There are 49 days between First Fruits Day, which occurs during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot or Pentecost). Why does YHVH in the Torah command his pepole to count the seven weeks or 49 days between these two events, with Pentecost occurring on the fiftieth day? The short answer is that Yeshua doesn’t want to marry a spiritual baby. For the long answer, keep reading…
From the Depths of Slavery to a Kingdom of Priests
Every detail in Scripture is for our learning and edification. All the examples of the past are for our learning upon whom the ends of the world are come (1 Cor 10:11; Rom 15:4). Everyday, YHVH is uncovering the prophetic mysteries hidden in the Scriptures that are being revealed to those who diligently seek him by diligently studying to show themselves approved as a workman rightly dividing YHVH’s Word (2 Tim 2:15).
YHVH’s command us to countdown 49 days from First Fruits Day to the Feast of Weeks (Heb. Shavuot; Gr. Pentecoste, Lev 23:15–16) to memorialize the Israelites’ journey from spiritual babyhood to adulthood. During this 49-day count, Israel ascended out of the depths of slavery and suffering in Egypt, was baptized in the Red Sea, and then arrived at Mount Sinai—a place of a spiritual standing before YHVH to become a kingdom of priests (Exod 19:6). It was there that YHVH gave the Israelites his instructions in righteousness—the Torah on Shavuot. This 49-day period represents Israel’s passage from slavery to freedom. They came out of slavery permeated with the leaven, that is, the sins, values, and pagan concepts of Egypt. YHVH instructed them to leave it all behind as symbolized by deleavening their lives during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. After that, YHVH gave Israel 49 days to overcome and to get rid of the impurities of Egypt, and to become the nation of Israel—a holy priesthood and the bride of YHVH. There, at the foot of Mount Sinai, YHVH wanted them to become his ambassadors to this world of the truths of his heavenly kingdom.
The counting of the omer is the story of our lives also. It pictures our going from bondage to the world, the flesh and the devil and coming to a place of spiritual standing before YHVH, so that we can be used of him to advance his kingdom.
It’s a process ordained of YHVH and it’s his pattern that we must follow. There is no escape from this process if we are to be groomed and prepared for use in YHVH’s service.
Why Fifty Days Between the Wave Sheaf Offering and Shavuot?
Fifty is the biblical number signifying complete redemption or liberty. In ancient Israel, all debts were forgiven every seven years. This was called the seven-year cycle. Every seven years, one had to let their land rest; no crops were planted. This was called the land Sabbath. Seven seven-year cycles equaled 49 years. In the Scriptures, we see that seven is the number YHVH uses to signify completion or perfection. Therefore, seven sevens, or 49 years, signified total completion. Seven Sabbaths represents redemption, liberty or rest in its fullest or ultimate sense. The fiftieth year was therefore the year of jubilee when all slaves were set free, all land was returned to its original owners and when all debts were forgiven. If Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread signified deliverance from sin (Egypt), then Shavuot, occurring 50 days after the wave sheaf offering during the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, symbolizes total redemption, deliverance and victory over sin. How? For us, this occurs through the divine gift and glorious power of the indwelling presence of the Ruach HaKodesh (the Set-Apart Spirit), which Yeshua poured out upon his disciples on the day of Pentecost.
We must recognize this YHVH-ordained process, submit to it and realize what he wants to accomplish in our lives as a result. As we are going through the process, we must keep our eyes on the end goal and keep heading in that direction. Yeshua is that end goal. He is the “end” or “final aim, goal of the Torah” (Rom 10:4). He is “the fulfillment of the law”, that is, he is the full manifestation or fruition of the Torah (Matt 5:17). As such, he is our example to follow. Paul says we are to imitate him—to do what he did (1 Cor 11:1).
The 49 Days Represent a Time of Overcoming and Spiritual Development
When the people of Israel left Egypt, they were immersed or baptized in the Red Sea. This represents the redeemed believer being baptized for the remission of sins at the time of their conversion, and their receiving the Spirit of Elohim. The gift of YHVH’s Spirit is for the purpose of producing within us YHVH’s divine nature. There are seven levels of spiritual growth and development that involve overcoming and equipping, so that we come to a place where YHVH can use us in a special way as his representatives on earth for kingdom outreach.
The seven levels of spiritual development of the divine nature are found in 2 Peter 1:4–8,
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Master Yeshua the Messiah. [For an explanation of each of the character attributes, see the end notes.]
The fruit of the Spirit must proceed or underlay the gifts of the Spirit. Without love (or the fruit of the Spirit) all the gifts of the Spirit are zero, in YHVH’s eyes (1 Cor 13). The power of the Spirit without the fruits makes for an out-of-control, fleshly or soulish and unloving person.
Divine Empowerment for Kingdom Advancement
Upon conclusion of the 49 days, we arrive at the fiftieth day or the giving of the Torah (in Hebrew, mattan Torah). It is at this point that we receive YHVH’s gift from above—YHVH’s Torah written on our hearts by his Set-Apart (Gr. Paracletos or Comforter, John 14:16–18, 25–26; 15:26; 16:7–8 12–14). The Spirit of Elohim is the One who comes along side of us to aid, help, strengthen and succor us in walking out the Torah. With this divine help, we are able to do that which we could not achieve by our own limited capacities. We receive the gift of true freedom from the world, the flesh and the devil through the gift of the Spirit of Elohim indwelling us, writing his Torah on our hearts thus empowering us to live at a spiritual level beyond what would be otherwise impossible solely through our own human capacity. It is by YHVH’s divine empowerment that we are granted the ability to transcend our human limitations and touch the Divine.
The count of the omer is 49 days (7 times 7), signifies coming into full spiritual maturity or adulthood, that is, becoming perfected in manifesting the fruits of the Spirit, so that we will be ready to be empowered by the gifts of the Spirit (on Pentecost), thus empowering us to fulfill Yeshua’s command in Acts 1:8 to evangelize the lost sheep of Israel with the gospel message. We can’t reap this great wheat harvest of lost souls through human efforts alone. Only with the help of YHVH’s divine empowerment are we up to this awesome and seemingly insurmountable task of regathering lost Israel.
The 49 days of the count of the omer represents the time we need for removing the spiritual leaven from our lives, of overcoming and rising above the sinful flesh—a period of spiritual cleansing and refinement before YHVH can properly use us without our being a spiritual liability as spiritual babes. As the Isrealites exited Egypt in a day, so it took a long while for them to get Egypt out of them. The same is true for us. Having our minds no longer conformed to this world, but being transformed by the renewing of our minds to be in the perfect will of Elohim doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time (Rom 12:2). Coming into the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Messaih, unto a perfect person, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Yeshua the Messiah, and no longer childrend tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine is a process that takes time (Eph 4:12–14). This is what the counting of the omer symbolizes.
This time period also helps us to establish in our lives the disciplines of overcoming sin and progressively and continually ascending spiritually by defeating the world, flesh and devil. We will cycle through this process many times over the course of our life as we slowly spirial heavenward becoming perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matt 5:48).
Why Seven Complete Sabbaths?
The Torah uses the phrase “seven complete Sabbaths” (Heb. shabbatot) and not “weeks” (Heb. shavuot) in Leviticus 23:15. Why “complete Sabbaths”? What is a complete Sabbath? The rabbinic Jews, while arguing in favor of a Sivan 6 Shavuot, teach that the Hebrew word for sabbatot really means weeks. This is how The ArtScroll Tanach, for example, translates this word. Keil and Delitzsh in their commentary on Leviticus 23:15 state that the term complete Sabbaths makes no sense, so it has to mean weeks. This is the standard rabbinical interpretation of this phrase. Yet according to The Theological Word Book of the OT and Brown Drivers Briggs Lexicon, weeks is not one of the definitions of the word shabbatot, though weeks of sabbaths is. What is a complete weeks of Sabbaths? It indicates a complete or whole week from the first day (Sunday) to the seventh day (Saturday/Sabbath) with not a day lacking. Seven of these weeks must be fully completed to arrive at Pentecost. As proof that this is the correct understanding, it is interesting to note that the Book of Acts states, “When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1). Does the counting of the omer, which is seven seven-day weeks for a total of 49 days (7 times 7) representing “a completeness of a complete” represent the spiritual growth and development of the individual to come into perfect unity with YHVH and with his fellow man? It seems so, since then he will be spiritually prepared to receive the inner Torah of the heart, the gifts of the Spirit, and then achieve the oneness and accord within the body of Yeshua that is necessary to fulfill the great commission and to reap the wheat harvest of lost Israel necessary to establish YHVH’s kingdom as per Acts 1:6–8.
Walking Together in One Accord
Learning to walk together and in one accord didn’t just happen on the day of Pentecost in the upper room. It started in the years, months, weeks, and days prior to that momentous event. One accordance was not something that miraculously dropped down on YHVH’s people in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. It started in the lives of the people as they were walking out the fruits of the Spirit in their homes, with their families, in their communities, on their jobs and in their church congregations. It started with their relationships with their wives and children and radiated like rays of the sun out from there into the cold and dark world around them.
Walking in the fruit of the Spirit is a process that involves little-by-little overcoming the flesh nature, and allowing YHVH’s will to permeate our every thought, word and deed every step of the way, every moment of every day. Then when people who are doing this come together, they will be in one accord with the Spirit of Elohim. Pentecost-type experiences with YHVH pouring out the gift of his Set-Apart Spirit will happen again and again as it did several more times as recorded in the Book of Acts (Acts 2:46; 4:22–24; 31–32; 5:12; 8:6).
One accordness occurs as we progressively die to our old sinful man, overcome the world and the devil, and put on the mantle of YHVH’s love (and all the other fruit of the Spirit). This is the deeper significance of the count of the omer.
What Happened When the Early Believers Were Together and in One Accord
Here are examples from the Book of Acts of the divine break-through that occurred when YHVH’s people were together and in one accord:
- Acts 2:1–3, And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
- Acts 2:46–47, And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising Elohim, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
- Acts 4:23–24, 31–32, And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to Elohim with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art Elohim, which has made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is….And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Set-Apart Spirit and they spoke the word of Elohim with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
- Acts 5:12, And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.
- Acts 8:6, And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spoke, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
The Purpose of Pentecost: Divine Empowerment to Gather Lost Israel
Let’s note the last question the disciples asked Yeshua before he ascended to heaven, as well as his answer to the question:
“When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, ‘Master, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?’ And he said unto them, ‘It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power. But you shall receive power, after that the Set-apart Spirit is come upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.’ And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:6–9)
These were the last words that Yeshua spoke on this earth before ascending to heaven. Mark that! Before leaving this earth for two thousand years, he gave to his hand-picked and personally trained disciples their most important commissioning statement. He told them to wait in Jerusalem to be filled with the power of the Spirit of Elohim. Why? They needed that supernatural and divine empowerment of the gifts of the Spirit so that they would be able to fulfil the great commission to restore the kingdom of Elohim to those who had been scattered to the far corners of the earth.
What does this mean for you and me? What are we to do to help fulfill Yeshua’s last command to his disciples?
For the disciples of Yeshua, this means seeking the fullness of the Spirit and learning what divine gifts and callings YHVH has for each of us. We must then use these gifts and callings within and outside of the body of Yeshua (the church) by fulfilling the great commission to help regather the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
For spiritual congregassional shepherds, leaders and overseers, this means building, discipling and equipping the members of the body of Yeshua that you oversee, and then giving them encouragement and opportunity to function in those ministry callings. It means letting go of the reigns of control, the one-man-show mentality and follow the Yeshua (and Eph 4:11) model where he was delighted to say of his proteges, “The works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do…” (John 14:12). It is time to raise up children to become mature adults—to be a kingdom of priests or, as Peter put it, “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light,” (1 Pet 2:9). This is the bigger, yea glorious picture behind the counting of the omer! Where are you in this spiritual upward trek?
Therefore you shall be [or be becoming] perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matt 5:48)
End Notes: My Commentary on the Character Attributes of 2 Peter 1:5–7
2 Peter 1:5–7, Add to your faith. The Eight Levels of Spiritual Fruitfulness. This list of seven character qualities shows us the progressive steps one must go through to become mature spiritually.
Faith: First there is initial faith in YHVH Elohim, which is the starting point in our spiritual walk. This is the same faith Abraham had when YHVH told him to leave Babylonia, and it was accounted to him for righteousness sake (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:3).
Virtue: Second, initial faith in Elohim is “filled out with” (as J. P. Green translates it) virtue, which is defined as “moral excellence.” This can be no less than one’s learning to conform one’s lives to the high standards of YHVH’s Torah—a reflection of the holy heart, mind and will of Elohim. Moreover, the Torah instructs us how to walk in relationship with him by becoming like him.The first four of the ten commandments lay the foundation for this. The last six of the ten commandments lay the foundation for our having a right or holy relationship with our fellow man. Virtue is the opposite of sin, and the Torah shows us what sin and moral excellence are by showing us what to do (the path of blessing and life) and what not to do (the path of curses and death).
Knowledge: Third, as one begins to walk out Torah-obedience, one gains a deeper and more perfect understanding of the heart, will and mind of Elohim as expressed in the Creator’s instruction manual for living—the Torah, which is Truth and is the path that leads to a blessed physical life and, more importantly, to eternal life in the kingdom of Elohim. There is the tree of knowledge of both good and evil. In our fallen world, we learn about both good and evil knowledge. Evil knowledge involves the knowledge of sin and the acquiescence thereto which leads to death. In our spiritual walk we must embrace good knowledge and then pattern our lives after that, while at the same time resisting the alluring downward pull of evil.
Self-control: Fourth, as one gains a fuller understanding of the difference between good and evil, right and wrong as defined by YHVH’s instructions in righteousness (i.e., YHVH’s Torah-Word) and as one fortifies oneself morally by consistently choosing to do the right thing, one gains self-control. One learns to control or master one’s fleshly passions and desires including selfishness, pride, greed, anger and lust and all the other works of the flesh (Gal 5:19–21).
Perseverance or patience: Fifth, as one becomes proficient and consistent in self-control, one begins to learn patience or perseverance, which is steadfastness, constancy and endurance. At this stage in one’s spiritual development, one becomes less likely to be buffeted around or thrown off balance by one’s own carnal impulses, by winds of doctrines, by the influences of ungodly people, or by the influences of evil entities.
Godliness: Sixth, as our life more consistently begins to reflect the heart, mind and will of YHVH Elohim as exemplified in his Torah and the rest of his Word (the Scriptures) and as walked out by Yeshua, the Living Torah-Word of Elohim, then our words, thoughts and actions will begin to reflect the very character and nature of our Father in heaven, which is godliness, to those around us, even as the moon reflects the light of the sun into the darkness of the night world. At this point, who we are is more defined by the character of Elohim than by the carnal, sin nature of the typical man. This is the goal of theosis—to become partakers of the divine nature by escaping corruption or pollution of this world (2 Pet 1:4), so that we will be the people that YHVH Elohim wants to live with forever!
Brotherly kindness: Seventh, obedience to the Torah naturally results in our being kinder and gentler to those around us, since the Torah demands that we treat others how we want to be treated and tells us how to love our neighbor as ourself (Matt 7:12; Mark 12:28–30; Rom 13:8–10). After one has completed these seven steps, one becomes perfect or complete in biblical love, which is the eighth step.
Love: The eighth step to spiritual maturity is love (for Elohim and our fellow man), which is the summation of all the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–24) and is the highest level of spiritual attainment (1 Cor 13:1–13) and is the summation of the entire Torah (Mark 12:28–30; Rom 13:8–10). The previous eight steps are the components of a complete or perfect biblical love. Biblical love isn’t some nebulous or ethereal concept based merely on an intellectual concept, or lofty emotions or vague feelings. Rather love is a concrete idea that is rooted in one’s actions toward one’s brother as delineated in the previous seven steps. This type of love is unconditional, and is an unselfish love for others even when there is no personal benefit to be gained as Paul succinctly and concretely teaches in 1 Corinthians 13—the love chapter. This is the love of Elohim—the love that he has for men, and the love that he wants us to develop, so that we will be like him, so that he can live with us forever in his eternal kingdom. After we have matured through these eight steps, we become spiritually and morally complete or perfect and are prepared to spend eternity with YHVH Elohim in the New Jerusalem of heaven on earth. Love is the eighth step, and eight is the number signifying new beginnings and infinity; therefore, love is the character trait that launches us into a new beginning of a immortal life in Elohim’s eternal kingdom of the heaven on earth of the New Jerusalem. The is the ultimate one-accordness between heaven and earth that the Day of Pentecost in Act 2:1 prophetically foreshadowed.