Thursday, May 2, 2013

Yeshua in the Counting of the Omer part 2: The First Day

The period of time on the Biblical Calendar known as the Counting of the Omer is the 50 day period from the day after the regular weekly Sabbath which falls during the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot.  In Christian circles this holiday is known as Pentecost but is little known beyond recognition as the day the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples and they spoke in tongues.  But this Feast has great significance in the life and ministry of Jesus (Yeshua) and in the lives of his disciples including us today who follow Him.  Yeshua was very active during this time teaching and preparing His disciple to go out into the world and preach the Gospel.  Let’s take a look at the background and Yeshua’s activities on the first day of the Omer.

God tells us in His instructions to Moses to count fifty days from the Feast of Firstfruits to the Feast of Weeks.

Omer means sheaf as in sheaf of grain: Strong’s number 6016. עמר omer,  o'-mer from 6014; properly, a heap, i.e. a sheaf; also an omer, as a dry measure:--omer, sheaf.

Leviticus 23:15-16 NKJV 15 'And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. 16 'Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.

The Feast of Firstfruits celebrates the ripening barley, the first fruit of the year. The first fruit of the first fruit of the season is offered to God. Yeshua rose from the grave as this day began.

John 20:1 NKJV 1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.

He is the first of the first fruits of the resurrection! From this day, God tells us to count fifty days to the next first fruits grain offering; the first fruits of the wheat harvest. What happened on these fifty days in the year of Yeshua’s resurrection? What happened on the fiftieth day? Is there any historical significance? We will look at what happened on these days as we count the Omer together this year!

As stated earlier, this first day of the Omer marks Yeshua’s resurrection but this was just the beginning of His day! After His resurrection, He appeared to with Mary Magadalene telling her to tell His disciples what He would be doing on that day.

John 20:17 NKJV 17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'"

Yeshua was on His way to appear before the Father. Each day at 9:00 a.m. at the Temple, the priests began the day with the offering of a lamb as what we call a burnt offering. The word for burnt offering is ollah which means to ascend. As the blood of the lamb was poured out at the base the altar and the lamb placed whole upon the altar, the smoke of the offering ascended to God. God called it a sweet aroma!

Exodus 29:39, 41 NKJV 39 "One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight. 41 "And the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; and you shall offer with it the grain offering and the drink offering, as in the morning, for a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD.

This day began as all others, with the offering of the lamb, but it continued with the special offering of the Feast of Firstfuits. The high priest was to wave the first sheaf of the barley harvest before the LORD as well as an additional lamb offering.

Leviticus 23:11-12 NKJV 11 'He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12 'And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the LORD.

So, on this day, just as it was getting light, a procession went out from the temple to the nearby barley field. A sheaf prepared the evening before was cut to the sound of rejoicing and singing. They proceeded with joy an excitement, with crowds of people following with their own Firstfruits offerings. As they entered the temple at 9:00 a.m., the first lamb was slain to begin the offerings to God. Then the priest brought the sheaf before the altar and waved it as a wave offering to the LORD. The word wave is nuwph which means to quiver, shake, wave or lift up. And so the priest lifted and waved the sheaf of barley before the LORD and the second lamb was slain and placed upon the altar. As the smoke of the lamb ascended to God and His attention came upon the altar with the sheaf waved before Him, Yeshua ascended as the Firstfruits offering to spend the day with the Father as all the people brought their firstfruit offerings.

The day at the temple ended at 3:00 p.m. when the priests brought the evening offering of the lamb. As the day was coming to a close, Yeshua then appeared before His disciples on the road to Emmaus.

Luke 24:13-15 NKJV 13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.

When they reached Emmaus and sat down to eat the evening meal, Yeshua broke the bread and gave thanks. At that moment, the two disciples recognized Him and He disappeared.

Luke 24:30-31 NKJV 30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.

The disciples rushed back to Jerusalem to tell the eleven closest disciples. As they were relating the events, Yeshua Himself appeared before them.

John 20:19 NKJV 19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you.""

What did Yeshua accomplish with His appearance? What was His purpose? To answer this, we need to look at the mental state of His disciples. The eleven had locked themselves in the upper room in fear of what the Jewish authorities would do to them. They were discouraged and confused. They didn’t quite believe that the reports that Yeshua had risen.

Mark 16:12-13 NKJV 12 After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either.

In fact, the women to whom the angels appeared were to tell the disciples that Yeshua would meet them in Gallilee!

Matthew 28:7 NKJV 7 "And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you."

For that matter, what were the two disciples doing on the road to Emmaus anyway? The Feast of Unleavened Bread was on-going. Every Jewish man was to appear before the LORD during this seven day Feast! The very fact of them leaving Jerusalem at this time testifies to their discouragement. Their words on the road show their confusion as they tried to make sense of the events of the previous three days.

Luke 24:17-18 NKJV 17 And He said to them, "What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?" 18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, "Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?"

Yeshua appeared before them to reassure them that He had indeed risen from the grave.

Mark 16:14 NKJV 14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.

Luke 24:38-43 NKJV 38 And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." 40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, "Have you any food here?" 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 And He took it and ate in their presence.

Yeshua also came to explain the meaning of all that had happened, first, to the two on the road to Emmaus and then to the eleven in the upper room.

Luke 24:27 NKJV 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Luke 24:44-45 NKJV 44 Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the  Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me." 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

After this encounter and Yeshua had shown them His hands and feet, the disciples were no longer afraid.

John 20:20 NKJV 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

Finally, He appeared to the disciples to get them thinking again. He began to speak to them about their mission. He breathed on them to remind them that He had promised them the Comforter would come. This was not an end but a beginning!

John 20:21-23 NKJV 21 So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

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