Hebrew Roots/Holy Days/Pentecost/Overview
THE RELATION OF PENTECOST TO PASSOVER
The Feast of Shavuot is kept on the fiftieth day counting from the offering of the Feast of Firstfruits. It is one of the three Feasts in the year when all males were to appear before Yahweh. The Feast marks the end of the grain harvest and the Wheat Harvest in particular. The grain harvest of the year started with the raw green ears of barley which were reaped after Passover and finished with the baked wheat bread loaves which were offered before Yahweh at this celebration.
"Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.. .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 meal-offering unto Yahweh" Leviticus 23:10f, 15-17
In the above verses we see the firstfruits of two separate harvests separated by fifty days. The first harvest mentioned refers to the firstfruits of the barley harvest, which always took place on the first day ("the morrow after the Sabbath") following Passover. On this day the priest waved the firstfruits of the barley harvest before Yahweh, in anticipation of the remainder of the wheat harvest yet to come at Shavuot/Pentecost.
The Feast of Shavuot literally means "weeks", which the New Testament calls Pentecost (Greek for "the fiftieth day"). This is the second harvest mentioned in our passage from Leviticus 23. This whole period from "Firstfruits" until the actual day of the Feast of Shavuot, the seven weeks, was linked by the counting of the "Omer" and regarded as one continuous festive season.
This feast was also called The Feast of Harvest Exodus 23:16
- The Feast of Weeks Leviticus 23:15
- The Day of Firstfruits Numbers 28:26
In addition to offering the loaves of wheat, the Israelites brought the firstfruits of six other products of the Promised Land which were their tithes and freewill offerings according to His blessings upon them. (Deuteronomy 16:10,17) During the second Temple period, everyone gathered together in their home town and slept the night in the town streets (they didn’t enter homes to prevent being exposed to impurities). In the morning the overseer would walk among the people saying, “Get up, let us go into the house of Zion, to the house of the Lord our God.” Those in the Jerusalem area would join a procession carrying fresh dates, pomegranates, and grapes. Those at the back would carry dried fruit, figs, and raisins, and pomegranates. Each family brought two loaves of the finest bread. The seven products are listed in Deuteronomy 8: 8, where Yahweh describes Israel as "a land of wheat and barley and vines and fig trees and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and date-honey."
The Mishnah (in Bikkurim ch.3) describes how the Israelites brought these into the Temple in an elaborate procession that included flute-playing, dancing and singing and oxen decorated with their horns overlaid with gold, wearing olive-leaf wreathes, and gold- and silver-covered baskets to hold the fruits. It was a time of great festivity and commemorated their visitation by Yahweh at Mount Sinai and the covenant He made with them there.
" You shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto Yahweh" (Lev. 23:17) A wave offering of two loaves of leavened bread was to be offered to Yahweh. The bread was to be made from new grain of the wheat crop.
An ephah is a measure of Egyptian origin and contained ten omers (an omer is about two quarts, so it would be approximately four quarts of flour). Four quarts of four cups each is about sixteen cups of fine flour. This would make the loaves approximately 12" x 21" x 3". Very large loaves!
Three other offerings were required: burnt offerings (7 male lambs, 1 young bull and 2 rams, as well as grain and drink offerings); sin offering (1 male goat); and fellowship offering (2 lambs). The lambs and the bread were a sacred offering for the priest and all the worshippers joined together in a festal meal of the offerings that were brought to the temple. This was a Festal Sabbath and a sacred assembly, a holy convocation on which no regular work was done. In the regular daily meal offerings, no leaven or honey were permitted. Nothing leavened could be offered with blood sacrifices on the altar. (Leviticus 2:11; 6:14-17) But this offering is to be with leaven. (Lev.23:15-21; Numbers 28:26-31)
Leaven is an agent that is pervasive in its nature with a capacity to transform another substance and change its nature. In the process it causes it to increase creating a lighter and better quality texture. This typifies the action of the Holy Spirit in us. The coming of the Holy Spirit works in us to change us from our inherent Adamic nature to that of the divine nature. The fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives arrests the action of impurity in our fleshly nature and purges out the dross, permeating through our lives with His presence to bring us to the perfection and purity of Messiah. (Matthew 13:33; Ephesians 1: 4; 5:27)
The number two, (two loaves) represents the number of spiritual witness, as two of a kind in agreement is a witness. In the mouth of two or three witnesses everything is established (Matt.18:16-20 from Deut.19:15). Yahweh Himself wrote the torah/law on two tablets of stone.
The two loaves symbolise the two witnesses which Yahweh has established for Himself in Judah and Ephraim, the two houses of Israel (Isaiah 43 verses 10 and 12 particularly), the "Jew and the Gentile " (1 Corinthians12:13)
THE OLD AND NEW COVENANT
Shavuot is the anniversary of the giving of the Torah when He wanted them to enter into His covenant. It accords with the fifty days from their exodus from Egypt on Nisan 15th and their arrival in Sinai "after the third new moon" (Exodus 12:1; 19:1)
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the first Messianic believers in Jerusalem was on this same day: "And when the day of Pentecost [Shavuot] was 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 all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it 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." (Acts 2:1 -4)
Y'shua remained on earth for forty days after His Resurrection (Acts 1: 3). On the day of His ascension, He instructed His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for this baptism of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49). Ten days after that, on Shavuot, the anniversary of the giving of the Torah for the covenant, Yahweh came again by His Spirit in blazing glory as He had done at Mount Sinai. But this time He wrote His commandments not upon tablets of stone, but upon the fleshly tablets of men's hearts, as the prophets had foretold, and His supernatural manifestations were in and upon His human tabernacles of flesh. (See Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 11:19, 20 and 3 6:26)
At the time the Torah was given, the sin of the golden calf caused "about 3,000 men" to be killed (Ex.32:28). On the day the Spirit was given, the preaching of Peter caused "about 3,000 souls" to find new life in the Messiah (Acts 2:41). This is an excellent illustration of the fact that "the letter [of the Law] kills, but the spirit gives life" (2 Corinthians 3: 6).
The response of the people at Sinai to the giving of the torah/law, was to say, "All that Yahweh has spoken we will do" (Exodus 19: 8), which they found themselves powerless to do in their own strength, having drawn back from the powerful manifestation of His Presence (Exodus 20:19).
At Shavuot/Pentecost at the outpouring of the Spirit, the people had a different response, they said, "Men and brethren, what shall we do" (Acts 2:37) To which Peter replies, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptised in the name of Y'shua the Messiah for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38), which they did (verse 41), and they received the empowering of the Spirit to keep the covenant.
The number fifty is used symbolically in scripture to represent liberty, freedom and deliverance. Every fiftieth year was a Jubilee, a year of release, where slaves were set free and captives loosed and debts cancelled.
For the nation of Israel after their deliverance from Egypt it was to be a celebration of liberty from the house of bondage. They were now at liberty to serve Yahweh.
For new covenant believers, the day of Pentecost/Shavuot meant liberty and freedom from the power of sin. It meant that they were at liberty to serve Him, not in the oldness of the letter, but in the newness of the Spirit . Liberty however, does not mean license. (Galatians 5: 1 & Romans 6:18)
As believers in Israel's Messiah, we are to obey the Torah. However, we are to obey "in the new way provided by the Spirit and not in the old way of outwardly following the letter of the law" (Romans 7: 6, Jewish NT). "The new way" does not mean a different set of laws. It means obeying the Torah from the heart. The Holy Spirit has written the Torah on our hearts and given us an inward desire to walk in obedience to our Heavenly Father's will. This is "the new way provided by the Spirit," and this is the blessing of Shavuot/Pentecost. Mt. Sinai was the giving of the law/torah, written on tablets of stone, and that was the 'old' covenant. We have come to Mt. Zion which is the writing of the law on fleshly tablets of the heart, and this is the new covenant. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:7-13 & 12:22-24
At Sinai, we have Moses with fire, darkness, trumpet voice, quaking, fire and lightning.
At Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, we have Y'shua, tongues of fire, rushing mighty wind, shaking and conviction.
At Sinai the pattern was given for the earthly tabernacle with the Aaronic priesthood, and at Pentecost the pattern of the spiritual tabernacle, the Body of Messiah, a kingdom priesthood (the priesthood of all believers) after the order of Melchizedek. The new covenant assembly, as a redeemed and holy nation approaches Yahweh through the perfections of Messiah Y'shua, by the Spirit. 1 Peter 2:5-9; Revelation1:6; 5:9-10
THE BETROTHAL AND THE COVENANT
Shavuot is the time when Yahweh entered into the marriage covenant with Israel, both at Sinai and renewed again at Jerusalem in 30 AD. The seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot symbolizes the time a bride-to-be in Biblical culture counts in preparation for the consummation of her marriage which she sealed when she drank the cup of the covenant at her betrothal.
The covenant of the law was Yahweh's Ketubah (terms of the marriage agreement) with Israel which He presented to her at their betrothal at Sinai (Exodus 19: 6-8). Yahweh presented to His bride-to-be the terms of their marriage contract, to which she agreed. When God entered into this covenant of marriage with Israel at Sinai, there were great manifestations of His presence to demonstrate His commitment to his covenant.
In John 20: 19-22 we are told that the same day of His resurrection on the Feast of Firstfruits, Y'shua came to the disciples and "He breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.' " This was the occasion of the initial impartation to the disciples where they had their first taste of the wine of the Spirit of the new betrothal contract. After their seven 'days' (actual weeks) of 'examining' the covenant (40 days of walking and talking with Him ending in their waiting upon Him in the upper room), they entered into the full terms of the contract at Shavuot and the new covenant assembly was birthed.
This was a renewal of the covenant with Israel established on 'better promises'. The new contract of betrothal included the impartation of the Spirit, Who would write the torah/law (His principles) on their heart.
So also, the Feast of Shavuot represents our betrothal to Messiah on a personal level. Our act of betrothal was when we accepted Y'shua as Messiah and Lord. "All that the Lord has spoken I will do." As our bridegroom, Y'shua made a promise to us that He would keep covenant with us by sending the Spirit of the Father as a seal of His promise that "I will never leave you or forsake you. I will send you a helper who will teach you all things…' So also in Ephesians 1:13,14.
One day, we will experience the full redemption of our bodies and consummate our marriage covenant with the Messiah. In the meantime, God has given us His Holy Spirit as a pledge, a promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. He will always be with us, even until the end of this age. In fact, it is during this feast that we enter into the deeper fullness of the Holy Spirit when He promises to empower us. Shavuot/Pentecost is a feast of power. As the bride of Messiah, God has given to us His authority and power to fulfill His purpose for us as a bride.
Prophetically, the story of Ruth is a picture of, Yahweh’s purpose and longing for the House of Judah (known Jews) and the House of Ephraim (identified as non-Jewish, Gentile) believers to be joined together as one new man. (Ephesians 2:11-22 & Ezekiel 37:15-28). For this reason the Book of Ruth is often read at this time. Boaz is a type of the Kinsman-Redeemer who accepts Ruth in a marriage relationship after her identification with Naomi (a Jewess) returning to the land. (Book of Ruth 1-4)
Messiah was the 'Firstfruit offering' from the earth presented to the Father after His resurrection of redeemed Man. He was the first to be raised, a 'Firstfruit' Son. The first of a new order of 'Adam' - a "second man". Shavuot is the prophetic fulfillment of the harvest to come from the earth, of the Seed that was sown of His life.
There is to be a future 'Firstfruits' offering of sons who come to maturity, brought to perfection by the power of the Spirit. The representative two houses of Israel are the two loaves that will be produced of the Earth's spiritual harvest to be presented to the Father from the Seed of His life which had been sown into the earth. These two loaves permeated with the qualities of the indwelling Spirit, are the offering to be presented to Him at the final 'Shavuot'.
The outpouring of the Spirit was given as a firstfruit to His Body, an initial deposit of the fullness yet to be realised at the final harvest. Thus it was given to prepare and to bring the 'wheat' to maturity ready for that harvest. In the upper room there were one hundred and twenty souls who were filled with the Holy Spirit on that day. One hundred and twenty is the symbolic number for the end of all flesh, and typifies the purifying work of the Holy Spirit to effect the end of all flesh in the final harvest 'Firstfruits' company. (John 12:24, 26; Rom. 8:23; James 1:18)
The initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit was the early rain that was promised, the 'spring rain' (Hosea 6:1-3; Joel 2:21-29), of the times of refreshing that had been prophesied. The final harvest will require the latter rain at the end of the prophetic year which was symbolised by the Feasts of the seventh month.
We look forward to the day when we will put off this mortal body and be clothed with that immortal, incorruptible 'house' for our spirit-man, for which purpose we have the Spirit as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 5:1-5; Romans 8:23 Israel then, was told to 'count the days' from Passover to Pentecost. The fifty days between are prophetic of the final Jubilee of release from this mortal, corruptible body and all that has resulted from the fall of Adam. We now should count our days and redeem them for Him till He returns to take us for Himself.
In Matthew 13:24-30,36-43, Y'shua gives us the parable of the Wheat and the Tares. This is a prophecy of the end of the age and of His Second Coming. The good seed of wheat represent the children of the kingdom. The Wheat Harvest represents the end of the world. In Revelation 14:14-16 the grain harvest of believers is indicated. While in Revelation 14:17-20 the harvest of the grapes of wrath indicates the harvest of unbelievers and those that do evil.
Every time a believer receives the Holy Spirit in Baptism, he has his own Pentecost wherein he has a continual feast and time of rejoicing before Yahweh. This is the personal application of the feast where on a daily basis the Holy Spirit sanctifies us and prepares us to be presented faultless before the Throne of God at the final harvest. Jude 24
OBSERVANCE OF THE FEAST
The day of the Feast climaxes the seven weeks of 'Counting the Omer' of feeding on the heavenly 'manna' in spiritual preparation and expectation of this appointed meeting time with Yahweh. This period marked the passage through the wilderness with all its trials and testings after being redeemed, to bring His people to the mountain top experience with Himself where they received their betrothal covenant.
For us today, it is a commemoration of the covenant which we made with Him individually at our initial spiritual birth. We remember and rededicate ourselves once again seeking a fresh infilling of His Spirit, to once again experience the 'tongues of fire' manifesting His Presence to us in fresh anointing and power. Tarrying in the 'upper room' prior to the Feast may be needed to prepare for this, as did the disciples and the early Church.
The day of Pentecost (Shavuot) is to be observed as a "holy convocation" on which there was to be no laborious work. They were to gather together for the occasion, the word 'convocation' means a 'calling together'. After the dispersion in 70 AD, Jews came from all over the world for this feast in Jerusalem. (Acts 2:5-11; 20:16)
It was customary to keep the night of the Feast as a prayer vigil with the reading of the scriptures, particularly those relating to the original covenant at Sinai. Baptisms were often performed on this occasion for new believers, others seeking the fullness of the Spirit. The night ended with the celebratory meal and the Breaking of Bread.
It was a day of rejoicing - they were commanded to rejoice! (Deuteronomy 16: 9-12) This forms the pattern for Spirit-filled worship. It was originally a harvest festival or thanksgiving day for His blessings in which they brought in their tithes and free-will offerings (Deuteronomy16:10). We today offer our talents, abilities and gifts in the spiritual temple of Yahweh under the anointing of the Holy Spirit and rejoice in our expectation of eternal life in the kingdom to come. It is also a time to consider the poor and make provision for them. (Leviticus 23:22) Yahweh instructed the Hebrews not to harvest the corners of their fields and to leave the gleanings of their harvest for those in need.
The yearly observance of this biblical memorial day by the assembly of Yahweh serves to remind us of our total dependence upon the Holy Spirit to give us the guidance and anointing we must have to bring in the spiritual harvest of the earth. The apostle Peter referred to it as a “time of refreshing” and Y'shua said that this was the means whereby they would receive the power to be witnesses to His resurrection power. Acts 1:8
Each year, Shavuot is the precious time for us to renew our covenant relationship with Yahweh as His Bride. We can do so by rededicating ourselves anew and giving time to the study of the Torah as well as in worship and praise for His fulfilled covenantal promise of the Holy Spirit.
(Paul kept the feast of Pentecost with the believers, note 1 Cor.16: 8 & Acts 20:16)