Counting Through Eastertide

High King of Heaven
Who hath given us the Paschal Lamb
And raised this same Jesus to life

Be with us as we count the days
Of Eastertide

Journeying with You
To the revelation
Of Your Great Spirit
At Pentecost

In the Name of the Father, Son and Spirit, three-in-one
We pray
Amen

This week is the Feast of Unleavened Bread and, for Jews, the first week of the Counting of the Omer leading up to Shavuot. 

“You shall count from the eve of the second day of Passover, when an omer of grain is to be brought as an offering, seven complete weeks. The day after the seventh week of your counting will make fifty days, and you shall present a new meal offering to God.
Leviticus 23:15-16).”

Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are linked to the Feast of Weeks, Shavuot (Whitsun or Pentecost) by the Counting of the Omer. 

While Passover is the celebration of redemption and freedom from slavery, The Feast of Weeks is the celebration of revelation, and traditionally the time of the giving of the Law, the Torah.

If you read what happened in the days following Passover (Exodus 12 and following), you will be able to see how God prepared His people for revelation:  there was the parting of the Red Sea, the bitter waters of Marah, the time of respite at Elim, their murmurings for food, the giving of manna, the attack by Amalek and so on, all of which happened during the period of the Counting of the Omer. 

Perhaps the reading of these events could be part of your own preparation for Pentecost.  

We can also read of the events following the resurrection of Yeshua in the Gospels and the book of Acts.  The 40 days that Yeshua spent with His disciples were the first 40 days of the Counting of the Omer. 

These events also prepared them for the special receiving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Jerusalem.  

Ten days before this first century Shavuot, Yeshua’s disciples ask Him their final question:

“Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 1:6-8

The disciples were understandably preoccupied with the political situation of their day and the time line for future events.  Yeshua brought them back to His priority – being a witness of who He is.  The power of the Holy Spirit would be given to them to enable them to accomplish this mission. 

It is just as true today as it was then.  

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Matthew 6:33

Yeshua spoke about the need to avoid leaven:

“Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”
Luke 12:1

We are truly unleavened because of Yeshua, our Passover Lamb:

“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Messiah, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”
1 Corinthians 5:7

Leaven is of course a metaphor for sin, and has to do with the heart. Unleavened bread then represents purity of heart. 

Because of what Yeshua has accomplished for us, we must walk out His character:

“Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
1 Corinthians 5:8

During this week of Unleavened Bread, while we are eating bread without leaven, in our hearts and minds we need to be getting rid of the fleshly leaven of self and get ready to accept the good leaven of His kingdom!

“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God….Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness…in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”
Colossians 3:3-8

“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.”
1 Peter 2:1-2

By the time of Shavuot, the Israelites were asked to bring a wave offering of two loaves of leavened bread. 

Why leaven now?  Why not just do away with leaven completely? 

In fact, leaven is not always regarded as a symbol of evil.  Yeshua used the image of a woman adding leaven to a lump of dough to signify the (invisible) spread of the kingdom of God in the earth:

“And again He said, “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? “It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
Luke 13:20-21

This is our goal.  To put away our fleshly leaven and be filled with the spiritual leaven that expands the kingdom. 

Next week we can once again introduce leaven into our diet.   What kind of leaven will it be?

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Ephesians 4:1

The traditional blessing in Hebrew and English is:

Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha’Olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tizivanu al sefirat ha’omer.

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has sanctified us with your commandments and commanded us to count the omer.

~

The prayer at the top of the page here is my attempt at writing a Celtic prayer to mark the counting of days through Eastertide.

~
Over on Twitter, we’re posting the day count on @CelticOrder

Counting the #Omer from #FirstFruits #Pascha #Easter to #Whitsun #Pentecost #Shavuot
#Eastertide

Passover

“The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

This year, Passover begins at sundown on Good Friday, 3rd April.

It is always good when Passover coincides with Easter / Pascha, especially Good Friday since then there is no doubt about when to start the omer count, and the church’s Pentecost and the Jewish Shavuot – which are one festival in the same – automatically end up on the same day).

So we start ‘counting the Omer’, 50 days / 7 weeks to Pentecost / Shavuot.

And then tonight, as Lent is ending, we are starting the Biblical fast, also called the ‘Feast’ of Unleavened Bread, which lasts for 8 days.

Chag Sameach!

Information on the Passover seder as well as all aspects of Jewish traditions around the Biblical Festivals can be found here:
http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Spring_Holidays/Pesach/Seder/Introduction/introduction.html

A traditional ‘seder’ – that is, order of service, with Messianic notes
http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/haggadah.html

As always, I haven’t checked every page and can’t vouch for external websites – please use your discernment.