What is the Significance of Shavuot?

What is the Significance of Shavuot?

Shavuot or Pentecost is the last of the four Spring Feasts of Yehovah. It concludes the time of rejoicing that makes up the period of counting the Omer. It is a time to remember the goodness of the Lord after the great Exodus from Egypt and the deliverance we now have in Jesus, as well as, the help now available to us from the Holy Spirit.

What is the Significance of Shavuot?

This is a time to celebrate the provision of God. Shavuot begins the Wheat harvest and has a strong connection with the Feast of Unleavened bread, which starts the Barley Harvest. We see God renewing His covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai and in the Upper Room. In addition to this, Shavuot is also one of the three pilgrimage festivals commanded by God. 

Deuteronomy (Debarim) 16:9-12: 

9 Seven weeks shalt thou number to thyself; when thou hast begun [to put] the sickle to the corn, thou shalt begin to number seven weeks. 10 And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks to the Lord thy God, accordingly as thy hand has power in as many things as the Lord thy God shall give thee. 11 And thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou and thy son, and thy daughter, thy man-servant and thy maid-servant, and the Levite, and the stranger, and the orphan, and the widow which dwells among you, in whatsoever place the Lord thy God shall choose, that his name should be called there. 12 Thou shalt remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and thou shalt observe and do these commands.

Counting to Pentecost

The Feast of Weeks or Shavuot/Pentecost can also be called First Fruits, but it should not be confused with the Feast of First Fruits that occurs during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Although both deal with giving the first fruits of the land to God, the former marks the beginning of the Barley Harvest. We are to count at the start of the barley harvest 49 days plus one to reach Shavuot or Pentecost, which begins the wheat harvest. 

While the Feast of Unleavened Bread is characterized by the omission of leaven, Shavuot is characterized by its inclusion. From the first fruits of the wheat of your land, two loaves of bread made with fine flour and leaven are given to the priest to be offered before Yehovah. The loaves would be waved before the Lord and would mark this time as a set-apart gathering, and we are to have a sabbath-rest day.

Leviticus (Wayyiqra) 23:15-18; 20-22: 

15 And ye shall number to yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day on which ye shall offer the sheaf of the wave-offering, seven full weeks: 16 until the morrow after the last week ye shall number fifty days, and shall bring a new meat-offering to the Lord. 17 Ye shall bring from your dwelling loaves, as a wave-offering, two loaves: they shall be of two tenth portions of fine flour, they shall be baked with leaven of the first-fruits to the Lord. 18 And ye shall bring with the loaves seven unblemished lambs of a year old, and one calf of the herd, and two rams without blemish, and they shall be a whole-burnt-offering to the Lord: and their meat-offerings and their drink-offerings [shall be] a sacrifice, a smell of sweet savor to the Lord.’  

20 And the priest shall place them with the loaves of the first-fruits an offering before the Lord with the two lambs, they shall be holy to the Lord they shall belong to the priest that brings them. 21 And ye shall call this day a convocation: it shall be holy to you; ye shall do no servile work on it: it is a perpetual ordinance throughout your generations in all your habitations. 22 And when ye shall reap the harvest of your land, ye shall not fully reap the remainder of the harvest of your field when thou reapest, and thou shalt not gather that which falls from thy reaping; thou shalt leave it for the poor and the stranger: I [am] the Lord your God.

Along with the offerings to be made, we are shown how God renews His covenant with the children of Israel.

Exodus (Shemoth) 19:4-8: 

4 Ye have seen all that I have done to the Egyptians, and I took you up as upon eagles’ wings, and I brought you near to myself. 5 And now if ye will indeed hear my voice, and keep my covenant, ye shall be to me a peculiar people above all nations; for the whole earth is mine. 6 And ye shall be to me a royal priesthood and a holy nation: these words shalt thou speak to the children of Israel. 7 And Moses came and called the elders of the people, and he set before them all these words, which God appointed them. 8 And all the people answered with one accord, and said, All things that God has spoken, we will do and hearken to: and Moses reported these words to God.”

Renewed Covenant with Elohim

A celebration of the Wheat Harvest during the feast of Shavuot - byZipporah
Photo by  Isak Engström

At the base of Mount Sinai, God confirms the previous covenants and commitments He had made to our forefathers, and promises to remain in covenant with us if we keep His commandments and His Torah. 

Torah in Hebrew means instruction or teaching. Through Shavuot we see God revealing a new aspect of Himself on Mount Sinai through the giving of Torah to His people, and the giving of the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room with the disciples. The fulfillment of the renewed Covenant with Israel is seen in the Upper room, as was promised:

Jeremiah (Yirmeyahu) 31:33-34:

33 For this is my covenant which I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will surely put my laws into their mind, and write them on their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. 34 And they shall not at all teach every one his [fellow] citizen, and every one his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them: for I will be merciful to their iniquities, and their sins I will remember no more.’”

Ezekiel (Yehezqel) 36: 26-28:

26 And I will give you a new heart, and will put a new spirit in you: and I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you, and will cause you to walk in mine ordinances, and to keep my judgments, and do [them]. 28 And ye shall dwell upon the land which I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be to me a people, and I will be to you a God.”

John (Yohanan) 14:15-29:

15 If you love Me, you shall guard My commands. 16 And I shall ask the Father, and He shall give you another Helper, to stay with you forever – 17 the Spirit of the Truth, whom the world is unable to receive, because it does not see Him or know Him. But you know Him, for He stays with you and shall be in you. 18 I shall not leave you orphans – I am coming to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world no longer sees Me, but you shall see Me, because I live, and you shall live. 20 In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

21 He who possesses My commands and guards them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I shall love him and manifest Myself to him.” 22 Yehuḏah [Judas] – not [Iscariot]– said to Him, “Master, what has come about that You are about to manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 יהושע answered him, “If anyone loves Me, he shall guard My Word. And My Father shall love him, and We shall come to him and make Our stay with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not guard My Words. And the Word which you hear is not Mine but of the Father Who sent Me. 25 These Words I have spoken to you while still with you.

26 But the Helper, the Set-apart Spirit, whom the Father shall send in My Name, He shall teach you all, and remind you of all that I said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you – My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 28 You heard that I said to you, ‘I am going away and I am coming to you.’ If you did love Me, you would have rejoiced that I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, that when it does take place, you shall believe.’

A Pilgrimage Feast

Another interesting aspect of Shavuot is that it is one of the three Pilgrimage Feasts commanded by the Lord. The other two are The Feast of Unleavened Bread in the Spring and Sukkot in the Fall. This explains why there were so many Hebrews in Jerusalem from all over the world hearing the Disciples in their own language, they were there to celebrate Shavuot!

And with that, the Spring Feasts are done! From Passover, we saw the Exodus from the bondage of slavery in Egypt, how Jesus is the perfect Passover Lamb. We see how the unleavened bread and the wine represent the Body and Blood of Christ, as well as, our own reminder to be constantly in the cycle of renewing our mind and getting rid of the sin in our lives. In First Fruits, we are reminded of how Jesus has risen.

Finally, in Pentecost, we are reminded of the giving of the Torah, the teachings, and instructions that are meant to guide us and to teach us about God in a new and deeper way. We see the giving of the Holy Spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh, who enables us to follow the Lord in all our ways. May we take these lessons and many more with us as we wait in anticipation for the upcoming Fall Feasts! Until Then! Shalom!

All Old Testament scriptures are from the Septuagint and all New Testament Scriptures are from The Scriptures 2009 translations unless otherwise stated.

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