COUNTING THE OMER — What is it? Why do we do it?

May 17, 2016

An omer is a unit measure of barley. Exodus 16:36 says “An omer is one-tenth of an eifah [which is a bushel dry-measure]” (Complete Jewish Bible). The timing of the harvesting of barley was a very big deal. The barley had to be “aviv”, a description of the amount of ripening and maturity, and a readiness for the sickle.

“Aviv” was the name of the first month of the ecclesiastical year. The Israelites were to watch for the first sliver of the new moon, AND watch for the maturity of the barley, at the same time. When the barley was mature enough to harvest, the new year was declared at the sighting of the next new moon. The maturity of the barley determined the calendar!

Leviticus 23:10-11 says “Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘After you enter the land I am giving you and harvest its ripe crops, you are to bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the cohen (the priest). He is to wave the sheaf before Adonai, so that you will be accepted; the cohen is to wave it on the day after the Shabbat.”

Wikipedia defines a sheaf as “a large bundle in which cereal plants are bound after reaping.” The priest would wave the sheaf before the Lord, as an offering of the first fruits of the barley harvest. After that offering, the people were allowed to eat the crops of their harvest.

The day of waving the sheaf is exactly the same day that Yeshua was resurrected from the grave, as the first fruit offering of the harvest!

Now the count begins. Leviticus 23:15-16 says “‘From the day after the day of rest — that is, from the day you bring the sheaf for waving — you are to count seven full weeks, until the day after the seventh week; you are to count fifty days; and then you are to present a new grain offering to Adonai.”

Fifty days from Yeshua’s resurrection was Shavuot (the Greek word is Pentecost). Shavuot is the celebration of the wheat harvest! Shavuot is the day that the Spirit was poured out upon the Jewish believers. On that day, 3000 new believers were added to the believing community. It was the beginning of the next harvest.

We count the omer in great anticipation, from Resurrection Day until Shavuot, knowing that Yeshua will pour out a major blessing on the 50th day, as we gather in His name!