown the truth of Christ’s divinity, brought the matter before the senate, with his own decision in favor of Christ. The senate, because it had not given the approval itself, rejected his proposal. Caesar held to his opinion, threatening wrath against all accusers of the Christians.”
The editor’s Elucidation IV of The Ante-Nicene Fathers says of the above quotation:
“Great stress is to be placed on the fact that Tertullian was probably a jurisconsult, familiar with the Roman archives, and influenced by them in his own acceptance of Divine Truth. It is not supposable that such a man would have hazarded his bold appeal to the records, in remonstrating with the Senate and in the very faces of the Emperor and his colleagues, had he not known that the evidence was irrefragable [cannot be refuted or disproved].”
Tertullian reaffirms his statement (regarding Pilate’s report to Tiberius) in chapter XXI of the same book, saying,
“All these things Pilate did to Christ; and now in fact a Christian in his own convictions,he sent word of Him to the reigning Caesar, who was at the time Tiberius. Yes, and the Caesars too would have believed on Christ, if either the Caesars had not been necessary for the world, or if Christians could have been Caesars.”
The fourth-century Church historian, Eusebius of Caesarea, records Pilate’s report as well in his History of the Church, II, 2, where he writes:
“And when the wonderful resurrection and ascension of our Saviour were already noised abroad, in accordance with an ancient custom which prevailed among the rulers of the provinces, of reporting to the emperor the novel occurrences which took place in them, in order that nothing might escape him, Pontius Pilate informed Tiberius of the reports which were noised abroad through all Palestine concerning the resurrection of our Saviour Jesus from the dead.
“He gave an account also of other wonders which he had learned of him, and how, after his death, having risen from the dead, he was now believed by many to be a god. They say that Tiberius referred the matter to the Senate, but that they rejected it, ostensibly because they had not first examined into the matter (for an ancient law prevailed that no one should be made a god by the Romans, except by a vote and decree of the Senate), but in reality because the saving teaching of the divine Gospel did not need the confirmation and recommendation of men.
“But although the Senate of the Romans rejected the proposition made in regard to our Saviour, Tiberius still retained the opinion which he had held at first, and contrived no hostile measures against Christ. These things are recorded by Tertullian, a man well versed in the laws of the Romans, and in other respects of high repute, and one of those especially distinguished in Rome. . . .”
These early Church testimonies bear witness that Pilate did indeed send a full report to Tiberius Caesar, which, though somewhat unknown or forgotten, was for some time a matter of public record to those who had access to the Roman archives.
How Did Jesus Fulfill the Wave-Sheaf Offering?
Prophetically speaking, whether Jesus was raised late Saturday afternoon or early Sunday morning is not the issue. The issue is whether or not Jesus fulfilled the wave-sheaf offering on the correct day. This offering was waved in the temple at the third hour of the day “on the morrow after the sabbath” (Leviticus 23:11). Did the offering itself coincide with Jesus’ resurrection? No, Jesus rose from the dead before daybreak. Mary Magdalene went to the tomb “early, when it was yet dark” (John 20:1), but found the tomb already empty. The wave-sheaf offering did coincide, however, with His ascension to present Himself as ALIVE in the temple in heaven. He ascended for this purpose a few hours AFTER His actual resurrection, while the high priest was waving the sheaf of barley in the temple. So Jesus fulfilled the law of the wave-sheaf offering, not by His actual resurrection, but by presenting Himself alive in the temple of heaven at the appointed time.
Here is the sequence of events on that resurrection morning. When Mary found the tomb empty, she began to run and soon met Peter and John who were also on their way to the tomb (John 20:2). They all returned to the tomb to see for themselves that His body was missing. Then Peter and John went home (John 20:10). Mary was left alone in the garden. By this time the sun had risen. Jesus then encountered her, but at first she thought He was the gardener. When she finally recognized Him and wanted to touch Him, He told her in John 20:17, “Touch Me not, for I am not yet ascended to My Father” (KJV).
The ascension to which He was referring was NOT His ascension on the fortieth day from the Mount of Olives, which is recorded in Acts 1:3-9. We know this, because Jesus allowed His disciples to touch Him later that same day (John 20:19, 20; Luke 24:39). So Jesus must have ascended to His Father some time AFTER He talked with Mary but BEFORE that same evening when He appeared to the disciples. The only possibility is that He had to ascend at the third hour of the day in order to present Himself as alive in the temple in heaven.
Jesus was actually alive BEFORE the priest waved the sheaf in the temple, but He could not present Himself as alive in heaven in order to be declared legally alive until the time that the priest bore witness on earth. This is why the day of the wave-sheaf offering is important in prophecy. Though it marked the DAY, it did not mark the MOMENT of Jesus’ resurrection. It marked the moment that He was declared legally alive in heaven’s court.
If a man were to be shipwrecked and marooned on an island for ten years, he would be declared legally dead after about seven years. If that man were then rescued by a passing ship, he would have to go to the courthouse and present himself to the proper authorities in order to be declared legally alive. This illustrates the distinction between being actually dead and being legally dead. When Jesus rose from the dead, He was actually alive, but He was not legally alive until the time of the wave-sheaf offering, when He presented Himself to the Father in the divine court.
This is another prime example in the Bible of the importance of timing. Jesus fulfilled the law in every detail, not only by WHAT He did, but also by WHEN He did it.
There are some who believe that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday afternoon and spent precisely 72 hours in the tomb. They believe that He was raised from the dead on Saturday afternoon, but that this resurrection was not discovered until the following morning. This view uses as its pretext Jesus’ statement about being “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” However, upon closer examination, it is obvious that it was invented primarily in order to undermine the observation of Sunday as a day of worship, because the early Church writers are all unanimous in telling us that they met to worship and “break bread” on Sunday. Their stated reason is that on this day Jesus rose from the dead.
The only way that the Wednesday crucifixion theory would work is if the Sadducees were right in their interpretation of the wave-sheaf offering. If the Pharisees were correct in their view, and the sheaf was to be waved on the fixed day of Abib 16, then the Wednesday crucifixion view could not possibly be true. Jesus would be crucified on Wednesday, Abib 14; then Thursday, Abib 15 would be the Passover Sabbath; and then the sheaf would have to be waved on Friday, Abib 16. But if Jesus were still in the tomb until late afternoon Saturday, Abib 17, then this law of the wave-sheaf could not be fulfilled by Jesus’ resurrection.
The only way one might salvage this viewpoint is to adopt the Sadducees’ position by saying that the wave-sheaf offering came on the first Sunday after the weekly Sabbath. But even this adaptation makes Jesus’ resurrection occur on the day BEFORE the wave-sheaf offering. This does not seem credible to us. It is our view that Jesus ought to be raised from the dead on the same day as the wave-sheaf offering, even if He did not present Himself to the Father in heaven until a few hours later.
I am told that the only year around that time where Abib 14 fell on a Wednesday was in 28 A.D. This year could not have been the year of Jesus’ crucifixion, because John the Baptist did not even begin to minister until the 15th year of Tiberius in the Spring of 29 A.D. Tiberius began to reign at the death of his father, Augustus Caesar, on August 19, 14 A.D. This is a well-known date in Roman history, which we fully discussed in Chapter 9 of our book, Secrets of Time. Jesus was baptized in September of 29 A.D. and died in 33 A.D. when Abib 14 fell on a Friday. The resurrection, then, occurred on the third day, the morning of Sunday, Abib 16.