Shavuot (Pentecost), is a Hebrew word meaning “weeks”. “Pentecost” is the Greek word for “50th”. After the Spring Feast of Passover/Unleavened Bread/Firstfruits you should count exactly fifty days from the last Sunday and you will end up on a Sunday seven weeks later according to the Hebrew calendar.
“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 loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the Lord.” – Leviticus 23:15-17
Shavuot, like so many other Jewish holidays began as an ancient agricultural festival, marking the end of the spring barley harvest and the beginning of the summer wheat harvest. All Israelite men were obligated to present themselves at the Temple in Jerusalem. Shavuot was distinguished in ancient times by bringing firstfruits crop offerings to the Temple, marking the beginning of the summer wheat harvest.
The “Waving Ceremony”.
On the day of Shavuot (usually in May or early June), the priests offered two leavened loaves of wheat bread as firstfruits to the Lord. The waving of these two loaves and sacrifice of two lambs formed a “peace offering.” The priest waved them before the altar and set them aside for the priest’s festive meal eaten in the Temple. Pilgrim worshippers were instructed to offer freewill offerings and to rejoice before the LORD.
Why Two Loaves?
Each loaf contained about four pounds of flour (Lev. 23:17). According to Rabbinic teaching, each loaf was 7 x 4 handbreadths (28″ x 16″) and seven fingers wide (6″). The two loaves offered on Shavuot represents the Church of Jesus Christ which is “built upon the foundation of the apostles (New Testament believers) and the prophets (Old Testament believers). But just as these loaves contain leaven (yeast), so the Christian church isn’t yet perfected (1 John 1:8). Only Jesus Christ was perfect (Hebrews 4:15). The leaven may also illustrate the presence of “Tares” (weeds) (Matt.13:38) – false brethren living among both the Old and New Testament sanctified ones. The number two in the Bible is the number of WITNESS and TESTIMONY. Two witnesses establish a truth (Deut. 19:15; Matt. 18:19-20); The Ten Commandments were written on two stones (Ex. 31:18) and are fulfilled by two commandments of love (Matt. 22:34-40).
Rabbis Divert from the True Focus of Shavuot.
After the Jewish temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. by the iron fist of the Roman Empire, the Jewish people were defeated and dispersed all round the world and their homeland devastated.
Since the land was desolate worth nothing to harvest, the Jewish leaders (Sanhedrin) convened in A.D. 140 and decided to change the focus of Shavuot away from an agricultural festival. In order to keep the holiday alive, the rabbis invented the false doctrine (still believed to this day) that Shavuot was the day that the Torah (Mosaic law) was given to Moses on Mount Sinai. As a result, the focus of Shavuot was diverted from an agricultural feast to the commemoration of the Law and the birthday of Judaism. The Bible never associates the Feast of Shavuot with Sinai! Unfortunately, this false man-made doctrine quickly caught on and has been practiced for centuries, although it has no biblical basis.
The New Testament Fulfillment of Shavuot (Day of Pentecost)
As recorded in the Bible (Acts chapter 1 and 2) that the New Testament Church was born. It was on the 50th day after the Feast of Passover/Unleavened Bread/Firstfruits that the apostles were praying together and the Holy Spirit descended on them. They received the “gift of tongues” – the ability to speak in other languages – and immediately began to preach about Jesus Christ the Messiah to Jewish people from all over the world who flocked to Jerusalem for the Feast of Shavuot. Christian Pentecost became not only a commemoration of the Holy Spirit’s visit but also marks the birth of Christianity – the uniting of both Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus the Messiah.
A Larger Harvest.
The early summer harvest of Shavuot in Israel was a small harvest in comparison to the larger harvest that came in the autumn of each year. This has prophetic significance. Strange as it might seem to mainstream Christianity today, God is not trying to save the whole world right now. He has planned a far larger harvest of souls when Jesus returns. Those of us who are saved today are only part of the smaller harvest. When most people in this present evil age are traveling the broad road to destruction, we have been uniquely called to enter in by the narrow gate that leads to eternal life (Matthew 7:13-14) and make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10).
God Pours Out His Holy Spirit.
As recorded in the Book of Acts chapter 2, that first day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:31. God initiated a new covenant with the house of Israel that also included the Gentile people:
“The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. “ (Jeremiah 31:31-33)
On that morning He poured out His Holy Spirit on all flesh, as He had foretold. And that promise is still available for you today; that if you will turn from your transgression and call upon the name of the Lord, you shall be saved.
- Pastor Luis Yosefus