Shavuot and an Auspicious Timing
By Sam Nadler
You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete Sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD. (Lev. 23:15-16). Sha-vu-ot literally means “weeks” but is commonly called Pentecost, from the Greek word meaning “fifty,” and it occurs fifty days after Passover. Traditionally both Jews and Christians have thought of Shavuot as a “birthday” (which this year begins at sundown on May 28th). Traditional Judaism calls it “the Season of the Giving of the Law” at Mount Sinai, and the New Covenant teaches that it was on Pentecost that the Holy Spirit was given to believers.
Shavuot is unique among the three pilgrim festivals (Passover and Tabernacles), when the children of Israel were required to appear before the Lord. The name “Shavuot” itself hints at its mystery and uniqueness. Again, the word Shavuot means “weeks” because of the special way in which you know when to celebrate this unusual Holy Day. Unlike the other two pilgrim festivals, Passover and Sukkot, the feast of Shavuot is dateless! In order to celebrate Shavuot you had to count “seven weeks” from “the day after the Sabbath” of the Passover, and the next day, the fiftieth day, would be Shavuot.
Not to Know your Birthday
Why don’t the Scriptures just give the date? We would have been inclined to say to Moses, “Forget counting fifty days, just give me the date, I’ll put it on my schedule and I’ll show up and worship!” But no, you had to count fifty days regardless of how busy you might be. But why?
This reminds me of a story…
Can you imagine if your mother never told you your birthday? Rather, she told you to celebrate it fifty days after the anniversary of your Uncle Murray’s death. When you’re very young, this might be ok, but in High School it would be embarrassing not to know your birthday. “Hey Joel, when’s your birthday?”
“Well, it’s fifty days after the day my Uncle Murray died.” You’d eventually run home insisting on knowing the date of your birthday. Mom would reply, “It’s fifty days after your Uncle Murray died.” “But Mom why do I have to count fifty days from Uncle Murray’s death?” “Because, your Uncle Murray left you his fortune and I never want you to forget your Uncle Murray!”
Israel was to count fifty days so that in order to celebrate Shavuot, when they received the Torah, they would never forget Passover. Israel was never to orient itself around the giving of the Torah, but from the true redemptive foundation of Passover.
The Spirit Testifies of Messiah
Shavuot may have been the time when God made Israel one people in the Law, but the holiday was made to point to Passover when God redeemed us from bondage and destruction through the blood of the Lamb.
Passover is to be the foundation and head of the year. It celebrates Israel’s redemption from bondage, and redemption is the foundation of our salvation. Thus, the foundation of Israel’s redemption was provided only in Passover, not Shavuot, not the people themselves, and not by the Law.
In the same way we are to never forget our Messiah who gave His life for us and with that, the unspeakable riches of our new birth in Him! Like Israel’s redemption from bondage, our foundation of faith as believers in Messiah Yeshua is forever tied to Passover and our redemption in the Lamb of God. We are not a first fruits to God just because we celebrate a holiday, but only when we look to Yeshua as the true foundation for our spiritual lives. Then we are a First Fruits offering, for God’s use only.
Every Shavuot, believers may thus remember Passover and the Passover Lamb, Yeshua. Though Pentecost is the ‘birthday celebration’ of the Body of Messiah when the Holy Spirit came, we are never to look to the Holy Spirit as the foundation of our faith either individually or as a body of believers.
Our security is experienced only when we look to Yeshua as our foundation of faith. Our confidence is in the Lord, and in Him alone. How strong is your foundation? Are you trusting in someone or something besides the Lord?
If you are trusting in anything or anyone else, stop! Place your faith in His eternal atonement for your sins and receive the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2). You are secure, looking to Yeshua! Celebrate the birth of the body of Messiah with us online at: hopeofisrael.info, Saturday, May 30th at 10:30 am!