Today is a significant day on the Hebrew calendar because of the convergence of three events: Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and The Feast of Weeks (Omer 1)
At sundown on the eve of April 22 (Nissan 14) Passover (Pesach) began. All those who celebrated retold the story of how the blood of the Passover lamb protected the firstborn of God's people from death as judgment fell on all the gods of Egypt. (Exodus 12:12) We, as Christians, can identify Messiah Yeshua as our Passover Lamb. He has delivered us from the bondage of sin and guided us into liberty.
April 23 began the seven-day celebration (Nissan 15-21) of Unleavened Bread. For the next seven days nothing with yeast should be consumed. Yeast or leaven represent sin, and Yeshua is our sinless Savior. On the second day of Unleavened Bread and the third day from Passover (Today/Nissan 16) we have the celebration of Firstfruits. This was celebrated by the Jewish people as they brought God a firstfruits offering of their spring barley harvest.
Scripture says, "Bring the best of your firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God." (Exodus 23:19) Notice that God's people are expected to bring Him the best. Likewise, on the third day God gave us His best--His perfect Son. Jesus celebrated Passover with His disciples while He walked the earth. He became Father God's firstfruits offering when He rose from the dead on the day when His people celebrated Firstfruits. The resurrection of Jesus foreshadowed our resurrection. As it says in 1 Corinthians 15:20--He is called the firstfruits of those who will be resurrected.
The day gets even richer when we remember that Yeshua told His disciples that they would receive power through the Holy Spirit who would be given to them so that they could witness for Him to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8) So, it is traditional to count the 50 days from Firstfruits to Pentecost. It is called counting the Omer, which means sheaf. We, as God's people, are to count our blessings for the next 50 days. "From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off 50 days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord..." (Leviticus 23:15-17)
These holy days are shadows meant to reflect God's heart and plans for our world. Is it not significant that these festivals occur in Nissan, the month associated with praise? Position yourselves well by giving God an offering of praise as you count the Omer. Being intentional about counting the Omer makes our desire for revelation known to God. Counting--giving thanks and praise--open the door for wisdom and direction in our lives as God takes us deeper into His presence.
Use your next 50 days to count your blessings and bless God with thanksgiving and praise. This is a time for us to grow and prepare for spiritual increase. Look at how Psalm 89:15 in the Amplified Bible expresses the joy of celebrating God's feasts. "Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are the people who know the joyful sound (who understand and appreciate the spiritual blessings symbolized by the feasts); they walk, O Lord, in the light and favor of your countenance!" This time of the year is a gift from God. This, combined with the fact that we are in the year of Jubilee, makes it a time of abundant blessings for us. Give daily thanks and receive the blessings of the Lord.
We were treated to a prophetic picture during our time of worship at The Crossing this morning. The young children were brought into the sanctuary so that they could participate in worship. They were standing at the side of the room. The Spirit of God was present in a mighty way as we sang: "There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain." We began to sing, "There's an army rising up; There's an army rising up; There's an army rising up to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain." As if on cue, a small boy began to run across the front of the sanctuary. I saw him as a representative of the next generation, rising up as an army for the Lord.
The Kingdom of Heaven was joining us as we worshiped, and this little one was inspired! Jesus said that the Kingdom of God belongs to little children and that we must receive the Kingdom of God like a little child to enter it. (Luke 18:16-17) No one could stop this little boy from moving forward; he was on a mission!
We were declaring the name of the Lord and the power that comes with it. Proverbs 18:10 says, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe." By running across the front of the worship center this child was positioning himself to be close to the Lord's anointing. It really pleases God when we sow into the lives of the next generation.
"What you decide on will be done, and light will shine on your ways," it says in Job 22:28. Our little child had decided to express his delight by running to the front where the worship team was drawing us into the presence of the Lord. He had on a pair of sneakers that lit up with a red light every time he took a step. What a demonstration of this verse!
Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 9:24, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." Our little runner was going for it! Nothing would hold him back.
Here are the things that we can learn from him:
There is an army rising up who will run like a child and follow the Lord wherever He leads. Let's be part of that army!
The entire month of Nissan is one of festivals and is a time that will set the course for your future. While Hebrew years are numbered from the first of Tishrei (Rosh Hashanah), their months are numbered from Nissan. God instructed Moses and Aaron while they were still in Egypt. "This month (Nissan) shall be unto you the beginning of months: It shall be the first month of the year to you." (Exodus 12:2) God was preparing His people to leave the bondage of Egypt. He knew what was going to transpire over the next 15 days and wanted the significance of redemption, freedom and new life to be what the Israelites remembered as they celebrated the cycle of life and growth each year.
Nissan is the beginning of spring. Just as the farmer plants seed to grow into a crop that will be harvested later in the year, we have the opportunity to plant seeds to bring us a harvest. Since this is the month when God delivered His people out of bondage we must plant seeds of thankfulness. Interestingly, Nissan was originally called Abib which means an ear of corn or a stage of growth of grain when the seeds have reached their full size.
Thankfulness is expressed in praise. This month is linked with the tribe of Judah (praise). When Israel went to battle Judah led the tribes. Praising God brought His Spirit into their presence and defeated the enemy. This is a season for us to war/praise for our covenant promises. As we praise the Lord for His faithfulness and goodness there will be breakthrough for the future.
The entire month of Nissan is characterized by repentance, redemption and miracles. We are coming out of the dead of winter and see new life bursting forth all around us. It is time for us to evaluate our lives and position ourselves for the future. We want to align ourselves with God's plans and purposes.
God set the course for His people before they came out of Egypt. Each household was to select a sacrificial lamb on the 10th of Nissan. (Exodus 12:3) The lamb was to be slaughtered on the 14th of the month. Blood from the Passover lamb was placed over the top and sides of the door frame of each home. The Israelites were to eat roasted lamb, bitter herbs and bread without yeast (signifying sin). (Exodus 12:6-8) Scripture says, "This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord--a lasting ordinance. For seven days you are to eat bread without yeast..." (Exodus 12:14-15)
God redeemed His people. They walked out of Egypt and headed toward their Promised Land. The Israelites were privileged to see many miracles of God during this month. How could they not praise Him? No wonder God wants Nissan to be the head of the months! Forty years after the Exodus the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land during the first month. (Joshua 4:19) They brought the Lord a firstfruits offering of their grain harvest in the Promised Land. (Leviticus 23:10) The tradition of giving God a firstfruits offering during this month continues. We should remember that the resurrection of Jesus/Yeshua occurred at this time.
This is our time to set the course for the year to come. We must align ourselves with God's plans and purposes. Declare your thanks and praise to Him. The blood of our Passover Lamb covers us. He has redeemed us and set us on a path of miracles. All praise be unto Him!
Preparations are being made for the celebration of Passover. The 14th of Nisan occurs on April 22 this year. For an entire week, those who celebrate Passover will not eat food with leaven in it. Many will remember how God's Spirit passed through Egypt and struck down the firstborn of men and animals to bring judgment on all the gods of this nation. Yet, He protected the firstborn in the houses where the blood of a lamb was on the sides and top of the door frames.
Unfortunately for the Egyptians, it took a major tragedy to convince Pharaoh that he should release the Israelites from slavery. The Egyptians were eager to see the Israelites go. They "urged the people to hurry and leave the country. 'For otherwise,' they said, 'we will all die!'" (Exodus 12:33) "So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians." (Exodus 12:34-36)
What better way to show the Israelites that they were being moved from slavery to freedom than to put the riches of the Egyptians into their hands? The word plunder usually denotes things taken by force. In this case, the Egyptians were eager to give their wealth to the Israelites, because God was in the middle of the equation. It is thought that there were over two million Israelites leaving Egypt. Can you imagine this picture? After 400 years of slavery, God's people were being led to freedom with masses of plunder!
God gave Moses a "heads up" when He met him in the burning bush. He told Moses, "And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians." (Exodus 3:21-22)
Taking plunder, or spoils, became a way of life for the Israelites as they moved toward the Promised Land. It was taken from the Midianites (Numbers 31), the Amorites (Deuteronomy 2) and the Bashanites (Deuteronomy 3). God instructed His people, "...And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies." (Deuteronomy 20:14) This was true except for the plunder from Jericho--the first city taken in the Promised Land. The Israelites were to dedicate all this plunder to God as a firstfruits offering. After this they were permitted to collect plunder for themselves.
Isaiah confirms God's plan to stand by His people and give them the treasures of the enemy. "Yes, captives will be taken from warriors and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save." (Isaiah 49:25) And, so it would be that our Passover Lamb, Jesus, would demonstrate this arrangement of plundering the enemy camp. Here is how it is written about in the KJV of Colossians 2:15. "And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it."
During this season, let us remember that we have a heritage of being able to plunder the enemy camp. When things are stolen from you by the enemy, do not be passive. Go into his camp and retrieve all that has been stolen plus take plunder!
Joan E. Mathias