The Counting of Omer are the days between Passover and Shavout. 50 days to be exact. 7 weeks x 7 = 49 plus 1. In the West the focus is on Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. However, what about the ascension of our Lord on Day 40? In some circles, Pentecost is celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised to all believers while He was here on the earth.
Elijah traveled for 40 days to Mt Horev
"8 He got up, ate and drank, and, on the strength of that meal, traveled forty days and nights until he reached Horev the mountain of God." - 1 Kings 19:9
Ninveh had 40 days to repent
"4 Yonah began his entry into the city and had finished only his first day of proclaiming, ‘In forty days Ninveh will be overthrown,’ 5 when the people of Ninveh believed God." - Jonah 3:4-5
Moshe went up the mountain 40 days and nights
"18 Moshe entered the cloud and went up on the mountain; he was on the mountain forty days and nights." - Exodus 24:18
Yeshua was tempted and fasted 40 days and nights
"Then the Spirit led Yeshua up into the wilderness to be tempted by the Adversary. 2 After Yeshua had fasted forty days and nights, he was hungry." - Matthew 4:1-2
The children of Israel were in the wilderness 40 years
"6 because the people of Isra’el walked forty years in the desert until the whole nation, that is, the fighting men who had left Egypt, had died out; because they had not heeded what Adonai said." - Joshua 5:6
All of these accounts are part of the progressive revelation of God reaching out to man and man's journey to find God. The culmination brings us to the Mount of Olives 2000 years ago.
The ascension of Jesus on the Mt. Of Olives was a key event, not only for Jesus, but the disciples. The disciples, and other followers, would have been counting the Omer as was prescribed by God himself. They did this in anticipation for Shavuot on day 50. Imagine if you would, for a minute, you have been with Jesus for 3 years, or 36 months, and then He is crucified, buried, raises again, appears to many over the 40 day period and now He has asked you to meet Him on the Mount of Olives for some final words before He ascends into heaven.
We have to realize that the disciples had to travel from Jerusalem to the Galilee, after the resurrection and then travel back to Jerusalem. That was 12 days just in travel time. Jesus meets with the disciples around the Sea of Galilee, takes them up a high mountain, and gives the Great Commission. That high mountain could have been Mt. Hermon. That time would take another 6 -10 days around the Galilee.
"50 He led them out toward Beit-Anyah; then, raising his hands, he said a b’rakhahover them; 51 and as he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 They bowed in worship to him, then returned to Yerushalayim, overflowing with joy. 53 And they spent all their time in the Temple courts, praising God." - Luke 24:50-53 CJB
Jesus makes sure that the disciples understood that they should not leave Jerusalem, but wait for what the Father had promised. I am sure the disciples, at this point, are connecting the dots between the coming of the Holy Spirit and Shavuot.
The time during the ascension is very important to the disciples. They are holding on to each word that He is telling them. They have only one question that we see recorded in the book of Acts, and that is if Yeshua will set up self rule to Israel and get them out of the hands of the Romans. Jesus blesses them. They are joyful, they continue sharing the Good News with confirming signs, while waiting for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
"19 So then, after he had spoken to them, the Lord Yeshua was taken up into heaven and sat at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and proclaimed everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the message by the accompanying signs." - Mark 16:19-20 CJB
What an exciting time. Most people stop at the resurrection. I want to encourage us to take another step. We need to look at what happened next in the life of Jesus. This year, the anniversary of the ascension of our King of kings and Lord of lords is in two days. (Thursday May 30th) This should be an exciting time. Remember what happened the first year when they were waiting for the Spirit to come upon them and fill them?
Questions for Reflection
What are you looking forward to during this time of rejoicing? How will we bow in worship of the Lord this year? What is the empowerment the Lord has promised for us to receive? How do we practically live in that empowerment from day to day? What is God doing in your life, 2,000 years later, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? How will you celebrate the ascension of the King of kings?
"(0) A psalm of David: (1) Adonai says to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
2 Adonai will send your powerful scepter out from Tziyon, so that you will rule over your enemies around you. 3 On the day your forces mobilize, your people willingly offer themselves in holy splendors from the womb of the dawn; the dew of your youth is yours.
4 Adonai has sworn it, and he will never retract —“You are a cohen forever, to be compared with Malki-Tzedek.”
5 Adonai at your right hand will shatter kings on the day of his anger. 6 He will pass judgment among the nations, filling it with dead bodies;he will shatter heads throughout an extensive territory.7 He will drink from a stream as he goes on his way; therefore he will hold his head high." - Psalm 110 CJB
"Dear Theophilos: In the first book, I wrote about everything Yeshua set out to do and teach, 2 until the day when, after giving instructions through the Ruach HaKodesh to the emissaries whom he had chosen, he was taken up into heaven.3 After his death he showed himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. During a period of forty days they saw him, and he spoke with them about the Kingdom of God. 4 At one of these gatherings, he instructed them not to leave Yerushalayim but to wait for “what the Father promised, which you heard about from me. 5 For Yochanan used to immerse people in water; but in a few days, you will be immersed in the Ruach HaKodesh!” 6 When they were together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore self-rule to Isra’el?”
7 He answered, “You don’t need to know the dates or the times; the Father has kept these under his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Ruach HaKodesh comes upon you; you will be my witnesses both in Yerushalayim and in all Y’hudah and Shomron, indeed to the ends of the earth!” 9 After saying this, he was taken up before their eyes; and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 As they were staring into the sky after him, suddenly they saw two men dressed in white standing next to them. 11 The men said, “You Galileans! Why are you standing, staring into space? This Yeshua, who has been taken away from you into heaven, will come back to you in just the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” - Acts 1:1-11 CJB