Amazing Fulfillments at Shavuot or Pentecost
From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord. From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the Lord. Present with this bread seven male lambs, each a year old and without defect, one young bull and two rams. They will be a burnt offering to the Lord, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings—a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord. Then sacrifice one male goat for a sin offering and two lambs, each a year old, for a fellowship offering. The priest is to wave the two lambs before the Lord as a wave offering, together with the bread of the firstfruits. They are a sacred offering to the Lord for the priest. On that same day you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. (Leviticus 23:15–21, NIV)
Shavuot or "Weeks" in Hebrew gains its Pentecost label from the Greek word for Fifty, because this harvest (Exodus 23:16) festival is tied tightly to Passover and the Feast of the First Fruits. It's usually observed on the 6th or 7th day of Sivan in Israel.
Back to spectacular fulfillments:
- Jesus was crucified on Passover as our Passover lamb (1Corinthians 5:7) and three days later He rose on the Feast of First Fruit! Note later in 1Corinthians 5:20 "But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." Pentecost is 50 days from the First Fruits. Jesus was the first fruit of the great harvest in fullest form.
- This harvest then turns to those who would be redeemed by His sacrifice when 50 days later during Shavuot, as His disciples prepared for the Harvest Festival, likely by studying and meditating on the significance of the Feast (Acts 2:1-4):
- Shavuot was also the day that the Law was given on Mt. Sinai. Numbers 19 clarifies this day.
- On Mt. Sinai, they would have reflected on the sound and fury: “The voice of the LORD strikes with flashes of lightning. The voice of the LORD shakes the desert; the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh.” (Psalm 29:7–8, NIV)
- An ancient fragment targum (from Cairo Geniza) captures the Jewish tradition of those same events in Numbers : “The first commandment, when it left the mouth of the Holy One . . . as meteors and lightening and as torches of fire; a fiery torch to its right and a fiery torch to its left, which burst forth and flew in the air of the heavenly expanse; it proceeded to circle around the camp of Israel.”
- Jewish tradition also holds that the 70 elders of Israel had flames then rest above their heads as they spoke in the 70 languages of the world (see Genesis 10 as it marks out seventy nations "each with its own language"). Thus, this first Shavuot was a reversal of the curse of Genesis 11's Tower of Babel when God scattered the nations and confused their languages. Now He extends His grace to them by expressing His covenant in languages of all the nations. His harvest begins on this day, the birthday of Israel.
- As the disciples reflect on these glories of Pentecost, they also begin to hear a loud, violent, and rumbling sound from heaven — the Holy Spirit! The harvest is about to be fulfilled with a new birthday for God's people: the birthday of His Church.
- Through the Holy Spirit, 3000 are harvested as fulfillment of the second harvest festival. Jesus fulfilled the Feast of First Fruits, and we are now fulfilling the Feast of the Harvest or Shavuot.
- Amazingly, this harvest extends beyond Israel. Two loaves are offered at Shavuot rather than one. This second loaf may point to a second harvest of Gentiles that mercifully includes us.
- A final note of encouragement (especially when Satan tried to accuse us) on our less-than-holy days: only these loaves are offered in the Temple with leaven. All other sacrifices are cleansed of leaven. Thus, while we are harvested, washed, sanctified and justified by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:10-11), we are still in a battle between Flesh and Spirit (Galatians 5:13-18). God knows this about us; He prophesied it. But we continue to be refined and sanctified but the Spirit despite our ever present flesh.
- There's one more Feast toward which we strain in eager anticipation, Succoth or Tabernacles. It's the last feast and the final redemption when we no longer tabernacle here in temporary dwelling but enter into the great reward (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) having been sanctified through and through, kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Succoth marks the temporary dwelling in the desert until God's people enter into the promise land. It's also the last great harvest of the year for Israel. For us, it will be both a great and awesome final harvest and our joyful entry into the Promised Land, the New Heaven and the New Earth. Maranatha!