Counting The Days To Pentecost
What Is Pentecost?
We are embracing a significant time of year. The next Jewish holiday is Shavuot (pronounced Sha-Va-Ot). Shavuot is 50-days from the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Yom HaBikkurim). The Christian community refers to Shavuot as Pentecost. According to tradition Shavuot also marks the day that God gave Israel the law at Mount Sinai.
In Acts 2:4, the promise of the Holy Spirit occurred on Shavuot, fulfilling Jeremiah’s prophecy that one day God’s law would be written on our hearts.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
Why Do We Count The Days To Pentecost?
From the second night of Passover until the day before Pentecost, the Jewish people engage in a unique mitzvah called Sefirat HaOmer (counting of the omer). The Torah commands us that during this time each year we count seven complete weeks, for a total of 50 days. At the end of the seven-week period, we celebrate Shavuot (Pentecost), which means “weeks.”
Why do we count these days? We learn several reasons. The foremost is that the count demonstrates our thrill for the impending occasion of receiving God’s Word and the Holy Spirit celebrated on Pentecost. Just as a child often counts the days until the end of school or an upcoming family vacation, we count the days to show our excitement at again receiving the God’s Word and the Holy Spirit in a renewed sense every year.
A Time of Refreshing
We also learn that this period is meant to spiritually prepare and refine us. The commandments of the Torah are not meant merely as our history, but instead represent ongoing life lessons for every Believer. We view the Word of God and the Holy Spirit as freshly received every day of our lives, and approach it with appropriate vigor.
So too must we digest the lesson of the counting of the days to Pentecost. It is specifically during this time that we strive to grow and mature in our spiritual state. The Torah does not allow us to become satisfied with our current level of spirituality. Instead, it tells us to set high goals for ourselves, and then methodically strive to reach that goal.
The growth that occurs during this time is akin to a marathon. We pace ourselves and seek to improve day by day until we reach the day that we again receive a refreshing of the Holy Spirit. In this process, we look deep within ourselves and work on all of our negative attributes. If we are challenged in the realm of acts of kindness, we go out of our way to do more charitable works.
As we count the weeks to Shavuot, let us seek the Lord in becoming the best expression of who God created us to be. May this Shavuot bring an outpouring of new wine and new wine skins. Amen.
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”