SHAVUOT/PENTECOST What’s it all about?
This is the time of year when this “Moed” (appointed time) is celebrated. There are three times when all Israelites were commanded to go up to Yerushalayim to celebrate God’s appointed times, Passover, The Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of Weeks, known as “Shavuot” or in Greek “Pentecost” which most churches recognize. We all remember the day of “Pentecost” as when the “Ruach HaKodesh” (The Holy Spirit) fell upon all the believers that were gathered in Yerushalayim to celebrate the Feast of Weeks.
Yet the “Feast of Weeks” (Shavuot) had been celebrated yearly for the past thousand years, ever since the day that Fire fell on Mt. Sinai. That was the very first “Shavuot”. When Moshe and the People of Israel received the Torah from God at Sinai in the form of two tablets of stone, but this was just the major points of the Torah, there were to be many more details in the making.
It really goes back to Egypt when the Israelites were still slaves. YHVH made some promises to His people, and we remember those promises in the forms of the 4 cups of wine during Passover.
1. “I am YHVH, I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians
2. “I will deliver you from their bondage
3. “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.
4. “I will take you for MY PEOPLE and I will be YOUR GOD.
The first three were accomplished in Egypt, then, at Sinai, on the day of Shavuot, the 4th promise was fulfilled. YHVH took the 12 tribes of Israel and united them as a NATION. The Israelites left behind Egypt, yet “Egypt” followed them across the Red Sea, in the form of mind-set and philosophy and in the form of “false gods” This was evident when they made the “golden calf”. It took YHVH one day to take Israel out of Egypt, but it took 40 years to take Egypt out of Israel.
When we read Exodus 19:18,19 we read about the day of “Torah-giving” at Sinai. They received the Torah amidst lightning, thunder, the sound of the Shofar and the voice of God. Yet when YHVH finished the 10th commandment, the people said, “Speak to us yourself Moshe, but don’t let God speak to us or we will die”
We wonder what would have happened if the people had not said that? Perhaps YHVH would have continued speaking out the commandments in front of all the people. But, YHVH called Moshe up to the top of the Mountain and the rest of the Torah was given. 10 commandments were spoken directly to the people by YHVH, and 603 were spoken by God to Moshe, and later, given to the people
In Leviticus, we see the commandment to celebrate Shavuot in chapter 23:15-22. They were to count “7” sabbaths (49 days) and then the next day (day 50) they were to celebrate. This time was harvest time. During the time of Passover, the barley harvest was ready, then 50 days later, the wheat harvest.
Two loaves of wheat bread were to be made and “waved” before YHVH (up towards heaven, down towards the earth, then to the North, South, East, and West) Blessing and thinking Adonai for the blessings from heaven (the rain that falls from Heaven down to the earth) blessing all the lands of the earth, those lands that are in the North, the South, the East, and the West. When it rains, the seeds come up, grow, and mature, then harvested.
On thing to note, God said; “when you enter the land which I am going to give you and reap the harvest…) So, this was not done while the Israelites were in the wilderness, but when they entered Canaan! And settled that land.
The two loaves of bread were to be baked with leaven. We think of leaven as related to sin, but it is also a good thing, leaven is also related to teaching and instruction. Yes, we are all “leavened” with the “sin nature” yet we are also “leavened” by God’s Word, his Torah, which should “grow” inside of us. So just as bread swells up and grows through leaven, so we grow through the “leaven” of God’s Word.
Together with the two loaves, 7 yearling lambs were offered, also a bullock, two rams, and a drink offering were presented as burnt offerings. The lambs symbolize “Yeshua” who is the “lamb of God” the number 7 symbolizes perfection. The bullock symbolizes the “strength” of Adonai, the two rams remind us of the substitute ram which took Isaac’s place on Mt. Moriah. Two rams, perhaps one for the Jews and other for the Gentiles, with the understanding that Yeshua was the substitute and redeemer for both Israel and for the rest of the nations (HaGoyim) The drink offering was wine, which symbolizes the blood of Yeshua.
One can wonder, why 2 loaves? The number 2 in Hebrew can symbolize “union and division”. It takes 2 entities to make a covenant. In our case, Yeshua and us! Through his death, we are “united” in Him when we trust Him as our LORD and Savior, and we are “divided” from the lost world of perdition.
We can look at the number 2 as in the loaves of bread as things that come in pairs; 2 tablets of the commandments, transformation and resurrection, cleansing and purification, death and life illustrated by the believer’s baptism, but it also symbolizes the Jews and Gentiles.
We can also see parallels in Sinai and Yerushalayim; Fire came down on Sinai, it also came down at Jerusalem. The fire at Sinai did not touch the people, the fire during Jerusalem’s Pentecost DID touch each and every believer! At Sinai, the “Ruach Elohim” (Spirit of God) rested on Moshe, at Pentecost, it INDWELLED in every believer. At Sinai, the Torah was written on tables of Stone and read to the people, at Jerusalem, the Torah was written on the tables of the heart of believers. Both events took place on Shavuot, both events were accompanied by languages. At Sinai, in Hebrew, at Jerusalem, in Hebrew PLUS many, many other languages (some believe 70)
At Sinai, there was a mixed-multitude (Israelites, Egyptians, and perhaps Nubians) at Jerusalem, people from all over the then populated world. The Torah is the teaching, the Holy Spirit is the “teacher” Pentecost at Jerusalem also fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy: “For out of Zion shall come forth the Torah and the WORD of Adonai, from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3)
At Sinai, the people were kept away, at Jerusalem, the people were touched by God, the glory of God came to each believer. In Old Testament times, the Spirit of God rested on only certain individuals, such as the Prophets, at Pentecost, it filled ALL BELIEVERS just as today, when a person receives Yeshua as LORD and Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside of that person.
Another note; the Hebrew word KOLOT means both “voices” and “thunder”. At Sinai, the people heard “voices” both thunder and the voice of God. At Jerusalem, the people heard the “voices” of those who were gifted with the different languages to preach God’s WORD.
A final note, the first fruits of the harvest can symbolize “Yeshua” and the “harvest” itself, ALL BELIEVERS who are part of it. Today, there is still much “fruit” to harvest, so, we must get busy and teach the word and share the gospel with those who have an ear to hear and a heart to accept the same.
HAG SAMEACH SHAVUOT HAPPY SHAVUOT/PENTECOST (This year, 2020, May 31st)
Rabbi Ben Avraham