This Shabbat marks Day 37 of the Counting of the Omer – the count up from Pesach (Passover) to Shavu’ot (Pentecost). We have come a long way in our journey from Egypt to Mt Sinai during this Season of our Deliverance. In this year of pandemic, we feel like we are indeed going through the wilderness as we deal with uncertainty about our future as individuals and as a nation. We need the presence of God in our lives as never before. The good news is that when we wholeheartedly look for Him, we will find Him right here with us! Can we see His Pillar of Fire by night and the Cloud of His Presence by Day? Rest assured, for His Children, He is here. In this season, we are asking Him to renew our mind, strengthen our character, and provide for our needs – incuding our urgent need for peace and protection. Hopefully we are wise enough to set aside our fears, choose to trust Him, and then receive what we are asking Him for.
Even with God manifesting His presence in our daily lives, change is always challenging – especially when change is abrupt and seems to come out of nowhere. In January, most of the world did not see what was going to slam into us in February and March. Our daily lives have been radically changed. Yet, despite the limitations and lockdowns that surround us, as followers of Messiah we are to continue being fully aware that we have a liberty and freedom within us that no person, government, or pandemic can take away. This freedom, bought by the death and resurrection of Yeshua, enveloped us as we stepped into God’s Kingdom. We are learning that life in this Kingdom demands a way of thought and lifestyle that is so very foreign to the panic striken, power hungry world around us. Our current COVID-19 circumstances are putting what we believe and how we choose to live out our beliefs to tremendous test.
With our daily lives presently consumed by learning how to survive in the instablilty our present world conditions have placed us in, our challenge is to stay on track and in step with our Messiah, King of the Universe. Regardless of what is going on around us, we are to exist in His Kingdom NOW. Our concerns and priorities are to continue to mirror His. In the midst of the storm raging around us, we must remain consistent in our trust in Him to provide for our needs while we allow the Truth of His Light to shine through us more brightly than ever before.
Thus, given our new reality, there are questions that we must ask ourselves. How do we continue to live in the freedom God’s Kingdom has brought to us? In these fear-filled and uncertain times, what does the daily life of those spared and delivered by the grace El Shaddai (God Almighty) look like? We are quite certain that we can no longer continue living like we always have. But how do we live our life in Him in this fluid reshaping of “normal”? What Kingdom responsibilities do we carry out at home and in our communities of believers, towns, cities, states and nation? For that matter, have you and I determined where our strongest allegiance lies? Do we exist only to serve ourselves – or does the One who delivered us have other expectations? These are the questions we should be asking this year as we journey from Pesach (Passover) to Shavu’ot (Pentecost).
Did you ever think that the disciples in their season of uncertainty were probably asking themselves very similar questions? Between their final Pesach with Yeshua and the upcoming Shavu’ot experience in the Upper Room their lives were on a roller coaster ride of fear, immeasureable joy, deep questioning, and probably a good deal of emotional numbness. Before Yeshua’s death and certainly after His resurrection, they were certain He would establish His physical Kingdom on earth. They expected that He would completely restore the eternal throne of David in Jerusalem. Instead, Yeshua spent 40 of those 49 days of Counting the Omer between Pesach and Shavu’ot doing exactly what He had done before: teaching. He further revealed Himself to them – giving them proper understanding of who He had now become to them and how they were to live as they waited for His return. Then He gave them a mission to take the Good News of His Kingdom not only to the Jews and the Samaritans but to all the world. This was not at all what they had expected.
On the 40th day of the Omer, Yeshua left them, ascending into heaven before their very eyes. But before He left He gave them instruction to go to Jerusalem and wait. Wait! Imagine how challenging this must have been? They had just spent 40 days with the Creator of the Universe in the form of a resurrrected body, then watched HIm ascend into heaven on a cloud. Wait? Are you kidding me? The most remarkable events in human history had just happened in the context of their personal lives! Waiting was probably the last thing in their thoughts and plans. But wait they did. As ready as they may have thought they were, Yeshua knew otherwise. Their lives had certainly already been turned upside down by Him, yet they had no clue how much more their lives were about to dramatically change again. HIs greater purposes were about to flow thorugh their lives. Waiting until His timing was going to prove essential.
I think that we too must not push during this season of waiting. Not that we are inactive, but we have been forced to slow down. We have been given a gift of time – to listen, receive adujustments and new instructions, review in gratitude all that we already have experinced and gained, and prepare for whatever is coming next. This can and should be our season of deliverance AND empowerment! Brothers and Sisters, I believe that we too have no clue how much our lives in the very near future are also going to be turned upside down for His purposes. For the next 14 days we must continue to wait, doing as the disciples did: devoting ourselves to prayer and restoring His order in our lives.
What were the disciples waiting for? Why did Yeshua send them to Jerusalem to wait? Yeshua told them to “wait for what the Father promised, which you heard about from me…in a few days, you will be immersed in the Ruach HaKodesh…stay in the city until you have been equipped with power from above…you will receive power when the Ruach HaKodesh comes upon you; you will be my witnesses both in Yerushalayim and in all of Y’hudah and Shomron, indeed to the ends of the earth.” (Luke 24:49 & Acts 1:4, 8)
What did the Father promise?
“Here, the days are coming,” says ADONAI, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Isra’el and with the house of Y’hudah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers on the day I took them by their hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt; because they, for their part, violated my covenant, even though I, for my part, was a husband to them,” says ADONAI. For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Isra’el after those days,” says ADONAI: “I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will any of them teach his fellow community member or his brother, ‘Know Adonai’; for all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest; because I will forgive their wickednesses and remember their sins no more.” – Jeremiah 31:31-34
“I will put my Torah [My Ways – My Instructions and Principles for the Kingdom lifestyle] within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Wow! This was the promise of the Father that Yeshua was referring to! Something powerful was about to happen to those who trusted the Messiah. They had repented of their sin (living against the Torah) and were ready to return to His Ways. No longer would others have to tell them to “Know Yahweh”, because they would know Him – intimately – by His very Spirit dwelling in them. The Spirit of the Living Word, who is Yeshua our Messiah (John 1:1-14), would dwell in them – on their hearts and in their minds. Their forgiveness was bought with the very blood of this Living Word. Their sins would be remembered no more!
Ruach HaKodesh – the very breath or spirit of our Holy El Shaddai – would come to them like fire from heaven. Just as fire descended from heaven on the first Shavu’ot with giving of the Torah at Mt Sinai, His fire would fall upon them on another Shavu’ot in Jerusalem – and the Torah given at Mount Sinai would now dwell in them. His Spirit – the Spirit that is the Living Torah – would dwell in them, make His Ways clear, and empower them to live exactly as Yeshua did – teaching Truth and the Kingdom of Elohim (God), on earth as it is in heaven, healing the sick, and freeing those in bondage to the Egypt that is this world lost in its constantly failing systems and deceptive pagan ways.
Now, here we are today, WAITING. Most of us are waiting, confined to our homes and perhaps distanced from loved ones. Some of us are waiting while working in essential services under less than desireable conditions. Far too many of us are waiting in a state of loss, be it of loved ones, jobs, homes, etc. None of us are comfortable. Yet Shavu’ot is coming. Some sort of change or shift is at hand, not necessarily in our circumstances but most certainly within us. We are uneasy in our anticipation…and that is perfectly acceptable. Pray. Press in close to the heart of our Father. Serach your heart and life asking Him to show you any need for forgiveness and a change of ways. Set yourself and your household back into His order. Then simply trust Him as you count up to and wait for Shavu’ot. He knows what each of us are truly in need of to be uniquely empowered for the days, weeks, months and years ahead. He will provide for that need.
Some of us are waiting a Mount Sinai Shavu’ot experience. This will happen when our eyes are opened to the thundering and fire-filled presence of YHVH, King of the universe, that is found in the sound of His Voice: the Word of God, the Living Torah who is Yehsua. That moment when you agree with God, pledging to be His forever Bride and forever live by what He has spoken, will be like no other moment in your life.
Others are waiting for an Upper Room in Jerusalem experience. You’ve studied to know the Word of God and you have wholeheartedly embraced Messiah Yeshua, but you are not yet empowered by Ruach HaKodesh (His Holy Spirit/Breath) to live as He does. His Word has not yet come fully alive in you. Doing what He commands has become burdensome. Wait! Stop doing, and just wait. Remind Him of His promise to fill you with His Spirit and trust Him to fill your life in such a manner. Let His Spirit bring to you the lightness of bearing His yoke and the ease of following His very simple ways.
Others desperately need refreshing — a rejuvenantion in both soul and spirit. These are the weary ones who are battle worn in wars in both seen and unseen realms. Some are suffering shell-shock. Others are wounded and even crippled. Their inner strength and resolve is wavering or gone. Shavu’ot holds a different promise of provision for them. They wait for new strength coupled with renewed purpose and direction. They know the war in both realms is shifting and intensifying. They are willing to carry on, but they know they need a fresh set of battle plans and provosions that fit the new challenges and conflicts ahead.
All of us need Shavu’ot. Yet, there is one key truth to keep in mind, Beloved of Yeshua. Regardless of what Shavu’ot experience is yours, know that your life will not suddenly become perfect. In fact, it might grow far more difficult. For the twelve apostles, and most first-century believers, life became much more challenging. The Roman world around them tore their lives and their families apart. All of the original apostles died a martyr’s death except John. He was imprisoned, tortured, and exiled. What had radically changed on that Shavu’ot was them! What can be changed on this Shavu’ot is YOU! Your perspective, passion, and sense of destiny can change, as can your understanding of God’s Word. You might even find yourself far more capable and empowered in taking on Kingdom assignments you would have never before considered. All of this change within you will indeed make dealing with your life and the world around you a completely different experience.
As we step into Shavu’ot this year we are reminded that this is one of the three pilgrimage Feasts of the King of the Universe, YHVH. This is His Appointed Time and His purposes and plans for this day will be fulfilled by Him as we honor and celebrate with Him. On the Shavu’ot recorded in the first chapters of the Book of Acts we see the city of Jerusalem filled with Jews and God-Fearing pilgrims from all over the world. It was, and still is, a day of offerings and rejoicing. When God accomplished His purpose of giving the Ruach HaKodesh to His Children on that Shavu’ot, the Truth and the Kingdom was immediately preached to the international masses gatherd in Jerusalem for the Feast. Each heard this message in their own language! God had a plan for that specific day- and He executed it perfectly. Did He not say that His Mount Sinai covenant would be for all of His people?
Today you are standing, all of you, before Adonai your God – your heads, your tribes, your leaders and your officers – all the men of Isra’el, along with your little ones, your wives and your foreigners here with you in your camp, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water. The purpose is that you should enter into the covenant of Adonai your God and into his oath which Adonai your God is making with you today, so that he can establish you today for himself as a people, and so that for you he will be God – as he said to you and as he swore to your ancestors, to Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya`akov. But I am not making this covenant and this oath only with you. Rather, I am making it both with him who is standing here with us today before Adonai our God and also with him who is not here with us today. [Those yet to come!] — Deuteronomy 29:14
It is no coincidence that Yeshua stated much the same thing in His Gethsemane prayer the night before His death.
I have given them your Word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world — just as I myself do not belong to the world. I don’t ask you to take them out of the world, but to protect them from the Evil One. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Set them apart for holiness by means of the truth — your Word is truth. (Psalm 119:142, 152) Just as you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. On their behalf I am setting myself apart for holiness, so that they too may be set apart for holiness by means of the truth. I pray not only for these, but also for those who will trust in me because of their word, [those yet to come!] that they may all be one. Just as you, Father, are united with me and I with you, I pray that they may be united with us, so that the world may believe that you sent me. — John 17:14-21
He who was before the foundations of the earth never changes! He remains the same throughout all eternity.
Next I saw heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. Sitting on it was the one called Faithful and True, and it is in righteousness that he passes judgment and goes to battle. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on his head were many royal crowns. And he had a name written which no one knew but himself. He was wearing a robe that had been soaked in blood, and the name by which he is called is, “THE WORD OF GOD.” — Revelation 19:11-13
Shavu’ot belongs to Yahweh. It is His Appointed Time and He has decreed that all who call themselves the people of His Kingdom come before Him to celebrate His covenant with Him on this specific day. It does not matter your background – Jew, Gentile, Catholic, Protestant, etc. If you are of His people, His nation, His unique treasure upon the earth – bought with and forgiven by the blood of Yeshua our Messiah, our Passover Lamb – then Shavu’ot is His Appointed Time given to you! As we celebrate together, we are stepping into something that is very ancient and very sacred. We are stepping out of our limited undertanding of time and into His eternal realm where time does not exist! We dare not enter into Shavu’ot – into His eternal realm – unprepared or empty handed. Prepare your heart and bring your joyfilled offering of gratitude and praise. Expect to be blessed. Expect to receive exaclty what the King, your Father, knows you need!
As we continue in this time of counting and waiting during our journey from Pesach (freedom from our bondages) to Shavu’ot (learning to live like free men and women in His Kingdom), be comforted by His ongoing eternal blessing over us.
ADONAI will bless you and keep you.
ADONAI will make His face shine on you and show you His favor.
ADONAI will lift up His face toward you and give peace. — Numbers 6:24-26