The Two Leavened Loaves at Pentecost-Lev. 23.15-17

From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord. From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the Lord.

Sunday, June 5, 2022 commemorates Shavuot (Pentecost) on the Jewish and Christian calendars. This feast marks 50 days after the barley sheaf is waved (Christ’s resurrection) as part of the Passover celebration on the first day after the Sabbath (Sunday). But why would the bible command the Israelites to bring two leavened loaves of wheat bread (this sheaf is wheat and is harvested in Israel at this time of year) as offerings on Pentecost to the Jewish Tabernacle or Temple in Lev. 23. 15-17 when Passover featured the eating of unleavened bread for 7 days?

Most Christian commentators agree that Israel’s 3 commemorative yearly feasts were prophetic redemptive metaphors signaling God’s dealings in humanity’s salvation. This truth started to be recognized in the text by John the Baptist referring to Jesus as the (Passover) Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn. 1.29, 35). Paul told the Corinthians: For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed (1Cor. 5.7b). The cluster feast of Passover consisted of 3 discrete observances: 7 days of unleavened bread, the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb, and the waving of the first fruit sheaf of the barley harvest. The unleavened bread represented Christ’s perfect sinlessness and substance since He, as a perfect man, didn’t puff Himself up with arrogance but was truthful and sincere (see 1Cor. 5.8). Jesus had already been identified as the Passover Lamb by John; and, Paul pointed out how Christ was the Firstfruits from the dead: But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep (1Cor. 15.20). Since the harvest was not to be eaten until the presenting of it’s firstfruits (see Lev. 23.14), believers can now be eventually resurrected bodily since Christ has been raised bodily. In Hebrew the word firstfruit is bikkurim and means “promise to come.” The firstfruits, offered to the Lord, promised the subsequent total harvest. Christ is now embodied and sitting on His throne waiting for His enemies to be made His footstool.

Most all Christians know the story of the Holy Spirit being sent on Pentecost 50 days after Jesus rose from the dead. This event enabled the disciples, now indwelt with this other Counselor (see Jn. 16.7), to speak the message with power: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1.8 ESV). Most all Christians also recognize that this event at Pentecost instituted the New Covenant of Jer. 31.31-34 where all believers would now know the Lord on a personal basis. The Old Covenant provided the Aaronic Priesthood, scattered in Israel, to give instruction to the people in how to follow the Lord: No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ (Jer. 31.34a ESV). 1Jn. 2.27 teaches that Christians have an anointing enabling direct instruction from the Lord without, ultimately, the need for human teachers: But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him (ESV). Henceforth, the establishment of the New Covenant, by the Spirit, provided teaching and guidance to God’s people.

However, there is one figure little understood by Christians in regard to Pentecost’s fulfillment: the two leavened loaves presented to the Aaronic Priests. Why is the offering of leaven instructed at Pentecost when Passover required not eating leavened bread for 7 days? The answer is again found in Jer. 31 where the New Covenant is made with the House of Israel and the House of Judah, two peoples, like all people of the earth, who are leavened metaphorically, that is sinful: “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah (vs. 31). While Jesus was sinless and is represented as unleavened, redeemed humanity is still sinful even though they are indwelt by God’s Spirit.

Acts 2.1-11 records the Spirit’s activity as enabling the speaking of unlearned languages to the 120 believers gathered in one large house. This giving of the Spirit occurred at the time of the daily morning sacrifice which was also the time of prayer (vs. 15). Shavuot, as with all the redemptive feasts, it required the appearance of Jewish males at Jerusalem. This is observed by various foreign temporary residents who were attending this festal commemoration. These foreign worshippers were from places where The Northern Kingdom of Israel were exiled: Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and Mesopotamia (vs. 9). Further, the dialect of Judea is mentioned as being spoken by these Galileans. Therefore, The Lord made the New Covenant with these two metaphorical leavened loaves, Israel and Judah, when many turned to the Lord and 3000 new believers were added to the Body of Christ on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2.41).

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