Why Count the Omer? Part 3: God’s Spirit Poured Out
This 3-part blog series focuses on the Lord’s instruction in Leviticus 23:15 to count the seven weeks (49 days) that occur before the Day of Pentecost (the 50th day) also called the Festival of Weeks and Shavuot in Hebrew. For the Israelites, the count was about the harvest, thus the word “omer” which was a unit of measure used to count and track grain harvests. Yeshua taught us the spiritual meaning of “harvest” as those ready to receive the good news of the Messiah (Matt 9:37). That’s what the third phase of counting the omer is about.
The first two phases prepare us for what’s about to happen on the 50th day and beyond.
The Seven-Year Pattern
To understand where we’re at in the seven-week process, we’ll look back again to God’s original instructions for the harvest. In Part 2, we established the Jubilee described in Lev. 25 as the pattern for a seven-year (or seven-week) count. After sowing and harvesting for six years (Phase 1), the seventh year was a Sabbath (Phase 2). The 50th day begins the eighth week of our count. The eighth year detailed in Lev. 25 describes what we can expect:
“If you ask, ‘If we aren’t allowed to sow seed or harvest what our land produces, what are we going to eat the seventh year?’ then I will order my blessing on you during the sixth year, so that the land brings forth enough produce for all three years. The eighth year you will sow seed but eat the old, stored produce until the ninth year; that is, until the produce of the eighth year comes in, you will eat the old, stored food.” (Lev. 25:20-22)
Remember, Yeshua was raised from the dead on the Feast of First Fruits, then ascended into heaven on the 40th day, which is during the sixth week of the Omer Count. Just as the six year’s crop in Lev. 25 supernaturally provided for three years, I believe the seeds Yeshua planted over that first six weeks after his resurrection bring enough power to fuel what happens the next three weeks – weeks seven, eight and nine.
What seeds were planted during the first six weeks? During these first 40 days after his resurrection, Yeshua kept revealing himself to his disciples and many others, strengthening their faith, opening their eyes and giving them new understanding of himself and of their ancient scriptures. This culminated with his ascension on the 40th day – another confirmation of his identity as the Messiah. Indeed, those 40 days are still fueling our faith today.
What Did the Disciples Do?
At Yeshua’s instruction, the disciples gathered in prayer in Jerusalem for the rest of the sixth week and all of the seventh week. Just as in the seventh year Sabbath in Lev. 25, they didn’t sow or harvest – either in the context of their livelihoods, or in the context of ministry.
Then we come to the eighth week – which starts on day 50. The Holy Spirit comes upon them like never before in history. God’s power is poured out not only on the disciples and people gathered for prayer, but the word spreads like wildfire to all the Jews who had come to Jerusalem from around the world to observe Pentecost/Shavuot. Three thousand people accept Yeshua as their promised Messiah. This is God’s version of sowing seed during the eighth year. The disciples are still digesting what happened that sixth week with the ascension, and suddenly they’re out in the city streets sowing seeds of the good news! I like God’s version of sowing seeds, don’t you?
“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day (the 50th day). They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.” (parentheses added) (Acts 2:41-43)
This is the harvest God has prepared over those first 40 days. These are the disciples he’s prepared over those same 40 days. This is the convergence of his power being poured out over the two groups of people. Who could ever imagine such a thing? But there’s more.
Remember, Lev. 25 promises the crops from the sixth year would be eaten into the ninth year, until the harvest of the eighth year was ripe. What happens in our story during the ninth week, the week after Pentecost?
“Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,Pontusand Asia, Phrygiaand Pamphylia,Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene;visitors from Rome both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.’”(Acts 2:5-11)
Those Jews would’ve come to Jerusalem as traditional Jews in Judaism and returned to their countries – now Messianic Jews! They would’ve been spreading the good news of the long-awaited Jewish Messiah in their hometowns. This is the ninth week just like the ninth year when the harvest of the eighth year comes in. This is part 2 of God’s harvest – the first being the 3,000 Jews during the eighth week, the second being the people back in their homelands the ninth week. With these two harvests, Yeshua’s words from Acts 1 are fulfilled:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
What Will God Do on the 50th Day?
Today you are God’s ministers. You have areas of harvest that God is preparing for his 50th day. If you were to follow the footsteps of the disciples through the omer count, could God pour out his power on you and on your harvest? Could he order his blessing on you for the sixth, seventh, eighth and into the ninth weeks?
This idea begs the question – What is your harvest? It may not be 3,000 God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. But what did Yeshua tell the disciples? “Stay in Jerusalem.” In this case, God’s harvest starts where you are and emanates out from there by those he brings to you. It starts in your home, job, neighborhood, congregation, places where you volunteer. You’re where you are for a reason. The harvest is all around you – that’s why you’re there. God has plans for your harvest – he’s preparing you for them, and them for you.
God’s power poured out may not have you speaking foreign languages to those visiting your community. It may not result in 3,000 coming to faith in Yeshua. It may look like ministering to people who aren’t even looking for God. It may be a word of encouragement, a prayer for healing, loving your enemy. It’s seeing and responding to the opportunities that come to you where you are. Where you are is the field where you’re sowing seed and reaping a harvest. If you’ve followed God to get where you are, this is where He needs you. He will bring the harvest he’s prepared to you. Your role is to allow him to prepare you and then be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading as you respond to those he sends.
Remember Ephesians 2:10:
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Messiah Yeshua to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
That is the picture here – we are created for them, and they are created for you. The omer count follows this same process.
I encourage you to mark your calendar with these three phases of the omer count and follow the process:
- During the first 40 days, count the days, obey what God leads you to do, write down new revelation and insights God gives you, and be flexible and open to the Holy Spirit.
- During days 41-49, devote yourself to prayer.
- On the 50th day, the Day of Pentecost, begin to watch for your harvest and for where God is pouring out His Spirit. Participate with him from the revelation you’ve received in the first two phases.