Shavuot or Weeks or Pentecost ~~~ The 4th Feast of the Lord”

 
 

Shavuot – Feast of Weeks – Pentecost 2017

The 4th Feast of the Lord"

Begins sundown on the 30th May – until sundown 31st May, 2017



Shalom Partner and Friend of Israel,

Perhaps one of the most fascinating Biblical studies is the historic and prophetic significance of the special Feast days of the Lord. The seven "Feasts of the Lord" are arranged in Leviticus 23 in two groups. The first four came at the beginning of the Biblical Jewish Year, while the last three came toward the end of the year. That seems it is God’s method in revealing future things (compare Luke 1: 31-33). Between these two groups there was a period of several months, when there were no feasts or holy convocations.

The feasts of Passover and Un-leavened Bread - point to Christ’s death and burial; Firstfruits to His resurrection; and Pentecost (fifty days later) to His Church. Then there is a space of time representing the long period in which Israel is out of the Land of Promise and out of the place of blessing, which coincides with the Church Age.



 

Shavuot is a happy Festival and falls on Sivan 6 and 7 (corresponds to May or early June) in the Jewish calendar. This festival day is also known as the Feast of Weeks (Exodus 34:22) as Shavuot means "weeks."

Shavuot was believed by rabbinic scholars to be the day that God gave Moses the Torah or law on Mount Sinai after their exodus from Egypt. On that day God Himself came down in a cloud on Mount Sinai in fire and smoke and a blast of God's trumpet, to establish His covenant with His people. Shavuot is therefore commemorated as the biblical birth date of the nation of Israel.

Most of the customs and tradition related to Shavuot celebration arose from legends and stories of the Israelites at Mount Sinai. According to one legend the people of Israel overslept on the day of the giving of the Torah and Moses himself had to wake them up as God was waiting for them at the mountain. In order to rectify this, on the eve of Shavuot, in some Synagogues, Jews do not sleep the whole night from dusk to dawn and keep themselves busy by reading and studying the Torah and Talmud. In all Synagogues the Ten Commandments are read publicly at the morning service. On the evening of Shavuot women and girls light candles to indicate that Shavuot has begun. After the holiday evening prayers families will enjoy a festive holiday meal.

According to tradition on the day of the "Giving" of the Torah (it is not mentioned the "receiving") the Israelites did not have any meat prepared according to the rules of ritual slaughtering. Nor could they slaughter another animal on the day as it was Sabbath, the day when slaughtering was forbidden. So the people were forced to eat simple dairy products for the rest of the day. During the Shavuot festival the Jews follow this tradition by eating dairy products.

It is believed that Mt. Sinai suddenly bloomed with greenery and flowers in happiness of the giving of the Torah. To commemorate this event the Jews decorate their homes and synagogues with flowers and branches. It is also customary at Shavuot to decorate the synagogue with greenery, flowers, and fruit. There are two explanations for doing this at Shavuot:

  1. It symbolizes the harvest aspect of Shavuot and keeps with the Biblical theme of the feast.
  2. There is also a rabbinical tradition that even though Mount Sinai was situated in the desert, in honour of the giving of Torah, the desert bloomed and sprouted flowers.

It is also known as the Feast of Pentecost, because it falls fifty days after firstfruits, and the word Pentecost means "fifty" or "fifty days." God specifically told the Israelites that they were to count seven Sabbaths (seven complete weeks), from First-fruits (Leviticus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:9), which adds up to 49 days.

God had ordained for Israel a sacred calendar of three major festivals to be observed as "A statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings." (Leviticus 23:14, 21, 41; Deuteronomy 16:16, 17.

Important : The three MAJOR feasts are:

1. "Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread."

2. "Shavuot / Feast of Weeks" – which is also called "Pentecost," a Greek translation of the Hebrew words meaning, the "fiftieth day" when the Festival was celebrated. (Leviticus 23:15, 16)

3. "The Feast of Tabernacles."

Passover marked the first spring harvest. The first fruits of a sheaf or "omer" of barley was required by the Torah to be presented before the LORD in the House of God, as a thanksgiving "wave offering." From the next day, seven weeks or forty-nine days were counted to wheat harvest. (Leviticus 23:10, 11)

Then on the day after the seventh Sabbath which was the fiftieth day, they were to bring to the temple "two loaves of bread," specifically commanded to be made with fine flour and baked with leaven (Leviticus 23:17). These two loaves of bread were to be used as a "wave offering" for the people.

What was significant about the two leaven loaves...? Part of the wheat offering was baked into two loaves of leavened bread - a striking contrast to the matzo a few weeks before! The two leaven loaves became symbolic of sinful mankind - both Jew and Gentile - as the Holy Scriptures state. (Psalm 14:2 – 3; Romans 3:9 - 10, 23)



Why should Christians observe the Feast of Shavuot or Pentecost…? Because, of a major event in Jewish history which became a universal blessing for all mankind that took place in the Jerusalem Temple during that harvest festival of Shavuot also called Pentecost.

It was on the first day of the week, Sunday, in the Roman Julian calendar, May 24th, in the year A.D. 30. This was also the year 3,790 in the Hebrew calendar. Christian scholars mark that historic Pentecost in Jerusalem as the "spiritual birthday of the church." (A.R. Fausset's Bible Dictionary, p. 557)

On the "fiftieth day" ~ "Pentecost" or "Shavuot" - another harvest thanksgiving service was observed in the House of God. This time, from the first-fruit of wheat harvest, "two loaves of bread baked with leaven were waved before the LORD," in the act of thanksgiving. (Leviticus 23:16 - 20)

These three festivals marked Israel's history in the process of their redemption. These festivals were also prophetic and typological of the greater redemption which would come through the Messiah.

Pentecost - The Feast of Fulfilment … When the day of Pentecost (meaning, Shavuot) came one hundred and twenty disciples – (Acts 1:15) were all together in one place… Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (or as the NIV interprets, "languages"), as the Spirit enabled them." (Acts 2:1 - 4 NIV)

 



Luke further describes the many lands from which the pilgrims came up to the House of God, the Temple, in Jerusalem. They were "Jews and (Gentile) converts to Judaism." (Acts 2:8 - 11)

As recorded by Cornelius Tacitus, the Roman historian, The Holy City with a population of about six hundred thousand at that time, exploded with between two and three million, because of the pilgrims. The pilgrims slept on the flat roofs of the houses, camped outside the walls of Jerusalem, were given hospitality by relatives and friends, all within a "Sabbath day's journey" to reach the House of God. Their presence in the Holy City on the three major festivals was in obedience to the Torah as God commanded Moses: "Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which He shall choose . . ." (Deuteronomy 16:16)

It was the holy zeal of believing Jews and proselytes to be in the Holy City and to enter God's "holy House," and observe the impressive priestly rituals of these Festivals.

The disciples, who were meeting secretly in the upper room from the time of Yeshua’ (Jesus) Last Seder Supper until the day of Pentecost, were fortunate to be early in the "house" of God, and to be "all together in one place." (Acts 2:1 - 2)

This feast of Shavuot was also a prophecy of the day of Pentecost (Pentecost means fifty) and the coming of the New Covenant. The disciples were commanded to tarry at Jerusalem "for the promise of the Father" (Acts 1:4) which they did. However, they did not have long to wait.

The coming of the Holy Spirit occurred on the next Jewish holiday when Jews from different countries came to be in Jerusalem to celebrate the completion of the harvest season. This annual feast was none other than Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks and once more God descended on those first-century believers with a mighty rushing wind, tongues of fire and other demonstrations of the Holy Spirit, once more establishing a covenant with His people.

Shavuot points to Christ the head of the church that came into existence on the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit united the believers in the body and, since then, all true believers in Yeshua, Jewish or Gentile are not only indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but are baptised into the same body.

There are many reasons why the Jewish people read the Book of Ruth on the holiday of Shavuot, some of which is listed below:

1. The Torah (5 Books of Moses; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) was given to the Jewish People on this day, the sixth day of Sivan… and they believe that just as Torah learning is acquired through pain and poverty, so did Ruth endure poverty and sorrow as she accepted Naomi’s God; the God of Israel.

2. Just as Ruth was accepted by the God of Israel… so too the nation of Israel entered into a covenant with God on this day when they eagerly accepted the Torah.

3. King David was born and seventy years later, died on the holiday of Shavuot.  David, the head of the Judean Kingdom was Ruth's, great grandchild David (genealogy of Yeshua our Lord Jesus).  Ruth is often referred to as "Em Hamalchut" the Mother of the Kingdom.

4. The central theme of the book of Ruth is "Chesed" (Mercy). The book shows the loving kindness that Ruth bestowed on her mother-in-law Naomi, and by the people of Bethlehem (remember: this is also where the Lord Yeshua (Jesus) was born) at that time, towards the poor, as well as Boaz’s thoughtfulness towards Ruth.

5. Shavuot is also call Chag Hakatzir or The Harvest Festival… The Book of Ruth; paints a picture of the harvest time in Israel… and to treat the poor with loving kindness especially during this harvest.



One of the great heroines in Israel ...Ruth is loved and revered. Ruth, in her modest nature and deeds of kindness, demonstrated what a true friend, a true daughter in law and what a true woman is made of.

Ruth is a beautiful picture of Jew and Gentile as the "ONE New Man." Israel and the Church! "For He is our peace, He making us both one, and He has broken down the middle wall of partition between us (Jew and Gentile)… so that in Himself He might make the two (Jew and Gentile) into one new man, making peace between them" Ephesians 2:14 -15

Understanding MERCY in the Hebrew Word "Chesed"… Biblical scholars have often complained that the word "Chesed" in the Hebrew Bible is difficult to translate into English, because it really has no precise equivalent in our language. English versions usually try to represent "chesed" with words as "loving-kindness," "mercy," "steadfast love," and sometimes "loyalty," but the full meaning of the word cannot be fully conveyed without an explanation: It is one of the words used in the Psalms (23 times), plus in Hosea 2:19 to translate the Hebrew "chesed" when it refers to God's love for his people Israel. Otherwise the use of 'mercy,' 'goodness,' and 'great kindness' in the Psalms for God's attitude to man; and, outside the Psalms, such words as 'mercy,' 'goodness,' 'favour' for God's attitude to man, and 'kindness' for man's attitude to man.

Interesting thought to ponder on… Ruth was a Gentile that came from Moab (today is situated in Jordan… where the ancient city of Petra is also situated). And as Ruth and Naomi returned in hardship and a time of famine to Israel… so it is believed that in end times when the Antichrist forces the Jewish people out, "they will flee" and take refuge in (Moab) Petra. There are unfulfilled prophecies: Isaiah 16: 2 - 4; Matthew 24: 15 – 22; Jeremiah 30:4 – 8 (Jacob’s trouble); Daniel 11: 40 – 44; Revelations 12: 6 and 14.

The basic theme of Shavuot is "the harvest" and thanksgiving to God… and Pentecost is the thanksgiving for the "Holy Spirit and Church"… But what then is really the spiritual significance? We mentioned an early harvest of first fruits and the feast of weeks - how are they tied together? We read in 1 Corinthians 15:20 that Messiah Himself is the fulfilment of the Feast of Firstfruits. But where is the Feast of Weeks? Where is the fulfilment of that Feast of the Lord? For that we need to look at Acts 2: 1 – 4.

Have you ever asked what all those people were doing in Jerusalem at the time of Pentecost? They were "devout men" - meaning careful to observe all that God commanded - they were there because God commanded them to go up to Jerusalem to observe the feast. As mentioned there were three times each year appointed by God for His people to come up to Jerusalem to celebrate with Him in His feasts. Why did God pour out His spirit on them? To fulfill the symbol of this harvest of ingathering and to fulfill His prophetic word!

The rabbis tied the Feast of Shavuot to the "giving" of the Torah - but here too are some other interesting parallels; When God gave the Torah to His people - all Israel acknowledged they would follow it… Exodus 19:8. It wasn't long after that Israel forgot and disobeyed bringing down God's judgment Exodus 32:28 and 3,000 of God's people were destroyed. Is it just coincidence that years later on the anniversary of the giving of Torah - God would as firstfruits have 3,000 - born to newness of life Acts 2:41? It also points to the fulfilment of Ezekiel 36:27 where by His spirit on the Feast day of Shavuot - He would write His Torah on the hearts of His people.

Shavuot (Pentecost) remembers God's people's attitude in first receiving Torah –"All that the Lord has spoken we will do" Exodus 19:8 and God's intended purpose: The rabbis have said that there is no liberty without divine Law and the self-discipline that it gives us. It is said a train must have rails and a river must have banks - so too our lives need the Bible. After all Yeshua did not say, "Go and do what feels good" or "Go and live your life as you please." He said, "Go… and make disciples… Teaching them to observe (or more literally "be observant") all that I have commanded you." (Matthew 28: 19 – 20)  

We noted earlier the two loaves (Leviticus 23:17) with leaven, and how they represented the people of Israel, in whom there is leaven… But, we ask ourselves again why two loaves! If it speaks of Israel why is it not twelve loaves? (As with the shewbread in the tabernacle with one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel)

Some have said the loaves symbolize the two tablets of the Torah, since the Torah was given at Shavuot and therefore a reminder to keep and observe God's commandments. But, then there is the problem of the leaven - certainly one would not conclude that God's Torah is sinful – Psalm 19:7 says, the Law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul. Paul speaks of the goodness of the Torah in showing us our own sinfulness. No…! That does not fit the symbol! Rather is seems they prophetically point to the two leavened people of God - Israel and the church; who together make up the body of Messiah.

 



The two loaves of leavened bread have, since that feast of Shavuot some 2000 years ago become joined together to become one people of God. Jews and Gentiles, one in Messiah, who are called upon to observe - to be devout about and to keep all things that He has commanded us (Matthew 28:19 – 20). This symbolic message of Shavuot must have been in Paul's mind when he wrote Ephesians 2:11 – 13; 16 – 22.

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a God of wonders. Indeed He is more wonderful than most realize. The word "wonderful" in Hebrew means "SURPRISE!!!" and that is what Pentecost has been for Israel as a nation and for her people individually.

On Pentecost the God of Israel comes down to His people. God comes down to visit His people, first nationally, (in the Old Covenant), and individually and personally, (in the New Covenant). He reveals Himself to His covenant people in power and great glory. Pentecost unfolds in the Old Covenant as Yahweh God is betrothed to a nation… And,  as Pentecost unfolds in the New Covenant as Yahweh God is betrothed to individuals personally inside their hearts.

Does the western Church acknowledge her roots in Israel through the Seed of Abraham, Israel's Messiah...?

No, she does not! This willing ignorance is the cause of the continuing partial blindness of the Church to her identity in Israel. This partial blindness will end, but quite late… (Zechariah 12). The lights will go on in the Church to their identity in Israel at the very same time as the partial blindness of the other house, the Jewish House of Judah ends and they finally recognize their Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).

Every genuine work of God must involve planting the seed… waiting for gestation, and then, in travail and labour, the birthing of the new creation. As we consider the appearance of the church of the Messiah Yeshua upon the earth following His resurrection, we must recognize that this church did not drop from Heaven nor was it created in a vacuum. The church, the company of the redeemed who were washed by the blood and sanctified by the Spirit was born!

The birth of the church at "Pentecost" necessitated all of the above. The divine seed had to fall into the ground and die in order to bear fruit… and the womb out of which the church came forth…was none else but the national frame of Israel. While many acknowledge Israel’s physical exile of the last nineteen hundred years… only a few recognize that the nation also experienced a spiritual exile as well. As in any birth the intensifying pains, the trauma and the laying down of ones life took their toll. Israel, now an exhausted bloody womb, collapsed and was taken out of the way. The young church vibrant and anointed spread her across the heathen nations, bringing the life of heaven in her wings…But what about the old womb? It was not to be forsaken forever, was it...? Romans 11:1 "God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be?"

We hope that you enjoy and become more informed by our work. We serve an awesome God and we are humbled by this opportunity to bring you this information.

Alf & Julie Saunders

02nd January, 2017



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