“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom…Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:12,17
These verses are part of The Prayer of Moses, as he considers the greatness of God as well as His righteous judgment. Essentially he is asking God to keep eternity in our focus daily so we aren’t consumed by His judgment forever. To that end, God has given us a Biblical Calendar that helps us pursue Him in unique ways every season of the year, and it gives us some basic principles to reach Him in all seasons. It features a New Year’s Day twice every year. There’s a Civil New Year in the Fall to remember
creation (our physical birth), and a Religious New Year in the Spring at Passover.
Two New Year’s Days each year might seem odd until you realize that we must be born again to enter the Kingdom. The death and resurrection of Jesus caused the world’s calendar to split into B.C. and A.D., but it’s been on God’s calendar since the time of Moses in Egypt. A few weeks ago we celebrated several harvest-oriented feasts that all overlap: The Feast of Passover, the Feast of First Fruits, and the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread. These feasts speak of new life and brand new days with Jesus as our Emmanuel, God with us.
What’s next on God’s calendar to help us live out this new life and encounter Jesus more in our daily lives? He longs to fill us with a hope that doesn’t disappoint. As we strain to see what’s ahead of us, we need hope to guide our expectations and faith. The day after Passover begins the seven-week Counting of the Omer (or counting of the days) till the Feast of Pentecost or Shavuot in early June. For the Jews, Shavuot is a remembrance of God giving the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai after they were delivered from slavery in Egypt. It’s a festival of hope because they were taken out of bondage to be a special people chosen by God for great purposes and a land of their own.
Many events in the Old Testament are prophetic shadows of things taking place in Heaven that God was bringing to earth in their due time. While the shadow of Passover was first revealed in Egypt around 1500 B.C., the shadow’s reality took place two thousand years ago when Jesus died on the cross as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
Likewise, the shadow of First Fruits was first revealed as a harvest event where the Jews gathered barley to wave in the air to thank God for His provision. The shadow’s reality took place three days after Jesus was buried in the grave. As the priests waved barley in the field, an earthquake opened up countless graves around Jerusalem. Suddenly Jesus and a host of saints walked out of their graves as the terrified priests probably dropped their sheaves of barley and ran screaming home.
Similarly, Pentecost was first revealed at Sinai with on stone tablets, but the shadow’s reality took place when the resurrected Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit onto the Apostles and the new church during the Feast of Pentecost fifty days after He rose from the dead. Hearts of stone were turned to hearts of flesh. Celebrating the Law of Moses by waving sheaves of wheat in the air turned into pandemonium in the streets as new believers freshly baptized in the Spirit were running amok speaking in tongues and ultimately birthing the church. The Letter of the Law had killed 3,000 at Sinai and the Spirit gave new life to 3,000 in Jerusalem. While Moses was forced to hide the glory behind a veil, Jesus tore down the veil and made the glory visible to all.
So what was the Counting of the Omer about? It was a countdown of sorts. Nothing from that year’s barley or wheat harvest could be eaten
until after the wave offering was made. Why? God established these festivals as times of Divine renewal or newness – what was forbidden becomes permissible. When Jesus came out of the grave, He presented to His Father the wave offering of all the souls who had been locked away in Hades. He opened the door into eternity with God for all mankind who had been trapped in sin and death. We who were forbidden to approach God became acceptable and part of the Divine harvest.
When He poured out the Holy Spirit, He enabled us to go from redeemed to
empowered, from indwelt to overflowing. He is always taking us from glory to glory. We are not done when we are saved and we are not done when we are empowered. There is always more of Him to pour out and He wants us to live our lives counting the days till our next encounter, waiting expectedly for another promise to come, confident in faith that we will pass right through the trials of life because our hearts are set on pilgrimage.
It’s a sad reality that long after we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit we can fall away deep into sin but still have the functioning spiritual gifts that originally came with that baptism. It seems odd, but it’s the same reason that God chose to engrave His commands on tablets of stone. There are two kinds of letters. Letters which are written, and letters which are engraved. The difference is that written letters are ultimately separate from what they are written on. They are not “one with the paper or the parchment”. The letters are of ink and they adhere to the paper.
When letters are engraved, the letters themselves are from the same medium as that on which they are written. The letters are not something external, they emanate from the stone itself. “I will put My law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jeremiah 31:33). When God does a work in us, it’s
literally transformative, He becomes a part of us.
Still, we can misuse our gifts, use them in immaturity, use them in sin, even submit them to the devil. Receiving Salvation or even gifts of the Spirit are not supposed to be the climax of our walk. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. (Romans 8:14) He wants us to grow up in Him, not remain children forever. The baptism of the Holy Spirit doesn’t make a different kind of Christian, He fills us with His presence, empowers us with His presence, equips us with His presence, comforts us with His presence, etc.
The original outpouring of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost is told in Acts 2. But soon, these same people, are seeking to be refilled again: On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God…After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. (Acts 4)
It was not a one-time experience, but rather a constant refilling of the Spirit which they needed to change their world. They continually sought to be
empowered to accomplish whatever task God assigned to them, so they kept getting filled – and refilled — and refilled. The Counting of the Omer is our yearly reminder that there is an endless supply of “more” for those who keep asking, seeking, and knocking. “But if from there you will seek the LORD your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
“Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” Habakkuk 3:2