The wave offering, part of the offerings of the Mosaic Law, was the symbolic act indicating that the offering was for the Lord. Portions of the things offered were literally waved in the air before the Lord. The wave offering is first seen in Exodus 29:19-28 in the description of the ordination ceremony of Aaron and his sons. This is the only instance where part of the wave offering was consumed by fire (Exodus 29:25). The remainder was “waved” to God but taken by Aaron, his sons, and Moses.
Other instances of wave offerings include the breast of a peace offering (Leviticus 7:28-34), a lamb from the cleansing sacrifice of a healed leper (Leviticus 14:12), and two loaves of bread and two lambs of the sacrifice affiliated with the Feast of Firstfruits (Leviticus 23:9-15). The largest wave offering was of an entire tribe. Because of their loyalty during the episode with the golden calf (Exodus 32), God accepted the Levites in the service of His temple in place of the firstborn male of each Israelite family (Numbers 3:12).
A wave offering was a portion of a sacrifice presented to God, then released by God for the use of those involved in the sacrifice. The meat fed the families of the priests. The Levites served first the tabernacle and then the temple, fulfilling the obligation of the rest of the Israelites. Both were God’s provision for those who sacrificed themselves in service to Him.