Monday, 18 May 2015

Celebrate ... Shavu'ot?

On 24 May this year (6 Sivan) the Jewish people will celebrate Shavu'ot (Pentecost).

In this post we'll look at some interesting questions.

How is this relevant to the Christian in fellowship with Yah'shua, Jesus?

Are we to celebrate this Jewish feast?

What is the background and how is this feast fulfilled by Yah'shua?

Shavu'ot, is referred to as the feast of weeks and sometimes also pronounced "Shavuos "(shah-voo-ohs) in Hebrew.

Shavu'ot  is one of the three main Jewish pilgrimage holidays prescribed to all Jewish men. The three major feasts are collectively known as the shalosh regalim. The three major festivals in Judaism are:
  • Pesach (Passover - see here), 
  • Shavu'ot (Weeks - this post), 
  • and Sukkot (Tents or Booths - see here)].
The feasts are all associated with the two main aspects of ancient Jewish pastoral and religious life, namely (1) the harvests and (2) the Torah (books of the law). 

In Judaism Shavu'ot is the culmination of the Jewish celebration of redemption from slavery (i.e. from Egypt) and it is also referred to as Atzaret Pesach (the conclusion of Passover).

Right from the start the Jewish mind could not comprehend a God who desired relationship and intimacy with man, His people. It was unthinkable that the whole purpose of the Exodus from Egypt was intended by God to lead to an intimate relationship with Him. Even at the point of Him revealing Himself to the whole nation of Israel at Sinai, they declined saying to Moses Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die." Exo 20:19.

Tragically they never came close. "And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was." Exo 20:21

In their own self-righteousness they proudly declared their ability to determine their own destiny. They did not need this Saviour God who just lead them out of bondage with signs and miracles! They felt capable. They felt able to do each and everything that is required to be justified and to become sanctified! "And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.Exo 19:8

So, YHVH gave them the ten commandments to show the impossibility of their choice. 

Still, today the Jews celebrate Shavu'ot to commemorate the revelation of God's law, the torah on Mt. Sinai. They go to the extent of worshiping the torah. Even today they seem to be unaware and emotionless of their decline of His heart-desire to have fellowship and intimacy with them. 

Shavu'ot occurs on the 50th day after the 49 days of counting the Omer. According to the Torah (Lev. 23:15), they are obligated to count the days from Passover to Shavu'ot. This period is known as the Counting of the Omer. Directly translated an omer is a unit of measure. On the second day of Passover an omer of barley was cut down and brought to the Temple as a heave and wave offering.

The Greek word for Shavu'ot is Pentecost, also meaning "50th." And in Christian terms it counts the number of days from the cross to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the upper room.

So, what does Shavu'ot have to do with us today?

Actually ... nothing!

But ...

Christians do celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on this day (Pentecost) counting the 50 days from the cross (Passover Lamb). 

Before ascending into heaven (40 days after His Resurrection), Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the outpouring of His Holy Spirit.

Seven days later the Holy Spirit did descend onto and into those waiting and praying in the upper room.

However, there are some Christians today who, for some or other reason, feel obliged to conform to Jewish traditions and legalism. See here and here.

Once again! As mentioned in my post on the Pesach, if you are considering indulging into Judaism and maybe do the Shavu'ot itself (see Leviticus 23:15-21), consider the timeline below for the months Nisan to Sivan to guide you and get you going:

Remember to follow the prescripts in the strictest and precisest terms, as set out in the law, so that you don't fall under any of the curses stated in the law.

... or ...

simply receive the completed, finished work of Yah'shua!

Let's look at the fulfillment of old covenant Shavu'ot prophecy and scripture.
Old covenant
New Testament
50 days must be counted from the day that the first-fruits (terumah) of the barley harvest were heaved and waved before the Lord.
50 days from the day the First-fruits (Terumah), Jesus Christ, was lifted on high before the Lord on the cross.
Rabbinic scholars believe that it was on this day that God visited His people after the exodus from Egypt and through Moses, brought the Law down from Mount Sinai.

This earthshaking day of visitation, trembling, and betrothal is the birthday of the nation of Israel. 
It WAS on this day that the precious Indwelling Spirit of Christ found residence in man to teach him, guide him, empower him and rule through and with him.

The same earthshaking signs are recorded on the day of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit – the ecclesia is born. (Acts 2)
The old covenant law is celebrated to which the Jewish nation is bound to performance and absolute obedience.
Emanuel - poured out Grace, the holy priesthood is celebrated. One Man was obedient and we who believe are made righteous!
Because of sin 3,000 people die on this day under the Law.
Because of Grace 3,000 passers-by hear the Gospel and are baptized into eternal life on this day. " ... the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." 2 Cor 3:6

Interestingly all of the three major Jewish feasts involves the offering of first-fruit at the Temple as a wave (heave) offering:
  1. Passover (Peshach), in early spring, included first-fruits from the first harvest, barley (bread - a shadow of the body of Jesus that was bruised and crushed as an offer see here).
  2. Weeks (Shavu'ot), in late spring, included first-fruits from the wheat harvest. Among the many offerings given, was an offering of two loaves of bread (wheat) (prophecy to the body of Jesus again).
  3. Tabernacles (Sukkot), in the fall, was the final harvest and included first-fruits of olives and grapes. (See here) (prophecy to the blood of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit).
  4. The word used for the wave or heave (lifted-up) offering in Hebrew is Terumah (תּרוּמה). [Numbers  18:8-21]. The word is found 76 times in the old covenant and it literary prescribes the only acceptable way for any offering before God. Terumah means ‘elevated’ or the ‘elevated portion.’  
In the English Bible it is usually translated merely as contribution or gift.  

Terumah is the (usually the first) portion of the harvest given to YHVH Who in turn gives it to His servants, the priests.

The prescribed way of First-fruits offering, which Jesus fulfilled in the finest detail, include:

  1. First it must be lifted up before and to God - Jesus on the cross.
  2. Then, according to God's instructions, it has to be placed in the hands of the one who has spiritual authority over your life - Father God Himself. Jesus said on the cross: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit Mar 23:46
  3. By dedicating the First (the best) to the Lord, the following come to manifestation:
  • If the First-fruit is blessed then all the rest would be blessed
  • The First-Fruit blessing gives the harvester strength for further action to proceed with the rest of the harvest (2 Chronicles 31:4-6).
  • The First-Fruit connects God’s people with His anointing and provision (Numbers 18:8).
Jesus IS the First-Fruit! 
Christ (the Messiah) has been raised from the dead, and He became the First-Fruit for and of many brethren Rom 9:28

The prophecy of Pentecost and Shavu'ot is fulfilled completely.
"And I will pour on the house of David [Jesus] and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem [those in Grace] the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn" Zechariah 12:10.
What great joy it will be when all of Israel finally realizes who Jesus is! 

So, the harvest began. The First-Fruit, Yah'shua fulfilled more than 76 references in the old covenant prophecy to Himself. Some of these include:
  • The First-Fruit ensures that the rest of the increase will be holy and plentiful (Romans 3:9).
  • The First-Fruit brings blessings to the whole house and family (Ezekiel 44:30).
  • Christ became the First-Fruits also of them asleep (in death). 1 Corinthians 15:20
  • The First-Fruit honours the Lord (Proverbs 3:9).
  • The First-Fruit guides you into the place God has prepared for you (Exodus 23:20; Psalm 66:12).
  • The First-Fruit brings victory over enemies (sickness, debt, poverty, lack, bondage, etc.).
Are you not glad that Jesus is the First-Fruit?

He is our Living Hope ... and He declares that He sticks closer than a true Friend!

Jesus is the First and the Last ... and everything in-between.

In light of this, what do we do?

Celebrate the Spirit of Truth living in you ... embracing you ... reminding you of who exactly your are in Christ Jesus!


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