Tag Archives: Omer

He Will Come

LionIn that day, the stock of Jesse that has remained standing shall become a standard to peoples — Nations shall seek his counsel and his abode shall be honored.

In that day, My Lord will apply His hand again to redeeming the other part of His people from Assyria — as also from Egypt, Pathros, Nubia, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and the coastlands.

He will hold up a signal to the nations and assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

-Isaiah 11:10-12 (JPS Tanakh)

This passage from Isaiah is part of the readings for the last day of Pesach (Passover) which ends at sundown today (Tuesday). For any Christian, the imagery is immediately recognizable as describing Christ, and for a religious Jew, the Messiah is surely appearing here. We see part of the Messianic prophesy and what the King will do upon his return, such as bringing the scattered of Israel back to their nation from the four corners of the earth. He will also be a standard and a banner attracting we from the nations to seek his counsel and to honor his abode, which is the rebuilt Temple in Holy Jerusalem.

The last day of Pesach sends a message of hope to both the Jewish people and all human beings on earth that the Messiah will gather us all to him and he will be our King. Revelation 2:27 speaks of Messiah “ruling with a rod of iron,” which doesn’t sound pleasant, but it shows that King Messiah will have dominion and authority over everything and everyone. The Bible speaks at length about the Messiah and his rule.

It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the Lord
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and it shall be lifted up above the hills;
and peoples shall flow to it,
and many nations shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

-Micah 4:1-2

For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.

-Hosea 3:4-5

While we in the church firmly understand and believe in the Christ, the Moshiach, in the person of Jesus; that he walked the earth once before and will dwell among us again, this has yet to be discovered by many, both Gentile and Jewish. But is can be discovered, just by watching Jesus and listening to him. Even a simple fisherman saw this.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

-Matthew 16:13-16

Who is Moshiach?Religious Jews all over the world desperately await Messiah, crying out to him, “How long?” In case you haven’t noticed, the world is a mess and particularly for the Jewish people, and particularly for the Jewish nation Israel, these are very hazardous times. Of course, times are always hazardous for the Jews and for Israel. It seems to be built into the very fabric of their existence that the world will always be against them. That is why it is so important for we Christians to support and uplift them. Many promises have been made about what Messiah will do for his people Israel and if the church isn’t standing for Messiah and for his nation and people Israel, then we stand against them; against Christ, very much at our own peril.

In writing about Moshiach (Messiah), the Rambam states in his Code of Law, Yad HaChazakah : “Whoever does not believe in him or does not await his coming, denies not only [the statements of] the other prophets, but also [those of] the Torah and of Moshe, our teacher, for the Torah attests to his coming, stating: ‘And the L-rd your G-d will bring back your captivity and have compassion upon you.’

-Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson for Torah Portion Balak
“The Prophecies of Bilam”
Chabad.org

In honoring the week of Unleavened Bread by eating only matzoh and reading the daily readings for this season, we temporarily draw closer to Messiah and draw him closer to us. The church also celebrates Resurrection Day bringing glory to the risen King and looking to the hope of his return, even as the Jewish people look to his coming.

Our only hope is in continuing to believe that he will come, even as it says in the twelfth of Rambam’s Thirteen Principles of Faith:

I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Messiah. And even though he may delay, nevertheless, every day I anticipate that he will come.

A couple of years ago at this season, I wrote a blog post called Why Don’t Christians Count the Omer? It’s a serious question, since Jews and Christians both share Shavuot, though we in the church call it Pentecost. There’s another reason I ask the question, though. Jews and Christians also share the same desire and the same hope for Messiah, though we understand his specific identity differently. The person is the same person (most Jews will disagree with me, of course) and the hope is the same hope. Given that, why don’t we bind our anticipation together?

Could the Messiah return on Shavuot/Pentecost? There’s no way to know for sure. If he does, then counting the Omer is sort of like a “countdown” for Messiah’s appearance as we anticipate his “coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62).

waiting-for-mannaBlogger Krista Dalton speaks of the Christian appropriation of Judaism and particularly the co-opting of the Seder for the Communion story, but while I share her desire to protect Judaism from Christian misuse, I can’t help but see the parallels. I can’t help but see my Christ and my King in the classic Jewish and Christian texts. The Messiah is there, and for those who believe, we are all waiting for him.

His “face” has been very visible and clear to me this week and I wonder, shouldn’t all Christians be celebrating Pesach, not to steal from the Jews, but to come along side them, joining our hope with theirs? Shouldn’t we also be counting the Omer, not to appear more “Jewish” but to long for the Messiah we see in the ancient Holy texts of Israel?

A bottom line requisite to bring about redemption is to eagerly “await” the Messiah with a genuine burning desire. Whether he comes in our time or, God forbid, not, we are both held accountable and credited for the quest. Nothing stands in the path of willing. We must will, long, yearn, desire, quest, beseech and pray. But as to the actualization of that long awaited promise, we must defer to the unfathomable wisdom of the Almighty.

-Rebbetzin Feige Twerski
“Bringing the Messiah”
Aish.com

Rebbetzin Twerski concludes her article by inspiring her readers to be mindful of their actions, always behaving in a manner that pursues Messiah rather than material things, to pray for others, for an end to misery in the world, and an end to the pain of God, who some Jews believe suffers right along with His Creation. And she tells us to hope, yearn, anticipate and have faith.

As it is said, “I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Messiah. And even though he may delay, nevertheless, every day I anticipate that he will come.”

Shavuot: An Oasis in the Desert

Torah at SinaiOur retelling of the Exodus on Passover ends when we close the Haggadah text. But when did the story really end?

You might think that the story ended when the Jewish people left Egypt on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan, 1313 BCE. On that day the Jews were freed from the land where they had been enslaved. But it was not so easy to leave slavery behind…

-Rochel Chein
“When Does the Passover Story End?”
Chabad.org

It may seem strange to talk about Passover in a blog post about Shavuot, but there’s a connection. The most obvious link between Passover and Shavuot is the Counting of the Omer which begins after the first full day of Passover and ends, 49 days later, on Shavuot. While this may not seem to mean a lot to most Christians, I’ve previously lamented about why Christians don’t count the Omer. It seems like the giving of the Torah at Sinai and the giving of the Spirit in Jerusalem are parallel events or on some mystical and cosmic level, even the same event. It seems it would make good sense for both Jews and Christians to be doing a countdown and for very similar reasons.

But is arriving at Shavuot and receiving the Torah the final end of Passover for the Jews? Rochel Chein’s commentary continues.

Now the Jews had the Torah, but they were still homeless and unable to fulfill many of its laws. G‑d used four expressions of redemption to promise Moses that He would redeem the Jews from Egypt. (We commemorate them by drinking four cups of wine at the Passover Seder.) But the four expressions were followed by a fifth promise (Exodus 6:8), “And I will bring you to the land…”

Similarly, G-d told Moses that, “I have descended to rescue them from the hand[s] of the Egyptians and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8).

Surely it’s safe to say that the Exodus narrative ends when the Jews enter the Promised Land after 40 years in the desert?

I’ve previously written how each year we have numerous times of renewal if we observe the festivals on the Jewish calendar, when we can not only remember the great acts of God for the sake of Israel, but live them as if they were happening for the first time, becoming new souls again as the Torah and the Spirit fill our emptiness. But here we see that this never ending cycle is not just a series of annual events. Perhaps what we are experiencing is eternal.

But the first few centuries after the Jewish people entered Israel were tumultuous, and it was only when King Solomon ruled that there was true peace, and “Each man sat under his vine and his fig tree.”

Support for the idea that the Exodus concluded with the building of Solomon’s Temple can be found in the famous “Dayeinu” song in the Passover Hagaddah reader. The song reviews all the miracles that G‑d did for the Jews after they were saved from Egypt, concluding with the building of the Holy Temple.

But Solomon’s reign ended, and it was followed by eras of civil strife, the destruction of the first and second Holy Temples, and the dispersal of the Jewish nation in exile. We end the Seder with the prayer, “Next year in Jerusalem,” that we may speedily merit the final redemption and the building of the third Temple.

In a sense, saying “next year in Jerusalem” is a cry to God to send the Messiah. In a sense, each year we live on earth, even with the Torah and the Spirit to comfort and guide us, we are still wandering in the desert. Passover has never really ended. We are all still walking away from Egypt and toward the final redemption of the world one step at a time, one day at a time, one year at a time.

Shavuot is one of those steps that we take each year but as we see, it’s not the final step, nor is it the “end of Passover.” We have the Torah and we have the Spirit, but we are still here and it is still now and the Messiah has not yet returned. The world is unredeemed and there is a longing for God to restore the garden that was lost. When will God return the Messiah to us?

According to Mrs. Chein, Mitzrayim, the Hebrew name for Egypt, is similar to the word meitzarim, which means “boundaries” or “limitations.” We exist in a limited world and we are bound by a broken Creation and our flesh and blood frailty. Shavuot isn’t the end of the Passover or the Exodus wanderings, it’s just a milestone along the way. Yet it is a precious and wonderful milestone because it, and the Shabbat, are foretastes of the final Shabbat, the full redemption, the world to come.

It’s an oasis in the desert where we may rest for a time. At the conclusion of the festival, we rise up, and move on, following our pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day.