Friday, April 9, 2021

Omer of the New Creation

 

This past week most of the Christian world celebrated the resurrection of Yeshua on the first day after the weekly Shabbat.  Some understand that Yeshua died in the middle of week, lay in the grave three full days (including the nights) and was raised after the completion of those three days, just as He prophesied.  Yet, there is one more episode of great significance that took place on that first day, the 18th of Nisan. When the risen Messiah told Miriam of Migdal, who came looking for his body in the tomb: “Do not touch me for I have not ascended to my Father…” (John 20:17), He was about to be lifted up as the waved sheaf of the Omer, at the same time that this very observance was going to be performed in the Temple. 

This ceremony was in accordance with Leviticus 23:10, where it says: “… When you come into the land which I am giving to you, and have reaped its harvest, and have brought in the sheaf, the beginning [resheet] of your harvest to the priest then he shall wave the sheaf before YHVH for your acceptance; on the day after the Shabbat the priest shall wave it” (emphases added, YLT translation).  Again, the “first” (resheet) of the Omer refers to the first ripe barley sheaves that were to be waved before YHVH for our acceptance, on the day after the weekly Shabbat.

In that year this tremendous event took place on the 18th of Nisan (or Aviv), In Hebrew the figure 18 (as used in date counting) is made up of the letters Yod and Chet, which form the word for “chai” - “living” or “alive.”

Quite often in non-Hebrew speaking circles the first day of the Omer is called “firstfruits”. This is at least so in English and possibly stems from a mistranslation of the following: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Messiah all shall be made alive.  But each one in his own order: Messiah the firstfruits, afterward those who are Messiah's at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:22-23, see also v. 20). However, in the Aramaic version (the Peshitta Aramaic Text) it is “resheeta”, and in the Hebrew translation of the Greek it is also resheet – that is, “beginning” (the root being ‘rosh’ – head).  This word is identical to the one employed in Leviticus 23:10, quoted above. In other words, Yeshua is the “cause’ or ‘beginning” (the Head) that brings about the firstfruits, which are the “bikkurim”.

What is He the head or the “beginning” of? If we look carefully at the Hebrew word resheet we find it in the very first verse of Scripture (and in Hebrew the very first word), “In the beginning” (B’resheet) reveals that Yeshua the Word was and is the beginning of the present or old Creation.  But after He presented Himself in His resurrected body before the Father, as the beginning Omer, He inaugurated the New Creation and hence we who have now been raised with Him through faith become the “firstfruits” (bikkurim) of the same. “Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2nd Corinthians 5:17). “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18).

Again, after Messiah, the Omer wave offering - the “beginning”, are “those who are Messiah's at His coming”, that is the firstfruits (ref. 1st Corinthians 15:23). “Coming” is parousia in Greek and means “hidden presence”.  Thus, when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit at Shavuot (Pentecost), on the 50th day of the counting of seven shabbats, Yeshua’s presence came into them (‘hid’ in them), making them the firstfruits or bikkurim of Shavuot (symbolized by two loaves which were baked with leaven).  Bikkurim is the Hebrew word used in Leviticus 23:17 for the firstfruits of the wheat at Shavuot (as well as in Numbers 29:26).'

Yeshua, being the head and the beginning, could not bring in the firstfruits before He Himself ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. Only then could the Father send the Spirit of His Son, as it says in John 7:39  “… for the Spirit of Holiness was not yet given, because Yeshua  was not yet glorified”. Thus, He obviously had to be glorified in order to make true His promise of the Spirit “And because you are sons, Elohim has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, Abba, Father!’" (Galatians 4:6), just as Yeshua prayed at the end of the Passover meal “that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:26 emphasis added). Could the Spirit be the leaven in the two loaves  that were waved at Shavuot/Bikkurim?

It should also be mentioned that the specific measurement of Omer is cited several times in the Torah, and because Yeshua has become the proverbial Omer, the latter (or the equivalent which is a tenth of an ephah) draws our attention to Him. Thus, the manna, mentioned in Exodus 16:13-16 was for that amount, “one omer for each person” (v. 16). In John 6:32-35 Yeshua declares that He was the “true bread from heaven”, thus, again, relating Himself that the ‘portion of food’ which Elohim provides for His people. What’s more, in Matthew 6:11, in teaching His disciples how to pray, with the statement of “our daily bread”, He was actually quoting Proverbs 30:8, where the “daily bread” is the “          allotted portion” comparable to the “mana”. Another outstanding example is found in the laws pertaining to the adulterous woman and her jealous husband, where each component of the instructions depicts Yeshua, including the required offering of the woman, which is one tenth of an ephah of barley meal (Numbers 5:15).

Yeshua’s multi-facetted role never ceases to amaze us, in that He was and is, what Hebrews 1:2-3 declares: “… His [Elohim’s] Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…”

Yeshua, of course, spent the first 40 days of the Counting of the Weeks teaching His disciples about the Kingdom of Elohim, after which He ascended, but not before telling those disciples to tarry in Jerusalem “until you receive power from on high” (Acts 1:8). Yeshua’s departure date would have occurred on the 28th of Iyyar, in Hebrew Kaf, Chet, spelling “ko’ach” – power or strength. That date also happens to be the day in which Jerusalem (that is the Old City) was liberated in the Six Day War in 1967.  Since 1968, the 28th of Iyyar has been declared the official Jerusalem Day.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Coming Out

 

The other night in our discussion of the Exodus story, the thought came about the difference between fleeing from the Egyptian slavery and what we face today, that is, fleeing “the daughter of Babylon” which is this present world system.  Go forth from Babylon!  Flee from the Chaldeans!  With a voice of singing, declare, proclaim this, utter it to the end of the earth; say, ‘YHVH has redeemed His servant Jacob!’” (Isa 48:20).  The Hebrew for “go forth” is a command to “get out” or “leave” (the harlot system). This is echoed in Revelation 18:4: “And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues’”. 

Leaving Egypt or Babylon, in order for YHVH’s servant Jacob to be free from the bondage of a nation or system that is keeping him from Elohim’s ultimate purposes, necessitates His sovereign act or intervention.  In both cases the blood of a lamb is required before the Almighty can move to extricate His people from servitude to another kingdom.  Yet there is also a significant difference.  In the case of Egypt, the entire nation left together at a very specific time, and what’s more, according to the will of YHVH, it had to be by the explicit permission of the sovereign of that nation. In the case of (latter-day) Babylon, coming out is in response to the command to “leave” or “come out”, to and by, each individual who has acknowledged the redeeming blood of Messiah Yeshua (notwithstanding, the eventual, physical and national exodus).  In 2nd Peter we are reminded that, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (emphasis added 1:3-4).  Isaiah prophesied that, “It shall come to pass in that day that the remnant of Israel, and such as have escaped of the house of Jacob, will never again depend on him who defeated them, but will depend on YHVH, the Holy One of Israel, in truth” (Isa 10:20 emphasis added).

However, Peter also warns us: “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Yeshua the Messiah, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning” (2 Peter 2:20 emphasis added).

A warning issued by the writer to the Hebrews, based on the first Exodus, still stands:  “While it is said: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’ For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?  And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief… Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it” (Hebrews 3:15 – 4:1).

What could be worse than, after having been delivered by the blood of the lamb, to die in the wilderness journey and never reach our final destination? Ezekiel’s prophecy in chapter 20 of his book sheds light on the possibilities that loom before us regarding the two paths ahead of us, the cooperate as well as the individual departure:  As I live,’ says Adonai YHVH, ‘surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you.  I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out.  And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face.  Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you,’ says Adonai YHVH.  I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am YHVH’” (20:33-38). Are these rebels the same as those that don’t enter His rest?

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).