And so we are "counting the omer" again, counting off the 50 days from Passover to Shavu'ot (Pentecost), as we are commanded in Leviticus 23:15-16. I have written before about the profound meaning of this ancient commandment, which God gave the Israelites, but it bears repeating. Biblically, Passover occurs at the BARLEY harvest and Shavu'ot occurs at the WHEAT harvest. Barley was thought of in ancient times as animal fodder - and so it can represent the "animal nature" or the flesh. Wheat, however, represents fine flour, the ingredient in a fragrant, lovingly-baked loaf of bread, to be waved before the LORD as an offering. These fifty days should be a journey of moving from the flesh-nature to the Spirit; from seeking our own way, to walking in the righteous ways of Yeshua, who lived out and demonstrated the perfect walk of Torah. In these fifty days we are to be asking the Holy Spirit to show us the dross that must be burned off; we must submit to the work of the Refiner's Fire, so that we can be molded into the image of our Master. They are to be days of deep self-examination and prayer. As we study in the Word and grow in our understanding of Yeshua's teaching on righteous living, we are changed. Our hearts grow softer. We stop getting offended all the time, as we become slow to anger and quick to forgive.
Then we reach the 50th day, which is always the glorious day of Shavu'ot (the Feast of Weeks) or Pentecost. It was on this Feast day that the Holy Spirit was poured out on many who had gathered in Jerusalem from foreign nations. Acts Chapter 2 describes this awesome display of God's power in the mighty wind, the "tongues of fire," and the incredible outpouring of spiritual gifts as people began speaking in other languages. I have been pondering how wonderful, and how like our God it is, to pour out the gifts of His Spirit after the people have kept fifty days of counting the omer, seeking His ways and His righteous commandments.
Psalm 63:1: Oh God, you are my God; early will I seek You. My soul thirsts for You, my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctury, to see Your power and Your glory.
Acts 2:5 says, "And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused because everyone heard them speak in his own language."
These devout men from all the nations far and wide had gathered in Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Shavu'ot. They were surely seeking the Holy One of Israel, and endeavoring to keep HIS feast days and His commands - and He met them there in power and in glory! Hearing the Gospel preached to them in power by Peter, they repented and were baptized by fire and water and received salvation in Yeshua, the Messiah. It had been fifty days since Passover and they had been counting the omer, making the journey from barley to wheat, from the flesh nature to the Spirit-nature - and the Lord meets them there, even as He says: "I love those who love Me and those who seek Me diligently will find Me." (Prov. 8:17)
Seek the Lord diligently, my friends while we are still in these days. Ask Him to reveal to you what must be changed in your heart. He will meet you there.
There is a high wind warning again today. Limbs hurling through the air like javelins, wood gates slamming, birds fluttering and struggling to stay aloft. It has been this way for days and days, and my spirit senses that it is an over-all picture of the state of the world: blowing and shaking in uncontrollable chaos! On this Shabbat day I feel so deeply grateful for this little 1910-crafted home, so solidly built, so strong and stable. So my house is a picture of my heart and my life: built on the Rock!
Passover 2022 has now come and gone. Although there is tremendous tension, violence, and upheavel in the land of Israel, I thank God that the Israeli Jews were able to gather with their families and remember the ancient story of their deliverance from Egypt by the Mighty hand of God. We had planned for a very small Passover gathering at our own table and so on the day before I had gone to our small local grocery market to get a few last-minute things. I guess it was silly of me to think that they would have matzah in our little store - probably not too many Jews here in this mostly German-Lutheran community! But I had a few other items I needed also, so I went, hoping that I could somehow put together what I needed, without driving many miles.
The store has a small refrigerator with a few flower arrangements. I wanted lovely flowers for our table, but all that was available was several vases with various colors of roses. I sighed and chose a vase and then noticed that there was a woman behind a table working on more floral items for Easter. I asked, "Would you be able to add some greenery and maybe a couple of baby's breath stems to these roses? It's for my Passover table." She went to great effort to pick through dozens of leafy greens and little white buds until she found what she considered to be worthy and handed them to me. I thanked her gratefully and asked what the extra charge would be. "No charge!" her voice rang. I had found the parsley (bitter herbs) and two nice bottles of sparkling grape juice and went to the check-out line. While the clerk was ringing up my purchases, I asked if there was any matzah in the store that I might have missed. She didn't know what that word meant. The woman in line behind me got a big grin on her face and said, "Oh, you must need that for Passover! Let me go and look for you!" Before I could stop her, she had gone on a search, and the clerk and I stood waiting. Someone else got in line behind our two carts and I apologized. Expecting a grunt, she softly said, "Oh, no worries. I can wait."
Eventually the dear woman came back from her search, lamenting, "I guess there is no matzah in this store, I'm sorry."
"I certainly did not intend for you to take time out of your day to look! Thank you so much!" I gratefuly responded.
"Well, there is still some kindness in the world," she replied. "Have a blessed Passover!" and she winked at me. I was feeling overwhelmed with the patience, goodness and kindness of the people in my small community. After I got home I checked the receipt to make sure everything looked right and it was then that I notice the name of the cashier at the bottom of my receipt. Her name was MERCY!
It's the small things. In a world gone so mad, filled so much hatred, war and violence, it's the small things our Lord uses to encourage us, to show us His gentle love. And it blew me away after journaling the word He had given me the night before. I was crying out to him, as I often do, to help see me through the great weariness I experience in constant care-giving. He had responded with these words: "My child, I love you. I do love you. Cultivate joy. Listen, listen for My Voice and look for the wonder in small things. Seek Me and I shall be found."
In the Passover preparation, in our little corner grocery store, I found wonder in the small things. I knew His Mercy was covering me. Whatever you face right now, I know it is covering you too! The Lamb has been slain for us, He is Alive and He reveals Himself to us in the wonder of small things.
Kelly Ferrari Mills