The Deep Well with Erin Davis Podcast

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Episode 5: The Feast of Weeks

Season:  7 Feasts   Buy

Erin Davis: None of us like waiting. When I think of waiting, I think of you, Dree, and that season of your life where you and your husband, Chris, wanted to have more children. And you weren't able to for lots of different reasons, but the Lord put adoption on your heart.

Dree Hogue: We had two daughters that were four years apart. About four years after our second was born, we went the way of adoption—which we love adoption, and we believe it’s God's heart. We signed up through a local crisis pregnancy outreach center and put in our life book. In my mind, we were going to be matched with a birth mom overnight.

Erin: I was with you. I thought, Okay, this is a family who loves the Lord, who would love this child. Well, probably it’s going to happen by the new year. Why wouldn't this happen? And I was excited for you.

Dree: Yeah, and honestly, I still feel grieved that it never happened. It's just one of those things that was really confusing to me. We waited for two years, and I saw a family after family be chosen to adopt these beautiful children and walk that road of open adoption. And we just were never chosen. I was so grieved and heartbroken and confused, like I said before.

Erin: And you didn't know how long you were going to live in that waiting room? Nobody wants to spend time, prolonged amounts of time in a waiting room, and you didn't know if that wait was going to be over in a month, or years, or never ending. That's a hard thing about waiting.

Dree: Yeah. I had zero control in the outcome of it. I had no control. I went back to the Lord multiple times. Like, did I get You wrong? Did I misunderstand because this, this was supposed to go this way, and it just didn't go that way. But what I didn't know was that the Lord actually had a different story altogether for us that was so mind blowing and unimaginable. 

It was actually a very God-filled day when we discovered that our wait was over. I had had some symptoms that were curious, and this was not something that was on my radar. So I took this pregnancy test, and I was pregnant. And I can tell you, the Holy Spirit met me in that place. I fell to my knees in worship, because it was holy ground. It was holy ground. 

Erin: Isn't it always when the wait is over in the Lord's timing, isn't it always holy ground? 

Dree: Yes. 

Erin: You know, it actually does parallel to the feast we're going to talk about here really well, because the Feast of Weeks is the next feast. They happen really quickly. In fact, sometimes they overlap. But then there's this huge gap, this huge period of waiting where the Israelites had to count the weeks—that's the Feast of Weeks—before they could celebrate again. I imagine it felt like a long wait. Perhaps like you, they question, “Did I hear the Lord right? Am I really supposed to be waiting this long before I can gather and celebrate?” But that way is so important because of what it points forward to the moment when all our waiting will be over.

Dree: Well, welcome to The Deep Well with Erin Davis. This is a new podcast produced by Revive Our Hearts. I'm Dree Hogue. Season One of TheDeep Well is all about the seven celebrations God told the ancient Israelites to celebrate. I am ready today to learn alongside Erin as she continues to take us through Leviticus 23

Erin: 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 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 first 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.

Dree: Thanks, Erin, for connecting us to the truth that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a new life in Christ. If you're interested in diving in deeper to these truths that we've been talking about, you can get a copy of Erin’s Bible study called Seven Feasts: Finding Christ in the Sacred celebrations of the Old Testament. It will reawaken gospel truths in you that you do not expect. I know that's what it did for me. 

To get your copy, you can go to ReviveOurHearts.com/TheDeepWell.

I know in the Bible study and in your lesson, you talk how the Holy Spirit is in the Old Testament, and certainly, in the New Testament. What is the difference of the Holy Spirit's role in both the Old Testament and the New Testament? How does that change where we're at now? How can we be encouraged by that?

Erin: I mean, the Trinity is mysterious.

Dree: Yeah, for sure. 

Erin: So I could never, never try to summarize it all nicely and neatly. And I would never try to define the roles really succinctly. Like, at my house, we're not allowed to say that's not my job, right? Everything's everybody's job. And there's some of that in the Trinity, I think, and certainly the Trinity is mysterious. But we do know that at Pentecost, which is what we talked about here, and the Feast of Weeks, and what I believe the Feast of Weeks originally was pointing toward, it was a foreshadowing of the New Testament Pentecost, which, whoa, that is a wild story. You know, these tongues of fire, descend onto the apostles, they all start teaching in languages. It was dramatic. I believe the Feast of Weeks was a foreshadowing of that. 

So, the Holy Spirit has always existed. He's outside of time, just like God the Father and God the Son. So it's not like, “Oh, now we get this new part of the Trinity here at Pentecost.” But His role in the life of the child of God seems to take on some sort of transformation here. 

King David would talk about the Holy Spirit. He would say, “Take not Your spirit from me.” And there's some other people in the Old Testament where the Bible says that the Spirit of God departed from them. I don't know there was some variety in the way that the Spirit might interact in the life of a child of God. 

Then Pentecost happens. Jesus warned us this would happen. He told His disciples, “Hey, I gotta go, and you really should want me to go. Because until I go, the Helper can't come, and the Helper’s gonna come. He's gonna remind you of everything I've told you.” And, Erin paraphrase, the Holy Spirit is going to be the One who enables us to live the Christian life; none of us can live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit.

I try on the regular to live the Christian life in my flesh, and I fail within about the first five minutes of being awake. But I have the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who will never leave me, who is a very present help in times of trouble. And He does remind me of everything that Jesus has said, and He gives me resurrection power. He empowers me to live life and the resurrection because the resurrection has happened. 

You know, I don't know all the ways it is different between Old Testament and New Testament. I feel a little bit uncomfortable even using that word, because we know that God does not change. So, it's not like the Holy Spirit had a personality change. But because of what Jesus did, because of His resurrection, it changed everything. It changed, who can be reconciled with God, it changed how we can be reconciled with God. And it changed how we live our lives as children of God, as New Testament believers.

I don't know that we often enough celebrate that with joy. I don't. We are among the very few children of God in history, who have, after the resurrection, have the Holy Spirit, and have the Word of God. Wow, we really are given such tremendous gifts. And you're right. We're living in the in-between. We're living in our own version of the Feast of Weeks. But God's given us much in order to win well.

Dree: Yeah, for my twenty years of adulthood in raising kids and working with kids, the empowerment of the Holy Spirit is something that becomes really evident whenever you're trying to disciple or lead someone else. In my own sort of crazy personality, I have looked at my kids and said, “You have no excuse, you have the Holy Spirit.” Which probably wasn't very helpful to them, quite honestly. 

Erin: Well, you know, I think teaching our kids to hear the Holy Spirit and respond to Him is actually very helpful. And it's a good reminder that I sometimes need that in my life. 

Dree: Yeah, I think I neglect it, honestly. Whenever I'm telling the gospel story, I often neglect the empowerment of the Holy Spirit part. Like, He sent us empowerment through the Holy Spirit to live out this tension in the interesting part of the Feast of Weeks, really, the Sabbath plays into all of the feasts. But what rest comes through knowing that the Holy Spirit has got to do the work in us. We can't do the work ourselves.

Erin: I think what you described as leaving that part out of the gospel story is actually a pretty good picture for how we often live. We know the gospel; it's changed us. But we forget that Jesus gave us this tremendous gift in sending His Spirit. And you're right, that is a place of rest. This concept of Sabbath, it's physical, and it is throughout all of the feasts. They were commanded to stop all of their work. I don't want to hyper-spiritualize that part of it. It was actually, put down your plow, and stop working. And there's some real value to that in the lives of modern believers.

But there's a greater rest, a spiritual rest, and knowing I don't have to live my life in my own strength. In fact, they cannot. I don't have to follow Jesus in His Word, according to the flesh. In fact, I cannot. But I have the Holy Spirit, and He's alive in me. And Jesus sent Him to help me. So when we feel those, “I can not. I will not. I'm a failure.” You know, whatever those phrases are that we all feel. We can just fall back, like into a comfy mattress, into the fact that “Oh, yeah, I have the Holy Spirit. And He will help me do this.”

Dree: I can't wait to be back next time, Erin. What are we going to learn about?

Erin: Well, next week is going to be a very musical week, because we're going to be looking at the Feast of Trumpets, and trumpets are throughout all of God's Word. They're pointing forward towards something exceptional.

Dree: Well, I'm excited to learn more on the next episode of TheDeep Well.

The Deep Well with Erin Davis is a production of Revive Our Hearts, calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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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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