Hebrew Roots/Holy Days/Counting the Omer
Understanding the Omer
The Day of the offering the Firstfruits of the barley, was the starting point to count the fifty days for the commencement of the Day of Pentecost or Shavuot, the next feast on the religious calendar.
"And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath ..." Leviticus 23:15-16
The counting of these fifty days is traditionally known as "counting the omer" ("Sefirat Ha'Omer"). This has its origin in the daily task of counting an "omer" (a measure of manna) that each person was to collect as his daily portion of food when in the wilderness journey from the Exodus to the promised land. This was also incorporated as a daily ritual into the Temple 'minchah' or grain offering, in Leviticus 2 as well as being the basis for the Omer offering.
“This is what Yahweh has commanded, ‘Gather of it (manna) every man as much as he should eat; you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent’” Exodus 16:16.
An omer of grain, or one-tenth of an ephah, is an ancient measurement equivalent to the amount of fine flour required for a loaf of 'challah' bread or roughly the needs for one day's supply of bread per person. It is about five pints
The days in the wilderness from Passover to Pentecost (Sinai), were marked off or counted, by their daily task each morning of collecting the 'omer' of manna for the day. This supernatural provision of the 'omer' was the measure which each person needed for their daily sustenance. Or in other words, it was their “daily bread.” Matthew 6:11
Therefore, counting the days between the Firstfruits offering of Passover and Shavuot or Pentecost , was called 'counting the omer' (Exodus 16: 4.5; 14-21) .
IN THE WILDERNESS
This step-by-step journey through the wilderness was a time of trial and testing and teaching them trust and obedience as He dealt with their fleshly nature in preparation for their time of encounter with Him at Sinai.
This journey through the wilderness was a type of the spiritual experience of overcoming -- from salvation and deliverance (Passover) to baptism (in the Red Sea) and leaving sin behind (in Egypt), marching and struggling through the wilderness (our fallen human nature), until they reached the promised land - the Kingdom of God.
Each day they were to count the Omer, as they experienced their journey from captivity (Egypt) to fulfillment (Sinai). This daily count is associated with the progressive experiences during the process of preparing them to overcome their fleshly nature so they could come into covenant marriage relationship with Him at Sinai.
Each day in the wilderness they were to gather the manna, just as each day we are to 'gather' our spiritual food from the Word of God - our manna for the day. For, "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" Matthew 4: 4 & Deuteronomy 8: 3
THE BREAD OF LIFE
Regarding the manna Moses said, "This is the bread which Yahweh has given you to eat" Exodus 16:15
Y'shua the Messiah, is the "living bread" and He said, "But my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world" John 6:32-33.
Y'shua added: "I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger" ( v.35).
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believes on me has everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (vs.47-51).
We are to feed on the Living Word through the Spirit every day, gathering our spiritual 'manna' , our portion, as the heavenly dew settles upon it from above. The Holy Spirit quickens the written Word to make it life-giving food for our souls. In the wilderness of this life, it is the only food that will sustain us until we reach the promised land of His kingdom. It is by His Word that we become "partakers of the divine nature " (2 Peter 1: 4)
But, in this specific period from Passover/Pesakh to Pentecost/Shavuot, the instruction is to 'count' the intervening fifty days. There is spiritual significance therefore, in the actual counting of the days of this preparation period between the two events, Passover and Pentecost.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TIME COUNT
In the original Exodus, there were fifty days between the Feast of Firstfruits (three days journey out of Egypt) and the Feast of Shavuot/Pentecost when they came to Sinai. There they received the law written on tablets of stone. They continued to keep the feast as instructed throughout their generations during the Temple period.
In the time of Y'shua, there were fifty days between His resurrection (fulfillment of the Firstfruits) and the outpouring of the Spirit (fulfillment of Pentecost). This time the law was written on the hearts of those who entered into the covenant by a similar manifestation of the Spirit of the Most High in tongues of fire (2 Corinthians 3: 2-3).
Each time there was a betrothal covenant enacted with His people that would have a future consummation. The intervening period of fifty days between these two events was the preparation time given to them to prepare them to be able to enter into the covenant.
Fifty days corresponds to the number of the Jubilee, the year of release. The Jubilee typifies the time of release from sin's bondage and death when all the spiritual debts will have been paid and redemption will be complete and He will take His covenant Bride to Himself. The appointment He has made for His people now is a release from the power of sin by the spiritual impartation of a new nature, the law written on our hearts.
The Feast of Shavuot/Pentecost was the outpouring of the Spirit of Yahweh to write His laws on the fleshly tablets of our heart. It was also the presentation of the two Wave Loaves before the Face (presence) of the Father. The period between the two feasts is a prophetic time period of looking forward to coming into the fullness of His life when we will stand presented faultless before the throne of the Father as the two Wave Loaves of Shavuot (Jude 24)
Going from the consecration of separating ourselves from all that is contrary to the pure life of Messiah in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and through a daily process of feeding on the Life of Y'shua, we come to Shavuot and all it signifies. But, we are instructed to 'count' the 'omer'. Count the measure of what we are feeding upon.
Are we feeding on milk, or are we feeding on the meat of the Word which will build the strength and fullness of Messiah's stature in us? Is what we are gathering the type of food which will bring us before His presence with exceeding joy? We are to be made into loaves of the finest flour to be presented before Him.
At the end of this fifty days, two loaves of the finest wheat flour baked with leaven (permeated by the Spirit) was to be brought together with seven one year-old lambs, a sin offering and a peace offering and offered before Yahweh. This is symbolic of the two houses of Israel indwelt by the Spirit (two loaves baked with leaven) presented before the Father filled with all the fullness of God (seven lambs) having received the full benefits of the atonement to stand without spot or blemish before Him, in complete peace and reconciliation (sin and peace offering) - Leviticus 23:16-21.
The bread made for this offering is composed of the finest and best wheat. What kind of spiritual "wheat" are we?
This bread offered at the feast was refined and put through the sieve many times, sifted and resifted until it was of excellent quality and purity. This is a picture of the purity and refinement that needs to be wrought in our lives through the sifting out of all dross. Are we conducting our lives in the knowledge that we have to measure up to the life of Y'shua and come into the Presence of Yahweh, before His throne, before Him personally?
Are we feeding on the manna that is causing Messiah to be "formed" in us (Galatians 4:19), by the Spirit of Yahweh day by day changing us and transforming us into the perfect bread -- the perfect "living sacrifice" ? Romans 12:1-2
How well are we measuring up against the perfection of Messiah to qualify as His Bride?
We need to take account of the measure of life that is needed to attain the perfection that is in Y'shua our Messiah.
This period of time is for the purpose of evaluating our spiritual life, and having a spiritual check-up. To press in, so as to dig deeper into the Word and draw out that supernatural 'manna' sufficient for our preparation of betrothal to our coming Bridegroom. It is a time to seek Yahweh in prayer and fasting, to measure up to the standard.
The understanding in the Hebrew to 'count' the days is that it is to be a celebration in the ritual counting of them. There also is a pattern to be followed. This period of 50 days (seven weeks plus a day) is divided into seven periods or cycles of spiritual progress. The form of the word for 'weeks' used in Leviticus 23:15 has the sense of 'time periods' or we could interpret it as 'cycles' of seven days. Let's journey with the nation through this cycle to see the process they went through in being prepared to come to the mountain of Yahweh God.
- The first 'week' or cycle in this period is the Feast of Unleavened Bread during which no leaven is to be eaten. It is a time to remove all the leaven - all the wrong doctrine, mind-sets of the world etc., and ensure that we truly are 'unleavened' and "be renewed in the spirit of our mind" 1 Corinthians 5: 6-8; Ephesians 4:20-32; Romans 12:1-2
- The second period brings them to Marah - the place of bitter waters. The purging of His Word that ensues from removing ourselves from the worldly cisterns of life will be bitter to our flesh until we apply the principle of the Cross (the tree) that makes the bitter water, sweet. We have to crucify the old nature and its lusts. Healing of soul and body will be the resultant blessing. Exodus 15:22-26; Galatians 6:14; 2:20; 5:16-26
- Next they come to Elim, the place of deep wells and shady, fruit-bearing palm trees. A time of rest and refreshing in the shade of the righteous pillars of the House of God and His governmental system. The righteous are said to be like palm tress (Psalm 92:12), and the twelve wells symbolise sources of living water in a system of divine government (12 = government). Through submission to His ordained authority there is refreshment and nourishment. We need to submit to His authorities. Ex. 15:27; 1 Peter 3: 1-12; 5:5; Titus 2: 1-15; 1 Tim. 5:1-2; Heb. 13:17
- Then after more time in the wilderness the flesh cries out for the old gratification that the pleasures of Egypt gave them. They have to learn to collect heavenly manna and enforce a change of diet upon themselves. Also the lesson that the provision of their own desires brings death on them. We have to make Y'shua the source of our life and draw our sustenance from Him. Exodus 16:1-16; Matthew 11:28-30; James 1:12-25; John 8:31-32; 15: 1-17
- Provision is made for them to keep the Sabbath. The lesson here that if they obey, He will provide. We can rest in Him and trust Him to provide if we cease from our own works. We must put to death the motivation of our own nature, our own will. Exodus 16:22-30; Hebrews 4: 1-16; James 4:13-17; Proverbs 3: 6; 4:26-7
- A little while after bringing into subjection the natural mind, the thirst for the natural sources of life will rise up and cry out for satisfaction. Our natural man doesn't want to die. We have to learn to drink from the Rock, from the living water He supplies. Exodus 17: 1-7; John 4:10-15; Isaiah 12:3; James 3:12; Colossians 3: 1-17
- War with Amalek ensues. This time it is not a natural battle - it comes from without, it is a spiritual one that can only be won through prayer over the forces of the enemy that would come against us to stop us reaching the goal. We have to stand upon His Word (the Rock) and win the victory over his assault. Ex. 17: 8-16; Eph. 6:10-18; 1 Pet. 5: 8-11
The "Omer count" is a physical "type" or typology of a spiritual reality -- the spiritual life process of sanctification - of becoming changed into His likeness. It represents the journey of our lives, our time of betrothal to our Heavenly Bridegroom, as we go through the wilderness, overcome obstacles, and root out the negative attributes of the flesh, and develop and strengthen the positive qualities of God's Spirit in our lives in preparation for the consummation of our spiritual union with Messiah. Each day counts. Each week is significant in the preparation period.
Each of these weeks end on a Sabbath, a day of cessation from our own works. At the end of each cycle of days counted, each week, we come into His rest - elevation over the works of our flesh. As we "count the Omer," then, seven times we come to a Shabbat, that is, a "cessation from labor," signifying an attainment of spiritual rest after we have fulfilled that week of counting -- that week of "overcoming."
"For he who has entered into His rest has himself also ceased from his works, as God did from His " (Hebrews 4: 9-10).
If we would submit to Yahweh's timetable and pattern by literally counting the Omer, we would be in harmony with the moving of His Spirit in our lives in overcoming the flesh. As we go through the process of marking off each day and go through the ritual celebration, we are inscribing the significance of the Omer upon us and ordaining the day for the sanctifying work of the Spirit in our lives.
Let's 'Count the Omer' and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Y'shua the Messiah and be prepared ready to meet our heavenly Bridegroom at His coming in glory upon the Mount! (Philippians 3:14)
In making the Omer count in our lives, meditating on these scriptures will be helpful
- WEEK 1
- The first 'week' or cycle in this period is the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a time to remove all the leaven - all the wrong doctrine and ensure that we truly are 'unleavened' and "be renewed in the spirit of our mind"
- Sunday: 1 Corinthians 5: 6-8
- Monday: Romans 12:1-2
- Tuesday: Ephesians 4:20-24
- Wednesday: Ephesians 4:29-32
- Thursday: Ephesians 5: 1-2
- Friday: Ephesians 5:15-20
- WEEK 2
- The second week brings us to the purging of His Word upon the worldly sources of life. We have to crucify the old nature and its lusts. Healing will be the resultant blessing.
- Sunday: Galatians 5:16-18
- Monday: Galatians 5:22-26
- Tuesday: 1 John 2:15-17
- Wednesday: James 3: 1-6
- Thursday: James 3: 8-12
- Friday: James 3:13-18
- WEEK 3
- That brings us to the place of submitting to the ordinances which He has established and putting to death the inclination of our rebellious natures.
- Sunday: 1 Peter 3: 1-6 or 7-12
- Monday: Titus 2: 1-10
- Tuesday: 1 Peter 5: 5-7
- Wednesday: 1 Timothy 5:1-2
- Thursday: Romans 13: 1-5
- Friday: Romans 13: 6-7; Hebrews 13:17
- WEEK 4
- The lusts of the flesh have to be brought into subjection to the spirit. We have to make Yeshua the source of our life and draw our sustenance from Him.
- Sunday: James 1:12-15
- Monday: 1 John 3: 4-9
- Tuesday: John 8:31-32
- Wednesday: John 15: 1-8
- Thursday: 1 John 5: 3-5
- Friday: John 15: 9-15
- WEEK 5
- We are instructed to keep the Sabbath and to rest in Him and trust Him for our provision. We must put to death the motivation of our own nature, our own will, and cease from our own works
- Sunday: Hebrews 4: 1-16
- Monday: James 4:13-17
- Tuesday: Proverbs 3: 5-10
- Wednesday: Proverbs 4:26-27
- Thursday: Romans 8: 5-8
- Friday: Isaiah 58:13-14
- WEEK 6
- Our natural man doesn't want to die. We have to learn to drink from the Rock, from the living water He supplies.
- Sunday: John 4:10-15
- Monday: 1 John 1: 1-3
- Tuesday: John 1: 1-5; 14-18
- Wednesday: Matthew 6:31-34
- Thursday: Colossians 3: 1-4
- Friday: Colossians 3:16-17
- WEEK 7
- War with Amalek ensues. This time it is not a natural battle, it is a spiritual one that can only be won through prayer over the forces of the enemy. We have to stand upon His Word (the Rock) and win the victory over his assault.
- Sunday: 1 Thessalonians 5: 5-8
- Monday: 1 Peter 5: 8-11
- Tuesday: Ephesians 6:10-13
- Wednesday: Ephesians 6:14-18
- Thursday: 1 John 4: 4-6
- Friday: Jude 20-25