Counting the Omer
Taken from the El Shaddai Ministries’s (Mark Biltz) email newsletter from 2012 …
Leviticus 23:15-16 “15 And you shall count from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, seven Sabbaths; [seven full weeks] shall they be. 16 Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall present a cereal offering of new grain to the Lord.”
At one time or another, we’ve all probably said something like, “Grandma’s coming to visit in a week and a half,” or “Only seventeen more days until my birthday!” But there’s one subtle difference – the usual method is to count down toward the big day, whereas in the case of the Omer, we count up … from one to fifty. Why the difference?
The answer is that the people of Israel were not yet spiritually equipped to receive the Torah. For over two hundred years, they had been living in an Egyptian society known to be the world center for immorality and vice.
The high-impact adventure of the Exodus – ten miraculous plagues and the splitting of the Red Sea – launched the nation of Israel into physical freedom. Any experience, as powerful as it is, does not permanently change anyone’s character. That is only possible through practice and adjustment over time.
Why did GOD wait fifty days after Israel left Egypt before giving the Torah? Why didn’t He simply give it to them in Egypt, or immediately after their departure?
You can take people out of Egypt, but you can’t take Egypt out of the people. Think of wealthy people who steal. Or people who attend a seminar all psyched up but no permanent change in their life.
Leviticus 25:8-9 “8 And you shall number seven sabbaths or weeks of years for you, seven times seven years, so the total time of the seven weeks of years shall be forty-nine years. 9 Then you shall sound abroad the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month [almost October]; on the Day of Atonement blow the trumpet in all your land.”
Why count the Omer?
Because He told us to. Beginning on the day that the first Omer of barley was harvested and brought to the Temple, a countdown to the next Biblical Festival began. The Israelites were commanded to count off forty-nine days and then celebrate the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) on the fiftieth day.
Traditionally, the period of the Omer count is to be a time of spiritual introspection as the counters prepare themselves for Shavuot. Because it begins during Passover and concludes at Shavuot, it is a remembrance of the journey from Egypt to Mount Sinai. A remembrance of our journey from the world to a life of walking in the Spirit. It is an expectation of a coming harvest and asking GOD to prepare us for it!
The Counting of the Omer is a count up to Shavuot (Pentecost), the time of the giving of the Holy Spirit. It is a journey which is begun with Passover, the symbol of our Salvation in Messiah Y’shua, and completed at Shavuot (Pentecost), the symbol of our completion through the Spirit. The distance of days between the two events should be a time of spiritual reflection, growth, purification and preparation.
The Master’s Resurrection makes the counting of the Omer a season of special significance and joy. For His disciples, it is a time to remember the resurrected Y’shua. All of His post-resurrection appearances and ascension fell within the days of the Omer count. On the first day of the Omer, Messiah Y’shua appeared to Miriam and to two of our number while they traveled to Emmaus, then those gathered together.
John 20:18-19 “18 Away came Mary Magdalene, bringing the disciples news (word) that she had seen the Lord and that He had said these things to her. 19 Then on that same first day of the week, when it was evening, though the disciples were behind closed doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, Peace to you!”
On the ninth day of the Omer, Y’shua [Jesus] appeared again …
John 20:26 “26 Eight days later His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, though they were behind closed doors, and stood among them and said, Peace to you!”
1 Corinthians 15:6-7 “6 Then later He showed Himself to more than five hundred brethren at one time, the majority of whom are still alive, but some have fallen asleep [in death]. 7 Afterward He was seen by James, then by all the apostles (the special messengers), [see also John 21:1-3].”
On the fortieth day of the Omer …
Acts 1:3-4 “3 To them also He showed Himself alive after His passion (His suffering in the garden and on the cross) by [a series of] many convincing demonstrations [unquestionable evidences and infallible proofs], appearing to them during forty days and talking [to them] about the things of the kingdom of God. 4 And while being in their company and eating with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised, Of which [He said] you have heard Me speak. [John 14:16, 26; 15:26.]”
Acts 1:9 “9 And when He had said this, even as they were looking [at Him], He was caught up, and a cloud received and carried Him away out of their sight.”
The disciples waited and counted the days … forty-one, forty-two, forty-three, forty-four, forty-five, forty-six, forty-seven, forty-eight, forty-nine days of the Omer, up to the fiftieth day …
Acts 2:1-4 “AND WHEN the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all assembled together in one place, 2 When suddenly there came a sound from heaven like the rushing of a violent tempest blast, and it filled the whole house in which they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled (diffused throughout their souls) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the Spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words].”
May the FATHER BLESS you as you count the Omer, and prepare for Shavuot! May you be stirred to deeper intimacy with YHVH, and when the time comes, be filled (again) with His Spirit, that we may be EMPOWERED to walk in the FULLNESS of His Kingdom — a people who worship in Spirit AND Truth!