The 50-day Climb

May 31, 2012 - 5:00 am

“Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD.” — Leviticus 23:16

We’re used to counting down the days when we have something exciting to look forward to. But when it comes to the festival of Shavuot, we count up. Why?

Shavuot, or Pentecost, marks one of the most important days in human history. On that day we celebrate the revelation of God and the giving of the Torah to humanity.  Surely it would make much more sense to say, “49 days left until the big day, now 48, only 47 left,” and so on. Yet the Bible commands us to start at 1 and count out loud every day until we reach 50. 

The practice of counting the days between Passover and Shavuot is known as “counting the Omer.” It is named for the barley sacrifice that was brought during this time period when the Temple stood. At the end of these seven weeks, a new and different offering was brought – one of “new grain.”

Something changes in these intermediate weeks. They are intended to be introspective and transformational, so much so that what a person can offer God in the beginning is profoundly different by the end. At the beginning of the 50 days, a journey begins. By the end, we are ready to receive the Word of God.

That’s why we count up, and not down. As each day passes, we become more, not less. Like climbing the rungs on a ladder, we ascend towards Heaven one step at a time. By the time we reach the top we can appreciate the distance that we have spanned. Passover celebrates our physical redemption, but it takes seven weeks until we are able to experience our spiritual redemption on Shavuot.

The offering that we bring to God on Passover is reminiscent of animal food, but the one that we bring on Shavuot from the “new grain” is food fit for man. Over the seven-week period we refine ourselves and rise above our animal nature. By day 50 we are the human beings we were intended to be “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27) and we are ready to keep His Word.

Counting the Omer lends us a paradigm that can be used year-round. When tackling the big goals in life, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. How will we cross such a great distance? How can we accomplish such lofty tasks? Maybe it’s better not to even start! But the message of the Omer is to take the journey one step at a time.

Take that enormous task in front of you and break it into smaller parts. Step by step, rung by rung, you will make your way all the way to the top. And when accomplished, you will not be the same person who you started out to be!


3 Responses to The 50-day Climb

  1. Glenn Williams says:

    It is amazing 50 days after Jesus Christ was resurrected, hundreds and hundreds of people received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost in the Upper Room where Jesus told them to wait after they was with Him 40 days after His Resurrection! St. John 20 thru Acts 3:47.

  2. Magdalena says:

    Yes Glenn it is indeed amazing. Acts 2:1-13 explain about the Day of Pentecostal. But you now what amazed me too, is that on the exact day that God reveal Himself and gave the Torah to Israel; on the exact time He send His Holy Spirit to earth. And what is the role of the Holy Spirit?
    It is recorded in John 14:16-26 (26) but the Helper the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
    Just as Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit came. God know that we need His help to live for Him and understand Him. So in His appointed time He send a Helper. When we stand before Him we will have no excuse why we did not obey Him, because He will say “I send a Helper but you did not acknowledge Him.”

  3. Bev says:

    I enjoy reading the Jewish thoughts about this Holy time of Shavout and the receiving of God’s Word by Moses. I just wish more people could see that these Words did not some from Moses and are not to be decided which words we believe and which ones we won’t accept as relevant to today. If they are God’s Words- they are true and relevant and the problem is our thinking- not God’s Words being irrelevant to today. We need to change!

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