I apologize for getting this post out so late. I wanted to post it the weekend of June 8/9, on the Day of Pentecost, but time just didn’t permit. So, I am now posting this a few weeks after Pentecost has passed this year, but nonetheless, the truths regarding this amazing Feast of the Lord are still noteworthy and applicable all year long!
The season of Passover, (including Unleavened Bread and First Fruits), has already been celebrated in April -(April 19- April 27, 2019). From there we moved into the season of Shavuot (also known as Pentecost). Fifty days passed since the First Fruits of Passover, and then we arrived at the Day of Pentecost, or Shavuot. This year Shavuot/Pentecost occurred at sundown on Saturday, June 8, 2019 and ended at sundown on Monday June 10.
Most Christians are familiar with the meaning of Pentecost, but not Shavuot. The reason for this is because people associate Shavuot with the Jewish people, and Pentecost with the Christians. But actually, the two are one of the same and they are tied together.
Shavuot and Pentecost are the same feast, or appointed time on God’s calendar. The reason I’m saying “appointed time” is because Shavuot, or Pentecost is listed as one of the seven Feasts (Festivals) of the Lord in Leviticus 23. They are called “seasons” in the Bible. But, the Hebrew word for seasons being used in the Bible is MOED. A moed is an appointment with God. A season or moed is also identified as a convocation. This word convocation is actually the Hebrew word miqra, which essentially means dress rehearsal. So, the feasts or seasons of the Lord, which include Pentecost/Shavuot, are appointed times to get together and have a dress rehearsal.
Now you’re probably asking yourself, “what is the dress rehearsal for?” Well, keep in mind that Jesus fulfilled the spring “dress rehearsals” and appointments already. He fulfilled Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits through his sacrifice on the cross, death and resurrection. These feasts or dress rehearsals were being performed and practiced for over 1,000 years before Christ fulfilled them on the exact feast (appointment) days. The Jewish people were going through procedures and traditions every year at the appointed time on God’s calendar and then one day……BAM! Jesus became the star of the play they had been rehearsing and fulfilled the feasts right down to the day and the hour.
The feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread and First Fruits continue to be “performed” today. Orthodox Jews do not realize the feast (dress rehearsal) has been fulfilled. Messianic Jews (those Jews who know Jesus as Messiah), do understand Jesus fulfilled them. But, they continue to observe the feasts because God never said to cease in recognizing his feasts. After all, they all point to his Son, Jesus, and remind us of what he has done for us and continues to do for us as believers. Celebrating these appointments or feasts should not be seen as a legalistic way to earn grace or favor. We are saved by the blood of Jesus- not a feast. But observing them is an amazing way to connect with Jesus and remind ourselves of the hope he provides. There are also prophetic truths and hints in the feasts. There are actually seven feasts or dress rehearsals. Christ fulfilled four of them already, including Pentecost (which will be explained below). But, guess what? He has three more left to fulfill which are the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. He is going to fulfill them someday in the future. With that said, it makes sense that we are familiar with the Feasts and what they mean to us as believers.
Now, back to Shavuot/Pentecost. What does Shavuot have to do with Pentecost? Well, the biblical name given in Leviticus 23 is Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks, and even the Feast of Harvest. This feast occurred fifty days after the First Fruits offering. See verses below. The word Shavuot simply means “weeks.” This referred to the idea that seven weeks would be counted to get to Shavuot- 7 times 7 is 49, and the next day would be the 50th day, and thus Shavuot. The word Pentecost is essentially the same thing because it is the Greek word for fifty. It is referring to the fifty days that were counted after the First Fruits of Passover. The New Testament uses the word Pentecost because it is written in Greek. The Old Testament uses Shavuot because it is written in Hebrew. So, now we see these two words are referring to the same feast/appointment day.
“And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord.”
Notice the verses say, “from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering.” The morrow after the sabbath means the day after the regular weekly sabbath. The regular weekly sabbath is sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. So, the morrow after the weekly sabbath is Sunday. This day being referred to (the morrow after the sabbath) is the Feast of First Fruits. This is when the Israelites were to wave the first fruit of their barley harvest at the Temple. This first fruit had to be the first barley that had begun to mature in the field. Why barley and not other crops? Barley is the first crop to mature and this occurred during the Passover season. This is the exact time Jesus resurrected. He resurrected during the barley first fruits harvest. He resurrected on the Feast of First Fruits, and this first fruits harvest is what was waved before the priests at the Temple that same day.
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man,the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the first fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.”
1 Corinthians 15, 20 -23.
I love the verses above because they show us that Jesus is the first one who resurrected as the First Fruit. He died and was literally the fruit that was plucked from the ground. Like crops, that are rooted in the ground, Jesus resurrected from “the ground”, or from death. You have probably heard the verse that says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24 ESV. This is both a scientific truth and a spiritual one. Jesus literally became the grain of wheat that fell into the earth and died. When he resurrected, let’s just say he exploded with fruit- more fruit than we could ever hope for or imagine. I’d say the promise of eternal life is the best fruit you can get!
The part of the verse that says, “those who have fallen asleep” alludes to believers that have already died. No believer has resurrected and come to life and then stayed alive forever. Lazarus was raised from the dead, but he eventually dies as all humans do. Jesus, by contrast, is forever alive. After his death and resurrection he appeared to over 500 people and then he ascended to heaven. The amazing part of these verses are that it says Christ resurrects first as the first fruits, and then those who belong to him are next!!! As believers, we can be assured of a resurrection one day! We don’t know when that day will occur, but we know it is coming……hallelujah!
On the day of First Fruits offering (the barley harvest), the Jewish people would begin counting off fifty days. Keep in mind that Jesus resurrected, or was the first fruit out of the ground, on this feast day. From this day forward, the counting would begin and when they’d reached the fiftieth day they knew it was Shavuot.
At Pentecost/Shavuot, the other “fruits’ would be ready to harvest, such as grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, dates or wheat. On this feast day, the people were to bring the first fruits harvest of these other crops to the Temple to offer to God. Keep in mind that the Jewish people were doing this over a thousand years before Christ came along and performed it.
How did the people know which “fruit” was the first to mature? Before the Feast of Shavuot/Pentecost arrived, the fields were checked for any signs of ripening. Any areas seen ripening were marked with a red cord or band. This way, when it came time for the feast, he/she knew which area had matured first. When the feast came, he/she would go to the marked area, gather the first fruit, and then place them in a basket. This basket wast taken to the Temple to be offered to God. This process also happened during the Feast of First Fruits, which occurs during Passover. But, at this time it would only be an offering of the barley harvest. At Shavuot/Pentecost, the first fruits harvest of the rest of the crops were offered such as figs, pomegranates and wheat.
There is actually something else that happened during this special feast season that many Christians do not realize. This is the day that the nation of Israel was given the Law at Mount Sinai. This, of course, was before there was a tabernacle or Temple. God gave specific instructions to Moses that this would be the day the people would receive the Torah. Seven weeks after the Israelites left Egypt, they came to Mount Sinai. This special day is considered the birthday of Israel. The Torah (the Law) is the marriage contract between the Jewish people and God. On this appointment day (moed/feast) God made himself known to the people and established how they would live as God’s people. If they lived according to his Law, they would bear much fruit in their lives. This is a picture of the later tradition of bringing the First Fruits to the Temple to dedicate to God. It is also a picture of how Jesus would come later, and become the word written on the people’s hearts, and he would become the First Fruits of the dead. At Mt. Sinai, the law, or the Word of God was given to the people. Over 1000 years later, ON THE SAME FEAST DAY, the Holy Spirit was sent to believers in Jesus, who himself is the living word of God. We can see by this “God-incidence” that the Lord was make a huge point here. He was saying, “Now my son will live inside you and be the living, breathing law on your hearts.”
So what about the mention of Pentecost in the New Testament? Well, the story and parallel here is quite amazing.
We hear about Pentecost in Acts, chapter 2. The disciples had gathered together in one place. Many Christians assume “that place” is something called the Upper Room. That is not what it says in this chapter. It says, “When they were gathered all together in one place, Suddenly a sound like the blowing of violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.” Acts 2: 1-2. This event being described is the Holy Spirit filling up the disciples and the other “God-fearing Jews” who were gathered together. The verse says they were in one place and the “wind” (the Holy Spirit) filled up the whole house. But, the word used for house here is the word oikos. See link below.
This word oikos can refer to the House of God, such as the Temple or Tabernacle. Many Christians assume the disciples are in an upper room of a house because Acts 1 talks about the disciples meeting in an upper room. The difference, however, is that in Acts 1 the disciples have just witnessed Jesus’ ascension. But, keep in mind that Jesus’ ascension took place on the 40th day of the counting of the omer, or the 40th day of the count before Pentecost. When we get to Acts 2, it is now the time when the Holy Spirit arrives and the spirit arrives on Pentecost (also known as Shavuot). This is ten days after the ascension. We shouldn’t assume they would still be meeting in an upper room. The truth is that ALL JEWISH MEN WERE COMMANDED TO BE AT THE TEMPLE ON SHAVUOT OR PENTECOST. Keep in mind the verses say these were GOD FEARING JEWS who received the Holy Spirit. All God fearing Jews would be at the Temple on this feast/appointment day. They wouldn’t be in a house in an upper room. The place where Jewish men would be congregating on Shavuot/Pentecost is in the Temple Courts. Also, it says they were in Jerusalem and of course–that is where the Temple is. All males were commanded to be in Jerusalem at the Temple on the Feast of Shavuot/Pentecost. In addition, it says the spirit came at 9 a.m. (see verses below).
“Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!” Acts 2: 14, 15
What happens at 9 a.m. at the Temple???? This is the time of the morning sacrifice. Observant Jewish men would be at the Temple at the time of the morning sacrifice. The disciples were observant Jewish men and the verses say those in attendance were devout Jewish men.
“Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.” Acts 2: 5,6.
Why were there Jews there from every nation under heaven? Because Jewish men were commanded to be at the Temple on that day. Jewish men traveled with their families to get to Jerusalem in time for the appointed day and would have brought their first fruit offerings as well.
What was the violent rushing wind that came upon believers in the Temple that day? It was the promised Holy Spirit! Jesus had told the disciples ten days earlier to stay in Jerusalem and wait for this promised gift. The gift of the Holy Spirit came just as promised on the same feast/appointment day as the giving of the Law/Torah at Mt. Sinai (over a thousand years later of course!) But, now the law wouldn’t just be written on tablets. It would be written on the hearts of the people. The Holy Spirit would be each believer’s guide, and it would counsel them in the ways of Jesus. The spirit would be their ever present helper- strengthening and speaking to them every day.
There’s something else that’s amazing about this feast/appointment with God known as Shavuot/Pentecost. It was on this day that TWO LOAVES of LEAVENED BREAD were presented at the Temple. The significance of this cannot be understated. Leavening represented sin in Jewish culture. Leavening causes things to sour or ferment and it was associated with sin (symbolically). During Passover, the Jewish people were not allowed to eat anything that had leavening in it. But, during Shavuot/Pentecost leavening is now allowed and two loaves are presented at the Temple. This is a picture of the grafting in of Gentiles into the Kingdom of God. Keep in mind that the Gentiles were considered unclean (like leavening), and their lifestyle was tied to paganism/sin. But, when Jesus paid the price for sin at the cross, his blood covered all who received him as Messiah- both Jews and Gentiles. The dividing wall that separated Jews and Gentiles was broken down! The grafting in of
the Gentiles is a picture of the leavening that was now in the loaves of bread. This didn’t mean that God now welcomed sin. It simply meant that through God’s son, Jesus, the Gentiles, who were once considered “sinful and unclean”, could now enter into the kingdom through faith. Jesus, who was sinless and unleavened, paid the price for all mankind (Jews and Gentiles) at the cross. By following Jesus all believers could become new creations and the Holy Spirit would convict them of sin. They would live as followers of Jesus, and no longer walk in the darkness of their former lives.
There are two loaves presented at the Temple as well, which is a picture of the merging of the Jews and Gentiles. Both groups were now part of God’s Kingdom- each group being brought into the kingdom by Messiah Jesus. The Holy Spirit would be the seal that bound them together- one spirit in Christ Jesus.
Shavuot/Pentecost is full of rich meaning and symbolism for all believers in Christ. Though not all Christians observe Pentecost each year, many Jewish believers do. After all, it is considered an appointment on God’s calendar. Do we have to observe it, and if so, how do we observe it? It’s not like we all have a field of crops where we can go mark them with a scarlet cord……….and then bring them to the Temple. Also, keep in mind that being legalistic about observance isn’t necessary. However, many Messianic synagogues do celebrate by having services where they will commemorate the Ten Commandments, and read from the Book of Ruth (the story of Ruth takes place at Pentecost/Shavuot). Messianic Jews will celebrate the Holy Spirit that arrived on this special feast day. It is also a “sabbath” so no work is done. Specific prayers are recited and traditional foods are eaten as well. Some people will stay up all night and study the Torah since Shavuot/Pentecost is when the Law was given to the people at Mt. Sinai. First fruits are no longer brought to the Temple since there is no Temple, but many people will eat various fruits such as grapes, figs, olives, wheat and pomegranates to commemorate these traditions.
As Christians, this feast day is important to remember in that it reminds us of the amazing blessing of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It’s a time to pray and reflect on how Jesus uses the Holy Spirit to influence and guide our lives. To be honest, it’s only in the last few years that I have really begun to understand how amazing the Holy Spirit is. Many Christians don’t realize how powerful it can be in their lives. But, the spirit rarely screams for us to hear. If often takes quiet times of reflection and our willingness to actually listen, amidst all the other voices in our lives.
Pentecost is a reminder that the Holy Spirit never leaves or forsakes us. And best of all, it reminds us that one day in the future, Jesus will be with us on Earth, ruling and reigning in righteousness. We won’t just have his spirit. We will have him here, FACE TO FACE. His full presence will be here with us, dwelling forever and ever. AMEN!
This year I was blessed to be at Shadow Mountain Community Church in San Diego, California on the Day of Pentecost. This amazing church is led by pastor and New York Times Best Selling Author, Dr. David Jeremiah. I’ve read many of his books such as Agents of the Apocalypse, Agents of Babylon and God Loves You, to name a few. He taught an inspiring sermon on perseverance. In these last days, the best way we can persevere through troubling times is to read God’s word, and to listen to the Holy Spirit. Both of these remind us of the Day of Pentecost- the Feast Day when the Law (God’s word) was given, as well as the spirit.
Unlocking the Secrets of the Feasts by Michael Norten
Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts by Richard Booker
The Messiah in the Feasts of Israel by Sam Nadler
Feasts of the Bible by Rose Publishing