Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Transformations: After the Resurrection Part 5

By Brenda Cathcart

In Part four, the disciples despair had turned to gladness when Jesus appeared in their midst on the evening of His resurrection. Leviticus chapter 23 goes on to instruct the Jewish people to count the days from the Feast of Firstfruits to the Feast of Pentecost

Leviticus 23:15-16 NKJV 15 'And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. 16 'Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.

The Feast is called the Feast of Weeks in Deuteronomy. The seventh Sabbath would be day 49 and the next day, the fiftieth day is the Feast Day.

Deuteronomy 16:9-10 NKJV 9 "You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. 10 "Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the LORD your God blesses you.

In the New Testament, the Greek word Pentecost meaning fiftieth is used to describe the Feast. The countdown is actually a count up. The days from the Feast of Firstfruits are counted starting with one on the Feast of Firstfruits. The Jewish people call it the Counting of the Omer. The Hebrew word Omer means sheaf. Literally, we are talking about sheaves of grain. Metaphorically, we are talking about the harvest of people. In Genesis 37 Joseph has a dream in which the sheaves of his brothers bow down to his sheaf making the precedent of sheaves representing people. How many of you remember the old hymn “Bringing in the Sheaves” about winning souls for Christ?

Each day at the Temple during this fifty day period, the morning and evening prayers begin with the words, “This is the (blank) day of the counting of the Omer,” with the proper number of the count of that day recited. When I was growing up, the space program was at its heyday. We would watch the each of the launches on TV. When the launch count was down to 10 seconds, we would join in counting down those last seconds… 3, 2, 1. We have liftoff! Of course, we kids would just shout “Blast off!” Imagine the anticipation of the disciples as they counted each day. Jesus died on the LORD’s Passover; He rose from the dead on the LORD’s Feast of Firstfruits. They are now counting the days to the next feast. What would God do on this coming Feast of Weeks?

But first, we have the fifty days. What does scripture record that Jesus is doing during this time of counting the Omer? Luke gives us a summary of these events.

Acts 1:1-3 NIV 1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men 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.

Luke records that He had three purposes:
            1. To prove His resurrection.
            2. To give instructions to His apostles.
            3. To speak about the kingdom of God.

We know much of the resurrection story. The day of Firstfruits, resurrection morning, was a confusion of events. Each of the gospels tells a slightly different story, each from a different point of view. How many of you have gotten together with family or friends and told a story of an event that happened days, weeks, months or even years ago? Have you ever been interrupted with the words, “No, this happened first,” or “No that wasn’t me that was my sister,” or similar words?  A probable sequence of events is that Mary Magdalene with the other women went to anoint Jesus’ body with the burial spices. When they discover the open tomb, Mary runs back and tells the disciples that His body is gone. Meanwhile, the other women go into the tomb and encounter the angels there. Then Peter and John go to the tomb with Mary Magdalene following. They find the empty tomb and leave, but Mary stays and has the encounter with Jesus that we read about earlier. After Mary’s encounter with Jesus, He ascends to Heaven to present Himself as the Firstfruits of the resurrection. Afterward, He appears to the other women and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.

Luke 24:13-17 NKJV 13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. 17 And He said to them, "What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?"

The disciples explained the events of the previous days to this “man.” Then Jesus started to speak.

Luke 24:25-27 NKJV 25 Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

What scriptures was Jesus using? The gospels wouldn’t be written yet for decades to come. The letters of the disciples are years away. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians also states that all these events happened according to the scriptures.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NKJV 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,

My husband and I teach a Bible study twice a month. In those studies, we examine the Old Testament scriptures, the Torah, for those scriptures that speak of His first and second coming. We saw some of them last night in the names of the generations from Adam to Noah and in the creation of Eve. We have three volumes of studies out now with a fourth one in the editing stage. We haven’t run out of scripture that talks about Him yet!

Jesus and his disciples arrive at Emmaus and the disciples still don’t recognize Jesus. Jesus finagles an invitation to stay with them in Emmaus. When they sit down to eat, Jesus is given the honor of blessing the bread.

Luke 24:30-31 NKJV 30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.

Now, this is unleavened bread just like the Passover Bread. The Feast of Unleavened Bread begins as the evening of Passover ends and lasts for seven days. Picture the scene; Jesus stands and lifts the bread. He recites this blessing, “Blessed are you LORD our God, creator and king of the universe who brings forth bread from the earth.” Then he breaks the bread, gives it to them and their eyes are opened. That very day God had just brought forth Jesus, their bread of life, from the earth!

The two disciples hurried back to Jerusalem. They couldn’t wait to share their news. I wonder how long it took them to travel the seven miles! They rush into the room where the 11 apostles and followers are gathered.

Luke 24:35-39 NKJV 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread. 36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you." 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."

Time for another name! Jesus’ crucifixion is in the very name of God. At the creation of man, we read in our Bibles that the LORD God created man. The word translated LORD with all capitals in our Bibles is the Hebrew word we frequently pronounce as Jehovah. It’s first use in the creation of man and denotes the merciful character of God. The Hebrew letters are the yood, hay, vav and hay.  Hebrew letters are pictures with meaning of their own.  The yood is a hand, the hey means to reveal, the vav is a nail. In God’s name, we have the hand revealed, the nail revealed. In that room 4000 years after God revealed His name of Yahweh, Jesus reveals His nail scarred hands.  (See “The Name "Yahovah" in the Ancient Hebrew” in this blog site)

This happened on the first day of the counting of the Omer.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed,
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

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