Passover Reading: (Leviticus) Vayikra 25:1-16
Counting the Omer
At sundown today the holiday of Pesach ends and we count day eight of the omer. Since there is no Torah portion for this Sabbath we will give our attention to several topics that G-d has brought before me this week including some insight on counting the omer.
In Leviticus 25:1-16 we read the verses that form the scriptural basis for the counting of the omer. Like everything in scripture it is spiritually worthwhile for us to explore the deeper meaning behind these verses. To help us get started I would like to ask you a hypothetical question. If G-d came to you and said He would grant you any wish, your hearts desire, what would your answer be? To give us an idea of how G-d sees us and the world let us look at the promise G-d gave to Abraham in Genesis 18:19, and Ephesians 6:4. You can see by His promise to Abraham family is important to G-d. What we pass on to our children, to the next generation, will change the world. How do we go about doing this?
One of the spiritual lessons behind the counting of the omer is that it takes us from redemption to the place of being able to live our lives according to G-d’s Word and will. How? As we go through these days leading up to Shavuot, rather than each day a mechanical counting of the omer, allow G-d to identify and change those things that hold us back. When we truly set our face to giving G-d the opportunity to do this it will change us.
The offering brought for the omer was barley. The priest waved it before the L-rd in every direction signifying G-d’s power over all. Barley was considered the coarsest of grain. It was mainly used for animal food. It was as if the priest was symbolizing our state after redemption. We are still struggling with issues in our lives that are held over from before our redemption. We are saved but we are told in Philippians 2:12 to work out our own salvation. G-d saved us but we also have a role to play, working on those issues that still negatively influence our lives.
These days of the omer take us from barley to wheat, from our animal food to the real bread. This is what is important to the Father. Sanctifying time is something we learn when we count the omer. It is our choice how we spend our time however G-d has set us free so that we have the choice to make. We are not the same as before our redemption when we were slaves but now we are free people and we have the choice.
Sometimes it is hard for us to know exactly what the Word of G-d says because we are not familiar with the language and idioms of the scripture and the culture it was written in. For example, read Matthew 6:22-23. Here we read of a “good eye” and a “bad eye” and the effect they have on our lives. What is Yeshua really saying? Is he talking about having good eyesight? In Hebrew, a good eye means someone who is generous and an evil or bad eye speaks of a greedy stingy person. We see this in the Hebrew scripture in Proverbs 22:9 and 23:6. In Matthew 6:19-24 we read about the same concept. So in these verses in Matthew 6 Yeshua is speaking of generosity and greed and the effects both will have on our lives. By being a person with a good eye we change the world and people are moved toward the Father.
Another case is the meaning of disciples. What does it mean to us today? In the time of Yeshua and today in His culture it meant to learn from your Rabbi or teacher. This is deeper learning that just knowledge but how to live each day. In Yeshua’s day a disciple was with his teacher 24/7. His teacher, in many ways, became his father and the disciple was to imitate his teacher. I Cor. 4:15-17 So in the New Testament disciples were much more than just converts. They were a representative of their teacher and as such were expected to be an imitator and complete reflection of what their teacher believed and taught. When we read the life of Yeshua and His disciples we see this played out exactly.
It should be the same for us. We all are called to be more than converts. We are to be disciples of Yeshua. Remember this as you go through this time of counting the omer.