What is the Festival of Weeks or Shavuot?
Shavuot became known as the anniversary of YHWH’s (GOD’s Hebrew/True Name) appearance on Mount Sinai in power and esteem and majesty and in fire, when He came to give the Torah. This season is therefore known as the season of the giving of Torah. (Torah means instructions) We can read the story in Exodus 19 and 20.
Shavuot or the Festival of Weeks is the 4th of the 7 Festivals YHWH commanded us to keep. It is called Festival of Weeks because YHWH never gave a specific date in the Word for the celebration of it other than linking it to Passover. They were to count off 7 weeks (49 days) from the day after the High Sabbath of the Passover, and the next day would be the Festival of Weeks, which is also a High Sabbath. Shavua is a week in Hebrew and Shavuot means weeks.
Or they were to count of 50 days — from there the Greek word “Pentecost” which means 50th.
‘Until the morrow after the seventh Sabbath you count fifty days, then you shall bring a new grain offering to יהוה.”
“Count seven weeks for yourself. Begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. And you shall perform the Festival of Weeks to יהוה your Elohim.”
Shavuot is seen as the conclusion to the Passover season. One strong connection between Passover and the Shavuot is the counting of the omer serving as a chain that links the two Festivals.
What is the counting of the Omer?
An Omer is a measure of grain. Passover is generally the time of the barley harvest and Shavuot begins the wheat harvest. We make bread from grain and bread is symbolic of the Word, or Torah.
Therefore it became practice to read portions of Psalm 119 every day for the 50 days because Psalm 119 speaks of so many facets of the Torah.
David displays his attitude to the Torah in very clear and picturesque language, especially in Psalm 119. Could his love for Torah be one of the reasons YHWH called him a man after His own heart?
Psa_119:1 Blessed are the perfect in the way, Who walk in the Torah of יהוה!
Psa_119:18 Open my eyes, that I might see Wonders from Your Torah.
Psa_119:29 Remove from me the way of falsehood, And favour me with Your Torah.
Psa_119:34 Make me understand, that I might observe Your Torah, And guard it with all my heart.
Psa_119:44 That I might guard Your Torah continually, Forever and ever;
Psa_119:51 The proud have utterly scorned me, I did not turn aside from Your Torah.
Psa_119:53 Rage has seized me because of the wrong Who forsake Your Torah.
Psa_119:55 I have remembered Your Name in the night, O יהוה, And I guard Your Torah.
Psa_119:61 The cords of the wrong have surrounded me, Your Torah I have not forgotten.
Psa_119:70 Their heart has become like fat, Without feeling; I have delighted in Your Torah.
Psa_119:72 The Torah of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
Psa_119:77 Let Your compassions come to me, That I might live, For Your Torah is my delight.
Psa_119:85 The proud have dug pits for me, Which is not according to Your Torah.
Psa_119:92 If Your Torah had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.
Psa_119:97 O how I love Your Torah! It is my study all day long.
Psa_119:109 My life is in my hand continually, And Your Torah I have not forgotten.
Psa_119:113 I have hated doubting thoughts, But I have loved Your Torah.
Psa_119:126 It is time for יהוה to act! For they have broken Your Torah.
Psa_119:136 Streams of water have run down from my eyes, Because they did not guard Your Torah.
Psa_119:142 Your righteousness is righteousness forever, And Your Torah is truth.
Psa_119:150 Those who pursue mischief have drawn near; They have been far from Your Torah.
Psa_119:153 See my affliction and deliver me, For I have not forgotten Your Torah.
Psa_119:163 I have hated falsehood and loathe it, Your Torah I have loved.
Psa_119:165 Great peace have those loving Your Torah, And for them there is no stumbling-block.
Psa_119:174 I have longed for Your deliverance, O יהוה, And Your Torah is my delight.
The command to count the 50 in-between-days engaged each person’s mind in an aura of expectancy. What was going to happen next? The stage was set by YHWH for all the events to follow and the hearts prepared to receive His Torah as we read in Ex 19 and 20.
These 50 days give us the wonderful opportunity to commemorate the writing of the Torah on our hearts by the Set Apart (Holy) Spirit. Let us ask YHWH to give us the favour to tremble at His Word..
“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” –Psalm 90:12
The Set Apart Festivals are for everyone..
Amo 9:11-12 “In that day I shall raise up the booth of Dawiḏ which has fallen down. And I shall repair its breaches and raise up its ruins. And I shall build it as in the days of old, so that they possess the remnant of Adam, and all the gentiles on whom My Name is called,” declares יהוה who does this.“
Verses to ponder:
Exo_34:22 “And perform the Festival of Weeks for yourself, of the first-fruits of wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the year.
Num_28:26 ‘And on the day of the first-fruits, when you bring a new grain offering to יהוה at your Festival of Weeks, you have a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work.
Deu_16:10 “And you shall perform the Festival of Weeks to יהוה your Elohim, according to the voluntary offering from your hand, which you give as יהוה your Elohim blesses you.
Deu_16:16 “Three times a year all your males appear before יהוה your Elohim in the place which He chooses: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and at the Festival of Weeks, and at the Festival of Booths. And none should appear before יהוה empty-handed,
2Ch_8:13 even as the duty of every day required, offering according to the command of Mosheh, for the Sabbaths, and for the New Moons, and for the appointed times three times a year: the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Booths.
Act_2:1 And when the Day of the Festival of Weeks had come, they were all with one mind in one place.
Act_20:16 For Sha’ul had decided to sail past Ephesos, so that he might lose no time in Asia, for he was hurrying to be at Yerushalayim, if possible, on the Day of the Festival of Weeks.
1Co_16:8 And I shall remain in Ephesos until the Festival of Weeks.
The Historical Understanding of Shavuot
‘Bring from your dwellings for a wave offering two loaves of bread, of two-tenths of an ĕphah of fine flour they are, baked with leaven, first-fruits to יהוה.’
‘And on this same day you shall proclaim a set-apart gathering for yourselves, you do no servile work on it – a law forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
‘And when you reap the harvest of your land do not completely reap the corners of your field when you reap, and do not gather any gleaning from your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the stranger. I am יהוה your Elohim.’” Leviticus 23: 17,21,22
* Shavuot as a Betrothal
YHWH redeemed Israel and led them out of bondage through the blood of the lamb. They applied the blood because they believed Him and He saved them from slavery by favour. They have not done anything to deserve it. It was pure favour.
But that was not enough for YHWH. He wanted more. He wanted a closer relationship with His redeemed community. He wanted their hearts to be knitted to His: the closeness of a Bridegroom and a Bride.
YHWH is set-apart, pure, undefiled, separate and His people are in this world. They used to be slaved to Pharaoh (the devil) and they didn’t know Him. This sets the scene for YHWH’s next encounter.
In Exodus 19 we see how YHWH displays Himself as a very mighty and capable Bridegroom and how many elements of a Jewish Wedding are present.
* The Bride
“Go, and you shall cry in the hearing of Yerushalayim, saying, ‘Thus said יהוה, “I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your bridehood, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.” Jeremiah 2:2
My opinion is that believing Israel is the bride and we gentile believers who love Y’shua and are grafted into the olive tree, are also grafted into the bride.
* The Bridegroom
Who then is the Bridegroom? By this time Y’shua had not been revealed to Israel in person, but there are two passages in the Renewed Covenant or New Testament which point to Y’shua as the Bridegroom.
The first is in Ephesians 5:22-33 where Paul speaks about husbands and wives as an allegory of Messiah and the assembly.
The second is by John where he speaks of the wedding of the Lamb and His Bride who has made herself ready. (Revelation 19)
As the Israelites assembled at the foot of Mount Sinai, YHWH called Moses up and told him to say to Israel,
“You have seen what I did to the Mitsrites (Egyptians), and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.”(Ex 19:4)
That is the heart of the Bridegroom revealed. Now He is going to display His might and power to His Bride so that she may be fully confident that He is well able to look after her completely.
* The Betrothal (much like engagement)
According to the Israeli Wedding, marriage consisted of two stages. The first is the betrothal. You enter the first stage of marriage as soon as a betrothal contract is made between the two parties. The covenant or agreement was made by having bread and wine together.
Our Bridegroom, Y’shua, also cut covenant with us (and even the generations to follow) at the Passover meal, just before He died to pay the price for His Bride.
The written contract is called a ketubah. During betrothal, you are legally married, but do no physically dwell with your mate. Betrothal is so legally binding that you cannot get outof it without a divorce. We think of the betrothal of Yosĕph and Miryam, the parents of Y’shua. Betrothal is also mentioned in Ex 21:8 and Deut 20:7.
The second stage of marriage is the fullness or consummation of the marriage.
The consummation of our marriage with Y’shua will happen later and then we will physically dwell with Him during the Messianic age on earth.
* Endearing Name
With a betrothal the Bridegroom gives his bride a special endearing name. YHWH calls Israel His Special Treasure or Treasured Possession.
“And now, if you diligently obey My voice, and shall guard My covenant, then you shall be My treasured possession above all the peoples – for all the earth is Mine” Ex 19:5
* The Bride has to say YES
So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words YHWH had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together,
“All that יהוה has spoken we shall do”
* The Bridal Canopy or Chuppah
According to Jewish weddings the couple gives their vows under a canopy. YHWH’s canopy was the thick cloud of a thunder storm and heavy smoke because Mt Sinai was on fire. YHWH had descended on it.
Thunder and lightning were frequently seen and heard. The sound of the shofar or ram’s horn became louder and louder and the top of the mountain was enveloped in smoke and fire. (read Ex 19)
* The sign
The ring is nowadays our sign of a marriage between two parties. Could the Sabbath be our sign of marriage to our heavenly Bridegroom?
“My Sabbaths you are to guard, by all means, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, to know that I, יהוה, am setting you apart.” (Exodus 31:13)
“And the children of Yisra’ĕl shall guard the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant.” (Exodus 31:16)
* The house
YHWH gave Moses the plans for this house where the marriage couple was to meet in an intimate way: the Tabernacle of Moses in the wilderness, also called the Tent of Meeting. Later Solomon built the beautiful temple also called the House of YHWH.
In the renewed covenant or New Testament Y’shua said”
“In My Father’s house are many staying places. And if not, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I shall come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you might be too.“ (John 4:2-3)
* The Marriage Contract or Ketubah
A very significant item in the traditional wedding and even unto today is the Marriage Covenant in which both parties would write down the terms of their marriage agreement, their promises and responsibilities.
When YHWH betrothed Himself to Israel He gave them the Torah as the marriage contract or Ketubah. (Ex 20:1-3)
The Torah – an awesome document!
The word Torah is mostly translated into English as LAW. This is very sad, because the Torah is so much more. The root in Hebrew is Yarah which means instruct or teach.
Thus the Torah is for guidance to lead us to our target, which is the revelation of Y’shua and perfect living for our Bridegroom, the living Torah.
Y’shua taught and lived the Torah in such a manner that His followers called Him “The Torah”. He committed NO sin and torah-lessness is the synonymous of sin! Y’shua is the living version of the written Torah given by YHWH on Sinai.
— Which part of the Word is referred to as Torah?
Firstly the 10 commandments or 10 words YHWH gave to Moses on Mount Sinai, which in turn is the summary of the first books of Moses.
Sometimes the whole Old Testament is referred to as Torah, because in it we can learn of all the theological concepts such as sin, sacrifice, salvation, sanctification and even about our Messiah.
The concepts are expounded upon throughout the rest of the Scriptures, even the New Testament, so that it becomes one book given by YHWH, from Genesis to Revelation.
Every command and instruction is part of the Torah.
* First and foremost the Torah is teaching.
It teaches us to serve, worship and please YHWH and to have healthy relationships with our fellowman. It shows us His ways. It is His Word.
* It is instruction for living for the called-out community (Ex 24:12) so that we may know the ways and character of our Bridegroom and also learn how to behave as Bride of the King.
Ester’s strict beauty program comes to mind. And because she adhered to everything Hegai, the caretaker of the Harem had told her, she won the favor of everyone who saw her and ultimately became the Bride. In the book of Ester Heggai is a picture of the Set Apart Spirit Who knows the heart of the King and therefore knows what to instruct His Bride (Ester 2).
* It has elements of a covenant.
Since the Torah is a covenant, both parties involved are subject to certain legal obligations. YHWH initiated the covenant and legally binds Himself to keep His Word which He spoke in the covenant. Israel, or the redeemed community, who receives this covenant, is bound to do the same.
Exo 24:7 “And he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that יהוה has spoken we shall do, and obey.”
The Torah is set out on the pattern of ancient covenants of the time and all the elements are present.
Jeremiah also speaks of a time when YHWH will make a new covenant with His people when He will put His Torah in their minds and write it on their hearts (Jer 31:31-34). This promise is repeated word by word in Heb 8:8-12
* It is a marriage contract or Ketuba
As a marriage contract the Torah gives the stipulations for set apart living for the redeemed community and how YHWH promises to be their
Elohim, how He will be a Husband to us and care for us.
- It contains important historical narrative, like the book of Genesis and poetry, like in Psalms.
- It contains His statutes and commands and decrees and percepts (almost like house rules).
- We also find His judgments (directives usually associated with legal matters), testimonies and ordinances here.
Psa 19:11 “Also, Your servant is warned by them, In guarding them there is great reward.”
Moses wrote down everything He heard from YHWH, therefore the Torah is the primary authoritative guide to life for us.
However, and unfortunately, most Jews believe Moses did not write all that YHWH spoke to him. Instead they believe he passed some revelation orally through the generations. This revelation is called the “Oral law” and is considered just as authoritative in the RABBINICAL world as the written Torah. The oral Torah was later written down and it was first called the Mishna, later revised and the whole compilation of oral Torah in one volume is now called the Talmud.
YHWH’s Glory in fire:
An awesome display of YHWH’s (God’s) power and esteem for all nations to see…
“And it came to be, on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain. And the sound of the ram’s horn was very loud, and all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Mosheh brought the people out of the camp to meet with Elohim, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. And Mount Sinai was in smoke, all of it, because יהוה descended upon it in fire. And its smoke went up like the smoke of a furnace, and all the mountain trembled exceedingly. And when the blast of the ram’s horn sounded long and became louder and louder, Mosheh spoke, and Elohim answered him by voice.”
See also Joh 12:28-29 where the crowd heard the thunder when YHWH answered Y’shua. Also see Job 40:9; Psalm 29:3; 77:18; 104:7, Revelation 14:2.
YHWH’s Shekhinah was revealed in the fire. Shekhinah means esteem and/or presence.
Exo 24:17 “And the appearance of the esteem of יהוה was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain, before the eyes of the children of Yisra’ĕl.“
* The Shadow again
The power display by the Bridegroom: Fire, thunders, lightning, earthquake, shofars.
The giving of the Torah on stone (the Ketuba).
The harvest of wheat.
The waving of the two loaves of break baked with yeast.
Pentecost, the Fulfilment:
Why was the Set Apart (Holy) Spirit given on Pentecost?
Shavuot, which was the wheat harvest, finds it’s spiritual fulfilment in Pentecost, the harvesting of souls as Y’shua explained to them before the time.
Luk 24:49 “And see, I am sending the Promise of My Father upon you, but you are to remain in the city of Yerushalayim until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Act 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Set-apart Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Yerushalayim, and in all Yehuḏah and Shomeron, and to the end of the earth.”
Act 2:1-4 “And when the Day of the Festival of Weeks had come, they were all with one mind in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from the heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and settled on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Set-apart Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them to speak.”
So why was the Spirit given to us on Pentecost?
1. To empower us Believers to bring in the HARVEST of souls
In Acts 2:40-41 Peter, who formerly denied Y’shua, now filled with the Set Apart Spirit, preached and 3000 people accept Y’shua as their Messiah and they get baptised. Talk about power! The number quickly grew to 5000 as the people heard the message and believed.
May we draw your attention to the fact that those were all Jews who came from all over the world at YHWH’s command for the Feast of Weeks.
They kept the feasts and other commandments. So the assembly of Messiah started out Jewish, as our Messiah Himself was Jewish, and only later were the Believing Gentiles added to the number, or grafted into the Olive Tree, of Romans 11).
2. The tongues of fire on individuals are YHWH’s Shekhinah or manifestation of His esteem made visible.
Luk 3:16 “Yoḥanan answered, saying to them all, “I indeed immerse you in water, but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal straps I am not worthy to loosen. He shall immerse you in the Set-apart Spirit and fire.”
3. Many voices, many tongues
When the disciples were baptized in the Set Apart Spirit, they spoke in many tongues which the Jews from all over the, then known, world could understand and respond to. (They were all Jews who came together for the Feast of Shavuot as the word commanded).
4. The Torah is written on our hearts by the Set Apart Spirit
Heb 10:16 “This is the covenant that I shall make with them after those days, says יהוה, giving My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I shall write them,” Footnote: Jer. 31:33, Heb. 8:8-12.
What was written on stone by the finger of Yah, was now written by the Spirit on human hearts.
Some people are afraid to obey YHWH’s commands or instructions, or laws or ordinances for fear of falling into legalism. But legalism wants us to “earn our salvation“.
We are not saved by obeying any laws, only by faith in the Messiah. We cannot work for salvation. It is given for free by the mercy of a merciful Creator.
However, once we are saved from darkness, we need to know how to behave as Set-Apart people (Children of Light).
And YHWH values His Torah so much and He knows how important it is, so that He chose to put it in our minds and write it on our hearts.
Let us read about David’s opinion of the Torah in Psalm 19:7-11
“The Torah of יהוה is perfect, bringing back the being; The witness of יהוה is trustworthy, making wise the simple; The orders of יהוה are straight, rejoicing the heart; The command of יהוה is clear, enlightening the eyes; The fear of יהוה is clean, standing forever; The right-rulings of יהוה are true, They are righteous altogether, More desirable than gold, Than much fine gold; And sweeter than honey and the honeycomb. Also, Your servant is warned by them, In guarding them there is great reward.”
The tongues of fire and the speaking in every tongue in Acts 2 were both direct allusions to the Mount Sinai experience and to the receiving of the Torah. YHWH was underscoring a connection between His Set Apart Spirit and His Torah (instructions).
Pentecost unites the giving of the Torah at Sinai with the giving of the giving of the Spirit in Jerusalem.
Jeremiah said that YHWH would make a New Covenant and put the Torah within us and He will be our Elohim (God).
Ezekiel also foretold in Eze 36:27
“and put My Spirit within you. And I shall cause you to walk in My laws and guard My right-rulings and shall do them.” Footnote: See Eze 11:19-20, 37:6-14, 39:29.
Therefore we understand that one of the purposes of the giving of the Set Apart Spirit is to help us to walk in His decrees and keep His instructions, or in other words, to live according to the Torah, or the Word of YHWH, which is His Torah.
* Understanding the Two Leavened Waves Loaves:
In Lev 23:15-17 the Israelites are commanded to wave two loaves baked with leaven before YHWH (God).
At Passover (Pesah), leaven was absolutely forbidden (Ex 12:15,18,20) and in the regular meal offering, no leaven was permitted (Lev 2:1,4-5,11)
We saw earlier that leaven represents sin (1 Cor 5:6-8)
Passover and Unleavened Bread spoke of the death and burial of Y’shua, Who was without sin. Yet, on Shavuot, YHWH required 2 loaves of leavened bread to be waved. Why? The 2 loaved could point to the fact that YHWH’s harvest of souls would include not only Jews, but also believing Gentiles.
Shavuot speaks of the birth of Israel as a nation. Likewise does Pentecost speak of the birth of the assembly of Believers in Y’shua. The word “church” doesn’t exist in the original language. In Romans 11 we see that the believers are grafted into Israel and therefor Israel is the assembly and the assembly is Israel, the Bride. Separating the two are called “replacement theology” and is a false doctrine.
Although YHWH chose His Bride (Israel) and set her apart for Him, sin is still found in her. (us) In spite of this sin, because we are believers in Y’shua and seek to serve and love Him with all our hearts, we are considered set apart before YWHW. (Deut 7:7-6; 14:2; Eph 1: 4, 5, 27)
Also Col 1: 22
“..in the body of His flesh through death, to present you set-apart, and blameless, and unreprovable before Him“
However, we also have a responsibility:
“For the saving Gift of Elohim has appeared to all men, instructing us to renounce wickedness and worldly lusts, and to live sensibly, righteously, and reverently in the present age”
1 Pet 1: 15
“instead, as the One who called you is set-apart, so you also should become set-apart in all behaviour”
To be set-apart (holy), consecrated, dedicated to Him!
* Fine Flour: (Lev 23:17)
“And not only this, but we also exult in pressures, knowing that pressure works endurance; and endurance, approvedness; and approvedness, expectation. And expectation does not disappoint, because the love of Elohim has been poured out in our hearts by the Set-apart Spirit which was given to us.”
* Statute Forever:
The Word requires us to keep Shavuot/Pentecost as a lasting ordinance, for the generations to come, wherever we live (Lev 23:21). And Y’shua promised that the Set Apart Spirit would be with us forever (John 14:16).
So we may live in a Pentecost experience continually.
Please note: PENTECOST is not the name of a DENOMINATION!
The Relationship between Passover and Shavuot:
What was the purpose of Passover?
—To bring the people to Shavuot.
They were redeemed to receive the instruction for life – the Torah
That is the connection between: GRACE and LAW = PASSOVER and SHAVUOT = SPIRIT and TRUTH
Because YHWH redeemed Israel, He had the right to rule over them.
YHWH redeemed them in order to rule.
And it is the same with us. We get saved by grace, believing in Y’shua and the power of His blood – for free! That is imputed righteousness.
And we get blessed when we follow Torah, working out our salvation with fear and trembling. That is outworked righteousness, for which we will be rewarded.
How do we celebrate Shavuot according to Scripture?
1. To proclaim a set apart assembly and do no regular work or to rest and have a special gathering to YHWH.
2. All men were commanded to come up to Jerusalem and present themselves at the temple. While the physical temple is no more, we graciously received the Set Apart (Holy) Spirit in our bodies, the temple of the Spirit. In order for us to truly enjoy Shavuot or Pentecost we need to yield to the Spirit.
Paul says in 2 Cor 3: 17
“Now יהוה is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of יהוה is, there is freedom.”
Indeed of looking at a set order of service, we may yield to the Spirit so that He may prepare us as the Bride and also empower us afresh to bring in the harvest of the Kingdom.
So, have fun with it! It is a Feast after all. Share a meal with others. Share Torah with others. It is the Anniversary of the giving of the Torah. It is also the Anniversary of the giving of The Ruach Ha Kodesh. (“Holy” Spirit) Pray for an outpouring of the Spirit of the Most High like never before. Pray for veils to be removed and people to start walking in the Whold Truth – the Complete Word of YHWH.
The tradition of men is to load up on sweets. Not just any sweets, dairy sweets. Cheesecake is often a part of Shavuot. I could eat Cheesecake 365 days a year. I don’t encourage traditions, but unless you are a lactose intolerant diabetic, have fun! Enjoy your Feast!