God instructed Israel to count off the seven weeks after Passover leading to Pentecost (Shavuot). It is called counting the “Omer” – the wheat ripening unto springtime harvest.
Here in Israel, these weeks are filled with prophetic indicators of how God has already been present in the modern-day, miraculous restoration, preservation, and prosperity of His covenant nation. As believers in Israel and everywhere, may these serve to sharpen our expectation as we come to the end of the Omer, on the 49th day, Shavuot/Pentecost and the celebration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
It was also during this exact season two thousand years ago that the resurrected Yeshua shared with His disciples for 40 days about the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). Luke, the author of Acts, summarizes for us these 40 days of teaching and dialogue with that famous question from the disciples, “Lord, are you now at this time going to RESTORE the Kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Yeshua’s teaching about the Kingdom had everything to do with the Davidic, Messianic restoration of Israel. The emphasis of the disciples’ question was about timing, not whether God was still planning to “restore the Kingdom to Israel.” We know this because of Yeshua’s response, “it is not for you to know the times and seasons” (Acts 1:7).
Six Prophetic Signs You Should Know
Amazingly, this period of counting the Omer (Leviticus 23:15-16 and Deuteronomy 16:9-12) is marked in modern Israeli history by the same issues of restoration and timing. There are six holidays, or memorials, during this time that you should know about as we mark these times with anticipation over what God is about to do.
1. Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). On the 14th day of counting, the nation of Israel officially mourns the six million Jews killed by the Nazis. It also “celebrates” the Jewish resistance to the Nazis that began with the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943. There are many things in the life of Israel that parallel the life of Yeshua. The Holocaust was like a “national crucifixion,” which ended in 1945. Just as He rose from the dead on the third day, three years later Israel experienced a “national resurrection,” as the newly independent State of Israel was declared in 1948.
2. Memorial Day. On the 20th day of counting, we remember the fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism who paid with their lives to defend the State of Israel. As on Yom Hashoah, air-raid sirens are sounded throughout the country at an appointed time during the day, and everyone stops what they are doing to pay tribute.
3. Independence Day. On the 21st day of counting the Omer, immediately following the somber remembrances of Memorial Day, we celebrate the rebirth of Israel. This is the day, according to the Jewish calendar, when Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion officially proclaimed the establishing of the independent country of Israel on May 14, 1948. Today, Israelis celebrate with much joy, picnics, outings, fireworks, fly-bys of military jets, etc.
4. Memorial/Birthday of Theodore Herzl. On the 28th day of the Omer, we remember the remarkable man who is called the “visionary/prophet of the country.” Herzl was a Hungarian Jewish journalist for whom assimilation into European high society was the greatest goal. But after witnessing some major antisemitic events in the 1880s and early 1990s – both in Eastern, and the supposedly “enlightened” Western, Europe – Herzl became the prophet and founder of the modern Zionist movement. His book, Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State), became the constitution for a generation of Zionist pioneers who laid the groundwork and infrastructure for the re-birth of the State of Israel. His story, and the speed at which doors opened for him (aided by many early “Christian Zionists”) to the halls of power in Europe and Istanbul, is an inspiration for how God can use one man to change history.
5. Lag B’Omer (the 33rd of the Omer). Just in case we forget during these heady times that this restoration of Israel is not yet the full, Messianic restoration prophesied in the Scriptures, we have this “un-holy-day.” Hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews light bonfires and visit the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai on Mt. Meron in northern Israel. Their hope is to receive some spiritual, “sparks” of power from the atmosphere around this dead rabbi, one of the founders of Jewish mysticism, or Kabbalah. Spiritually, it feels like a kind of Jewish Halloween, a celebration and worship of the dead. It is a potent reminder of how lost our people are without Yeshua, and how the Rabbis, in the absence of the Holy Spirit, have had to fill the void with pagan, quasi-Jewish spirituality. The day is full of references to false Messiahs and the anti-Christ, and should serve as a warning to Christians around the world today who are naively drawn to Rabbinic teachings through the wrong kind of Hebrew/Jewish roots teaching. Tragically, last year during lag b’Omer, 45 men and boys were crushed to death in a chaotic stampede on Mt. Meron.
6. Jerusalem Day falls on the 42nd day of the Omer. On this last celebration before Shavuot, we commemorate the reunification of Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967. Yeshua prophesied that Jerusalem would be “trampled underfoot by the gentiles until the times of the gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). On this day 55 years ago, biblical Jerusalem (today’s Old City) was returned to Jewish control for the first time in 2100 years. It happened approximately, or even on the very calendar day, according to the biblical/Jewish calendar that Yeshua ascended to heaven from the Mt. of Olives in Jerusalem (Acts 1:9-11). This timing is no coincidence, but a sign of His soon return as the conquering King of Kings who will rule the nations from this city. Israelis come up to the capital from all over the country, to celebrate the day with many concerts and parades throughout the city.
Sharpen Your Expectation
May these remembrances, these signs of the times, encourage your heart to seek a fresh touch from the Holy Spirit, that we might all come to the fullness of the promise in Joel 2 and Acts 2:17-18.
And may we also be prepared to see the fulfillment of the rest of that prophesy (Acts 2:19-21; Matthew 24:15-31) as events lead up to His 2nd Coming.
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel – Tikkun Global, May 27, 2022, and reposted with permission.