Last week when I took my Mom to church, the Pastor preached on the Ascension of Christ, which occurred 40 days after he rose. He surprised me by bringing in a copy of the Tanakh and describing, in elementary terms, the Torah, Nevim, and Ketuvim. He said he didn’t expect anyone in his audience to understand those terms, but then again, he didn’t anticipate me.
His sermon got me to thinking about the Counting of the Omer, and since we are in the days of Shavuot, which concludes the 50 days of the counting, I started to wonder if there was some significance in Judaism to the 40th day of that counting.
A quick Google search didn’t reveal anything very significant. Lag B’Omer occurs on the 33rd day, so no help there. While we understand, from a Messianic point of view, that Shavuot or Pentecost was the day of the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles (see Acts 2), what, if anything, is significant about the 40th day of the Omer? Everything else in the Bible is so ordered, so I can’t believe the timing of the Ascension was random.
Okay, my search wasn’t completely futile, but it wasn’t conclusive either. Consider:
The first two seem to be merely daily commentaries, but the last entry said something interesting, though I don’t know how valid the information happens to be:
Since Yeshua rose from the dead on the Feast of First Fruits (Matt. 28:1-10), and ascended into heaven 40 days later (Acts 1:1-3), all of Yeshua’s post-resurrection appearances fall within the first 40 days of the Omer Count.
As I thought about the theme of each of these 40-day (or 40-year) events, I found three commonalities that all of them share:
- They were times of preparation for those doing God’s work
- During this timeframe the harvest was prepared – those who would receive God’s message
- God’s power came forth in full strength after the 40 days
Is that the answer? Was it just another part of the 40 day pattern we often find in the Bible? It makes sense if it is, but is there any more?
I don’t know. Throwing it out to you for commentary.