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The Feast of Weeks - Shavuot

(Shavuot / Pentecost)

By Nigel Christensen

Dove on Western Wall
There appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:3, 4

“You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the LORD. (Lev 23:15-16 ESV)

Whereas the first three feasts of Spring occur within a few days of each other there is a gap of 7 sabbaths plus one day, between Firstfruits and the Feast of Shavuot (weeks). During which time the counting of the Omer (sheaves) occurs.  This places the observance of the Feast of Shavuot at the end of Spring at the time of the wheat harvest. Being one of the three pilgrim feasts, all Jewish adult males had to travel to observe the feast at the House of the Lord (Duet 16:16). In the New Testament, it is also called Pentecost (from the Greek for 50) referring to the fact that the feast occurs fifty days after Firstfruits. 

In scripture, leaven is a symbol of sin (1 Cor 5:8), and normally leaven was forbidden to be included in the grain sacrifices (Lev 2:11). However, the Lord permitted something rather unusual to happen at this festival.  From the Firstfruits of the Wheat harvest they were to bring two loaves of bread, but they were to be “baked with leaven” (Lev 23:17). 

Shavuot then was a rare exception where the Lord allowed and in fact required leaven to be added to a grain sacrifice. Given leaven represents sin, these loaves can be seen to represent people, but what kind of people? The answer for this can be found in the fact that the two loaves are made from the harvest of wheat. We know from scripture that the harvest of wheat represents believers (John 4:35, Matt 13:23-30). Next, we have the question of why there are two loaves? Paul points out in Eph 2:11-16 that before the work of Christ, Gentiles were alienated from the commonwealth of Israel (Jews). But now because of Christ’s blood shed on the cross, what Paul calls a wall or partition, has been broken down. These two loaves can be seen to represent Jews and Gentiles (who although sinners being leavened) have been saved by grace through faith, & brought together, united into one body (His body being the bread of life), through the work of Christ (Gal 3:27-28)

Acts 2:1 tells us that the events in the upper room occur on the Day of Pentecost, which Peter states was when they were baptised into the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:16). This is a unique ministry of Messiah Jesus, as no one in the Old Testament was ever said to be baptised in the Holy Spirit.  In fact, it was still a future event in Acts 1:5, which occurred 10 days prior to the feast. The Feast then marks the birth of a new entity that had not existed previously: the Body/ Bride of Messiah, what we often call the Church. Now anyone in this age who comes to salvation is baptized into the body of Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1Co 12:13 ESV).    

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