Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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The Feast of Weeks

Season:  7 Feasts   Buy

Dannah Gresh: We read in the book of Acts about the coming of the Holy Spirit, but Erin Davis reminds us He was active long before that.

Erin Davis: The Holy Spirit is not a New Testament idea. We see Him at work all over the Old Testament, beginning at Creation. God promised the magnificent gift of the Holy Spirit long ago, even pointing to the timing of Pentecost through the Feast of Weeks.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, for February 23, 2021. I’m Dannah Gresh.

When we read the Bible as a whole, we can connect the dots to see how everything points to Jesus. Erin Davis is going to help us see the Old and New Testaments like pieces that are part of the same puzzle. She is teaching through a series called “Seven Feasts.”Here’s Nancy to start off today’s message about the Feast of Weeks.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: What do you do to capture special memories? Maybe you take photos—I’ve got thousands of them on my phone. Maybe you have videos and you go back and look at them again. Maybe it’s special meals, birthday meals, special Christmas dinners that you plan.

Well, in ancient Israel they didn’t have photos, they didn’t have videos, but they did have special meals. We’re looking at some of those special meals in the book of Leviticus this week with my friend Erin Davis. Erin is the Content Manager at Revive Hearts. She loves God’s Word; she loves the Old Testament—something that a lot of people skip over! 

She gets how it connects to the gospel and how it points us to Christ. She’s been walking us through seven special meals—seven feasts—that were featured in the Old Testament. They were part of the rhythm of the people of God, who would celebrate these on a regular basis. Many of them were annual feasts.

In Leviticus 23 we find seven of these feasts. When you get to this chapter, you might be kind of tempted to skip over it and move on, maybe even to the next book, because it’s a lot to wade through. 

But Erin is helping us to see that it’s really important that we get beautiful pictures of who Christ is and what the gospel’s about, and what the heart of God is like, as we unpack these seven feasts in the book of Leviticus.

So, grab your Bible, turn to chapter 23 of Leviticus. We’re going to dig in and we’re going to say, “Lord, what do You have for us? What do You want to teach us out of these ancient feasts that may seem so antiquated, but they really are important for our faith today?”

If you missed any of the previous days in this series, you can catch those programs on your Revive Our Hearts app or at ReviveOurHearts.com. We’re picking up today on a fourth feast, The Feast of Weeks. You said, “The feast of what?” Well, Erin Davis is about to tell us what that’s all about. Let’s listen to Erin.

Erin Davis: My husband, Jason, will certainly confirm what I’m about to say next: I don’t know the difference between a spark plug and a transmission. He will testify that when it comes to car parts, I’m about as clueless as they come, and I like it that way. 

In our nineteen years of marriage, he has had to rescue me in this department many times. But I do know this, when it comes to cars, more power is better than less. When we get behind the wheel, we want to go somewhere—preferably fast. We don’t want to putter from point A to point B, restricted by the powerlessness of our wimpy engine.

The same principle applies to our spiritual lives. Just last week I was sweeping the floor in my house and I was praying about something I’ve prayed about a hundred times before, and my prayers just felt wimpy. 

What it felt like was happening was that I was asking the Lord to do something and those words were coming out of my mouth and drifting on to the floor to be swept up in the dust pan with everything else. 

I cried out to the Lord and I said, I need more of Your power in this area of my life. None of us want weak wimpy faith. We don’t want to move closer to Jesus at the speed of a weed eater; we want turbo engines. We want lives that roar with the power of God. I want mountain-moving, giant-slaying, history-splitting, life-changing power in my life. And I know that comes from God. 

So first we receive faith. We have the eyes to see our true need for Jesus. And then we receive power. That’s what this fourth feast is all about. It’s the Holy Spirit who empowers us to live the lives that God has called us to.

People say this sort of strange statement to me a lot. I never quite know how to take it. They say, “I don’t know how you do it.” 

I don’t know if they are saying, “Your life’s a mess; we don’t know how you’re keeping it together,” or if they’re impressed. I don't know what it means, but I say this, “I’m empowered by the Holy Spirit,” because that's the reality.

The reason I’m out of my bed in the morning, much less anything else I might accomplish in any given day, is because I’m empowered by the Holy Spirit. It’s the Spirit who gives us the power to live the lives God called us to. And without the Holy Spirit, you and I have about as much power as a dead battery, a stalled engine, or a barely there breeze. 

We’ve been walking through the seven feasts of Israel, and they’re all recorded in a single chapter in Leviticus, Leviticus 23. They are the celebrations on the Israelite calendar, and we’ve made it all the way to the fourth feast, the Feast of Weeks. Spoiler alert, this is a feast that points forward to the power that God’s people would receive through the Holy Spirit.

Grab your Bible, turn to Leviticus 23, if you’re not there already, and we’re going to jump right into this fourth feast. The Feast of Weeks is described in Leviticus 23:15–22. I’ll warn you, it’s the feast with the longest description, so you’ll have to stick with me. Let me read us verse 15: 

You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering.

Let’s pause right there for a moment. I hope you’ve been following along with us as we’ve looked at the feasts. If not, certainly catch up, read up about the other feasts. We have to do a quick scan of the verses preceding to even know where we are in the calendar, because this feast is connected to the timing of the other feasts.

So, let me give you a crash course, or a review. First, there’s the Passover. That’s the feast that points forward to Jesus, our perfect Spotless Lamb, crucified so that the punishment of sin might pass over us. 

On the Israelite calendar Passover occurred on the fourteenth day of Nisan, that’s their first month of the year. It was followed immediately by the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a Feast that reminds us to rid our lives of the leaven of sin and to run to Jesus our Daily Bread.

It was followed very soon after by the Feast of Firstfruits, when the priest would wave a sheaf of grain. That was a group of grain the priest would wave to symbolize that God’s children were committed to giving God their very best. And it points forward to Jesus, who gave us His best in Himself. 

You can see how those three feasts are foundational to the Christian life. And they happened in very quick succession on the Israelite’s calendar. Three feasts in a row clumped together much like our Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. 

I don’t know about you, but I get whiplash every year from those three holidays clumped together, and that’s what’s happening here in the first three of the seven Feasts. And then the counting started. 

The children of Israel were instructed to count seven weeks from the Feast of Firstfruits until the next feast. This Feast is called the Feast of Weeks, because God’s children were instructed here right here in this first verse to meticulously count the weeks between the feasts. 

As a mom of small children, can you imagine those Israelite mommas getting creative? You know they had all kinds of ways they were counting the weeks with their children, because this represented a gap between their celebrations. 

As I think about it, I wonder what’s causing you to count your weeks. Maybe you’re counting the weeks until you feel healthy again. I can relate, I’ve been dealing with an infection in my body for nine months. And every week I think, This is going to be the week. This antibiotic is going to work; this medicine is going to work. This is going to be the week that I feel better . . . only to find out I’m still fighting. I’m still counting the weeks until my body is not so weak.

Maybe you’re counting the weeks until you can have a surgery that your body desperately needs. Or maybe you’re counting the weeks until your broken heart doesn’t feel so raw. 

Maybe you’re counting the weeks until you can be back together with someone you love and are separated from.

Maybe you’re counting the weeks until a baby arrives. And let me tell you, those last few weeks of pregnancy each week is months and months and months. 

Maybe you’re counting the weeks until a vacation. 

As I’ve studied the Feast of Weeks, I’ve been reminded that we’re all counting. One of the gifts that the Feast of Weeks gives us is a beautiful reminder that while we’re counting, God’s at work. He’s at work in the wait. 

Let’s pick it up again at verse 16, 

You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the Lord. 

I want you to grab on to that number, fifty. I want to just imagine that you take that number fifty and you slide it into your back pocket, because it's going to take on new meaning. 

It’s recorded here in Leviticus very meticulously. Not one word in the Word of God is wasted. “You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the Lord.” The number of days matters.

And to connect the Feast of Weeks to a world-changing event that happens in the Gospels, we need to hold on to that number fifty. I’m going to race us through the rest of the description of feast. Some of it is going to feel a little foreign to us, but we’ll unpack it together. I’m going to pick us up at verse 17, 

You shall bring from your dwelling places two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour, and they shall be baked with leaven, as firstfruits to the Lord. And you shall present with the bread seven lambs a year old without blemish, and one bull from the herd and two rams. They shall be a burnt offering to the Lord, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 

And you shall offer one male goat for a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old as a sacrifice of peace offerings. And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. And you shall make a proclamation on the same day. You shall hold a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a statute forever in all your dwelling places throughout your generations. vv. 17–21).

Admittedly, there are some ideas and phrases in the descriptions of this feast that feel foreign to us. What is going on with all that grain and lambs and food offerings? Well, the Israelites were bringing those things as offerings to the temple. Just as we do when we give to our own churches. 

Fifty days after the seventh Sabbath might not mean anything to us as we are trying to compare it to our own calendars. I don’t know about you, but I don’t measure my flour in ephahs or offer my cows as burnt offerings. But my own study of God’s Word has been transformed as I’ve learned to see the Old and New Testament as two neon arrows. 

Everything in the Old Testament points forward to Jesus, and everything in the New Testament points backward to Jesus. And in many ways, my commitment to God’s Word is really a commitment to finding the arrows. Oh, there’s the arrow, there it is; that’s how it points to Him.

As we look at this feast and ask that question, some of that foreign language starts to be a little less confusing. The feasts illustrate this so beautifully, because God did use the feasts as rhythms of remembrance for the nation of Israel, that is a part of what God was doing through the feasts. But He also used their story to point forward to the moment when He would do something in our lives through Jesus.

So when we think of that, the question becomes not, “What is an ephah?” but “How does the Feast of Weeks point to Jesus?” And I’m so glad you asked. 

Let’s turn together to the book of Acts. We are going to be in Acts chapter 2. I want to describe for us what is happening in the book of Acts. The disciples of Jesus are gathered together in one place. I am going to read us verses 1–4 in Acts chapter 2. 

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

This passage goes on to tell us that people from every nation heard the disciples preaching in their native languages. The Bible tells us they were amazed and perplexed. They thought the disciples were drunk, which doesn’t explain their sudden ability to speak new languages, in my opinion.

Anyone who thinks Christians are boring surely never read about Pentecost—with tongues of fire and sounds of rushing wind and the disciples suddenly being able to preach powerful sermons in languages they didn’t know. Pentecost is one of the least boring moments in history! 

If you don’t see the whole Bible as pieces of the same puzzle, the Holy Spirit might seem like a New Testament addition to the Trinity, like the Father and the Son were a duo for all those years and suddenly they decided to add a new member to the band. What the Feast of Weeks shows us in part is that the Holy Spirit has always been there, an essential member of the Godhead. And His presence in our lives has always been a part of God’s redemptive plan. 

If we flip backward just a little bit from Acts chapter 2 to Acts chapter 1 and skim what’s happening there, we’ll see that Jesus had come to earth—He had lived, He died, and He rose from the dead. He spent forty days continuing to teach His disciples. In Acts 1, verse 4, He says this, 

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (vv. 4–5).

In verse 8 He clued them into how the Holy Spirit is going to change their lives, but I bet they didn’t picture Acts chapter 2, verse 1—the day the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, the day of Pentecost. 

Without the seven feasts, we could easily miss when this occurred in God’s redemptive calendar. The word “Pentecost” means fifty in Greek. Go on and pull that number out of your back pocket. How many days were the Israelites instructed to wait between the waving of the sheaf, that’s the third feast, and the beginning of the Feast of Weeks, the fourth feast? Fifty days. 

The disciples were gathered in Jerusalem because of Jesus’ command. But on this specific day, the day the Holy Spirit entered our lives with wind and fire, the disciples were there to observe the Feast of Weeks.

Marvel again at how the events that make up the very core of our faith occurred in perfect timing with the seven feasts: 

  • Jesus died on Passover. 
  • Jesus was buried at the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
  • Jesus rested in the tomb on Sabbath. 
  • Jesus rose on the Feast of Firstfruits. 
  • He sent the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Weeks.

The Holy Spirit is not a New Testament idea. We see Him at work all over the Old Testament, beginning at Creation. And God promised the magnificent gift of the Holy Spirit long ago, even pointing to the timing of Pentecost through the Feast of Weeks. But God’s people had to wait between the promise and the gift.

And don’t we live in the waiting? Christ has given us so much, but so many of His promises will not be realized until He returns for us. We are still counting the weeks, but we need not wilt in the wait, because God has given us a Helper, the Holy Spirit.

If we keep reading through Acts 2, we could see that the Holy Spirit caused immediate and lasting transformation in the lives of the disciples. Because of the Holy Spirit, we have hope that Jesus is doing the same through us. 

Scripture gives us a list of what we can expect the Holy Spirit to do in our lives as we wait for Jesus to return for us. Galatians 5:22–23: 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 

Any momma of littles knows that list, because we are always trying to get our kids to memorize it.

Not only do we get Jesus, not only do we get the Holy Spirit, but because of their work in our lives, this fruit hangs from our hearts, from our homes, from our churches—beautiful precious fruit. There’s a second list, one we memorize a lot less often in Galatians 5. 

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5:19–21)

The first list is the Fruit of the Spirit, the second list is the Fruit of the Flesh. Without the Holy Spirit, we will all naturally gravitate towards that second list, and we will be powerless in our own strength to resist it. But we are not left to fight the fight alone, we have the Holy Spirit. 

I doubt Peter would mind being our poster child for this truth. In the Gospels we find Peter to be impulsive and often fearful. He had the desire to follow Christ, and yet so often he struggled to carry it out. Yet immediately after Pentecost we read about Peter preaching a sermon so bold that the crowds exclaimed, “What shall we do?” and 3,000 people were baptized.

As Jesus was being tried, Peter was powerless against his own impulses to self-protect. What changed? Not “what,” but “who.” 

  • Who will transform us from women ruled by our flesh to women ruled by Christ? The Holy Spirit. 
  • Who will enable us to stop our natural navel gazing and to see our neighbors as more important than ourselves? The Holy Spirit. 
  • Who will remind us of all that God has shown us in His Word so that we don’t have to live in the fog of spiritual amnesia? The Holy Spirit. 
  • And who will guard us, who will protect us as we count the weeks between now and Christ’s coming? The Holy Spirit.

Let’s pray for more of His power in our lives. 

Jesus we are weak and wimpy without You. But You’ve promised us power through Your Holy Spirit. And we simply ask for more of it. We ask for more of You. It’s in Your holy, holy, holy name we pray, amen.

Nancy: Wow! Amen! What a powerful truth, and one you and I cannot live without! How many of us are trying to do this thing of the Christian life, trying to have that fruit of the Spirit, on our own? 

But you and I left to ourselves will never produce love, joy, peace, pa-a-a-tience. That’s the fruit of the Spirit, right? We know that, but then we try and put that fruit on our own lives without realizing our dependence on the Holy Spirit. 

Do you know that every single part of our Christian life, from start to finish, is dependent on the ministry of the Holy Spirit? The Lord gave those Old Testament Israelites an annual feast to remind them of their dependence upon Him, to teach them to wait, and to point us to the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He gives us the power that we want and that we need—today and tomorrow and the next day and every day until Jesus comes! Thank you Erin, for pointing us to the Holy Spirit.

And thank You, Lord, for giving us Your Holy Spirit, and O Lord, how we do pray today that You would help us to walk in the power, in the energy, in the life that the Holy Spirit gives us. It’s not us, but Christ who lives in us, and we are so dependent upon Your Spirit!

And as those Old Testament people of God, those who believed You and were Your chosen people, would pause at this Feast of Weeks every year to be reminded of how much they needed You and to draw upon Your power. So, Lord, help us to pause regularly, to contemplate how empty and powerless and lifeless we are apart from You. Help us then to draw upon Your life. We pray it in Jesus’ name with thanksgiving, amen.

Wow, well we just got a taste today of the importance of this Feast of Weeks. I bet you never read Leviticus 23 before and thought, Oh, that reminds me how much I need the Holy Spirit in my life!

Erin has helped us make that connection, but there’s lots more in this eight-week Bible study that she’s written on the seven feasts practiced by the Old Testament Israelites, found in Leviticus chapter 23.

Those feasts were a part of the rhythm of their lives every year, and there are rhythms God wants to establish in our lives that remind us of who Christ is and why He came and what He came to do and how we can appropriate His power in our lives.

So this is a deep dive in a chapter of the Bible you may never have studied before, but one that will have a practical application to every area of your spiritual walk. The book is called 7 Feasts: Finding Christ in the Sacred Celebrations of the Old Testament.

And Erin, one of the things I love about this study is that you don’t just spoon feed us, you don’t just tell us what you’ve learned over these years of studying these feasts, but you invite us to get out our Bibles and our pens. You leave space in here for us to ponder the passage, to study the text, to study some of the connecting passages in other parts of the Bible that shine light on Leviticus 23. You make us do some work. But that’s how we are going to grasp some of these beautiful truths from God’s Word that I have seen be so precious to you.

We want to make this study available to all of our listeners. This is a study you could order from an online retailer, but I hope that you’ll get it through Revive Our Hearts, because when you make a donation of any amount to this ministry, you’re helping this ministry multiply and go deeper and expand in the lives of women around the world.

When you make that donation this week, we’re going to send you a copy of Erin’s study 7 Feasts as our way of saying “thank you” for investing in this ministry, as we open God’s Word to women around the world. 

You can make a donation online at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can give us a call at 1–800–569–5959. And when you make your gift, be sure and let us know that you’d like a copy of the book on the 7 Feasts, and we’ll be glad to send that to you.

Thank you so much for your support of this ministry, for your prayers, your encouragement, and for partnering with us as we call women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. 

We’ve got three feasts left to go in this study, and I hope you’re hungry—not just for physical food, but for more spiritual food from God’s Word. Be sure to join us next time on Revive Our Hearts as we continue this study on theseven feastsof Leviticus.

Reminding you of the power of the Holy Spirit, Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries. 

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.
 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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About the Speaker

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many …

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