May 2010 Yavoh

At the time of this writing it is May of 2010, and we are about to complete God’s instruction of counting of the Omer begun in mid-April with the Feast of First Fruits.  On Sunday, May 23, we will count the fiftieth day (the day after seven complete Sabbaths) and observe the feast day called Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks.  What significance is there for us today about this one-day festival?  Does it have future significance?  There is much we can learn from the command to count the Omer to the celebration of the day itself, as we shall see ahead.

Moses instructed us to perform this count and observe this festival.

You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths.  You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord.  On this same day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work.  It is to be a perpetual statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.  LEV 23:15-16,21

Although the exercise is called counting the omer, we are actually counting the days between the Feast of First Fruits (grain) and Shavuot.  An omer is a Biblical measure of two quarts of grain given as a temple offering. Counting the omer each day for fifty days creates anticipation for the culminating feast day when the offering of the new crop of grain was given.

Shavuot has other names, such as Pentecost (the fiftieth day), the Day of Proclamation, and the Feast of Weeks.  It is generally believed that the reference to the Day of Proclamation on Shavuot has to do with God giving Israel the Torah.  On this day, God proclaimed the Ten Commandments, so it does not come as a surprise that this is the same day after Yeshua’s resurrection that the Holy Spirit was breathed on the disciples and they began to “proclaim the Gospel” in Jerusalem.  The name Feast of Weeks came about because to determine the correct observance we count seven complete weeks.

For us today, Shavuot is an excellent time to enter the waters of the mikvah (immersion) and to proclaim our faith in God and our redemption by Messiah Yeshua. Although a mikvah is not commanded in Scripture, making a proclamation is.  In Acts 2 we see them combined.  What does counting the Omer and observing the Day of Proclamation say of our future?  Why do we count the seven weeks (fifty days)?

Before we answer that directly, let us note some interesting observations about Shavuot and counting up to the fiftieth day.  God uses repeating number sets to lay out all of His appointed times.  For example, the basic week is six days of labor plus one day of rest (the Sabbath /Shabbat):  six plus one equals seven.  There are seven commanded annual appointed times: Passover (Pesach), Feast of Unleavened Bread (Matzah), Feast of First Fruits (Hag HaBikkurim), Shavuot (Feast of Weeks), Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah), Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot).

The annual cycle is as follows:  Passover is a one-day observance, whereas Unleavened Bread is a seven-day event with a high Sabbath on the first and seventh days.  Shavuot is a one-day event precluded by the counting of seven weekly Sabbaths in a row, celebrating on the next day, totaling fifty days.  The Feast of Trumpets is a one-day observance held on the first day of the month of Tishri, the only day set on a Rosh Chodesh (a new moon), thus the beginning of a new month.  Yom Kippur is a one-day observance set on the tenth of Tishri.  The Feast of Tabernacles is observed for seven days beginning on 15 Tishri with a high Sabbath on the first day, an eighth day is attached to the seven, called “the Great Day of the Feast,” making the entire feast eight days concluding with a high Sabbath.  Therefore, the combination of Passover and Unleavened Bread produces an eight-day event at the head of months and Feast of Tabernacles with the Great Day of the Feast concludes the festival year with an eight-day event.

Notice God also calls upon us to count the years in a similar fashion as the appointed festivals.  Like the weekly Sabbath, we are to count six years and the seventh year is to be a sabbatical year (6 + 1 = 7).  In the land of Israel, farmers were forbidden to cultivate the land in the seventh year so that the land could rest.  God then told us to count the number of sabbatical years until we had completed seven of them, and the following year was to be a Jubilee year (a Yovel), thus 7 X 7 + 1 = 50.  In addition, God commanded that all debts were to be released and the land was returned to the original members of the twelve tribes.  Therefore, in every generation there came a time when everyone was released from debt and the inheritance of the tribal lands, first allocated in the days of Joshua, were returned to the tribal descendants and heirs.

These patterns also speak to future things at the end of the ages.  God’s plan for the earth is six days of work (6,000 years) and one day (1,000 years) of rest.  2 Peter 3:8 illustrates that the Jews understood that with God a thousand years is as one day.  The Bible lays out this plan in the six days of creation and the weekly Sabbath in Genesis Chapter 1.  Each weekly Sabbath and each sabbatical year are reminders of the creation and a foretaste of the Messianic kingdom. 

Now back to counting the Omer.  It is like counting the sabbatical years leading to the Jubilee (7 X 7 + 1 = 50).  Therefore, the fiftieth year of Jubilee and the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) are reminders of the first year in the Messianic kingdom in which the Master has returned and we are just beginning to live our eternal lives with Him!

Shavuot 2010 is of particular importance to those who are eagerly anticipating the return of our Messiah.  The world is changing before our very eyes and the end-time prophecies appear more visibly to us.  Shavuot has been overlooked for the most part as lacking substantial prophetic significance.  The spring feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread speak of the Messiah’s first coming.  The fall feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles speak of the Messiah’s second coming, yet Shavuot stands between them and seems insignificant.  However, we shall see that it has greater prophetic value for us than previously understood.

Shavuot launched the proclamation of the Gospel by the disciples as recorded in the Book of Acts.  In the future, Shavuot will initiate the proclamation of God’s vengeance.  Consider this prophecy from Isaiah.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord ...  ISA 61:1-2a

I am sure you are familiar with this prophecy.  Yeshua quoted this, directly attributing its fulfillment to Himself and His ministry when He began His earthly teaching; but He stopped mid-sentence!  There is more to Isaiah’s prophecy of what will be proclaimed.

... And the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.  So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.  ISA 61:2b-3

Who proclaims “the day of vengeance of our God?”  It is not the Messiah because He proclaimed “the favorable year of the Lord.”  Shavuot, as the Day of Proclamation, has a very important role in the end-time scenario.  It is the time for God to make the final proclamation of this age—the warning of His vengeance and judgment—the day of His reckoning is coming soon.

Consider the prophet Isaiah’s proclamation for the end.

For the Lord of hosts will have a day of reckoning against everyone who is proud and lofty, and against everyone who is lifted up, that he may be abased.  ISA 2:12

The enemies of our God have already made numerous proclamations against Him and against us; but there is a Shavuot coming when God will make His own proclamations concerning His enemies.

For the Lord has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion.  ISA 34:8

Presently, the United States government has dramatically shifted its position regarding the state of Israel.  For 62 years, the United States has been a friend and supporter of Israel.  To a certain extent Israel’s existence has been based on the United States’ support, but this year President Obama has decided that it is in the best interest of the United States to force a solution to the long-standing dispute between the Arabs (Palestinians) and Israel.

To accomplish this, President Obama has taken issue with the Israeli government’s building programs in Jerusalem and so-called “disputed” areas.  I say “disputed” because they were captured from Jordan in 1967 and Jordan has since signed a peace treaty.  The dispute is coming from the Palestinians, who are a displaced people ejected from all Arab nations and now have no “homeland.”  The Palestinians were few in number in those days and lay claim to the region based on the fact that the Jews were never in the land to begin with.  Yes, I know that doesn’t make any sense, but “Welcome to Middle East politics.” 

What is even stranger than the logic of the Palestinians’ arguments is that President Obama has reversed a long-time strategic friendship with Israel and bought into the bizarre arguments of Israel’s enemies.

We truly are living in the days when all nations (including the United States) have decided to come against Jerusalem.  The stage is being set for God’s vengeance, a recompense for the cause of Zion.

Earlier this year, I offered a new way of viewing the final years of this age by re-examining the prophecy of Daniel’s 70 weeks.  The word weeks is English for shavuot (also name of the Feast of Weeks).  On April 20th of the Gregorian calendar, Israel celebrated 62 years as a modern state.  Shavuot will be observed May 23, but it will be the 63rd, not the 62nd “weeks” since Israel’s declaration of independence because once the declaration was made in 1947 Shavuot occurred; then on May 14, 1948 Israel became a nation and days later was another Shavuot.  (If you need further explanation, please see the February and April YAVOHs.)

The prophet Daniel set some milestones when he spoke of the final period leading to the Messiah Prince and His kingdom. 
    •There would be a decree concerning the land of Israel and Jerusalem. 
    •There would be a period of 62 weeks. 
    •Then would be a period of seven weeks. 
    •Then in the middle of the seven weeks would come the final period of 3 ½ years called the Great Tribulation. 
    •Immediately following the Great Tribulation, the Messiah would return to establish His Messianic kingdom.

Could this Feast of Weeks/Shavuot (May 23, 2010) begin the final set of seven weeks prophesied by Daniel?  If so, then we should see the “agreement” spoken of by Daniel that is part of the final seven years and the regional war of Ezekiel with its battlefield cleanup of seven years about to occur.  According to the prophets Ezekiel and Joel there will also be a time of God pouring out His Spirit on us all.

If this understanding of Daniel’s prophecy is correct, then this will be the year to begin proclaiming that the day of God’s vengeance is coming.  If so, we will know with certainty that we have seven years left of this age and we will know that the Great Tribulation will begin in the winter of 2013 and conclude in the fall of 2016. 

All of us have looked for the return of the Lord and hoped He would return in our lifetimes, but never before have we seen such dramatic events matching the prophecies spelled out in such detail.

As I write this article, the world is doing its best to force a peace agreement on Israel, re-define its borders, divide Jerusalem, and make the land of Israel subject to its enemies.  God has stated that these are the very reasons for the Day of the Lord.

I will gather all the nations, and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.  JOEL 3:2

Israel has rejected President Obama’s forced peace, insisting that Jerusalem is their eternal capital city and is not to be divided, but Israel’s resistance will not stop President Obama’s plan for the Middle East.  The prophesied “agreement” will somehow happen, yet God will reverse it.  When God makes His move, we will be the people who stand and proclaim God’s vengeance and justice to the world.

These are frightening days, and many believers will hesitate, preferring to avoid any confrontation; however, we who proclaim God’s vengeance are to offer words of consolation to those who are afraid.

Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not.  Behold, your God will come with vengeance; the recompense of God will come, but He will save you.”  ISA 35:4

I do not believe in fate, but I do believe that God has a plan that will be carried out regardless of what we do.
 
There are many things prophecied concerning the end of the ages, many of them ominous.  I believe that God does not want to execute all that will happen, but if God says that such things will happen, then the Word of God will be fulfilled.  This is the very essence of what Yeshua told His disciples concerning the destruction of Jerusalem.  No one wanted to see Jerusalem destroyed, but it happened in 70 A.D.  That warning also applies to us at the end of the ages.

But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are in the midst of the city depart, and let not those who are in the country enter the city; because these are days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled.  LUK 21:20-22

The end of the ages is coming with a demonstration of both destruction and God’s glory.  It is the time of wheat and tares—the final fruit of the knowledge of good and evil is ready for harvest.  The anticipation of Shavuot is the anticipation of the final Jubilee and the first year of the Messianic kingdom.

Shavuot has another dimension to it that plays an important role in the end-time scenario – the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

There was a time in Numbers 11:16-25 when God took of the Spirit that was upon Moses and placed Him upon seventy elders to enable them to help Moses govern Israel.  In Acts 2, on the day of Shavuot after the resurrection of Yeshua, 120 believers assembled in Jerusalem were anointed with the Holy Spirit.  The prophets Ezekiel and Joel spoke of a future time when God’s Spirit would be poured out, that the outpouring would occur in the aftermath of a regional war involving Israel and certain northern enemies.

The War
And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, 'Thus says the Lord God," Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal; and I shall turn you around, drive you on, take you up from the remotest parts of the north, and bring you against the mountains of Israel.  And I shall strike your bow from your left hand, and dash down your arrows from your right hand.  You shall fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops, and the peoples who are with you; I shall give you as food to every kind of predatory bird and beast of the field.  You will fall on the open field; for it is I who have spoken," declares the Lord God. And I shall send fire upon Magog and those who inhabit the coastlands in safety; and they will know that I am the Lord.  EZE 39:1-6

But I will remove the northern army far from you, and I will drive it into a parched and desolate land, and its vanguard into the eastern sea, and its rear guard into the western sea.  And its stench will arise and its foul smell will come up, for it has done great things.  JOEL 2:20

The Aftermath
And I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel," declares the Lord God.  EZE 39:29

And it will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.  JOEL 2:28

When God poured out His Holy Spirit on Shavuot as described in Acts 2, several things were apparent.  The experience was most likely exhilarating with the rushing wind, the appearance of fire above their heads, and everyone was excited and speaking in strange languages.  One of the gifts of the Spirit, speaking in different languages, was evident to others present.

And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.  ACT 2:1-4

There were others celebrating Shavuot in Jerusalem at the same time and they too heard the wind and observed the disciples speaking in the visitors’ native languages.

Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation under heaven.  And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were bewildered, because they were each one hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and marveled, saying, "Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?  And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs-- we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.   ACT 2:5-11

Since Shavuot is the second of the three pilgrimage feasts (Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot), many devout believers had traveled to the temple in Jerusalem to worship the Lord.  There was a variety of languages being spoken by these visitors.  This particular manifestation of the Holy Spirit seems to have been planned by God to immediately spread the Gospel to all of these different nations by those faithfully attending Shavuot in Jerusalem. 

Peter’s proclamation to the people that day was simple and straightforward, that Yeshua was resurrected and had taken His seat at the right hand of God and has given us the promise of the Holy Spirit.

This Yeshua God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.  Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.  Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Messiah – this Yeshua whom you crucified.
ACT 2:32-33,36

It was a powerful proclamation with the evidence the Holy Spirit poured out.  The world was never the same.  The Gospel message began there at Shavuot and the worldwide spread of Christianity is the result.

Now let’s bring this event up to our day.  If we are looking for the true fulfillment of Ezekiel’s and Joel’s prophecies to happen at the end of the ages prior to the coming of the Lord, what should we expect?  What sort of manifestation of the Holy Spirit will occur with us?  Will there be a rushing wind?  Will we see tongues of fire on our heads?  Will we manifest the gift of speaking in tongues as they did?  The answers will come soon since we are at the end of the ages and anticipating fulfillment. 

Let us consider a couple of things that may shape our days.  We are looking for a future Shavuot (it may be this one in 2010) when a regional war with Israel will result in this great outpouring.  From that we will know that we are within seven years of the Messiah’s return and kingdom here on the earth.  The outpouring will be upon those who worship the God of Israel and keep His appointed times.  It could have the rushing wind and the tongues of fire, but I think there will a be a different manifestation of the Holy Spirit than “speaking in tongues.”  I think there will be other spiritual gifts specifically empowering us to proclaim the message of God’s judgment and vengeance. 

Daniel says that at the end of the ages there will those who have insight in the prophecies who give understanding to many others.

And those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.  Many will be purged, purified and refined; but the wicked will act wickedly, and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand.  DAN 12:3,10

Those who have insight and understanding will probably be those who received this last-day outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  The insight and understanding are apparently the prophecies provided by Daniel that he himself did not fully understand, including the host of end-time related prophecies.  Whatever is given by the Holy Spirit will be used to lead many to righteousness and be part of the purging, purifying, and refining process that God will perform.

If we step back for moment and try to anticipate this outpouring in the days we live, there are other thoughts that come to mind.  The prophet Joel distinctly speaks of how different age groups will be part of this outpouring.

And it will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 
JOEL 2:28

This seems to suggest that numbers of the recipients will be prolific in spiritual exercises and all ages of believers will experience this.

This will be exhilarating; I am sure we will all be filled with wonder. This outpouring of the Holy Spirit will strengthen the believers as they face the challenges ahead.  The world will never be the same.  The stage will be set for the world to receive God’s judgment and it will also be time to prepare for the Great Tribulation.

Shavuot 2010 could well mark the final seven years leading to the Messianic kingdom.  If that is verified, then we will know that the Great Tribulation will begin in the winter (Feb/Mar) of 2013 extending through the summer (September) of 2016.  The antimessiah will come to power in April of 2013 and rule for 42 months.  There will be economic disaster, warfare, famine, and disease causing the death of large percentages of the world’s population.  The plague of darkness will come in the spring of 2016.  The sign of the Son of Man will appear in the days immediately after the tribulation.  We will hear the shout of the archangel, the blowing of the trumpet, and God’s voice from heaven.  The resurrection of the saints and our final gathering to His presence will precede God’s wrath upon His enemies.  Finally, we will arrive at Jerusalem to welcome the Lord into His city.  It all begins seven years earlier on a Shavuot with us proclaiming that the King is coming back to reclaim His world, His people, and His kingdom.

I hope that as you read this issue of Yavoh for May 2010 that you count the Omer with me, that you will prepare your heart in anticipation of the soon coming events of these last days.  Prepare your heart to receive God’s understanding in these last days and His Holy Spirit to transform you.  These are exciting times.  I don’t want you to miss out on any part of His blessings.

I desire to see God show His power in this world.   I want the decision about God to be clear for everyone.  I want to see God’s people empowered as never before.  I want to experience the rushing wind, the fire, and the Glory of God in our midst.  I want everyone to see the day approaching, to know God’s plan for the end, believe His words, and trust in His deliverance.

This Shavuot and this summer leading to Sukkot could be the flip side of what the disciples experienced from Passover to Pentecost.  They saw God’s work of redemption, resurrection, and His ascension before the Holy Spirit was given.  We could well see the outpouring of the Holy Spirit first then God’s work of restoring the whole house of Israel, the resurrection of all saints, the Day of the Lord, and His triumphant return to the earth.

Let us comfort one another with these words.