Eighth Day of Passover
Counting the Omer Leviticus 23:1-16
Today we will take a closer look at the period we are now in in G-d’s calendar. We will look at what the counting of the Omer can teach us about our spiritual life.
First, a few words about the totality of G-d’s calendar. Think of the times in the Messianic scriptures where it is mentioned that Yeshua was either going to Jerusalem to take part in a biblical holiday or leaving Jerusalem after participating in a holiday. Picture in your mind what the roads to Zion must have looked like as pilgrims made their way either to or away from the Holy City. These holidays were looked at as a religious experience, “Going up to the mountain of the L-rd.” There would have been hundreds of thousands of Jews making their way up to Jerusalem. The roads would have been overflowing with people. Psalms 42:4 speaks of their experience of going up to the mountain of the L-rd singing the Psalms of Ascents.
Yeshua made this trip with His parents as well as an adult many times. (Luke 2:42, John 2:13) In John chapters 4,6,7 and 12 we read of Him going or returning home after going to Jerusalem to celebrate these appointed times of the L-rd. In our lives as believers these holidays give us some grounding in our faith as well. In Deut. 16:14 we can read a list of people going up to the feast of the L-rd. It includes the strangers who have attached themselves to the G-d of Jacob. One day we will all stand in the New Jerusalem to celebrate with the Messiah. What a time that will be.
Now, let us look at the time we are now in, the time of counting the omer. By definition omer is the Hebrew word for a sheaf of grain. In this time of counting the grain waved before the L-rd would have been barley, the first of the grain crops harvested each year. An interesting fact about this grain, it was first domesticated around 8,500 BCE and was an essential part of the diet of many countries. Given all this, the omer brought to the Tabernacle or Temple during Passover would have been barley. It would have been offered each day until Shavuot when the first wheat was being harvested.
In Leviticus 23:1-16 we read the verses that speaks of counting the omer. We have already talked about how the families would come to Jerusalem for these holidays. The passing on of the holidays of G-d was important to these families. It gave their children something tangible to remember and hold on to. So it is in our lives today. It is important that our children and grandchildren see our faith played out in our lives. The world is more than ready to sweep them away if they have no clear understanding of who we are and who they are in their spiritual walk.
The omer can be looked at as an important part of this process of defining the path we all are on. Think for a moment what we can learn from these days. Barley was a grain hard for people to digest. Wheat was much more preferred as a food source. So each day when the priest would wave this offering of barley before the L-rd it would symbolize our own walk after coming to faith. We may have been a little rough around the edges. We may still be struggling with issues that were part of our lives before we became believers. We may struggle with anger, resentment or other things that do not so easily go away when we come to faith. That may be why the writer of Philippians 2:12 wrote, “Work out your own salvation.” We are on the path. We are not the same person. We have a choice now. We are no longer slaves. We, during these days, symbolically move toward the eating of “spiritual” wheat rather than the more unrefined barley. Sanctifying time is one of the lessons G-d teaches us. We are different now. We are not slaves to sin. We can choose to live a different life with G-d’s help. I think this is one of the major lessons of this time we are in now. Use each of these days of counting the omer to look at your life. Are there still things hanging on from the past?
We are now disciples of the Messiah. In scripture a disciple was a person who followed their teacher, spent time every day with him. The disciple learned how their teacher lived and then patterned their life after him. We are disciples of Yeshua. That fact requires time and effort on our part daily. That is how we work out our own salvation, The omer helps in our quest.
Let me encourage all of us to consider this time of the omer countdown to Shavuot as a methodical 49 day process of winnowing the chaff from our lives as we attempt to refine ourselves. It is also a reminder to us that our days are numbered and we must make every day count.
May the G-d of Israel richly bless you this week as you pursue Him.