PENTECOST: Feast of Weeks (Shavout)

                          

            

                               

 

Pentocost Feast - Also called Shavout

    

                                                   INTRODUCTION

Both the Old and New Covenants are Jewish, inspired by God, and written for both Jewish and Gentile (Goy) believers. The New Covenant is built upon and completes the Hebrew Scriptures, which entails accounts of vicarious atonement, salvation, immersion, a Messiah, and required feasts. This discussion will focus on the required feast of Shavuot (Feast ofWeeks).

                                                  BACKGROUND   

The Old Covenant book of Leviticus chapter twenty three designates seven celebrations or feasts for Israel. Three of these feasts are major or perpetual celebrations, and are to be held annually at their appointed times. These major feasts mark and divide times of the year, and had (have) a prophetic aspect.

 The major feasts or celebrations required the entire male population of Israel to make a pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem (Deut.16:16). These feasts were often referred to as Pilgrim Feasts. Yeshua (Jesus) during His ministry on earth participated all of Israel’s feasts.

 The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 C.E. and, pilgrimages ceased. Throughout the ages the names, processes, and methods of performing these feasts were modified by Israel’s religious leaders, but all are still celebrated to this day. The three major feasts or Celebrations are: Passover (Pesach), which included the minor celebration of Firstfruits of the spring harvest. Weeks or (Shavuot) commemorates the Firstfruits of the wheat harvest. Tabernacles (Succoth) or The Day of Atonement is celebrated in the fall of the year.

The Three major feasts are (were) also prophetic in nature.

  • The book of the Prophet Jeremiah prophesied God would make a New Covenant with the houses of Israel and Judah (Jer.31:31-36). The term covenant, in our vernacular, is like a last will or testament. A will or last testament is enforced only upon the death of the one making the will. A covenant (testament/will) is not in effect until after the death, never while the one making the “will” is alive. The New Covenant replaces the Old Covenant. Yeshua (Jesus) by His death, burial and resurrection replaces the Old Covenant and brought about the New Covenant. He said to the Disciples at His last Passover, “I tell you I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” The prophetic nature of Passover (Peasch) was thus fulfilled.

 

  • Yeshua (Jesus) told His disciples to remain in Jerusalem until they received “Power From on High”. During the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) the Ruach Ha- Kodesh (Holy Spirit) was poured out on all those believing into Yeshua’s (Jesus’) death burial and resurrection. Thus, the prophetic nature of the feast was fulfilled.

 

  • The Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth) is a major feast and required the Israelites to erect temporary shelters and live in them for a week. This feast is in the fall of the year, and marks the end of the festive season. The prophetic fulfillment of this feast is still in the future.

 

 

                                                     DISCUSSION

  Let’s begin our discussion on the Feast of Shavuot (lit., “Weeks”) by looking at some of the more common names for this celebration, then how rabbinical Judaism interpreted and celebrated this feast, its prophetic fulfillment in the first century C.E., and significance for today.

Hebrew Names:

  • The Feast of weeks. Shavuot
  • The Feast of Harvest the Firstfruits. Hag HaKatzig (Ex. 23:16 )
  • The Day of First Fruits Yom Ha Bikkurim (Num.28:26)
  • The Feast of Weeks. Hag Ha Shavuot (Ex. 34:22)
  • Closing of Passover.
  • The Season of the Giving of the Law (Torah)

 

Gentile names:

  • Pentecost.
  • The indwelling of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2: 1-13)
  • Power from on High.
  • The birth of the “Body of Messiah”.
  • The birth of the “Bride of Messiah”

 

                                    Rabbinical Judaism

The Feasts of Weeks Shavuot and the Feast of Passoverare tied closely together, and are fifty days apart. The date for this feast is to be seven Sabbaths and one day after Passover (Deut. 16:9-10). A Sabbath week is seven days. Thus seven weeks (forty nine days) plus one day equals fifty days. The Greek word for fifty is pentekostos, from which we get the English name Pentecost. The Old Covenant book of Leviticus (23: 15-19) Sets down the original processes and requirements for this religious feast. Translation from the New International Version:

“From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord. From wherever you live, bring two loves made of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flower, baked with yeast (leaven), as a wave offering of firstfruits to the Lord.”

A couple of odd or non-standard things occurred with this wave offering. First the two loaves were given to the Priests who waved them before the Lord in the temple. The people didn’t participate in the process. Secondly, the loaves were to contain leaven. Leaven is a symbol of sin and this was the only occasion where leaven was allowed in the temple. The two loves both of which are leavened, represent sinful Jewish and gentile people that are brought before the Mercy Seat In the temple for purification.

                                                     Common Era

The life and ministry of Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus) is recorded for us in the four Gospels of the New Covenant.

 Matthew and John, two of His disciples, accompanied Yeshua for a period of approximately three years and were mentored by Him by the traditional method of a Rabbi. The other two Gospel writers, Mark and Luke, were not part of the original twelve disciples which traveled with Him. However, all four Gospel accounts detail Yeshua’s teachings and ministry from his birth until after his resurrection. The resurrection of Yeshua fulfilled all the Old Covenant’s   prophecies concerning the Redeemer Mashiach (Messiah).

The risen Messiah Yeshua ministered to His disciples and followers for forty days after His resurrection (Acts 1:30). The fact of His resurrection was disputed even in the first century, even as it is today. An apostle (One being sent with a commission), named Saul (Paul) wrote a letter during the first century, to a group of folks in Corinth Greece. Some in that Fellowship had difficulty in believing in a resurrected Lord. Paul’s reiterated the fact and asked them to check it out with people who were eye witnesses. (1Cor. 15:4-8) (NIV translation):

 “— He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas (Peter), than to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred of the Brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, although some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to Jacob (His half Brother), than to all the Apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also–”

The resurrected Messiah Yeshua told His disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they received power from on high. On the day of the Feast of Shavuot (Weeks –Pentecost) About 120 Jewish believers were gathered together and they were filled with (indwelt by) the Holy Spirit.

The account is recorded in the Book of Acts of Apostles (2:1-12 (NIV Translation):

  “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all gathered 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. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit (Rouach ha Kodesh)* and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every from every nation of the world. When they heard the sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. ——- We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues.” * (Rouach means wind in Heb., and Kodesh means Holy)

The Gospel writer Luke, tell us that about three thousand people came to faith in Yeshua (Jesus) that day. This particular Feast of Weeks or Pentecost issued in the dispensation of the New Covenant that was ratified by Yeshua fifty days earlier at Pentecost. Thus, Pentecost is sometimes referred to as “the Close of Passover.

 However, the significance is the infilling of the Holy Spirit (Rouach Ha Kodesh) on those who believe in Yeshua. The Holy Spirit in the Old Covenant was only bestowed on certain individuals for a specific purpose. Now in the era of the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit indwells everyone who professes faith in (or fully trusts in) the birth, life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Yeshua (Jesus).

The believers having been filled with the Holy Spiritare referred to in Greek Texts as Ekklesia.English translations of scriptures refer to those “Called Out” as The Body or Bride of Messiah. The Body or Bride is made up of both Jewish and Gentile believers. Modern translations refer to the Body of Believers as “The Church”. Unfortunately, the term “Church” now refers to various religious organizations or buildings and not the believers in those organization and building.

                                           A.D. 70 to the Present

The Jewish temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. Thus, the wave offering of two loaves at Pentecost was no longer possible.  Rabbinical Judaism denies the advent of The New Covenant. However, knowing that Shavuot is a major feast, and was to be celebrated annually, they implemented new and different ways for celebrating Shavuot (Weeks).

  • Giving of the Law: One of Judaism’s traditions holds that the giving of the Ten Commandments at Sinai was on the day of Shavuot. This could be very true, since in the book of Exodus (Ex.19:1) says that the Israelites arrived at Mt. Sinai in the third month after the Exodus from Egypt. Shavuot also occurs in the third month of the Jewish calendar. Passover marked the beginning of the exodus from Egypt and the giving of “The Law” marks the birth of Judaism. These two major feasts are bookends to major events in Jewish history. Thus, the Feast of Shavuot was tied to a historical event which is celebrated without waving two leavened loaves in the temple.
  • The Book of Ruth: Throughout the ages Jewish people added other customs. Both Passover and Pentecost have the harvest significance of Firstfruits, thus the Book of Ruth is read in the synagogue on Shavuot. According to Jewish tradition Ruth, a gentile took upon herself the yolk of the law, and married a Hebrew named Boaz. Boaz and Ruth were the great-grandparents of King David. Messiah Yeshua is of the royal line of King David.

 

                                                     Birthdays

The great American past time is not baseball, but birthday celebrations. We annually celebrate the birthday of our nation, famous presidents, and universally the births of family members. Pentecost was the birth of the Nation of Israel and also the Birth of the Body of Messiah. Now-a-days, Pentecost comes and goes without much notice or celebration. Why is that?  

The Body of Messiah Yeshua is made up of Jewish and Gentile believers, and in the Old Covenant Pentecost was a “fore-shadowing” of the bringing together of all believers by the infilling of the Holy Spirit. However, many Gentiles have been taught that the three Major Feasts were only required to be celebrated by Old Testament Israelites. However, the Old Covenant Book of Leviticus, chapter twenty three verse twenty one reads:

“It is to be a perpetual statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations”.  

You may say “well that is all well and good, but it doesn’t apply to the church”. However, the word perpetual means that — perpetual. Some have taught “we’re New Covenant believers and that is part of the Law” so it doesn’t apply. True, but look at Old Covenant Book of Jeremiah 31: 31-34, and the New Covenant Book of Hebrews 8:8-12. Both texts read the same:

     “Behold days are coming declares the Lord, when I will make a New Covenant     with the house of Israel and the house of Judah”.

Note the New Covenant is with the House of Israel and the House of Judah – not with Gentiles. Gentile nations were not mentioned. So how do gentile fit in to a perpetual Jewish Celebration? The answer is by being grafted into the New Covenant by faith in the Jewish Messiah (Yeshua).

The Apostle Paul (Saul) in his letter to the believers in Rome uses an analogy of a “beautiful olive tree” which represents Israel. The roots of this tree represent His Holiness and Covenant promises. The trunk or stalk of the tree represents His people Israel. The branches on this stalk represent believing and non-believing Israelites. Paul (Saul) points out “if the root is holy than the branches should also be holy, but not all are holy”. Saul also points out that gentiles are like “wild olive trees” whos roots are not holy. Saul then shows that those Israelites (branches) that are not believe in Messiah have been pruned off and are burned. Branches from the wild olive tree are then grafted into the trunk, in their place. These wild branches will then receive their nourishment from the same roots, His Holy Covenants and promises. Israelites and Gentiles are nourished together by faith in the Jewish Messiah. Gentiles are grafted (Adopted) into the family of God.

Praise God that he made a way for both believing Jewish people and Gentiles to become part of His Body and are filled with the Holy Spirit (Rouach Ha Kodesh)

Come as adopted children and join in the celebration of Pentecost, the birthday the Body/Bride of Yeshua, it’s a joyous celebration of praise and thanksgiving. Just count off fifty days from Passover, and celebrate your new life (Bithday) in Him.