Should Pentecost Always Be On Sunday?
What Does The Bible Teach?


To begin, I would like to present the following excerpt from The Sabbath and The Lord's Day by H. M. Riggle, published in 1928. This is one of the Pioneer Books of the Church of God and is available on the web site of the Church of God, Carmichael, California. It offers the following in support of Sunday-keeping:

 The Lord's Day Prefigured in the Old Testament

The great memorial day of the gospel seems to have been clearly prefigured in the law of shadows.

1. The Feast of Harvest. "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 of your harvest unto the priest: and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it" (Lev. 23:10, 11).

This took place "on the morrow after the Sabbath." This was the eighth day, or the first day of the week. The sheaf that the priest waved before the Lord was of the "firstfruits of the harvest." What did it typify? Paul gives the answer: "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Cor.15:20). That sheaf clearly pointed to the resurrection of Christ. True to the shadow, Christ rose on the first day of the week. So the eighth day on which the wave offering was made, was a part of the shadow as much as the offering. As certain as the sheaf pointed to the resurrection of Christ, so certain did the eighth day on which it took place point to the day on which he arose—the Lord's Day. That sheaf was a sample of the entire crop, so Christ's resurrection is a sample and proof of the future resurrection of all the redeemed (see 1 Corinthians 15).

2. The Feast of Pentecost. "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: even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord. And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the Lord, with [148] their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savor unto the Lord ' (Lev. 23:15, 16, 18).

This offering "made by fire" pointed to the baptism of "the Holy Ghost and fire" received on Pentecost. The Feast of Pentecost was on the "morrow after the seventh Sabbath," or fifty days from the wave offering. "Pentecost" means fifty. How wonderful this shadow! The sheaf was waved before the Lord on the first day of the week. It pointed to Christ's resurrection, which took place on the same day. Just seven weeks later came the Feast of Pentecost, an offering by fire. That fell also on the day "after the Sabbath." Just seven weeks after Christ's resurrection the Holy Spirit fire fell on one hundred and twenty, and the church of God was organized. Both took place on the first day of the week.

In the law of shadows we read: "And ye shall proclaim on the self same day, that it may be a holy convocation unto you" (Lev. 23:21). "Convocation" means assembly. "On the first day shall be an holy convocation.... On the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord: it is a solemn assembly" (vss. 35, 36). "On the eighth day ye shall have a solemn assembly" (Num. 29:35). "On the eighth day they made a solemn assembly" (2 Chron. 7:9). "On the eighth day was a solemn assembly" (Neh. 8:18). All this was a shadow. Notice that the eighth day, or first day of the week, stood out in great prominence.

The two feasts held on this day pointed to the two great triumphant events in the plan of redemption; viz., the resurrection of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In the type, the eighth day was a day of assembly, a day when sacrifice by fire was offered to the Lord. This foreshadowed the great memorial day of the gospel—the Lord's Day. From the day on which Christ rose from the dead, the eighth day has been a day of assembling, a day of holy convocation for the church of God, a day when sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving by the Holy Spirit's fire have been given to God. [149]
Original Pages: 148-149.

Here is a similar assertion from J. Mark Martin, senior pastor of Calvary Community Church of Phoenix Arizona, a Calvary Chapel:

SABBATARIANS ASK FOR ONE TEXT IN THE BIBLE THAT COMMANDS SUNDAY WORSHIP, HERE IT IS:

LEVITICUS 23:5-11 - Look at verse 11: "'And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.'" The day after the Sabbath is Sunday.

Read on specifically looking at Leviticus 23:15 - "'You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the DAY AFTER THE SEVENTH SABBATH; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord.'" This is the Feast of Pentecost. It was one of the compulsory feasts of Israel.

Note on the day of Pentecost, a Sunday God's people were commanded to worship. God says, "On this same day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be perpetual statue in all your dwelling places throughout your generations." Leviticus 23:21.

If you think this is only applying to "ceremonial" days, Leviticus 23 starts out talking about the weekly Sabbath (see Lev. 23:1-4). It is called an appointed time and a holy convocation, along with all the other feast days of Israel. No distinction is made by God between these holy days and the weekly Sabbath. He includes them as being equally holy. This would mean that under the Old Covenant the First Fruits Sunday and the Pentecost Sunday were as holy and sanctified as Saturday.

Above excerpted from The Sabbath & Sunday by Pastor J. Mark Martin, © Copyright 1999, all rights reserved - Grace Upon Grace, P.O. Box 39607, Phoenix, AZ 85069

So did God command specifically that Sunday be observed as a sabbath festival day, i.e., the Omer (Firstfruits) and Pentecost? With a Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection, Pentecost will indeed fall on a Sunday, as Pentecost is figured by counting 50 days from the day of firstfruits as shown here:

TABLE #1
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
          14 Nisan
Passover
Crucifixion
15 Nisan
1st day of
Unleaven Bread
A Sabbath
16 Nisan
Firstfruits (Omer)
Resurrection
1
17 Nisan

2

18 Nisan

3

19 Nisan

4

20 Nisan

5

21 Nisan
7th day of
Unleaven Bread
A Sabbath

6
22 Nisan
End Week 1

7

23 Nisan

8

24 Nisan

9

25 Nisan

10

26 Nisan

11

27 Nisan

12

28 Nisan

13

29 Nisan
End Week 2
14
1 Iyyar

15

2 Iyyar

16

3 Iyyar

17

4 Iyyar

18

5 Iyyar

19

6 Iyyar

20

7 Iyyar
End Week 3

21
8 Iyyar

22

9 Iyyar

23

10 Iyyar

24

11 Iyyar

25

12 Iyyar

26

13 Iyyar

27

14 Iyyar
End Week 4
28
15 Iyyar

29

16 Iyyar

30

17 Iyyar

31

18 Iyyar

32

19 Iyyar

33

20 Iyyar

34

21 Iyyar
End Week 5
35
22 Iyyar

36

23 Iyyar

37

24 Iyyar

38

25 Iyyar

39

26 Iyyar

40

27 Iyyar

41

 28 Iyyar
End Week 6
42
29 Iyyar

43

30 Iyyar

44

1 Sivan

45

2 Sivan

46

3 Sivan

47

4 Sivan

48

5 Sivan
End Week 7
49
6 Sivan
Pentecost
A Sabbath
50
           
The 6 Sivan result presumes that for Nisan and Iyyar, one month will have 29 days, and the other 30 days.

Since the biblical Calendar is based on observance of New Moons, the festival days will change the day of the week they fall on, from one year to the next.  First, Passover as a type or shadow of the Crucifixion, is always 14 Nisan:

Lev 23:5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's passover.

Second, 15 Nisan is always the 1st day of Unleaven Bread, it is also designated a ceremonial yearly sabbath day:

Lev 23:6 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.
Lev 23:7 In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
Lev 23:8 But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

Third is the day of firstfruits, which not designated a yearly sabbath day:

Lev 23:9 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Lev 23:10 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:
Lev 23:11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.

Now H. M. Riggle and J. Mark Martin interpret "morrow after the sabbath" to always mean Sunday. However, in the text of Leviticus, the sabbath day intended is 15 Nisan, the subject of verses 6-8, and not the seventh-day sabbath, as this study will show. But first lets presume that H. M. Riggle and J. Mark Martin are correct, and show the results. I have noted that 14 Nisan can occur on any day of the week, based on the observance of the New Moon. The following table illustrates a most interesting point:

Table #2
The Results of a Firstfruits = Sunday Interpretation
Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sunday
Firstfruits
Days from
14 Nisan to a
Sunday Firstfruits
            14 Nisan
1
15 Nisan
2
16 Nisan
3
3
          14 Nisan
1
15 Nisan
2
16 Nisan
3
17 Nisan
4
4
        14 Nisan
1
15 Nisan
2
16 Nisan
3
17 Nisan
4
18 Nisan
5
5
      14 Nisan
1
15 Nisan
2
16 Nisan
3
17 Nisan
4
18 Nisan
5
19 Nisan
6
6
    14 Nisan
1
15 Nisan
2
16 Nisan
3
17 Nisan
4
18 Nisan
5
19 Nisan
6
20 Nisan
7
7
  14 Nisan
1
15 Nisan
2
16 Nisan
3
17 Nisan
4
18 Nisan
5
19 Nisan
6
20 Nisan
7
21 Nisan
8
8
14 Nisan
1
15 Nisan
2
16 Nisan
3
17 Nisan
4
18 Nisan
5
19 Nisan
6
20 Nisan
7
21 Nisan
8
22 Nisan
9
9

Note that the farther away Passover moves away from Friday (earlier), the greater the number of days from Passover to a Sunday Firstfruits, when figured according to H. M. Riggle's and J. Mark Martin's interpretation. When Passover (14 Nisan) is on Friday, then there are only three days to Firstfruits (16 Nisan), but if Passover were to fall on Saturday, there would be nine days to the next Sunday! Now scripture makes quite clear that the resurrection of Jesus was on the third day:

Mat 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Mat 17:23 And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.

Mat 20:19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.

See also Mk 9:31, Mk 10:34, Lk 9:22, Lk 13:32, Lk 18:33, Lk 24:7, Lk 24:21, Lk 24:26, Acts 10:40, 1 Cor 15:4.

Now as should be apparent, there is no way for H. M. Riggle's and J. Mark Martin's interpretation to fit scripture if Passover falls on any other day than Friday. Virtually every year, the number of days from firstfruits to the following Sunday would vary, and exceed the three day limit, except when Passover (14 Nisan) was on a Friday. By H. M. Riggle's and J. Mark Martin's interpretation, Pentecost would always be on a Sunday, but would vary widely on the Hebrew calendar from 6 to 12 Sivan, being counted 50 days from a Sunday firstfruits.

But now let's change the chart and interpret "morrow after the sabbath" in Lev. 23:11 to mean the day after the 1st day of Unleaven Bread (15 Nisan), a sabbath day, and see how that changes the results:

Table #3
Results When "morrow after the sabbath" Always Means 16 Nisan
Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Days from 14 Nisan
to Firstfruits
            14 Nisan
1
15 Nisan
2
16 Nisan
3
3
          14 Nisan
1
15 Nisan
2
16 Nisan
3
  3
        14 Nisan
1
15 Nisan
2
16 Nisan
3
    3
      14 Nisan
1
15 Nisan
2
16 Nisan
3
      3
    14 Nisan
1
15 Nisan
2
16 Nisan
3
        3
  14 Nisan
1
15 Nisan
2
16 Nisan
3
          3
14 Nisan
1
15 Nisan
2
16 Nisan
3
            3

Note that no matter what day of the week Passover falls on, there is always three days from Passover to firstfruits (counted inclusively). With this interpretation every single year would agree with prophecy precisely, with three days from the crucifixion to the resurrection, but note that there is absolutely no association to any particular week day for it to work. It should be clear that this is the intent of Lev 23:11. Using this interpretation, you then count 50 days to Pentecost:

Lev 23:15 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:
Lev 23:16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; ...

Continuing our firstfruits = 16 Nisan interpretation, verse 15 above again means the day after the 15 Nisan sabbath. Now, referring back to Table #1, you will see that counting seven sabbaths ( 7 weeks of 7 days) from 16 Nisan, the "morrow after the seventh sabbath" (the day after the 7 weeks / 50th day) will fall on the same day of the week as firstfruits. This will be true no matter what day of the week firstfruits (16 Nisan) falls on. Whatever day of the week firstfruits occurs on, Pentecost will also fall on, i.e., a Sunday firstfruits means a Sunday Pentecost. A Monday firstfruits would mean a Monday Pentecost, due to the 50 day count.

H. M. Riggle's Eighth Day

In addition, to support his Sunday-keeping, H. M. Riggle cited several verses referring to the "eighth day" and declares this to mean Sunday. Let's take a closer look.

Lev 23:34 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD.
Lev 23:35 On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
Lev 23:36 Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.

Num 29:12 And on the fifteenth day of the seventh month ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work, and ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: ...
Num 29:35 On the eighth day ye shall have a solemn assembly: ye shall do no servile work therein:

2 Chr 7:9 And in the eighth day they made a solemn assembly: for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days.
2 Chr 7:10 And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month he sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the LORD had showed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people.

Neh 8:14 And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month: [Tabernacles] ...
Neh 8:18 Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according unto the manner.

Feast of Tabernacles
15 Tishri 16 Tishri 17 Tishri 18 Tishri 19 Tishri 20 Tishri 21 Tishri 22 Tishri
1st Day
Feast of
Tabernacles
2nd 3rd  4th  5th  6th 7th 8th Day
Feast of
Tabernacles
A Sabbath - -  -  -  -  - A Sabbath

The above passages are speaking about the Feast of Tabernacles, something that H. M. Riggle fails to point out for his readers. The first day of Tabernacles is designated in scripture as the 15th day of the 7th month, Tishri, and it is a sabbath, a convocation day. Likewise, the eighth day of Tabernacles, 22 Tishri, is always to be a sabbath day. Riggle simplistically concludes that the "eighth day" must mean Sunday in every instance, since the sabbath of the Lord is the seventh day, Saturday. However, as we have already noted, the sighting of the New Moon begins the Jewish months, consequently, no day of the month will automatically fall on the same day of the week, from one year to the next. So, it is just not possible that 22 Tishri is always a Sunday. Clearly H. M. Riggle and J. Mark Martin teach error, having not studied the festivals of the Lord sufficiently to teach the truth about them.

Conclusion

Passover Feast of Unleavened Bread
14
Nisan
15
Nisan
16
Nisan
17
Nisan
18
Nisan
19
Nisan
20
Nisan
21
Nisan
Crucifixion In the tomb Resurrection  -  -  -  -  -
Paschal
Lamb
Slain
1st Day
Feast of
 Unleaven Bread
The Omer
(First Fruits)
 -  -  - - 7th Day
Feast of
 Unleaven Bread
Not
a Sabbath
A Sabbath Not
a Sabbath
 -  -  -  - A Sabbath
Unleaven Bread Eaten
  All Leaven Removed From the House

For more on this topic see also:
Protestants Declare Their Catholicity On Easter
Was Jesus Crucified on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday?
The Biblical Feast Days - God's Calendar.
Celebrating the Risen Sun.
The Seal of God and the Mark of the Beast
Did the Apostles Keep Sunday?



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