- The Goal of the Commandment to Count
- In the time of Messiah’s sacrifice
- You shall receive Power from on High
- Retracing the Journey
- Seven I AM Sayings, Seven Signs, 49 Miracles, and 49 Parables
- Our love language to Adonai is to Hear, Understand, and Obey His Word
- Fermentation begins the moment the Water of Forgiveness is added to Humility
The Goal of the Commandment to Count
The word “Omer” refers to a measure of grain, equal to the measure of one portion of manna. The Torah commands that an Omer of new grain (called chadash) must be “waved” before the altar on each of the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot (Leviticus 23:15-21).
This is called Omer ha-tenufah or the “waving of the Omer.”
Prior to the offering of such new grain only produce from earlier harvests could be eaten (called yashan). This is the “firstfruits” connection. Only crops that have been first dedicated to the Almighty are kosher. For the Prushim rabbinate and their successors, “Counting the Omer” began on the second day of Passover (the 16th of Nisan) and continued 49 days until Erev Shavuot. This required that Shavuot always fall on Sivan 6 on the fixed Jewish calendar. For the Sadducees (and the later Karaites), the count begins following the weekly Sabbath after Passover and ends on Erev Shavuot. This requires that Shavuot always occur on a Sunday, though the date is not set on the Jewish calendar. Providentially both methods of counting are a witness to the Messiah.
In the time of Messiah’s sacrifice:
In the time of Messiah’s sacrifice both the counting method of the Tzedukkim (הַצְדוּקִים-Sadducees; aligned with the priestly sect) and of the Pharisees (הַפְּרוּשִׁים-Prushim, aligned with the rabbis) started and ended at the same time.
In the first century CE the Tzedukkim and the Prushim used the same sequence of calendar days for the 49 days of counting the omer. They always began the counting of the omer on the first day of the week (*Yom Rishon – יום ראשון – that is Sunday).
* Since the first day of the week was the day when the world was created and the Messiah was raised from the dead the first century believing Yehudim called every yom rishon—“yom ha-adon” (יום האדון-the Lord’s Day)
In Jewish calendar year 3790 (30 CE) this meant that the first day of counting (Yom HaBikkurim) fell on Nisan 16 (day 1) and the last day of counting was, therefore, on Sivan 5 (day 49; the day before Shavuot – day 50). However, sometime after the temple was destroyed (70 CE):
The Prushim changed the dating method of the Counting of the Omer previously established by the Torah and the priests.
For unknown reasons—possibly because of their rejection of the messiahship of Yeshua—the rabbis decided to always observe the beginning of the counting of the Omer on Nisan 16. This meant that the second century rabbinic sages changed the counting method of the Tzedukkim (priestly faction)—who always observed Yom HaBikkurim on the first Sunday after every Pesach—to their observing Yom HaBikkurim on Nisan 16 (the first day of the count); irregardless of whether it fell on a Sunday or not.
Fortunately, both methods of counting the Omer (priestly and rabbinic) bear witness to the resurrection of Messiah.
Fortunately, as providence would have it, both the different counting methods of the priests and rabbis bear witness to the resurrection of the Messiah; who is the Firstfruits from the dead and the Firstborn of the dead. First, the successors to the Prushim have memorialized the exact actual calendar “date” of the Messiah’s resurrection—Nisan 16. Second, the Tzedukkim have memorialized the sequence of the actual day of the week the Messiah was resurrected on: with the beginning of firstfruits occurring on a Sunday (Nisan 16); and Shavuot also falling on a Sunday (Sivan 6).
This year both methods of Counting the Omer harmonize.
Interesting enough in some years the different methods of counting harmonize (this year is 5779); so that the testimony of Messiah’s resurrection is repeated exactly as it occurred almost 2,000 years ago (year 3790). This is the case when the Counting of the Omer begins both on the first day of the week (Yom Rishon, Sunday) and on the Jewish calendar date of Nisan 16.
As stated previously, the period between Passover and Shavuot is simply called “the Omer,” and the key ritual activity is sefirah (“counting”); since the primary obligation is the counting of days leading up to the festival of Shavuot. The sages interpret, “You shall count for yourselves” to mean that each person should count each day of the Omer out loud (usually at the conclusion of the daily evening prayer service). The formulaic blessing is: “Blessed are You, Adonai Eloheinu, Master of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to count the Omer:”
Tonight is the first (second, third, etc.) night of the Omer.
The period of the Omer ends after counting seven weeks, or seven times seven days from Passover to Shavuot. The number of the count (7 x 7) is symbolic of perfection and completion. The “Jubilee” (50th day) of Shavuot is a climax: First of the revelation of the Heart of Stone given at Sinai, and later with the “greater” revelation of the Unfailing Heart, the Heart of Flesh given at Zion. The end of the redemption process that begins at Passover (justification), continues at the Counting of the Omer (sanctification), and is completed and perfected on Shavuot (glorification; i.e. the Gift of Living Torah, the heavenly Father’s gift to us of the Holy Spirit Who is our assurance that on the day of resurrection we will all be perfected (glorified).
You shall receive Power from on High:
The people of Israel departed Egypt on the 15th of Nisan, celebrated ever since as the first day of Passover. Seven weeks later, on the 6th of Sivan–marked on our calendar as the festival of Shavuot–we assemble at the foot of the heavenly Mount Sinai and receive “power from on high,” the Living Torah, that is the Gift of the Father.
Retracing the Journey:
Every year, therefore, we are counting down to the time when Israel was given the power from on high, the Living Torah, that is the Gift of the Father that was given to us on Shavuot that is the fiftieth day after the Mashiach conquered death and on the tenth day after He triumphantly ascended into heaven. We retrace this special period of time in the Messiah’s life and the lives of His Jewish followers by observing the 49-day “Counting of the Omer.” Some begin on the second night of Pesach, others of us begin the count on the first day of the week following Pesach. In any case, we count the days and weeks: “Today is one day to the Omer,” we proclaim on the first night of the count. “Today is two days to the Omer.” “Today is seven days, which are one week to the Omer.” “Today is twenty-six days, which are three weeks and five days day to the Omer,” and so on, until, “Today is forty-nine days, which are seven weeks to the Omer.” The fiftieth day is Shavuot.
Seven ‘I AM’ Sayings, Seven Signs, 49 Parables and 49 Miracles:
The 49 days of Counting the Omer is a spiritual journey. It is a journey through the human soul. Each day is an opportunity to engage in climbing the dizzying heights of Mount Sinai. As we “ascend” the great mount of Messiah’s teaching we should make it our goal during these 49 days to zealously meditate on His Word. We must ascend the mount of Messiah’s teaching that we might see the Beautiful Face of our heavenly Father. In Jewish tradition each day of the sefirah corresponds to a specific area for spiritual growth, therefore, what better way can our spiritual growth be fostered than by our meditating on the Seven I AM statements and the 49 parables of Messiah? The counting methodology we recommend incorporates meditation upon the “7 I AM Sayings,’’ the “7 Signs,” the “49 Parables” and the “49 Miracles” of Messiah. In connection with the 49 Parables of Messiah and the Counting of the Omer we note that the 40th day (Iyyar 25) of the Omer count is the time of Messiah’s Ascension into Heaven. Like Moses who ascended up Mount Sinai, the Messiah ascended up into heaven.
The Messiah ascended up into Heaven on the fortieth day that we might permanently receive the Gift of Living Torah.
The Messiah ascended on the fortieth day of the count so that ten days later we might receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit into our hearts. The Holy Spirit is our Living Torah who is our confirmation (guarantee) that we have agreed to and received the New Covenant of the Most High. In this manner of belief (emunah) we affirm that the redemption process that Messiah began at Passover (cleansing for sin) was completed at Shavuot (the righteous Presence of the Holy One once again now dwells in the temple of our hearts-spirits). This “completion” is the revelation of the love of Abba Avinu toward His children. The Jewish sages did not fathom the use of the forbidden leaven in the offering made of the yeast of barley (Leviticus 2:11). The 49 day old barley yeast is used to make the two loaves of golden wheat bread “rise” (cf. article, “Messiah in Shavuot”). This prophetically speaks of:
The only leaven (yeast) that is acceptable to the Holy One is the leaven of Humility.
Our love language to Adonai is to Hear, Understand, and Obey His Word:
The natural fermentation of the barley represents the natural fermentation of Humility (barley is the poor, humble bread). Throughout the 49 days that we do Teshuvah during the counting of the Omer, we “humble” ourselves. We “return” to the Most High by hearing, meditating on, understanding, and submitting to (obeying) His Living Word. Barley represents the Humble Man that the heavenly Father delights in. Our love language to our Father in heaven is humility and obedience. Messiah is the Perfect Man. He is the Humble Man that the Most High delights in. Messiah alone has fulfilled the Shemah. He has heard, understood, and obeyed (fulfilled) all of the Law of Adonai. Messiah is perfectly one (unified, echad) with the Father. When we identify ourselves with the Messiah as our Tzadik (Righteous One) we too, by exercising the faith of Abraham (he prophetically saw and rejoiced in the day of Messiah) are made tzaddikim (righteous ones). If we die to sin with the Anointed One, the Messiah, then we are made mashiachim (anointed ones). Those anointed with the gift of the Holy Spirit have inherited the free gift of eternal life and will on the day of resurrection be resurrected in glory with Messiah.
The climb up the Mountain from the footstool (earth) to the summit of heaven requires us to be Indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
The gift of the Spirit of Humility is only ours when we confess that we are sinners in need of a Savior. Only by trusting in the Messiah our Righteous One will the Righteous Father count us as being righteous. When we receive the Word of Messiah into our hearts we receive the Living Water that cleanses us and the Barley Grain that humbles us. Together these two elements (forgiveness and humility) create a fermentation of the Grace of Adonai that makes the Glorious-life of the Beloved One rise up within us. In due time, the Spirit of Grace (רוּחַ הַחֶסֶד) even causes us to one day be resurrected from the dead and ascend from this footstool (of earth) to be seated high above the highest heavens at the Right Hand of the Father. It is by the Grace of Adonai alone that we are forgiven of our sins so that we may one day ascend into the highest heaven and be treated as co-heirs with His Beloved Son, the Messiah Yeshua.
Fermentation begins the moment the Water of Forgiveness is added to Humility:
On the day of Shavuot it is the perfect union of the water of forgiveness with the humble barley grain that after 49 days naturally produces the holy yeast that causes the two loaves of wheat grain to rise. This is a clear lesson to us that the our Father in heaven gives grace to the humble.
The waving of shtei ha-lechem pictures the one new man composed of both Jew and Gentile (united) before the altar of Adonai.
The countdown to Shavuot therefore goes beyond the revelation of Torah given at Sinai and points to the greater revelation of Living Torah given at Mount Zion in heaven. The Messiah our Tzadik removes our sins and makes us righteous by His sacrifice as the true Passover Lamb. The Messiah our Redeemer sacrificed His Life upon the accursed tree configured in the shape of the ancient letter Tav so that we might be forgiven our sins and that the Righteous Father might impart to us His righteousness through giving us the Gift of the Spirit of Grace (רוּחַ הַחֶסֶד-Ruach Ha-Chesed). The Gift of the Spirit is our guarantee that we will be changed-transformed from the inside-out; gradually for now; and completely and perfectly on the day of our resurrection. Shavuot is the fulfillment of the promise of the Gift of the Holy Spirit given by the Father in heaven to all who put their trust in His Beloved Son, the Messiah. Counting the Omer is about: the awakening love, our being indwelt with the Ruach HaKodesh (regeneration); the ascending love, our growing in the Spirit, (sanctification, maturation); and the consuming love, our being perfected by the Spirit (glorification).