Shavuot: Feast of Weeks and God’s Prophetic Calendar
God’s timing is perfect, and the feasts on the Jewish calendar are His timeline. When we look at the feasts and see how they fit into God’s prophetic calendar, the study of Leviticus in the Hebrew Bible takes on a whole new meaning. It is a joyful journey of discovery pointing to God’s plans and purposes and is relevant for everyone.
The Feast of Shavuot was the commencement of the wheat harvest. Each of these feasts were ways of expressing thanksgiving and Shavuot was a time of rejoicing and a rest from work as people came to bring their offerings to the Lord.
There are some fascinating traditions concerning Shavuot relating to David, Moses, and Ruth. Firstly, it is suggested that David was both born and died at Shavuot plus Rabbinic tradition affirms that Moses was given the law from God at Mount Sinai. Thus Shavuot has become a celebration of Torah[i] hence why some study all night remembering the giving of the law at Sinai.
The book of Ruth is usually read through in entirety. Naomi and Ruth came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest (Ruth 1:22) and gleaned until the end of barley harvest and wheat harvest (Ruth 2:23) which coincides with Shavuot. Ruth was the great grandmother of David (Ruth 4:21-22). Ruth was a Moabitess, and the ancient tradition of two loaves of bread (Leviticus 23:17) some believe represents the giving of the two tablets. Others relate this to the Jewish and Gentile aspect considering that Ruth was a Moabitess, and she said, ‘Your people shall be my people and your God, my God (Ruth 1:17).’
Shavuot points to Pentecost
Shavuot occurred exactly fifty days after the Feast of Firstfruits. The contemporary Rabbinic equivalent is the ‘counting of the omer’, following the instruction in Leviticus 23:16 to count off fifty days and on the fiftieth day to present the grain offering.[ii] It was therefore seven sabbaths from the day after the Sabbath. In Acts 2 in the New Testament Biblical record, the Holy Spirit came and that happened exactly fifty days after Yeshua (Jesus), rose from the grave, occurring precisely on the same date in the Jewish calendar. This is also known as Pentecost from ‘Pente’ which means fifty in Latin.
Amazingly on the same day, (fifty days after the Ten Commandments were given), Aaron built a golden calf and about three thousand men fell that day (Exodus 32:28). On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:41, about three thousand people trusted in Jesus as Messiah. At the Tower of Babel God confused their language and scattered the people, but at Pentecost everyone present heard them speak in his own language and they were brought together.
On the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter, a follower of Jesus, brings the important connection with David. He prophesied about the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah who would not see corruption “For you will not leave My soul in Hades, nor will you allow Your Holy One to see corruption (Acts 2:26; c.f. Psalm 16:10).
Subsequently they were cut to the heart asking Peter and the apostles what to do. He told them to repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of sins and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
Ruth is a wonderful picture of Gentiles coming to trust in the Jewish Messiah. Boaz was the kinsman redeemer who is a foreshadowing picture of Messiah. This has always been God’s plan. Isaiah 60 speaks of the Gentiles blessing Zion. Zechariah 8:22-23 tells us of many Gentiles wanting to go to Jerusalem with Jewish people recognising that God is with them. Psalm 117 might be the shortest Psalm and chapter in the Bible, yet it encourages all people to praise the LORD.
So how is this fulfilled? Ephesians 2:11-23 explains that the Gentiles were at one time aliens to the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise having no hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:11). But the blood of Yeshua the Messiah when He made atonement for our sin brings us near to Him. Yeshua is our peace. He is the peacemaker. No one else can bring genuine peace and peace that endures. He has broken down the wall of partition and created ‘one new man’ from the two thus making peace (Ephesians 2:15). Through Him we have access to the Father by the Holy Spirit who was given at Pentecost.
All the feasts have prophetic significance, an exact timeframe and relate to Messiah. The Spring feasts coincide precisely with the death and resurrection of Messiah. Shavuot is the last of the Spring feasts and the autumn feasts look forward to His return. Jesus fulfilled the law, and He brings ‘grace’ which means ‘free unmerited favour’.
Jesus is coming again. Another feast – the Feast of Trumpets, amongst other things reminds us that when an alarm is sounded, we should be urgently prepared and ready for His coming (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 5:16). Are you trusting in Jesus as your Messiah? Have you had your sins forgiven? Will you be ready when He comes?
Discover more here: Purim
[i] Peter Sammons Israel’s Holy Moedim and their prophetic significance today (Glory to Glory Publications; 2017, Cambridge), p92
[ii] Ibid, 92