Shavuot is the one holiday that was not identified by a specific day of the month--it's a little more than seven
weeks from Passover. No date could be named since Shavuot is counted from Feast of First Fruits and both
always land on a Sunday. However, for some strange reason, the Orthodox community will celebrate it on the
evening of the seventh of Sivan as a community event. It is also celebrated on the next day, when it can be
enjoyed on a family level and give gifts to the poor.
The progression of this spiritual year is easy to see when we look at the links between the holidays and all the
repeated events that occurred during this season. It is very important not lose the significant connection between
Pesach (redemption, salvation) and Shavuot (filling of the Holy Spirit = Wisdom). We see they are connected
because we start counting the days of the Omer with Yom Habikkurim (First Fruits), which falls on the day following
the first regular Sabbath after Passover. Shavuot falls on the day after the counting of seven Sabbaths. Omer
means ‘sheaf’ in Hebrew. A sheaf of grain is a biblical picture of a man. This appointed time is called the Feast of
Weeks because we finish counting seven full weeks between bringing in the first sheaf of the barley harvest to
bringing in the first sheaf of wheat harvest, which takes place in late May or early June. One event is actually a
continuation of the other.
This is the only appointed time in Torah that does not have a specific date assigned to it. We celebrate it as Torah
says - it occurs on the 50th day after Yom Habikkurim (First Fruits), the counting of the Omer, and we call it the
Feast of Weeks. Shavuot means ‘weeks’ in Hebrew and it is celebrated on the day after the 7th Shabbat past
Passover according to Leviticus 16:23, “Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty
days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.” It always will fall on a Sunday and is a no work rest
day... a Shabbat.
Why such a riddle?
The teachers and sages of old have taught that the actual date has very little meaning, but the celebration itself is
loaded with spiritual purpose and values. Traditionally we have accepted that the whole Torah was given to
Moses and the whole assembly of the children of Israel on Mt. Sinai at this time of year. Our Heavenly Father
doesn't want us to traditionalize a look at His instruction just once a year, as religiosity might demand; if any
specific date was named then we would probably stay up all night to dedicate Shavuot as merely the day for
studying his Word. He wants us to receive it for study every day of our lives to gain and nurture wisdom. So,
there is more to Shavuot. Let's take a closer, more discerning look at what scripture says about this season:
Exodus 19:1-6 says: "In the third month" (this would be 3 months after Passover, coincidentally, the month of
Shavuot), "when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the
wilderness of Sinai. For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched
in the wilderness; and Israel camped there before the mount. And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called
unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye
have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now
therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me
above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.
These are the words, which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel."
Exodus 19:7-11 says: "And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all
these words, which the Lord commanded him. 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. And the Lord said unto
Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee
forever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the
people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes, And be ready against the third
day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai."
Exodus 19:16-17 says: "And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and
lightning's, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people
that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they
stood at the nether part of the mount."
From Exodus 19 where God prepares them to receive His Word through the upcoming chapters where he orally
tells them Torah, wisdom becomes the significant element of Shavuot. The children of Israel experienced the
physical removal from slavery, but leaving Egypt was not enough to prepare them to be a kingdom of priests or to
make them a unified nation. They also needed to understand and become the same nature of the God they
would serve in order to accomplish this destiny. This process came in the form of "instruction", which is what
Torah means in Hebrew. The whole Torah (more than 10 commandments, statutes or laws) showed them how to
live as a free people in obedience to God.
We also know that the Ruach HaKodesh Holy Spirit settled upon Messiah's talmadim (disciples) at this same time
many centuries later to achieve the same thing - to prepare the talmadim in wisdom for their destiny of spreading
the "good news". That event has been popularized by the Greek name of Pentecost, which again, specifically
means 50th day. We know that all wisdom comes to man through the Ruach HaKodesh.
It is said that King David was born and died during this season. A significant modern day event that occurred on
Shavuot is Yom Yerushalayim. The Day of Jerusalem began 7 June 1967, when Israeli armed forces liberated
Jerusalem from established Arab control over the old city. The Arab rulers had denied Jewish access to the
Western Wall in the old city. Jerusalem was reopened.
Preparation for Shavuot
Some congregations decorate synagogues and homes with plantings of wheat in flower pots that were planted
during the Feast of Unleavened Bread or with trimmings of flowering branches, baskets decked in ribbons woven
into them and streaming from them to carry the harvest, beautiful plants and flowers.
Families make it a point to serve dairy foods during the feast, a symbol of the land of Israel flowing with milk and
honey (Exodus 3:8). It is customary to stay up late into the evening to study the scriptures. The Book of Ruth is
read on Shavuot. After Ruth's husband has left her a widow, this Moabite woman, voluntarily chooses to leave
Moab and live in Israel with her Jewish mother-in-law Naomi. Her choice to convert to Judaism and live in true
loving kindness toward Naomi offered her the place in history to become the great-grandmother of King David
and of course, the lineage of our L-rd and Savior Yeshua.
Ruth's story is also read on Shavuot because it takes place during the grain harvests of Judea, which connects
with the agricultural aspects of Shavuot. The Book of Ruth shows us the practical applications of the laws of
pe'ah, leaving the corners of a field for the poor to harvest, and leket, leaving behind the stalks that fall from
sheaves so the poor can glean them.
Another significant message is unveiled in this story. Deuteronomy 23:3 tells us: "An Ammonite or Moabite shall
not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the
congregation of the Lord forever." Yet Ruth is a Moabite. She is the great-grandmother of King David. How
could this be? King David was, of course, Hashem's choice, but if left for men to decide - well, perhaps by the
letter of their interpretation of the law, many men today may not have let someone like David be king. The point
that we learn from this example of Ruth is that it is up to God to determine who is and who is not His royal family
and priesthood. When God told Moshe to instruct the nation in Deuteronomy 23:3, God knew there would be
Ruth, the Moabite and her great grandson King David. He knows our beginning and our end. He is sovereign.
For those of us who need one, there is a reason why Ruth was not to be excluded from the assembly. The Word
calls sin and its penalty "Adam's transgression" in Romans 5:14, 17-18, because Hava (Eve) in Gad Edan did not
chose it but was seduced, or tricked. She is never referred to as having brought sin into this world, but was
credited as the mother of all living; through her even the Messiah would come into this world. Adam's seed
would not father the Messiah. The Messiah would not be fathered from sin and death. In the same vein, the
women of Moab did not bring the curse of Deuteronomy 23:3 into that society. The men warred against G-d and
His people and therefore once again solely brought the curse through their generations. From this reason, we
can accept that her lineage does not contradict God's instruction to the nation in Deuteronomy 23.
Shavuot is a wonderful time, a joyous season; a continuation of the redemptive process. The whole redemption
process can be compared to that of an egg. All eggs undergo two births. The first birth is when the egg leaves
the chicken's body, and the second is when it hatches. We are like the children of Israel, born into the slavery of
sin in the world (Egypt). Coming out of Egypt, we still having the shell of slavery surrounding us even though we
are redeemed. We are brought out of the world and when we become fully alive then we break through the
bondage like a chick emerging from its shell. We shed those last remaining signs of slavery when we receive the
filling of the Holy Spirit to teach and to comfort us. We put God's words (his instruction, Torah) in our inner parts.
When we count the days of the Omer, we count from one to fifty; one after another, symbolizing how one event
leads to the next. In the process, we slowly gain spirituality and holiness, until we reach fullness and maturity on
the fiftieth day.
During this season, the whole Torah was given to Moses. There are actually two sets of laws within the Ten
Commandments: four reflect man's relationship with God, the other six reflect man's relationship toward his fellow
man. Still an additional 603 ethical and religious laws bring the total to 613 commandments. Of those 613
commandments, 248 are positive commandments, which are said to correspond to the number of bones in the
body; 365 are negative commandments, which are said to correspond to the days of the year. When viewed in
concert, this suggests that we Jews devote every single bone in our bodies and every single day of the year to our
Heavenly Father when we follow His Torah that was given at Shavuot.
Speaking of numbers...
Let's take a look at the story these representative numbers of His Word have to tell:
There are biblically 70 nations depicted for the world. There are also said to be 70 facets to Torah, or 70 aspects
in which it can be understood. The number 70 implies perfection (represented by the number "seven") multiplied
by completion (represented by the number "ten").
These 70 facets are divided into four distinct categories: the literal meaning, the suggested meaning, the moral
lesson, and the magical mystical significance. The number four is the number that tells of His creative works, the
earth or creation.
These 70 facets are spread over five books of instruction, or Torah. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and
Deuteronomy. The number "five" is the number that speaks of grace, so isn't it ironic that Torah is often thought of
in terms of punitive law?
His creative works "four" plus grace "five" adds up to the conclusion of the matter or judgment (represented by the
Here's another thought. There are 66 books in His Word. The number "six" is the number that denotes human
achievement or man's best, so the number 66 would be man's perfection said twice or doubled. Let's look at the
five (grace filled) books of instruction with 61 books of commentary. The number 61 implies man's perfection "six"
multiplied by completion "ten" plus God's sovereignty (represented by the number "one"). This representative
number of His Word draws up a picture of God's grace (Torah) standing on one side of man who is multiplied to
completion to be added to God himself standing on the other side. (Note: This equation begins and ends with
God as He surrounds man.)
Backwards and forwards in letters and numbers, His Word paints a vivid picture of his plan for our salvation.
God's Holy Day: Shavuot
The Feast of Weeks, the Receiving of God's Word
|"Balancing the Goodness of Torah with the Grace and Mercy of Messiah"
serving Tacoma since 1991.
Yeshua (Jesus) is the KING
of kings and LORD of lords.
Congregation T’shuvat Yisrael - God's Holy Days: Shavuot
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