By Dennis Northington
After Passover comes Pentecost, the appointed Feast Day of Shavuot. It is called The Feast of Weeks because God tells us to count seven weeks or seven weekly Sabbaths following Passover. It is the 50th day of counting the Omer, the day after the 7th weekly Sabbath which first celebrated the day of the giving of the Ten Commandments upon the fiery mountain top at Sinai and then the giving of the Spirit at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
We can do as the disciples did. After all, there is a reason they knew to stay in Jerusalem and a reason they knew our Savior ascended on the 40th day… because they were counting — the Omer days !!!
Do the same and count in the celebration all the way to the 50th day and it will be Shavuot — Pentecost Day!! It is the holy day that marks the day of the giving of the Ten Commandments at the mountain of Sinai in the wilderness and the day of the anointing of His Spirit at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The next Biblical Holiday after summer’s Pentecost is in the fall, it is Rosh HaShanah, the Day of Trumpets.
But this study is a about the importance of counting because a part of the celebration in the resurrection is “to participate” in God’s counting to Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks. After all, it is an unchanging instruction from God. This is important because Pentecost is one of the three major appointed days of God’s Word. It is a special day that God instructs us to not work for ourselves so that we can gather before Him and receive His gifts.
It is the only appointed day that God asks His people to actually count up to.
For me, the key to understand this is to know that God gives us His teaching and instruction for living because He loves us. Because of that unfailing love He never changes His mind and He teaches us some very simple guidelines about how we are to live for Him. It’s the original message of the Deceiver to fall for the idea that God does not mean what He says or that He changes His mind. Don’t listen to that message any longer.
Instead, be a part of the plan, the plan of God.
God tells us that the “big three” unchanging holy days in Jerusalem are Passover (Pesach), Pentecost (Shavuot) and Tabernacles (Sukkot). They are the days God instructed Israel to appear before Him at the Temple. Thankfully today, many people are coming to realize His appointed feasts are important to keep. The truth is they help us demonstrate our love for God in the order and manner of worship He asks of us because all Scripture is written about the mystery of the revealing of the Messiah, in His word – – from Genesis to Revelation.
Perhaps like me, you are learning that drawing nearer to the presence of God is indeed done by walking in the step and rhythm of our Creator just as He instructed us to in the annual appointed “cycle” of His eternal rehearsal days, His Feast Days so that we can “be near” to Him at the appointed time in God’s plan of salvation and restoration.
Can you just imagine what would have happened if the disciples ignore the words of their King?
They would have missed the blessing and gifts of His Spirit because Jesus the Messiah, the one whose Hebrew name is Yeshua (it means “Salvation”) is the fulfillment of Passover (crucifixion), Unleavened Bread (grave) and First Fruits (resurrection).
As Genesis 1:14 says, the sun and moon were created for signs, appointed times, days and years. They are always in synch with His creation of greater and lesser light by His timepiece, the moon, in the 1st Biblical lunar month called Abib. Passover is always on the 14th day after the new moon so the moon is nearly full, unleavened bread is the 15th day count and first fruits the 16th and the 7th day of the Passover week is a “mikra”, a convocation, an assembly in which no work is to be done and it always falls on the 20th day of the Hebrew month.
It’s amazing that the Messiah’s appointed covenant week matches His creation story. Day one light.. the light of the world was there hung on the tree for all to see, day two He separated the firmament, His body was put behind the stone separated from others and on day three the seeds and fruit burst forth just like the first fruits of Messiah as He rose victorious over death into new life through is resurrection.
Yeshua-Jesus is the “firstborn” through the power of resurrection. We are first taught about the firstborn by the symbols seen in Exodus: 22:29: “Thou shalt not delay [to offer] the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me.”
According to Random House Dictionary (2010) the definition of a “cycle” is:
1. any complete round or series of occurrences that repeats or is repeated.
2. a round of years or a recurring period of time, esp. one in which certain events or phenomena repeat themselves in the same order and at the same intervals.
Like the laws of physics God’s word does not change. Physics defines a “cycle” as: a.) a sequence of changing states that, upon completion, produces a final state identical to the original one. b.) one of a succession of periodically recurring events. c.) a complete alteration in which a phenomenon attains a maximum and minimum value, returning to a final value equal to the original one.
Understanding this is important because Firstfruits is very special in the significance and “eternal” meaning of the Passover season of The Lord’s appointed feasts held “every” spring at the beginning of the grain harvest season. Firstfruits is representative of the eternal cycle of the appointed time of thanksgiving for God’s provision and salvation. It is and will be THE fulfillment of the reality of the promise of our restoration to the original relationship that God intended for us. It is well beyond our comprehension, but He will accomplish our restoration to live set apart and near to Him through resurrection.
Leviticus 23:9-14 institutes the symbol of resurrection through the instruction of the “firstfruits” offering described in the Bible. God instructed His people to bring a sheaf of grain to the priest, who would wave it before the Lord along with a burnt offering, a meal/grain offering, and a drink offering. The teaching of Deuteronomy 26:1-10 gives us even more information on this great day.
Our joy is to seek understanding and truth in God’s word. We may not be able to catch a plane to Jerusalem today, but we can in Spirit!!
The Scriptures constantly give us visible and physical symbols of our Creator’s invisible spiritual truths that we can relate to from God’s creation. The offering of the first fruits of the spring barley harvest represents the promise of God for eternal life and it leads to the Day of Shavuot or Pentecost and the first wheat harvest. Messiah Yeshua’s resurrection is represented by the barley harvest of grain of First Fruits. We read in His word about the coming harvest, it is the harvest of wheat. His followers and believers are represented by the fall wheat harvest of grain. Regretfully, there are unbelievers, those that reject God and judgment will occur because sin can not survive in God’s presence. This is represented in Scripture by the pulling out of the “tares” – the weeds.
The picture of the harvest in the Bible is amazing. Incredibly, both barley and wheat contain the eight essential amino acids that are regarded as essential for human life! They are: phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, isoleucine, methionine, leucine, and lysine.
In all of Scripture the number eight (8) signifies a new beginning and eternity. According to BibleStudy.org “It is (7) plus (1). Hence it is the number specially associated with Resurrection and Regeneration, and the beginning of a new era or order.”
Numbers are important in Scripture, so are the pure metals. In Scripture fifty (50) equates with “deliverance” and silver represents “redemption”.
Have you ever noticed this?
And if a man shall sanctify unto the LORD [some part] of a field of his possession, then thy estimation shall be according to the seed thereof: an homer of barley seed [shall be valued] at fifty shekels of silver. Leviticus 27:16.Even the most obscure verses of the Bible alludes to Messiah! Truly, God’s word is amazing – every word has a meaning and purpose!!
For example, the three symbols of the First Fruit offerings are: 1) a burnt offering = the crucifixion death, 2) a meal/grain offering = Messiah’s body given as the unleavened bread of life, and 3) a drink offering = Messiah’s life blood given as a covering and atonement for sin. But unlike the burnt sacrifice of a lamb or heifer, The Messiah lives as the First Fruits of eternal life. He has victory over death through his resurrection. By His own words we know:
I [am] he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Revelation 1:18
Here’s another interesting example. Just after His resurrection after the third day following Passover which is called First Fruits, we see some unusual instruction that is direct;y tied to Leviticus 23.
“Yeshua saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and [to] my God, and your God.” John 20:17
Many have read the story of the road to Emmaus and it’s worth repeating.
Following First Fruits, after walking a few miles outside of Jerusalem, two disciples who had not yet heard of the resurrection met Yeshua whom they did not recognize in the physical glory and form of His resurrected body until He interpreted the ancient Scriptures for them. They only recognized Him after He related how He is hidden within the stories, words and symbols of the Torah. The five scrolls penned by Moses that so many today call the Old Testament… the very Word and Bible Yeshua always read and taught from. This “Word” is the bread of life. It is not “old” – and there’s no mold!!
It just so happens that the two disciples understood the “Word”when they entered a home to have a meal, and with the giving of “the bread” and “meat”, they understood who He was as their eyes were “opened” to the “truth” which is in the stories and symbols of the Scriptures.
“All” Scripture is full from the front cover to the back of God’s eternal spiritual truths. Truth from God that He does not change. The Creator describes Himself as the One that was, is and will be.
Think about it, if either the law of physics, which were spoken into existence by God at creation were to change or if the instruction of God were to change, then the heavens, the earth and life itself would cease to exist. That is why Yeshua (Jesus) told all of us plainly about the truth of the Scriptures He taught from. The perfect One said:
“For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Torah till all is fulfilled.” Matthew 5:18.
The “Jot” is representative of the letter “Yod”, which is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The “tittle” is the small decorative spur or point on the upper edge of the yod.
The meaning of this passage is very clear and straightforward: Not even the smallest Hebrew letter or even its decorative corner will ever disappear from God’s own “spoken” Word until all is fulfilled. The point is: Nothing changes with God… so we need to keep counting!
Only when heaven and earth are restored by a renewed heaven and earth will the words of the Lord be accomplished and only then will His Word be fulfilled in every detail even to the very letter of every word. We can see this “revelation” described in Revelation 21:1-7:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, (the Aleph and Tav) the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.””
Here we see God’s words are trustworthy and true. So, we can understand and “see” the story of the road to Emmaus is tied to Shavout.
Walking a few miles outside of Jerusalem, two disciples met the Master whom they did not recognize until He interpreted the Scriptures (the bread of life = Torah) for them in relation to the true understanding of Who He really is (meat = truth) hidden within the words and writings of the so-called “Old” Testament… the Bible Scriptures that He read and taught from. The same hour, the two disciples walked back in obedience and returned to Jerusalem announcing the resurrection to the others. Then Yeshua (Jesus) appeared again and commissioned them to preach repentance and forgiveness to all. He told them to stay in Jerusalem “until you are clothed with power from on high”.
His instruction to stay in Jerusalem matched the instruction of the 49 day counting of the omer. Have you ever wondered how the the disciples knew to gather together on the Pentecost Day?
It was the 50th day, THE day following the 7 weeks, the 49 days of counting the omer, the day called Shavuot, the day that had been celebrated for nearly fifteen hundred years by the people of Israel.
That’s why there were thousands gathered there in Jerusalem at the Temple listening to Peter.
In fact, just as 3,000 of Israel died at the scene of the golden calf (Exodus 32:28); 3,000 were redeemed that great day (Acts 2:41-42) as they listened to the witnesses. In the same manner, the 12 “nations” of Israel and the sojourners with them gathered together to hear the voice of God declare the ten commandments from the fiery top of Mount Sinai. So too, the “nations” of people gathered at the Temple Mount to hear with one voice – the word of God as spoken by the disciples, each in the native languages (tongues) of the people that gathered in from nations. That is what “tongues” is all about. It was the gift given by the fire and Spirit of God so all men could hear the truth that day as Peter spoke on the Temple Mount.
Before this great day Our Savior told His disciples:
“And he said unto them, these [are] the words which I spoke to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Torah of Moses, and [in] the prophets, and [in] the psalms, concerning me. Then he opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Messiah to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:44-49
This comes from the unchanging instruction given regarding determining the exact day of Pentecost which was first given some 1,500 years before His disciples would participate in its fulfillment of reality at Pentecost. Can you imagine what would have happened on this day which is known in Hebrew as Shavuot if the disciples had not counted the 49 days? No wonder God instructed that seven Sabbaths are to be counted day by day.
They would have all missed the giving of His Spirit. Why? His word is unchanging, God means what He says!
“And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath… Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord.” Leviticus 23: 15-16.
The book of Acts recounts the story of the counting of the Omer by the disciples to the day of Pentecost “when it was fully come”:
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.” Acts 2:1-3.
You need to know the Counting of the Omer covers the jubilee of counting of time until Shavuot (Pentecost) which is the 50th day.
Counting of the Omer is called Sefirat Ha’omer in Hebrew. It is the acknowledged counting of seven Sabbaths and each of the forty-nine days after the first weekly Sabbath after the set apart appointed Feast of Passover. It is the 49 days leading up to Shavuot. Shavuot or Pentecost as it is called by so many today is known as the Feast of Weeks. It is the Feast of the seven weekly Sabbaths of counting. Leviticus 23 tells us how to count but there has been confusion for thousands of years through tradition.
Believe it or not, the omer count confusion started with an ancient conflict between the Pharisees and the Sadducees during the Maccabean era. More of their conflict is seen in the New Testament in Matthew 22:23-28 as we see the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection.
The key to understanding the lesson in Matthew is that Yeshua quotes from the Torah, which the Sadducees accepted as the basis for their theology. Jesus did not get caught up in the controversy between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, instead He focused on the words of the Torah and that’s what we need to do.
Leviticus tells us that the day after Passover is a “Holy Convocation” or “mikra” in which no labor, no work is to be done. Think about this, if vocation or work was done, some would miss the convocation, but no one is to miss a convocation. Because of the instruction from God to not work, many Jewish people call this day a Sabbath. In a way that is adding to Scripture, yet we are instructed in Deuteronomy 12:32 to not do that. Just look for yourself in Leviticus 23:15-16, the word “Sabbath” does not appear until the counting instruction is given. The word being used in the verses telling us to count is just that the Sabbath.
During the “Counting of the Omer”, we all “get to” count up to the Feast of Shavuot and with each day we are actually participating in the growing expectation and anticipation of what THE BIG DAY many call Pentecost actually represents.
At the Exodus time, it was His voice heard from the fire on the mountain giving His Torah, His wisdom for righteous living after salvation by the blood of the lamb as seen with by the fire atop Mount Sinai and at Messiah’s time it was the giving of His blessings and gifts by His Spirit like a mighty wind that was heard bringing the cloven tongues of fire on the assembly of believers.
“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12.
During the daily Counting of the Omer in times past, many have started their days by reading a verse from King David’s Psalm 119.
Just imagine the previous 49 days in the life of the Israelites as they stood below Mount Sinai. They had come from the slavery of Egypt (which means confusion), they had seen the plagues come on Egypt and they made the sea crossing, the mikveh shortly after. Everyone had to be anticipating the moment of their meeting with God at Sinai. It was the fiery mountain of God.
Can you just imagine that perhaps you too may be privileged to see the plagues (tribulation) and take the journey across the sea to Israel, to the Mount of Olives to meet with The Lord at His return to the place He chose to put His name – Jerusalem?
Each day of counting has a special meaning.
Just consider day five of the counting to Pentecost/Shavuot because in the Hebrew language, letters are also used to not only spell but to count. The alef-bet starts with 1) Aleph, 2) Bet 3) Gimel, 4) Dalet and 5) Hey. The letter Hey = five.
The ה HEY, or the 5th day’s verses are: Psalms 119: 33-40. So give it a try reading the Psalm of David in a manner that allows you to review and reflect on your life and path of separation from the ways of confusion, the ways of the world to be near to God:
Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
And not to covetousness.
Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way.
Establish Your word to Your servant,
Who is devoted to fearing You.
Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your judgments are good.
Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me in Your righteousness.
Every year, at every Passover we are reminded of the greatest gift ever given to mankind–the gift of Salvation. In Hebrew, that would be translated “the gift of Yeshua”, the Hebrew name of Jesus.
We are asked by The Almighty to count the 49 days-and then present ourselves ready for His Spirit of fire on the 50th day, enabling us to proclaim His gospel of the Kingdom to the ends of the earth!!
“And you shall count for yourselves from the morrow of the Sabbath, from the day on which you bring the Omer offering, seven complete weeks they shall be; until the morrow of the seventh week, you shall count fifty days… And you shall proclaim that very day a holy festival”Leviticus 23:15-21
So teach [us] to number our days, that we may apply [our] hearts unto wisdom. Psalms 90:12.
Read God’s Word, listen to His voice and you will find the destination He is leading you toward. If you do not yet feel God calling you to His appointed Sabbaths, today may be the beginning. God is calling you out to return. That is why you are reading this. The appointed time is now:
Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. Zechariah 1:3
Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept [them]. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Malachi 3:7
And I will give them an heart to know me, that I [am] the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart. Jeremiah 24:7.
Since the beginning, His words ARE unchanging AND true so… come out of Egypt, out of confusion, circumcise your heart, obey His voice, walk in His ways… But never simply take my word or anyone else’s, get a second witness from the Scriptures. Open and study God’s word and let it be your witness for truth.
God is still very much in the business of teaching us about the power of His life and resurrection. I encourage you to DO AS THE DISCIPLES DID – COUNT THE OMER !!!
Your thoughts and comments.
We would like to hear from you.