Day of Pentecost-Shavuot-Feast of Weeks
I. Feast of Weeks
“You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month Abib, for in the month Abib you came out from Egypt…You shall observe the Feast of Weeks, the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end. Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the LORD God, the God of Israel. (Exodus 34:18-23)
A. There were three feasts that the children of Israel were commanded to observe annually. These three celebrations were at different times of the year. Two were fairly close to one another. The Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Weeks. It is at the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread that Passover is celebrated, and then 50 days past Passover, the Feast of Weeks was celebrated.
B. The Feast of Weeks actually has many names. It is also called the Feast of Harvest or Firstfruits of Wheat Harvest, Ashkenazi Jews call it Shavuot, or as the Hellinistic Jews named it, Pentecost (50 days past Passover)
C. Shavuot commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah to the entire nation of Israel assembled at Mount Sinai, although the association between the giving of the Torah (Matan Torah) and Shavuot is not explicit in the Biblical text. The holiday is one of the Shalosh Regalim, the three Biblical pilgrimage festivals. It marks the conclusion of the Counting of the Omer.
The date of Shavuot is directly linked to that of Passover. The Torah mandates the seven-week Counting of the Omer, beginning on the second day of Passover and immediately followed by Shavuot. This counting of days and weeks is understood to express anticipation and desire for the Giving of the Torah. On Passover, the people of Israel were freed from their enslavement to Pharaoh; on Shavuot they were given the Torah and became a nation committed to serving God.
II. The Giving of the Law
A. Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides; on the front and on the back they were written. The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” But he said, “It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear.” And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain….”Who is on the LORD’s side? Come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.'” And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell. (Exodus 32:15-28)
B. When Moses came down from the Mountain of God the children of Israel were revelling in idolatry at the hand of Aaron, and Moses’ indignation was aroused. He threw the tablets of stone to the ground. In addition, around 3000 people were killed that day because the people were in rebellion against the Lord, and because Moses commissioned the Levites to take out the revelers.
C. The purpose of the giving of the Law was to consecrate a people committed to serving God.
III. Day of Pentecost
A. When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance….”Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy….And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it….This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing….Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:1-41)
B. We celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and truly it is a day of celebration. However, it is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that empowers us to be Jesus’ witnesses. The promise of God is that He would write these Laws on our hearts. (Jeremiah 31:33) It truly is a sanctifying work that celebrates a Feast of Firstfruits of Wheat Harvest. Instead of the Law coming externally, the Holy Spirit consecrates from the inside out. Instead of 3000 people perishing because they were condemned by the Law, 3000 people were saved by this justifying and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. They became the Firstfruits of this glorious Gospel.
C. Let us celebrate the Infilling of the Holy Spirit today and daily. (Ephesians 5:18) He enables us to walk worthy of the calling. Apart from Him we can do nothing.