Counting the Omer: From Redemption to Revelation
The Omer is a daily counting starting from the day of the giving of the Omer (a first sickle cutting of barley that produces a grain offering), just after Passover. The counting continues until Shavuot, also known as Pentecost, fifty days later. This time takes us from Passover to Shavuot – from Redemption to Revelation.
- Leviticus 23: 15-16 “Then you are to count from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the omer (a sheaf of grain) of the wave offering, seven complete Sabbaths. 16 Until the morrow after the seventh Shabbat you are to count fifty days and then present a new grain offering to Adonai. (TLV, modified)
- Deuteronomy 16:9-10 “You shall count seven weeks for yourself; you shall begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. 10 Then you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with a tribute of a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give just as the Lord your God blesses you. (NASB, modified)
These 49 days of counting climax on the 50th Day – Shavuot/Pentecost – traditionally the giving of the Torah (Exodus 19-20) and the giving of the Spirit (Acts 2)! Passover secured Israel’s physical freedom from Egypt, but they were still enslaved spiritually until God graciously gave Israel the Torah at Sinai in order for Israel to know how to live as a people and a nation.
Consider “making the Omer count,” by learning more about the Omer and by using these days to interact with the Creator of the Universe in this crescendoing count – filled with the anticipation of Shavuot/Pentecost and thankfulness for the giving of the Word and Spirit.
Further Explorations with the Omer:
- It was during this season that Jesus (Yeshua) appeared for 40 days after his resurrection and before his ascension.
- The Omer period reminds one of the need to be aware of the poor and outcast as well as a proactive giving, as found in Ruth 2:7,15 and alluded to in Job 24:10.
- The Sadducees, Essenes, Samaritans, Karaites (and seemingly the early believers in Yeshua?) all counted the first day of the Omer to be the first day after a weekly Sabbath (the seventh day of the week) and not after the festal Sabbath as the Pharisees interpreted. The debate is based upon a close reading of Leviticus 23:15-16 and 23:11. 1
- Yeshua’s plucking (or rubbing, but not cutting) of the grain in the field on the Sabbath day (Lk. 6:1-5) is specified to have taken place on the second Sabbath in the cycle of the counting of the omer 2. As Shmuel Safrai has pointed out, “Luke’s narrative clearly was composed within a society familiar with the counting of the omer.” 3 Shouldn’t we be more aware of the Biblical calendar that God set up? (See Leviticus 23, etc.)
- In Leviticus 23:10 – the singular Hebrew word Reshit (rather than Bikurim) is used, meaning “Firstfruit” which can be paralleled heuristically with 1 Corinthians 15:20,23 where Yeshua is termed the firstfruit (ἀπαρχὴ), a singular form as well. Bikurim (plural) is used at the end of Leviticus 23 in regards to the firstfruits for Shavuot, and parallels us as believers as the firstfruits of the new creation in James 1:18.