The Netzari Faith

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The presentation of the omer initiates a countdown of seven weeks, culminating in Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost) immediately after the 49th day.

“And you shall count to you from the morning after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave-offering; seven weeks shall be complete: Even to the morrow after the seventh week shall you number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meal-offering to HaShem. You shall bring out of your habitations two wave-loaves of two tenth-parts: they shall be of fine flour, they shall be baked with leaven, and they are the first-fruits to HaShem” (Leviticus 23:15-17).

At this second offering of first-fruits, the grain is not presented in its natural state, but has been thrashed and winnowed, so that only the useful portion is retained. The “fine flower” produced in this way is infused with a new holiness – not the paganism of Egypt which was left behind, but by the life-giving holiness of God’s holy Law. This new batch of dough is then put to the fire to produce two loaves for a new wave-offering before our God.

In the history of the first Exodus, the “thrashing and winnowing” began immediately – even on the shores of the Sea of Reeds. It continued at the waters of Marah, “… for there He tested them” (Shemot 15:25), in the Desert of Sin, “I will test them and see whether they obey my instructions” (Shemot 16:4), and eventually at Sinai, in the very afterglow of Divine Revelation, in the censure over the Golden Calf.

During this time, the children of Israel were not “elevated into a position of readiness to receive the Law” – as claimed by the rabbis – but was rather weighed and found wanting, shown to be an unfaithful, disobedient, and obstinate people.  If not for the faithful intercession of Moshe, HaShem would have destroyed the entire nation within days of entering into the Sinai Covenant.  But HaShem’s purposes cannot fail, and the nation would fulfill its prophetic destiny, even if reduced to a remnant of one (Exodus 32:10).

Shavuot (the 50th day) coincides according to tradition with the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Chapter nineteen of Exodus simply records that the hosts of Israel reached Sinai in the third month, which begins on the 45th day of the omer (five days before Pentecost).

According to the Soncino Commentary, “the Israelites arrived at Sinai on the New Moon [first day of the third month]. On the second of the month, Moses ascended the mountain; on the third, he received the people’s reply; on the fourth, he made the second ascent and was commanded to institute three days of preparation, at the conclusion of which the Revelation took place. Hence its [i.e. the giving of the Torah’s] association with the Feast of Weeks, which became the Festival of Revelation.”

Maimonides explains the significance of the seven week countdown to Shavuot (also known as the sephirah or counting): “The Feast of Weeks is the anniversary of the revelation on Mount Sinai. . . In order to raise the importance of this day, we count the days that pass since the preceding festival, just as one who expects his most intimate friend on a certain day counts the days and even the hours. This is the reason why we count the days…”

Whereas the Red Sea represented the deliverance from pagan rule, the Law of Sinai represented the more important deliverance from pagan lore and custom. If Israel conformed to the Torah (HaShem’s teaching) it would display God’s wisdom and holiness, and rouse the nations to jealously: “Behold, I have taught you statutes, and judgments, even as HaShem my God commanded me, that you should do so in the land where you are going to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, that will hear all these statutes, and say, surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, that has God so near to them, as HaShem our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that has statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?"   (Deuteronomy 4:5-8).

The omer count is made starting the evening of each day – when the count happens at night the blessing is said and when the count happens during the daytime the blessing is not said. Here’s the blessing: "Baruch atah Ad-nai Elo-keinu melekh ha-olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al s’firat ha-omer" / "Blessed be You our God Ruler of space and time, who made us holy through commandments and commanded us about counting the Omer."

After the blessing the day is counted by absolute number and by its number within each week, i.e., "Today is the thirty-third day of the omer, which is four weeks and five days"

According to the book of Acts says that the risen Yeshua appeared to His disciples over a period of forty days before His ascension. The forty days of the living Messiah among His disciples all fell within a period of time on the biblical calendar called the "counting of the Omer."

The forty-nine days hearken back to the days of the journey from the crossing of the sea to Mount Sinai. It is a journey that begins with the Feast of Unleavened Bread (the symbol of our salvation in Yeshua), and it is completed at Pentecost (the symbol of our completion through the Spirit). The Master’s resurrection makes the counting of the Omer a season of special significance and joy for His disciples. It is a time to remember the resurrected Yeshua. All of his post-resurrection appearances fell within the days of the Omer count counting the Omer continues the cycle in a believer’s life of "working out their salvation" (Phil 2:12)

Shavuot concludes the first half of the festive calendar.  It’s very important to count the Omer and make the Omer Count.

 

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