Festival of Shavuot

June 12, 2016

We just celebrated the festival of Shavuot (Hebrew for “Weeks”), also known as Pentecost (“pent” means “50”, relating to the 50 days of counting the omer to get to Pentecost). We talked about the history of Shavuot — that it was the day that Moses was given the Torah, and a day to offer the Firstfruits of our harvest to the Lord. A Firstfruit offering is 100% of the initial part of our harvest, while a tithe (10%) is a small part of 100% of our harvest! Firstfruit offerings can only be offered at the very beginning of the produce. When we bring the Firstfruit offering, God promises to bless our entire harvest.

We also talked about a promise that is not well known — in Exodus 34:24 — “For I am going to expel nations ahead of you and expand your territory, and no one will even covet your land when you go up to appear before Adonai your God three times a year.” This is referring to the three Pilgrimage Feasts (Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Shavuot, and Feast of Sukkoth) — on these dates, all adult males are to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem, bringing a specified offering.

Yeshua promised the disciples that, when He went away, He would send the Spirit. This happened on Shavuot. The same day the Torah was given to Moses is the same day that the Spirit was given to the Jewish believers, so they could be empowered to walk in the Torah.

If we compare the story in Exodus 19 (when Moses was given the Torah) and the story in Acts 2 (when Yeshua gave the Spirit), we see some common occurrences — a loud sound coming from the heavens, fire and smoke, and rushing, violent wind.

What is the significance of the “tongues of fire”, and the empowerment to speak in other tongues. Remember the Tower of Babel? YHWH confused and separated everyone, by creating several different languages. When the Spirit was given to the church, YHWH put the scattered folks back together — under the power of His tongues.

Also, consider the book of James that discusses the tongue, the little member of our bodies, and yet it can cause so much destruction. Consider Proverbs 18:21, that says that “life and death are in the power of the tongue.” Man cannot tame his own tongue, but YHWH can! When we yield our tongue to the Spirit, and let him speak through us, we are going to speak LIFE, not death! We can change the course of our lives with our tongue.

The message of Shavuot is this:

1) Bring our very first produce to the Lord and He will bless the rest of the harvest.

2) Moses gave us the Torah on stone tablets, and the Spirit wrote the Torah on our stony hearts.

3) When we obey YHWH’s instruction to come before Him during the three pilgrimage festivals, He enlarges our territory and keeps our enemies away from our property.

4) When we yield our tongue to the Spirit, we produce a harvest that brings LIFE.

And thus, we have completed our 50-day cycle of Counting the Omer! SHALOM! Blessings on your crop!

Yeshua’s “Last Will and Testament”

June 2, 2016

Imagine if this was your dying day, and you knew you would be saying your final good-byes to your closest loved ones. What would you say? These final words would be the most urgent things you could express, the matters that were most important to your heart.

For 40 days, we have been counting the omer, during the days of the maturing harvest of barley, and leading to the celebration of first fruits of the wheat harvest. It was during these 40 days after Yeshua arose from the grave (and many more after Him) that He appeared suddenly and unexpectedly to his disciples, and to several hundred people at a time. Now it was the 40th day — the day when He knew He would be ascending into the heavens. It would be his final moments with his beloved disciples. What did He say to them in His parting words?

In Acts 1:3, it says “During a period of forty days they saw him, and he spoke with them about the Kingdom of God.” Of course, the Kingdom of God was an important topic! But what was the topic in the very final moments (Luke 24, Mark 16, and Acts 1)? Acts 1:8 says ” But you will RECEIVE POWER when the Ruach HaKodesh comes upon you; you will BE MY WITNESSES both in Jerusalem and in all Judah and Samaria, indeed to the ends of the earth!”

This was Yeshua’s “last will and testament” to the heirs of the Kingdom, and He expected them to execute His final wishes. He instructed the disciples to stay together, waiting for the promise from the Father, the gift of the Spirit. His Spirit would empower them to be witnesses. What is the duty of a witness? It is to testify! To speak the truth! To tell what they had seen and heard and experienced, to the best of their ability!

These parting words were for them, and for all Yeshua’s disciples. Notice, we are to start with the Jewish people — Jerusalem, Judah and Samaria, and then the rest of the world. Yeshua told the woman at the well that “salvation comes from the Jews” (John 4:22). Romans 2:9-10 shows us the Father’s order — “to the Jew first”, in suffering and in blessing. The “Great Commission” is to receive the Spirit’s power, and to preach the gospel to the Jew first! Are we fulfilling the final, most important words of Yeshua?

“Bo, Ruach Elohim” (“Come, Spirit of God”)

May 29, 2016

This season of counting the omer builds great anticipation as we come closer and closer to Shavuot, the day when the Torah was given to Moshe, and the day the Spirit was poured out upon the followers of Yeshua.

This song seems so appropriate for this season! The music draws us into His holy presence, as we begin the first day of the week.

“Bo, Ruach Elohim” (“Come, Spirit of God”)

Lag BaOmer

May 26, 2016

Today is Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day of the omer count. While it is not a public holiday in Israel, schools close for the day, and bonfires are lit throughout the communities. The origins of the holiday have their roots in paganism, although many today say that it is a day to commemorate the death of a famous rabbi. If we use the traditions of pagan idolatry to celebrate the life of a holy man, does this truly honor that man?

Sadly, this too closely resembles the celebration of Christmas, which was outlawed in the United States as a pagan holiday until 1836. Just like Lag BaOmer, at Christmastime we use the traditions of pagan idolatry to celebrate the life of Yeshua. Does this make sense? Does this give proper honor to the King of Kings? I wonder how the Father feels about this. I know He didn’t like the golden calf.

Message of The Three Harvests

May 19, 2016

Today, we past the half-way point in counting the omer for 50 days. As we reflect on this season, there are some things to notice about the biblical feasts. They center around harvesting.

There are three pilgrimage feasts, when all adult males were to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem, to bring their offerings into the temple. It says in Exodus 23:14-17 — “Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me. You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before me empty-handed. You shall keep the Feast of Harvest, of the firstfruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor. Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord God.”

There are three harvests. The first is barley. The second is wheat. The third harvest is a celebration of the pressing of the grapes, and the final threshing of the wheat.

Scripture offers us many lessons about seedtime and harvest, and sowing and reaping. In fact, Yeshua said that the parable of the sower was the key to understanding ALL the parables! (Mark 4:13 — “And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?”)

So what can we learn about these three harvests? Yeshua was resurrected at the beginning of the barley harvest, on the very day that the Israelites were to wave their sheaf offerings, which contained their first bundle of barley from their fields. He was the first fruit of many resurrections that took place over the next few days. (Matthew 27:52-53 — “The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”).

During the 50 days of counting the omer, Yeshua appeared to many individuals and to large crowds. He was demonstrating the barley harvest!

The second harvest day was Shavuot, which is also known as Pentecost. This was a celebration of the wheat harvest. It was the day, historically, that Moses was given the Torah, and then, on the same day centuries later, it was the day that Yeshua gave us the Spirit. There was a harvest that day too. First, the Spirit was poured out on the Jewish disciples who were gathered together for Shavuot. Their display of power and boldness, and speaking in many tongues, brought in an immediate harvest of 3000 new believers.

Is is possible that the wheat is symbolic of the church? Yeshua taught so many parables about wheat, and these parables were directed at the church, and the lessons we need to know.

The first and second harvest were only 50 days apart from each other. Then there is a period of six months before the next harvest.

The third harvest was also about wheat, but only at the final threshing. Perhaps this is representative of the end of the age — the FINAL harvest, after the church has been tried and tested and proven worthy.

But notice that the third harvest is also a celebration of the pressing of the grapes. When Yeshua attended the wedding at Cana, he turned water into wine, and the guests said that he saved the best wine for the LAST. Could this wine be representative of the Jewish people? The grapes are not freshly cut from the vine, but rather, they are at their final pressing.

In the first two harvests, we celebrate barley and wheat that have not been processed into food yet. In the third harvest, the wheat and grapes have been processed into a usable product.

Could this be the message of the three harvests? Is this the season that we are currently in — the final harvest, of Gentiles and Jews, both being pressed, to become ready for the Master’s use?

COUNTING THE OMER — What is it? Why do we do it?

May 17, 2016

An omer is a unit measure of barley. Exodus 16:36 says “An omer is one-tenth of an eifah [which is a bushel dry-measure]” (Complete Jewish Bible). The timing of the harvesting of barley was a very big deal. The barley had to be “aviv”, a description of the amount of ripening and maturity, and a readiness for the sickle.

“Aviv” was the name of the first month of the ecclesiastical year. The Israelites were to watch for the first sliver of the new moon, AND watch for the maturity of the barley, at the same time. When the barley was mature enough to harvest, the new year was declared at the sighting of the next new moon. The maturity of the barley determined the calendar!

Leviticus 23:10-11 says “Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘After you enter the land I am giving you and harvest its ripe crops, you are to bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the cohen (the priest). He is to wave the sheaf before Adonai, so that you will be accepted; the cohen is to wave it on the day after the Shabbat.”

Wikipedia defines a sheaf as “a large bundle in which cereal plants are bound after reaping.” The priest would wave the sheaf before the Lord, as an offering of the first fruits of the barley harvest. After that offering, the people were allowed to eat the crops of their harvest.

The day of waving the sheaf is exactly the same day that Yeshua was resurrected from the grave, as the first fruit offering of the harvest!

Now the count begins. Leviticus 23:15-16 says “‘From the day after the day of rest — that is, from the day you bring the sheaf for waving — you are to count seven full weeks, until the day after the seventh week; you are to count fifty days; and then you are to present a new grain offering to Adonai.”

Fifty days from Yeshua’s resurrection was Shavuot (the Greek word is Pentecost). Shavuot is the celebration of the wheat harvest! Shavuot is the day that the Spirit was poured out upon the Jewish believers. On that day, 3000 new believers were added to the believing community. It was the beginning of the next harvest.

We count the omer in great anticipation, from Resurrection Day until Shavuot, knowing that Yeshua will pour out a major blessing on the 50th day, as we gather in His name!

YHWH’s Torah is written upon our hearts

May 13, 2016

In the Exodus story, during the time period of counting the omer, the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea, and were celebrating their new freedom from slavery. They were anticipating their arrival at Sinai in 50 days, when they would receive the Torah, the constitution for their new nation under YHWH.

In the time of Yeshua’s crucifixion, the time period of counting the omer began at His resurrection. His disciples were celebrating the fact that He was moving among them once again, and they were anticipating Shavuot, the celebration of the First Fruits of the harvest, in 50 days.

The day that the Spirit was given to the church is the same day that the Torah had been given to the Israelites. The Spirit was given to the church, in order that we might have the power to walk in YHWH’s holy Torah!

When the Israelites received the Torah, 3000 were struck dead because they were worshipping a golden calf. When the Messianic believers were gathered together on Shavuot, 3000 were added to the church.

When Moses received the Torah, YHWH showed Himself with signs and wonders. When the Messianic believers received the Spirit, again, there were signs and wonders.

As we count the omer, from Resurrection Day until Shavuot (Pentecost), we can anticipate the signs and wonders that will be demonstrated in our lives. As Jeremiah 31 tells us, this is the new covenant, that YHWH’s Torah would be written upon our hearts!

What exactly is “Counting the Omer”?

May 11, 2016

What exactly is “counting the omer”? In fact, what is an “omer”? An omer is a dry measure of barley, equivalent to about 3.64 liters. The omer (also translated as “sheaf”) offering was waved before YHWH by the high priest, as a first-fruit offering on the designated day after Passover. An omer is a large enough unit that the barley would have to be bundled up to present the offering.

Scripture commands us to count the omer, starting on the day of waving the sheaf in the temple, continuing on to the 50th day, which is Shavuot (also known as Pentecost).

The first Passover took place in Egypt, just prior to the Israelite exodus. Passover was the day that Yeshua was crucified.

The Israelites took three days to reach the Red Sea, where they were issued across on dry land. In future years, the Israelites waved the sheaf offering in commemoration of this day. This is also the day of Yeshua’s resurrection from being in the tomb for three days. Resurrection Day is Day One of the Counting of the Omer.

Moses (a prince, a shepherd, and a deliverer) received the Torah (with the Ten Commandments) on the 50th day after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. Yeshua (a prince, shepherd, and deliverer) gave the Spirit to the church on the 50th day, Pentecost.

The period of 50 days of counting the omer is a time of watching the barley harvest mature and be harvested. During this time period, Yeshua made several appearances to his disciples, and these appearances brought an increasing harvest of souls.

Yeshua is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. If he appeared to his disciples then, making himself real, we can expect him to do that today. If the harvest of souls was maturing and increasing at that time, we can expect the same in our day. That’s why we count the omer! It’s an exciting time!

Our New Life Begins Because of the Resurrection

May 4, 2016

Immediately after Yeshua’s resurrection, he appeared to Miriam of Magdala and she didn’t recognize him, and then, other disciples who were also surprised to see him. When his disciple, Thomas, heard that Yeshua was alive, he said he needed proof so he could believe such a wild story. So Yeshua appeared to Thomas, and gave him the proof he needed.

In this season of counting the omer, the count begins with the Resurrection, and culminates in Shavuot (Pentecost). It’s a perfect picture of the fact that our new life begins because of the Resurrection, and that Yeshua keeps appearing in our paths and making himself real, when we least expect to see him, and even when we doubt him or don’t recognize him!

We serve an awesome God!

A Hidden Nugget in Torah

May 3, 2016

During this season of counting the omer, I’ve really been pouring through the Scriptures for buried treasure on this topic. Here’s one of the nuggets I discovered.

The biblical feasts all have a specific date attached to them, except one, Shavuot (also known as Pentecost). For example, Passover is to be celebrated on the 14th day of the first month (Aviv, or the Babylonian name of Nisan); The Feast of Unleavened Bread starts on the 15th day of the first month. In the seventh month of the biblical year, The Feast of Trumpets begins on the 1st day, Yom Kippur is on the 10th day, and the Feast of Tabernacles begins on the 15th day.

Why is Shavuot the exception? It does not have a specific date. You have to COUNT THE OMER to get to the date. Shavuot totally depends upon Passover! Then, the day of waving the sheaf offering before the Lord is the day after the Sabbath that follows Passover. Waving of the sheaf offering was Yeshua’s resurrection day, and the beginning of the first day of counting the omer. So, counting the omer determines the date of Shavuot. What’s the significance of this?

Shavuot, historically, was the day that Moses was given the Torah, and the day that the early believers were given the Spirit. There would be no Torah until the Israelites were delivered from bondage. Likewise, there would be no Spirit poured out until there were believers to receive it. Shavuot absolutely depends on Passover! And counting the omer is the way to Shavuot. Every word of Scripture is by design, and has a truth to be revealed.