Advent Journey Day 22
Starting the day after the offering of First Fruits counting begins and continues for forty-nine days, or seven full weeks. This time is also known as counting the omer. It is the time between the first harvest of the early grains and the full harvest of harder grains. An omer is simply a unit of volume that God commanded for both the First Fruits and the Festival of Weeks.
Forty-nine plus one
The Israelite’s were to count for forty-nine days, seven complete Sabbath’s then on the next day, present an offering to God. Seven is the number of perfection. This represents perfection squared and is directly linked to the offering tied to the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Removing the leaven was about a purification from the slave mentality based in the basic physical need to survive. When survival is the foremost in your thought, righteousness falls away and sin becomes comfortable.
The blood of the lamb is applied to the door, death passes over, and a hasty exodus designed to redirect the focus from the physical needs and limitations back onto God who redeemed and preserved them. Immediately a wave offering is brought to bring favor on this year’s harvest – the First Fruits are now revered and hope is restored. Now the counting begins for the next Feast.
Festival of Weeks
In Deuteronomy 16 this name is given. However some Jewish groups call it counting the omer, others shorten it to Shavu’ot or Weeks. The First Fruits was very first crop of the growing season and looked forward to the harvest. A beginning with a promised ending, if blessed would also be bountiful. Unlike the green sheaf if grain for First Fruits, this celebrates the full harvest. Gathering in all the crops till the next growing season.
What is a festival without food? The offering brought for the Feast of Weeks is bread, two loaves. This is a significant statement related to the positive nature of leaven. Most things can be used for good or for evil and that includes symbolism. To bring bread to the priest not only did you need to plant and harvest but grind, thresh, mix with other ingredients, and wait for it to rise. Then you bake it, in an oven heated with fire.
Removing the leaven was a purging of banal survival instinct, immorality, sin, and idolatry. Baking bread is an intentional, time consuming, process of creating something that satisfies the physical needs of the body while embracing the spiritual light. Bread is a spiritual food. There is no nutritional difference between a bread made with or without leaven. The time and skill needed to bake bread are gifts from God who blesses us with more than the basic needs of human life. He lifts our countenance, lightens our burdens, and is a sweet smell when we are trusting in Him.
Forty-nine days Spiritual Journey
The counting represents the spiritual journey the Nation of Israel took. From the moment they left Egypt, the evidence was clear. They were in the basest human state, a nation without God, full of sin, idolatry, and immorality, seeking salvation through their own wits and will.
God purged them first with a test, slaughter a lamb and do as He says and be saved. Then flee and leave all sinful leavening behind. Confront your weakness through trial and set back while eating the fruit of your wit and will, unleavened bread then manna.
In the fullness of time, God would visit them and restore the counterfeit leaven of the human flesh with His love, justice, and unity. A nation of God sustained, protected, and blessed by His hand. When the Nation of Israel trusted God He would provide for them better bread than they could produce without Him. As the Nation began to see fulfillment of some of God’s promises, the Promised Land and the Promised Son would also come.
©2015 Elayne Cross