Feast 4: The Feast of Shavuot or Weeks (Pentecost) (Leviticus 23:15-22):
The fourth feast is known in Hebrew as Shavuot, which means “weeks.” It is found in our text in Leviticus 23:15-16:
This feast is called the Feast of Weeks, because God specifically told the sons of Jacob that they were to count seven weeks from First Fruits and then the day after, this fourth feast was to be observed:
- “You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. ‘You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD.” (Leviticus 23:15-16 NASB)
Seven weeks are 49 days. Add one day “the day after,” and it brings the total to fifty days. This fourth feast was to occur precisely fifty days after First Fruits.
During these 50 days between the Resurrection and Shavuot, Jesus met with His disciples many times, and on the 40th day He ascended into heaven. Jesus had told them to stay in Jerusalem and “…wait for what the Father had promised.”
- “for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5 NASB)
What were the disciples doing in the ten days between the Ascension of Christ and Pentecost? The selection of the twelfth apostle is the only incident that Luke recorded during the ten-day period of the disciples’ waiting. Why did there need to be twelve apostles? Jesus was establishing His “new true Israel.” As such, twelve apostles were the perfect number; not only to show the ending of the Old, but of the beginning of the New. Luke tells us that the full complement of the twelve apostles has been restored. This is the beginning of the New Israel, the True Israel. And now the New Israel is ready for Pentecost.
What date was Shavuot to be celebrated? The Tanakh gives it no explicit place in the Jewish calendar. Instead, it is to be arrived at by counting seven weeks after the beginning of the Omer, on First Fruits. So this feast comes fifty days after First Fruits, which has no date either.
History of the Feast of Shavuot:
In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt, they arrived in the Sinai desert and camped opposite Mount Sinai. Moses was then told by God to gather the Israelites together to receive the Law (Exod. 19:1-6).
Moses then went up alone on the mountain, and as he neared the top, a mighty voice announced the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19:20-25; 20:1-21). No date is actually associated with the giving of the Decalogue in the Bible. Yet, ask any observant Israelite concerning this event and he will tell you that it is celebrated fifty days after the Feast of First Fruits.
So, a very notable historical event happened on the first Shavuot, and that was the giving of the Ten Commandments. Israel came to Mount Sinai on the third day of the third month (Exodus 19:1). Yahweh visited the people three days later (Exodus 19:10-17). Therefore, the Law was given by God on the sixth day of the third month of the biblical religious calendar, which is the month of Sivan (Sive-in). This day is exactly 50 days from the crossing of the Red Sea.
Shavuot and Leaven:
At Passover, leaven was absolutely forbidden (Exodus 12:15,19-20), and in the regular meal offering, no leaven was permitted (Leviticus 2:1,4-5, 11). We saw in an earlier study that leaven represents influence. It can be a good influence or a bad one. Passover and Unleavened Bread were to be without leaven, yet on Pentecost, God commanded just the opposite:
- “You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to the LORD.” (Leviticus 23:17 NASB)
The Temple services for Shavuot followed much the same pattern as that of the Feast of First Fruits, since both holy days were celebrated with first-fruit offerings. However, the offering for Shavuot was unique. It consisted of two long, flat, LEAVENED loaves of wheat bread as commanded by the Lord.
So on Shavuot, they were to wave two loaves of leavened bread. Why are the loaves leavened? As we said in our study of Unleavened Bread leaven represents influence. They were to take no leaven from Egypt, they were to break from the influence of Egypt. Now why two leavened loaves? I think these represent both houses of Israel who are to go into the world with the Word of Yahweh.
During the counting of the Omer, Psalm 67 was recited daily because it is composed of exactly 49 Hebrew words which correspond to the 49 days of the Omer count. The Psalm is seasonally appropriate because of its harvest motif. It is spiritually appropriate because it speaks clearly of God’s salvation (Jesus) being made known over all the earth.
“God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us – Selah. That Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for You will judge the peoples with uprightness and guide the nations on the earth. Selah. Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God, blesses us. God blesses us, that all the ends of the earth may fear Him.” (Psa. 67:1-7 NASB)
So in the year our Lord was crucified they are reciting this Psalm each day as they come to Shavuot or Pentecost.
The New Covenant anti-type of Shavuot is—Pentecost:
When you hear the word “Pentecost,” what do you think of? Tongues? Charismatics? What should come to your mind is, the birth of the Church; the beginning of the New Covenant.
Jesus was crucified on Passover, which gave Israel deliverance on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, He was resurrected on the Feast of First Fruits. Then fifty days after the Resurrection of Jesus, the promised New Covenant arrived on the Feast of Shavuot/Pentecost. Do you see that the whole Christian message is in the Feasts? This is not Replacement Theology, but Fulfillment Theology. Christianity is the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel, because we are true Israel. Every single piece of the Christian Bible falls right into the framework of the Hebrew world. Believers, our roots are Hebrew.
To whom was the promise of the Spirit given? Israel. Pentecost is the fulfillment of that promise, and the Church – true Israel, is its recipient.
Pentecost Type and anti-type:
Hebrew dating and tradition states fifty four days after the first Passover in Egypt –> the Law was given to the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai, written upon tables of stone. Fifty four days after the final Passover where Jesus was sacrificed –> the Law was given to the true New Covenant “Israel of God,” written upon their hearts by the pouring out of the Spirit of God (2 Cor. 3:3), thus fulfilling God’s promise to Israel:
- “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Jeremiah 31:33 NASB)
On the first Shavuot, the Law was given; 3,000 people died for worshiping the golden calf, signifying the covenant of the Law that brought death (read Ex. 32:28; cf. 2 Cor. 3:16-18).
On the first New Covenant Shavuot/Pentecost Day, the Spirit was given; 3,000 people received life and were added to the Church of Jesus the Christ (Acts 2:41), signifying the covenant of the Spirit brought life:
- “who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6 NASB)
We see here that the New Covenant is LIFE, but the Old Covenant KILLS:
- “But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was,” (2 Corinthians 3:7 NASB)
The Old Testament and New Testament Shavuot/Pentecost can be beautifully compared and contrasted:
|Old Testament Shavuot/Pentecost||New Testament Pentecost|
|The Fiftieth Day||—||The Fiftieth Day|
|Writing of Ten Commandments||—||Writing of Commandments of love on Tables of Heart and Mind (Matt. 22:34-40; Romans 13:8-10; Matt. 5,6,7)|
|By the Finger of God||—||By the Spirit of God (Luke 11:20; Matt. 12:28; 2 Cor. 3:3)|
|3,000 people slain||—||3,000 people live (Acts 2:41)|
|A ministration of death||—||A ministration of life (2 Cor. 3:3, 7-9)|
|The letter||—||The Spirit (2 Cor. 3:3, 7-9)|
|Glory on the face of Moses||—||Glory on the face of Jesus (2 Cor. 3:13, 18)|
|Face veiled so people could not behold the Glory||—||Unveiled face so we can be transformed into the same image from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:16-18)|
|Glory to be done away||—||Glory that remains (2 Cor. 3:11)|
|Ministers of the Old Covenant||—||Ministers of the New Covenant (2 Cor. 3:6)|
|Mt. Sinai||—||Mt. Zion (Hebrews 12:22-24)|
Pentecost was the fulfillment, the anti-type, of the type given to Israel. It was the birthday of the Church of Jesus Christ. God would now build His new temple where He would dwell, not in a tent, or physical building again, but with His people. We, the Church, are the New Israel of God and in us all the promises made to the Fathers are fulfilled.
All the promises that God made to Israel are fulfilled in Christ. All believers are in Christ and share all that Christ is and has.
To natural Israel, Passover was their freedom from the bondage of Egypt (Exodus 12). Unleavened Bread was the separation from the land of Egypt into the immersion (baptism) in the Red Sea and the Cloud in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:1-2). First Fruits was a guarantee of the coming harvest. Finally, God led the people to Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:1) where they experienced Shavuot, and God revealed Himself to the people in a deeper and greater way than He ever did previously.
The Spring Festivals were fulfilled by Jesus, who was our Passover Lamb Who died on the day of Passover, which brought deliverance from the bondage of sin during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Jesus arose as First Fruits of the barley harvest; He Himself being the first of those to rise out from among the dead on<strong>Tabernacle (Feast of) (</strong>aka<strong> Booths)</strong>es in Hades/Sheol. Finally, the promised New Covenant was inaugurated during the Feast of Pentecost where the first 3,000 souls were born again, as God’s Spring Harvest in the earth. As these four feasts describe in detail the significant events during the first coming of Messiah, when He came to redeem man back to God following the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, we will also find in our next Lesson 2 how the Fall Festivals give us tremendous insight and understanding concerning the events pertaining to Jesus’ Second Coming.
See also related “Topic Studies & Terms”:
Related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 8 Lesson 1 God’s Festal Calendar (Spring Feasts)”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 8 Lesson 2 God’s Festal Calendar (Fall Feasts)”]