The Significance of the Feasts: Shavuot (Pentecost)

Each Spring feast profoundly relates to the Messiah’s life, death, and resurrection. From Yeshua being our Passover lamb to Him rising as a Firstfruits offering, it’s an exciting time to read through the Scriptures and see how the Old and New Testaments correspond. However, we’re not finished yet! One Spring feast remains, the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot (Pentecost).

What is Shavuot?

Deuteronomy 16:9-12, “Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. Then celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the Lord your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the Lord your God has given you. And rejoice before the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites in your towns, and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows living among you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and follow carefully these decrees.” 

Following Firstfruits, the Scriptures instruct us to count fifty days or seven Sabbaths — typically called the Counting of the Omer — until we arrive at Shavuot. The harvest would’ve been in full at this time, allowing the Israelites to give another offering of thanks to the Lord for His provision. While there is no longer a temple in Jerusalem to make these sacrifices, and we don’t make our earnings like the ancient Israelites, Shavuot reminds us that no matter how prosperous we are, everything we have ultimately belongs to the Lord.

Parallels with Mount Sinai and Pentecost

As seen in each part of this series, God’s timing is never coincidental. Everything lines up, and the feasts are a perfect timeline to see how God has and will fulfill Biblical prophecy. Shavuot is a great example of God’s timing because two mighty events occurred at this festival.

Forty years before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they were led to Mount Sinai, where the proposal of marriage between God and man took place:

Exodus 19:1-6, “On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, ‘This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.’”

At the foot of the mountain, the Israelites watched Moses enter the presence of the Lord and receive the commandments — the terms of the covenant with God, also known today as a ketubah (marriage contract). From the very beginning, the Father’s desire has been to have a personal relationship with His people and put His Spirit inside us; however, at His thunderous appearance, the Israelites were terrified and refused to get closer, choosing Moses to be God’s spokesperson so they would not be killed.

Exodus 20:18-21, “When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.’ Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.’ The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.”

Disappointed but willing to compromise, God continued to speak to Moses until he returned to the Israelites to share everything God had commanded. Accepting the Law of the Lord, the Israelites were sprinkled with the blood of a sacrifice to bind their marriage covenant with God. (Exodus 24:3-8) Unfortunately, the Israelites broke the covenant when they made the golden calf (Exodus 32:1-14), separating them from their marriage to God. Because of their disobedience and lack of faith, three thousand Israelites were killed (Exodus 32:27-28), and the blood sacrifice was later created to atone for their sins (Yom Kippur – we’ll get there) until Yeshua took the lamb’s place, becoming the ultimate sacrifice and forming a new covenant with Israel to replace the one that had been broken.

Matthew 26:28, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” 

Throughout the years leading up to Yeshua’s birth, there were many prophecies about God restoring Israel and the Holy Spirit falling on His people:

Jeremiah 31:31-33, “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors 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 people 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.’

Ezekiel 36:26-27, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

Joel 2:28, “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”

And then, when Yeshua began His ministry, He also spoke of the Holy Spirit coming to instruct us:

John 14:26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

After rising from the dead, Yeshua remained on the earth for forty days before ascending into Heaven. Before His departure, He told His disciples to stay in Jerusalem and prepare:

Acts 1:4-8, “‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ Then they gathered around him and asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’”

Shavuot arrived ten days later, and the people gathered in Jerusalem for the feast.

Acts 2:1-4, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

I know many people teach that the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples and those gathered in the “Upper Room”; however, it would’ve been impossible for three thousand people (Acts 2:41 – This number is not a coincidence) to hear Peter’s message, witness the outpouring of the Spirit, and be added into the Kingdom if the disciples were shut away in a house! It says in the passage above that “they were all together in one place,” which makes it far more plausible to suggest that they were actually in the Temple’s courts (which can often be referred to as a house – i.e., the house of the Lord) when the Holy Spirit rained down — consider the time of day, the fact that it was a feast day, there was a crowd to witness their “drunken” behavior, and that the people would’ve been gathering to make their offerings to the Lord. How could Peter have “addressed the crowd” if he was in a room — especially if that room is the famous tourist destination Christians visit yearly? (Click here to read another article about this theory)

Today’s Significance 

No matter where the outpouring of the Spirit happened, I think we can all agree that Shavuot is an incredibly significant feast day for ALL believers! Before Pentecost, the Holy Spirit could come upon someone, but it could also leave; afterward, the Holy Spirit permanently dwells within us, just as God wanted at Mount Sinai! Likewise, our salvation is SEALED in the Messiah, with God’s Spirit put in our heats as a deposit to guarantee what is to come! (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22) We are no longer separated from the Kingdom of God, but once against renewed in His covenant originally established with Israel at Mount Sinai. And, when people come to faith in the Messiah, we become ONE body, heirs WITH Israel, and share in the promise in the Messiah (Ephesians 3:6; Galatians 3:26-29)

Shavuot/Pentecost is an incredible feast, and today, we can observe it as a time of worship, thanksgiving, reverence, and fellowship! We have the Word of God imprinted on our hearts and the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, something that wouldn’t have been possible had Yeshua not fulfilled Passover and Firstfruits. Because of our Savior’s sacrifice, we are back in covenant with Yeshua and have the ultimate teacher to guide us as we prayerfully seek the Lord for direction. I can’t think of a better way to conclude the Spring Feasts than by allowing the Holy Spirit to empower us to share the Good News and be witnesses of all the Father has done — this is why the feasts are so important and for EVERY believer to observe!

1 Peter 2:9-10, But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

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