Thursday, May 16, 2013

Yeshua in the Counting of the Omer part 7: Up to Jerusalem

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 those of us who follow Him today.  Yeshua was very active during this time teaching and preparing His disciple to go out into the world and preach the Gospel.

The days of the Omer continue to go up getting closer and closer to fifty and the Feast of Weeks. Luke records that Yeshua continued to appear to the disciples.

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.

Some time before the fortieth day, the disciples head back to Jerusalem. This may seem like an arbitrary act; they were just at Jerusalem so why would they return so soon? Many people think that the disciples are still in fear of the Jewish leaders; if they are, why return to very city where the leaders congregate? First, we need to remember that the Omer counts up to a specific event—The Feast of Weeks. This is one of the three feasts of the LORD during which all men were to appear before God with an offering. Second, we need to remember what Yeshua has been telling them! When they were on the mountain in Galilee, Yeshua gave them authority over every thing on earth! He commissioned them to go to all nations and make disciples! There was no longer any reason to be afraid. So, Jerusalem held no fear for them; it held only anticipation. What would happen at the end of the counting of the Omer at the Feast of Weeks? So, the disciples eagerly return to Jerusalem in anticipation of the feast.

The disciples are once again in Jerusalem and Yeshua is teaching them. Perhaps they are in the same upper room in which they celebrated the Passover a few weeks earlier. Again, He tells them of the necessity of His suffering and death, that they would testify to those events, and that He would send the Holy Spirit to give them strength and power.

Luke 24:46-49 NIV 46 He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."

This was on the fortieth day of the Omer. The number forty is the number of testing, trial, and growth. Moses spent forty days on Mt. Sinai twice as God gave him instruction while at the same time testing the faith of the children of Israel. Yeshua spent forty days in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. The children of Israel spent forty years in the wilderness because they refused to believe that God could bring them into the Promised Land. During those forty years, God provided manna for them to eat and water for them to drink. Their clothes didn’t even wear out! He was testing and growing their faith.

Deuteronomy 29:5-6 NIV 5 During the forty years that I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. 6 You ate no bread and drank no wine or other fermented drink. I did this so that you might know that I am the LORD your God.

As the children of Israel are getting ready to go into the Promised Land at the end of the forty year period, Moses recites to them all the signs and acts which God performed for them starting with their exodus from Egypt and continuing through His actions in the wilderness.

Deuteronomy 11:2-3 NKJV 2 "Know today that I do not speak with your children, who have not known and who have not seen the chastening of the LORD your God, His greatness and His mighty hand and His outstretched arm- 3 "His signs and His acts which He did in the midst of Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, and to all his land;

Moses concludes with the purpose of the signs and acts; the reason he recites God’s signs and acts—so they will have strength to obey God take the Promised Land.

Deuteronomy 11:8 NKJV 8 "Therefore you shall keep every commandment which I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and possess the land which you cross over to possess,

Luke and John tell us that Yeshua performed signs and proofs that He was alive.

John 20:30-31 NKJV 30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

Yeshua was convincing them that He and the Father were one. He was equipping them to take the “Promised Land” as they shared the good news of God’s salvation with both the Jew and the Gentile!

On the fortieth day, Yeshua took them out to Bethany on the Mount of Olives. This is the site of so many events through the years. It is the probable site of the ram caught in the thorn bush by its horns that Abraham sacrificed in Isaac’s place. It is the site of the preparation of the ashes of the red heifer used to cleanse a person who was unclean from touching a dead body. On the southern end of the Mt. of Olives, Solomon set up altars to foreign gods for his foreign wives. By the time of King Josiah who tore down the altars, it was called the Mt. of Corruption!

2 Kings 23:13 NKJV 13 Then the king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, which were on the south of the Mount of Corruption, which Solomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the people of Ammon.

The Mt. of Olives is also the last place the spirit of God touched when it departed from the temple days before its destruction.

Ezekiel 10:18-19 NKJV 18 Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim. 19 And the cherubim lifted their wings and mounted up from the earth in my sight. When they went out, the wheels were beside them; and they stood at the door of the east gate of the LORD'S house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them.

Ezekiel 11:22-23 NKJV 22 So the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was high above them. 23 And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain, which is on the east side of the city.

Yeshua Himself had a long history with the Mt. of Olives. His triumphal entry to Jerusalem was over the Mt. of Olives. (Mt. 21:1, Mr. 11:1, Lu. 19:37) He waited there on the Mt. of Olives while His disciples went to get the colt of the donkey for Him to ride into Jerusalem. In the days leading up to the Passover, it was a favorite place for Him to meet with His disciples. (Lu. 22:39) This is where He told them of the tribulation that would come before His return. (Mt. 24:3, Mr. 13:3) He brought His disciples out to the Mt. of Olives after His last Passover supper. (Mt. 26:30, Mr. 14:26) It was here on the Mt. of Olives that Judas Iscariot betrayed Him to the high priest. The Mt. of Olives is also the likely place of His crucifixion since it was “before the face of God” directly east of the temple two hundred feet higher in elevation so that those on the Mt. of Olives could look down into the temple whenever the doors were open.

This is where Yeshua brought His disciples once again on the fortieth day of the Omer. Once again, He tells them to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes on them.

Acts 1:4-5 NKJV 4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; 5 "for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

What were the disciples thinking? Where was all this leading? The Jewish people of Yeshua’s day were watching for their Messiah. They expected a suffering servant and a conquering king Messiah—they just expected, and still do expect, them to be two different Messiahs coming at the same time. The disciples have now accepted that the Messiah is Yeshua, that the suffering servant and the conquering king are one and the same. But the disciples still expected Yeshua to set up His kingdom at that time. They ask Yeshua, “Is it time?”

Acts 1:6 NKJV 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"

They are eager and ready to fight by the side of their conquering king. The prophet Zechariah wrote of the strength the Holy Spirit would pour out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem to destroy her enemies.

Zechariah 12:8-10 NKJV 8 "In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the LORD before them. 9 "It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. 10 "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.

They are ready and eager to testify that Yeshua was the One who was pierced and is now the conquering King. But Yeshua didn’t answer them directly.

Acts 1:7-8 NKJV 7 And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

Yeshua again repeated that they would receive power from the Holy Spirit. Even as Yeshua was speaking, they watched Him ascend into heaven. The angel’s words were that Yeshua would return to the Mt. of Olives. They knew the words of Zechariah that the King, God Himself, would step down on the Mt. of Olives when He returned.

Zechariah 14:4 NKJV 4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south.

Would Yeshua establish His kingdom at the Feast of Weeks just ten days away? The Feast of Weeks is the anniversary of God giving them the Torah essentially establishing them as a nation. Would He do so again? After all, Yeshua hadn’t said that the Father wouldn’t establish the kingdom at that time. What would God do at the culmination of the Omer? All Jerusalem would once again be filled to the bursting point with two and half million worshippers! Something is surely going to happen!

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed,
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

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