The Mystery of the Omer and the

Seven Churches of Revelation

 

Why Do We Count the Omer from Passover to Pentecost?

 

                                 Why does God say we are to "count fifty days" from

                                 The Passover to determine the date and observance of

                                 Pentecost?  What is the vital significance of "counting"? 

                                 What is the "omer"?  Why didn't God just say we are to

                                 observe a particular date like the other festivals?  Here is                                                          

                                 wonderful NEW TRUTH!

 

William F. Dankenbring

 

         Herbert Armstrong, in his booklet "Pagan Holidays or God's Holy Days -- Which?", wrote his opinion that the reason God commanded us to count the days to Pentecost was as follows:

 

                     "All other holy days or festivals come on definite days of definite

                     months.  But this one annual Sabbath must be determined by counting.

                     It is very simple and plain.

 

                     "It is of very grave importance that we figure the right day.  This day,

                     and this day only, is made holy by the Eternal Creator" (p.9).

 

            Armstrong then went on to say that the Pharisees gained control of Jewish religious observations shortly after the middle of the first century, A.D. -- that prior to that time, the high priests of the family of Boethus, who were Sadducees, were in control, and points out that they counted Pentecost from the day after the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and not as the Pharisees do, counting from the first High Holy day Sabbath.  He also mentioned that the Samaritans and Karaites also counted like the Sadducees. 

 

         Herbert Armstrong was correct in pointing out that the Boethusians counted Pentecost from the weekly Sabbath.  But he was absolutely wrong and incorrect to state that they controlled the Temple services and Jewish religious observances!  He was in utter error to claim that the Pharisees did not control these functions until after the middle of the first century.  Herbert Armstrong was no historian. He was fed false information, and therefore he came to an utterly false conclusion.  Says Angus Bible Dictionary:

 

                     "The Jews, AT LEAST AS EARLY AS THE DAYS OF CHRIST,

                     connected with the Passover, and commemorated on the 6th Sivan,

                     the giving of the Decalogue.  It was made out from Exodus ch.19

                     that the law was delivered on the fiftieth day  after the Exodus.  It

                     has been conjectured that a connection between the event and the festival

                     may possibly be hinted at in the reference to the observance of the law in

                     Deuteronomy 16:12.  The Pentecost was ESSENTIALLY LINKED TO

                     THE PASSOVER --  that festival which, above all others, expressed the

                     fact of a race chosen and separated from all other nations -- and was the

                     solemn termination of the consecrated period" ("Festivals," p.356).

 

                        What's Wrong With a Permanent Sunday Pentecost?

 

         However, Angus Bible Dictionary points out that the opinion of the Boethusians (Sadducees) means that every year Pentecost, or the "Feast of Weeks," would of necessity fall on a Sunday -- without exception!  Notice!

 

                     "The Boethusians and the Sadducees in the time of the second temple,

                     and the Karaites since the 8th century of the Christian era, have taken

                     'Sabbath' in the sense of the seventh day of the week, and have main-

            tained that the omer was offered on the day following the weekly

            Sabbath which might happen to fall within the seven days of the

            Passover.  This would make Pentecost always come on the FIRST

            DAY OF THE WEEK" (ibid.).

 

         Notice this carefully!  This interpretation, if followed, always makes Pentecost to occur on a SUNDAY!  What's wrong with that?, you might wonder.  The answer is simple:  If Pentecost always occurred on a Sunday, it would be the only  Festival of God which would always occur on a SUNDAY -- the day of the SUN-GOD BAAL!!

 

         But is this reckoning of the Sadducees correct?  The truth of the matter is, as history proves, and you can check this out yourself just by visiting a library, and reading about the Sadducees, that they perished with the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.  They never had real power or authority over the religious practices of the Jews, but were always regarded by mainstream Judaism as an aberrant sect -- an erroneous and apostate offshoot.  Josephus, the Jewish historian of the first century, points out that they never had the masses, the multitudes, of the people on their side, but performed all their priestly duties in accordance with the dictates of the Pharisees! 

 

         We read in Antiquities of the Jews concerning the Pharisees:

 

                     ". . . the Pharisees, who are one of the sects of the Jews . . . These have SO

                     GREAT A POWER OVER THE MULTITUDE, that when they say anything

                     against the king OR AGAINST THE HIGH PRIEST, they are presently

                     believed. . . . the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many obser-

                     vances by succession from their fathers, which are not written in the law of

                     Moses; and for that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them . . . concerning

                     these things it is that great disputes and differences have arisen among them,

                     while the SADDUCEES ARE ABLE TO PERSUADE NONE BUT THE RICH,

                     AND HAVE NOT THE PE0PLE OBSEQUIOUS TO THEM, but the PHARI-

                            SEES HAVE THE MULTITUDE ON THEIR SIDE . . ." (Ant., XIII, x, 5-6).

           

            The early New Testament Church was composed primarily of Pharisees and common people, who listened to and respected the Pharisees.  The Sadducees were so far gone, spiritually, that they denied the resurrection from the dead, and argued with Christ over this teaching (Matt.22:23-28).  Jesus said to them, "Ye do ERR, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God" (verse 29).  That is a fatal flaw of the Sadducees, which Christ Himself addressed.  He labeled them as erring heretics, who did not understand or teach the Scriptures correctly! 

 

         Why, then, do modern day sects and churches insist -- against all good teaching and truth -- that they will follow the Sadducees, "come hell or high water"?  It is very strange.  But rather than repent, some would rather "cut off their nose to spite their face," as the expression goes!  Or, to put it another way, they would rather go to Hell, than submit to Heaven!

 

The Apostle Paul -- a True Pharisee

 

         The apostle Paul himself was a Pharisee.  He was brought up "at the feet of Gamaliel," who was one of the chief exponents of the Pharisees (Acts 22:3).  Paul says he was "TAUGHT according to the PERFECT MANNER OF THE LAW of the fathers, and was zealous toward God" (same verse).  He could not have said such a thing if he had been taught falsely or incorrectly concerning such a vital matter of the LAW as the proper date for observing Pentecost, could he?  Of course not!

 

         When Paul was brought before the Jewish Sanhedrin, because of his faith in Christ, he gave a resounding defense of his actions:

 

                     "But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the

                     other part Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I

                     AM A PHARISEE, THE SON OF A PHARISEE:  of the hope and

                     resurrection of the dead I am called in question.  And when he had so

                     said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees:

                     and the multitude were divided.  For the Sadducees say that there is no

                     resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit:  but the Pharisees confess both.

                     And there arose a great cry:  and the scribes that were of the Pharisees'

                     part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man:  but if a

                     spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God"

                     (Acts 23:6-9).

 

            Paul explained before king Agrippa, on a later occasion,

 

                     "My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine

                     own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; which knew me from the

                     beginning, if they would testify, that AFTER THE MOST STRAITEST

                     SECT OF OUR RELIGION, I LIVED A PHARISEE" (Acts 26:4-5).

 

            Paul had lived his life as a STRICT Pharisee.  He wrote to the Philippians, saying that he was

                    

                     "Circumcized the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin,

                     an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the LAW, A PHARISEE; concerning

                     zeal, persecuting the church; TOUCHING THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH

                     IS IN THE LAW, BLAMELESS" (Phil.3:5-6).

 

            We have seen that the Bible shows the Sadducees were apostates, whom Christ Himself derided and accused of "not knowing the Scriptures."  We have seen that the Pharisees were the ones who were in control of the religious worship of the Jews, whom the multitudes followed -- as the Jewish historian Josephus attests.  We have seen that Paul himself was a PHARISEE, and laid claim to this title even 25 years after his conversion, in 62 A.D., when he appeared before the Jewish Sanhedrin and King Agrippa!  And as such, he observed God's laws "blamelessly"!

 

         Even though some of the Pharisees during the time of Christ were wicked men, self-seeking, proud, arrogant, and evil-tempered, and guilty of many sins, as Christ Himself stated very plainly in Matthew 23, where He called them "snakes," "fools," "blind," and so forth, nevertheless, He NEVER hinted, intimated, declared, or stated, that they had NO AUTHORITY concerning the Scriptures or the Word of God. 

 

         Rather, He Himself told the multitudes, along with His own disciples:

 

                     "The scribes and PHARISEES SIT IN MOSES' SEAT:  ALL therefore

                     WHATSOEVER THEY BID YOU OBSERVE, THAT OBSERVE AND

                     DO; but do not ye after their works [their own wicked deeds]:  for they

                     say, and do not" (Matt.23:2-3).

 

            Notice!  This is a plain statement -- a clear cut commandment.  Jesus did not mince words.  He said we are to OBEY "ALL" that the Pharisees commanded us to do, so long as it is founded truly on the words of Moses – the Torah of God!

 

         Note that He said “WHATSOEVER” they told us to observe – it is not up to us to “pick and choose”!  Of course, He was not endorsing any FALSE teaching, but He was endorsing every teaching truly derived from the LAW of God!

 

Jesus Christ -- the Final Judge

 

         Such a powerful, unequivocal statement plainly includes the question of WHEN TO OBSERVE PENTECOST!  In other words, if there is ANY DISPUTE as to the time of observance of Pentecost, as there was between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, then Jesus Christ -- the FINAL JUDGE and TRUE ARBITER of all arguments and discussions -- RULED THAT THE PHARISEES SAT IN MOSES’ SEAT – NOT THE SADDUCEES!  Therefore, WE MUST FOLLOW THE PHARISEES, ON QUESTIONS ON THE LAW, and NOT the opinions of the Sadducees! 

 

         What could be PLAINER? 

 

         What does it take to convince you?  What does it require to OPEN YOUR MIND?  WHAT must we do to "pry open your brain," and install some TRUTH there?  How can we help you empty your mind of the cobwebs of confusion, doubt, and error and falsehoods, that have lodged there, that have taken roost there, that have been fed into your brain by ignorant or false ministers, wicked false prophets and apostate teachers?

 

         What will it take?  Only YOU can make that final determination.  God will not do it for you.  Christ will not FORCE you to admit the truth.  He will force you to worship Him, and even break your legs if necessary, to get you to bow before Him -- eventually (Phil.2:9-11).   But those who have to be forced, will inevitably be cast into the ever-burning LAKE OF FIRE for their final judgment!

 

         Herbert Armstrong was wrong to follow the custom of the erring Sadducees, who themselves followed the wicked Samaritans, the historic enemies of God's people (see II Kings 17:24-41), who in turn followed the abominations of the apostate king Jeroboam of northern Israel who rebelled against the House of David (I Kings 12:1-22), and who established his OWN pagan CULTIC religion (I Kings 12:25-33), and thereby led Israel into grievous SIN!

 

         Jesus Himself said the Samaritans knew not what they worshipped (John 4:22). 

 

         The truth is, they were worshipping DEMONS, disguised as "angels of light."  And modern day ministers who follow their teachings, are also following "doctrines of demons" (I Tim.4:1-2). As the apostle Paul warned, "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.  And no marvel:  for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed AS the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (II Cor.11:13-15). 

 

         Why do modern Christian leaders, who even profess to keep the holy days of God, follow the pagan practices and observances of Jeroboam the Apostate, the Samaritans, and the wicked and devious Sadducees?   

 

         WHY do modern ministers -- even those who CLAIM to follow and endorse the LAWS of God -- follow doctrines of DEMONS?

 

         WHY DO THEY DENY AND REJECT THE VERY WORDS OF JESUS CHRIST on the Holy Days and LAWS of Almighty GOD?

 

         Yes, WHY?

 

The Truth about PENTECOST

 

         The Angus Bible Dictionary goes on to state, concerning the Sadducean interpretation of the observance of Pentecost, that it poses innumerable and serious difficulties.  Notice:

 

                     "Against this [the Sadducean conclusions] MANY ARGUMENTS are

                     presented, showing that such an OPINION involves MANY ARBITRARY

                     AND IMPROBABLE ARRANGEMENTS.  Commenting on Lev.23:15-22,

                     K. and D. (Com. in loco) say that 'Sabbaths (v.15) signifies WEEKS. 

                     Consequently, the "morrow after the seventh Sabbath" (v.16) is the day after

                     the SEVENTH WEEK, not after the seventh sabbath.'  It is therefore evident

                     that the JEWS, who DURING THE SECOND TEMPLE KEPT PENTECOST

                     FIFTY DAYS AFTER THE 16TH NISAN, RIGHTLY INTERPETED THE

                     INJUNCTION in Leviticus 23:15-22" ("Festivals," p.357).

 

            Of course the Jews were right!  The Second Temple was finished in 515 B.C., during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.  From that time, till 70 A.D., the Jewish nation, led by the scribes and Pharisees, and their antecedants, observed Pentecost ON THE DAY FIFTY DAYS AFTER NISAN 16, counting from the day of the omer, which was offered on Nisan 16 -- the day after the first High Holy Day of Passover and Unleavened Bread!

 

         Jesus Christ never corrected the Pharisees on this point of the Law.  He never quibbled with them, or charged them with error, on the date they calculated and counted Pentecost!   If they were in error, such an error would have warranted His scathing denunciation and condemnation.  But He was silent.  His silence speaks volumes.  Why, it is perfectly obvious.  He agreed with them – totally! 

 

         In fact, there is even evidence that Jesus kept Pentecost WITH the Jews!  Notice the astounding proof of this fact!  In the gospel of Luke we read these straight-forward, simple words concerning the practice of Jesus Christ the Messiah:

 

“The DAY OF WEEKS”

 

                     "And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up:  and, AS

                     HIS CUSTOM WAS, he went into the SYNAGOGUE [which were

                     all controlled by Pharisaic rabbis in Galilee and Judaea] ON THE

                     SABBATH DAY [Greek, "day of the SABBATHS"], and stood up

                     for to read" (Luke 4:16).

 

            In this verse, the expression in Greek translated "sabbath day" is literally, "Day of the Sabbaths" -- plural.  It could just as readily be translated as "Day of the Weeks."  The annual Sabbath Day of Pentecost is derived by "counting the WEEKS" until seven weeks have passed.  It is also therefore called, "The Feast of WEEKS" (Deut.16:9-12).  The Jews to this day generally call Pentecost the Feast of "SHAVUOT" which means, literally, "weeks."

 

         Therefore, this Gospel verse could well be an allusion to the fact that Jesus, on the "Feast of Weeks," or "Day of Weeks," -- that is, Pentecost! -- went into the synagogue to preach the gospel, and to announce His Ministry (Luke 4:16-21).

 

         This same expression is used in Acts 13:14, where we read, "But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down."  It is also found in Acts 16:13, where we read, "And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither." 

 

         In both of these verses, the identical Greek expression is used that is found in Luke 4:16 -- which literally is "the day of sabbaths," or "The Day of  Weeks."  Notice, now, an astonishing admission!

 

An Amazing FACT from the Ambassador College

Bible Correspondence Course!

 

         The old Ambassador College Correpondence Course of the Worldwide Church of God admitted, in Lesson 35, "The Church In God's Master Plan," that these verses referred to PENTECOST!  Notice!  Here is their own testimony:

 

                     "5.  Does the Greek New Testament refer to Pentecost as the day of

                     Weeks anywhere in the New Testament?  Acts 13:14 and Acts 16:13.

 

                     "COMMENT:  In Acts 13;14, the 'Sabbath' day Paul kept in Antioch

                     of Pisidia can properly be translated, 'day of WEEKS'!

 

                     "In Acts 16:13, the Sabbath meeting held by the river in Macedonia was

                     actually the annual Sabbath of Pentecost!  Again, the word 'Sabbath' should

                     be translated 'WEEKS' from the Greek word 'sabbaton', which means either

                     'sabbaths' or 'weeks.'"

 

            Could this "day of Weeks," be a reference to a Sunday Pentecost, as the Worldwide Church of God NOW observes?  Or could it refer to even a Monday  Pentecost, as they used to observe, and some small fragmentary groups still cling to?

 

         In Acts 16, verse 12, Luke the Church historian records that Paul and his group left Neapolis (v.11), and from there traveled to Philippi, and says, "and we were IN THAT CITY ABIDING CERTAIN DAYS.  And on the SABBATH [Greek, "day of weeks" -- Pentecost!] we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made . . ."

 

         Do you get it?  They abode in the city at least two or three days.  Then on PENTECOST they left the city, to hold a Bible Study and worship service, at a special place where prayer was made.  There undoubtedly was no synagogue in that city, or they would have gone to it.  But they celebrated Pentecost in a special setting where they could conduct a Bible Study! 

 

         But this begs the question -- if Pentecost was celebrated on a Sunday or a Monday (Monday is when the Worldwide Church of God used to observe Pentecost, and some break-away groups still do, and Sunday is the day they now observe it, along with Church of God International, Philadelphia Church of God, and others) -- then WHY DIDN'T THEY VISIT THIS PRAYER SITE ALSO ON THE WEEKLY SABBATH, which would have been only one or two days before? 

 

         Why didn't they hold a Bible Study at this spot on the WEEKLY Sabbath, since they were there in Philippi "certain days" -- plural -- in advance of Pentecost?   Why would they have just abode in town over the weekly Sabbath, and not use that opportunity to go to the place of prayer for religious worship?  That would make no sense at all!  Therefore, the truth is plain -- they were observing Pentecost on the same day the Jews observe it -- which can fall on other days during the week!

 

         This Scripture gives additional proof and weight to the fact that Pentecost was NOT observed on a specific day of the week every year -- such as on a Sunday or Monday -- but rather on a specific day of the month, fifty days from Nisan 16!  This date could vary a day or two in the old days, when an observed calendar was used, and the second month Iyar could have either 29 or 30 days. 

 

         Thus both Paul and the New Testament Church, and Jesus Christ as well, all observed "the Day of Weeks" or Pentecost WITH THE JEWS, who were also observing it in their synagogues, on the day approved by the Pharisees!   Shouldn't we, today, do the same, following their example?

 

But Why, Then, Should We Count Fifty Days?

 

         In Leviticus 23:13, the Hebrew word for "count" is "safar."  There are several different, but accurate, meanings for "safar."  It is only Judaism which provides the internal history necessary to discover which meaning is intended to be understood in the Biblical text.  Although "safar" can mean to count up the total in order to arrive at a sum, it can also just as easily and accurately mean to inscribe by making a mark, to enumerate, or to celebrate.

 

         Judaism teaches that the intended meaning of "safar" in Leviticus 23:15 is "to ritually inscribe by celebrating, i.e., to inscribe to ritual celebration."  Jewish author and historian Chaim Raphael, in his newly published book entitled Festival Days:  A History of Jewish Celebrations (c.1990, Grove Weidenfeld: New York), provides us with the key to rightly understanding the use of the word "safar" in Leviticus 23:15.  He informs us that:

 

                     "In the Jewish practice, an Omer (sheaf) of the new barley was offered

                     to the Temple every day after Passover to be 'waved' ceremonially by

                     the priest.  The Omer began to be counted daily from the second day

                     of Passover for seven weeks, at which point the festival of Shavuot

                     ('weeks') was celebrated.  'Counting the Omer' until the seven weeks

                     were concluded became a recognizable stretch of Jewish life with its

                     own traditions . . ." (p.69).

 

            This same author adds:

 

                     "The seven-week period from Passover to Shavuot had a ritual in which

                     a sheaf of grain from the new harvest was offered to the priest every day.

                     Every offering was COUNTED OFF DAILY until the forty-ninth day,

                     after which Shavuot was celebrated" (p.71).

 

            It should be clear that this ritual of "counting" was performed EVERY YEAR, as a special adjunct to the Passover celebration, at which the spring harvest BEGAN, and continued for forty nine days, until Pentecost, when the spring harvest was COMPLETED!  Since the spring harvest is a TYPE of the "firstfruits" of God's creation -- true converted people of God, from the time of the patriarchs down to true Christians -- the period of time from Passover to Pentecost represents the TIME OF GOD'S SPIRITUAL SPRING HARVEST -- with Christ Jesus, our Passover, being Himself the "the firstfruits" from the dead unto God (I Cor.15:20), "Christ the firstfruits" (verse 23); "afterward they that are Christ's AT HIS COMING" (same verse).

 

         True Christians are they "which have the FIRSTFRUITS of the Spirit" (Rom.8:23).  Paul spoke of a certain believer Epaenetus, "who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ" (Rom.16:5).  The apostle James wrote, "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of FIRSTFRUITS of his creatures" (James 1:18).

 

         At Christ's coming, He will MARRY the Church, the "firstfruits" (Rev.19:6-9), just as He "married" Israel when He came down to Mount Sinai on that first Pentecost, or Feast of Weeks (Exodus 19-20; 24:9-11).  Thus the daily "counting of the omer" is a ritual which REFLECTS THE SPRING HARVEST OF TRUE CHRISTIANS and all the holy men and women of old who will be in the FIRST RESURRECTION, and who will "MARRY" Christ at His coming!

 

         The vast, overwhelming majority of Christians do not even begin to realize or recognize this amazing, wonderful TRUTH!  Every day, from Passover to Pentecost, when WE COUNT THE OMER, as we pray to God, reciting, "This is the ___ day of the Omer," and continue on in our prayers, we are LOOKING FORWARD TO and ANTICIPATING JOYFULLY our coming UNION with CHRIST the MESSIAH at His Coming!  The daily "counting of the omer," then, beginning with the first Omer, representing Christ Himself, risen from the dead, continues for forty nine days, or until Pentecost -- and spiritually symbolizes the FIRSTFRUITS OF THE CHURCH OF GOD which have been "harvested" throughout the centuries and millennia leading up to the great day of CHRIST'S COMING, when Christ will COMPLETE THE HARVEST OF FIRSTFRUITS, and then MARRY HIS BRIDE!

 

         What a wonderful truth!  There is far more involved in "counting the omer" than most of us have ever realized! 

 

         In the words of Pogo, "We have met the Omer, and it is US!"

 

         How could the end-time churches of God be so IGNORANT of this amazing truth?

 

         Could it be that they are merely following the traditions and ideas of MEN, and not searching the Scriptures to learn and grow in obedience to the Word of God?

 

The Seven Churches of Revelation

 

         It is also interesting to note that the "50 days" from Passover till Pentecost also represent a "Jubilee" period of days.  A Jubilee "cycle" of years is 50 years, according to the Bible.  God says,"You shall count off seven weeks of YEARS -- seven times seven years -- so that the period of seven weeks of years gives you a total of forty-nine years.  Then you shall sound the horn loud; in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month -- the Day of Atonement -- you shall have the horn sounded throughout your land and you shall HALLOW the fiftieth year.  You shall proclaim release  ["liberty"] throughout the land for all its inhabitants.  It shall be a JUBILEE for you" (Lev.25:8-10, Tanakh). 

 

         But in the case of Pentecost, or the Feast of Shavuot ("Weeks"), God says, "You shall count off seven WEEKS" (Deut.16:9).  The book of Leviticus has it, "And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering -- the day after the sabbath -- you shall count off seven weeks.  They must be complete:  you must count until the day after the seventh week -- fifty days" (Lev.23:15-16, Tanakh).  Notice the fascinating similarity.  Countdown to Pentecost is a "daily" TYPE of the countdown to the JUBILEE YEAR!  On the Jubilee year Christ the Messiah will return to earth, and bring LIBERTY to its inhabitants, and marry His bride, the Church of God.  On the jubilee of Pentecost, we celebrate the completion of the spring harvest, and when Christ will marry His bride, the Church!  So Pentecost typifies the return of Christ -- the true Jubilee!  We are to look forward expectantly to the feast of Pentecost, just as we look forward to the coming of the Messiah, to bring His government, His Kingdom, and His laws (Isa.2:1-4; Micah 4:1-4).

 

         Interestingly, by "counting off" forty nine weeks, we count seven times seven weeks, symbolizing the TIME from the Passover (death and resurrection of Christ) till His Second Coming -- a time which spans the entire CHURCH AGE. 

 

         The prophecy of Revelation points out that during this time span there are seven successive CHURCH ERAS -- the seven successive churches of Revelation, beginning with Ephesus, the apostolic age, and ending up with Laodicea, the present "End-time" degenerate and apostate final church era (Rev.2-3).  Thus, applying this prophecy to the seven times seven "days" between Passover and Pentecost -- that is, between Christ's first coming and His Second Coming! -- we find that each of the seven churches of Revelation is given ONE SYMBOLIC WEEK to do its "work" -- its "heyday" of existence, if you will.  The dominant Church of the first century was the apostolic church, called "Ephesus" -- the capital of the Roman province of Asia.  The dominant Church during the "End Time" is that of Laodicea -- a city famed for its wool, physical riches and wealth, its medical industry, and for its "lukewarm" water supply.

 

         As we count the "omer," therefore, each successive week it would be good to reflect on the history of God's Church down through the ages.  The first week, Ephesus; the second week, Smyrna; the third week, Pergamos; the fourth week, Thyatira; the fifth week, Sardis; the sixth week, Philadelphia; and the seventh week, Laodicea. 

 

         During the count of the Omer, the Jews relate each week of the Omer Count to one of the seven patriarchs – beginning with Abraham, then Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and then king David.

 

         They also relate each week to a special quality or character facet of the nature of God as He deals with mankind, which we should we working on to build within our own character during these seven weeks – as a pattern to be working on during the entire rest of the YEAR!  These qualities are, in order,

 

                     Patriarch                     Hebrew            Quality

                     Abraham                      chesed             loving kindness

                     Isaac                            gevurah           strength of character

                     Jacob                           tifirat               beauty, harmony, mercy

                     Moses                          netzach            victory, triumph, perseverance

                     Aaron                           hod                  glory, majesty, humility

                     Joseph                          yesod               foundation, strong support

                     David                           malkut             kingdom, sovereignty, rulership

                      

         Notice how this amazing parallel works out in church history:

 

         Week   Church          Feature                         History

         1          Ephesus          Loving-kindness             Apostolic church, first century

         2          Smyrna   Strength of character               Persecuted church, Asia Minor

         3          Pergamos       Peace, harmony              Albigenses, 4th-6th century church

            4          Thyatira          Victory, triumphant         Waldensians, 8th-14th century church

                                                                                    which preached the gospel widely,                                                                                                                                violently opposed by Catholic church

         5          Sardis              Majesty, Humility           Sabbatarian & Evangelical churches,

                                                                                 15th-21th century, Wycliff, Tyndale,

                                                                                 George Mueller, Church of God                                                                                                                        Seventh Day                                                                                     6.  Philadelphia            Foundation,                   Small faithful remnant of church,                                                                                   Brotherly love                with small door no one can shut                                                                                                                         20-21st century                                                                                  7  Laodicea                 Kingship, Kingdom        Large sleeping, lukewarm churches                                                                                                                   of end time – miserable, naked, blind                                                                                                                 and nearly apostate – 20-21st century                                                                                                               – final generation of the true church

 

         Notice that Ephesus was the early true church which had the teaching of the original apostles.  They fit the description of “loving kindness.” Smyrna was a small but strong church, persecuted greatly, in the 2nd to 4th centuries. It fits the description of “strength.” Pergamos, the time of the faithful Abigenses, fits “beauty, harmony.” Thyatira was the powerful church of the Middle Ages, led by such men as Peter Waldo, who departed from Catholicism and did a great work. It was truly a “conquering” church, overcoming, to whom was promised “power over the nations,” to “rule them with an iron rod,” whose last works excelled their former works.

 

         Sardis was the notable evangelical and Sabbatarian churches of the last few centuries. Prominent among these were such men as Tyndale, George Mueller, and the Sabbatarian movement, including Church of God, Seven Day.   Philadelphia is a small, faithful remnant who are steadfast and strong, although very small in numbers. They are famous for “brother love,” and know that the foundation of character and righteousness is LOVE.  They will be “pillars” in the Temple of God – strong supports of the great Church or spiritual Temple during the Millennium and all eternity!

 

         And Laodicea is the large, numerous end-time churches of God which possess much basic truth, but have become lethargic, lazy, and lukewarm.  They are spiritually blind, miserable, pitiable, wretched, and naked – a terrible spiritual condition.  Yet they are the FINAL generation, closest to the Kingdom of God.  They are told to REPENT of these sins and defects and flaws of character, and to CHANGE and to get ZEALOUS – then they will be forgiven, and will receive a wonderful reward in God’s Kingdom.  They will sit with Christ in His Throne, even as He sits with the Father in His Throne!

 

         Note that the LAST church age is “Laodicea” – symbolized by “Kingship” or “Kingdom” – and it is the final church before the installation of the KINGDOM of God, when the Messiah comes!  Therefore, as they are the closest church to the Kingdom, their church age introduces the Millennial rule of Christ, and they will sit with Him in His Throne as kings – so “Malkut” or “Kindom” befits their final description and analysis.

 

         For more insight into these churches, read our article, “The Seven Churches of Revelation.”

 

         These churches picture the Omer Count down through the ages, from Christ and the early apostles to our own century and time, today! 

 

         We are now living in the FINAL WEEK of the “Omer Count”!  The coming of the Kingdom of God is right around the corner!  This means that the Laodicean Church Age is full-blown and all around us!  The Laodiceans are surely not counting the Omer – to them it seems like sheer foolishness!  They need desperately to REPENT!

          

         As we near the end of the countdown, we should have rising expectations and increasing joy as we look forward to and relish and eagerly anticipate the FINAL DAY OF JUBILEE, ending all our trials and tests -- the final PENTECOST when Christ Jesus the Messiah will return, the saints will be resurrected and made immortal, and God's Spirit will be poured out upon all nations, and the knowledge of the Lord will begin to fill the earth (Rev.11:15-17; I Thess.4:16-17; Isa.11:9).

 

Pentecost, 30 A.D.

 

         It was on the Day of Pentecost that God first sent His Spirit upon men.  After Jesus was raised from the dead, He appeared to His disciples for forty days (Acts 1:3).  Jesus was slain Thursday, Nisan 14, and was buried before sunset.  He was in the grave 3 days and 3 nights (Matt.12:40), that is, a portion of 3 days and 3 nights, and arose from the dead early Sunday morning, before sunrise (John 20:-2).  (Write for our article, “How Long Was Jesus Christ in the Grave?” and “The Birth, Ministry, Death and Resurrection of Christ”.) 

 

         Jesus Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (Matt.28:1-9).  The omer symbolizing Christ, the first of the firstfruits, was offered that Saturday, Nisan 16, the day after the Feast Day.  The weekly Sabbath was, therefore, day one of the omer countdown.  Beginning that Sunday, therefore, day two of the omer count, Jesus first appeared to His disciples, and did so for another 39 days, making forty in all, bringing us to the 41st day of the omer count, when He was taken up into heaven and out of their sight (Acts 1:9-10). 

 

         Jesus, being with His disciples, "gave them this command:  'Do not leave Jerusalem, but WAIT for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT" (Acts 1:4-5).  This was the 41st day of the omer count; they still had nine days to go till Pentecost.

 

         Notice!  They were to "wait" for something, even as they were already "waiting" for and counting down to PENTECOST!  Jesus was making an oblique reference to the waiting they were already doing in counting the omer.  Then what happened?  "When the day of Pentecost came [or "was fully come," KJV], they were all together in one place [celebrating Pentecost!].  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT and began to speak in other tongues [languages] as the Spirit enabled them" (Acts 2:1-4).

 

         God poured out His Spirit upon men that day -- the first time in all human history! 

 

         This was the BEGINNING of the New Testament Church of God!

 

 

An Old Testament Type

 

         Now notice something interesting.  If the month of Nisan had 30 days that year – which was 30 A.D. – then during Nisan from Nisan 16-30 there were 15 days of counting the Omer.  If the second month, Iyar, also had 29 days, then by the end of the month there were 44 days of counting the omer.  Since Pentecost is on the 50th day, the Feast of Pentecost would have been on Sivan 6 that year, as it  normally is. 

 

         Christ ascended to heaven after appearing to His disciples 40 days.  The first day of His appearance to them was the day after the Omer began to be counted.  So it was the 41st day of the Omer count. The 41st day of the Omer count would have been Iyar 26, when He ascended to heaven.  The next day, Iyar 27, would have been nine days before Pentecost.  He would have been seated at God’s right hand in heaven for eight days – and then Pentecost would have arrived, when He sent the Holy Spirit upon His disciples as flaming fire, as His first official act as our High Priest in heaven!  

 

         Notice how this squares with a parallel induction into the office of high priest in the days of Moses and Aaron.   We read of the preparation of the consecration of Aaron as high priest:  “And you shall not go outside the door of the tabernacle of meeting for SEVEN DAYS, until the days of your consecration are ended.  For SEVEN DAYS he shall consecrate you. . . Therefore you shall stay at the door of the tabernacle of meeting day and night for SEVEN DAYS . . . So Aaron and his sons did all the things that the LORD had commanded by the hand of Moses” (Lev.8:33-36, NKJV).

 

         Even so, Christ was at the Father’s right hand, in heaven for SEVEN DAYS, being consecrated as our High Priest, from Iyar 27, 28, 29 through Sivan 1, 2, 3, 4.  The next day would have been the eighth day. 

 

         Continuing the account:  “It came to pass on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel. . . . So they brought what Moses commanded before the tabernacle of meeting.  And all the congregation drew near and stood before the LORD.”  After the required offerings, “Then Aaron lifted his hand toward the people, blessed them, and came down from offering the sin offering, the burnt offering, and peace offerings.  And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people.  Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people, and FIRE CAME OUT FROM BEFORE THE LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar.  When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces” (Lev.9:1-24).

 

         The eighth day, Sivan 5, would have been the day Christ assumed His full office of High Priest, after having been consecrated at God’s right hand for seven days.

 

         The very next day, Sivan 6, would have been Pentecost – “the fiftieth day” – when as our High Priest, He sent THE HOLY SPIRIT AS FIRE DESCENDING UPON HIS DISCIPLES! (Acts 2:1-4).

 

The End of the Age Pentecost

 

         In the same way, when Christ returns to this earth, God says, "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on ALL people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.  Even on my servants, both men and women, I will POUR OUT MY SPIRIT in those days" (Joel 2:28-29). 

 

         The apostle Peter explained to the Jews in Jerusalem that the pouring out of God's Spirit on that Pentecost was in fulfillment of this prophecy in the book of Joel (Acts 2:5-21).  Of course, this was actually a TYPE.  The great fulfillment will occur just around the corner, at the coming Feast of Shavuot, when the "weeks are completed" of this present Age -- and the Messianic Age begins!

 

         Those final "weeks" and "days" are ALMOST COMPLETE NOW!  We are nearing the END -- and the time of our Spiritual REDEMPTION!  Let us joyously, "count" the days, till the coming of that GREAT PENTECOST, when God will pour out His Spirit on all people! 

 

         So far as I know, no Church on earth -- not the Worldwide Church of God, nor the Church of God International, not the Seventh Day Adventist Church, nor the Church of God Seventh Day, or any other Church, understands the significance and deep meaning behind the  traditional "counting of the omer." 

 

         This is undoubtedly NEW TRUTH! 

 

         Let us thank God for revealing it to us, and rejoice in understanding the amazing, incredible truth about the "Omer" - the "firstfruits"!

 

         What about you?  Will you learn how to “Count the Omer” – and “make the Omer count” in your life?

 

         There is much more to the subject of the Omer than generations of Christians have ever realized!  It is time to WAKE UP!  Within the mystery of counting the Omer is a vital secret for OVERCOMING human nature, the devil, his wiles, and the worldly influences around us.  It is a veritable KEY to overcoming, and remember – only the overcomers will inherit the Kingdom of God (Rev.21:7).

 

         To learn more about the Omer, write for our articles, “The Mystery and Meaning of the Omer,” “Sefirat Ha Omer – the Key to Overcoming,” and “What Do You Mean, Count the Omer?”