A SEASON OF PREPARATION
Have you ever counted the days leading up to an event you’re really excited about? They say “a watched pot never boils” meaning that the more we pay attention to the time, the more conscious we are of it going by… slowly. It would seem that God has capitalised on this reality, by instructing His people to be mindful of the days between Passover and Pentecost by ‘counting off seven full weeks’ until the Feast of Pentecost (Feast of Weeks or Shavuot in Hebrew). This season is commonly referred to as ‘the counting of the omer.’
From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, 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. (Leviticus 23:15-16)
An omer is a unit of measure. In the days of the Temple, an omer of the new barley harvest was cut down on the ‘day after the Sabbath’ in the Passover week and brought to the Temple as an offering. The waving of the barley is required along with other animal, grain and new wine offerings listed in Leviticus 23, called the First Fruits. The ‘counting’ starts from this day.
“Count off fifty days..”
Each of the fifty days is a reminder that there is a God ordained link between Passover (Pesach) and Pentecost (Shavuot or Feast of Weeks). There is a sense of preparation and expectation associated with the counting and the waiting.
The first Pentecost (meaning ‘fifty’) was the day when Israel was gathered before God at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19). At this time God betrothed himself to Israel in covenantal love and commissioned them as his kingdom of priests. This was also the occasion when God gave the Torah to Israel (Torah means ‘instruction’ or ‘law’). First, he delivered Israel and then he brought them into covenantal identity.
Forty days after his death and resurrection, Jesus ascended to his Father in heaven. He commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had received ‘power from on high’. On the day of Pentecost, day fifty, when they were gathered together in the Temple, He poured His Spirit out on them. They were filled with boldness to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and were heard prophesying in many other languages, for the benefit of those who had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast. The Acts 2 event in Jerusalem confirmed to the disciples what the ceremony at Sinai confirmed to the gloriously delivered nation of Israel. They are a chosen people, delivered and set apart to be a nation of priests; and now they are each filled and empowered by the Spirit of God.
Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, every believer can receive revelation and understanding of God’s Word and daily empowering to love and obey Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.
Each day leading up to Pentecost is an opportunity to reflect on our identity as a free and priestly people, and to invite Holy Spirit to prepare our hearts and minds to be filled with fresh power to love and serve God in a deeper way. Each day is an opportunity to live with intent and purpose, asking for a renewed hunger to understand our part in a much bigger picture (God’s Story) and to ask for a greater grace to partner with Him for His glory.
How does the encounter at Sinai (Exodus 19) connect to Acts 2 in Jerusalem?
Write a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to mark these fifty days of preparation with repentance, deliverance and cleansing from sin. Ask him to lead you on a journey from Passover to Pentecost, that exposes and humbles your heart in a new way, in order to receive hunger, excitement and a fresh release of His love, presence and power through the Holy Spirit.
Scriptures to Read
Leviticus 23:9-22; Jeremiah 31:33,34; Acts 2:1-13; 1 Peter 2:5-10
Written by Wayne and Julie Hollett