Shabbat Shalom all,

As we enter into this Shabbat, the 49th day since the counting began on the morrow after the Shabbat during Matzot, we look forward to celebrating and rejoicing together as we celebrate the Feast of Weeks on the morrow after this Shabbat!

7 completed weeks we are commanded to count:

Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:15-17 “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. 17 ‘Bring from your dwellings for a wave offering two loaves of bread, of two-tenths of an ĕphah of fine flour they are, baked with leaven, first-fruits to יהוה.

The word used for ‘count’ in our instruction to count 50 days to Shaḇu’ot is the word 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’. סָפַר  saphar is the denominative root verb of the word סֵפֶר sepher – Strong’s H5612 which means, a missive, document, writing, book, scroll, letters’.

As we consider the clear importance of this commanded ‘counting period to 50’ we recognise how this is a great season that teaches us to continually be a ‘counting people’ who daily ‘count the cost’ of following our Master and Redeemer, יהושע Messiah. And to be faithful in being a ‘counting people’, we need to realise that we cannot do this without the Word of Elohim – as we meditate on His Torah day and night, as we allow this סֵפֶר sepher or Book of the Torah to lead us each and every day:

Yehoshua/Joshua 1:8 “Do not let this Book of the Torah depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you guard to do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and act wisely.

And as obedient followers of our Master and King, we take heed to be faithful in obeying the clear command to count to 50, having counted 7 completed weeks. The word Shaḇu’ot is the plural for the word שָׁבוּעַ shaḇua – Strong’s H7620 which means, a period of 7 (days, years)’, which comes from the denominative verb –  שָׁבַע shaḇa – Strong’s H7650 which means, to swear, exchange oaths, take an oath, vow’; and from this root we get the Hebrew word for seven, which is the word שֶׁבַע sheḇa – Strong’s H7651.

Shaḇu’ot (Feast of Weeks)is therefore the Feast that comes as the result of ‘counting 7 – 7’s’, but also has a great shadow picture for us, as is pictures for us the great promises we have in Messiah who has, by His Blood, brought us near to the ‘oaths’ made with Aḇraham, Yitsḥaq and Ya’aqoḇ; and Shaḇu’ot being on the 50th day after counting the 7 weeks, we are also able to see the sure promise of ‘release’; as 50 represents the Yoḇel/Jubilee – which is the year of release!

What is interesting for us this year, is that we will be reading from Wayyiqra/Leviticus 25:1-26:2 for our weekly Torah readings this week, and this chapter deals primarily with the Torah of the Yoḇel!

For tonight though, I want us to be reminded of the importance of guarding the Feasts of יהוה, and our need to be a people who are continually ‘counting’ and seeking Him each and every day as we study, meditate upon and do His Word. This commanded counting should teach us the vital importance of being in the Word each and every day, as we realise the power of His Word that gives us wisdom and understanding, enabling us to celebrate the release and freedom that our Master and Kinsman Redeemer has brought us. Tonight I want us to look at what is clearly commanded for us to do on Shaḇu’ot as written in:

Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 16:9-12 “Count seven weeks for yourself. Begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. 10 “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.

The instructions here are very clear, and so I would like to look at these instructions in a little more detail, so that we are able to grow in our understanding of the joy of this great Feast that we will celebrate together, on the morrow after this Shabbat!

As we look at each verse given here we are able to simplify the clear requirements that are called for, and verse 9 is clear in telling us to count 7 weeks, which we have hopefully all done! As I have said, the command to count goes further than just the obedience of counting to 50, which we are to do, but it also teaches us to be sober in our calculation of following the Master:

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?

The Greek word used here for ‘count’ is 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. The other time it is used is in:

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.

We now begin to grasp a little more of our need to be able to ‘count’ and ‘count’ correctly, so as to gain a proper and clear understanding of the Word, so that we are able to 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 caused so many to be drunk and unable to count correctly, causing them to not be properly grafted in to the True Body of Messiah!

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 Yom 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!

Ok – so I think we all should be able to understand the concept of counting, and by that I mean a sober counting!

Having then understood what it means to count and be able to do so correctly by keeping the correct Appointed Times of our Master (beginning with each Sabbath), we are further able to hear the commanded obedience that is called for on this great Feast of Shaḇu’ot. Here in Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 16:10 we are told to perform this Festival of Shaḇu’ot 

The word translated as ‘perform’ is from the root word עָשָׂה  asah – Strong’s H6213 meaning, to do, work, make, produce, to act with effect, to observe, to bring about, institute and can also mean, celebrate, which I think is very fitting. As it is truly a great ‘joy’ TO DO the laws and right-rulings as prescribed! So many today think that it is a huge burden to do what is commanded, yet that is so far from the truth – when we diligently observe and guard to do all He commands us to do – it is a great joy and a delight and not heavy at all! A derivative of this root is the word מַעֲשֶׂה  ma’aseh – Strong’s H4639 and means ‘a deed, work or acts, accomplishments’. The Acts of the Apostles speaks of the deeds or acts of that which the Apostles did and records their ‘acts’ of obedience. The verb עָשָׂה asah has the basic connotation of ‘do’ or ‘make’ and is used in many expressions. Aside from the numerous occurrences of the meaning “do” or “make” in a general sense, עָשָׂה asah is often used with the sense of ethical obligation. Yisra’ĕl were frequently commanded to “do” all that Elohim had commanded.  The numerous contexts in which this concept occurs attest to the importance of an ethical response to יהוה which goes beyond mere mental abstraction, and which is translatable into obedience which is evidenced in demonstrable acts יהושע tells us that we shall be known by our fruit and in a sense this is what He was speaking about in saying that we will be seen as true obedient followers of Messiah through the clear evidence as seen in our demonstrated acts before Him and all. Our obedience in ‘doing’ or ‘performing’ this Feast should be evidenced with great commitment and joy! The Hebrew root word translated as ‘feast’ is the noun  חַג ḥag – Strong’s H2282 which means, a festival, feast, sacrifice, festival gathering, solemnity, which comes from the root verb חָגַג ḥagag – Strong’s H2287 which means, to make a pilgrimage, keep a pilgrimage, celebrate a feast, observe a feast, dance’. This Feast has a clear commanded call for a formal observance of this event, done so with great joy, and even dancing!!!  While this may sound obvious, many still battle with the ‘HOW’ part of faithfully observing this Feast. So ‘How are we to perform this Feast?’. The text here in Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 16:10-12 tells us ‘how’! Firstly we are told that we perform this Feast to יהוה our Elohim, according to the voluntary offering from your hand, which you give as יהוה your Elohim blesses you’! Other translations render this as, ‘with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand which you shall give as יהוה your Elohim blesses you’.

The Hebrew word used here for ‘according to’ or ‘with the tribute’ is from the root word מִסָּת missath – Strong’s H4530 which means, sufficiency, enough, tribute, full amount, proportion affordable’.

The Hebrew word translated as ‘voluntary offering’ is from the root word נְדָבָה nedaḇah – Strong’s H5071 meaning, voluntariness, freewill offering, volunteer freely, willingly and comes from the word נָדַב nadaḇ – Strong’s H5068 meaning, to incite, impel, make offerings willingly, volunteers.

Tehillah/Psalm 54:6 “Voluntarily I slaughter to You; I praise Your Name, O יהוה, for it is good.

Tehillah/Psalm 119:8 “Please accept the voluntary offerings Of my mouth, O יהוה, and teach me Your right-rulings.

This speaks of our willing choice to offer up our lives in wholehearted devotion to serving our Master – and to do so voluntarily is a great expression of our joy in loving Him as we should, with praise and thanksgiving. This speaks of our eagerness and willingness to freely offer up our lives as a living offering and incite others to do so too!

Therefore we are able to see the ‘how to’ of keeping this Feast being clearly explained – you bring with your hand a sufficient voluntary offering! One’s ‘hand’ speaks of that which you do, or that which you have been equipped and enabled to work with, and this Feast therefore calls for a one’s hand to be moved to bring a tribute unto  יהוה – a tribute that is in accordance to His blessing upon your life! How has יהוה blessed you? This is a Feast to come and show it by the voluntary offering of your hand! The voluntary offerings were beyond the tithes, contributions and vowed offerings and were as they are called – ‘voluntary’, and while this was not mandated as a strict requirement, we see that the provision of this acceptable offering to יהוה reflects the call to go beyond the call of duty!

To do so ‘voluntarily’ is to do so with great joy and not under compulsion:

Qorintiyim Bět/2 Corinthians 9:7 “Let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not of grief or of necessity, for Elohim loves a joyous giver.

The text here in Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 16:11 further emphasises this by giving us more insight into how we are to keep this Feast, as it tells us that we ‘shall rejoice before יהוה our Elohim’, which is the Hebrew is written as:

וְשָׂמַחְתָּ לִפְנֵי יהוה אֱלֹהֶיךָ – ‘v’samachta liphney YHWH Eloheycha’, which literally renders the following meaning: ‘And you shall rejoice in/before the face of YHWH your Elohim’. The Hebrew root word used here for ‘rejoice’ is שָׂמַח samaḥ – Strong’s H8055 and means, ‘to rejoice, be glad, be joyful, delight in and be elated’, and can also carry the meaning ‘to brighten up’, giving us the picture how we are to carry His joy as the light of the world and let praise and rejoicing abound! The Hebrew word translated as ‘before’ is from the root word לִפְנַי liphnay – Strong’s H3942 which means, before, to the face of, which is from the prepositional prefix (to or for) and the Hebrew word פָּנֶה  paneh or פָּנִים  panim – Strong’s H6440 meaning, face, faces’.

Rejoicing in the face of יהוה” – This is a great celebratory command – one which is to be carried out with great enthusiasm and joy – Absolutely no grumbling allowed!!! Rejoicing in the face or before the face of יהוה is done as a great expression of praise and thanksgiving for His loving-kindness and favour; and as we celebrate that which He has given us through the Blood of Messiah, we have much to celebrate! When seeing this expression ‘in the face of יהוה’ in terms of it being a rejoicing and joyous occasion, I am reminded of Dawiḏ who danced before the face of יהוה:

Shemuʼěl Bět/2 Samuel 6:14And Dawiḏ danced before יהוה with all his might. And Dawiḏ was wearing a linen shoulder garment.

This event took place as they were bringing back the Ark of יהוה to Yerushalayim. The Ark had been captured by the Philistines some 60 years before, and they kept it for 7 months after returning it to Yisra’ĕl because יהוה had plagued all the cities that the Philistines sent the Ark of יהוה to. The Ark of יהוה was taken to the house of Aḇinaḏab in Qiryath Yeʽarim, after 70 people died in Bĕyth Shemesh for foolishly looking into the Ark when it returned from the Philistines. Some 60 years later Dawiḏ went to fetch the Ark of יהוה, and Uzzah was struck dead for touching the Ark, which caused Dawiḏ to place it in the House of Oḇĕḏ-Eḏom, and after 3 months He went to fetch it and bring it back with great rejoicing! Here we are told that Dawiḏ danced ‘beforeיהוה, which is the same expression as we see in the command to rejoice ‘beforeיהוה at Shaḇu’ot! Why I am mentioning this, is to emphasise the need for us to be a rejoicing people, and a people who are ready to dance before, or in, the face of יהוה our Elohim! The Hebrew word used to describe Dawiḏ’s ‘dancing’ is כָּרַר karar – Strong’s H3769 which means, dance, whirl. This word is only used twice in Scripture and both times are in reference to Dawiḏ’s dancing on this day! The other time we see it is two verses later:

Shemuʼěl Bět/2 Samuel 6:16And it came to be, when the ark of יהוה came into the City of Dawiḏ, that Miḵal, daughter of Sha’ul, looked through a window and saw Sovereign Dawiḏ leaping and dancing before יהוה, and she despised him in her heart.

Dawiḏ was filled with such joy in celebrating the presence of יהוה being returned to Yerushalayim that he danced with all his might, and did not worry what onlookers would have to say! Those who are unwilling to rejoice with us, will possibly despise us, as we rejoice in the face of our Elohim, by joyfully guarding His Feasts and Appointed Times! Dawiḏ was dancing and leaping! The Hebrew word for ‘leaping’ is פָּזַז pazaz – Strong’s H6339 which means, to be supple or agile, made strong, leaping, and this word also implies, ‘ones physical abilities to accomplish an intended task’!

We see this word only being used twice in Scripture and is also used in reference to the blessing on Yosĕph in:

Berěshith/Genesis 49:24 “But his bow remained in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty One of Yaʽaqoḇ – from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Yisra’ĕl

Being made strong and able to leap with great joy – reminds me of the verse in:

Ḥaḇaqquq/Habakkuk 3:18-19 “Yet I exult in יהוה, I rejoice in the Elohim of my deliverance. 19 יהוה the Master is my strength. And He makes my feet like those of deer, And makes me walk on my high places. To the chief singer with my stringed instruments.

Have your hands been made strong in the Master – then come prepared to dance and voluntarily give according to His blessing upon you on this awesome Feast day, which is truly a tribute to our King!

In Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 16:12 we are given further insight in ‘how’ we are to keep this Feast, and in doing this helps us embrace the true heart of voluntary rejoicing! We are told to ‘remember that we were slaves in Mitsrayim and we shall guard and do these laws’. The Hebrew word for ‘remember’ is זָכַרzaḵarH2142 which means ‘to remember, or be mindful, or bring to remembrance’, from which we get the word זִכָּרוֹןzikkaronH2146 meaning ‘memorial, commemoration or remembrance’. We are to remember that we were slaves in Mitsrayim – in other words we remember that we were once not a people, but now are a people of Elohim! we were bought at a price, by the Blood of Messiah, our Passover Lamb; and this call to remember that we were slaves in Mitsrayim is for the clear purpose of remembering who we now are! We were once a people who were enslaved to the world and held fast under the heavy burdens of false dogmas and vain traditions of man, but now have been delivered from the house of bondage and set free to obey the True Master of all creation! This verse is very clear – remember that you were once a slave in Mitsrayim, so now you shall obey the Torah!!! It was on Shaḇu’ot that the children of Yisra’ĕl heard the voice of יהוה from Mount Sinai and entered into a Marriage Covenant with the Most High; and after hearing the Ten Words they said to Mosheh that they would die if they continued to hear the voice of יהוה and said that Mosheh should hear the rest and come and tell them the commands and instructions, which they said they would guard to do! They too had been delivered from slavery and on Shaḇu’ot were called to be a ready bride that would guard the Marriage Covenant! We know that this did not happen and after Messiah came to die for us and set us free from our sin and enslavement to the world, we come now to Shaḇu’ot where we remember that were once gentiles in the flesh, without Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Yisra’ĕl and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no expectation and without Elohim in the world, but now in Messiah יהושע we who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. With this remembrance is the clear reminder that we are to guard and do His Word!

Romiyim/Romans 6:17-18 “But thanks to Elohim that you were servants of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became servants of righteousness.

Set free to serve! Set free from sin and enslavement to sin and lawlessness, in order to serve in righteousness – which is to guard to do all He commands us to! Shaḇu’ot is a time to remember and rejoice in our freedom, and do not use our freedom as a cloak for evil, but rather to serve Elohim:

Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 2:15-16 “as free, yet not using your freedom as a cloak for evil, but as servants of Elohim.

Galatiyim/Galatians 5:13 “For you, brothers, have been called to freedom, only do not use freedom as an occasion for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Shaḇu’ot marks the celebration of the Torah written on our hearts and we who were once enslaved, now have a law to live by! It was on Shaḇu’ot that the taught ones in Yerushalayim received the Spirit that they were told to wait for; and so we rejoice in the assurance we have as having received a spirit of adoption – and we now have a Father who loves us and has set us free from sin and lawlessness!

Qorintiyim Bět/2 Corinthians 3:17Now יהוה is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of יהוה is, there is freedom.

יהושע tells us in Yoḥanan/John 8 that if we stay in His Word then we are truly His taught ones and we shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set make us free, for if the Son makes us free we will be free indeed! Free to obey – for His Spirit is given to us as a pledge and assurance that we are His:

Romiyim/Romans 8:15-16 “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of Elohim

We who have turned to the Master and have had the veil of deception removed from our eyes are now able to look intently into His Torah – a Torah of Freedom – and not be hearers only but also doers of His Torah of Freedom!

Ya’aqoḇ/James 1:25 “But he that looked into the perfect Torah, that of freedom, and continues in it, not becoming a hearer that forgets, but a doer of work, this one shall be blessed in his doing of the Torah.

Remembering that we were slaves in Mitsrayim and having been delivered from bondage to sin and lawlessness, we are reminded to not go back to that which we have been delivered from:

Galatiyim/Galatians 5:1 “In the freedom with which Messiah has made us free, stand firm, then, and do not again be held with a yoke of slavery.

Do not go back to Mitsrayim!!!

Yeshayahu/Isaiah 31:1 “Woe to those who go down to Mitsrayim for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Set-apart One of Yisra’ĕl, nor seek יהוה!

We do not shrink back but press on in the Truth as we fix our eyes on our Master, by staying in His Word and guarding the Torah with joy! This feast is not only a historical event that took place in the desert or in Yerushalayim – this is His Appointed Time – a Feast that has been fulfilled by the work of יהושע Messiah and it shows us how we are to walk and live before יהוה today.

On Shaḇu’ot we also wave the two loaves of Bread before יהוה, symbolising the two Houses of Yehuḏah and Yisra’ĕl, coming together as a perfect Bride – a body being made whole through the Blood of Messiah – rid of sin and filled with the Good News – His Torah that has permeated the entire batch and is now presentable as a Bride ready for her King; as a body/community of Believers living in unity in His Word so mixed in to each other living as One.

Shaḇu’ot is also considered as being referred to as the ‘First trumpet’, as the announcing of the betrothal is sounded, is connected with the marriage union between יהוה and His people! The Last trumpet will sound on Yom Kippur when our Husband, Master, Redeemer and King shall come out of the Most Set-Apart Place to tred the winepress and destroy His enemies, and then gather His Bride to Himself! It is at Yom Teruah that we hear the sound of the awakening blast and have a ‘remembrance of Teruah’ – that is a remembrance of the Trumpet sound that we are betrothed and the Bride had better be ready, dressed and with lamps filled with oil!

It is on Shaḇu’ot that we celebrate the renewal of the Marriage Covenant and how we are now called to stay in the Word and guard to do His laws, for this is how we live set-apart lives unto the Master!

As we consider these clear instructions given to us in Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 16:9-12 may you all hear this clear call to remember and rejoice, and come ready and prepared to celebrate and give voluntarily with a rejoicing heart in the face of our Mighty Master and Elohim, יהוה of Hosts!

Do you remember that you were a slave in Mitsrayim and are now called to guard the Torah!

Are you ready to PERFORM this Feast, according to the voluntary giving of your hand? Are you ready to rejoice in/before the face of יהוה?

Then come this Shaḇu’ot and let us rejoice, dance and leap before our King!

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