You shall observe the Feast of Weeks, the first fruits of wheat harvest..."
You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the Lord. You shall bring from our dwelling please two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour and they shall be baked with leaven as firstfuits to the Lord. And you shall present with the bread seven lambs a year old without blemish and one bull from herd and two rams. They shall be a burnt offering to the Lord, with their grain offering and their drink offerings , a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord."
Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord you God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you."
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven sound like a mighty rushing wind and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with Holy Spirit and began to speak in other thongs as the Spirit gave them utterance."
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions."
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only child and weep bitterly over him as one weeps over a firstborn."
The celebration of Shavuot happens 50 days after Passover. Specifically, the date is calculated from the second night of Passover, then seven weeks totalling 49 days are counted - on the 50th day it is Shavuot.
Along with Succoth and Passover, Shavuot is one of the three pilgrim feasts. All the males went up to Jerusalem to present their sacrifices at the temple.
Shavuot is a late spring harvest celebration of God's provision and the offering at the Temple is the first fruits of the wheat harvest.
The celebration at Shavuot is not just an agricultural thanksgiving, it commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mt Sinai. It is celebrated on the 7th day of Sivan. It was also on 7th day of Sivan that day the Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers gathered in Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 2:1-4. So, the birthday of the church and the birthday of Israel occur on the same day.
The days leading from the festival of Passover towards Shavuot are marked by 'Counting the Omer'. An omer is a measure of grain. The amount of mana collected each day by the Israelites in the wilderness, was called an omer. The counting of the omer counts the days from the time of Passover, (Nisan 15), until Shavuot, forty nine days later on Sivan 6.
The offerings sacrificed at the temple were from the first harvesting of the crops. The first fruit always belongs to the Lord.
This feast time celebrates the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai fifty days after the Exodus. The Jewish people often decorate their houses with flowers and greenery at this time. This ties in with the agricultural nature of the celebration and also harks back to the decorations that adorned the baskets containing the offerings as they were taken to the temple.
The Hebrew word 'sheva' means seven and 'shavuot' means weeks. Exactly seven weeks after the first barley is harvested Shavuot is celebrated. The first fruits of these spring crops is taken to the temple as an offering to God.
In the Greek translations of the Torah, Pentecost is the name the Hellenistic Jews gave to the 50th day after the first day of Passover. It comes from the Greek word Pentekostos.
The Jews call it the Feast of Weeks and in Leviticus 23:16 the instructions are given: "You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the Lord."
During the time between Passover and Shavuot the counting of the omer, marking each day passing, is a time when daily blessings and thanksgivings are offered to God for His provision.
The counting is a time of preparation and to reflect on the relationship that was established between God and His people through the Mosaic covenant.
The Shavuot that took place after Yeshua had ascended was the time when further revelation, through the coming of the Holy Spirit and a New Covenant was established.
This New Covenant is a universal one offered to both Jews and Gentiles.
The feast celebrates birth and revelation. The birth of the Jewish people as a nation after they had fled from slavery in Egypt, and the revelation of the Law that was given to Moses at Mount Sinai. The Law taught them how to relate to God and to one another. The revelation of the Law set them apart as a people, a nation, chosen by God and to whom He gave His Law.
As the Jews settled in the Promised Land and planted crops, the time of Shavuot became an agricultural festival. The farmers would select the first bloom from their figs, dates, pomegranates, olives, wheat, barley and grapes. This first fruit, once ripe would be put in baskets and taken to the temple.
This practise continued up until the destruction of the temple in AD70 when they could not longer make sacrifices. The clear directions for this are laid out in Deuteronomy 26:1-4.
Following the presentation in the temple, the words from Deuteronomy 26:5-11 were recited. This passage recounts the story of the people as they sojourned in Egypt then cried out to God, who then responded by bringing them into their own land.
Practice and Traditions
Traditionally the book of Ruth is read which ties in with theme of harvest. The story of Ruth takes place during harvest. Ruth was a gentile and she aligned herself with the Jewish people through her loyalty to her mother-in-Law, becoming part of the lineage of Yeshua when she married Boaz and gave birth to Obed.
Ruth's acceptance of Jewish traditions and faith links in with the acceptance that took place at Mount Sinai when the Law was first given.
Many Jews take part in an all night reading of the Torah to re-live the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai.
Another tradition practised by in some parts of central and eastern Europe, is the reading of the 12th century poem 'Akdamut' which speaks of the greatness of God and of a Messianic future . It is read along with the Torah recital.
Jewish people decorate their homes with greenery and flowers. When the Israelites settled and planted crops Shavuot became an agricultural festival and was further linked to plant life. The baskets used to transport the first fruits to the temple were decorated with flowers.
Two loaves of leaven bread are baked (the only feast to require leaven). The loaves represent all of humanity. One loaf, the Jews and the other, gentiles, together as one new humanity. Some consider that they also represent the two stone tablets with the Law which Moses brought down from Mount Sinai.
There is a practice of eating milk products during this festival, reflecting that when the Law was given the Jewish people were spiritually as newborn babies.
Messianic and Prophetic Fulfilment
This pilgrimage festival when Jews from all over the world go the Jerusalem celebrates and reaffirms the commitment to the Mosaic covenant. The New Testament reveals that Shavuot is the fulfilment of God's plan of deliverance through Yeshua.
The countdown to Shavuot represents the giving of the New Covenant and it was on this same day of Shavuot that the Holy Spirit was given to the Church.
On the day that the Jews gathered from all over the world, in Jerusalem to reaffirm their commitment to the covenant of Moses, the Holy Spirit came down to rest on them, bringing the promise of the New Covenant. The Law was then written not on tablets of stone but on the hearts of the people. The yield: a fruitful life filled with the Spirit of God. Once again, a people set apart, called and chosen.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep."
The resurrection of Yeshua represents the firstfruits of those who have died. Yeshua's resurrection body is the first fruit and a foretaste of what awaits those who believe. It fulfills the waving of the omer (the measure of grain offering). Yeshua is the offering, the first fruit.
The giving of the Holy Spirit fulfills the wave offering of the wheat loaves on the day of Shavuot, a blessing given to all who believe, both Jew and Gentile.
The shared date for the birth of the Jewish faith and the birth of the Church has a future significance. They will again become one at the climax of the age when remnant Israel and remnant Church will be one and the same.
The Feast of Weeks is fulfilled by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which is known as Pentecost. This is described in Acts 2:1-4. Peter spoke to the gathered God fearing Jews who had made their pilgrimage from nations all over the world, to the temple in Jerusalem.
When the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples they spoke with different tongues. Peter spoke of a Royal priesthood, a holy nation and a fulfilling of Joel 2:28, where it is prophesied that God will pour out His Spirit on all people.
An even greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit is spoken of in Zechariah 12:10. When this day comes the revelation that the Holy Spirit will enable, will bring great mourning as the Jews understand and look upon the one the "whom they have pierced" and mourn for Him.
This will be a time in Israel of great sorrow but, after the mourning and repentance there will be great joy and a harvest of souls.
Praise God for His love and His mercy!
Shavuot at Mount Sinai can be thought of as the day on which Judaism was born. Shavuot on Mount Zion (Jerusalem) is the day on which the Church was born, the time when the Holy Spirit was poured uopn the believers gathered there. They share the same date, the same birthday and at the end of the age the two parts will be one new humanity.
The Ten Commandments given on the first Shavuot at Mount Sinai were written on tablets of stone, by the finger of God. On Mount Zion the Law was written on their hearts:
And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on the tablets of human hearts."
Looking ahead to the fulfilment of the actions in this festival of Shavuot there is much to anticipate. There will be a time of harvest, not of grain but, of the souls of those who receive revelation and accept the resurrected Yeshua as the first fruit of all who die.
The harvest is waiting to be reaped but many willing harvesters are needed. May the Lord of the harvest send us forth into those great white fields.
Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest."