“And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.” Lev 23:15-16
Counting the omer is what Jews call this time of counting seven Sabbaths or counting fifty days following the Feast of Firstfruits. It is called that, because when the fifty days are completed, we come to the next feast, the Feast of Weeks, in which an omer (a unit of measure of volume) of new grain – wheat – is offered to the Lord. So the time between the firstfruits offering of barley (on the Feast of Firstfruits), and the firstfruits offering of wheat (on the Feast of Weeks) is known as counting (up to) the omer.
This is the only instruction we have for the period leading up to Weeks. All we are asked to do is count. Some people have special devotions for each day, and do extra things, however; nothing but counting is necessary.
Now it is interesting that seven Sabbaths pass – seven sevens. Seven in Hebrew is from the root word sheva, which means to complete or finish a cycle. Seven is found everywhere in Scripture in context with completion and rest.
Brad Scott at Wildbranch Ministry has posted a fascinating study on the number seven and its meaning in Hebrew, and as it is used in Scripture.
It is also interesting that fifty days pass. Fifty is the number most associated with the Spirit of God in the Scriptures. Every fifty years, Israel was to keep a year of Jubilee, a year of liberty from debt and bondage (Lev 25:8-10). In fact, the instruction for the year of Jubilee mirrors, by years, the counting of the omer that we do in days every year, from Firstfruits to Weeks. That is not a coincidence.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Cor 3:17
Brad Scott at Wildbranch Ministry has also posted a fascinating study on the number fifty and its meaning in Hebrew, and as it is used in Scripture.
Every year that I keep the practice of counting the omer, I gain more insight into why God has this practice in the Bible, why He considers it righteousness, and how it relates to my new life in Jesus Christ my Lord!