The Feast of Shavuot – Pentecost (Feast of Weeks)- In Prophecy!
Shalom Partner and Friend of Israel,
The 4th Feast of the Lord”
Begins Sundown 8th – 9th JUNE, 2019
Names were very important in the Ancient Jewish world (and still are) … They usually reflected this significant character, history or meaning to which they were attached! Three important names were given to the "Feast of Shavuot" (Pentecost) and each name emphasized a different facet of its observance; (1) Hag HaShavuot meaning "Feast of Weeks" as Shavuot means "weeks." "And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the First fruits of wheat harvest." - Exodus 34:22. Shavuot was called "Feast of Weeks" because seven weeks …were counted from Passover - "Feast of First Fruits" until observing this Feast. (2) The primary meaning of the Feast was reflected in the Hebrew name; Yom HaBikkurim or "the Day of Firstfruits" (Numbers 28:26) since Shavuot was the day on which the "Firstfruit" offerings of the early summer "wheat crop" were brought to the Temple. Thus, Shavuot marked the beginning of the summer "wheat harvest" even as Israel’s earlier "Feast of Firstfruits" marked the beginning of the "barley harvest!" (3) Hag Hakatzir or "the Feast of Harvest" (Exodus 23:16) reflected the fact that this festival was the official beginning of the summer harvest season! Jewish Historian Josephus referred to the "Feast of Shavuot" as Atzeret meaning "conclusion!" Here the view of "conclusion" meant that Shavuot concluded the "Passover" season and the 7-week Spring harvest since there is NO other major "Feasts of the Lord" until the fall / autumn months! Interesting and very prophetic!
Shavuot (Pentecost) is second of the three "solemn" Feasts of the Lord associated with "First-fruit" and of "giving and receiving!" And, is unique as it is a "double" blessing. This year as Shavuot begins directly after the Sabbath finishes and so in fact it’s a double Sabbath! (of the seven "Feasts of the Lord") and are arranged in Leviticus 23 …where God has said NOT to come empty handed. Why? Because, it’s an open "door" or "window" of promised blessing! Rabbi’s believe that on Shavuot, everything goes back to how it was before Creation and for that reason, we can have miracles and anything we want (according to His righteous will) during this time window because our God is a generous God who wants to bless us …but we have to be generous too!
Perhaps one of the most fascinating Biblical studies is the "historic and prophetic" significance of the special Feast Days of the Lord. This 5779 (2019) year will be the culmination of everything God’s been preparing us for to step into the next season and Biblical Year 5780 (2019-2020) the year of the Hebrew letter; "Pey" (meaning "mouth") and beginning of the 8th decade …and the decade of the "mouth" – "speaking" and "declaring" the Kingdom of God onto Earth. Eight also represents "New Beginnings" …just like it also represented a "New Beginning" for the First Church, on the Day of Pentecost and the Coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). Shavuot (Pentecost) falls on the exact 50th day (another prophetic number) after Pesach (Passover), "First Fruits" - the "Resurrection" day of our Lord! The Spirit of God was given to the believers on the same day that the Torah was given to Israel. Here we see that; the Old Testament or "First Covenant" and the New Testament or "Renewed Covenant" are joined together and both being initiated on the same day!
The 3 MAJOR Feasts of BLESSINGS are:
1. Pesach/Passover/ Unleavened Bread - Firstfruit.
2. Shavuot / Pentecost - Feast of Weeks".
3. Sukkot/ Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:15, 16)
Shavuot NEVER comes with an exact Biblical month as we are told to "count" 7-weeks from the time and period from the day of the "First Fruits" of the "Barley harvest" on Passover – Unleavened Bread – First Fruits!
This 50-day count is known as; "the counting of the Omer!" An "Omer" is a Biblical measure of grain. On the second day of Passover, an "Omer" of barley was offered in the Temple signalling the start of the "barley harvest" …and begins the 50-day countdown to Shavuot - Pentecost. It is a happy Feast and falls each year on Sivan 6 and 7 (corresponds to May or early June) in the Jewish Calendar. 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 and at the same time it’s the birth of the Church! And, this year 2019 is Israel’s 71st Year re-birth as a Nation!
The Feasts come in three groups collectively making up the Seven Feasts of the Lord: The 1st three were Pesach; "Passover" – "Unleavened Bread" - "First Fruits" and come at the beginning of the Biblical Jewish Year in Spring, while Shavuot; "Pentecost" the 4th Feast and comes towards the end of Spring and at beginning of the Summer whilst the last three are Sukkot "Trumpets" – "Atonement" and "Tabernacles" are in Fall or Autumn toward the end of the year. They are all God’s appointed Times! That seems it is God’s method in revealing future things (compare; Luke 1:31-33). Between these groups there was a period of several months, when there are NO Feasts or holy convocations! The first three Feasts pointed us to Christ’s death / burial and First-fruits to His Resurrection. Then the 4th Feast Shavuot / Pentecost - 50 days later, to His Law and birth of the Church. ALL FOUR ARE FULFILLED! And, 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! Sukkot – Trumpets – Atonement – Tabernacles are the final three Feasts (Rapture of the Church and Tribulation) …and the 8th Day (1,000 year) reign of our Lord after Tribulation are still UNFULFILLED!
Most of the Biblical customs and traditions related to Shavuot celebration arose from the Israelites at Mount Sinai and also legends and stories. According a 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, today in some Synagogues, Jews don’t sleep the whole night from dusk to dawn and keep themselves busy by reading and studying the Torah and Talmud (Old Testament). The 10 Commandments are read publicly in all Synagogues, 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’s never mentioned as "receiving") the Israelites did not have any meat prepared according to the rules of ritual (Kosher) 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 Feast" the Jews follow this tradition by eating dairy products.
It is believed that Mount Sinai "suddenly" bloomed with greenery and flowers in happiness of the "giving" of the Torah. To commemorate this event Jews, decorate their homes and synagogues with flowers and branches. It is also customary at Shavuot to decorate the synagogues 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 on the 50th day after First Fruits, and the word Pentecost means; "fifty" or "fifty days." God specifically told the Israelites that they were to count seven Sabbaths (7 complete weeks), from First-fruits (Leviticus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:9) - which adds up to 49 days.
Once again let’s look at the importance of the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) that God had ordained for Israel in His sacred Hebrew Calendar; It is one of the clusters of three of the seven appointed Feasts by God Himself where it is "believed that the "windows of heaven" are open in blessings!" And, it’s God that commanded that these Feasts be observed as "…a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings." (Leviticus 23:14, 21, 41; Deuteronomy 16:16, 17) Passover marked the first "spring harvest" …and these three Feasts marked Israel's history in the process of their redemption. These Feasts of Festivals were also "prophetic" and "typological" of the greater redemption which would come through the Messiah, Yeshua - Jesus. 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 thanksgiving "wave offering." From the next day, 7-weeks or 49-days were counted to "wheat harvest." (Leviticus 23:10, 11).
Then on the day after 7th Sabbath which was 50th 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 for both Jew and Gentile …as the Holy Scriptures state. (Psalm 14:2–3; Romans 3:9-10, 23) If the two loaves (Leviticus 23:17) with leaven (sin) only represented the people of Israel, in whom there is leaven… we ask ourselves again why "two" loaves and why not "twelve" loaves? (As with the shewbread in the Tabernacle with one for each of the 12 tribes of Israel) It is said that 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 does NOT conclude that God's Law in the Torah (Old Testament) is sinful because it’s NOT so! We read in Psalm 19:7 that "the Law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul." Paul speaks of the "goodness of the Torah" in showing us our own sinfulness. Rather the two leaven loaves seem to "prophetically" point to the two-leavened people of God: Israel and the Church - who together make up the Body of Messiah!
On the 50th day" - "Pentecost" or "Shavuot" a "harvest" and thanksgiving service was observed in the House of God; "…two loaves of bread baked with leaven were waved before the LORD," Leviticus 23:16-20. This time, from the "First-Fruit" of "wheat harvest," in the act of thanksgiving 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 and to be devout about and to keep all things that God 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.
So why should Christians observe the Feast of Shavuot or Pentecost? Because, of a major event in Biblical Jewish history which became a universal blessing for all mankind took place in the Jerusalem during that "harvest" …Feast of Shavuot also called Pentecost. It was on the first day of the week, on Sunday, in the Roman Julian Calendar, May 24th, in the year 30AD. This was also the year 3,790 in the Hebrew Calendar. Christians mark that historic Pentecost in Jerusalem as the "spiritual birthday of the church." (A.R. Fausset's Bible Dictionary, p. 557)
Shavuot / Pentecost - The Feast of Fulfilment … When the day of Pentecost (meaning, Shavuot) came 120 and 12 Disciples – (Acts 1:15) were all together in one place and "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 "languages"), as the Spirit enabled them." (Acts 2:1-4)
Apostle Luke further describes the many lands from which the pilgrims came up to the House of God, the Temple, in Jerusalem on Shavuot. They were "Jews and (Gentile) converts to Judaism." (Acts 2:8-11) And, as recorded by Cornelius Tacitus, the Roman historian; The Holy City with a population of about 600,000 at that time, exploded with between 2-3 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 Feasts was in obedience to the Torah as God commanded Moses: "Three times in a year shall all your males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which He shall choose … No one should appear before the LORD empty-handed," Deuteronomy 16:16. It was the holy zeal of believing Jews and proselytes to be in the "Holy City" to enter God's "Holy House," and observe the impressive priestly rituals of these Feasts. 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 and the coming of the New Covenant (Testament and Gospels) as well as the Church. The Disciples were commanded to tarry at Jerusalem "…for the promise of the Father." - Acts 1:4 and which they did! However, they did not have long to wait. The Coming of the Holy Spirit occurred at an "appointed time" exactly on the next Feast of the Lord when the Jews in Jerusalem …and Jews 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 1st 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, Jew or Gentile are not only indwelt by the Holy Spirit but are baptised into the same body! One New Man!
There are many reasons why the Jewish people read the Book of Ruth on the Feast of Shavuot; (1) The Torah (5 Books of Moses; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) was given to the Jewish People on this day, the 6th day of Sivan. Jews believe Torah learning is like Ruth enduring poverty and sorrow even as she accepted Naomi’s God - the God of Israel. (2) Just as Ruth a Gentile 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 70 years later and died on the holiday of Shavuot. King David, was Ruth's, great-grandchild (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 is one of the great heroines in Israel and is loved and revered for her modest nature and deeds of kindness she demonstrated. Ruth was a true friend and a true daughter-in-law and showed what a true woman is made of and used by God. Ruth is a beautiful picture of Jew and Gentile as the "ONE New Man" - Israel and the Church! (Ephesians 2:14-5)
Interesting thought to ponder on; Ruth was a Gentile that came from Moab which today is situated in Jordan, where the Ancient city of Petra is also situated! And, as Ruth and Naomi returned in hardship and in a “time of famine” to Israel and 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 in Jordan. 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, so too is Pentecost - the thanksgiving for the “Holy Spirit” and “Church.” What then is really the spiritual significance? As mentioned, an early harvest of “First Fruits” and the “Feast of Weeks,” …but, how are they tied together? We read in 1 Corinthians 15:20 that the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) Himself is the fulfilment of the “Feast of Firstfruits.” But then 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 before 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? At this “appointed time“ was to fulfil the symbol of this “harvest of ingathering” …and to fulfil His Prophetic Word!
Here are some other interesting parallels; When God gave the Torah to His people - all of Israel acknowledged they would follow it (Exodus 19:8). It wasn't long after that Israel forgot and dis-obeyed 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 First-fruits have 3,000 - born to newness of life at Pentecost Acts 2:41? It also points to the fulfilment of Ezekiel 36:27 where by God’s Spirit on the “Feast day of Shavuot” would write His Torah on the hearts of His people. 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 – born again believers in Yeshua (Jesus)!
Every genuine work of God must involve planting the seed… then 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 (Jesus) 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 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! 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 2,000 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 one’s 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? “God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be!” - Romans 11:1.
Does the Western Church acknowledge her Judeo-Christian 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). Halleluyah!
God’s Word is true! He IS watching to see how the nations are treating His people. God will have mercy on Israel through Gentile believers acting as mediators towards them. This is one of the most amazing revelations ever given to the church – an opportunity to do something that carries the highest priority in the heart of God. Yet, sadly, so few have seen the potential and the rewards of serving God in this manner - as agents of mercy to Israel and the Jewish people! Israel was and still is despised today and a despised nation continually turning away from God BUT nothing ever altered the purpose of God for that nation. The despised element is always a noticeable element in the purpose of God. When the Saviour of the world came, He came of that despised nation; like Israel… He Himself was “despised and rejected by men,” …and there is that despised element; “…things that are despised God has chosen,” 1 Corinthians 1:28. Now, more than at any time is the time to support Israel and the Jewish people - the Lord’s Brethren! We are witnessing the nations and people turning their backs on Israel. Thank you once again for your prayers and generous financial support so that we can continue to bless Israel and be a voice for truth!
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
01st June, 2019
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