Shavuot--Pentecost / The Feast of Weeks



Pentecost, also called the Feast of First Fruits and Shavuot, falls on the 50th day after the Passover Sabbath. This feast is a reminder, a guarantee of Yahweh's power to produce spiritual fruit in the field of human salvation. The literal first fruits of the soil are merely the physical types or expressions of the real first fruits of the Holy Spirit.

The first fruits of the Holy Spirit are the true believers won to God by His Son the firstborn. (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23; James 1:18; Revelation 14:4)

The ancient ceremony of presenting the Almighty with the firstfruits of the earth (Deuteronomy 26:1-11) with two oven-baked loaves, in which the leaven had been de-activated (Liviticus 23:15-17), was a figure, a type, a shadow of the spiritual harvest of human souls in whom the yeast of sin will one day cease to exist in both Jew and Gentile believers alike. There is coming a day when the power of sin will be de-activated in us believers just as the power of leaven is neutralised in an oven baked loaf.

The breathtaking experience recorded in Acts 2 was but the early harvest, a kind of "firstfruits" of an even greater out-pouring of divine power scheduled to fall upon the church in the near future when the main harvest of human beings will be gathered in.

The Feast of Pentecost, in short, prefigures, guarantees and commemorates the early harvest, the first fruits of human souls: and those who celebrate it declare their willingness to be part of that spiritual multitude which will one day be gathered in and presented to the Almighty by His Son - the Firstborn!

From a Jewish Perspective

Shavuot is the time when we celebrate the "Giving of the Torah." The holiday has a number of other names, such as "The Feast of Weeks" because we have finished counting 7 weeks and "Pentecost" because of the  50 days  after Pesach. 

It is also known as the "Festival of the Harvest" as it was the season of the wheat harvest, the last grain to ripen. All these names are found in the Torah: Exodus 34:22; Leviticus 23:15-16; Exodus 23:16; Numbers 28:26

The name we know it most by, though, is "The Season for the Giving of the Torah." Exodus 19:8. Shavuot is when the Israelites were given the Torah and pledged their allegiance to G-d by saying: "All that the Lord has given, we shall do and obey," Exodus 24:7. It is the time of the revelation at Sinai, the giving of the Ten commandments or the "Ten Words."

Shavouth is one of the three holidays during which our ancestors walked to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices and celebrate together. As God says in Exodus 23: 14-17: " Three times you are to hold pilgrimage for me, every year...At three points in the year are all your males to be seen before the presence of God."

Shavouth marks the beginning of the Church or the Body of Messiah when the Holy Spirit was given.  Acts 2:1-5: "When the Day of Pentecost (50 days) had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven."

Customs on Shavuot

1. Decorating the Home and Synagogue -- to maintain a link with the agricultural nature of the festival, it is customary to decorate the home and synagogue with beautiful flowers. 

2. Dairy Dishes -- No one knows for sure why this custom arose. Perhaps it is because of the verse in the Song of Songs 4:11, ``honey and milk shall be under your tongue,'' referring to Torah.  Cheese blintzes are on of the favorite foods for Shavuot. 

3. Reading the Book of Ruth -- the Book of Ruth is read for several reasons. In the story, Ruth arrives in the land of Israel around the time of Shavuot. Her genealogy at the end of the book reveals that she is the great-grandmother of King David who died on Shavuot.  And her acceptance of our people and our traditions is comparable to receiving the Torah at Sinai.

See the The Kingdom Calendar Pt. 11 for the Shavuot connection to the end-times.

More About Pentecost/Shavuot on Wikipedia.