COUNTING PENTECOST
WHERE TO BEGIN?


Most of us, it seems, sometime around January 1st, pull out our new calendar and hang it on the wall. Shortly after that, we mark our new calendar with God's Holy Days so that they won't sneak up on us. The guide that we use has always been, for most of us, a handy little pocket calendar entitled "God's Holy Days". We never questioned it's accuracy, who made it up, or where the information came from; we just accepted it as correct.

This year there is an interesting aspect of marking our calendars. The Passover falls on a Friday night (the Sabbath), which makes Sunday, the first day of Unleavened Bread, an annual Holy Day. The only weekly Sabbath that falls within Unleavened Bread is the last one. This brings us the question, where do we count from?

All of the Holy Days, with the exception of Pentecost, fall on a specific date on the Hebrew calendar. Pentecost is the only Holy Day of God that we are required to figure each year by counting. God commands us to count and so this counting is part of observing the feast of Pentecost. We know that we are to start our count on the day after the Sabbath which is the first day of the week. After we count 50 days, we end up on the same day of the week. What we don't know, until we count, is the date. That's why it's important for us to know where to start counting from.

We know the meaning of the Holy Days. Passover is a memorial of the death angel passing over the homes of those that put the blood of the lamb (Christ) on their door posts in Egypt.

Unleavened Bread represents something totally different. It represents our coming out of sin as did the Israelites coming out of Egypt. God also commanded us to put leavening out of our homes for the seven days of Unleavened Bread. Passover and Unleavened Bread represent different steps in God's plan of salvation. They are not directly related to each other.

Pentecost is not directly related to the Days of Unleavened Bread. Unleavened Bread and the instructions for it are separate from Pentecost.

God gives us instructions as to when and how to keep his feasts in Leviticus 23:2, "Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts."

In verse 3, God begins with the weekly Sabbath as a feast day, then He lists the annual feasts. Leviticus 23:5, "In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's passover." **The Passover is to be observed on the 14th, which means we begin when the sun goes down on the 13th beginning the evening of the 14th. Notice that the day portion of the Passover is not a Holy Day. The daylight portion of Passover day can be worked on.

Verse 6, "And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of Unleavened Bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. (7) In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein." **The first day of Unleavened Bread is a Holy Day and we are commanded not to do any servile work on that day** Verse 8, "...in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein." **The first and last, day of Unleavened Bread are Holy days and no servile work is to be done on them. We can't go out and harvest produce on the Holy Days.

When you read in the five books of the law where the instructions for the Days of Unleavened Bread are given, the Wave Sheaf is not mentioned. It's not mentioned in Exodus 12:15-20, Exodus 13:5-10, Exodus 23:14-15, Exodus 34:17-18, Lev. 23:5-8, Numbers 28:16-25, and Deuteronomy 16:1-8. The Wave Sheaf is not a part of Unleavened Bread. The Wave Sheaf is part of the counting to Pentecost. The Wave Sheaf, and the counting, begins on the morrow after the weekly Sabbath that occurs during the days of Unleavened Bread. If the weekly Sabbath happens to occur on the last day of Unleavened Bread then the Wave Sheaf is offered outside of the seven day feast. This is not a problem since the wave sheaf is not a part of God's instructions for Unleavened Bread. The Wave Sheaf is part of the counting to Pentecost.

Leviticus 23:8 ends the instructions of how to observe the Days of Unleavened Bread. Verse 9 begins the instructions for counting and observing Pentecost. Notice verse 9, "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying..." **This is the way that God separated His instructions from one Holy Day to the next. Notice verse 23, "And the Lord spake unto Moses saying, (24) Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation." **He does the same thing in verse 26, "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, (27) Also in the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation" **One more time in verse 33, "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, (34) Speak unto the children of Israel , saying the fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles..."

It's important to know that when we read these words in Leviticus 23:9, , "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,"; this separates the instructions for Unleavened Bread from the instructions God is about to give for Pentecost.

Leviticus 23:9, "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, (10)"Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, when ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: **Unleavened Bread has to do with coming out of sin; Pentecost has to do with first fruits** (11) And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you on the morrow after the sabbath... (14) And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God..." **The green ears, parched corn, and bread has to do with the harvest of that year. The harvest does not begin until the Wave Sheaf has been offered** Verse 15, "And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: (16) Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days..."

The Wave Sheaf offering begins the counting on the morrow after the Sabbath. This Sabbath has to be a weekly Sabbath. If it wasn't, there would be no need to count. To count from an annual Sabbath would always end on the same day and there would be no need to count the 50 days. So, what weekly Sabbath do we count from.

It's important to remember that the counting and the Wave Sheaf are dependent on the weekly Sabbath that we are to count from. It's the weekly Sabbath that gives us our starting point, not the next day. You won't find a direct command that tells you which weekly Sabbath to start from. What you do find is that the 7 day period of Unleavened Bread always contains one weekly Sabbath. It is the weekly Sabbath that has a varying date. It was the morrow after the weekly Sabbath, during the days of Unleavened Bread, that Jesus Christ, the first of the first fruits, the Wave Sheaf, ascended to the Father. That Sunday, the first day of the week, the day that Mary Magdalene came to the tomb, was a work day. Remember that she rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.

The Wave Sheaf has to be offered on a work day. This is a critical point. There are some that want to count from the morrow after the Sabbath on which the Passover fell. If you did this, you would be offering the Wave Sheaf on the first Holy Day of Unleavened Bread. God commanded that there was to be NO servile work on that day. The priests would be exempt, but the harvest could not begin on the Holy Day as Deuteronomy 16:9 instructs. It's the Wave Sheaf that is the signal to begin the harvest. Deuteronomy 16:9, "Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn." **The harvest begins on the same day that the Wave Sheaf is offered.

Mr. Armstrong, in his booklet PAGAN HOLIDAYS--OR GOD'S HOLY DAYS--WHICH? copyright date, 1976, under the heading "How to figure Pentecost", said, "Before that time, however, the high priests of the family Boethus, who were Sadducees, had been in control of matters concerning the festivals in Jerusalem. The Boethusians always counted beginning with the morrow after the weekly Sabbath, the day we call Saturday, which fell within the days of unleavened bread. This historical information has been preserved for us in the Mishna, which was set in writing about A.D. 200:

In the booklet by the same name, copyright 1974, a contradictory statement was made that was corrected in the 1976 edition. That paragraph reads, "The Boethusians always counted from the morrow after the weekly Sabbath, the day we call Saturday, which usually fell within the Days of Unleavened Bread or immediately before the first day of Unleavened Bread. **The underlined words contradict what Mr. Armstrong published in the later 1976 edition. He took the words, "usually", and, "or immediatly before the days of Unleavened Bread" out of the 1976 edition and made no reference to prior copyright of 1957, 1973, and 1974. We conclude that the statement made in the 1976 booklet expressed what Mr. Armstrong beleived and what is contained in scripture, and that is the count to Pentecost begins, "after the weekly Sabbath which fell within the days of Unleavened Bread."

We can't count to Pentecost from the morrow after the Sabbath that comes before the first Day of Unleavened Bread. This would place the offering of the Wave Sheaf and the beginning of the harvest on an annual Holy Day. God forbids it when He said we are to do no servile work on that day.

This year the only weekly Sabbath that marks where we are to begin our count from falls on the last day of Unleavened Bread. Nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to offer the Wave Sheaf during the days of Unleavened Bread. It is the day after this weekly Sabbath that the Wave Sheaf marks the beginning of both the physical and spiritual harvest that is offered on the first day of the week, a work day. This is the day that we are to both put the sickle to the corn and begin our count to Pentecost as we are told in Deut. 16:9. This year Pentecost is on June 3.

Bill and Cheryl Nichols January 2, 2001