The Feast of Weeks
G. B. Fyfe, London
FOURTH FEAST. THE FEAST OF WEEKS
This fourth Feast in the sequence of seven found in Leviticus 23 is closely associated with the preceding one, the Feast of First Fruits. Christ himself is foreshadowed in the First Fruits, but in the feast before us now it is rather Christ’s people whom we discern in the symbolism. There are certain features in each which are similar. A textual pointer indicates the connection between the first and second feasts and between the third and fourth. The instructions governing those two pairs of feasts are introduced by the index phrase “And the Lord spake unto Moses saying . . .”, vv. 9. 26.
The Time Factors.
Another reason why the Feast of First Fruits and the Feast of Weeks must be bracketed together is a time factor. The time of the celebration of the Feast of Weeks was reckoned from the Feast of First Fruits -it had to be kept fifty days after; or an interval of seven full weeks had to intervene between the keeping of the two feasts, v. 15. The names given to the fourth feast emphasize this significant fact. It was called the Feast of Weeks because it was observed a week of weeks after the Feast of First Fruits. Alternatively it was known as the Feast of Pentecost which title defines the period in days. The Feast of Weeks, therefore, took place fifty days after the wave sheaf was brought and presented in the sanctuary before Jehovah.
The progression of truth embodied in the three one-day feasts among the first four is worthy of comment. The Passover had its actual fulfilment in the death of Christ; the First Fruits had its historical application in the resurrection of Christ; and the Feast of Weeks found its substance in the descent of the Holy Spirit on that memorable Pentecostal day, Acts 2. 1. It was on the day of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit came down to begin a new thing on earth, and the Feast of Pentecost or Weeks speaks of the present work of the Spirit in this world. The Church was born on that day of Pentecost and its coming into being was contingent upon two great events -Christ’s ascension to heaven and the subsequent descent of the Holy Spirit to earth. It is the Spirit’s function in this dispensation to gather out of earth’s nations a people for Christ’s name. This work was initiated on the day of Pentecost when the Church, as such, came into existence, and the work continues until this moment of time. The Church is something quite unique among all the works of God. Standing apart from everything else in the vast creation of God, it is His marvellous masterpiece, the highest expression of His creative wisdom!
The Typical Features.
So far we have dwelt principally upon the importance and significance of the time of the Feast of Weeks. We pass now to a study of the emblems which illustrate its meaning. Fifty days after the Feast of First Fruits the people had to bring a new meal offering unto Jehovah. This new offering consisted of two loaves of fine flour. Now, whereas the original meal offering spoken of in Leviticus 2 is a delightful type of Christ, the new meal offering of Leviticus 23 is a suggestive figure of Christ’s Church. Christ is no longer visibly and physically in this world. In the present era the Church as indwelt by the Holy Spirit takes the place of Christ on earth. Even as the eye of God gazed down on Christ in the days of his flesh, so does His eye rest upon the Church today.
There was one major distinction between the meal offering that prefigures Christ and the new meal offering which represents Christ’s people. The former contained no leaven, whereas leaven was one of the prescribed ingredients of the latter. Leaven, as has been stated before, is invariably a symbol of evil. The leaven, therefore, in the two loaves of the new meal offering portrays the sin principle which still exists in all the saints on earth. No such principle characterized the pure and perfect human nature of the Man Christ Jesus - “in him was no sin”. It is important to note, however, that although leaven was included among the ingredients of the loaves of the new meal offering it was no longer an active element. It was present but it was not now working. The leaven had been baked - it had been in contact with the heat of the fire. That means, in effect, that the evil had been already judged by God. At the cross God condemned sin in the flesh. So while evil is present in every Christian it ought not to be operative, having been judged at the cross and made impotent by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Another distinguishing feature of the new meal offering is that two loaves were to be presented. Two is the number which speaks of effective testimony and valid witness. Israel having failed in the place of testimony has been superseded by a new organ of witness for God in the world, namely, the Church. Thus the two loaves of Leviticus 23 may set forth the assembly as the source of testimony upon earth. This is in contrast to the emblem of the one loaf in 1 Corinthians 10. 17 which pictures the Church in another aspect. “One” is expressive of unity and stresses the truth of the one body.
The basic ingredient of the new meal offering was the fine flour which is an unmistakable symbol of Christ in the unsullied and absolute purity of His human nature. Thus the fine flour and the leaven, which formed this picture of the assembly, exemplify two opposite principles in the Christian. “Christ liveth in me” is the meaning of the fine flour, while the contrary principle “sin dwelleth (not liveth!) in me”, Rom. 7. 17, is denoted by the leaven - baked., inactive leaven.
The Token Fruits.
The new meal offering of the two loaves offered before the Lord was regarded by Him as first fruits. They were but a sample of a prolific ingathering to take place later on. They anticipate the great harvest which God will yet reap from the earth. Christians are in fact the first fruits of a perfected new creation. James in his Epistle writes “. . . that we should be a kind, of firstfruits of his creatures”, 1. 18. The Church as the first fruits, even now in a corrupt and evil world, affords God a foretaste of the golden harvest time when the entire globe will be populated by a race of people who possess the nature and display the virtues of Christ. What then is the practical challenge of all this? Is it not simply this - “Am I, as part of God’s new society on earth, part of the first fruits, manifesting the characteristics and living the kind of life now which pleases Him?”
The ceremony connected with the Feast of Weeks required the offering of a sin offering with the two wave loaves. They could not otherwise have been accepted by God. The precision of Scripture is seen in this, for no sin offering was necessary when the sheaf of First Fruits was raised in the sanctuary and presented unto God. This distinction is demonstrative. The first sheaf of a ripened harvest speaks of Christ - the perfect sinless One. The new meal offering portrays the Church, and the Church finds acceptance with God only on the basis of the sin-atoning work of Christ on the cross. A burnt offering, a peace offering expressive of communion, and the requisite drink offerings indicative of holy joy, were also among the accompaniments of the Feast of Pentecost.
The same action which was performed in the sanctuary in respect of the sheaf of first fruits was repeated in relation to the new meal offering of the two loaves. These were waved before the Lord. That is, they were passed to and fro before God for the purpose of His inspection. The thought here is “Behold what grace has produced!” In the case of the wave sheaf where Christ is in view it was “Behold how intrinsically perfect and personally acceptable He is!” And in all the action and accompaniments we have these profound truths graphically displayed.