This past Erev Shabbat Friday night, April 7th, 2023 was Day 1 of the Omer.
Omer in Hebrew means "Sheaf". It refers to the sheaf that was waved in the Temple, one day after the first day of Pesach.
This day is called Yom Ha'Bikkurim "The Day of Firstfruits". On this day, the sheaf (omer) of barley (the first grain crop to ripen) was waved before the LORD in a prescribed manner, to mark the start of the counting of the Omer. We are to count from the day the sheaf was waved until the Feast of Shavuot, 50 days later. That’s why this period is called “Counting the Omer.”
"9 The Lord said to Moses,10 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest.11 He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath.12 On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the Lord a lamb a year old without defect,13 together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with olive oil—a food offering presented to the Lord, a pleasing aroma—and its drink offering of a quarter of a hin of wine.14 You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your God. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live." Leviticus 23:9-14
In other words, on this day the priest would wave a sheaf (Omer) of green barley before the LORD as a symbolic gesture of dedicating the coming harvest to Him.
It's important to note that when it says on verse 11 "the day after the Sabbath”, it is referring to the “Big Shabbat” or in Hebrew Shabbat Ha'Gadol, which is the actual first day of the Feast of Pesach. The LORD requires that no customary work be done on this day, therefore it becomes a day of rest from regular activities, no matter which day of the week the Feast day falls on. We are to treat it as a day set apart unto the LORD, just like the weekly Shabbats on Saturdays.
It's important to understand this detail, so we can accurately count the 7 full weeks leading up to Shavuot, the next Feast ADONAI commands us to celebrate:
15 “‘From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks.16 Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord." Leviticus 23:15-16
(Remember that a Jewish day starts at sundown, and ends at sundown the following day.)
Let's pull back now, in order to see the whole picture of how ADONAI orchestrated everything so perfectly. He timed every aspect of Yeshua's ultimate mission here on earth as the perfect sacrifice, to satisfy His wrath against sin and death, fulfilling the prophetic words of Yochanan (John): “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29
On Pesach, a sacrifice was to be made of a perfect unblemished lamb called Korban. Yeshua was on the cross exactly at this time, when the Korban was being sacrificed during the Feast!
Yeshua rose from the dead on the 1st day of the week, after being in the tomb three days and three nights (Matt 12:40). The disciples then encountered the risen Yeshua on the Sunday morning (Matt 28:1-10), which is the First Day of the waving of the Omer, Yom Ha'Bikkurim "The Day of Firstfruits"!
Yeshua’s resurrection was like a “wave offering” presented before the Father as the "firstfruits" of the harvest to come! Moreover, Yeshua presented His firstfruits offering to the Father on this day:
"...and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Yeshua’s resurrection and went into the Holy City and appeared to many people." Matthew 27:52-53
Yeshua offered to the Father the “early crops” of what will be an overwhelming harvest at the End Of The Age (Acharit Ha'Yamim)!
From this we learn 4 important points:
1) Yeshua is the First-Begotten of the Father: "For to which of the angels did God ever say: “You are My Son; today I have become Your Father”? Or again: “I will be His Father, and He will be My Son”? And again, when God brings His first born into the world, He says: “Let al lGod’s angels worship Him.” Hebrews 1:5-6
2) Yeshua is the Firstborn of Creation: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." Colossians 1:15-17
3) Yeshua is the First-Begotten of the Dead:
"and from Yeshua Messiah, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has released us from our sins by His blood," Revelation 1:5
4) Yeshua is the Firstfruits of those who are to be Resurrected:
"But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming," 1 Corinthians 15:20-23
We too are called to give of OUR FIRSTFRUITS to the LORD:
"Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your harvest; Then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine." Proverbs 3:9-10
The Hebrew term bikkurim derives from the same root as bekhor – “firstborn.” In the Torah, the general principle that the firstborn of man (and beast) belonged to the LORD is also applied to the first fruits we are commanded to give, to ripen each agricultural season, beginning with a sheaf of the new barley harvest (omer), and culminating in the celebration of Shavuot!
In other words, Yom Ha'Bikkurim "The Day of Firstfruits" is a picture of the resurrection of the Messiah whereas Shavuot represents the the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai (when the people of Israel were still in the desert), and the coming of the Ruach Ha'Kodesh (Holy Spirit) in Jerusalem, exactly 50 days later, after Yeshua's resurrection (Acts 2:1-4)!
After Yeshua resurrected, He walked on the earth for 40 out of the 50 days, during the period of the Counting of the Omer, giving proof to many that He was indeed alive:
Yeshua needed to go back to the Father, in order for the Ruach Ha'Kodesh (Holy Spirit) to come down! So on the 40th day, Yeshua made His ascend into heaven and left the disciples with these instructions to NOT leave Jerusalem until they received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
"But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;" John 16:7-8
The disciples were not told how long they needed to wait. They were simply told TO wait together. It took faith, it took discipline, it took obedience and unity, being in one-accord with each other, in order for the events in Acts 2 to take place!
"When the day of Pentecost (Shavuot) came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." Acts 2:1-4
It was worth waiting for!
As it is for us today! Today is Day 4 of the counting of the Omer. Let us wait expectantly during these remaining 46 days of the Counting of the Omer, to prepare ourselves for what the LORD will do in our midst, this coming Shavuot!
So let's stand firm in the Faith, being faithful in our obedience to ADONAI, following His commands and living in unity and in peace with each other; forgiving one another, just as in Messiah Yeshua, we have been freely forgiven of our sins!
Check out this other article on the Call To Holiness for additional insight on the counting the Omer and how we can prepare ourselves during these 50 days of waiting: