Why celebrate the Feast of Pentecost (Shavuot)?

May 16, 2021: Israel is at war! I urge you to pray for the salvation of all her people, both Jew and Arab, and for a cessation of violence and war, Come, Yeshua (Jesus) come we pray!! As a ministry we are also preparing ‘material blessings’ (Romans 15:27). Please consider making a donation here which will be sent directly to help ministries that we have personal relationship with in Israel.

The Feast of Pentecost (Shavuot)

Many Christians have some familiarity with the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:1 – 4) mentioned in the New Testament and if you have been part of any organized church tradition you may have heard of it. Did you know that it’s roots are in the Old Testament and actually a Feast that the LORD God commanded the children of Israel to celebrate?

This year (2021) The Feast of “Shavuot” begins the evening of May 16th on the Hebrew Calendar. It is one of the three “pilgrimage” feasts when Jewish males were commanded in the Old Testament to go up to Jerusalem to present offerings to the LORD. The other two are Passover and Tabernacles.

Shavuot means “weeks” in Hebrew so it is also known as the Feast of Weeks because it occurs 7 weeks after the Feast of Firstfruits which today is included in the eight day Feast of Passover (also knows as Feast of Unleavened Bread). Because it starts on the 50th day following Firstfruits, we call it Pentecost. Pente means 50 in Greek. Since Christians follow the Gregorian calendar “Pentecost” this year is Sunday May 23. (Read about the Feast of Firstfruits and Weeks in Leviticus 23:9 – 22).

In the Bible Shavuot is also known as the Feast of Harvest (Exodus 23:16) because it celebrates the beginning (first fruits) of the wheat harvest (Exodus 34:22).

The Wave Offerings

On the Feast of Firstfruits (after Passover), one sheaf of barley was waved as a celebration of the the barley harvest and one male lamb without blemish was offered as a sacrifice unto the LORD. Can you see how this relates to Jesus who is called a spotless lamb and sacrificed himself on the cross for our redemption and salvation? Christ is the first fruits! (1 Corinthians 15:23)

On Shavuot a new grain (wheat) offering is brought to the LORD in the form of two loaves that were waved by the priests (Leviticus 23:16 – 17). Animal sacrifice was also involved in this Feast. However animal sacrifice ceased when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70AD. As Christians we believe Jesus is the perfect and final sacrifice for our sins. Animal sacrifice is no longer necessary for redemption.

The Two Loaves of Bread

What could the two loaves of bread symbolize? They could represent a double portion harvest. In Old Testament days it was the blessing of actual grain because Israel was an agricultural society. But in the New Testament Jesus said, “The fields are already white for harvest” (John 4:35), indicating a harvest of souls!! This is part of our mission as believers — to make disciples. While the Feast of Pentecost is about the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts, it is also about 3,000 souls coming into the Kingdom! Who were these people? They were primarily Jews because Jews came up to the Temple at Shavuot from all over the known world. 3,000 souls came to know Jesus as Messiah that day and the “church” was born in power. (Read Acts Chapter 2). What an awesome “first fruits” offering and harvest! Many of these new believers empowered by the Holy Spirit would have returned to where they lived across Israel, Asia and even to Rome after Shavuot and spread the Gospel to their neighbors. Glory to God!!

The two loaves could also represent the “One New Man”, the coming together of Jew and Gentile, now one in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). Together we make up the “church”. (Ephesians 2:11 – 22). God is not done with Israel and will keep His covenant promises to her. The Apostle Paul taught this in Romans Chapters 9 – 11.

The Book of Ruth

A Jewish tradition begun by the Rabbis is to read the Book of Ruth during Shavuot. The story of Ruth begins at the beginning of the barley harvest (Feast of Firstfruits) and continues through the wheat harvest beyond Shavuot. It is very meaningful!

The story of Ruth is of how she, a Moabites came alongside her Jewish mother-in law Naomi to care for her. Ruth emphatically states in Chapter 1, verse 16

“Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.’

Here is the story in a nutshell! Ruth fully identifies with Naomi and returns with her to Bethlehem leaving her own country. Both Naomi’s husband and Ruth’s husband are dead. In that culture widowhood was extremely difficult. Additionally they had no children; Naomi’s sons have also died and Ruth is childless which was another difficulty within the culture.

Naomi’s purpose in returning to Bethlehem is to seek out a “kinsmen redeemer” among her relatives. One is found in Boaz, who foreshadows Jesus, and Ruth marries him. Together they had a son named Obed, who was the father of Jesse, the Father of King David and therefore in the lineage of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus)!!

Here we see a Gentile woman being accepted into the House of Israel. What a beautiful foreshadowing of how the Church is made up of both Jew and Gentile becoming “one new man” in Yeshua. Hallelujah! May we be like Ruth, coming alongside the Jewish people to love them, bless them, care for them and draw them to their Messiah Yeshua!

Can you see how it enriches our understanding of the Scriptures and our walk with the LORD when we understand the richness of our inheritance as demonstrated in the Feasts of the LORD and in the Old Testament? We pray this season of harvest is a blessing to you as you bless others in Yeshua’s name.

View videos to learn more….

Wave Offering with Pam Singer from Israel>>

The Church and Israel with Betsy Roy >>

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Celebrating Shavuot/Pentecost

by Betsy Roy

On the Hebrew calendar Shavuot occurs fifty days after the Feast of First Fruits. On the Christian calendar Pentecost occurs fifty days after Jesus’ Resurrection.

They are the same day since Jesus was resurrected on the Feast of First Fruits! The Old Testament Feast of Shavuot (or Weeks) is an agricultural feast celebrating the wheat harvest and also called the Feast of Reaping or Harvest. While not supported in the Biblical text, Rabbinic tradition teaches that at this time God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. Pentecost in the New Testament commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the 120 gathered in the Upper Room and their empowerment to spread the Gospel. Indeed, 3000 new believers came into the Kingdom that day (Acts 2) and were baptized. Wouldn’t we like to receive 3,000 new believers into our congregations today? That is a mighty move of the Holy Spirit upon the hearts of men and women!

We need both the Word of God (His teachings and instructions) and the Spirit of God to guide us and teach us.

The Holy Spirit is our teacher and he brings to our remembrance all that Jesus taught. Jesus himself spoke the scriptures many times in various situations. Growing up as a Jewish man within a Jewish community, Jesus studied the scriptures, went to the synagogue and celebrated the Feasts of the Lord going up to Jerusalem to be in God’s House (the Temple). After being baptized in the Jordan River, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil and Jesus met every temptation by speaking God’s Word from Deuteronomy (see Luke 4).

Jesus’ example shows us how much we need to know God’s Word and need the Holy Spirit to rightly apply God’s Word in our lives. It’s not one without the other. There are many voices competing for our attention today. As believers we need to know whose voice is speaking to us as the enemy of our souls surely tries to get us to listen to his voice. The Holy Spirit will never contradict God’s Word. Therefore, to know the voice of the Spirit, we must also know what the Word of God says. The Spirit will bring understanding, illumination, revelation and confirmation of God’s Word, but never speak contrary to it. So, it’s the Word and the Spirit together!

Are you struggling with Life Issues, not knowing what to do today?

Go to God’s Word, the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to help you. He will! Perhaps you need a Redeemer – His name is Jesus – and he will forgive you of every sin if you ask him and then give you strength and power to live free of sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you need direction? Again, the Holy Spirit and the Word of God will help you. The Lord never turns away a sincere heart that comes to him.

Commemorating Shavuot and Pentecost is celebrating the WORD and the SPIRIT. Let’s be thankful God gave us both and pray and work towards a great harvest of souls into God’s Kingdom! 

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 3 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.