To help you prepare for the upcoming Feast of Weeks (Shavuot or Pentecost), I recommend that you read my article on the subject, which is below. Be blessed!
From Mount Sinai to Acts 2;
From Faithlessness to Miraculous Empowerment
by Ya’acov Natan Lawrence
What is Shavuot All About?
In the roughly 49 days between Passover (Pesach) and the Feast of Pentecost (Chag haShavuot), a momentous spiritual dynamic occurs. This period of time is comprised of forty-nine days or seven days of seven weeks, which is seven times seven—the biblical number for complete or full perfection. Add one day and you arrive at Pentecost. Fifty is the biblical picture of jubilee picturing redemption from the enslavement to this world.
Historically, the children of Israel were redeemed from their sins by the blood of the lamb on the first Passover in Egypt. At this time, YHVH betrothed himself to Israel (Exod 6:7). YHVH then led them out of Egypt into the wilderness, and on Shavuot he married them at Sinai (Exod 24 cp. Ezek 16:8; Jer 2:2; 31:32). At the same time, YHVH gave them his Torah, which was their ketubah or marriage vows.
Shavuot is a picture of the bride of Yeshua the Messiah coming into full maturity spiritually and coming to marriageable age. She has gone from being a spiritual child and slave in Egypt to becoming the fully mature spiritual bride and queen of the King of the universe.
At the time of Yeshua, he betrothed himself to both houses of Israel on Passover. Then, on Pentecost, he then sent his Spirit, the Comforter, as a seal of this covenant. He hasn’t married this bride (that’s you and me) yet — something that occurs at his second coming. In the mean time, he has placed her in a 2000-years-long wilderness to get ready for him — to fall in love with him (to love him by keeping his Torah commands; John 14:15) by receiving his Torah into their hearts.
In the end times, he’s going to bring his bride (the saints) out of the wilderness of Babylon (called the Second Exodus), and they will repent of their Torahless ways. We are now getting ready for this day.
Understanding the prophecies of the Bible that speak of these end-time events, and understanding who the principal players are (the two houses of Israel) is the key to insure that we’re ready for our Messiah — that we’ll be wise and not foolish virgins who have our lamps full of oil (the Torah and Spirit of Elohim).
Shavuot, along with Passover (Pesach) and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) are three times each year when YHVH commands his people to gather together to celebrate before him (Exod 23:14–17).
To fully comprehend Shavuot, we must step back and view this feast in its context with the other six biblical feasts that YHVH gave to Israel.
YHVH’s Seven Biblical Feasts
The seven annual biblical festivals of YHVH Elohim (or, in our English Bibles, the LORD God), of which Shavuot (Pentecost) is the third of seven, are prophetic shadow-pictures or symbols of the steps that sinful man must take to be reconciled to YHVH Elohim, his Heavenly Father. They are YHVH’s plan for man’s salvation or redemption rolled up into seven easy-to-understand steps. Though even a child can understand these seven feasts, the truths contained in these divine time-space vessels can be expanded and unfolded until the entire message of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation lies open before us like a road map. It is a road that leads us to a trove of spiritual treasures whose vastness and depth is staggering, rich and unfathomable. These feast days are literally the skeletal structure upon which the truths of the entire Bible hang. The message of redemption, sanctification, salvation, the atonement, glorification, end-time events (eschatology), the history of Israel, the entire gospel message, the covenants of the Bible, the marriage of the Lamb, the bride of Messiah and Yeshua the Messiah are all prefigured within the glorious template of YHVH’s set-apart feast days contained in seven steps—seven being the biblical number of divine perfection and completion.
Before delving into the subject of Shavuot, we first need to understand why we should not only study, but also celebrate YHVH’s biblical feasts, and how they relate to the seven steps of redemption. To fully appreciate Shavuot, this background understanding is essential.
Why Study and Celebrate YHVH’s Appointed Times?
YHVH’s feasts are a prophetic shadow-picture of things to come (Col 2:16–17; Heb 10:1). When they were given to ancient Israel, they pointed forward to future events that would occur to that nation. The spring feast days, for example, pointed to Messiah’s first coming, while the fall feast days point to his second coming leading into the Messianic Age (or Millennium) and into eternity beyond.
All the feast days point to Yeshua. The name Yeshua means “salvation” and these days all point to the various steps along the path of salvation that redeemed believers find themselves on.
Many of the feast days point back to historical events that occurred in Israel’s history from which we can learn lessons and which are representative of our own spiritual journey (1 Cor 10:1–6,11).
In the Scriptures, YHVH commands his people to keep the biblical feasts. They are called moedim, which is a Hebrew word meaning “divine appointment.” They are times when YHVH makes a spiritual appointment to meet with his people (Lev 23:1–2,4). That time, YHVH teaches his people about his wonderful plan of salvation or redemption of the world through Yeshua the Messiah.
The feasts are in the Bible, which is the inspired Word of Elohim (2 Tim 3:16). He commands his people everywhere to obey his Word and to observe his feasts (Matt 4:4; Lev 23; Matt 5:17–20) forever (Lev 23:14,21,41; Mal 3:6; Heb 13:8)!
The feast days set forth the pattern of heavenly things on earth (Heb 8:1–2, 5; 9:8–9, 23; Exod 25:8–9, 40; 26:30; Num 8:4; Ezek 43:1–6, 10–12).
We as physical beings need physical means and methods to help us understand spiritual realities. YHVH gives us things to do in this physical dimension to help us to understand the supernatural (or spiritual) level (1 Cor 2:9–13).
The Seven Feasts Represent YHVH’s Seven-Steps Plan of Salvation for Mankind
To understand Shavuot we must understand how it fits into the context of the other six biblical feasts that come before and after it. Together all seven festivals of YHVH form a glorious mosaic with each building upon the one before as YHVH’s plan of salvation progressively expands and unfolds.
The first feast of YHVH’s annual festival cycle is Pesach (Passover), which is the first step in a parade of seven prophetic dress rehearsals or set-apart convocations or appointed times when the Creator of the universe met with his chosen and called out people. These special occasions all point to the redemptive work of Messiah Yeshua in the life of the redeemed believer. There are three festivals in the spring of the year that are prophetic shadow-pictures of Messiah’s first coming to earth, and there are four fall feasts, which are prophetic shadow-pictures of his second coming at the end of this age.
The first festival in YHVH’s glorious seven-step plan of redemption is Pesach or Passover, which occurs in the early spring of the year at the time of the rebirth of the creation after a long and dead winter season. Likewise, it was the time of the birth of the nation of Israel. The children of Israel had been enslaved in Egypt for many years, but they could not extricate themselves from the death grip of Pharaoh, a picture of Satan, without divine intervention. YHVH heard their cries of anguish, and he instructed them to sacrifice a lamb and smear its blood on the doors of their homes. This they did by faith and YHVH extended his grace and mercy upon them when he spared them from his judgment and passed over their homes. Though sinful and worthy of death, YHVH delivered the Israelites from the wages of their sins, which is death, and at the same time the Egyptians, who were also sinners, received judgment unto death because they were not under the blood of the lamb. The blood of the lamb made it possible for Israel to leave Egypt.
Spiritually one must leave the world (spiritual Egypt), a place of spiritual oppression and slavery, darkness and false religion. This is the realm or kingdom of Satan, the prince of death. One cannot leave the kingdom of darkness on one’s own strength, however. One cannot free oneself from slavery to the strong tyrants and masters of this world, the flesh or the devil. A greater power than these must deliver us from the spiritual slave masters who keep humans in their death grip. Only by the blood of the Lamb of YHVH smeared on the door posts and lintels (representing our actions and thoughts) of our houses (representing our lives) will YHVH’s judgment against sin pass over us. This is because Yeshua the Lamb of YHVH defeated the enemy at the cross and defeated the death sentence or death grip of sin by resurrecting from the grave on the third day after his death (Col 2:12–15). The Israelites, by faith, trusted in the blood of the lamb (a prophetic picture of Yeshua the Lamb to come), and by YHVH’s grace their sins were not credited to their account, but were forgiven them. They were then free to began to leave Egypt.
Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag HaMatzot)
The Israelites left Egypt on the first day of this seven-day long festival. Leaving Egypt was a relatively simple process, but now began the process of “getting Egypt out of them.” Dying to one’s sin nature and overcoming all the sinful habits in our lives is a process. We cannot do this by our own efforts, but we need the help of the Redeemer to deliver us. This is illustrated during Hag HaMatzot when YHVH commands his people to remove all the physical leavening from their homes. Leavening is a biblical picture of sin, pride and bitterness, since yeast is sour and causes bread to rise and puff up. Pride and hypocrisy deceives one into believing that one is righteous when he is not. This is the state of spiritual delusion in which all humans naturally find themselves.
YHVH has given men six days (or 6000 years) to come to realize his sinfulness. The seventh day of this week-long festival is a high Sabbath day that pictures YHVH’s Messianic Age (Millennium) when humans will be living in harmony with YHVH and resting in the saving work of the blood of Yeshua the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. It represents victory over sin (leavening).
This concept is illustrated when Israel celebrated the Passover in the Promised Land, and then marched around Jericho for six days. On the seventh day, the walls of Jericho came down! Because of the context of this Scripture passage, it is probable that Israel did this during the seven days of Unleavened Bread and on the seventh day of that festival the walls of Jericho came down (see Josh 6:10–7:1–16). If so, this very well could be a prophetic picture of a similar scenario of what will occur in the near future when the exiled redeemed Israelites return to the land of Israel at the second coming of Yeshua the Messiah. YHVH will have to supernaturally destroy those Canaanite inhabitants of the Promised Land who will be blocking the entry of YHVH’s saints into the land of their promised inheritance.
The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (Shavuot)
This is the third of the seven festivals of YHVH and occurs in the late spring of the year. Humans are not able to remove sin from their own lives by their own efforts anymore than one can pull oneself up by the bootstraps. Sin is too much a part of our mind, will and emotions that we need the working and enabling power of YHVH’s Set-Apart Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) in our lives to bring sin to light and to empower us to overcome it. This happens as we begin to feed upon the Word of YHVH-Yeshua (the Bible) and little-by-little our lives come into conformity with that Word and with the life of Yeshua. He is the Word of YHVH made flesh (John 1:14; Rom 8:29). This is pictured by the children of Israel receiving the words and instructions on how to live a set-apart and sanctified life (contained in the Torah-law) of YHVH Elohim at Mount Sinai during the Feast of Weeks. This was repeated during the apostolic era on the Day of Pentecost as Yeshua promised to send the Comforter to live inside of redeemed believers aiding them at arriving at the truth of YHVH (John 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7,13). This promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
The Day of Trumpets or the Day of Shouting or Shofar Blasts
(Yom Teruah or commonly called Rosh Hashana)
This is the fourth festival of YHVH Elohim and hence the fourth step in his plan of salvation. Yom Teruah occurs in the late summer or early fall season of the year. The spring feast days all relate to the work Yeshua accomplished on the earth at his first coming, while the fall feast days (of which Yom Teruah is the first) picture the work he will do on earth prior to and after his second coming. Specifically, Yom Teruah seems to relates to the beginning of the great tribulation period (see Matt 24:21–28), which occurs just prior to the return of Yeshua the Messiah.
At this time, YHVH is calling his bride—born-again redeemed believers—to ready themselves spiritually for the return of Yeshua the Bridegroom. The call is now going out for the saints to come out of the world or spiritual Babylon (Rev 18:4), to fill her lamp with spiritual oil (symbolic of Torah and the Spirit of Elohim), and to put on robes of righteousness (Torah-obedience, see Rev 19:7–9 cp. John 14:15) in preparation for the marriage supper of Yeshua the Lamb of Elohim. It is probable that the great tribulation will occur during the ten-day period between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur (the next feast). At this time, many will be saved out of this tribulation (e.g., the great and innumerable multitude, Rev 7:9). After the tribulation period, which terminates with the blowing of the seventh trumpet (in Hebraic thought called the last trumpet), the resurrection of the righteous dead and the catching away of the righteous living occurs (Rev 11:14–18 and 12:10 with Matt 24:29–31). This occurs before the wrath of Elohim (or the bowl judgments of Rev 15–16) is poured out upon the earth.
The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
The fifth of the seven festivals of YHVH occurs ten days after the Day of Trumpets. This day pictures the end of the age (man’s 6000 years) coming to a completion. YHVH’s period of grace will terminate. All who are saved to that point will have been saved and removed from this earth as YHVH pours out his final judgment (called the wrath of Elohim, which is different than the great tribulation that occurred just prior to this) upon lukewarm believers and the wicked and godless rebels left upon the earth. This period will culminate with the battle of Armageddon at which time Yeshua the Messiah will return to earth as the Conquering King to defeat his enemies, marry his bride—the righteous saints—and will rule the earth with a rod of iron for 1000 years. At this time, Satan will be bound and cast into the bottomless pit.
The Feast of Tabernacles or Booths (Sukkot)
This fall harvest festival symbolizes the time when many people will submit to the rulership of Yeshua and will find their salvation in him during the 1000 year-long millennium. Because this is a time of great rejoicing, a great feast occurs. King Yeshua will have put down all of his enemies (the beast, the false prophet and all those who are of the spirit of Antichrist, along with Satan and all else who have opposed YHVH Elohim). At this time, Yeshua will marry his bride—redeemed Torah-keeping Israelite believers—and the marriage feast of the Lamb will occur.
YHVH commans his people to celebrate Sukkot for seven days. It is a picture of the 1000-year reign of King Yeshua on earth (called the Messianic Age or Millennium) from his headquarters in Jerusalem. This will be a time of relative peace on earth.
The Eighth Day (Shemini Atzeret)
This is the seventh and final feast of YHVH and occurs the very next day after the last day of Sukkot. Eight is the biblical number of new beginnings and this day pictures what occurs after the Messianic Age and after man’s 7000 years on this earth. It is at this time that eternity in YHVH’s kingdom begins. This is the time of the New Heaven and the New Earth, and the time when New Jerusalem comes down from heaven. We find this time period described in Revelation 21 and 22. Scripture does not give many details about eternity, but just enough to whet our appetites and inspire our hopes to press onward, and to be overcomers with Yeshua so that we may be participants in his glorious and everlasting kingdom.
There is a lot here and it forms a very rich picture. Who but the unsearchable and all-wise mind of our Creator could have created such a wondrous plan of redemption?
Understanding the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot)
Shavuot is the third festival in YHVH’s cyclical parade of annual sacred appointed times. It is also known as the Feast of the Harvest of the First Fruits (Exod 23:16), Day of Firstfruits (Num 28:26) and the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot (which is Hebrew for weeks, Exod 34:22; Deut 16:10, 16; 2 Chr 8:13). Shavuot falls fifty days “from the day after the [weekly] Sabbath” (NKJV) that falls during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and hence the derivation of the name Pentecost (meaning “to count fifty”) as recorded in the Testimony of Yeshua (or New Testament/NT, Acts 2:16). According to the first-century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, the concept of counting fifty was expressed by the Jews of that day by the Hebrew word Asartha (Ant. III, x, 6). The 19th century Jewish scholar S. R. Hirsch in his Torah commentary refers to it as Azereth (The Pentateuch-Leviticus, p. 663). Both of these references seem to point to the Hebrew word atzerah (or atzereth, Strong’s H6116/TWOT 1675c) meaning “an assembly or solemn assembly.”
YHVH through his Torah (the law of Moses) instructed his people that Shavuot was…
- a day of rest where laborious or servile work was prohibited (Lev 23:21)
- a commanded assembly (Lev 23:21)
- a time when the priests offered up offerings and sacrifices (Lev 23:18–20)
- a time when all males were to bring the tithes of the increase of their income (Exod 23:14–17; Deut 16:16)
- a time when the priests were to offer up as a wave offering to YHVH two loaves of leavened bread made of the freshly harvested wheat (Lev. 23:17)
- to occur where YHVH would place his name and all were to go there to celebrate it (Deut 16:11)
- a time of rejoicing (Deut 16:11)
- to be forever (Lev 23:21)
An Agricultural Festival With Prophetic Implications
Ancient Israel was an agricultural society that had a spring harvest of grain and a fall harvest of fruit. The spring harvest consisted of the smaller barley harvest, which began during the Days of Unleavened Bread, and the much larger wheat harvest occurring fifty days later at Shavuot. Both the barley and wheat harvests were prophetic pictures symbolizing new life and new creation, and both were presented to YHVH by the priests for his acceptance—a sheaf of barley on Firstfruits Day on the Sunday during Hag HaMatzot (the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Lev 23:10–11), and two loaves of leavened wheat bread on Shavuot (Lev 23:17).
On Firstfruits Day, the priests of Israel would raise the newly harvested barley and wave it before YHVH for his acceptance. This was a prophetic picture of Yeshua who upon his resurrection Saturday evening, and subsequent ascension to heaven later on the first day of the week to be accepted by the Father (John 20:17) at the exact time the priests were waving first fruits sheaf of barley heavenward. Literally, Yeshua was the first to resurrect from the dead, and can thus be called the first of the first fruits of the resurrection from the dead.
Fifty days later Pentecost occurred when the priests offered to YHVH the two loaves of leavened bread made of wheat from the first fruits of the larger of the two spring harvests. This foreshadowed the larger harvest of souls during the time period from the giving of the Ruach HaKodesh (the Set-Apart Spirit) until Yeshua’s second coming. We are at the close of that time period now as the end of the age draws near. The Feast of Pentecost in Acts chapter two ushered in this time period with the harvest of thousands of people (Acts 2:41,47). It must be inserted here that an even larger harvest of people for the kingdom of YHVH is yet to occur during the fall feast days, which corresponds with the largest harvest of the entire year—the fall fruit harvest. This spiritual harvest will occur just prior to and after the return of Yeshua as an innumerable multitude of people come to faith in Yeshua out of the great tribulation (Rev 7:14) and when many more will be saved during the Messianic Age (or Millennium) itself.
The Prophetic Implications of the Feast of the Harvest of Firstfruits
As we have seen, the Feast of the Harvest of First Fruits is another name for Shavuot (Exod 23:16; 34:22; Num 28:26). At Passover time, the barley (Exod 9:31 cp. chap. 12) was ready to be harvested in the land of Israel. Fifty days later at Pentecost, the larger wheat crop was ready for harvest (Exod 34:22). Barley and wheat were the two main grain crops of Israel (Deut 8:7–8; 2 Chron 2:15; Jer 41:8). In the late summer, the larger harvest of fruits and vegetables occurred.
These three harvests coincided, as noted above, with Israel’s three pilgrimage festivals: Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. The success of these three harvests was contingent upon the arrival of the fall (early or former) rains and the latter rains of the spring upon the land of Israel. In biblical and Jewish thought, these rains are prophetic of an outpouring of the Spirit of Elohim upon the earth (John 7:37–39), as well as of an outpouring of YHVH’s Torah-understanding and glory (Deut 32:2; Eph 5:26). This two-fold aspect of YHVH’s Word (spirit and truth) is expressed in many ways in many places throughout the pages of the Scriptures. Here are some examples:
- spirit and truth (John 4:23–24; 1 Pet 1:22)
- letter and spirit (2 Cor 3:6; Col 1:6)
- grace and truth; the truth in love (Eph 4:15)
- truth and life (John 14:15)
- judgment and mercy (Jas 2:13)
- power and authority (Luke 4:36)
- word and spirit (Eph 6:17)
- Moses and Elijah
- “Old” and “New Testaments”
- Mount Sinai and Mount Moriah/Zion
- the two houses of Israel (the Jews/Judah emphasizes the letter of the law/the Torah, while Ephraim/the Christians emphasize the spirit of the law/grace/Yeshua
The land of Israel and the rain and harvest cycles are spiritual shadows of a future end times outpouring of YHVH’s Spirit resulting in the revelation of his Written Word upon people’s lives as they accept Yeshua and allow his Spirit to teach and instruct them concerning the ways of Elohim. Several scriptures speak of this mighty outpouring of the Spirit of Elohim, which will occur prior to and after the second coming of Yeshua the Messiah (Joel 2:23–32; Hos 5:16–6:3; Jas 5:7 cp. Ezek 36:24–32).
The Three Pilgrimage Festivals
Shavuot is one of three pilgrimage (or aliyah) feasts when the Israelites were commanded to go up to the place wherever YHVH had chosen to place his name (Exod 23:14–19; Deut 16:1–17). Originally, that place corresponded to where the Tabernacle of Moses and later the Temple of Solomon were located. Since the temple was built in Jerusalem, that city become the physical and permanent destination for the people of Elohim to fulfill this spiritual obligations.
Three times each year YHVH commanded his people to go Jerusalem—on the feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread in the early spring, fifty days later on the Feast of Pentecost in the late spring, and then several months later at the end of the summer for the Feast of Tabernacles and the Eighth Day. In time, the prophets of Israel realized that physical Jerusalem would become the destination for all the people of the nations during the Millennium (Messianic Age, Zech 14:16–19), even as it had been up until the first-century before the destruction of the temple (Acts 2:5–11).
YHVH reveals in his Torah several things that his people are to do pertaining to the three aliyah festivals. They are to appear before YHVH Elohim (Exod 23:15–19) in the place where he has chosen to place his name (Deut 16:2, 16). They are to bring their tithes and love offerings to this place (Exod 23:15; Deut 16:16–17). Finally, they were to have a solemn assembly (Deut 16:8, 15; Lev 23:4) and to rejoice (Deut 16:14).
The imminent Jewish sage of nineteenth century, Samson Raphael Hirsch, as to why we separate ourselves from the world during these three feast days, said in his commentary on Deuteronomy 16:16: “[T]hree times in the year all the individual members of the nation [of Israel] are to appear out of all isolation personally before the Presence of the One [Elohim] of the nation in the circle around the one common Sanctuary and thereby become conscious of each one being in connection with all the others, with [Elohim], and with His Torah” (The Pentateuch—Deuteronomy, p. 310). Shema Israel! Hear and obey the word of Elohim and be blessed!
These feast days are set-apart times for YHVH’s consecrated people. They are divine appointments between the Creator of the Universe and his called-out ones. Furthermore, they are love feasts between YHVH-Yeshua and his bride, the saints of the Most High Elohim. The seven feasts of YHVH are the perfect seven-step divine plan showing how YHVH-Yeshua will redeem his backslid people Israel, his adulterous bride, back to himself. These days are the embodiment of the gospel (the good news) message of the coming marriage between Yeshua and his bride and the establishment of his kingdom upon this earth in a full and universal sense! We show our belief, faith, love, anticipation and obedience to him by walking them out.
To not set aside time for them from one’s secular schedule is to ignore the call of the Bridegroom, Yeshua, for us to go out to meet him. It is to deprive oneself of the joys of communing with the Set-Apart (Kadosh) One of Israel in this special and set-apart way. It is to disregard and treat as common and profane the consecrated times that YHVH established for him and his people to come together. It is to disregard the covenants, the national constitution and marriage agreement between YHVH and his people—redeemed Israelite believers who have been grafted in to the olive tree of Israel through a relationship with Yeshua, the Messiah, the Anointed Sent One of Israel (Rom 11:13–24; Eph 2:11–19). To disregard YHVH’s feast days is to show disregard for his Torah-commands—his precepts, teachings and instructions in righteousness. To do this is to violate his commandments, which is sin (1 John 3:4)!
It’s About Love and Marriage
Yeshua said that if we love him we would keep his Torah-commandments (John 14:15). It is all about love. Love for YHVH and love for the each other—the members of the body of Yeshua. So where will you be and what will you be doing during the feast days of YHVH Elohim?
Our Master and Redeemer, Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel, is returning again SOON! Man has been on this earth for more than 6000 years walking in sin and rebellion against the Torah (instructions and commandments) of YHVH. But soon, the Messiah will come to establish his kingdom upon this earth ruling from Jerusalem for 1000 years (the Messianic Age).
King Messiah Yeshua is coming again soon. Are you ready? He is calling his bride, that is you and me, to prepare herself for the marriage supper of the Lamb. YHVH’s feasts are a beautiful shadow-picture of these glorious events for which the whole earth has been waiting, groaning in travail in anticipation ever since YHVH called a man out of Babylon nearly 4000 years ago and gave him the name Abraham. Are you a child, by faith, of this great man of faith (Gal 3:29)? Will you hear the cry of the Consecrated One of Israel, blessed be his name, to come out of Babylon for a season, to separate yourself from this world and its anti-Messiah and anti-Torah system and keep his feast days in holiness and righteousness out of love for your Bridegroom, Yeshua, and out of love for your fellow redeemed believers, the spiritual body of Yeshua?
The Two Loaves of Bread
Bread is symbolic of many things in Scripture. It is a metaphor for the Word of YHVH (Matt 4:4). Yeshua the Messiah is the Word of Elohim made flesh (John 1:1–14) and is likened to spiritual bread, or spiritual manna that sustains the spiritual life of the redeemed believer (John 6:25–58). Redeemed believers partake of bread in remembrance of and identity with Yeshua’s life and death on this earth (Matt 26:26; 1 Cor 11:24). YHVH’s Torah instructs us that bread was to be part of the Passover meal. One of YHVH’s seven annual festivals is called the “Feast of Unleavened Bread.” In the tabernacle and the later temple service, bread was an important component in many of the sacrifices and offerings. Finally, in the tabernacle itself we find the table of showbread containing twelve loaves of bread representing the tribes of Israel.
But all this bread has one thing in common: it is unleavened. Why? Leavening in Scripture almost always represents sin (1 Cor 5:6–8; Gal 5:9). The bread that represents the Word of YHVH, the Person of Yeshua and the sacrifices and offerings that pointed to Yeshua had to be free of leaven (Lev 2:1–17). To impute sin to Yeshua who is both the Written and Living Word of Elohim is blasphemous. Yet, interestingly enough, on the day of Pentecost YHVH instructed the Levites to make two loaves of leavened wheat bread from the new wheat crop and offer them up to him. The two loaves of leavened bread were offered in conjunction with seven lambs, one bull and two rams as a burnt offering in addition to a goat as a sin offering and two lambs as a peace offering. Normally a peace offering was a private matter. This is the only example of a community peace offering in the Torah (The Artscroll Tanach Series Vayikra/Levitcus, p. 401). The two loaves of bread were to be waved before YHVH in conjunction with the two lambs of the peace offering (Lev 23:16–20). Why two lambs? Who is the Lamb of Elohim? Yeshua the Messiah is that Lamb (John 1:29, 36; Rev 13:8). But why two lambs? It is because he offered himself up as a sin offering for both the Jews and the people of the nations. (We will discuss this more later.) All must come to the Father through him and there is salvation through no other one than Yeshua the Messiah (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Why did YHVH instruct his priests to offer leavened bread on Shavuot?
These two loaves of bread represent YHVH’s grace toward sinners. The unleavened bread on the table of showbread in the set-apart place of the tabernacle’s sanctuary represented the twelve tribes of Israel in a purified, sin-free (unleavened) state in the very presence of YHVH himself. Contrariwise, the leavened bread waved with the meat that was offered on the altar of sacrifice (see Lev 23:18; the bread itself was not burnt, see Lev 2:11 and see The ArtScroll Vayikra/Leviticus Commentary on this verse) in the outer court of the tabernacle represents redeemed believers coming to Yeshua still in a state of spiritual impurity. When offered together with the sacrifices, which point to Yeshua’s work on the cross of redeeming sinners, the leavened bread was accepted—leavening and all. YHVH in his grace does not expect people to come to him in a sin-free state. He loved us while we were still sinners (Rom 5:8; John 3:16) and sent Yeshua, his Son, to redeem us from the penalty of sin, which is eternal death (Rom 6:23). But a new believer is not expected to stay spiritually leavened. The spiritual refining process begins in the outer court of the tabernacle and by the time YHVH is finished with his people they will be totally unleavened abiding in his presence in the inner court of the sanctuary of his tabernacle representing deep spiritual intimacy and communion.
But why are there two loaves of leavened bread? Batya Wootten, in her book, Israel’s Feasts and Their Fullness, suggest that they represent the two houses of Israel (the house of Ephraim or Northern Kingdom and the house of Judah or the Southern Kingdom), which in a loose sense prophetically point to the Jews and Christians on the earth today. Wootten points out that the Bible speaks of these two sudivisions of the twelve tribes of Israel using other prophetic metaphors as well:
- two nations (Ezek 35:10)
- two chosen families (Jer 33:24)
- two sinful sisters (Ezek 23:2–4)
- two lamp stands or witnesses (Rev 11:3–4)
- two silver trumpets (Num 10:2–3)
These series of two all speak to the same thing; namely, the two houses of Israel. Wootten explains it this way:
The Word of Elohim, the Bible, is divided into two parts: the Former and Latter Covenants. These are the two loaves of bread. The house of Judah was given charge over the First or Former Covenant (“Old Testament,” which includes YHVH’s Torah), and the house of Ephraim was given charge over the Latter Covenant or Testimony of Yeshua (NT, Wootten, p. 203). Both of these covenants were prophesied to be for the whole house of Israel (Jer 31:31–33), but Judah was given the Torah for safekeeping (Gen 49:10) while the Testimony of Yeshua was primarily given to the “Gentiles” or people of the nations. Paul teaches that those who were formerly spiritual Gentiles once they are grafted into the olive tree of Israel through the redemptive work of Israel’s Messiah (Yeshua) they are no longer spiritual Gentiles, but are Israel (Rom 11:13–24; Eph 2:11–19; Rom 4:16; 9:8–11; Gal 3:7, 9, 14, 28–29).
“The appointed wave offering of this feast teaches us that the Father loves both the houses of Israel. They are his two chosen families (Jer 33:24).
“However, while the fine bread of truth can be found in the teachings of both houses, both also contain leaven. We need to work to bring forth only that which is of the finest flours from our divided family. We need to leave the leaven behind.
“Let us reunite! Let us eat of the latter day bread of Shavuot! As New Covenant priests of Israel, let us wave both loaves before our Father (1 Pet. 2:9). Let us bring in from our dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave offering, let them be of very fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to YHVH (Lev 23:17, Wootten, p. 204).
There are two loaves of bread. What is the significance behind the number two? In Hebrew thought, the number two represents the concept of duality, “for there is diversity in every part of YHVH’s Creation. Only in the Creator himself does absolute Oneness prevail” (The Wisdom In the Hebrew Alphabet, p. 55 by Michael L. Munk). The number two corresponds with bet, the second letter in the Hebrew alphabet, which pictographically represents a house. According to Munk, the house (home) is the focal point of holiness on earth and additionally pictures the spiritual house, sanctuary or set-apart temple of YHVH, and to man, who himself is to become a miniature temple. There is a blessing in duality when opposites work together (e.g. negative and positive in electricity, male and female in a marriage, heaven and earth, this world and the world to come) to achieve a common beneficial purpose (Ibid., pp. 55–58).
The fact that these two loaves of bread contain leavening represent the fact that all the people of YHVH have sin in their lives and to one degree or another and have absorbed pagan traditions of men by which YHVH’s word has become of non-effect (Matt 15:6; Mark 7:7–9). YHVH commands his people to come out of Babylon (Rev 18:4). Both the house of Judah (the rabbinic Judaism of today) and the house of Ephraim/Israel (modern gentile Christianity) have strayed from the truth of YHVH’s word (the former has rejected Yeshua, the Living Torah and the latter has rejected the Written Torah given to Moses), and both have given themselves over to religious systems that contain the leavening of paganism and of doctrines of men.
Alfred Edersheim notes that these two loaves of leavened bread were actually public thank offerings that the ancient Israelites offered up to YHVH. The fact that they were leavened speaks of the imperfection and sin of those making the offerings (The Temple: Its Ministry and Services, p. 210). The fact that YHVH ordained and accepted this thank offering laced with leavening (a biblical metaphor for sin) speaks of the unconditional love and mercy of YHVH toward his sinful people and desire to reconcile himself to man, in spite of man’s sinful condition. Scripture records that YHVH loved us while we were yet sinners (Rom 5:8) and that Yeshua suffered on the cross for our sins while we were still in our wickedness to bring us to the Father (1 Pet 3:18).
The Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai on Shavuot
Not of secondary importance to what we have already discussed regarding important things that occurred on Shavuot, was the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai that occurred on this day as well. On Shavuot, YHVH “married” Israel (Ezek 16:1–13) when he formulated a covenantal agreement with her to which to which she agreed when she said “I do” three times (Exod 19:8; 24:1–8). The Torah was the basis of that covenant, or the marriage vows, if you will, to which Israel swore allegiance.
YHVH gave his people the words of life to live by, but because of the hardness of their hearts they were not able to be faithful to his Torah. Like a wife who says “I do” in response to her wedding vows, but cannot remain faithful to her marriage covenant, so Scripture likens Israel to such a woman who became a spiritual harlot (Ezek 16:14–34).
In spite of Israel’s apostasy and spiritual whoredoms, YHVH had made promises to Abraham and to his descendants that were unconditional in nature. Whether Abraham’s descendants remained faithful to YHVH or not, YHVH’s promises to Abraham were inviolate. Though the Israelites had violated the vows they made to YHVH at Mount Sinai, he revealed to the ancient Hebrew prophets that he would eventually formulate a second renewed covenant with Israel, and this time he would pour out upon them his Spirit and write his Torah-laws in their hearts (Jer 31:31–33; 24:7; Ezek 11:19; 36:25–27).
On Passover at the last supper, YHVH-Yeshua betrothed himself to Israel all over again (Matt 26:28; 1 Cor 11:25). As a seal or pledge of this betrothal, he promised to send to his disciples the Comforter or Set-Apart Spirt (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7; Eph 1:13–14). This occurred on the day of Pentecost when he poured out his Spirit upon Yeshua’s disciples. Each received the fire of his Spirit (Act 2:1–4). In this, YHVH fulfilled his promise to give his people a heart of flesh to replace their heart of stone, thus empowering or enabling them to keep his Torah-commandments (Heb 8:7–13). In other words, Yeshua, the Living Torah-instructions of YHVH, came to take up residence within the very hearts and minds of redeemed believers through the indwelling and empowering presence of his Set-Apart Spirit. In so doing, Yeshua is living out or fulfilling his Torah from within each redeemed Israelite believer even as he himself lived out or fulfilled the Torah-Word of YHVH when he walked this earth.
We can enter into this same renewed covenant with Yeshua who is the Living Torah and our heavenly Bridegroom when we do as the Apostle Paul says in Romans 10:9 and 10 and confess with our mouths the Master Yeshua and believe in our heart that Elohim has raised him the dead.
Romans 10:13 goes on to say, “Whoever shall call upon the name of the Master shall be saved.” Yeshua also said, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Matt 10:32). After confessing him, repenting of our sins, we must then be baptized and be prayed over to receive the Spirit of Elohim (Acts 2:37–41). Then one must continue to walk steadfastly in the truth of the gospel message, stay in fellowship with like-minded believers, and maintain a personal relationship with YHVH through personal devotional prayer (Acts 2:42).
Isn’t this a beautiful picture of YHVH’s love and care for his bride—his people? This is all part of the wonderful plan of salvation or redemption that YHVH laid out thousands of years ago to bring people into a life-giving relationship with himself through his instructions in righteousness—the Torah. This is all being accomplished through Elohim’s Son, Yeshua the Messiah, the Living Torah who now leads and guides his people through the wilderness of life not via a pillar of fire over a physical tabernacle, but through the fire of the Ruach HaKodesh living in the spiritual temple of each individual believer’s heart and mind, which guides them spiritually from within.
On Shavuot the first century redeemed believers were divinely empowered with the Ruach HaKodesh, called the immersion in the Ruach HaKodesh (or the baptism of the Set-Apart Spirit, Acts 1:5, 8). As a result of the empowerment of the Spirit of Elohim, we see Peter being transformed from a spiritual mouse (compare John 20:23 with John 21:3) into a spiritual lion or dynamo (Acts 2:14–41). The immersion or saturation in the Sprit or Ruach is for the purpose of being empowered with supernatural gifts and enablements (the gifts of the Ruach, see 1 Cor 12) in order to be equipped to go out into the harvest field of human souls spiritually empowered and ready to bring in the spiritual harvest of souls. On the day of Pentecost, YHVH wrote the Torah into the hearts of the redeemed believers by the Ruach, and then supernaturally empowered them to take both the message of Torah—the light of his truth—coupled with the good news of the Redeemer, Messiah Yeshua—the Living Torah word of Elohim—to a lost and dying world. This is the fundamental message and purpose of Shavuot in the Book of Acts.
On Shavuot the First of the Three Great Shofar Blasts Occur
Scripture speaks of three great trumpet (shofar) blasts. In Jewish thought, they are referred to as the first, last and great or final shofar blasts. These three blasts have historical and prophetic significance:
The First Trump (or shofar blast) occurred on Shavuot at the giving of the Torah (Matan Torah) at Mount Sinai (Exod 19:16, 19). This shofar blast was of heavenly origin and is the first time the Bible records the sound of the shofar being heard.
The Last Trump (or shofar blast) occurs on Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets, commonly called Rosh Hoshana) is the day of the awakening blast calling the saints to prepare their spiritual garments in preparation for the coming Messiah or Bridegroom. This shofar blast corresponds to the last trumpet blast of Revelation 11:15 after which the resurrection of the righteous occurs (1 Cor 15:51–53).
The Great Trumpet or Final Trumpet (or shofar blast called the Shofar HaGadol) is blown on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) signifying the Elohim’s day of judgment and the return of Messiah Yeshua as the King and Judge of the earth. At this time, it seems likely that he will destroy Babylon the Great with its new world order religious, political and economic system (Rev 19:1–21 cp. Rev 18) just before the establishment of his millennial kingdom (Rev 20:1–10). Historically on the Day of Atonement, the jubilee trumpet sounded in Israel on the fiftieth year. At this time, the captives were set free, debts were forgiven and all land was returned to its original owners. Matthew says that Messiah will return with a great sound of a shofar (trumpet, Matt 24:30–31). Perhaps this is a reference to the shofar ha-gadol when Yeshua returns to earth, will set the spiritual captives free from enslavement to the enslaving economic, religious and political tentacles of end time Babylon the Great.
Genesis 22 and the Three Trumpets
The first and last trumpets relate to the two horns of the ram caught in the thicket on Mount Moriah. The ram represents Yeshua the Sacrificial Lamb. The thicket represents human sinfulness. Humanity is entangled in the thicket of sin from which it needs to be freed. Yeshua the Messiah is the Lamb (or ram) slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8), who, while hanging on the cross, wore a crown of thorns. Is this not a picture of the “ram caught in the thicket” (Gen 22:13) of the man’s sins? After all, the Scriptures say that the sins of man were laid upon Yeshua (Isa 53:6). The crown of thorns is a picture of this. Furthermore, in Matthew 13, in Yeshua’s Parable of the Sower, we see that some of the seed was cast into the thorns, which Yeshua explained represents the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches that choke out the word of YHVH. These references to thorns and thicket are a picture of sin. The wages of sin is death.
In Genesis 22, Isaac was about to die, but the ram caught in the thicket that YHVH provided was a prophetic picture of Yeshua (a Hebrew word meaning “salvation”) that became a substitute sacrifice for Isaac. Isaac was set free and the ram was sacrificed instead. This ram was a prophetic picture of Yeshua’s death on the cross for man’s sins.
In Hebraic thought, the left horn of the ram signifies mercy and grace. This is also a picture of the left (or weaker) hand of YHVH, which symbolizes grace, or the feminine side of Elohim. Furthermore, the left horn of the redemptive ram signifies the purpose of the first coming of Messiah Yeshua as the Suffering Savior, as one bringing mercy and grace, and who refused to quench a smoking flax or breaking a bruised reed as a meek and quiet lamb going to its slaughter (Matt 12:20; John 12:47; Isa 53:7).
The right horn of the ram caught in the thicket represents judgment picturing Elohim’s stronger right hand of power, might and judgment (Ps 89:10, 13–14). Thus, this horn represents the second coming of Messiah, who is seated at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:32–33), and who will come this time in power as King of kings to rule with a rod of iron and to judge the living and the dead, and to destroy all his enemies (Rev 17:14; 19:15).
That is why the first trumpet (representing the left horn of the ram) is sounded on Shavuot representing YHVH’s grace and mercy upon his people from Abraham until the Yeshua’s second coming—a time for his people to repent and return to him.
Genesis 22:4 says that Abraham saw the “place” (i.e. Mount Moriah) afar off “on the third day”. This is scriptural prophetic code for something significant. Mount Moriah was the place of Messiah’s crucifixion. Abraham saw—by faith—the place and work of Yeshua’s death afar off. “On the third day” signifies two things. First, a day in Scripture and in Jewish thought, in this instance, symbolizes 1000 years (2 Pet 3:8), and so it may represent the third one-thousand-year period from the time of Abraham (ca. 1872 B.C.). Messiah would come as the sacrificial Lamb in three days or in the third millennia from Abraham’s time. Yeshua was born and died in the first millennia A.D., or the third millennia from Abraham. Second, the phrase, “third day” can represent the time or millennia of Messiah’s second coming as well, as we shall see.
The Third Day — A Prophetic Picture
Let’s explore the idea of the third day a little more. In Exodus 19:11, YHVH tells the Israelites to consecrate themselves and wash their clothes for two days, then “be ready against the third day, for the third day YHVH will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.” Every detail in YHVH’s Word is important. Let’s not read over the details too quickly, for we might miss some wonderful nuggets of truth hidden therein!
Exodus 19:1 says that the Israelites arrived at Sinai in the third month. Jewish tradition teaches that YHVH most likely gave this order to the Israelites on the third day of the third month, and that this third day—the day YHVH gave the Ten Commandments was on Shavuot.
Now let’s connect the dots. Shavuot and the giving of the Ten Commandments was a day when YHVH, for the first time in recorded biblical history, sounded the heavenly shofar—known as the first trumpet. This relates back to the ram caught in the thicket by his horns. Abraham could see “the place” (Mount Moriah) afar off in three days (Gen 22:4) which related to Messiah’s first coming three millennia later. Likewise, the Israelites were to be ready “on the third day” to receive the Written Torah thundered from the lips of the pre-incarnate Yeshua the Messiah (Acts 7:38; 1 Cor 10:4) at Mount Sinai. But the “third day” reference here is also a prophecy analogous to Abraham’s “third day.” What is the connection? Abraham saw the death of the Redeemer on Mount Moriah and the Israelites were living out a prophecy that pointed to the same time when Messiah would come as the Living Torah culminating on the Feast of Shavuot. The “third day” reference for both Abraham and the Israelites had the same relevance, for both were living in the second century B.C. (i.e. before the birth of Yeshua, the Messiah) who was born near the beginning of the first century A.D.—or the third millennia, or third day prophetically, from both the time of Abraham and the Israelites.
Though a bit tangential to the subject of Shavuot, let’s look at another concept relating to the prophetic implications of the third day. As Yeshua, the Living Torah, came on the third day, so he will return on the third day after his first coming—or, in the third millennia after his first coming. That is, he came in the first millennium of our common era, and we have just passed into the third millennia of the same era and are now in the twenty-first century. According to biblical prophecy, Messiah will return in this third millennia, or third day:
Come, and let us return unto YHVH: for he has torn, and he will heal us; he has smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know YHVH: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. (Hos 6:1–3)
This is a prophecy about the restoration of his people Israel in a spiritual marriage covenant to him (referred in Scripture as the “renewed covenant, see Jer 31:31,33; Heb 8:8–13). But it is also referring to the resurrection of the saints or, the bride of Messiah, who will participate in the marriage supper of the Lamb of YHVH. The saints are Israelites who are part of the Romans 11 olive tree whose root goes back to Abraham and to YHVH.
Yeshua makes further reference to the third day when he says,
…Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. (Luke 13:32)
Yeshua was speaking of his ministry on earth at his first coming as well as his being resurrected on the third day. But, the “third day” is also a reference to his second coming in the third millennia or third day after his first coming. As he was “perfected” on the third day and raised from the dead, his saints will be “perfected” or resurrected at his second coming in the third millennia.
The Ten Commandments were given at Mount Sinai on the third day after two days preparation. That is, the children of Israel had two days to prepare and on the third day YHVH would give them his law from Mount Sinai. Similarly, Yeshua has had his people prepare themselves for 2000 years and in the third thousand-year period (or the seventh thousand year since creation—i.e. the Sabbath millennia) Messiah will return to resurrect his people after which the 1000-year sabbatical millennia will commence.
In reference to this, John records,
And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee… (John 2:1)
This is another prophetic statement referring to the marriage supper of Yeshua the Lamb of Elohim (Rev 19:7–9 cp. 2 Cor 11:2) to occur after the second coming of Yeshua Messiah in the third 1000-year period after his first coming.
Even after two days of preparation, ancient Israel was still not ready (spiritually) to receive the Torah from YHVH. On Shavuot, at Mount Sinai, YHVH entered into a marriage covenant with the children of Israel, but they were not ready to live up to the terms of that covenant. Those terms, simply stated, involved Israel being faithful and obedient only to YHVH, Israel’s spiritual marriage partner, and to his instructions in righteousness—the Torah. This Israel quickly demonstrated they were not willing to do, for they had hardly said “I do” to their marriage vows when they made and began worshipping the golden calf calling their act of spiritual adultery “a feast to YHVH” (Exod 32:5).
Between the time of the feasts of Shavuot and Yom Teruah when Moses received the second tablets of stone from YHVH containing the Ten Commandments, the children of Israel, the bride of YHVH, prepared herself not only to receive YHVH’s instructions the second time, and this time she was faithful to her marriage vows for approximately 38 years while she wandered in the wilderness after which she entered the Promised Land and “stayed the course” until after the death of Joshua.
Similarly, Messianic Israel of the first century a.d. received the Torah on the fleshly tablets of their hearts written by the finger of the Ruach HaKodesh on the day of Pentecost. But starting at about a.d. 70 with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and continuing up through the Second Jewish Revolt of a.d. 135 until the time of Emperor Constantine (in the fourth century), the second century bride of Messiah had, for the most part, abandoned YHVH’s Torah-commandments and had begun mixing the truth of Elohim with pagan practices, which was like the golden calf worship of old (e.g., Sunday worship, Christmas and Easter celebrations and many other pagan beliefs and traditions that exist in mainline Christianity to this day).
In our day, is not YHVH calling out a remnant of people who are leaving behind the traditions of golden calf worship, where the church has mixed the truth of YHVH’s Word with the pagan traditions of this world, and returning to the ancient blessed paths of YHVH’s Torah-instructions in righteousness (Jer 6:16, 19)? In fact, the Book of Revelation speaks of a group of end-time saints who will say “I do” to YHVH, and whose identifying mark is their faith in Yeshua the Messiah (i.e., the gospel message), and yet who faithfully keep YHVH’s Torah-commandments (Rev 12:17 and 14:12). Are these remnant redeemed believers not preparing themselves for the second coming of Messiah on the Yom Teruah when Yeshua, the Living Torah, will return to marry his spiritual bride—the saints, or sanctified ones, of YHVH (Rev 19:7–9)? As the children of Israel entered into the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua, so YHVH’s spiritual bride will return to the spiritual Promised Land of Israel at the beginning of the Millennium under the leadership of Yeshua the Messiah (Heb 4:1–11).
Why Fifty Days Between the Wave Sheaf Offering and Shavuot?
Fifty is the number of complete redemption or liberty. In ancient Israel, all debts were forgiven every seven years. Each seven years one had to let their land rest—no crops were planted. This was called the land Sabbath. Seven seven-year cycles equals 49 years. In Scripture, we see that seven is the number YHVH uses to signify completion or perfection. Therefore, seven sevens, or 49 years, signified total completion. Seven Sabbaths represents redemption, liberty or rest in its fullest or ultimate sense. The fiftieth year was therefore the year of jubilee when all slaves were set free, all land was returned to its original owners and when all debts were forgiven. If Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread signified deliverance from sin (Egypt), then Shavuot, occurring 50 days after the Wave Sheaf Offering during the week of the Days of Unleavened Bread, symbolizes total redemption, deliverance and victory over sin. How? By the glorious power of the indwelling presence of the Ruach HaKodesh in a person’s life.
Shavuot at Mount Sinai and Pentecost in Acts 2
Although some 1500 years separate the first Pentecost at the foot of Mount Sinai and the one recorded in Acts 2, they are wonderfully linked to each both prophetically and spiritually. Few people understand this. In fact, one large branch of Christianity takes its name from Pentecost, yet it is safe to say that most Christians who claim the moniker of “Pentecostal” know little about the deeper implications of this term.
The first Pentecost is the foundation for and points to the latter one. Each was a watershed event for the people of YHVH that helped set their course of destiny for generations to come. We can learn much by studying these two events and understanding the spiritual implications for us as end time believers even though these events occurred thousands of years ago.
At the first Shavuot, the commandments of Elohim were written on two tablets of stone (Exod 24:12); on the Day of Pentecost, the same Torah was written on the heart of men by the Spirit of Elohim on Shavuot (or Pentecost, Acts 2:1–4; Heb 8:10). In 2 Corinthians 3:3 we read,
“Forasmuch as you are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Messiah ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Ruach of the living Elohim; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.” (2 Cor 3:3)
Interestingly, as YHVH inscribed the Torah on two stones at Sinai, likewise the human heart is also comprised of two “tablets,” or compartments, which physicians refer to as the “left heart” and the “right heart.”
Long before the day of Pentecost, many biblical writers prophesied that YHVH would give his people new hearts and write his Torah on their hearts (e.g., Jer 31:33; Pss 37:31; 40:8; Isa 51:7; Ezek 11:19–20; 36:22–27; 2 Cor 3:3; Heb 8:10). Though YHVH gave our forefathers his law at Sinai and even the gospel message (Heb 4:2), it did not profit them, since they didn’t have faith (verses 6–7). They were unable to keep it because of the hardness or stone-like nature of their hearts (Ezek 11:19). It wasn’t until the promised Comforter or Spirit of Elohim (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7,13) came en masse on Pentecost and softened or circumcised the human heart that man was able to serve and obey YHVH’s laws—not out of legalistic obligation or a dead letter-of-the-law obedience, but out of a heart of love, faith and trust. All obedience to the commands of YHVH should be out of a heart attitude of love and devotion to YHVH (John 14:15, 21).
The two Shavuot events are linked prophetically in other ways as well. Because of the hardness of the Israelites’ hearts and their refusal to trust and obey the Torah that YHVH gave them on the first Shavuot, three thousand Israelites were slain at the golden calf incident (Exod 32:1–8, 26–28). They sinned against YHVH when they violated the second commandment and made an idol and worshipped it. The death penalty is the result of violating the laws of Elohim (Ezek 18:4). However, on the day of Pentecost the curse was reversed: three thousand were saved or born again (Acts 2:38–41). This teaches us that when YHVH’s Torah-commands are written on our hearts and we obey him, spiritual life comes.
Another way in which the two Shavuots may be contrasted is that the letter of the Torah was given at Sinai, while in the Testimony of Yeshua (or New Testament) the Spirit of the Torah was brought to its full revelation (Matt 5–7; Rom 2:29; 7:6; 2 Cor 3:6).
We also see that Shavuot at Mount Sinai and on Pentecost in Acts 2 both were accompanied by heavenly sounds. The Torah-law was given on Mount Sinai amidst thunderings, lightening and fire. Similar divine manifestations occurred on the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem (Exod 19:16, 18; 20:18 cp. Acts 2:2–3).
We learn of another connection between the Shavuot and Pentecost from the Jewish midrash (or interpretation of Scripture), which teaches that when YHVH was declaring the ten commandments, visible sound waves actually left his mouth like liquid or audible fire. Exodus 20:18 says that the people saw the thunderings (plural, not singular thunder). Allegorically, the Jewish sages teach that this means that as YHVH’s voice left his mouth it split into the 70 known languages extant on earth at that time and traveled around the entire camp and then to each Israelite. Israel had a “Pentecostal” experience in the wilderness! Shavuot at Sinai was a rehearsal (or miqra) of the Shavuot or Pentecost yet to come in the Book of Acts. The phrase “voice of the words” in Hebrews 12:19 in describing what the Israelites heard at Sinai may very well be a confirmation of this Jewish tradition. The word words in Hebrews 12:19 is the Greek word rhema, which many believe to mean “an individual word to an individual person from the Spirit of YHVH.” So in Sinai, perhaps each Israelite heard YHVH’s word in 70 languages, while on Pentecost each person heard the gospel preached in his own language (Acts 2:6–11).
Yeshua commanded his disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until Pentecost where they would be “immersed with the Ruach HaKodesh” (Acts 1:5). He further told them that they would “receive power (literally explosive, dynamic or dynamite-like power) after that the Ruach HaKodesh is come upon you …” (verse 8, first part). And what was the purpose for that dynamic immersion or in-filling of the Ruach HaKodesh? “…[A]nd you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (verse 8, last part). Were they, under the empowerment of the Ruach, to preach a Torah-less (or even an anti-Torah) message? Assuredly not! They were commanded to preach the gospel message of the Written Torah (as given to the Israelites at Sinai) and then to combine it with the salvation message of Yeshua (who was the Living Torah or Word of Elohim incarnate/in flesh form, John 1:1, 14). Yeshua’s disciples were to follow his example and to proclaim that message to a lost, dying and hurting world starting with the Jews and then to go to the world as Yeshua commanded with the miraculous signs and wonders following them as evidences that the Spirit of Elohim was with them (Acts 1:8; Matt 28:18–20; Mark 16:15–18). As one author so aptly, states this,“ The complete saturation of believers with the Set-Apart Spirit bestowed many supernatural gifts and enablements for declaring the good news with power and effectiveness (Acts 1:8). This is reasonable, for if the work of YHVH could be accomplished through human abilities, the ‘enduement (or clothing upon) with power from on high’ would be rendered unnecessary and meaningless.” (http://www.vcfbham.org/chap6.html)
This author continues, “It is a mistake to isolate one manifestation as evidencing this in-filling. Pentecost represents a many-faceted demonstration of His presence, as we shall see. Some of the spiritual abilities with which the church was endowed are these: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, and speaking with tongues, both heavenly language and foreign languages of men (1 Cor 12; 13:1). You will discover that gifts to the ministry are included in this equipping (Eph 4:8, 11)” (ibid.).
Simply stated, he says, this Set-Apart Spirit baptism was for the equipping of those who would be used of YHVH with whatever they needed, on any occasion and under any circumstances, to be an adequate witness and to do the works of Elohim (John 14:12).
Today, more than ever, we must have these spiritual talents working in us so that the gospel of the kingdom may be published into all the world for a witness before the end comes (Matt 24:14). The fact that Scripture also refers to Pentecost as the Feast of Harvest of the First Fruits gives us some spiritual insight concerning the harvest of souls that Elohim desires to be reaped from the earth. The Bible teaches that Yeshua was the Son of Man who came to sow good seed—the Word of YHVH (Luke 8:5–11). We, therefore, as members of the body of Messiah are the reapers sent forth for harvesting (John 4:38; Matt 9:38). Through Spirit-filled witnessing, the harvest of earth will be reaped. It is for this reason that Yeshua made the declaration, “You shall receive power after that the Set-Apart Spirit is come upon you and you shall be witnesses unto me … unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The people of YHVH can never be effective and productive in this harvest without an abundant anointing or baptism of the Set-Apart Spirit. Pentecost symbolizes anointing for the harvest. A yearly observance of this biblical memorial day by redeemed believers serves to remind us of our total dependence upon the Spirit of Elohim to guide, empower and anoint us to help reap the spiritual harvest of earth. The apostle Peter referred to it as a “time of refreshing” helping to prepare the restoration of all things so that Yeshua can come back (ibid.).