Changes in the Sabbath Law--Part 2
May 25, 2010
As I wrote in Part 1, the early church writers justified their observance of Sunday on their belief that Jesus was raised from the dead on that day. For this reason some have tried to subvert their argument by having Jesus raised just before sundown on Saturday evening. Their motive is, of course, to discredit the validity of worship on Sunday. In essence, they are saying that the early Church writers were wrong.
We are thus presented with the dilemma of believing those who were eyewitnesses to the event, or who personally knew eyewitnesses of Jesus' resurrection--or of believing modern writers 1900 years after the fact, who seek to discredit the earlier view in order to find proof for their preconceived belief.
Technically, of course, while a Sunday resurrection was the stated reason for their early Sunday observance, the real significance of the day was that it was the time of the wave-sheaf offering. The waving of the sheaf in the temple at the third hour of the day was the prophesied moment when the resurrected Son of God had to present Himself in the Temple in heaven.
Obviously, He had to be raised from the dead before that moment. I personally believe that He was raised about 3:00 a.m. when the new course of priests arrived at the temple to minister for the coming week. When the temple gates were opened to let them in, the tomb was also opened to fulfill Psalm 24:7,
"Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in."
The stone was the gate of the tomb. It opened when the temple gates were opened for the new course of priests to come in. Then a few hours later, at the third hour of the day, as the priest waved the sheaf of barley, the gates of heaven were opened so that the King of Glory could come in and present Himself as the living Son of God.
A short time after Jesus' resurrection, He appeared to Mary Magdalene and told her not to touch Him, because He had "not yet ascended." He was referring to His ascension to the temple at the third hour of the day while the priest waved the sheaf of barley. His presentation made His resurrection "official" in the courts of heaven as He presented Himself as the Firstborn from the dead (Col. 1:18). All presentations of Firstborn Sons were required on the eighth day, according to the law in Ex. 22:29 and 30,
(29) You shall not delay the offering from your harvest and your vintage. The first-born of your sons you shall give to Me. (30) You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days, and on the eighth day you shall give it to Me.
It is for this reason the sheaf of barley had to be waved "on the day after the Sabbath" (Lev. 23:11). This is part of the law of the eighth day, which establishes much prophecy in regard to the presentation of the Son(s) of God. It was unlawful to present the First-born Sons on the seventh day or the ninth day.
It requires some knowledge of the laws of Sonship to understand the law of the eighth day. I have found, however, that most Adventists or Seventh-day groups have become so paranoid over the eighth day that they have failed to study it. And this failure has led to a basic ignorance of the Sonship message in general. Yet the eighth day is built into the divine law, and we must understand it in order to understand the mind of God and His prophetic plan for mankind.
Now there was a basic disagreement between the Pharisees and the Sadducees in the time of the New Testament. They disagreed on the meaning of "Sabbath" in Lev. 23:11,
"And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord for you to be accepted; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it."
The Pharisees said, "This Sabbath is the Passover itself," (i.e., Abib 15). The Sadducees said, "This Sabbath is the week-day Sabbath," which was the first Sunday after Passover and could be as late as Abib 21 in some years. In the time of the New Testament, the Sadducees were in control of the Temple. (See Acts 4:1.) So their viewpoint was actually being implemented in the temple rituals at that time.
I believe that the Sadducees were biblically correct in this particular interpretation of Scripture. The wave-sheaf offering was always to be waved on a Sunday, whether Passover fell on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday.
Pentecost was seven weeks later--also on a Sunday, because once again, this was the day that the Church was presenting themselves to God as Sons of the Wheat Harvest. The link between barley and wheat is the seven-week period called "counting the omer." They took an omer of barley and counted some of the grains each day, ending with Pentecost. This was meant to provide a connecting link between the wave-sheaf and Pentecost.
There was divine purpose to the law mandating that the barley and wheat offerings both would be offered on an eighth day. Both signified the presentation of the Sons, first the Son (1 Cor. 15:23) and later the Sons (James 1:18). The law prophesied the timing of these events in the future. The barley and wheat offerings were the outworking of the law of the first-born in Exodus 22:29 and 30.
Likewise, there is yet another presentation of the Sons that will take place in the future. It is the fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles. In that case, the Sons will be "born" on the first day of Tabernacles and presented to God on the eighth day.
The law in Ex. 20:9 says, "six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God." In other words, six days of labor prepares a person for a seventh-day rest. In the same manner, a seven-day cycle prepares a Son for an eighth day presentation. Hence, seven days of consecration of the priests in Lev. 8:35 prepared them for the manifestation of the glory of God on the eighth day (Lev. 9:1). Seven days of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:34) prepares the people for the eighth day ceremony (lev. 23:36).
In other words, the purpose of a seven-day cycle is to prepare for the eighth day. Anyone who stops with the seventh day will miss the whole point of the Sabbath cycle. In the case of Jesus' resurrection and the wave-sheaf offering, we can see that His death at Passover was the requirement to be raised from the dead and presented on the eighth day.
There is much more to say about this from the divine law, but I do not want to cram it into the remaining limited space. So I will stop here and continue tomorrow with this study.
This is the second part of a series titled "Changes in the Sabbath Law." To view all parts, click the link below.