Shavuot: The Feast of Weeks
Shavuot is otherwise known as Pentecost, and is celebrated seven weeks following Passover on the fiftieth day, which is Sunday according to the Jewish calendar. We often think of Pentecost as the time when the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit was given to the Church. Yet the significance of this spiritual event is found in the traditional observance of this magnificent feast.
Again, the LORD Jesus Christ has fulfilled Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, in a very special way. But how He chose to do that reveals to us His purpose for the Church. In this post we are going to look at Shavuot’s traditional observance, how it was fulfilled and what that fulfillment means for us today.
Shavuot was the second type of first fruits. This feast is traditionally known by three names:
• The Feast of Weeks
• The Feast of Harvest
• The Feast of Firstfruits
Shavuot takes place during the last portion of Spring, during the wheat harvest, and is often considered the beginning of the summer season. This is when the wheat is ripe. Wheat was the most cherished of grains because of its dense nutritional properties and for its ability to create the most sumptuous of baked goods. Wheat is therefore associated with prosperity.
Throughout the Spring feasts we see that grain is indeed a central theme. In the Feast of Unleavened Bread we see Christ as our sacrificial Lamb of God, who was also the Bread of Life, being untarnished by sin. In the Feast of Firstfruits we see that He is a tender sheaf that was waved before the LORD as a Firstfruit from among the dead in His resurrection. Now in the Feast of Weeks, we see Christ’s fulfillment through the offering of two loaves of baked bread. Let’s look at what this truly conveys.
And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the shaf of the waver 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 meat offering unto the LORD. Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD… And ye shall proclaim on the salfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations. And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of they field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God, (Leviticus 23:15-17 & 21-22, KJV).
There are three solemn feasts (holy convocations) out of the seven wherein God commands His people to celebrate in Jerusalem at His Temple.
Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee, (Deuteronomy 16:16-17, KJV).
The Feast of Weeks is one of those feasts. This particular feast was observed with a banquet of the finest fare, and the choicest of sacrifices. What we see here in the LORD’s command is a loving invitation to all nations. Anyone who is a ‘stranger’ or ‘poor’ was invited to feast among the Jews in celebration of these feasts. God’s plan was always inclusive of the Gentiles.
To understand the fulfillment of Shavuot, we must understand God’s heart and purpose: to gather the nations to Himself in one great harvest. The counting of seven sabbaths, and for this celebration to be held on the fiftieth day represents a perfection and completion (in the counting of sevens), and a liberty (found in the number fifty). Israel had to trust God for this harvest – that it would indeed be ready to present to Him on this designated day. God’s faithfulness is represented in the harvest. He brings forth the promise of what He has begun – from the firstfruits of the tender sheaf to the firstfruits of the mature wheat that is presented in two beautiful leavened loaves of fresh nourishing bread.
Unlike the Feast of Unleavened Bread, yeast is seen introduced here as a beneficial and necessary ingredient that God both commands and delights in. Therefore, we see a two-fold purpose for yeast. Yeast indeed represents sin in the Feast of Unleavened Bread. However, As a living and active organism, it represents the power within the bread to create nourishment, flavor and life in the Feast of Weeks. It has an entirely different purpose.
Let’s discover what this yeast truly represents:
The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened, (Matthew 13:33, KJV).
Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened, (Luke 13:20-21, KJV).
Here yeast represents life, power, growth, and multiplication, which is precisely God’s purpose for His kingdom. God’s intention for His kingdom extends far beyond the Jewish people to include the stranger and the poor, which would be the Gentile nations.
The Feast of Weeks is a holy convocation which was commanded to be celebrated in Jerusalem at the Temple. When Christ was raised from the dead in the fulfillment of the Feast of Firstfruits, He remained among the disciples and revealed himself to more than five hundred people prior to His ascension (see 1 Corinthians 15). He was the ‘yeast’ who spread Himself throughout the dough, preparing the two loaves that would be waved before the LORD. How the LORD accomplished this work of multiplication was displayed through a powerful outpouring of His promised Holy Spirit on the fiftieth day – Shavuot (Pentecost).
Let’s take a close look at precisely what happened that day of fulfillment. We will begin with the LORD’s ascension:
Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he thought the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom of Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall also come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren, (Acts 1:2-14, KJV, emphasis mine).
What we see here is magnificent! Let’s be clear that a sabbath day’s journey is not far at all. People were not permitted to travel on the Sabbath more than 2,000 cubits (less than half a mile). So in keeping with the Feast of Weeks, we see the disciples gathering in Jerusalem as the LORD commanded. The disciples, the women, Christ’s mother and His brothers, all continued in this posture of unified prayer, waiting upon the LORD for ten days as He commanded. Let’s find out what happens next…
And when the day of Pentecost 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 Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; and it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: and I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved…
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers… And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved, (Acts 2:1-21, 37-42, & 46-47, KJV).
Here we see the fulfillment of three things:
1.) The prophecy of Joel came to pass, as declared by the Apostle Peter, which is a sign that the last days had officially begun. The fulfillment of Shavuot marks that very day. For this reason, the epistles were always written from the perspective that the last days were present and unfolding.
2.) We see the fulfillment of Shavuot wherein the two loaves were officially presented to the LORD. Those two loaves are represented by the Jews and Gentiles who gathered before the LORD from among the many nations aforementioned in this passage.
3.) We see the three thousand added that very day of Shavuot in keeping with the LORD’s parable regarding His kingdom. From these three measures of meal, His kingdom would expand throughout the whole earth to include every nation, tribe and tongue.
The two loaves can best be identified in Ephesians 2:11-22 as the “one new man”.
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit, (Ephesians 2:11-22, KJV, emphasis mine).
In the Feast of Weeks, the LORD commanded a provision to be left for the stranger and the poor. How magnificent that we are no longer strangers, but God has bound us together, making us one. On that day of Shavuot (Pentecost), the LORD waved an offering before His Father through the outpouring of His Holy Spirit, presenting to Him the two loaves as one. The yeast of the LORD spread, bringing unity, power, and growth, and to this day His kingdom is multiplying throughout the earth.
Shavuot represents the LORD’s heart for unity among His people, and the growth and multiplication of His kingdom, which is represented in the joy and bounty of the cherished wheat harvest, which is so full of rich nourishment. We can know for certain that these last days in which we are living will soon come to an End, when the fullness of the Gentiles is brought forth, and the promised salvation of Israel is fulfilled (see Romans 9-11, specifically Romans 11:25-26).
Your Celebration Today
With the fulfillment of Shavuot, we are to continue the spread of Christ’s yeast throughout the world – releasing the glorious power of the Holy Spirit by which all nations are to hear the Gospel, and by which Jew and Gentile are made one in Him.
This holy convocation of the LORD is a beautiful representation of three primary things:
3.) Exponential Growth and Multiplication
Contrary to popular man-made doctrines, the celebration of Shavuot (Pentecost) has been very misunderstood and misconstrued, being seen as the standard by which the infilling of God’s Spirit is evidenced by the speaking of tongues. However, as we see throughout the scriptures, this is contradicted, even by the very passage from Joel which Peter declared in the context of this celebration.
The Spirit of God can manifest in any number of ways through an individual for the LORD’s purposes at hand. Paul makes makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 12 and Galatians 5 that the infilling of the Holy Spirit is not merely evidenced by spiritual gifts. The greatest evidence of the Spirit’s infilling is found in the genuine fruit produced in the believer’s life (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and temperance). We are told to be ever-filled with His Spirit on a daily basis as we walk in intimate fellowship of Christ through submission and obedience. This infilling is not an event, but a lifestyle. Paul explains these matters succinctly in 1 Corinthians 12 and Galatians 5, which I encourage you to read. When we walk in His Spirit, we bear His fruit. When we are fully surrendered to the Spirit of God, He is free to move in and through us, using us in whatever manner He wills, for whatever purpose is at hand. That infilling is by no means limited to tongues.
The manifestation of tongues in the fulfillment of Shavuot was for a very specific purpose – the unification of Jew and Gentile. In this fulfillment the two loaves were waved before the LORD. The division among nations which God brought about through a distinct separation of tongues at the Tower of Babel in Genesis, He now unifies through this gifted utterance for His kingdom purposes. God is making a statement here: It’s His kingdom He wants to build – not ours. This unification brought about through this gift of tongues is truly miraculous. Paul makes it clear in his teaching that unless a tongue brings edification for hearer, it is of no benefit or profit. He also makes it clear that any gift manifested apart from love is of no profit. And so we see that edification demonstrated here in Shavuot through the many souls who were saved. Those things spoken by the utterance of the Spirit were the ‘wonderful works of God’. Through this gift, as demonstrated upon Shavuot, we see men from all nations, tribes and tongues receiving salvation in Christ.
Let it be understood then, that this specific infilling was for a global purpose that would effect a spread of the Gospel which launched from Jerusalem to the rest of the world – even as Christ spoke prior to His ascension. This demonstration of the Spirit’s power was in no way intended to be a finite determination of what the infilling of the Holy Spirit would look like for any particular believer.
The celebration of Shavuot is about the two loaves being presented to God as one. It is about Jew and Gentile believers unifying in His Spirit (see John 17 and Ephesians 2:11-22). It’s about the heart of our Father who has poured out His Spirit in the last days according to Joel for this purpose:
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call, (Joel 2:32, KJV).
Remember, Shavuot is only the firstfruit of the harvest God intends to fully reap. Let us remember what He said…
It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened, (Luke 13:21, KJV, emphasis mine).
God bless you as you celebrate!
Cheers & Shalom,