Saturday, May 30, 2020

Shavuot and Pentecost

Shavuot (shuh.voo.owt) comes from Exodus and commemorates the all important wheat harvest in the land of Israel.  It is an “Atzeret (assembly)”; also known as the Feast of Weeks because it is held seven weeks and one day after the second night of Passover… ending the period of the counting of the Omer; the end of the grain harvest at Passover time.  It was known originally as the one day Feast of First Fruits but it was later changed to a period of 50 days which is 7 weeks from Passover; it was done with great anticipation, a time when Jewish farmers would bring the first fruits of their crops as an offering to God in the temple.  It begins at sundown (when three 3 stars visible in the night sky) unlike other holidays that begin at dusk. This Feast of Weeks marks the end of the barley harvest and the beginning of the wheat harvest.  Counting the days from the second day of Passover to Pentecost is called the “Counting of the Omer”.
The Feasts of Weeks is an observance of the giving of the Torah by YHVH to the Hebrew people over three thousand years ago on Mount Sinai.

The Feasts, Shavuot and Pentecost, will lead us to the Book of Acts; it is extremely important that we see Christ in both Covenants because He is the Head of the Church.  Acts is a history of the forming of the Church after Christ ascended to Heaven to be with YHVH (the tetragramaton, a four letter Hebrew word  יהךה  (yud hey vav hey), one of the Biblical names of God.). The Feast of Weeks is extremely critical to our understanding of Pentecost which happens in the beginning of Acts.
The link between Shavuot and Pentecost lies in their names.  Pentecost comes from the Greek word pentékosté which means 50. Fifty days also represent the span between the second day of Passover and Shavuot.  It reminds Believers of the important connection between Passover which freed the people from Egyptian bondage and the giving of and acceptance of the Torah on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19 and 20) which redeemed them spiritually from their bondage to idolatry and immorality.  It is a sacred Covenant between God and His chosen people.  Ezekiel 1 (a prophetic vision of Adonai’s glory) is also read.

Historically, the main activity on the Feast of Weeks was the presentation of a wave offering to the Lord, two loaves of bread with leaven.  The bread was to be brought with seven male lambs, a young bull and two rams as a burnt offering.  The sin offering was a male goat.  Fruits such as fresh dates, pomegranates and grapes were given as an offering.  An ox offering was led before the people.  The horns of the ox were overlaid with gold, with an olive branch and a crown on his head.  Each family brought two loaves of the finest bread.  Only the best was chosen for the offerings to YHVH.  The wave offering expressed the Hebrews’ dependence on God for the harvest and their daily bread.  It was a thanksgiving offering.  The loaves can represent the Jews and Gentiles.  The link between Passover and Pentecost is the omer.  The second night of Passover (Firstfruits) the barley is harvested and the first sheaf is waved before the altar in the Temple.  On Pentecost, two loaves are waved as an offering before the same altar.  As was stated earlier, the day of First Fruits became the Feast of Weeks. The cutting of the omer of the new barley marked the beginning of the counting period; on the 50th day, Pentecost is observed.  It is also the closing of the Passover season.  Pentecost is the only festival for which no specific date is given in the Bible.  People were instructed to count 7 weeks from the “morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering” (Leviticus 23:15).  Passover freed the people physically from bondage, but the giving of the Torah on Pentecost redeemed them spiritually from their bondage to idolatry and immorality.  (Biblical Holidays.Com) Passover was a foreshadowing of Yeshua.  The original Pentecost marked the day that Moshe (Moses) gave the Hebrews the Torah from Mt. Sinai.  The 50th day of Pentecost marks this event and even more importantly, it marks 50 days after the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea to freedom and YHVH did not want them to forget what He did for them at the Red Sea.  However, He needed to deal with their disobedience and sinful ways, hence the 50 days after crossing marks the giving of the Law, instructing them in righteousness.  YHVH put His commandments and righteousness in stone tablets and presented it to them via Moshe.  According to the Jewish Study Bible, it is believed that more than Ten Commandments were given to Moshe.  It is believed by many Jews that Moshe was given the whole Torah (The five Books of the Law) and that he wrote the end of Deuteronomy with his own tears as YHVH.

At Shavuot the Hebrew people left Egypt on Passover and arrived 40 days later at Mt. Sinai.  Moses went up the mountain to meet God and received Torah and came down ten days later, Exodus 24:13 and Isaiah 2:3.  The people broke Covenant because of doubt, fear and impatience because they believed that Moshe was taking too long while receiving the tablets from God and demanded that Aaron make them a golden calf which they worshipped and idolized; on the day of this Pentecost, which is the first Pentecost, the people had sinned by building idols while Moshe was with YHVH on the mountaintop receiving the Law this angered YHVH and as a result three thousand (3,000) people died.

The events of Pentecost in the Book of Acts marked the birth of Christianity with the giving of the Holy Spirit. Those gathered were Jewish believers and gentiles who were Messianic converts and were gathered to celebrate Shavuot.  As they were praying and praising God, as was promised by the Messiah, the Holy Spirit descended, in what seemed to the gathering to be tongues of fire that separated and landed on everyone there. The disciple Peter eventually brought clarity to what transpired. He admonished them to turn from their wicked ways…repent and return to God and be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:29-39).  Those who accepted what Peter offered were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit.  Three thousand (3,000) were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit that day.  

Passover was a foreshadowing of Yeshua.  However, what did Pentecost foreshadow and reveal?  The original Pentecost marked the day that Moshe (Moses) gave the Hebrews the Torah from Mt. Sinai.  The 50th day of Pentecost marks this event and even more importantly, it marks 50 days after the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea to freedom and YHVH did not want them to forget what He did for them at the Red Sea.  However, He needed to deal with their disobedience and sinful ways, hence the 50 days after crossing marks the giving of the Law, instructing them in righteousness.  YHVH put His commandments and righteousness in stone tablets which were then delivered to them by Moshe (Moses).  According to the Jewish Study Bible, it is believed that more than Ten Commandments were given to Moshe.  It is believed by many Jews that Moshe was given the whole Torah (The five Books of the Law) and that he wrote the end of Deuteronomy with his own tears as YHVH described how Moshe would die and not be allowed to go into the Promised.  According to many Jews, it would not take 40 days to write Ten Commandments.  It is believed by many Jewish scholars that the 10 Commandments are a framework that the 613 Commandments of the Torah fit under. When Moshe returned to them, 3000 were slain because of their sin.  Despite that, the Torah was given; the Feast of Weeks continues to be celebrated. What does the Feast of Weeks have to do with Yeshua?  Yeshua went to the cross, died, was buried and after three days and three nights He resurrected from the tomb right before the ending of Shabbat.  [Shabbat is Saturday and is the 7th day and day of rest for the Jews.  It is their Sabbath like Sunday is the Christian Sabbath].  On the First day of the week, (which starts Saturday at Sundown for the Jews) He became the “First Fruits” which was 8 days after He entered Jerusalem, on a donkey while the people shouted Hosanna, Hosanna and waved palms at Him!  [His entry into Jerusalem for the last time is called Palm Sunday by Christians].

There are many who believe that He resurrected on the Sabbath (Saturday) and that the next day (Sunday) was the “Feast of First Fruits” which He became. That is spiritually important because Yeshua is the “First of the Fruits” and we are “His Fruits” so to speak.   Rav Shual (Apostle Paul) wrote about Yeshua being the “First Fruits.”  Like the Hebrews, when the Passover happened, followed by Pentecost, which gave them spiritual freedom, we became spiritually free and fully free from the penalty of sin through Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection and then 50 days later at Pentecost, Ruach haKodesh (the Holy Spirit) came and the Church began!   Once Yeshua resurrected, the count (The 50 days of Pentecost) began because the 50th day was going to be critical to all believers.  50 days after the resurrection, Ruach haKodesh came like a mighty rushing wind to the Temple where 120 saints of Yeshua were gathered.  As planned, the 2nd Pentecost happened with those that believed in Yeshua.

Three thousand (3,000) believed in Jesus and were saved.  Both events clearly showed God’s plan and His works and the parallels.  In Exodus the people received a Covenant from God; fifty (50) days after Yeshua, our Passover Lamb, died, rose triumphantly from the grave and ascended to the Father’s right hand. YHVH sent the Holy Spirit as was promised by Yeshua.  Both were similar in characteristics, wind, fire, smoke and voices.  The fire from Mt. Sinai was one fire visible by all but was kept away from the people.  The fire came to the people but did not touch the people.  The Holy Spirit’s fire touched all individually. In both instances we see the manifestation of God to the people (Theophanies)…God showed up!!  He was in their presence (Exodus 19:18-20 and Acts 2:4).  At Mt. Sinai God gave the Law written on a stone tablet and at Pentecost He wrote the Law on their hearts of flesh, Jeremiah 31.  The Holy Spirit changed the people from within.  They now have hearts of flesh and God’s Law abides in them.

This was God’s plan in both instances.  Now that we believe in His Son, our hearts are open to receive Him as our Lord and Savior and be in covenant with our Father God.

Of Note…

The book of Ruth is also read in the synagogue on Shavuot.  Ruth was not born Jewish.  Ruth was a Moabite who journeys from Moab with her Mother-in-law Naomi, to her homeland, Israel, after the death of her husband, one of Naomi’s sons.  This occurrence opens the door to other non-Jews who embrace Jewish tradition and the Jewish faith.  This all took place around the time of Shavuot and acceptance of the Torah by the Hebrew people.

In medieval England Pentecost was sometimes called “White Sunday” or “Whitsunday” for the custom of wearing white.  Modern day Christian believers wear all white (Whitsunday) or all red (symbolizing tongues of fire as the fire that came down from heaven and rested on the heads of the people) to church on Pentecost.

FIRST PENTECOST                                       PENTECOST AFTER CHRIST

The Commandments Given                                The Holy Spirit Given
Fifty days from the crossing of the Red Sea        Fifty days from the resurrection of Christ
Law of Yahweh written in Stone                        Law of Yahweh written on our hearts
Three thousand slain                                        Three thousand receive salvation
The letter of the Law                                        The Spirit of the Law