Saturday, April 19, 2014

I shall run the way of Your commandments,
For You will enlarge my heart.
                                                   Ps. 119:32

I am currently "Counting the Omer".  The spring feasts begin with Passover, which we celebrated this past Monday evening.  Just a glorious picture of not only God's deliverance of the Israelites, but our deliverance from the bondage of our sin through the blood of Jesus!  This year I even made my own matzah, which I would highly recommend as it gives you a picture of preparing in haste.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread occurs for seven days following Passover.  The Israelites were instructed to remove all the leavening from their homes and not eat anything with leavening for the following 7 days.  Leavening is a picture of sin in the Bible.  Sadly, most Christians miss out on the blessings provided in keeping this feast (or any of the others).  Keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread provides us with a picture of just how easily sin creeps in.  You have to keep yourself aware of what you are doing and what you are eating.  We have routines, habits, and even muscle memory that we tend to fall back on in our daily lives and when we keep the Feast, we have to wake ourselves up from our daily lives and look at everything we do.  You can't become legalistic about it though, when you slip and fall, and most likely when you first begin this journey, you will, you also get to see a picture of the bounty of God's grace and forgiveness. 

The Christian life is exactly the same way.  We must guard ourselves minute by minute from the gentle creeping of sinful attitudes and actions. We must guard ourselves from our enemies schemes. Ephesians 6:11-12 says, "Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Satan is out to destroy us and he can use the tiniest of things. Just as faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains, so a sin as small as a yeast-filled bread crumb can begin a slow fade to full-blown sin (see 1 Corinthians 5:6-8). The Feast of Unleavened Bread helps us to see that in a way that the man-made tradition of Lent never can.  

In the midst of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Counting of the Omer is to begin (also called the Feast of Weeks).  The Israelites were commanded to count down to Shavu'ot (in Greek, Pentecost).  An omer is a measure of weight in the Scriptures.  The Israelites were to take an omer of manna each day for each person in the desert following their deliverance from Egypt. It's equivalent to about 2.3 quarts. That particular measurement obviously held great significance for the Israelites.  The Counting of the Omer was to conclude on Shavu'ot, the day that the Torah was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai.  

As I studied this for the first time last year, I was struck by the fact that no one had taught me about Shavu'ot and Pentecost and the parallels between the two.  The written Torah was given to Moses and the Holy Spirit, which was promised to the Israelites, was given on the same day!!

In Hebrews 8, beginning in verse 8, we see this promise, "Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in MY covenant, and I did not care for them, says the LORD.  For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, says the Lord: I will put MY laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be MY people, and they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen,and everyone his brother, saying, 'know the LORD,' for all will know ME, from the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." (Heb. 8:8-12, NASB, my emphasis).

What a glorious promise to the people of Israel.  A promise given to them beginning in Jeremiah 31:31.  Now the promised Messiah had come.  He had shown them that keeping the Torah, and in particular, adding to it so many things that it became a burden to the people, was not the way to eternal life (Luke 10:25-28), but was, in fact, always, simply, loving God and looking forward to His redemption and deliverance.  It is throughout the "Old Testament". 

The Torah was God's way to live here on earth, but it could not and cannot save (Romans 8:3). It was written on tablets of stone and scrolls of parchment.  It was not accessible to the average man or woman and was taught to them by the priests and teachers.  But they had a promise beginning in Jeremiah 31:31, it would be written on their hearts!  Pentecost brought that to fruition!

Jesus spent the first 40 days of the Feast of Weeks with His disciples following His glorious Resurrection.  They were Counting the Omer together, looking forward to the remembrance of the giving of the Torah, but Jesus said that they had something else to look forward to...

Acts 1:4-5 says, "Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

The time was coming for the fulfillment of the promise and it would come at the end of Counting the Omer!

What an exciting thing to take part in!!  Oh how keeping the Feasts has enlarged my heart!!  

I shall run the way of Your commandments,
For You will enlarge my heart.

Other versions say, "when You give me a heart that is willing (AMP)," "for you have broadened my understanding (CJB)."  

My understanding of the Scriptures has broadened so much, my understanding of what my Savior did for me has deepened!  The gratefulness that I feel some moments is almost too much to bear! Oh that we would all desire to know Him more, to live as He lived, to love Him will all our hearts, our minds, our souls, and our strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves (and as He did!).

Enlarge my heart, O Elohim!!  May my life be a reflection of Yeshua and His love! As we celebrate the Resurrection, may we look forward to His giving us the Holy Spirit so that His Word would be written on our hearts! Halleluyah!

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