Friday, May 17, 2013
Yeshua in the Counting of the Omer part 8: The last Ten Days
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 last ten days of the Omer begin with Yeshua’s ascension into heaven. Yeshua had taken His disciples out to the Mt. of Olives for the purpose of witnessing His ascension. Thoughts of Yeshua re-establishing Israel as an independent nation were uppermost in the disciples’ minds. But at Yeshua’s ascension, their thoughts were diverted.
Before examining Yeshua’s actions there on the Mt. of Olives, let’s review the offices of Messiah. First, the Messiah was to be a prophet like Moses.
Deuteronomy 18:18-19 NKJV 18 'I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. 19 'And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.
Yeshua fulfilled this role as the prophet like Moses. What did Moses do? What were His actions as God’s prophet? His chief role is to speak all the words God puts in his mouth. Sometimes they are words of rebuke or even praise, sometimes they are words of things to come, sometimes they are reminders of who God is and what He has done. This is the role of all the prophets. But Moses was a special prophet—God spoke to him mouth to mouth.
Numbers 12:7-8 KJV 7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. 8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
The voice of God confirmed that Yeshua was this prophet like Moses at the transfiguration when God’s voice spoke, “This is my beloved son, hear him.”
The second role of the messiah was to be the lamb that God provided for the atonement for the people. Abraham said that God would provide the lamb for the sacrifice. (Gen. 22:7-8) Isaiah says He will suffer for our iniquities and be resurrected to new life. (Is. 53) The third role of the messiah is that of the atoning high priest. Once a year on Yom Kippur, the high priest enters the Holy of Holies and makes atonement for the children of Israel.
Leviticus 16:32-34 NKJV 32 "And the priest, who is anointed and consecrated to minister as priest in his father's place, shall make atonement, and put on the linen clothes, the holy garments; 33 "then he shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tabernacle of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 "This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year." And he did as the LORD commanded Moses.
Not only did the high priest make atonement for the sins of the children of Israel, he made atonement for the tabernacle and the altar itself. The spiritual miasma of sin permeated even into the physical material of the tabernacle and the altar. In the days of the second temple, as the Day of Atonement began, a scarlet thread was tied to the doors of the Temple and the horns of the live goat which symbolically took their sins away.
Leviticus 16:21-22 NKJV 21 "Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. 22 "The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.
In the time of the second temple, the live goat would not be merely released into the wilderness. The population was great enough that the goat would always find its way back among people. Instead the priest releasing the goat would push it over a cliff. If God forgave the sins of Israel, then the scarlet thread on the goat and the doors of the temple would turn white. Not only would the temple and the altar be cleansed, but so would the entire nation of Israel.
Zechariah wrote of a specific atonement of the high priest. In his vision, Zechariah saw Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD with Satan accusing him. Joshua was wearing filthy garments.
Zechariah 3:3-5 NKJV 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. 4 Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, "Take away the filthy garments from him." And to him He said, "See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes." 5 And I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the LORD stood by.
God later explains the meaning of the vision to Zechariah. Joshua was a sign of the cleansing of all Israel in one day and the coming of the LORD’s servant the Branch.
Zechariah 3:8-9 NKJV 8 'Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, You and your companions who sit before you, For they are a wondrous sign; For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH. 9 For behold, the stone That I have laid before Joshua: Upon the stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave its inscription,' Says the LORD of hosts, 'And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
It is this third role of the atoning high priest that Yeshua entered into as He ascended into heaven on the fortieth day of the Omer.
Luke 24:50-51 NKJV 50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.
The phrase “he lifted up His hands and blessed them” is a Hebrew idiom referring to the blessing that the priests recite at the conclusion of every service. We see its first use when Moses invested Aaron as the high priest over Israel.
Leviticus 9:22-23 NKJV 22 Then Aaron lifted his hand toward the people, blessed them, and came down from offering the sin offering, the burnt offering, and peace offerings. 23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people,
This blessing is very specific:
Numbers 6:22-23 NKJV 22 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 23 "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, 'This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:
When a priest raises his hands to begin the blessing, the people automatically bow their heads to receive the blessing, gazing at the feet of the priest pronouncing the blessing. Only priests were to say this blessing but by using this phrase, Luke is telling us that Yeshua said this blessing called the Aaronic blessing over His disciples.
Yeshua’s first act as the high priest was to speak the blessing over them. Here are the words Yeshua spoke:
Numbers 6:24-26 NKJV 24 "The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; 26 The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace."'
Imagine the scene. There on the Mt. of Olives, the place where He began His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Yeshua lifts His nail-scarred hands over them. The disciples recognize the gesture and automatically gaze down at Yeshua’s feet where they gaze on His nail-scarred feet. Yeshua begins to speak the blessing and as He does, the disciples see His feet lift from the ground. Their eyes follow His feet upward as He completes the blessing and disappears. Luke records this meeting in both Acts and his gospel.
Acts 1:9-11 NKJV 9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."
Luke 24:52-53 NKJV 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.
These final ten days of the Omer begin with Yeshua saying this blessing over them as He ascends to heaven. The disciples worshipped and rejoiced! They returned to Jerusalem and spent as much time as they possibly could in God’s temple worshipping and praising God! They spent time together in prayer and petition. Luke clearly states where they spent those final days of the Omer. The count is still continuing; the anticipation continues to grow. What would God do next? What will happen when the Holy Spirit comes on them? Yeshua said that the Holy Spirit would come in just a few days!
Acts 1:5 NKJV 5 "for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
I’m sure they must have discussed the implications of Yeshua declaring that He was the heavenly high priest. The land of Israel and her people surely needed their sins removed. Rome controlled the earthly high priesthood awarding it to the highest bidder! With the land and people being atoned for by such a high priest as Yeshua, surely the nation would be re-established. Zechariah goes on to show that the Branch would be both priest and king.
Zechariah 6:12-13 NKJV 12 "Then speak to him, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying: "Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the LORD; 13 Yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both."'
The Feast of Weeks which is the anniversary of the day God gave them the Covenant on Mt. Sinai was just ten days away. Yeshua said His blood ushered in the New Covenant. Something will happen on this Feast day just like the events which happened on the previous three feasts! Yeshua died on Passover, descended to the grave as the Feast of Unleavened Bread began and rose on the Feast of Firstfruits. They must be ready for anything! Peter and the disciples gather together and discuss what preparations they must make. They remember the words Yeshua spoke to them at His last Passover Seder and throughout the preceding forty days of the Omer that they would be witnesses of Him.
John 15:26-27 NKJV 26 "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. 27 "And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
The first thing they did to get ready was to appoint a new apostle to take Judas Iscariot’s place as one of the twelve. Peter speaks of Judas Iscariot’s fall and the need to replace him in front of about one hundred twenty of the disciples.
Acts 1:20-22 NKJV 20 "For it is written in the book of Psalms: 'Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it'; and, 'Let another take his office.' 21 "Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 "beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection."
The disciples continue to rejoice and worship God. Each day they went to the temple. As the day ended, they returned to the place they were staying and continued in prayer and petition. Until, finally, it is the day before the Feast of Weeks. They are ready to testify to Yeshua’s death and resurrection!
Shalom and be blessed,
Dan & Brenda Cathcart
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