Pentecost: 50 days of harvest

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[An edited repost from last year. Forgive me for the recycle. The original was longer, with more background. Hope to post something new soon. Shalom.]

Count seven full weeks from the morning after the Sabbath when you brought the sheaf as a Wave-Offering, fifty days until the morning of the seventh Sabbath. Then present a new Grain-Offering to God. Bring from wherever you are living two loaves of bread made from four quarts of fine flour and baked with yeast as a Wave-Offering of the first ripe grain to God. … Proclaim the day as a sacred assembly. Don’t do any ordinary work. It is a perpetual decree wherever you live down through your generations. – Leviticus 23:15-21

Tuesday night and Wednesday, Jews around the world marked Shavu’ot, which means “weeks.” Sunday, the Christians in the west will mark Pentecost, the day the Church was born, as recorded in Acts 2. These two holy days are really one, separated on the calendar because of ignorance, misunderstanding and unbelief.

There are seven feasts ordained in the Torah: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Weeks, Trumpets, Atonement and Booths (Lev. 23 and Deut. 16).

In Leviticus 23:1-2, Adonai says, “These are my appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of God which you are to decree as sacred assemblies.” These feast were instituted by God, designed by God, given by God directly to Moses.

What is Pentecost all about?
Shavu’ot means weeks, or literally “sevens”, in Hebrew. In Deut. 16:9 it says “you are to count seven weeks [or seven sevens]” to the festival of Shavu’ot. Pentecost comes from the Greek for fifty. The Christians adopted it, though I suspect it was another name used for the Festival of Weeks by the Greek-speaking, diaspora Jews of the Roman Empire.

Pentecostes by Juan Bautista Maino
Pentecostes by Juan Bautista Maino

Shavu’ot is a harvest festival, so the book of Ruth is read in the synagogues. I highly suggest you read Ruth in conjunction to listening (free) to Chuck Missler’s study. Ruth, a gentile convert, is a beautiful image of the Bride of Christ, the Church. Boaz represents our Redeemer. That’s just the tip. I’ll let Chuck fill you in.

Also, on Shavu’ot, Jews celebrate the giving of Torah. The rabbis have reckoned that 50 days after the first Passover with which God pried the nation from Pharaoh’s clench, the Hebrews arrived at Mount Sinai, where God gave Moses all of Torah. It is the day the nation of Israel was born through the covenant of Torah.

Flash forward. Jesus is resurrected on the Festival of First Fruits. He spends time with his believers for 40 days, tells them to stay in Jerusalem “until you have been equipped with power from above,” and leaves. I think for 10 days they were pondering, “What could he have possible meant?” Maybe not. May be they were paying more attention now that they saw the One who was dead but is now alive. He was clear with them from where the power would come: “You will receive power when the Ruach HaKodesh [Holy Spirit] comes upon you; you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth!”

Shavu’ot is one of the festivals where God requires every able-bodied male to present himself at the Temple. So these disciples, all of which were observant Jews, would be in Jerusalem any way. So they waited.

“The festival of Shavu’ot arrived, and the believers all gathered together in one place. Suddenly there came a sound from the sky like the roar of a violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire, which separated and came to rest on each one of them. They were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh and began to talk in different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak.” -Acts 2:1-4

This is the day what we call the Church was born, the day the harvest began in earnest.

The word that comes up “church” in your Bible comes from the Greek ekklēsia. In essence, it means “called out ones.”

Israel was called out from all the world when God presented Torah to them. They are his firstborn (in position, the elder son). Israel has been and continues to be an example of God’s love, righteousness and faithfulness throughout history.

On the anniversary of that calling out, God called out a new body of believers, those who recognized Yeshua as the promised messiah of Tanakh. And He is calling us still today.

On the Shavu’ot after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Church was born. We were brought to life through the Blood, through His broken Body, through the in-filling of the Holy Spirit.

I hope you ponder these things this weekend. I hope your pastors cover some of this on Sunday. Even if not, meditate on it. Know who you are in Jesus, who he has called you to be.

I am indebted to Chuck Missler for much of this information. For those wanting a little more, here are some suggested teachings from Missler:

  • Ruth, a picture of the Church and the key to Revelation 5 (free audio)
  • The Romance of Redemption – Ruth’s love story and it’s prophetic implcations (text)
  • The Feasts of Israel – the Jews catechism and the comings of Messiah (free audio)
  • The Appointed Times – Is the fulfilment of Shavu’ot complete? Does it just speak of the birth of the Church or also its completion? (text)
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