Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha’Olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tizivanu al sefirat ha’Omer.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has sanctified us with your commandments and commanded us to count the Omer.
Today is thirty-one days, which is four weeks and three days of the Omer.
We are more than half way toward our goal of counting the Omer toward Shavuot or Pentecost. To the Orthodox Jew, Shavuot is one of God's Appointed Days, 50 days after Passover, established to remember Jehovah giving the Torah to Moses. The Law was provided to guide the Hebrew people in their daily life. To the Christian, Pentecost marks the provision of the Holy Spirit on the early believers as described in the book of Acts. To both people groups, the Creator of the Universe has provided guidance for how we should live in relationship to a Holy God and His creation.
The attribute for our 5th week of counting the Omer is humility, hod.
Humility is tough, not unlike our previously discussed spiritual characteristics, but like the others it is a trait that outwardly reflects the spiritual condition of our heart. By ourselves, we cannot changes our natural fleshly desires, but by humbling ourselves in submission to the One in authority over us, we allow Him to work the change in our hearts, molding us to be more like Christ and His goodness.
The disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:1-4 NIV
In the above passage, Christ describes humility as something possessed in a child. The actual word He used is talitha טגא which means little girl, but it can also refer to a wounded lamb. Why would our LORD tell us to change and resemble a wounded lamb? He had just called a child to Him, and perhaps He was holding a young girl in His lap as an illustration. "Be like her." In Biblical Jewish culture a little girl was unable to provide for herself, brag about her status and abilities, or claim entitlement to any luxuries. Similarly a wounded lamb, cannot do anything to treat its wounds, free itself from a snare or otherwise help itself, but is completely dependent on the shepherd to rescue and care for it.
In our Western culture, we are taught to be self-sufficient, responsible for working toward our desired lifestyle, and becoming independent, so we find it counter-intuitive to be dependent, submissive and humble. To acknowledge that our self-reliance, decisions and actions may offend our Abba Father, LORD and King of the Universe can be difficult to accept. To submit all authority and rights to another goes against our independence and what the world has taught us is necessary to be successful. Admitting that we do not know everything and may say or do things that break our Savior's heart may never cross our minds. However, until we take a posture of dependence, allow our hearts to be genuinely sorrowful for injuring Adonai, we "will never enter the kingdom of heaven" or obtain the right relationship with a holy God.
A friend of mine has a young son with a strong will. If he does not get what he wants, he frequently throws a temper tantrum. She will punish him, sending him to time-out to consider his behavior. Afterwards she will have him apologize then talk to him about why he was punished. Recently, she was elated that he brought himself from time-out, tearfully, without prompting, to say he was sorry for yelling at her. He is learning that his outbursts damage his relationship with his mother and he sorrowfully repented. Previously he had said he was sorry simply to get out of his room; he was most sorry about being punished. Now he is learning to submit to the direction of his mother, and in humility accepts the correction.
I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. Ezekiel 11:1-20 NIV
As adults we tend to find it difficult to humble ourselves. For some, it is only when confronted with an infraction will they apologize or say they are sorry. Sometimes we refuse to admit we are wrong, but apologize anyway hoping to salvage relationships, or perhaps careers. These apologies are not the kind of repentance that makes someone great in heaven. It is only the humility of a child who is not afraid to approach his Father, by admitting he is wrong and crying heart-broken when his negligence is pointed out, that will be able to reunite a severed relationship. Humility acknowledges that the relationship is more important that the prideful attitude of self-righteousness. Realizing the One who is offended is the only One able to forgive and restore.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight; so You are right in your verdict and justified when You judge. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:1-4,9-12 NIV)