Saturday, April 27, 2013

Yeshua in the Counting of the Omer part 1: Fishers of Men

The period of time on the Biblical Calendar known as the Counting of the Omer is the 50 day period from the day after the regular weekly Sabbath which falls during the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot.  In Christian circles this holiday is known as Pentecost but is little known beyond recognition as the day the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples and they spoke in tongues.  But this Feast has great significance in the life and ministry of Jesus (Yeshua) and in the lives of his disciples including us today who follow Him.  Yeshua was very active during this time teaching and preparing His disciple to go out into the world and preach the Gospel.

After the eighth day following Yeshua’s resurrection, the disciples head off to Galilee according to the instructions of both the angel at the tomb and Yeshua in the garden, and probably at His appearance on the eighth day of the counting of the Omer.

Matthew 28:10 NKJV 10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me."

Luke later tells us the reason that Yeshua appeared to them over the forty days prior to His ascension.

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.

His first appearances on the first and eighth day of the counting of the Omer proved His resurrection but now He needs to give them instructions. We saw that He explained to them the necessity of His suffering when He appeared to the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus and later that same day to the eleven apostles.

Luke 24:26-27 NKJV 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.

Luke 24:45-48 NKJV 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. 46 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 "And you are witnesses of these things.

So, what instructions does Yeshua give to His disciples? He told them that they would preach His name to all nations and that they are to bear witness to all these things! So, let’s join the disciples in Galilee and see what Yeshua taught them. Yeshua said that He would meet them there but when we join the disciples, we see that He has not yet arrived. Tradition says that He would no appear until the seventeenth day of the Omer. No wonder Peter is getting antsy! What is going to happen next? Just sitting around waiting is the hardest thing to do. Peter, who was known for being impetuous couldn’t stand it anymore. He declares, “I’m going fishing!” I can just hear the next sentence, “All this sitting around waiting is driving me crazy!” Six of the other disciples who also happened to be fisherman jumped at the chance to do something, too. They reply, “We’ll go with you.”

John 21:2-3 NKJV 2 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We are going with you also." They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.

Now, the fishing described takes place at night. They were probably using trammel nets which basically form a wall as they drag it along the sea floor. They fish at night so the fish don’t see the net coming. The net gets filled with silt and other debris along with the fish as it is dragged along the sea floor. As morning comes Yeshua calls out to them.

John 21:4-6 NKJV 4 But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any food?" They answered Him, "No." 6 And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

There is no reason they should have followed this man’s instructions who is standing there on the shore. Number one, they didn’t have any success at night when the fish couldn’t see the net, it is now daylight and the fish will see the net coming and swim away! Why would they have success now? Number two, they have to clean the net first! But for some reason they decide to go ahead and try again. Maybe they didn’t like the thought of waiting around for one more day as they counted up to the Feast of Weeks. But they clean their nets and throw them down on the right side. When they begin to haul in the catch of fish, John recognizes Yeshua and impetuous Peter jumps in the lake!

John 21:7-11 NKJV 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. 9 Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have just caught." 11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.

Not only does Peter bring some of the fish, he counts them! Why would the Bible tell us that they caught exactly 153 fish? It doesn’t tell us there were about 150 fish or just a lot of fish; John records that there were 153 fish. Now the Bible doesn’t contain irrelevant details so what is the significance of 153?

What clues do we have for the meaning of this number? First, notice that their efforts were unsuccessful even in the best of conditions before Yeshua came on the scene. With Yeshua’s help, they were hugely successful even in the worst of conditions.

Second, in Luke, we see another incident when Peter, John and James were fishing and they didn’t catch any fish until Yeshua came along. This incident ended in Yeshua calling them to be fishers of men.

Luke 5:5-6 NKJV 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net." 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.

Luke 5:9-10 NKJV 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men."

These are the disciples along with two others who are present this day on the Sea of Galilee. The fish that they caught then represent the men they are to reach with the testimony of Christ. But why 153? In Hebrew, each letter not only represents a letter and a picture, it represents a number.

Now John tells us that as many as believe become the sons of God.

John 1:12 KJV 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Again, we have the testimony of His name; that Yeshua is the Messiah the son of the Living God! This is what they were to preach to all nations beginning with Jerusalem.

Finally, Job refers to the sons of God presenting themselves before God.

Job 2:1 KJV 1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.

During this encounter, Satan accuses Job of only worshipping God because God has blessed him. The name Satan means accuser (#7853). Zechariah reports on another occasion when a son of God stands before God with Satan as his accuser.

Zechariah 3:1 NKJV 1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose (satan) him.

When Yeshua comes again, Satan, the accuser of the brethren will be cast down.

Revelation 12:10 NKJV 10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.

It just so happens that the phrase “sons of God” has the number 153!

Yeshua is telling them that in their own power, they will not be able to catch any men but with the power of God they will catch all the sons of God and will not lose any! Yeshua, in His last recorded prayer to God, states that He has not lost any that God gave Him and He prays that God will keep all that come to Him now that He is no longer in the world.

John 17:11-12 NKJV 11 "Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. 12 "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

Paul writes with confidence: Romans 8:38-39 NKJV 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Yeshua is setting the stage. On the Feast of Weeks, the Holy Spirit would come on them with the power needed to reach the world with the gospel message. Continue with us as we continue to count up to day 50, the Feast of Weeks!

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed,
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

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