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Shavuot / Pentecost Readings

Updated: May 26, 2023

[21-27 May 2023]


As you know, we are currently in the Book of Numbers with our weekly Torah readings. And this week would have been our second portion in Numbers. However, the yearly Torah readings are always "interrupted" by the Biblical festivals. In those weeks, we read from Scripture that's related to the applicable festival that's being celebrated.


You will remember that a few weeks ago - our reading cycle was also interupted by the Feast of Pesach, Unleavened Bread and the Feast of First Fruits. And now we have come to Shavuot, more commonly known as Pentecost or "Pinkster" - for the Afrikaans speaking or Feast of Weeks (directly translated from Shavuot).


There are 7 Biblical Feasts. And NO! They are not Jewish festivals. It's BIBLICAL festivals. Yes, the Jews observe them, because they believe in the Torah (first 5 Books of the Bible). But when we read the Bible it's very clear that these feasts belongs to God! And not to the Jews. The festivals were already part of Abba's Creation (Gen 1:14). If these feasts belongs to God, it means that it's still important to us as believers today!


We should definitely not be celebrating the feasts like the Jews did with the animal sacrifices, and all kinds of traditions, etc. We celebrate the Biblical festivals of Pesach, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits & Shavuot in thankfulness for what Abba has already done for us through His Son, Yeshua our Messiah. And the last three festivals (Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur & Sukkot) we celebrate in anticipation of what Yeshua will still come to fulfill with His second coming.


Thus when we, as followers of Yeshua, celebrate the Biblical feasts - and especially Shavuot, which we are currently celebrating - we are not celebrating it in a traditional and obligatory way. We are celebrating it for the glorious CELEBRATION that it is! Celebrating the fact that Yeshua has given us His Word and poured out the Holy Spirit! We have the Bible in our hands and His Spirit living inside each one of us, as born-again believers, every single day!

 

In former blog posts I have shared about 6 of the 7 Biblical festival. But I have never done a complete post on Shavuot alone. So this one is pretty special to me!


This year Shavuot is celebrated from sunset on

Thursday, 25 May 2023 until sunset on Friday, 26 May 2023.

 

Take a moment to familiarise yourself with the layout below. Keep in mind that the "spring festivals" takes place when it's spring in Israel. When it's spring over there, it's autumn/fall over here with us in South Africa. When it's fall/autumn in Israel, it's spring time in South Africa.

Did you notice that all of the Biblical festivals have specific dates on which the festivals take place? All except for Shavuot. Why would all of the festivals have dates mentioned in Scripture but no date is mentioned for Shavuot? In a moment it will all make sense!


The Biblical feasts are all shadows of things that were fulfilled at a later stage or things which still have to be fulfilled. As mentioned above - the first four are already fulfilled and the last three are yet to be fulfilled.


Here we can take a look at the shadows and fulfillment of the first 4 feasts in more detail and the anticipation of the feast which are yet to be fulfilled. (To keep it as uncomplicated as possible - you can check out the other blog about the fall feasts on the website.)

Click on the image to zoom in.

The word "shavuot" is the Hebrew word for "weeks". In other words, the feast of Shavuot is also known as the Feast of Weeks. Shavuot and Pentecost are two words that's used for the same feast and both of these words are used in Scripture. The word "pentecost" is the Greek word for "fiftieth." And both of these names point to the Biblical festival which takes place 50 days (7 x 7 days + 1 day) after the Feast of First Fruits.


All Biblical feast days are observed as a shabbat, regardless on what day of the week it falls. This year Shavuot / Pentacost / Feast of Weeks start on Thursday (25 May 2023) at sunset and ends on Friday (26 May 2023) at sunset. Thus, this period is considered to be a shabbat / rest day.


The reason why Shavuot does not have a specific date is due to the variability of the Hebrew Calendar. As mentioned in some of my other blogs regarding the feasts - the Hebrew calendar does not work like the Gregorian one on which the world operates. Hebrew months all have either 29/30 days per month and there are 12/13 months per year. The length of the month is determined by the moon. When it's new moon, it's new month.


Just like with the other festivals - celebrating Shavuot is NOT about the traditions and performance of specific rituals and eating specific foods. It's about remembering and celebrating the faithfulness of Abba! We don't keep it like the Jews do - they believe that Yeshua still has to come. But we know that He already came AND He already poured out His Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) on us! And therefore we don't keep the feast, we celebrate it!


The first shadow of Shavuot took place when the Israelites were camping at Mount Sinai. God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on the two stone tablets. God gave Israel His instructions / "covenant contract" on Shavuot. This was given to guide the Israelites on how Abba wanted them to live their lives. When Moses came from the mountain, he noticed that the Israelites were in idolatry. On that day 3000 people died because of their sin. Yeshua returned to Abba 40 days after His resurrection (Feast of First Fruits) on Ascension Day / "Hemelvaartdag". And on the 50th day after First Fruits / Yeshua's resurrection - He poured out His Holy Spirit on us and Shavuot was fulfulled. When Peter shared this in Acts 2, 3000 people repented and accepted Yeshua as their Saviour. This is definitely not a co-incidence. Abba is in the business of restoration! He wants to redeem each and everyone of us!


Since Yeshua died for our sins on the cross, we have been set free from the law and redeemed by His grace. We are no longer bound by the law. But that does not mean that the law no longer applies. In Matthew 5:17 Yeshua made it very clear when He said: "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill."


That means that the law (which is actually "instructions" as per the correct translation of the original Hebrew Bible) is still just as much valid today as it was back in the day of the Israelites in the wilderness. The only difference is that Yeshua was the Ultimate Sacrifice (Pesach). After Yeshua's crucifixion (Pesach) and resurrection (First Fruits), it shifted from the physical to the spiritual. And therefore we no longer have to bring physical sacrifices - but we ourselves should be living sacrifices.


We now carry the instructions / law on our hearts and no longer on two stone tablets (Shavuot)! It went from an outward "obligation" to an inward choice out of love and thankfulness for the amazing Grace we have freely received! We get to celebrate both that God gave us His Word but also that He poured out His Holy Spirit on us!


The Israelites needed the law to keep them "in line" with Abba's instructions. However, we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us Who guides us. The Holy Spirit is there to remind us what Yeshua has taught us and to help us to follow Yeshua's example.


Shavuot is also our yearly reminder that as believers, we have a serious responsibility. In the Bible we read when Abba talks about the feasts - that the instruction is given, that one should not appear empty handed before the Lord on these feast days. Once again - back in the time of the Israelites they had to bring offerings. The feasts of God are all about harvest. Even though we don't have physical offerings which we have to bring today - we still have to present a harvest unto Him.


As believers, we all have the responsibility to not appear empty handed before the King of Kings! We are called to be fishers of men, to go and make disciples. We have a responsibility to go out and collect the harvest!


So how do you collect a harvest? You can only have an harvest if you have sown something prior. The exact same thing applies to our faith walk. Our lives should be the seed we sow. The gospel we share are seeds. The testimonies of how Abba came through for us in our lives are seeds. Sharing the Truth are seeds. If we're not doing the abovementioned, we won't be able to collect a harvest!


Shavuot is about the law of God - but the fulfilled law of God, through His Spirit! His Spirit is our Guide to keep us on the right path, obeying His instructions.


Today the Jews still celebrate Shavuot by studying and discussing the Word. They also love to read the book of Ruth during this time. A milk-based meal is usually consumed and there's no clear reason as to why they do it - as Abba did not give any specific instructions on what should be eaten (like He did with Pesach, etc). They also like to have two loaves of bread on the Shabbat table to symbolise the two stone tables on which the Ten Commandments was written. Some suggest that they have the milk-based meal as a celebration of the Israelites that were on their way to the land of milk and honey. Many whole Bible believers also use the symbolism of the two loaves of bread - as a reminder that Abba's instructions are no longer written on the stone tablets but on our hearts.


So how should you celebrate it you might ask? There's no instructions given on specific things that you HAVE to do. Abba hates manmade traditions. And we are not called to celebrate His feasts in a traditional way, but from a spiritual point of view. Simply put: it should be a day of rest, a day that you spend time in His Word, have fellowship with other believers and pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in people's lives who have not received Yeshua as their Saviour!


As believers we have a responsibility to sow seeds so that we will be able to stand before God and present a harvest! It should be our heart's desire to bring a harvest unto Him - to thank Him for setting us free from slavery (sin and bondage).


Matthew 9:37 says "Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few."


If this is the first time that you realise that you have a responsibility to bring in a harvest (winning souls for His Kingdom) or maybe you knew it but haven't been sowing as much as you should be - there's still time for us to collect a harvest. But time is running out. We cannot postpone it.


Yeshua is coming back for His Bride! And we all have a responsibility to gather, equip and strengthen one another as we await the return of our Bridegroom!


Go and collect your harvest!


Chag Shavuot Sameach! It means "Have a blessed Shavuot!" in Hebrew!


Scripture regarding Shavuot:

Exodus 19-20 | Exodus 34:22 | Leviticus 23:15-21 | Deuteronomy 16:9-12 | Deuteronomy 26 | Ruth | Jeremiah 31:33 | Ezekiel 7 | Ezekiel 36:27 | 2 Chronicles 8:13 | John 14:15-29 | John 36 | Luke 24:49 | Acts 1:4-8 | Acts 2 | Acts 20:16 | 1 Corinthians 12 | 2 Corinthians 3:3 | Galatians 5:22


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