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Feast of Weeks – Shavuot

Feast of Weeks – Shavuot

“From the day after the  Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering (Firstfruits), count off seven full weeks.  Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord.  From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of a fine flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of Firstfruits to the Lord…. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live” (Leviticus 23:15-21).

The Feast of Weeks in Hebrew is Shavuot; in Greek it is called Pentecost.   This day specifically refers to the ‘’appointed time’’ God commanded to be observed 50 days after the Feast of Firstfruits of the wheat harvest for the Firstfruits of the barley harvest.    

Fifty days after being delivered from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, and learning about manna and living water, the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai. Exodus 20 and 21 describe the events surrounding God descending to the top of Mount Sinai to meet with His newly formed nation.  There was thunder and lightning and a thick cloud covering the mountain along with a loud shofar blast.  The people trembled with fear of dying and asked that Moses be their mediator.

When God outlined his ‘’appointed times’,  this event became known as Feast of Weeks and was given as a lasting ordinance.  It was one of the three commanded pilgrimage festivals when Jewish people from every nation were to gather in Jerusalem to worship the LORD.  

They arrived in Jerusalem at the Temple with two loaves of leavened bread for a wave offering.  Hundreds of thousands of Jewish people would listen as the priests read the following traditional passage from the prophet Ezekiel:

“I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal…” (Ezekiel 1:4).

The Wind and Tongues of Fire

“Now there were staying in Jerusalem religious Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered; they were confused, because each one heard the believers speaking in his own language.  Totally amazed, they asked, “How is this possible? Aren’t all these people who are speaking from the Galilee? How is it that we hear them speaking in our native languages? We are Parthians, Medes, Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judah, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome; all Jews by birth and proselytes; Jews from Crete and from Arabia. . . ! How is it that we hear them speaking in our own languages about the great things God has done?”  Amazed and confused, they all went on asking each other, “What can this mean? …” (Acts 2:5-13).

Fifty days after Yeshua’s resurrection, the Feast of Weeks arrived. Jews from every nation came to Jerusalem as was their proscribed duty.  This particular year, however, when the priest waved their offerings of bread and they heard the words of Ezekiel,  the holy wind of God began to roar violently and, before their eyes,  a small group of 70 people had tongues of fire appear over their heads (Acts 2). 

“The festival of Shavuot 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 place 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 Holy Spirit and began to talk in different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak” (Acts 2:1-4).

In Hebrew,  the words for Holy Spirit are Ruach haKodesh.  The word ruach means ‘breath or wind’ and the word kodesh means ‘holy.’   Thus the ‘holy wind of God’ that blew violently was the coming of the Holy Spirit into the hearts of the 70.  The tongues of fire separated and came to rest on each of the disciples’ heads.   Through the holy wind of God and His refining flaming fire, they began to speak in other languages.  In Greek the word glossa is ‘tongue’ and means ‘a nation distinguished by its speech.’ As the disciples spoke, Jews from every nation heard the message in their own ‘tongue.’

Hebrew Word Pictures

Wind or Ruach – רוח

Resh ר – A Head means ‘what is most important’

Vav ו – A Nail means ‘to bind or join together, and’

Chet ח – A Fence means ‘inner room’

Holy or HaKodesh – הקודש

Hey ה – A Window means ‘behold or reveal, the’

Qof ק – A Back of the Head means ‘what is final’

Vav ו – A Nail means ‘to bind or tie together, and’

Dalet ד – A Door means ‘pathway’

Shin ש – A Tooth means ‘consume’ or Shekinah, ‘the Divine Presence of God’

The complete Hebrew word picture for Ruach haKodesh: “The inner chamber  joined  to what is most important, the final pathway to the divine presence of God.”

Fire or Esh – אש

Aleph א – An Ox means ‘strength’

Shin ש – A Tooth means ‘consume’ or Shekinah, ‘the Divine Presence of God’

The Hebrew word picture for esh: “The consumng divine presence and strength.”

Tongues or Lashon – לשון

Lamed ל – A Shepherd’s Staff means ‘to urge forward’

Shin ש – A Tooth means ‘consume’ or Shekinah, ‘the Divine Presence of God’

Vav ו – A Nail means ‘to bind or join together, and’

Nun נ – A Fish means ‘action and life’

The Hebrew word picture for lashon: “To urge forward the consuming divine  presence binding life.”

Two millennia earlier,  God’s made His holy presence known to the Israelites through wind and lightning.  He revealed His holy presence  through wind and fire to Ezekiel.   Could it be that God was now revealing His holy presence again through wind and tongues of fire? The crowds in Jerusalem from all over the known world were hearing the impossible.  They are confused and amazed.  The disciples of Yeshua were speaking in each of their different languages with such perfection that they knew it was a miracle.

Peter stood up.  The man who had publicly denied knowing Yeshua only seven weeks earlier raises his voice and address the crowd.  He tells them they are witnessing the fulfillment of a prophecy of Joel and begins to testify about Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel.   

“I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days” (Joel 2:28-29).

Pierced Hearts

“Men of Israel! Listen to this! Yeshua from Natzeret was a man demonstrated to you to have been from God by the powerful works, miracles and signs that God performed through him in your presence. You yourselves know this. This man was arrested in accordance with God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge; and, through the agency of persons not bound by the Torah, you nailed him up on a stake and killed him! But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. … Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Yeshua, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:22-24).

When Jews from every nation heard Peter’s testimony about Yeshua,  they were cut to the heart.  The Orthodox Jewish Bible says they were ‘pierced with conviction in their hearts.’  The Hebrew word for ‘cut’ is brit, the same word used when cutting a covenant.  The Spirit of God brought not only conviction and a cutting of their heart, but renewed the covenant God made with Israel at Mt. Sinai; the covenant they had broken. 

The people asked what they needed to do regarding this ‘renewed’ covenant.  Peter and the apostles responded with the Hebrew word shuv.  This Hebrew word means ‘turn back’ or ‘return’ in the sense of making a 180 degree turn around.  It is translated into English as repent.

“Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Messiah Yeshua for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:29).

The men and women of Israel needed to repent from their disobedience and sin  and return to faith in God.  They were to be immersed into the name of Yeshua for the forgiveness of their sins and receive the gift of God’s SpiritThree thousand Jewish men and women repented and turned back to God. They received forgiveness of their sins and the Holy Spirit was poured into their hearts (Acts 2:41).  Their hearts of stone were transformed into hearts of flesh and the new covenant prophesied by Ezekiel and Jeremiah, instituted and promised by Yeshua  had begun in Jerusalem with Israel.

“This is the [new] covenant I will make with the House of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people…. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit inside you; I will take the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit inside you and cause you to live by my laws, respect my rulings and obey them” (Ezekiel 36:24).

“For this is my blood, which ratifies the New Covenant, my blood shed on behalf of many, so that they may have their sins forgiven” (Matthew 26:28).

The Kingdom of Heaven

“And he [Yeshua] told them yet another parable. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like chametz that a woman took and mixed with a bushel of flour, then waited until the whole batch of dough rose” (Matthew 13:33).

Chametz or ‘soured dough’ was used for raising bread.  It was always symbolic of the leavened teachings, puffed up teachings of Israel’s leaders, yet Yeshua uses ‘soured dough’to describe the Kingdom of Heaven in his Parable. Chametz is the ingredient the woman takes and mixes with her flour to make the dough rise.   When the leavened dough rose to its fullest extent, the woman  had enough dough from a single bushel of flour for a feast of leavened bread.  

The commandment for Shavuot included a grain offering along with two loaves of leavened bread made from finely ground flour.   The two leavened loaves were to be waved before God by the high priest.  For centuries as the two loaves were waved, the people hoped in the coming Messiah promised by the two witnesses of the Torah and the Prophets.   

When Yeshua walked on the Road to Emmaus after his resurrection, he told the two men with him everything that the Torah and Prophets had spoken about him.  This witness of two established him as the Messiah of Israel. 

Ten days after Yeshua’s ascension Shavuot arrived.  Through the power of the Ruach haKodesh, the hearts of Jewish men and women were transformed and they became empowered witnesses of repentance, forgiveness and salvation.  God’s Spirit had been poured into a small lump of dough, the Jewish people.  The Jews who had been ‘cut to the heart’ would take the message of Yeshua to their own countries in their own languages.  They would become the first missionaries to proclaim salvation to the Jew first, then to the gentiles in those nations (Romans 1:16).  

Within a few years, the power of Spirit of God would come upon the gentiles, change their hearts, and they would become part of God’s Kingdom with Israel.  As the two leavened loaves of bread were being waved by the high priest in the Temple, the Body of Messiah was born. God’s Spirit had been poured into a small lump of dough and like the woman’s leaven would continue to spread from them to the nations of the world until the Kingdom of heaven would be established by a witness of two: Jew and gentile, one in Messiah (Galatians 3:28). 

Fulfilled by Yeshua

“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, and Strengthener), to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth…. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. … Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:14-20).

Yeshua kept his promise.  He ascended to his Father and asked Him to send the Counselor, the Spirit of Truth.  On the  ‘appointed time’ of Feast of Weeks, God poured out His Spirit with flames of fire on 70 people.   They knew that Yeshua and his Father were One and they were joined with them.   They were no longer fatherless, they had God as their Abba Father as Yeshua did.  They were given the same authority to forgive sins as Yeshua and the anointing power to be witnesses of his salvation to the world.  They were sealed with God’s Spirit along with multitudes of Jews and those of the nations who would believe their message.  They were reborn by water immersion and the Spirit of God.  They entered His Kingdom with the seal of a promise.   With God’s mark of ownership, they became the latter firstfruits of the barley harvest, a guarantee that the same Ruach haKodesh that brought Yeshua from the dead would someday raise them to eternal life (Ephesians 1:13-14).

©2008 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this blog post,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.