It was a bright and beautiful spring morning with a hint of an impending heat wave. The olive trees dotting the landscape added silvery hues to the golden light. But even more spectacular was the light that was reflecting from the Temple, commanding, in all its glory, Mount Moriah to the west. As the smoke was rising from the morning sacrifices, it caught the sunrays and appeared to be sending them back to the heavens from whence they came. It was the 40th day of the Counting of the Omer. It might have even been Rosh Chodesh (that is the first day of the third month). For a number of days now, during the Counting, the little band of students followed their Master to this lovely spot, to listen to him speak about the Kingdom of Elohim. But today things seemed different. Yeshua was not the same as He had been in the past little while. Something was in the air…
One of the disciples whispered over to the other, as they began their ascent toward the summit of the Mount of Olives, “Do you recall what He said to us a few days before Passover, words we did not understand then?” “Yes,” replied the listener, “He said, 'in a little while you will not see Me, and again a little while you we will see Me, because I go the Father.'” Another disciple, half listening in to the conversation, suddenly butted in, “that’s right, the Master told us that there would come an hour in which we would remember the things He had told us.” Yeshua, walking just a few paces ahead, was smiling as He overheard their talk.
They nearly reached the summit, when a follower of the disciples who had been within earshot, asked them to fill him in on what Yeshua had told them. All three began to respond to the inquirer all at once. Then suddenly they all stopped, just as quickly as they had started. Smiling and laughing at each other, as they were gesturing with their hands, they knew instinctively who should answer this time. It was Yochanan. The beloved disciple began to describe the episode that had occurred just before the fateful day of their teacher’s arrest. He told the young man that had Yeshua not done among the people and the religious leaders the works which He had done, the latter would not have been guilty of sin; but now, after having witnessed His deeds, their response demonstrated their hatred for Him, and also for His Father. "This," Yochanan added, "happened that the word from Psalm 35;19 'they hated Me without a cause', might be fulfilled." He then proceeded to tell the young fellow that Yeshua had spoken to them about a Helper whom He would send to them from the Father. “Yeshua said that this Spirit, which He called the Spirit of Truth, would come forth from the Father and that He would testify as to who Yeshua really was, and because of His presence we also, who have been with Yeshua from the beginning, would bear witness to the Truth.” Yochanan continued breathlessly as they climbed together. "These things Yeshua spoke to us, that we should not stumble. Yeshua further said that we would be put out of the synagogues; yes, even that a time would come that whosoever kills us will think that he is doing Elohim a favorable service. These things they will do to us because they have not known the Father, or the Messiah. Our Master told us these things, so that when the time comes we would remember these things and be ready. He did not tell us these things at first because He was with us, but now that He was going back to the One who sent Him, He wanted to warn us. Amazingly none of us had asked Him where He was going, although His words were very troublesome to us and our hearts were filled with sorrow. But then He said something very strange. He told us that His going away would be to our advantage. That did not make sense to us at all. Who is this Helper whom He was talking about, who will not come to us unless Yeshua would go away? Only if He departs, would He then send this Helper to us, and when the Helper comes He will convict the world of sin and of righteousness, and of judgment.”
The man was very perplexed over these words, but before he could ask, “where is Yeshua going?” they had arrived at the summit. A feeling of awe and deep reverence swept their hearts, as Yeshua turned to face them. His voice was stern and commanding when He told them not to leave Jerusalem before the Father’s promise is fulfilled. They all looked at one another, expecting someone to ask the inevitable question, “Where are you going and when will you return?”
Yet no one spoke. But the silence which surrounded them did not still their minds. They remained preoccupied with thoughts on the previous days’ teachings about the Kingdom of Elohim. Their expectations were aroused once again by Yeshua’s words about the coming Kingdom. Was He now going to lead them into Jerusalem in a triumphant march of victory, and set up His Kingdom over Israel? They had such hopes before His death! And oh how terribly disappointed and devastated they were when He hung on the execution tree! But now, after His reappearance, their hopes had been rekindled with the passion to see the Kingdom restored to Israel.
The impetuous students could no longer resist, and turning to Yeshua asked Him point blank: “Is it at this time that You are going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?” All eyes remained fixed upon His gentle face, as He answered them candidly in a matter of fact tone: “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Sprit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1: 7-8). Before those standing around could gather their thoughts, a mist began to appear over and around the Messiah. To their amazement He began to rise along with the cloud and soon evaporated out of sight.
Standing there on top of that mountain gazing in wonderment at the blue sky, nothing seemed to be real to the bewildered band. No more questions and no more answers. A feeling of disbelief descended upon them. But the dramatic scene was not over yet. Two men dressed in white appeared from nowhere and stood in front of them. Where had they come from? No one knew. These mysterious characters, however, seemed to recognize them and even knew where they were from. “Men of Galilee! “, they announced, “Why do you stand looking into the sky? Yeshua who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1: 11).
Total silence enveloped them as they trekked back down the mountain. Crossing the bridge in front of the Temple they hurriedly made their way back to the upper room, where they had been staying while they counted the Omer with their Master. Now the Messiah was no longer with them. All that lingered were His departing words, calling for them to remain in Jerusalem. Fishing in the Sea of Galilee seemed now like a faraway dream, yet the Teacher’s words to them, of becoming fishers of men still held them captive. Together with one mind and in prayer they finished the Counting of the Fifty Days.
When the Feast Day arrived, they were still together in that same room. Suddenly a sound of a violent rushing wind cut through the place, and then appeared what looked like "tongues of fire". Right then they were filled with that which was promised by the Father. Stunned by the overwhelming presence of the Spirit, they reeled back and forth like drunkards and spoke in strange languages. Although eying each other, as if they were strangers, they now felt that they had knowledge of, and an intimacy with their Elohim and Messiah which they had never thought possible. Bathing in the Father’s love, they went into the streets and with little effort spoke in the languages of those present, convicting them of sin, righteousness and judgment. They expounded the truth of Torah in a new and living way, healing the sick, lame and blind, casting out demons as if the authority of heaven was in their very mouths. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that this was Yeshua’s answer to their question about the Kingdom being restored to Israel. They were now the witnesses to that Kingdom, which came into them via the Spirit of Holiness. Later, one of the apostles would put this experience, of the indwelling Spirit, into perspective by saying that the “Kingdom of Elohim is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).
As we approach the 50th day of the counting of the Omer, let us continue to pray with one heart as our Messiah has taught us: “Our Father, Who art in Heaven, Holy be your Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” His Kingdom has come into our hearts by the Holy Spirit’s presence, but now are we prepared to do His will?