Friday, January 2, 2015

Let's Discuss "Counting the Omer"

Now that it is the new Gregorian Year, the next moedim (appointed time) on the Hebrew calendar is Pesach (Passover).  Lots of beautiful and symbolic events happen at Pesach!  There should be a song about it! Something like "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!" (Oops, I'm told that name is taken.)

Oh well, song or no song, at Pesach we celebrate remembering the exodus, and we enjoy the symbology of the angel of death "passing over" the righteous Hebrews, redeeming the first born, and we hold dear the analogy of the Messiah's redemption for us by his substitution for our prior sins, saving us!  It is a most wonderful time of the year!

Right on the heals of Pesach, which is actually only a single afternoon/evening event, the remembrance continues 7 days with the Feast of Unleavened Bread (the whole week is sometimes called "the week of Pesach").  For a whole week, commencing with Pesach the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan, we eat only matzah for our bread to remember the plight of the Hebrews who began their journey so quickly they did not have time to make bread.  The matzah represents "absence of sin" (no "leaven") and the week is intended to draw us closer to YHWH as our protector and provider. It is a most wonderful time of the year!

Then, no sooner do we start the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we have the Festival of First Fruits!  There is wonderful symbology in the First Fruits of Pesach, but there is this recurring debate each year as to just when is this day of First Fruits!  Some say it is the Sunday after Pesach, insisting that "since the Messiah rose on Sunday, First Fruits must be on a Sunday" (this is wrong), while others say First Fruits is the 16th of Nisan - the day after the High Shabbat of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (which is correct).  So to prepare you for this annual argument, please see our article "Counting the Omer".   And if you'd like to Count the Omer, which leads to the 50th day,  Shavuot, commemorating the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, we have an "Omer Count" calendar for you which we update each year.  (BTW, it is not a requirement that First Fruits be on a Sunday because the "Messiah rose on a Sunday", because First Fruits don't "rise"!  First Fruits are "presented"!)  The importance of the Messiah was not that He rose on the 1st day of the week (indeed, the resurrection was quite likely before the 7th day ended), but that He represented the "First Fruits" of the Kingdom of YHWH, which the Messiah came to proclaim! He was First Fruits!  Halleluyah!

It's not too early to begin preparing for this most wonderful time of the year!

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