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Our new home for Beit Echad, the House of Unity in North West of England
 Passover to Shavuot/Pentecost
(Counting of the Omer)
May 2014 Newsletter 
Dear <<First Name>>
 
Passover has come and gone and we are into the counting of the 'omer' in preparation for Shavuot. We had a very full Passover week with Passover presentations in different congregations and Passover seder meals in Chorley, Preston and Lancaster. First night of Passover (14 April) we had with our Lancaster Beit Echad group and second night we spent with our Chorley Beit Echad group in our home, which were lovely times of fellowship and rededication of our lives to Messiah. On the 17 April we led a full Passover meal in a  church  in Lancaster which was very significant. Many of the people who attended had not experienced a Passover seder and had not realised the significance of what Passover means to them. The challenge was 'Have you had a Passover Experience?' where the blood of the Paschal Lamb was placed over the door of one's life! 
  
The counting the 'omer' starts from the day after the Sabbath following Passover with the waving of first sheaves of the barley harvest. Refer to the article below on First Fruits/ Bikkurim which starts off this omer counting. It continues until  seven Sabbaths have passed to bring in Shavuot  more commonly called Pentecost on the 4 June, fifty days later.

Beit Echad is celebrating Shavuot on Saturday  31 May with afternoon tea (dairy products like cheesecake  cheese blinzes,  melk tert (South African tart ), messianic worship and some insights into Shavuot finishing off with a BBQ. Food always plays a key role in any Messianic/Jewish celebration (consider Yeshua at the wedding in Cana). 

In June we are starting what we pray will be a monthly afternoon Shabbat meeting in Chorley. Our first meeting is planned for the 21 June. If anybody is interested in coming to the meeting could they please make contact so that we can give them the details of where we will be meeting.

Penny's first article on the Book of Judges has been loaded onto our website. Ian continues the Torah journey with the challenge "Two Laws or One Torah?" in the sidebar below. Please give comment on both articles

We would encourage you to visit our present website: www.alephomegaministries.com which continues to be developed.
 
Shalom in Yeshua
Ian & Penny McDonald


Email: alephomega@yahoo.com
Skype: ianmcdonald3
http://www.alephomegaministries.com
24  The Oaks
CHORLEY
PR7 3QT

As we are a faith based ministry if you would like to contribute financially so that we can take the message about our Messiah to all peoples Jew and Gentile to form the One New Man Donate here or AlephOmega Lloyds Bank 30-96-85 a/c 43427668
First Fruits /Yom Bikkurim


Traditionally the day following the first day of Unleavened Bread is called Reshit Katzir (רֵאשִׁיתצִיר), the "beginning of the harvest" (sometimes confusingly) called the Feast of Firstfruits. In ancient times, on this day a sheaf (omer) of barley (the first grain crop to ripen) was waved before the LORD in a prescribed ceremony to mark the start of the counting of the Omer, thereby initiating the forty nine days plus one countdown to the harvest festival of Shavuot.
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the Lord. Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the Lord, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin. You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.” (Leviticus 23:9-14)
There are differences of opinions as to when the wave offering (tenufat haOmer) was done. If we look at Scripture we see the phrase “the day after the Sabbath” in other words which Sabbath as this could refer to:- First day of the week (Sunday ) Yom Rishon and this would have followed the weekly Sabbath or it could have followed the High Sabbath in other words the day after the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The wave offering would then happen on the 16 Nissan the day following the High Sabbath. This could then occur on any day of the week (Joshua 5:11) This would then tie into Yeshua's resurrection.
It was on this day that the priest would take the sheaf (omer) of barley which was the first grain crop to ripen, this was harvested and waved before the Lord to the North, South, East and West as a symbolic way of dedicating this sheath of barley to the Lord. This was also the start to the counting of the omer; initiating the forty nine days plus one countdown to the harvest festival of Shavuot. A male lamb was then sacrificed as a burnt offering (olah) to the Lord as well as a minchah ( unleavened barley bread mixed with oil) and wine. Only after this wave offering was performed could the crop be used.
We see that a lamb, bread and wine are offered and it is these symbols that Yeshua used when he spoke about himself being the sacrifice to the Lord.
Today as there is no Temple to perform the offerings, processionals and sacrifices in, they now no longer take place. Therefore the Rabbis state that the counting of the seven weeks is to still be performed even though the waving of the offering cannot be done. Instead prayer and blessings from special prayer books take place as well as reflecting on the symbolic meaning of the day. The counting of the days from the barley harvest to the wheat harvest at Shavuot (Pentecost) seven Sabbaths and one day 49 + 1 = 50 fifty days starts. Finally many congregations read from Psalm 67 because it has seven verses and forty nine words in Hebrew which corresponds to the 7 weeks and fifty days of Sfirat haOmer
Shaul (Paul), in the book of 1Corinthians 15:20 & 23 speaks of Yeshua as the First Fruits. Yeshua is the First Fruits of the dead. He showed himself to numerous people on that day the 16 Nissan. We need to go a little deeper and see that as the Priests and the people were waving the First Fruits wave offering and praying for a good and perfect harvest during the next seven weeks we need to spend time with the Lord looking at the areas we need healing and changing in so that we will become more like Yeshua and  if we become more like Yeshua we will get even closer to the Father.

The fruitfulness of Israel

Next time we will look at Shavuot.  
 
 

Prayer needs:

*Please prayer for the congregations in Chorley, Preston and Lancaster where we led Passover presentations that the Lord will encourage them to seek more understanding from the Hebraic perspective.
* We  pray for good relationships with local congregations and especially the church leaders. 
* Pray for Beit Echad and for the groups to grow both in numbers and in Messiah, and especially for a Sabbath group to form.
 
If in addition to praying you would like to help us financially in this faith based ministry click here

 

Two Laws or One Torah

From a traditional Jewish perspective there are two laws, one for the Gentile nations and one for the Jewish people. According to the Talmud, the seven Noahide laws apply to all humanity as sons of Noah (B’nei Noah), while the Torah and its 613 commandments is only applicable to the descendants of Jacob (Am Isra’el). Christianity has generally accepted this understanding and has used this to interpret the Jerusalem council’s (Apostolic) decree in Acts 15 and to affirm that Gentile believers do not have to comply with the Torah. The four requirements given in Acts15:20 are then taken to be part of the Noahide law that are only for the Gentile believers as follows:-
  1. The prohibition of idolatry           i Abstain from idolatry
  2. The prohibition of murder
  3. The prohibition of theft                   
  4. The prohibition of sexual immorality                   ii Abstain from pornay’ah
  5. The prohibition of blasphemy
  6. The prohibition of eating flesh with blood                                      iii Abstain from blood               iv Abstain from strangled animals
  7. The requirement of maintaining justice  
Is this a correct understanding of the Jerusalem councils ruling or Halakhah (a set of rulings for the living out of Torah) or is something else behind the four rulings /Halakhah?
These Noahide laws are derived from the Noahic covenant promises given to Noah and his sons in Genesis 9 and the Book of Jubilees. If one accepts that there is one (echad) covenant with progressive revelation starting with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses to David which finds its fulfilment in the New Covenant, then there is only one Torah (echad Torah). This covenant issue will be covered in the next article on the ‘The Covenants in the Rainbow’. 

An in-depth study of these four rulings given in Acts 15:20 and 29 as done by Abram Yehoshua in ‘The Lifting of the Veil’ reveals a very different understanding that aligns with the rest of Scripture.
Firstly you will notice from the above list that the requirement of not eating meat of strangled animal is not found in the seven Noahide rules nor is it found in Torah! Secondly, the second rule to abstain from pornay’ah in the Greek is very often translated as fornication or sexual immorality. Avram makes the very strong point that this word and its equivalent word in the Hebrew zinute are both used to refer to cult prostitution over 96% of the time in the New and Old Testaments not just any sexual sin. 

Now the reason for the Jerusalem’s ruling was all about "Unless you (heathens) are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." in verse 1. So these rulings are all about the minimum requirements for heathens to be saved. If they continued to visit pagan temple and took part in the religious rituals which involved eating meat of strangled animals, drinking the blood and having sex with the temple prostitutes they would loose their salvation. We serve a jealous God (Ex 20) and God hated idolatry as it breaks covenant. Circumcision cannot save one only the Blood of Yeshua can. All believers are called to have our hearts circumcised. (Rom 2:29  But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.) If you have any doubts about the truth of this then please get hold of Avram’s book and research it for yourself. 

Most people seem to suffer from what I have call ‘blink theology’ as they read verses 20 to 29 but do not notice what verse 21 has to say. For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues." (Act 15:21)  The word translated ‘for’ is a primary particle (G1063)gar that properly assigns a reason (used in argument, explanation or intensification) for the four rules. So the reason for giving these four minimum rules are for the salvation of pagans, who through attendance every Sabbath will hear the Torah given to Moses and be led into the ways of the Lord.


In Summary

Does this not turn on the head what so many of us have been taught that the Torah is only for the Jews (Seed of Jacob) and not for non-Jewish believers? There are not two laws or dual covenants, one for Gentiles another for Jewish believers, but only ONE (Echad) Covenant that contains the requirements for a faithful Bride to obey God’s Teaching for Life, the Torah.  

Our next article will look at ‘The Covenants in the Rainbow’ followed by a look at the food requirements from a non-Jewish perspective. I pray that these articles will get you to study Scripture from a Hebraic perspective.
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