Traditionally the day following the first day of Unleavened Bread is called Reshit Katzir (רֵאשִׁיתצִיר), the "beginning of the harvest" (sometimes confusingly) called the Feast of Firstfruits. In ancient times, on this day a sheaf (omer) of barley (the first grain crop to ripen) was waved before the LORD in a prescribed ceremony to mark the start of the counting of the Omer, thereby initiating the forty nine days plus one countdown to the harvest festival of Shavuot.
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the Lord. Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the Lord, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin. You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.” (Leviticus 23:9-14)
There are differences of opinions as to when the wave offering (tenufat haOmer) was done. If we look at Scripture we see the phrase “the day after the Sabbath” in other words which Sabbath as this could refer to:- First day of the week (Sunday ) Yom Rishon and this would have followed the weekly Sabbath or it could have followed the High Sabbath in other words the day after the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The wave offering would then happen on the 16 Nissan the day following the High Sabbath. This could then occur on any day of the week (Joshua 5:11) This would then tie into Yeshua's resurrection.
It was on this day that the priest would take the sheaf (omer) of barley which was the first grain crop to ripen, this was harvested and waved before the Lord to the North, South, East and West as a symbolic way of dedicating this sheath of barley to the Lord. This was also the start to the counting of the omer; initiating the forty nine day plus one countdown to the harvest festival of Shavuot. A male lamb was then sacrificed as a burnt offering (olah) to the Lord as well as a minchah ( unleavened barley bread mixed with oil) and wine. Only after this wave offering was performed could the crop be used.
We see that a lamb, bread and wine are offered and it is these symbols that Yeshua used when he spoke about himself being the sacrifice to the Lord.
Today as there is no Temple to perform the offerings, processionals and sacrifices in, they now no longer take place. Therefore the Rabbis state that the counting of the seven weeks is to still be performed even though the waving of the offering cannot be done. Instead prayer and blessings from special prayer books take place as well as reflecting on the symbolic meaning of the day. The counting of the days from the barley harvest to the wheat harvest at Shavuot (Pentecost) seven Sabbaths and one day 49 + 1 = 50 fifty days starts. Finally many congregations read from Psalm 67 because it has seven verses and forty nine words in Hebrew which corresponds to the 7 weeks and fifty days of Sfirat haOmer
Shaul (Paul), in the book of 1Corinthians 15:20 &23 speaks of Yeshua as the First Fruits. Yeshua is the First Fruits of the dead. He showed himself to numerous people on that day the 16 Nissan. We need to go a little deeper and see that as the Priests and the people were waving the First Fruits wave offering and praying for a good and perfect harvest during the next seven weeks we need to spend time with the Lord looking at the areas we need healing and changing in so that we will become more like Yeshua as if we become more like Yeshua we will get even closer to the Father.
Next time we will look at Shavuot