Today is one of the most significant days in history. Don’t get me wrong, there several others that I would consider life changing, as well. But, today is one of those days that is so powerful and rich, and commanded by YHWH to observe, and yet very few Christians will give it a second thought. In fact, I bet that most will not even realize that the day has even come or gone.
This beautiful and relevant appointed time is Shavuot, or, in English, the Feast of Weeks.
“You shall count seven weeks. Begin to count the seven weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain. Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to YHWH with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as YHWH your God blesses you. And you shall rejoice before YHWH your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your towns, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are among you, at the place that YHWH your God will choose, to make his name dwell there. You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt; and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.”
Before you think of this as purely another “Jewish” holiday, or Biblical feast that was abolished for Christians, remember that God is telling a story. He gave is people a yearly cycle of seven special times to worship Him. These days were based of significant historical events in the journey of Israel, such as being redeemed from Egypt and entering the land of Canaan. Not only do each of these holy days have historical significance, but they have a future fulfillment as well. These are prophesied in Scripture, and God’s intends for His people to anxiously await their fulfillment as they celebrate.
We saw this with the Passover, Unleavened Bread and First Fruit festivals. These festivals historically celebrate the redemption of Israel from slavery in Egypt and eventually entering the Promise Land. The future fulfillment, which is now history for us already, can be witnessed in the sacrifice of the Lamb, who was without sin, and His resurrection to become the First Fruit of all who believe.
So what about Shavuot?
This day is so monumental that God instructed that there be a 49-day countdown to this holy day. From the day of First Fruits, the first day after the Sabbath of Passover, God’s people are told to count seven full weeks and set that day apart as holy. We are told that this is one of the three days that all were to journey to Jerusalem to worship YHWH there.
Historically this is the day commemorating when God descended on Mt. Sinai and gave the Torah to Moses. This is one of the most powerful pictures in Scripture! Fire and smoke, trembling mountains, thunder and lightning and thick clouds. This is no trivial meeting!
“On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because YHWH had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. YHWH came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.”
Even if this historical event, filling us with awe and fear of the power of God, was the only reason God asked His people to remember the day of Shavuot, it would be enough! This day that YHWH gave His perfect Law to His people should be forever set apart in remembrance.
But, there is even more! After Passover and the death and resurrection of the Messiah, the apostles were reminded not leave Jerusalem. Yeshua instructed them to wait for the promise of the Father. Most often when we think of the Promise, we think of the Messiah and salvation, but that isn’t the whole story. There is more to the promise.
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares YHWH: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”
So all the disciples were waiting in Jerusalem. Little did they know that the fulfillment to this promise would come during this year’s celebration of Shavuot. How perfect, and how just like God to plan the promise in to His story this way!
(In the passage below the word “Pentecost” is the Greek word meaning “fiftieth day” for Shavuot.)
“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.”
First, YHWH gives His perfect Law on a mountain in the midst of lightening, thunder, clouds and smoke. Then He fulfilled His promise on Mt. Zion with a mighty rushing wind and fire that reached out and touched each of them. God sent His Spirit to write the Law, not of tablets of stone, but on hearts of flesh. And He will cause us to walk in His statutes and obey His rules!
What an amazing day!! How full of beauty and power! How wonderful that God instituted a day in which we can remember history and witness the fulfillment of His plan. Not only that, in setting this day apart like God commanded His people, we get a glimpse of what is important to God.
God gave us this day so that we would value His Law and His Way, understand how we fall short, unable to keep this Law apart from His grace, and then celebrate the fact that the Spirit was given to us to enable us to walk in it! Because of Shavuot, by His grace, we now can are given the power to walk in obedience. YHWH will be our God and we will be His people.
Peter also addressed the people gathered to celebrate Shavuot on this special day after the resurrection of Yeshua. Yeshua had prophesied that the promise of the Father would come on them in Jerusalem. Now as the Spirit descended, it confirmed all the prophesies and confirmed the Messiah himself. This was the promise and future fulfillment of Shavuot; the writing of the Law on the hearts of YHWH’s people!
“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
This Shavuot, I pray that we would pause and remember the significance and value of this day for God and us. Both the historical event on Mt. Sinai and fulfillment of the Spirit on Mt. Zion are absolutely awesome events that every follower of God should set apart as holy.
YHWH gave us His perfect Law and then graciously gave us His Spirit to cause us to walk in it! Without a doubt this is one of the most beautiful days in history.