Are you Counting the Omer this Paschal season? Many Christians do not even know about this ancient tradition rooted in the scriptures, much less practice it to receive its rich spiritual benefits.
The observance of this ancient rite comes from the books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus when the Lord instituted it through Moses.
You shall count for yourselves — from the day after the Shabbat, from the day when you bring the Omer of the waving — seven Shabbats, they shall be complete. Until the day after the seventh sabbath you shall count, fifty days… -Leviticus 23:15-16
You shall count for yourselves seven weeks, from when the sickle is first put to the standing crop shall you begin counting seven weeks. Then you will observe the Festival of Shavu’ot for the L-RD, your G-d -Deuteronomy 16:9-10
Since then, the Jewish people have counted the Omer each year for the 50 Days from Passover to Shavuot (Festival of Weeks). It commemorates the journey of the Jewish people from the start of their exodus from Egypt until the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. The 50 Days in between mark their journey of purification.
The Jewish people’s love of the Torah is unprecedented in many ways. Never has there ever been a people dedicated to the study and love of God’s Word like the Jewish people. Not even Evangelical Christians could argue this point. The Jewish people are God’s chosen people to whom he gave the Torah and the Law. There is no point in arguing this. Even Jesus said he did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17) and he never proclaimed to give over the Torah to any other people group, including the Gentiles. For the Jews, the 50 Days between Passover and Shavuot have always symbolized the preparation one undertakes to receive the Torah. It is a journey toward Encounter with the Living God. A journey of purification to receive the Words of God. It was not simply another ritual rite but a passage to ritual intimacy with the Creator, Master of the Universe.
Each Day of Counting the Omer begins with a blessing, an observance of the great gift of the Creator’s presence to us. And, is often followed by a recounting of the nature and character of God. Some choose to reflect on the 7 Divine Names Of God, which are assigned to each day of the week and also each week of the 7 weeks (7days x 7weeks= 49 Days, the 50th day culminating in the celebration feast). It ends with time for personal reflection on where the soul is in alignment to the Divine Nature.
For Jews, this period of preparation was essential to their receiving the Torah. Had they not prepared themselves by meditating on the Divine Nature of God and allowing themselves to become imitators of it, they believe God would not have given them the Torah at Mt. Sinai. And, if the Torah had not been given then the universe would have ceased to exist. This is how integral the Counting of the Omer was then and continues to be today to their faith. The counting of the days is not a countdown but rather a counting up to Encounter with the Living God.
As Christians, we should immediately recognize the spiritual significance of this practice. We should also recognize in a profound way the significance of having the Paschal Easter Celebration and the Feast of Pentecost align on the same dates as the Passover and Shavuot timeline. It is no coincidence that these New Testament feasts aligned perfectly in the time of our Lord with the same feasts of the Jewish people instituted in the Old Testament. Whereas, the Jewish people were invited to Count the Days toward encountering the Word of God in the giving of the Torah, Christians are invited to observe the same into encountering the living Word in the power of the Holy Spirit. In a sense, it is the very fulfillment of both the written Torah and the living oral Torah being activated. In order to receive either, the Lord asks His people to prepare themselves for His Encounter.
“In the Jewish practice, an Omer (sheaf) of the new barley was offered to the Temple every day after Passover to be ‘waved’ ceremonially by the priest. The Omer began to be counted daily from the second day of Passover for seven weeks, at which point the festival of Shavuot (‘weeks’) was celebrated. ‘Counting the Omer’ until the seven weeks were concluded became a recognizable stretch of Jewish life with its own traditions . . .”
This same author adds:
“The seven-week period from Passover to Shavuot had a ritual in which a sheaf of grain from the new harvest was offered to the priest every day.
Every offering was counted off daily until the forty-ninth day, after which Shavuot was celebrated.”
It should be clear that “counting the omer” was performed every year, as a special aspect of the Passover celebration, beginning the day after Passover. This was the very day that the spring harvest of barley began, and continued for forty nine days, until Pentecost, when the spring harvest was completed!
The “omer offering” every day for 49 days during the spring harvest is a type of the “firstfruits” of God’s creation – true converted people of God, from the time of the patriarchs down to true Christians of our day, today. The “omer” was the First Fruit! Likewise, “we ourselves [are those] who have the first fruits of the Spirit” (Romans 8:23). James calls Christians “a kind of first fruits of his creatures” (James 1:18). John in Revelation speaks of those who “have been redeemed from humankind as First Fruits for God and the Lamb” (Rev.14:4).
The Messiah Himself was the original “first fruit”, by resurrection from the dead (I Cor.15:20). True saints of God during this age will join Him as the rest of the “first fruits” when He returns.
At Christ’s coming, He will marry the Church, the “firstfruits” (Rev.19:6-9), just as He married Israel when He came down to Mount Sinai on that first Pentecost, or Feast of Weeks (Exodus 19-20; 24:9-11). Thus the daily “counting of the omer” is a ritual which reflects the spring harvest of all Christians and all the holy men and women of old who will be in the First Resurrection, and who will marry Christ at His coming!
The vast, overwhelming majority of Christians do not even begin to realize or recognize this amazing, wonderful Truth!
By Counting the Omer, Christians can enter into the same 50 Days of preparation between Pascha and Pentecost by Counting the Omer in the same way, by choosing to reflect on the character and nature of God or by meditating on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. In the journey I mention below we will be looking at both. The Blessing is the same and the reward is a richer, deeper intimacy with our Lord.
I invite you to join me on this journey by Counting the Omer with me daily on Instagram and Facebook or Sign up to receive daily reminders by email. Journey with us as we press in daily with prayer and reflection for deeper intimacy with the Lord from now until Pentecost!
If you are joining in late, that’s okay, you can catch up by reviewing the previous day’s reflections or just start on whichever day you begin.
If you still have questions concerning whether Christians should participate in this observance, I encourage you to check out this great article Should Christians Count the Omer?
As the Paschal Season continues, I pray you find yourself immersed with our Lord’s goodness. And as we continue toward the day of Pentecost, let us continually be filled with His Presence that we may possess the fullness of His gifts in power. For the kingdom of God is not in word but power 1 Corinthians 4:20.
Until the Day Dawns and the shadows flee,
COUNT THE OMER WITH ME -> click to sign up http://eepurl.com/dp7hyH
Christians know Christ gave us the victory over death and the law (Galatians 5:1), but we also know we have an enemy intent on keeping us from walking in it. Counting the Omer gives us pause to consider how we are walking out our Triumph. We give Christ 40 Days to prepare ourselves for the Gift of His Cross (Salvation & Grace), God asks us to give Him 50 Days to prepare for receiving the Gift of His Spirit (Power & Might).
JOIN ME ON THE COUNT toward full recalibration that our hearts will always stay in tune to the beat of His Victory! Get Started Now -> http://eepurl.com/dp7hyH