Posts Tagged ‘Mt. Sinai’

Feast of Weeks – Shavuot

Feast of Weeks – Shavuot

“From the day after the  Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering (Firstfruits), 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 a fine flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of Firstfruits to the Lord. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live” (Leviticus 23:15-21).

The Feast of Weeks in Hebrew is Shavuot; in Greek it is called Pentecost. Shavuot is the ‘appointed time’ to be observed 50 days after the Feast of Firstfruits of the barley harvest as the the Firstfruits of the wheat harvest.

Fifty days after being delivered from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, and receiving manna and living water, the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai. Exodus 20 and 21 describe the events surrounding God descending to the top of Mount Sinai to meet with His newly formed nation. Thunder, lightning, and a thick cloud covered the mountain with a resounding shofar blast.  The people trembled with fear of dying and asked for Moses be the mediator between them and God.

When God outlined his ‘appointed times,’ this event became known as Feast of Weeks and was made as a lasting ordinance. It was also one of the three commanded pilgrimage Feasts when Jewish people from every nation were to gather in Jerusalem to worship Adonai.   As they arrived in Jerusalem at the Temple with two loaves of leavened bread for a wave offering, hundreds of thousands of Jewish people would listen as the priest read the following traditional passage from the prophet Ezekiel:

“I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal” (Ezekiel 1:4).

The Wind and Tongues of Fire

“Now there were staying in Jerusalem religious Jews from every nation under “Now there were staying in Jerusalem religious Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered; they were confused, because each one heard the believers speaking in his own language.  Totally amazed, they asked, ‘How is this possible? Aren’t all these people who are speaking from the Galilee? How is it that we hear them speaking in our native languages? We are Parthians, Medes, Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judah, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome; all Jews by birth and proselytes; Jews from Crete and from Arabia! How is it that we hear them speaking in our own languages about the great things God has done?’  Amazed and confused, they all went on asking each other, ‘What can this mean?’” (Acts 2:5-13).

Fifty days after Yeshua’s resurrection, the Feast of Weeks arrived. Jews from every nation came to Jerusalem in obedience to the commandment. This particular year, however, when the priest waved the offerings of leavened bread and they heard the words of Ezekiel, the ‘holy wind of God’ began to roar violently and, before their eyes,  a small group of 70 people had tongues of fire appear over their heads.

“The festival of Shavuot arrived, and the believers all gathered together in one place.  Suddenly there came a sound from the sky like the roar of a violent wind, and it filled the whole place where they were sitting.  Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire, which separated and came to rest on each one of them.  They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak” (Acts 2:1-4).

In Hebrew, Holy Spirit is Ruach haKodesh. The word ruach means ‘breath’ or ‘wind’ and the word kodesh means ‘holy.’ The ‘holy wind of God’ blew violently as He poured His Holy Spirit into the hearts of 70 men. The tongues of fire separated and came to rest on each of the disciples’ heads.  Through the ‘holy wind of God’ and His refining flaming fire, they began to speak in other languages. In Greek the word glossa is ‘tongue’ and means ‘a nation distinguished by its speech.’ As the disciples spoke, Jews from every nation heard the message of repentance in their own ‘tongue.’

Hebrew Word Pictures

Wind or Ruach – רוח

ר Resh – A Head means ‘what is most important.’

ו Vav – A Nail means ‘binding.’

ח Chet – A Fence means ‘protect.’

Holy or HaKodesh – הקודש

ה Hey – A Window means ‘behold or reveal.’

ק Kof – A Back of the Head means ‘what is final.’

ו Vav – A Nail means ‘binding.’

ד Dalet – A Door means ‘pathway.’

ש Shin – A Tooth means ‘consume.’

The complete Hebrew word picture for Ruach haKodesh: What is most important is the binding that protects; behold the final binding is the consuming pathway.

Fire or Esh – אש

א Alef – An Ox means ‘first strength.’

ש Shin – A Tooth means ‘consume.’

The Hebrew word picture for esh: The first strength consumes.

Tongues or Lashon – לשון

ל Lamed – A Shepherd’s Staff means ‘to urge forward.’

ש Shin – A Tooth means ‘consume.’

ו Vav – A Nail means ‘binding.’

נ Nun – A Fish means ‘life.’

The Hebrew word picture for lashon: Urge forward the consuming and binding of life.

Two millennia earlier, Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh made His holy presence known to the Israelites through wind and lightning. He revealed His holy presence through wind and fire to Ezekiel. Could it be that Adonai was again revealing His holy presence through ‘wind’ and ‘tongues of fire?’ The crowds in Jerusalem from all over the known world are hearing the impossible. They are confused and amazed. The disciples of Yeshua are speaking in each of their different languages with such perfection that they knew it was a miracle.

Peter stands up. This man who had publicly denied knowing Yeshua only seven weeks earlier stands, raises his voice, and addresses the crowd. He explains that they are witnessing the fulfillment of a prophecy of Joel and begins to testify about Yeshua of Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel.

“I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days” (Joel 2:28-29).

Pierced Hearts

“Men of Israel! Listen to this! Yeshua from Natzeret was a man demonstrated to you to have been from God by the powerful works, miracles and signs that God performed through him in your presence. You yourselves know this. This man was arrested in accordance with God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge; and, through the agency of persons not bound by the Torah, you nailed him up on a stake and killed him! But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Yeshua, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:22-24).

When Jews from every nation heard Peter’s testimony about Yeshua, they were “cut to the heart.” The Orthodox Jewish Bible says they were “pierced with conviction in their hearts.” The Hebrew word for ‘cut’ is b’rit, the same word used for ‘cutting a covenant.’  The Spirit of God brought not only conviction with a circumcision of their hearts, but renewed the covenant God made with Israel at Mount Sinai; the covenant they had broken.

The people ask what they need to do regarding this ‘renewed’ covenant. Peter and the apostles respond with the Hebrew word shuv, meaning ‘turn back’ or ‘return’ in the sense of making a 180 degree turn around from the direction you are heading and go a different way. It is translated into English as ‘repent.’

“Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Messiah Yeshua for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:29).

The men and women of Israel needed to repent from their disobedience and return to faith in God.  They needed to be immersed into the name of Yeshua for the forgiveness of their sins and receive the gift of God’s Spirit. Three thousand Jewish men and women repented and turned back to God that day. They received forgiveness of their sins and the Holy Spirit was poured into their hearts (Acts 2:41). Their hearts of stone were changed into hearts of flesh and the new covenant prophesied by Ezekiel and Jeremiah, instituted and promised by Yeshua, had begun in Jerusalem on Shavuot with Israel.

“This is the [new] covenant I will make with the House of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people…. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit inside you; I will take the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit inside you and cause you to live by my laws, respect my rulings and obey them” (Ezekiel 36:24).

“For this is my blood, which ratifies the New Covenant, my blood shed on behalf of many, so that they may have their sins forgiven” (Matthew 26:28).

The Kingdom of Heaven

“And he [Yeshua] told them yet another parable. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like chametz that a woman took and mixed with a bushel of flour, then waited until the whole batch of dough rose” (Matthew 13:33).

Chametz or ‘soured dough’ was used for raising bread without yeast. It was always symbolic of the leavened, puffed up teachings of Israel’s leaders, yet Yeshua uses ‘soured dough’ to describe the Kingdom of Heaven in his parable. Chametz is the ingredient the woman takes and mixes with her flour to make the dough rise. When the leavened dough rose to its fullest extent, the woman  had enough dough from a single bushel of flour for a feast of leavened bread.   

The commandment for Shavuot included a grain offering along with two loaves of leavened bread made from finely ground flour. The two leavened loaves were waved before Adonai by the high priest. For millennia, as the two loaves were waved, the people hoped in the coming Messiah promised by the two witnesses of the Torah and the Prophets.

When Yeshua walked on the Road to Emmaus after his resurrection, he told the two men with him that everything in the Torah and Prophets had spoken about him. This witness of two established him as the Messiah of Israel.

Ten days after Yeshua’s ascension, the ‘holy breath’ of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh had been worked into a small lump of dough –– 70 disciples.  From their testimony, the Jews who heard the message and were “cut to the heart.” Through the power of the Ruach haKodesh, their hearts were transformed and they became empowered witnesses of repentance, forgiveness, and redemption. They would take the good news of Yeshua back to their own countries in their own languages.  They would become the first missionaries to proclaim salvation to the Jew first (Romans 1:16).  

Within a few years, the power of God’s ‘holy breath’ would come upon the gentiles, change their hearts, and they would become part of God’s Kingdom along with Israel. As the two leavened loaves of bread were being waved by the high priest in the Temple, the Body of Messiah was born. God’s ‘holy wind’ had been poured into a small lump of dough and, like the woman’s leaven, would continue to grow and spread from them to the nations of the world until the Kingdom of God would be established by another witness of two: Jew and gentile, one in Messiah, proclaiming the good news of Yeshua (Galatians 3:28). 

Fulfilled by Yeshua

“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, and Strengthener), to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:14-20).

Yeshua kept his promise. He ascended to his Father and asked Him to send the Counselor, the Spirit of Truth. On the ‘appointed time’ of Feast of Weeks, God poured out His Ruach haKodesh with wind and flames of fire.  Seventy disciples understood that Yeshua and his Father were One, and they were joined with them to restore the broken covenant. They were no longer fatherless, they had Adonai as their Father as Yeshua did. They were given the same authority to forgive sins as Yeshua along with the anointing power to be witnesses of his salvation to the world.

Yeshua kept his promise. He ascended to his Father and asked Him to send the Counselor, the Spirit of Truth. On the Feast of Weeks, God poured out His Ruach haKodesh with wind and flames of fire.  Seventy disciples were transformed in their hearts. They were no longer fatherless, they had Adonai as their Father as Yeshua did. They were given the same authority to forgive sins as Yeshua along with the anointing power to be witnesses of his salvation to the world. These new faithful followers of Yeshua were reborn into His Kingdom and sealed with God’s Spirit. They became the Firstfruits of the wheat harvest as Yeshua fulfilled another of his Father’s ‘appointed times.’

 For more about Yeshua fullfilling the ‘appointed times,’ purchase Yeshua in His Father’s Feasts.

©2008 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this blog post,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.

Counting the Omer – Sefirat HaOmer

“From the day after the Sabbath — that is, from the day you bring the sheaf for waving — you are to count seven full weeks,  until the day after the seventh Sabbath; you are to count fifty days; and then you are to present a new grain offering to the Lord” (Leviticus 23:15-16).

The Omer of Barley

Counting the weeks between the Feast of Firstfruits of barley until the Firstfruits harvest of wheat is called Sefirat HaOmer meaning ‘counting the omer.’ The omer, also called a sheaf, is an ancient Temple period unit of dry measure equal to 1/10 ephah or about 3.7 quarts (3.5 liters) of grain.

Hiking the Omer

The Hebrews were redeemed by the blood of the lamb on Passover and the very next day on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, they began their exodus out of Egypt. While they hiked from Egypt to Mount Sinai, Adonai’s holy presence was with them in the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day. They experienced His power as He began molding them into His holy nation. They walked across the Red Sea on dry land and then watched Pharaoh’s army drown. They received living water from a Rock that followed them. They learned about the Sabbath and trusting Adonai who rained down manna from heaven. An overabundance of quail that rotted and stank taught them not to grumble. Following their commander in chief, Moses, they defeated the Amalekite armies. Fifty days later, they stood at the foot of Mount Sinai. They had been transformed from slaves into a free nation walking with Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh. They had been prepared through the early wilderness experiences to receive God’s instructions that would set them apart as a holy nation and a kingdom of priests. 

“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all the nations you will be my treasured possession.  Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6).

The Omer and Naomi and Ruth

“So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning” (Ruth 1:22).

When Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem, it was the beginning of the barley harvest and the start of ‘counting of the omer.’ Naomi was bitter because of all the pain she suffered in Moab with the death of her husband and sons. She had no vision or hope for the future. She had no idea how ‘counting the omer’ would transform her life. She could never have pictured that within a mere fifty days her faithful daughter-in-law would be married to her kinsman redeemer. She could never have imagined that soon after the marriage of Ruth and Boaz, she would be the great-grandmother of Israel’s greatest king. She could never have envisioned that as the sheaf of barley was being waved by the priests in Jerusalem on the Feast of Firstfruits that one of her descendants would be the Redeemer of Israel.

The Omer and Yeshua

“Let them both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest-time I will tell the reapers to collect the weeds first and tie them in bundles to be burned, but to gather the wheat into my barn’” (Matthew 13:30).

For the nation of Israel, the ‘days of the omer’ were a time of great anticipation. The barley harvest began and the wheat harvest would soon follow. They would gather, thresh, and clean grain to store for the next year. For the disciples, forty ‘days of the omer’ were spent with the risen Yeshua; the final ten they waited in Jerusalem for his promise.

“In the first book,  I [Luke] wrote about everything Yeshua set out to do and teach, until the day when, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the emissaries whom he had chosen, he was taken up into heaven.   After his death he showed himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. During a period of forty days they saw him, and he spoke with them about the Kingdom of God” (Acts 1:1-3).

On the first day of ‘counting the omer,’ Yeshua fulfilled the ‘appointed time’ of Feast of Firstfruits. As the Firstfruits sheaves of barley were being waved in the Temple, Yeshua ascended to his Father and became the Firstfruits sheaf offering for those who had been resurrected and those who would be resurrected at a later harvest.

“Yeshua said [to Mary], “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’” (John 20:17).

That evening, at the start of the second day of ‘counting the omer,’ Yeshua miraculously appeared in a locked room where his disciples were hiding.

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Yeshua came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord”(John 20:19-20).

There was no denying the truth. Yeshua was alive and standing in front of the disciples. He had put his peace upon them and showed them his hands and feet. Their sorrow turned to joy. What would happen now?

“Shalom aleikhem!” Yeshua repeated. ‘Just as the Father sent me, I myself am also sending you.’ Having said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Ruach haKodesh! If you forgive someone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you hold them, they are held’” (John 20:21-23). 

Yeshua was sending his disciples into the world as his Father had sent him. They weren’t to remain in hiding; they were to go out and be witnesses to his resurrection. He breathed on them the ‘breath of Adonai.’ He anointed them with the same Spirit that proved that he and his Father are One.  He gave them the same authority that he had been given to preach the message of repentance and forgiveness.

Forgiveness of sins was an integral part of God’s promised renewed covenant with Israel. The disciples had already witnessed the power of the forgiveness through Yeshua healing the sick and raising the dead. Salvation was now going to be proclaimed by Yeshua’s disciples to ‘the lost sheep of the House of Israel,’ one by one  (Matthew 15:24). Adonai began his Firstfruits harvest with individual sheaves of grain.

On the eighth day of counting the omer,  Yeshua appeared to Thomas and showed him his scars.

“A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Yeshua came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe’” (John 20:26-27).

On another day of ‘counting the omer,’ Yeshua appeared to the disciples at the Sea of Galilee. After fishing all night and catching nothing, Yeshua told them to throw their nets over the right side of the boat. They did not recognize him, but they did what he said. The net filled with fish ––153. In Hebrew, the numerical value of 153 means “I am yod-hey-vav-hey.“ 

During following days of ‘counting the omer,’ Yeshua appeared to more than 500 people, including James and the rest of the apostles.

“After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles … (1 Corinthians 15:7-8).

“After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:3-5). 

The Fortieth Day of Omer

Day 40 of ‘counting the omer’ arrives. 

“Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).

The disciples ask Yeshua two questions. First, they want to know when the Kingdom would be restored to Israel. They obviously understand that the Kingdom the Messiah establishes would be with the Jewish people in Israel. Centuries of anti-semitism have distorted this understanding of Messianic Kingdom.  The Kingdom of Messiah will not be Roman Catholic, Evangelical Christian, Protestant, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu or even Palestinian. It will not be in the air, in Utah, in Turkey or China. The Kingdom will be established by Yeshua with the Jewish people and those gentiles who have joined the ‘Commonwealth of Israel’ –– in Jerusalem.

Second, his disciples want to know the timing for the coming Kingdom. Though the actual year of Yeshua’s return is known only by his Father, there is an ‘appointed time’ established for his return. We are supposed to be children of the light, and according to 1 Thessalonians 5, we should know the ‘signs’ of his coming and the seasons –– the ’appointed times’ established by God. 

“He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 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 1:7-8).

The disciples didn’t receive definitive answers to their questions, but they learn that they are going to receive power. The Holy Spirit would come upon them and they would be witnesses of Yeshua in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. These words must have seemed incredible to these men who only 40 days earlier were hiding in fear! The gospel message of salvation –– Yeshua –– would go to the ends of the earth through their testimony? How could that be?

From the Mount of Olives, Yeshua was taken up into heaven in front of them. Hidden in a cloud, they could no longer see him. As they stared into the sky,  two men dressed in white appeared and told them that Yeshua would return in the clouds the same way he left. 

“After saying this, he was taken up before their eyes; and a cloud hid him from their sight. As they were staring into the sky after him, suddenly they saw two men dressed in white standing next to them. The men said, ‘You Galileans! Why are you standing, staring into space? This Yeshua, who has been taken away from you into heaven, will come back to you in just the same way as you saw him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:9-10).

The Final Days of Omer

“If you love me, you will keep my commands;  and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another comforting Counselor like me, the Spirit of Truth, to be with you forever.  The world cannot receive him, because it neither sees nor knows him. You know him, because he is staying with you and will be united with you.  I will not leave you orphans — I am coming to you” (John 14:15-17).

At Passover six weeks earlier, Yeshua instituted the the new covenant through his broken body and blood.  This covenant, prophesied by Jeremiah and Ezekiel, promised that the Spirit of Adonai would change their hearts. They obeyed Yeshua’s command to return to Jerusalem and waited for the promise. They waited for him to fulfill another ‘appointed time.’

They continued ‘counting the omer’ –– ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one ….

©2014 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.  For a hard copy of this blog post,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.