Counting the Omer - The Countdown to Pentecost (Shavuot)

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Part of the Appointed Times which God has commanded includes what is called the "Counting of the Omer." After giving instructions about the celebration of the festival of Unleavened Bread, God gives the following commandments: "You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD" (Leviticus 23:15-16). Here we see that the people of Israel were commanded to count fifty days from the day after the first day of Passover, which was a special sabbath, until Pentecost (Shavuot). In fact, the reason we call this day Pentecost in the Church is because it is translated from the Greek word for "fiftieth." This period of counting serves to connect the times of Passover, which symbolizes redemption from slavery, and Shavuot, which symbolizes taking on the yoke of the Kingdom of God.

The day of Pentecost holds great significance for believers in Yeshua (Jesus) because of the events which are recorded in Acts 2. You may be aware that Pentecost and the Biblical Appointed Time of Shavuot are one and the same, and yet the Church celebrates Pentecost on a different day than Judaism does. Why is this? It is because the Church began using the Roman calendar instead of the religious calendar which was used in Judaism. The months of the Biblical calendar are determined by the lunar cycle (Numbers 10:10), and the various civil calendars which arose out of Rome did not align with this method.

The phrase "counting of the omer" is not found in the Bible, but the phrase has been used to more easily refer to this period of counting which we introduced in the first paragraph. So what is an omer, and what does it have to do with this time of counting? Reading through the Old Testament, you will see many references to the omer. It was a unit of measurement used for measuring various dry goods, particularly grain. In the days of the temple, an omer of grain would be offered on this first day of the omer, and thus the name was derived.

So why should believers in Yeshua count along with this schedule? First of all, it connects the times of Passover (when Yeshua was crucified), First Fruits (when Yeshua was resurrected), and Shavuot (when the Holy Spirit was given). While the Church celebrates these things on its own, their greatest value is recognized when observed through the Jewish lens which it was originally lived out in. God commanded this countdown to be observed, and so it must have some meaning. We see that this time connects Passover and Shavuot on the physical level, which should make us contemplate their spiritual connection. Yeshua's last days on earth took place during this time, and we can glean great value from remembering these times during the actual times when they took place over two-thousand years ago, relying on the religious calendar which was in use at that time and continues to be used today in Judaism.

So how can you observe this time? While there is no explanation contained in the Bible about how this counting is to be done, there are a few traditional observances which prove to be spiritually beneficial and suitable for the believer in Yeshua to practice. The button above will take you to a calendar which we have put together to guide you in counting the omer. Each day, say, "Today is the _ day of the Omer." Then, read the Scripture which accompanies the day. Notable days have also been highlighted on the calendar.

If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact us.