“Then [after Passover] you are to count from the morrow after the Shabbat, from the day that you brought the omer of the wave offering, seven complete Shabbat[s]. Until the morrow after the seventh Shabbat you are to count fifty days, and then present a grain offering to Adonai.” (Leviticus 23:15-16, Tree of Life Version)
The current season of Levitical spring feasts includes one lesser known holiday called Siferat HaOmer. Siferat HaOmer is translated “Counting the Omer.” In ancient Israel an omer was a sheaf of grain, a unit of dry measure. To observe this agriculture related holiday, the Torah tells us simply to count fifty days from Passover until Shavuot. (See Leviticus 23:15-16 above.) Today (April 21, 2017) is Day 11 of the omer count, 5777.
The official start date of the omer count is a bit ambiguous, as different interpretations exist regarding when the “morrow [day] after the Shabbat” occurs. Most believe that since Passover is treated as a Shabbat, the omer count starts the day after Passover begins. Others say the words, “the Shabbat” refer specifically to the first Saturday-Sabbath following Passover. In any case, virtually all agree that Siferat HaOmer serves as a period of preparation for greater revelation of YHVH, culminating with the Feast of Shavuot. Shavuot means “Weeks.”
According to rabbinic tradition, God gave Israel the treasured gift of Torah on Shavuot. It is taught that on Passover we were delivered, and during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, purified. Weeks later on Shavuot, we were sanctified by God’s Holy Word, the Law of Moses. On that day we became more intimately His through an exchange of covenant vows similar to those of marriage. Siferat HaOmer reminds us — and should revive in us — the reality of holy covenant relationship with the Divine.
It was on Shavuot many years later, after Yeshua ascended to heaven, that God gave us yet another incomparable gift — His indwelling Spirit. This heaven and earth shattering event is more commonly known as Pentecost. On Pentecost, YHVH sanctified us anew in Spirit as well as Truth. He expanded and extended covenant relationship with Israel, and salvation by grace through Messiah, for all who believe. By this New Covenant, Pentecost is considered the birth date of the Church, God’s called out ones. Through the New Covenant Jews and Gentiles could gloriously become one new humanity in Messiah.
It was during Siferat HaOmer, after His resurrection, that Yeshua revealed Himself several times to the disciples and 500 others. (1 Corinthians 15:7) He gave Bible studies and prophecy updates — no doubt, truly amazingly fresh revelation! He revealed further evidence of His messiahship and God’s ways. Then, on the 40th day of the omer count, Yeshua ascended to heaven. (Luke 24:50; Acts 1:9-12)
A traditional blessing is recited each day of Siferat HaOmer: “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to count the omer. Today is day (1, 2, 3, etc.) of the omer count.”
Most Messianic believers amplify the traditional blessing to include the blood atonement of Yeshua and ongoing ministry of Holy Spirit as essential for our sanctification. We thank and praise God for His past, present, and future agricultural and other provision. In that sense, you could say we count our blessings as omer. And because God is so gracious, we believe for increasing revelation of His glory, even an Emmaus Road encounter, in the weeks ahead.
If Siferat HaOmer stirs your spirit, then you might consider counting the omer — and making it count!