HAVE YOU BEEN COUNTING?

An overview of the command that leads us to Shavuot!

Shabbat Shalom family, We have just entered day 49 of our commanded counting of 50 days from the wave offering of the barley to Shavuot:

Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:15-16 “And from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, you shall count for yourselves: seven completed Sabbaths. 16 ‘Until the morrow after the seventh Sabbath you count fifty days, then you shall bring a new grain offering to יהוה.

Well here we are – having come to the beginning of counting seven completed Sabbaths and after this Shabbat we will have reached our commanded count to 50 days where we bring a grain offering to יהוה.

Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 16:10-12 “And you shall perform the Festival of Weeks to יהוה your Elohim, according to the voluntary offering from your hand, which you give as יהוה your Elohim blesses you. 11 “And you shall rejoice before יהוה your Elohim, you and your son and your daughter, and your male servant and your female servant, and the Lĕwite who is within your gates, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are in your midst, at the place where יהוה your Elohim chooses to make His Name dwell. 12 “And you shall remember that you were a slave in Mitsrayim, and you shall guard and do these laws.

You shall rejoice – I just love it – we are commanded to rejoice with all who are in our midst and so I encourage you to invite others to come and join us for our Shavuot gathering, as we come with our hands filled with our offering of thanksgiving before Him, and verse 16 reminds us that none are to come empty handed. This is a time to rejoice and give thanks to The Great I AM – our Redeemer and Husband – יהוה of Hosts is His Name!

As I have mentioned that this evening marks the beginning of day 49, let me ask how many of you actually knew that or remembered? How many of you have actually been counting each and every day? How many of you like to do sums? Most people cringe at doing math and having to count or do any form of sums, yet we find here in Scripture a clear command to simply ‘count’, which many would openly admit that they do not like to do.

In a message tonight called, ‘Have You Been Counting?’, I would like to look at an overview of this clear command to count that leads us to Shavuot. It is very obvious and clear that if we are commanded, which we are, to count 50 days then that is what we must do; and when יהוה tells us to do it every year then we must realise that it is very important to Him and if it is important to Him then so should it be for us too, as we guard to do all He commands, aměn!

Therefore for tonight I simply want us to look at the importance of this season that we are currently in and the counting of 50 days we are told to do from the day of bringing the wave offering after the Sabbath during Matzot (Unleavened Bread) and the lessons we take from this and how we begin to see a greater picture of the fulfilment of the Appointed Times of יהוה becoming clearer and more understandable to us, equipping us to grow in maturity and being a set-apart people who diligently serve him with great gladness of heart!

We are commanded to do this one thing – COUNT  - and I ask if you have been counting!

Before we look a little closer at the importance of counting I want to once again summarise what this period between the wave offering during Matzot and Shavuot pictures for us as we understand the bread making process from seed to the wave offering of two loaves done at Shavuot before יהוה. I know you have all heard this, but it is well worth summarising before tackling the concept of counting!

As you will remember I mentioned a 10-step process and to recap on these, they are:

1 – Sowing or planting – just as a farmer sows seed with the expectation of a fruitful harvest. The Good seed is the word of Elohim which brings forth the wheat and the field is the world, but the enemy has also sown seed which brings forth darnel (a counterfeit) and so what we also recognise is that wheat and darnel grows up together; and taking the darnel out prematurely could result in uprooting good wheat and the major factor that distinguishes the wheat from the darnel/tares is at the ripening of harvest time where the ‘ear’ must develop! As the ear of the wheat develops it becomes heavy and causes the entire plant to ‘droop’ or hang down, whereas in darnel the ‘ear’ does not develop and remains upright – a picture of pride and stubbornness to hear. What happens at harvest when the sickle is put to the harvest – the upright is chopped down! We know that the darnel grows up as a result of seed down by the devil and wheat as a result of seed sown by יהוה; and so it is in life we can begin to clearly recognise the wheat from the darnel in that those who have ears – that is those who are listening and obeying – hearing and doing – faith with works – are the wheat and those who have no ear to hear the Truth are in fact the darnel and may even resemble the wheat on the surface only to be exposed at harvest time.

The ‘Besorah’ – Good News has been sown into our hearts and the Father has the great joy and expectation of a great harvest of souls to come! Are you humbly listening and have you been counting?

2 – Growing – the period that takes place between sowing and reaping – this is when we are to ‘grow up’ and get off of just the milk!

3 – Reaping – a taking out to be made set-apart  - this is sadly where the ‘church’ claims the process ends – however this is just the beginning – as the children of the Living Elohim come out of Mitsrayim/Babylon/religious man-made systems!

4 – Threshing – the applying of pressure to the grain in order to loosen the shells and separate the grain from the chaff – this is where it may begin to hurt as inherited lies are stripped away

5 – Winnowing – A fork like instrument is used to throw the threshed grain into the air where the wind ‘blows away’ the lighter particles and the heavier, more important are left behind.

6 – Parching – that is a removing of moisture – heat is turned up

7 – Crushing – done by a large ‘millstone’ – kernels are crushed yet not destroyed, they become useful and now become part of one flour mix and inseparable

8 – Sifting – A refining process to make the flour finer – in 2nd Temple times the flour was sifted 13 times – 13 being the number for ‘Eḥad’ which is One or Unified

9 – Testing – The testing of the flour to determine if refined enough

10 – Baking – Once tested and passed it can now be baked and presented fresh unto יהוה as the first fruit of the wheat harvest.

For a more detailed overview of these steps please check out the message I gave on the overview of the counting of the omer during Matzot on the day after the Sabbath when we came to celebrate the first fruits offering of our Messiah.

This commanded period of counting is truly a time of assessing our own lives as we become more and more integrated into His Body being able to be presented before Elohim. From Pěsaḥ to Shavuot we see several progressions in Scripture:

1 – From barley to wheat

2 – From מַצָּה matstsah –Strong’s H4682 ‘unleavened Bread’ to - לֶחֶם Leḥem – Strong’s H3899Bread with leaven

3 – From impurity to purity

4 – From Mitsrayim/Egypt to Mount Sinai/Mountain of יהוה (see Torah notes from Wayyiqra 25 on the Mountain of יהוה)

What we see is that this truly a significant time for us to remember and recollect at how we have been called out of darkness into His marvellous light, how we have been delivered from bondage to slavery in Mitsrayim/Egypt – that is the world’s systems and enslaved dogmas and set free to live according to the very Torah of freedom! It represents for us a time of recognising how the impurity of sin is removed from our lives and how we are then filled with the good leaven of His Torah that brings us together as a body presentable before Elohim.

Shavuot is the Feast of the Wheat Harvest and is one of the 3 major feast times when all men were to go up to Yerushalayim to celebrate – each of the 3 major Feasts were Harvest Feasts – Pěsaḥ and Unleavened Bread was at the time of the barley harvest, Shavuot the Wheat harvest and Sukkot the fruit harvest and all these are a picture of His Harvest of redeeming that which are His own.

There are great parallels between Mount Sinai and Mount Tsiyon in relation to Shavuot, and they are:

At Mount Sinai - Shavuot marks the day when יהוה entered into a covenant relationship with His people. When He spoke  the Ten Words the people heard the trumpet of His voice – known as the 1st shofar which we will discuss on Shavuot and they saw and heard the thunder and lightning and the mountain in smoke – they heard and saw the fire of His voice announced with the first trumpet. At this sound they trembled and stayed at a distance and after hearing the first 10 Words they told Moshe to hear the rest and that they would do all he heard from יהוה. The witness of these words was then written on two tablets of stone and placed in the Ark of Elohim.

At Mount Tsiyon – Shavuot marks the establishment of the Renewed Covenant where He wrote the Torah on the tablets of the hearts of the talmidim/disciples of יהושע Messiah. This event marks and celebrates the beginning of the fulfilment of the prophecy in Yirmeyahu 31 which speaks of a day when His Torah would be written upon the hearts of His Children, Yisra’ĕl! 

What they saw that day was what seemed to be ‘tongues of fire’ and they too heard the sound of a violent rushing wind from heaven and seeing the very fire of His voice resting upon them. This time they did not stand at a distance as they received the Spirit of Elohim and spoke in tongues and in essence this event was a reversal of the experience at Baḇel where the language of the people was confused by יהוה as a result of their disobedience in using their unity as a means for self-gain and wicked purposes. The people at Baḇel had a wrong form of unity – worshipping themselves; and what יהוה did at Mount Tsiyon on Shavuot was to cause the languages that had separated the people to now be brought together and enabled to understand what was being spoken, resulting in praise and a reverent awe of יהוה – the correct use if unity bringing worship unto יהוה. It is through our worship and fellowship together unto יהוה that He causes us by His Spirit to understand His Word which is no longer foreign or confusing. At Baḇel they were confused due to disobedience and at Mount Tsiyon on Shavuot the confusion was now broken and they understood as a result of obedient worship – the people were obedient in keeping His Feast, enabling them to now receive His Marriage Covenant (Ketuḇah) on their hearts.

At Mount Sinai – in the Wilderness the people rebelled and in one day 3000 were killed

At Mount Tsiyon - on Shavuot 3000 people heard the message and believed and were added to the body of believers –

Romiyim/Romans 8:2 “For the Torah of the Spirit of the life in Messiah יהושע has set me free from the law of sin and of death.

Shavuot is a great witness and picture of renewal and restoration through obedience!

We now, as believers, are ministers of the Renewed Covenant! A covenant that יהושע Himself restored and repaired through His Blood, writing His very love letter (Marriage Covenant) on our hearts!!!

Qorintiyim Bet/2 Corinthians 3:3 “making it obvious that you are a letter of Messiah, served by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living Elohim, not on tablets of stone but on fleshly tablets of the heart.

Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 8:10 “Because this is the covenant that I shall make with the house of Yisra’ĕl after those days, says יהוה, giving My laws in their mind, and I shall write them on their hearts, and I shall be their Elohim, and they shall be My people.

I want to make it very clear at this point that Shavuot is a celebration time – in fact we are also commanded to rejoice as I have already mentioned! It is time to celebrate His Covenant with us and Him writing His Torah upon our hearts – we have His Marriage Covenant with us written on our hearts – we are betrothed to Him – and so this is not a ‘birthing of the church’ as so many sadly mistake through the darnel seed of the enemy  - this is a wedding /betrothal anniversary of the Creator and Redeemer – יהוה of Hosts – with His called out and chosen Bride – The House of Yisra’ĕl!!!!

It was at Mount Sinai that יהוה betrothed His Bride – Yisra’ĕl was now legally married and were the first fruit of His Harvest – they were the first fruit of the fullness of His Bride that was to make herself ready. It is at this time when we also recollect and recognise our need to make ourselves ready – not on our own that is – but as a body unified as one in Him found to be blameless and without spot by ridding ourselves of the leaven that kills – that is sin; and being permeated with the good leaven of His Word that brings life. יהוה had saved His Bride, offered her salvation through the Blood of the Lamb on the doorposts at Passover and then He delivered her and washed her through the Sea of Reeds which had walls of water on both sides signifying full immersion and cleansed her and offered the Marriage covenant to His Bride to which she said ‘I do’ before even hearing what the requirements for the marriage would be!!! In Shemoth/Exodus 19 the nation responded as one body “we shall do” and so they then received the Ketuḇah/Marriage Contract!

We know that Yisra’ĕl committed whoring and adulterated herself with the world and יהוה issued a certificate of divorce (Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 3). יהושע came down Himself and died for His adulterous Bride that she would no longer be considered an adulterous woman if she remarried. He took up His Life again in order to renew the Marriage Covenant which His Bride had previously broken, but now could be renewed through His very own Blood that has washed His Bride. This is exactly the picture we see from what יהוה did with Aḇraham when He cut Covenant with him and then he put Aḇraham to sleep and the fire of יהוה came down and passed through the sacrifices declaring, in effect, that if Aḇraham or any of His descendants would break this Covenant,  that יהוה Himself would come down and pass through the sacrifice and take the punishment for our sins and walk the ‘Blood path’! What great love He has for us and it is here at Shavuot that we remember and rehearse this very truth that He has now written His Renewed Marriage Covenant on our hearts that we are presented as a pleasing Bride! This is a celebration of His Love for His Bride! And one of the major themes of Shavuot is revival – a time to truly reflect that which is to be upon our hearts – is His Torah upon your heart and do you walk obediently according to it – this is often a time for many to recognise and realise their need for renewal and cleansing and a re-establishing of His ways in their lives!

Shavuot is also a picture of Yoḇel (Jubilee) for the Yoḇel cycle consists of 7 cycles of 7 years each coming to the 50th year being the time when the Yoḇel is sounded and the year of release is proclaimed. Every 7th year is a Sabbatical year where the land is to rest and in the 50th year – (The year after 49 years – 7 completed 7’s) in the year of Yoḇel/Jubilee where debts are cancelled and land and property is returned to the original owners. Yoḇel serves to bring freedom to captives and the land would lie fallow in order to produce food for the poor. (please refer to the torah portion notes on the Yoḇel in Wayyiqra/Leviticus 25)

We are to be a ‘counting people’ and as we understand how we are continually reminded that we are to know how to count or else we may be in great danger of being in a place of not understanding His great plans for us, we see how He has taught us to count to 3,which we previously were unable to do when enslaved by false traditions; and He also taught us to count correctly to 7 in order to keep His Shabbat and so establish the sign between us and Him forever (Yeḥezqěl/Ezekiel 20:12,20). Now that we can count to 3 and 7 – it does not stop there – we learn to take a great step forward in our counting ability by being able to count to 50!

All these are very important numbers that any child of Elohim ought to be able to correctly count to as they all point us toward His work of Redemption and Deliverance for us! I would like us to look at the need for us to be a counting people and see that how the importance of counting to 50 between the wave offering of barley to Shavuot must teach us to continually be counting people every single day. I want to look at some Hebrew words for count and where these words are used and then see and understand the words of our Messiah that He gave to His talmidim (disciples).

The English word ‘count’ you will find being used 31 times in the Scriptures 2009 Edition, is translated from 4 different Hebrew words which are

1 - מָנָה  manah – Strong’s H4487 – meaning, ‘weigh out, allot, enrol, appoint, number, prepare, set, tell’. It is used 28 times and is also translated as number, appointed, prepare.

2 - סָפַר  saphar – Strong’s H5608 – meaning, ‘to score, mark as a tally, record, inscribe, recount, celebrate, commune. It is used 161 times also being translated into English as tell, told, number, tell me, declared, numbering.

3 - כָּסַס kasas – Strong’s H3699 – meaning, ‘estimate, compute, divide, make your count’. It is used only once in Shemoth/Exodus 12:4 “And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next to his house take it according to the number of the beings, according to each man’s need you make your count for the lamb.

4 - חָשַׁב  ḥashaḇ - Strong’s H2803 meaning, ‘to plait, weave, plot, think, regard, value, compute’. It is used 124 times and is also translated into English as intended, thought, the designer.

Why am I telling you all these various root words that we often translate as ‘count’? It is important for us to gain a greater understanding as to what it means to ‘count’. The word used for ‘count’ in our instruction to count 50 days to Shavuot is the word סָפַר  saphar. This same word is used in the command to count 7 days for the cleansing of the being who has any discharge:

Wayyiqra/Leviticus 15:13 “And when he who has a discharge is cleansed of his discharge, then he shall count for himself seven days for his cleansing, and shall wash his garments, and shall bathe his flesh in running water, and be clean.

Notice how the command is given to count, after he has been ‘cleansed’ of his discharge. He has been cleansed of his discharge yet must still count 7 days and then wash his garments and bathe in water and then be clean. This is a wonderful picture for us here as we understand the thing that Kěpha/Peter told us not to be hidden from us:

Kěpha Bet/2 Peter 3:8 “But, beloved ones, let not this one matter be hidden from you: that with יהוה one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

We have been cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb, and have been cleansed of our ‘discharge’ of sin/lawlessness yet we must still ‘count’ 7 days  - as it is only on the 7th day (7th Millennium) when we will finally be clean and our deliverance made complete!!! In our ability to learn how to count we will continually guard ourselves from becoming defiled during the counting time! If the one who had been cleansed from his discharge had not ‘counted’ or had forgot to count, how will he have known when his being declared fully clean would come and if he did not count he may easily find himself in a place where he contaminates his cleansed state and has more discharges which would render the 7th day of no effect for him and this is a picture warning for us as described in:

Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 10:26 “For if we sin purposely after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a slaughter offering for sins.

If we do not count we cannot be cleansed! To count means to reflect on where we are and repent of our sin. The word סָפַר  saphar (spelt from right to left is with a סָ - samek, פַ - pey, ר – resh). Now when we see these symbols as written in the ancient script we get a wonderful picture of what true cleansing entails when we ‘count’:

reshpeysamek - THE ANCIENT FORM OF WRITING THE WORD COUNT – SAPHAR!

From right to left - samek - samek which was pictured as a thorn; pey which is pictured as an open mouth and resh - which was pictured as being a head of a man. When seeing the construct of this word for count in its ancient form we have a clear picture of how cleansing entails true repentance through being able to correctly count! When we bring our sins (pictured by the thorn) and confess (open mouth) to our Head (Messiah); and then He is the one who cleanses us, and then we must daily count the cost of following Him totally that we may meet Him face to face with gladness on the 7th day!

Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is trustworthy and righteous to forgive us the sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

In the Greek text we see also various words being used to translate into English as ‘count’ and I will just mention 2 here:

1 - ψηφίζω  psēphizō – Strong’s G5585 meaning, ‘to count or calculate’ It is used only 2 times in the renewed writings and helps understand our need to be able to count with understanding (once as ‘count’ and the other time as ‘calculate’!!!

The first time is in:

Luqas/Luke 14:28 “For who of you, wishing to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?

Ḥazon/Revelation 13:18 “Here is the wisdom! He who has understanding, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

This is pretty awesome stuff!!! Our need to count properly requires us to have wisdom and understanding, and as we know we are instructed to get wisdom and understanding:

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 4:5 “Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, and do not turn away From the words of my mouth.

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 4:7 “The beginning of wisdom is: Get wisdom! And with all your getting, get understanding.

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of יהוה is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Set-apart One is understanding.

We now begin to grasp a little more of our need to be able to ‘count’ and ‘count’ correctly so as to gain understanding and calculate and discern what is the number and mark of the beast, who has attempted to change the Appointed Times (Feasts of יהוה) and Laws (which would amount to lawlessness) and cause so many to not be able to count correctly and be grafted in to the True Body of Messiah!

2 -  ἡγέομαι  hēgeomai – Strong’s H2233 meaning, ‘to lead, command, consider, account, suppose, think carefully upon, count’. This is used 30 times and is also translated as governor, think, thought, esteem. It us the word used in a verse we all have heard many times, especially when facing tough times:

Ya’aqoḇ/James 1:2 “My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.

Ya’aqoḇ did not waste time in his letter to make it clear we are to be a counting people; and when we link the concept of counting to counting to Shavuot – a joyful harvest feast of the wheat being brought in and the joy of the bread being made as a pleasing wave offering unto Elohim, we see how Ya’aqoḇ encourages us to count it joy – the end result is worth it and we ought to go through the counting period until our Messiah comes again with great joy and perseverance!

 

When we look more closely at our Master’s commands to count the cost of following Him we recognize that it does come with some real heavy decisions to consider – in fact He tells us that if any one of us comes to Him and does not hate father and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, and his own life too, is unable to be His taught one; and whoever does not bear his stake and follow after Him is unable to be His taught one.  Hard words they may be, but what He is saying in effect is that we are no put our total trust in Him and not in others and to do that may cost us some things that we will find hard to count as lost! When we count the cost of walking in Him we will be hated!

Mattithyahu/Matthew 10:22 “And you shall be hated by all for My Name’s sake. But he who shall have endured to the end shall be saved.

As much as none of us like to or want to be hated – we must consider the cost of being made into the Bread/Body of Messiah, which is presented before Elohim; and Shavuot is a picture of the Yoḇel release that will be fulfilled at The Second Coming of Messiah on Yon Kippur, where He will take up His ready Bride, and we have this very assurance by the fact that the first fruit offering has already been given as a guarantee of the full harvest that will be brought in.

While we are to be counting during this period we find and start to see how this is a great training for us to readily be a counting people every single day who will gladly ‘work out our deliverance’ with fear and trembling!

In the process of counting we also see the need for us to be an alert, and active people in our counting. יהושע gave his disciples what I consider a great Shavuot reminder – a reminder that there is still a harvest that needs to be gathered to be made into the bread of His body:

Yoḥanan/John 4:35 “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months, and the harvest comes’? See, I say to you, lift up your eyes and see the fields, for they are white for harvest – already!

4 months – what does that signify for us as we learn to count? The period between the Feast of weeks and The Feasts of the 7th month of ingathering is 4 months. He was telling them that we cannot sit idly by and wait for it all to happen – we must count the cost of true discipleship and work the harvest fields – for the workers are few and as we count the cost of walking as Messiah walked then we also are to echo the words He spoke when He said, My food is to do the desire of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.

The time of counting to 50 is about having been rid of sin and lawlessness and being permeated with the good leaven of the Kingdom that many will taste and see that יהוה our Saviour is Good!

Learning to count as commanded gives us wisdom and understanding that we may be a united loaf in Messiah which we will look at and celebrate this coming Shavuot!

Counting requires a concentrated effort and it requires a daily choice of choosing life over death, blessing over curse and the joy that this responsibility brings must result in our alert ability to call many out of darkness – for we know the times – after all we can now count! The only way to be a part of his body is to ‘count’.

My question to you tonight is simply this – HAVE YOU BEEN COUNTING – have you denied self – are you following Messiah  - are you taking up your stake daily – HAVE YOU BEEN COUNTING?

The ability to count and the responsibility of obedience that goes with it will lead us to Shavuot – and ultimately lead us to the final Yoḇel – where a Bride comes face to face with her Husband – lets be a counting people, aměn!

יהוה bless you and guard you; יהוה make His face shine upon you and show favour to you; יהוה lift up His face to you and give you shalom!

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