What is the Feast of Weeks

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The Feast of Weeks, also known as Shavuot in Hebrew or Pentecost in Greek, celebrates both the giving of the Torah and the giving of the Holy Spirit in Acts.

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What is the Feast of Weeks

by Lex Meyer

The Feast of Weeks is a spring harvest festival following Passover. It begins with the waving of a single sheaf of the FirstFruits on the day after the Sabbath. Then seven weeks are counted leading up to the culmination on the 50th day, the day after the 7th Sabbath.

"You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you. You shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you, at the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide." Deuteronomy 16:9–11

The Feast of weeks marks the conclusion of the Counting of 7 weeks and is known by several different names in the Bible. In Hebrew, it's called Shavuot, which means weeks, and refers to the counting of 7 weeks. In Greek, it's called Pentecost, which means 50, and refers to the 50 days of counting. It is also called the Festival of Reaping and Day of the First Fruits because it is a spring harvest festival.

However, calling it FirstFuits seems a bit confusing since the day beginning the count is also called FirstFruits. On the first day a single sheaf is waved to begin the grain harvest, and at the end of 7 weeks a celebration takes place with it is the day when the FirstFruits wave offering is made. So, why are both the beginning and the end called FirstFruits?

"'And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord. You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the Lord. And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs of the first year, without blemish, one young bull, and two rams. They shall be as a burnt offering to the Lord, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to the Lord. Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats as a sin offering, and two male lambs of the first year as a sacrifice of a peace offering The priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations 'When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God.'" Leviticus 23:15-22

In ancient times, the grain harvest lasted seven weeks. It began with the harvesting of barley at Passover and ended with the harvesting of wheat at Shavuot. Shavuot was thus the concluding festival of the grain harvest. This is why it is a tradition to read the Book of Ruth at Pentecost because the story is tied to the grain harvest.

The Torah states that the sheaf offering is the FirstFruits of the barley harvest, and is to begin "on the morrow after the Sabbath" and continue to be counted for seven Sabbaths leading up to "the morrow after the seventh sabbath" when the bread of the FirstFruits is offered. It is interesting to note that this bread is to be offered with yeast because this feast follows the Feast of Unleavened bread in which all yeast was to be removed.

This is significant because we remove the old yeast and then bring in new yeast. Yeshua explained that leaven represents teaching, and He warned against the leaven of the Pharisees, which is the doctrines and traditions of men. So, at Passover, we learn to remove that old leaven, but at Shavuot, we are given new leaven, new teaching to apply. What is the new leaven that we are given?

Shavuot commemorates the anniversary of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai and the giving of the Holy Spirit in Acts. On Passover, the people of Israel were freed from bondage, and on Shavuot, they were given the instruction about how to be the people of God. We remove the leaven of men at Passover, and we add the leaven of God at Shavuot. This is why it is so important for us to UNLEARN the lies of men, and learn the truth of God's Word.

The word “Torah” means teaching and in John 14:26 Yeshua spoke about the coming of the Holy Spirit and explained that He would teach them and remind them of everything.

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." John 14:26

Then we see the fulfillment of this on Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 when the Holy Spirit was given.

"When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Acts 2:1-4

There are some interesting connections between the giving of the Torah and the giving of the Holy Spirit. Both events had similar sounds and symbols such as wind, fire, smoke, and voices. The Hebrew word translated thunder in Exodus 20:18 is “qolot” and means voices or languages.

"Now all the people witnessed the thunderings (voices), the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off." Exodus 20:18

According to Jewish tradition, the Ten Commandments were spoken in all of the languages of the world in the thunderings so that the whole world might understand it.

“Rabi Yochanan Said: When God’s voice came forth at Mt. Sinai, it divided itself into 70 human languages so that the whole world might understand it. All at Mt. Sinai, young and old, women, children, and infants according to their ability to understand.” Midrash Exodus Rabbah 5:9

Again, this is Jewish tradition, but I find it very interesting because at Pentecost the Holy Spirit enabled the Disciples to speak in other languages to equip them for the Great Commission, to take the Gospel to all nations.

At Sinai Yahweh gave the Law written on stone tablets, but at Pentecost, He gave the Law written on the Hearts of the people through the Holy Spirit.

"But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." Jeremiah 31:33
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them." Ezekiel 36:26-27

My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will be given to you this Shavuot and that He would write the Torah on your heart and cause you to walk in all of the commandments.

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