Omer Day 9: Is Seeing Believing?

I would argue that seeing is not believing, at least not long-term.

Doubting Thomas, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Wouter Pietersz. Crabeth (II) (circa 1594/1595–1644) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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The period of the Counting of the Omer is loaded with celebrations and the anniversaries of many important biblical events.

According to biblical reckoning the “Doubting Thomas” episode took place on the ninth day of the Omer. We read in John 20:26 that the event took place “eight days later,” which is eight days after the first resurrection appearance on the first day of the Omer. This then brings us to the ninth day of the Omer.

John tells us of Thomas’ doubt that Yeshua had actually resurrected from the grave and that the other disciples had an encounter with him:

So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” (John 20:25)

Thomas did not buy it. Unless he saw the Master with his own eyes he just wouldn’t believe. He wanted concrete proof. He wanted to experience it firsthand. Thomas sounds a lot like people today. What’s funny is that the very events going on in the Torah at this same time over a thousand years earlier prove that seeing is not always believing. The Israelites had experienced God’s mighty hand in the ten plagues in Egypt and seen how he led them out from under Pharaoh’s tight grip. Yet, just a few days later as they approached the Red Sea and saw the Egyptian army closing in they cried out:

Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: “Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians”? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness. (Exodus 14:11-12)

Then just a short time after God performed another miracle at the Red Sea where the sea parted, Israel crossed through, and then the sea came back wiping out the Egyptian army, Israel complained again:

Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” (Exodus 17:2-3)

Based upon this I would argue that seeing is not believing, at least not long-term. While experiencing a miracle from God or the mighty power of his hand can initially instill in us faith and belief, it is not always long-lasting. When trials pop up again, we, like the Israelites, often forget what God has done in the past and enter into a panic. Instead, true faith that lasts is not sustained on experiencing signs and wonders but on working out our faith “with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). That’s what this period of counting the Omer is all about and this is the lesson that the Master taught to Thomas:

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:26-29)

The Master spoke to Thomas but his words reverberate to us: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” We must remain vigilant in our faith and in our walk as disciples of Yeshua. Even when we don’t see his hand actively working, even during periods when we feel like the heavens are shut up, we must believe and have faith that he is still there. Just as he was there all along for the Israelites in the wilderness and for Thomas and his doubts, he will be there for us. This Omer period is the perfect time to work on our faith and improve our walk as disciples to Yeshua. And perhaps if we listen closely enough we can hear the Master’s words echoing to us: “Do not disbelieve but believe.”

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About the Author: Toby Janicki is a teacher, writer, and project manager for First Fruits of Zion and Vine of David. He contributes regularly to Messiah Journal and has written several books including God-Fearers: Gentiles and the God of Israel. More articles by Toby Janicki

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