THE FEAST OF WEEKS (PENTECOST) - SHAVUOT
Old Testament Scriptures: Exodus 19, 20, and 24; Deuteronomy 16:9-12; Exodus 23:16-17; Leviticus 23:15-21 and Numbers 28:26-31
New Testament Scriptures (Fulfillment): Acts 2; II Corinthians 3; Hebrews 8
The Story in Brief
The Exodus of Israel for Egypt took place under the Feast of Passover in the first month, the month of Abib or Nisan. After crossing the Red Sea and being led by the pillar of fire, they were brought to the foot of Mt. Sinai. Here at Sinai, they experienced the Feast of Pentecost, in the third month, which was Sivan. At Sinai, the Ten Commandments were given to the nation. Here the Tabernacle of the Lord, the Aaronic priesthood and the sacrificial system was given. Here the nation was established as the “the church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38). Later on, when Israel entered the Promised Land, special and peculiar offerings were presented to the Lord as Israel gathered in the Pentecostal harvest amidst great joy and rejoicing.
The full significance of this Feast Day can only be understood and appreciated by considering the details laid down in the relevant scriptures.
Names of the Feast
This particular Feast Day is known by different names, each of which set forth some facet of truth.
1. The Feast of Harvest – Ex. 23:16
2. The Feast of Weeks – Exodus 34:22, Deut. 16:10,16
3. The Day of Firstfruits – Num. 28:26; Ex. 34:22
4. The Feast of Weeks of the Firstfruits of the Wheat Harvest – Ex. 34:22
5. The Feast of Harvest, the Firstfruits of Israel’s labors – Ex. 23:16
6. The Feast of Pentecost, in the NT. Pentecost being transliteration of the Greek word for “fifty” – Acts 2:1; 20:16; I Corinthians 16:8
Pentecost in the Third Month – Exodus 19:1-2; Acts 2:1 and 20:16; I Corinthians 16:8
Pentecost is the Greek name for this Feast Day. It simply means “fiftieth.” This word is not used in the OT but is found 3 times in the NT.
The Old Testament Fiftieth Day
a. Passover to Pentecost
From Passover to Pentecost can be traced a required 50 days. Passover took place on the 14th day of the first month. Israel left Egypt on the 15th day of the same month, in the Feast of Unleavened Bread. After the Exodus they crossed the Red Sea, following the cloudy pillar to Mt. Sinai. Here the Lord spoke to Moses to tell Israel to sanctify themselves. At the end of sanctification, the 50th day after Passover, Moses went up onto the mount were God wrote the Ten Commandments on the tables of stone. In all we have 50 days. Hence the Jews today look upon the Feast of Pentecost as the celebration or the commemoration of the giving of the Law.
b. The Feast of Weeks – Leviticus 23:15-16
The “time element” is set forth expressly in this passage. It links Passover and Pentecost together. The Lord commanded Israel, when they arrived in the land and had harvest time, to count from the day of the waving of the sheaf of firstfruits 49 days, or seven sabbaths complete. Then they were to count the day following, which was the 50th day, and this was the day of Pentecost. Thus, we have 7x7 = 49 + 1 = 50 days.
The New Testament Fiftieth Day – Acts 1:3; 2:1
Jesus came to fulfil all the intricate details of the Law. After His resurrection, He was seen of His disciples 40 days, speaking to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. At the close of the 40 days, Jesus asceneded back to Heaven. Then the disciples tarried in Jerusalem in the upper room for 10 days, and then “when the day of Pentecost was fully come” the Holy Spirit was poured out. Thus we have:
40 days post-resurrection ministry of Jesus
10 days tarrying of the disciples
50 days to Pentecost
Israel experienced the giving of the Law on the 50th day; the disciples experienced the infilling of the Law giver on the 50th day.
Significance of the Number Fifty
The number 50 is used symbolically to represent liberty, freedom, and deliverance. Every 50th year in Israel is called the year of Jubilee. Priests served the Tabernacle of the Lord until the age of 50. Other uses of the number fifty may be seen in Genesis 6:15; I Kings 18:4, 13; II Kings 2:7; Leviticus 27:1-5; Mark 6:40; Luke 9:14.
What Happened at Mt. Sinai?
Although the Feast day took place on the 50th day, there were other important things which transpired on and subsequent to this day.
OT – At Sinai we have Moses, fire, darkness, trumpet voice, quaking, thunder and lightening.
NT – At Jerusalem (Mt. Zion), we have Jesus, tongues of fire, rushing mighty wind, shaking and conviction.
The Giving of the Law Covenant – Ex. 19-16-20; Deut. 4-5; Ex. 31-34
The Book of the Covenant – Ex. 24; Hebrews 8-9
Relative to the Feast of Pentecost was the giving of the Book of the Covenant. It contained other civil and ceremonial Laws besides the Ten Commandments. This Book was blood-sprinkled, even as were the people. Under Passover the blood was sprinkled on the door. Under Pentecost the blood was sprinkled on the people and the Book.
The Revelation of the Tabernacle Order – Ex. 25-40
Subsequent to the Feast Day of Pentecost was the revelation to Moses of the Tabernacle of the Lord, and the whole order of approach and worship therein.
Here at Mt. Sinai, God established His church, the Aaronic priesthood, the sacrificial system, the Tabernacle, the sabbeth days and the Festival occasions. Here Israel was taught how all must approach God in sacrifice and worship as a redeemed and holy people.
The NT fulfillment is seen in the teaching of the Apostles concerning the priesthood of all believers, the spiritual sacrifices offered in a spiritual house, and the spiritual experience of the Feasts of the Lord.