We have entered into the period known by the Jews (and Israelites) as the Counting of the Omer.
According to the Torah (Lev. 23:15), the Israelites (thus later the Jews) were obligated to count the days from Passover to Shavuot.
This period is known as the Counting of the Omer.
An “Omer” is a unit of measure. On the second day of Passover (in the days of the Temple) an omer of barley was cut down and brought to the Temple as an offering. This grain offering was referred to as the Omer.
Every night, from the second night of Passover to the night before Shavuot, the Jews (then and today) recite a blessing and state the count of the omer in both weeks and days.
The counting is intended to remind them of the link between Passover, which commemorates the Exodus, and Shavuot, which commemorates the giving of the Torah. It reminds them that the redemption from slavery was not complete until they received the Torah.
The Passover Festival (during the times of the Temple of Jerusalem) lasted eight days, between 15 Nisan and 22 Nisan.
As such, Jesus was raised on 22 Nisan, which was a Shabbat, with this discovered on Sunday, “the first day of the week.” That Sabbath of Jesus’ resurrection was the seventh day of the Counting of the Omer.
The Counting of the Omer continues for 49 days, from the second day of Passover Week, until the day before the 50th day – Pentecost.
Pentecost thus begins Shavuot, which is called the Festival of Weeks … the seven weeks of travel from bondage, until the delivery of the Law … the First Covenant.
So, as Christians, it is important to see the correlation between the Jewish ritual of commitment and the Christian ritual of commitment, such that Christians have taken on the same commitments, in order to become part of God’s chosen people.
The fact that Jesus came to extend the priesthood to Gentiles, the people God chose in the first place were themselves not trained in how specifically to serve only One God. They had to make an agreement that rules existed, in order to become God’s priests – in training. This means us Gentiles – Christians – have to make the same agreements to accept the terms of the First Covenant, as did the Israelites.
Calling it the “Old Testament” does not make it become the “Obsolete Testament.” The “New Testament” is an “Amended Testament,” whereby the laws are written in the hearts of God’s chosen people, rather than a stone tablet. The laws don’t disappear in this transition from Old to New.
The “laws” include maintenance of the ritual recognitions of importance, where God has freed all of us here today, from slavery to sins – those that come from serving multiple gods. This is our Passover – saved by the blood of Jesus, the sacrificial lamb.
God has given us the Law as His promise to protect those who agree to those terms, which becomes written on hearts that desire God and want to serve Him as did Jesus. This is our Shavuot.
God has also given us a command to recognize a “Season of Joy,” as our time to rejoice in the protections and blessing that God has bestowed upon His faithful. This is our Sukkot, which like what we call the season of Advent.
From this perspective, we are all Israelites, those who believe their promised Messiah has come. This means we should be able to see how Easter Sunday represents the first week of the Counting of the Omer, with the seven week Easter Season being the seven weeks towards receipt of the rules and by-laws that bind our Agreement with God.
The Shavuot week (a two day festival) is called the Festival of the First Fruits, such that the Israelites were the first fruits of the vine that would bear Jesus, as Christ. This means the Day of Pentecost is the time when the Good Fruits of Christ are born, as true servants of the Lord, filled with God’s Holy Spirit.
We Receive the Spirit – as we heard read today when the risen body of Jesus told his disciples – when we accept God’s laws be written into our hearts.
That does not require memorization and mechanical compliance – as though we ACT because God told us to. It requires complete devotion, through the sacrifice of ourselves, so a New Life is brought into us.
That was what the risen Lord said to his disciple … and it is what his Spirit says to us … Receive the Holy Spirit of Jesus, so that the mind of Jesus leads your thoughts, while the love of God fills your hearts.
Now, you must realize the disciples did not instantly all jump up when they heard Jesus say, “Peace be with you,” shouting in unison, “And also with you!”
Imagine what would have taken place if Jesus had eleven Episcopalian disciples hidden away in the room, and they said that in return. Can you hear the audacity of that programmed response?
“And” is a statement that says “You and me, both.” It says, “I have the Holy Spirit,” so I wish back upon you, “Peace be with you Brother Jesus.”
John would have had to add some verses where Jesus looked aghast at the disciples and began scolding them, saying, “Listen to what I say and stop pretending you are strong followers … you who hide behind locked doors!”
The disciples included Thomas, who was not present when Jesus appeared that first Easter Sunday evening. Thomas represents all Christian disciples who require proof … of God, of Christ, of the Holy Spirit … before they can fully commit to becoming an Apostle … the Good Fruit that will become ripe and drop from the vine on the Day of Pentecost.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Still, that “Blessing of the LORD” comes from devotion that goes beyond simply walking behind a man that can be seen in the flesh. Such devotion requires preparation.
The forty days that Jesus appeared in the flesh, as the risen Lord, prepared the disciples to evolve into Apostles.
Those forty days took place during the ninth day of the Counting of the Omer, until the forty-ninth day. That equates to the Monday following Easter Sunday, until Jesus’ Ascension on Friday … if after 6:00 PM, then the first moments of the Sabbath.
God then wrote his laws upon the hearts of devoted disciples at 9:00 AM, the 50th day – the Day of Pentecost – so their full-pledged commitment to be priests for the One God began on a Holy Sabbath.
This means today, the second Sunday of Easter … the Christian version of the Counting of the Omer … represents when WE are told by Christ Jesus to, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
We must MARRY Christ and become ONE. The JOY of Pentecost is just the beginning of a relationship “till death do us part.”
Christ says to us to let “Peace be with us.”
John wrote in his first epistle, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
This means responding, “And so with you!” This response gives the pretense of being filled with the Holy Spirit, when that “Blessing” by God only fills those who become the unblemished Lamb of God.
The Easter Season has the meaning of learning how Jesus was prophesied in ALL of the Old Testament books, which can only be taught by one with the understanding of the Holy Spirit … as Jesus was, is, and will always be.
The Jews daily say a prayer and openly state what day it is, in the numbering of the days until the Law came down with Moses.
Christians should recognize this same commitment is expected of them, where each day of the Easter Season we pray for guidance to the Lord, as we study the words of the Holy Bible, so we may Receive the Spirit of understanding.
Only with devotion can we arise on the Day of Pentecost and like a rush of wind be filled with the Holy Spirit and begin ministering to those followers in need of assistance.
Only when we have been filled with the Holy Spirit can we begin ACTS as Apostles
When we recite:
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
We recite the three phases of all time: Past, present, and future.
See the shadow? The same three times existed before now, meaning this very present moment was the future not long ago.
As it was, so it is, and so it will be again.
The meaning is this:
The flesh of Jesus has died.
Jesus is spiritually risen.
Jesus will again fill the flesh that we sacrifice unto the LORD, so that each of our bodies can become reborn as Jesus again.
There is no waiting for the end of the world to come, for us to expect a return of Christ, appearing as Jesus in the clouds.
Christ will come again as us!
Christ came again as the Apostles!
Christ has continuously come again over the centuries, as long as Christians have devoted their selves to the will of God.
In the Counting of the Easter Omer, we are now on Day 8, just as Jesus was raised on a Sabbath that was the seventh day in the Counting of the Omer. Easter Sunday … then and now … is the eighth day in the counting. There are seven weeks in the Easter Season. Seven times seven is 49. We have reached the Second Sunday of Easter, so today is the 15th day in the counting of the 49. Jesus ascended on the 49th day … a Sabbath. The disciples became Apostles – filled with the Holy Spirit of Christ – on the 50th day … a Sunday.
Just as Moses descended from the mountain on the 50th day – to offer the Israelites stone tablets with laws etched in them by the finger of God – Jesus will descend on the Day of Pentecost – to offer us the laws written on our hearts.
But … as it was in both cases … we have to make an Agreement … a Covenant … a Testament to the LORD and to Christ. We must Receive the Spirit, not just think it is a gift we place in a drawer and never experience. Our redemption from slavery to sin will not be complete until we have received God in our hearts and Christ in each one of our minds.
Let us pray:
Today is two weeks and one day, as fifteen days towards the Omer – our measure as fruits of the Lord Jesus Christ – which culminates with our receipt of your Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.
Guide us this day to learn from your words and find insight from you … as the Word of Life … so we may be strengthened in our devotion to God our LORD and His Holy Son, through the Holy Spirit.