Beginning with the Feast of Firstfruits, which is always on the first day of the week following Passover, God instructed the children of Israel to count 50 days (or 7 Sabbaths) to the time they were to celebrate the fourth Feast called the “Feast of Weeks;” most commonly known as Pentecost.
“And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that your brought sheaf of the wave offering, seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord” (Lev. 23:15,16).
These 50 days were a significant reminder of the timespan between leaving Egypt and coming to the base of Mt. Sinai (Ex. 15-19).
“In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai”(Ex. 19:1).
Later on in the New Testament, this same 50 day Feast blueprint corresponded to the time frame when Jesus visited His disciples after He was raised from the dead:
“Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight’ (Luke 24:30,31).
On the 50th day in the Old Testament, God revealed Himself by fire after speaking to the people His proposal of marriage to the Israelites:
“And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire. It’s smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly”(Ex. 19:17,18).
On the 50th day in the New Testament, the disciples were gathered together in the “upper room” when the Holy Spirit came upon them like fire:
“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each other them” (Acts 2:2-4).
Within the 50 day blueprint, God chose to “court” the Hebrews in the Wilderness by revealing His love through His provision and protection, meeting their needs and kindling their faith in Him, even while they were complaining.
In the New Testament, Jesus revealed Himself to the disciples intimately after His resurrection, showing them His hands and feet; eating, sharing, and encouraging the disciples He loved.
So how did God reveal Himself to the Hebrews in the 50 day wilderness journey to Mount Sinai that was reflective of Christ Himself, coming in the flesh to restore that bond of love?
One of the first ways God revealed Himself is when He performed a miracle by turning bitter waters sweet and releasing water in the desert:
“So Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet” (Ex. 15:25).
“Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees, so they camped there by the waters” (Ex. 15:27).
Jesus would later reveal Himself in this pattern through the New Covenant. Those who were thirsty for truth and believed in Him would receive His living water. Christians would then have the ability to use that life flow to reach out to others with God’s love.
“And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely”(Rev. 22:17).
After God provided water in the Wilderness, the Israelites soon complained about being hungry. God revealed Himself again through the supernatural unleavened manna:
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in MY law or not.”
This bread that fell from the sky, known as “manna,” would be the tool God would use to introduce the Sabbath rest, prophesying of Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, who by His sacrifice, would provide rest for all creation in heaven and earth through reconciliation with the Father.
“Then Moses said, ‘Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none” (Ex. 16:25,26).
Jesus would later declare that He was the Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:5), and that He was our provision, telling us He was the “bread of life” for those who believed in Him:
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever, and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).
The third time God revealed Himself intimately in the midst of the 50 day Wilderness journey was when He provided protection and strength when the Amalekites were attacking the Israelites.
“Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand…….So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword” (Ex. 17:8,9,13).
Jesus would conquer Satan through His death and resurrection, taking dominion over the enemy permanently, and giving us the ability to have dominion over the enemy as well:
“And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His might power, which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion” (Eph. 1:19-21).
Jesus perfected the pattern “…which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Col 2:17).
As we can see through the whole wilderness experience and the New Testament disciples, the people God chose lost heart and complained, even after experiencing God’s miracles. And yet, God still chose them. If we know Christ, He chose us as well, not because of our faithfulness, but because He loves us, flaws and all. As we begin to recognize how Christ IS the substance of these Feast blueprints, our hearts are moved to set aside time to give thanks and to honor our Savior.
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you that you should go and bear fruits, and that your fruit” (John 15:16).