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What the Bible says about Jesus Christ's Ascension
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Jesus Christ is the perfect type of the waving of the wavesheaf. Histories of the time show that the sheaf was waved about the same time as the daily morning sacrifice—about the third hour of the day or 9 AM by our reckoning. This particular day was Sunday morning, the day after the Sabbath that falls during the Days of Unleavened Bread.

The priests of the Temple would have been conducting the wavesheaf ceremony on the day of Christ's resurrection. It is quite evident that Christ ascended to heaven about the same time as the wavesheaf was being waved before God.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension

Leviticus 23:10-11

If we study these passages together, we will see that the waving of the sheaf occurred on the day after the weekly Sabbath that fell during the Days of Unleavened Bread. The Bible does not say, specifically, when the wavesheaf was cut, but it obviously must have happened sometime before it was waved.

We have long understood that Jesus fulfilled the waving of the sheaf at His ascension. However, it has not been emphasized that He also fulfilled the type of the cutting of the wavesheaf upon being resurrected.

During the Second Temple period, when Jesus died, the sheaf was reaped from the field as the Sabbath ended and Sunday began. This is the period of the day called ben ha arbayim. It was the time at dusk when one day was ending and the other was beginning.

We know this from the Mishna (a record of all the services and small observances that the Jews did and the directions for doing them), which says: "Rabbi Hananiah, prefect of the priests, says it [meaning the barley sheaf ] was reaped on the Sabbath. He [that is, the priest] says to them, 'Shall I reap on this Sabbath?' And they [a kind of chorus that had gathered around: the other priests, the Levites, and other spectators] shall say, 'Yes.' "

He repeated this three times. "Shall I reap on this Sabbath?" "Yes!" "Shall I reap on this Sabbath?" "Yes!" "Shall I reap on this Sabbath?" Yes!"

"With this sickle?" "Yes!" "With this sickle?" "Yes!" "With this sickle?" "Yes!"—and so forth. So what we see is that, during Jesus' lifetime, at the end of the Sabbath, at dusk, the priests put the sickle to the grain, as it says in Deuteronomy 16:9.

Now the reaping of the sheaf symbolizes Israel giving the firstfruits, the very best of their produce, to God, and this is exactly the symbolism that Jesus fulfilled (I Corinthians 15:20-23). Christians are also called the firstfruits of God.

So as the weekly Sabbath was ending, exactly seventy-two hours from His burial, God resurrected His Son from the dead. He became the perfect wavesheaf offering that would be waved the next day. He was the first and perfect Firstfruit. In a very real sense, God reaped the best and the first of His spiritual harvest.

One might wonder why this happened on the Sabbath. What is the significance of this being done on the Sabbath? It is the Sabbath that commemorates God as Creator. This same God rested on the seventh day of creation. This is Jesus Christ—the Word of God!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension

Psalm 23:4

Jesus, bouyed by the hope of the resurrection of the dead, could go through that terrible death, knowing that God would be with Him. He knew that God would forsake Him, but He also knew that He would ultimately raise Him from the dead.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension

Psalm 24:2

This verse looks back to the fact that He was the Creator. Our Creator went through all these things for us.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension

Psalm 24:3

It is telling that the word "ascend" is in this verse—especially when we compare it with Hebrews 1:1-3, which describes Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Here, in a similar manner, He is standing in the Holy Place.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension

Psalm 24:4

This One may ascend His Holy Hill—may stand in the Holy Place! Did Jesus not do that? Verse 4 describes Christ's purity, His sinlessness, and now His holiness!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension

Psalm 24:6

Verse 6 tells us that Jesus Christ is the head of the church. It may not appear so at first glance, but remember that the church is the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16). Remember, too, that another name for Israel is Jacob. "Generation" is poorly translated; it should read "congregation." This verse, then, could read, "This is the congregation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face." This is telling us that, because Jesus died, rose, and ascended to heaven, it is now possible for there to be a congregation of those who seek His face—the Israel of God!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension

John 20:17

As the firstfruits of God's Family, Jesus had not yet appeared before the Father for acceptance as our Savior and High Priest! He had not yet been "waved"! The context of John 20 shows that it was still early in the morning, and most likely, shortly after Mary returned to the disciples, Jesus ascended to His Father's throne in heaven to be accepted as our Redeemer—at about the same time the priest waved the sheaf before God in the Temple. God fulfills His Word to the letter!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'After Three Days'

John 20:17

Jesus was crucified on the day of the Passover in AD 31, which fell that year on a Wednesday. God resurrected Him at the end of the weekly Sabbath (Saturday). He appeared to Mary Magdalene the next morning, the day after the weekly Sabbath during Unleavened Bread, when the priests presented the wavesheaf offering. He did not permit her to touch Him because He had not yet ascended to the Father. Just as the High Priest had to wave the sheaf of grain before the spring harvest began, so our Savior had to ascend to the Father that day to be accepted before Him. Once this happened, He allowed His disciples to touch Him (cf. Matthew 28:9; John 20:20-28).

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Pentecost

John 20:17

This occurred early in the morning not long after sunrise. We do not know exactly what time after sunrise, but the women originally came to the tomb while it was still dark (verse 1)—and He was already gone from the tomb at that point! He simply could not have risen at sunrise. It was sometime after sunrise when Jesus stopped her and instructed her to tell His disciples these things. So, shortly after Mary returned to the disciples—however long it took her to get back to where they were assembled—Jesus ascended to His Father's throne in heaven to be accepted as our Redeemer and High Priest.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension

Acts 1:6

The scene is the ascension of Jesus Christ, after forty days of being with the disciples (verse 3). The day of Pentecost is just about to occur (Acts 2). It is interesting to note, in this profoundly significant time in the lives of the apostles, what was on their mind. Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." They were seeking to know about the Kingdom of God and seeing it established immediately! We should not be unfamiliar with that kind of an attitude. If we are at all like them, we, too, would like to see God's Kingdom established right now.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Trumpets Is a Day of Hope

Ephesians 4:10-13

When He ascended, He was resurrected as very God. He was an immortal spirit Being once again!

These verses show the goal, the focus, the very reason the church exists—why we have been given the Spirit of God: "till we come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God." Paul is describing something that will not occur while we are still physical beings, pointing to the great goal that lies beyond the resurrection of the dead!

We find our hope and goal in verse 13. We must begin to expand on what Jesus Christ is now—that is what the apostle Paul points to. Our standard is not Jesus merely as a man before He was crucified and resurrected, but the great goal is becoming like Jesus Christ is now—ascended and at God's right hand!

We are still mortal and physical, but we are in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), not just in form and shape. The image of God that He is concerned about is the fact that we have the power of mind. Because of this, and with the help of the gifts of God, particularly His Spirit, we can come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh


Hebrews 1:3

Jesus has been exalted to sit at the Father's right side in heaven. By the power of the Father, He rose from the dead to work with the Father on Their plan to complete the creation of mankind in God's image. No plan of Theirs has ever failed by even the smallest degree. Yet few use their faith in Jesus' work. Most make no effort to seek His help in producing the fruit that glorifies God.

Conclusion: Humanity shows it cannot be bothered with such a triviality as prayer.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Ten): Christianity's Claims

Hebrews 4:1-10

What happened when Jesus Christ was raised from the dead? He entered His rest! And when Christ was resurrected? On the Sabbath, when the wavesheaf was cut! They all tie together. By a resurrection from the dead, we inherit and fully enter the Kingdom of God. We could call it the World Tomorrow, and we could probably come up with a few other terms for it.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension


 




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