Today in the Hebrew calendar is the 6th day of Sivan which falls on our 2011 Gregorian calendar as June 7. On this day, God commanded the Israelites to observe the Feast of Weeks.
The definition of Shavuot is weeks. Because Leviticus 23:15-16 commands the Israelites to count seven full weeks from the day after Sabbath, this harvest feast is known as Feast of Weeks.
Counting of Omer
The Feast of Weeks
“You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the Lord. Leviticus 23:15-16 (ESV)
I have been taught and understood Shavuot to be the Jewish celebration of God giving the Torah to the Israelites on Mount Sinai. The Jewish people also know Shavuot as Zeman Matan Toratenu which means “The Season of the giving of Torah.” This refers to the tradition that the Torah (law) or the Ten Commandments were given to the Israelites at a time that would coincide with Shavuot. The Jewish people also know this holiday as Pentecost because there are 50 days between Passover and Shavuot.
Shavuot is also known as Yom Habikkurim which translates to The Day of First Fruits. Scripture commanded the Israelites to bring the first fruits of the harvest to the Temple. However after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., it was not possible to to bring the first fruit offerings to the Temple. In fact, since the Jewish peoples’ lives and worship was centered around the Temple, the rabbis were forced to compensate for the loss of the Temple. In the case of Shavuot, the rabbis connected the giving of the law on Mount Sinai to Shavuot in place of the offerings at the Temple. This remains the focus of Shavuot to this day.
There are a total three harvest seasons in Scripture. They are Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread which occur at the beginning of the harvest in spring. The Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost/Shavuot occurs at the end of the barley and wheat harvests and we see the birth of the Church correspond to these harvest festivals.
It is interesting to note that Shavuot or Pentecost is the day that the Holy Spirit came to the believers.
The Coming of the Holy Spirit
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 (ESV)
The promise of the Helper, the Holy Spirit, was made by Jesus to His disciples in John 14:16.
Approximately fifty days ago during Jesus’ last days on earth, Jesus had his last Passover with His disciples. He was crucified as an atonement for our sins so that death passes over us to those that believe in Him. He rose from the grave and spent 40 days here before ascending in the clouds. Ten days later on this day, Shavuot, the Holy Spirit came and the Church was born.
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