One of the more puzzling and often-debated passages of
is the "counting of the
(sheaf)." While the dates are given of its bookend "weeks" of Passover and Sukkot, the counting of Shavuot leaves ambiguity in the starting sabbath of the count. The interpretational disputes go back over 2,000 years! Shavuot, however, is the middle, the axis of the three "foot festivals" of Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot. In such a chiastic (mirror-like) structure, we look to the axis to explain its bookends.
Feast of Weeks
7 x 7s + 1
Passover/Unleavened Bread Sukkot/Shemini Azeret
1 + 7 7 + 1
Barley All Firstfruits
All three celebrations are counted in a unit of 7, plus one day is added, one to the beginning of Passover because of the instructions regarding removal of chametz (leaven) from the Temple on the day slaughtering the lamb, and one day to the end of Sukkot when one does not dwell in the sukkah. The axis, Shavuot, means "weeks," so it is describing the essence of the other two foot festivals as counting a week plus one day.
in the portion Emor are instructions for observing the appointed times. A counting in Torah often signifies a period of cleansing, especially when it comes in units of 7.
The week of Passover is called Chag HaMatzot, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In a play-on word, it can also be read as the Feast of Mitzvot, or the Feast of Commandments. Jewish tradition tells us that it was on Shavuot that Adonai gave Israel the mitzvot. Passover begins a feast of commandments for Israel in the wilderness, for Yeshua identifies himself with the manna that fell, the Bread of Heaven, Lechem Shamayim.
For seven weeks, the Israelites were cleansed by immersion into the Reed Sea, by the Tree of Life thrown into the bitter waters, and washing in anticipation of the meeting at Sinai. When they finished the cleansing natural bread, matzah, they began eating pure supernatural bread, manna.
Likewise, human beings were created to live in two realms: natural and supernatural. It was only after their exit from the Garden that humans lost sight of the supernatural and were consigned to eat bread by "the sweat of your brow."
The plan was for the Israelites to be elevated by the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. The Feast of Mitzvot had already begun, but when they received the full Tree of Life covenant at Shavuot with "we will do and we will hear," they would be enabled to continue the journey to Israel in an elevated state, natural and supernatural, as at the beginning. They would become a light to the nations there, sowing and reaping the natural produce in the spiritual ease of the Garden life. This would draw the nations to the Light of the Torah, for the Torah is a light and the commandment is a Lamp, and they are Life (Pr 6:23).
So what does this have to do with eating chametz in the two leavened loaves offered at Shavuot? Counts of cleansing.
The sages say that
is that which causes the human will to resist the Father's will. It blocks the perfect heart. Had the first couple eaten of the Tree of Life first and allowed it to cleanse and mature them in their position of "guarding" the Garden, they would have seen the serpent coming. They would have had the strength to resist...no more than that...make war against any entity that dared to confuse the seed in the Garden. They would have known Life intimately, and therefore, death would have lost the power of confusion and deceit.
If the Israelites had lasted until Moses returned from the mountain, they would have had an entirely different destiny. Instead, before they reach "full strength," they prematurely ate from the Golden Calf mixture of seed. Egypt is the symbol of death and hell, Abaddon*. They merged the Egyptian death-calf with the commandments of life and celebrated a deadly feast. A calf is a natural symbol of powerful life-force. A commandment is a spiritually-powerful life force:
For we know that the Torah is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold
into bondage to sin. (Ro 7:14)
The Israelites at Sinai lost their sincerity, a close brother to faith, in forty days.
The Israelites had the commandments, but not with full sincerity. Sincerity stands the test of time and guards the Garden of Life:
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being
mixed with faith
in them that heard it
. (He 4:2)
The only acceptable mixture of the seeds of Torah is with faith, the pure, cleansing water of the Word. Matzah was eaten because the Israelites had to leave "in haste." There was no chance for the dough to rise or mix with Egyptian death-chametz. This was the first step toward elevating natural bread with spiritual Bread in the Promised Land.
When Moses returned from the mountain, the Israelites would have the "fullness" of Bread written by the Finger of God in the Heavenlies. They could have had the Leaven of the Kingdom, a growing in in His purpose of Light and Life. They could have re-planted the Tree of Life in the natural realm of Israel:
"The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened."
All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable.
This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
Y MOUTH IN PARABLES
WILL UTTER THINGS HIDDEN SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF
." (Mt 13:33-35)
Had that planting gone according to plan, the Israelites would have followed the past of the Feast of Commandments. From Shavuot, they would walked to Israel and celebrated the Feast of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of the Nations. Talk about a spiritual revival! Imagine being a Moabite or Hittite, looking into the elevated Land of Israel, and seeing the Israelites farming with Garden methods: obedience. Imagine seeing the glow of the Torah and commandments from afar and wanting to come closer and see why the Israelites were producing all firstfruits from the Seed and seed with no sweat!
The Israelites would have leavened the entire world with Life.
So once again, mankind forfeited this:
Matzah of innocent sincerity
Giving/Keeping and Growing in
Torah as Tree of Life)
Spiritual and natural bread
Light of glory to the nations
Manna (Idolatry mixed seed with Torah in the wilderness, confusion)
Natural, sweaty bread in the Land
Mixing seed with the nations
In the past two Torah portions, the concept of "the food (lechem) of your God" was discussed relative to the sincerity of the offeror. The Holy One does not need to eat lambs or calves. He does not need our physical wheat or barley. He "feeds" off of the sincerity, faith, and love with which we grow, prepare, earn, select, and give these offerings to Him. It is with these qualities that the leaven of the Kingdom works in the world.
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?
Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact
unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.
Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Co 5:6-8)
The good news? We already have the plan in hand. There have been some false starts, but out of each failure, the Father has not given up. The Feast of Mitzvot comes around every year with a new opportunity for the cleansing truth until Shavuot.
From Shavuot to Sukkot, the enemy will try doubly hard to bait humans with mixed seeds and quick results to satisfy our sensual, natural needs as human beings. Did we really get the message of the hasty matzah, or are we still chained to death and the natural world of death? The Edenic level of Heaven is both a natural and spiritual life for mankind, but it is where immortality begins with Yeshua.
Don't take the bait. Guard your Garden. Eat the Torah, a Tree of Life, daily. Believe it. Do it. Work it. Protect it. Remove any residue of Egypt. If you aren't sure where the sour leaven is, then look for what makes you angry. Before you were angry, you were afraid. Perfect love casts out fear. If you love Yeshua more than you fear the world, then you will obey his mitzvot.
Let the mitzvot in your life leaven the world; don't let the world leaven you. Don't let resistance to the Father's will leaven you. Our "matzah" is the spiritual commandments performed quickly, before the natural person becomes
chametz, sour. The Apostle James described it as being "quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath." Hearing is doing when it concerns the commandments. Don't let them be infected by the chametz of anger, "
for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God." Don't turn back to natural methods of achieving spiritual elevation. Let the spiritual breath of life in the commandment elevate the natural methods established in the physical aspect of the commandments.
Keep leavening the pure water and wheat of the Word with humble, sincere obedience. This Life will create a glow that attracts those among the nations who are looking for sincere Light and Life of Heaven.
But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.
Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from
the Father of lights
, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that
we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures
This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;
for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all
that remains of wickedness,
in humility receive the word implanted
, which is able to save your souls.
But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves
. (Ja 1:14-22)