COUNTING THE OMER
You are to count seven complete weeks starting from the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the presentation offering. You are to count 50 days until the day after the seventh Sabbath and then present an offering of new grain to Adonai. (Leviticus 23:15,16)
Since the moment Yahveh ordered Moshe to begin counting the Omer, in Leviticus 23:15,16, Jews and Messianic believers around the world have been following this commandment faithfully. But what does it mean?
The word Omer is an agricultural word referring to a sheaf of barley, brought to the Temple, as the first fruit of the barley harvest. This period of time is ripe with meaning and many days within this time period have special significance.
The first question which is often asked: Why do we count the omer? The most obvious answer is, of course, this is Yahveh’s direction to us. We follow His Life Instructions, found in Torah, without question. However, that, for many of us, is not the complete answer. Have you ever noticed how slowly something develops, as we watch it closely? Much slower than if we do not watch it develop. This period of 49 days between Pesach, Passover, and Shavuot, Pentecost, follows the development of the wheat crop. Each day, a special prayer is recited, a portion of Scripture is read, and we check-off one more day on the calendar.
Ancient tradition, associated with the Omer, tells us there are 49 ‘levels of sin’ from which we must extricate ourselves, as we approach the culmination of the Passover – Shavuot. Each of the 49 days, we are to engage in a significant meditation, which will assist us in purging a specific sinful condition from our hearts and minds. These meditations will help us draw closer to Yahveh and allow His Word to have more meaning for us.
To get a clearer idea of the importance of the Omer, we should examine some of the special days contained within. On the second day of the Omer, we find the Festival of Bikkurim; this is the day Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, was resurrected from the dead, three days following His murder, His crucifixion, fulfilling His role as the Passover Lamb. Forty days later, on Iyyar 25, Adonai Yeshua ascended into Heaven, to take His place beside our Glorious Abba. In between these two dates, He was witnessed by several groups of people in the garden, on the road to Emmaus, in the small room in Jerusalem. Then, on the 50th day, the culmination of the Festival, we gather the wheat and fashion the first fruit of leaven. This was the only time the priests of the Temple brought bread with yeast into the grounds. Here they waved two loaves, signifying the coming together of Jews and non-Jews in their worship of Yahveh.
However, for Messianic believers, there is even greater significance. It was on this day, the day of Shavuot, that the Holy Spirit of the Living God brought courage, confidence and the ability to speak to the nations of the world to the 70 disciples, who stood at Solomon’s Portico, a portion of the Temple, and brought over 3,000 Jews to believe in Adonai Yeshua.
As we begin the Counting of the Omer, this year, I urge you to consider carefully the reasons you wish to draw closer to our Holy God. I urge you to focus on the meditations to bring from your heart to your lips, enabling you to be authentic before our Ruler.
May the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly.
To read a preview of Michael’s first book, A Journey Through Torah: An Introduction to God’s Life Instructions for His Children, Volume One: Genesis, please click on the link, below:
To read a preview of Michael’s second book, A Journey Through Torah: An Introduction to God’s Life Instructions for His Children, Volume Two: Exodus, please click on the link, below: