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Understanding Scripture in Light of a Jewish Timeline

Shavuot

This year Shavuot occurs in early June. It is also known as Pentecost or Feast of Weeks, and occurs in the third month of the Jewish calendar, fifty days after the Feast of Firstfruit (Bikkurim). This is one of the Jewish feasts mentioned in Leviticus 23. They all have a prophecy component to them as well as a memorial component.

This is a feast marking paradigm changes. This marked the change from living under God’s promise to living under God’s Law. Israel became a nation before God on this day at Mt Sinai. The Israelites left Egypt on the 15th day of 1st month (Nu 33:3 – 1st day of Unleavened Bread). The following are the days up to Shavuot:

Day 1: 16th day of 1st month (Firstfruit)

Day 46: Arrived at Sinai 1st day of 3rd month (Ex 19:1)

Days 46-47: 2 days of consecration of people (Ex 19:10-11)

Day 48: God appeared as thunder, lightning, smoke and fire on the mountain, the mountain shook, and God spoke in thunder (Ex 19:16-20). God called Moses and Aaron up to the mountain, gave them the 10 commandments and other laws, met with Aaron, his sons and 70 elders of Israel (Ex 19:20 – 24:3)

Day 49: Moses wrote down all the words God had given him (Ex 24:4)

Day 50: Moses read the Book of the Covenant to them, they agreed to it and Moses offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, consecrated the people with “the blood of the covenant.” Moses, Aaron, his sons, and 70 elders of Israel ate with God (likely the Pre-Incarnate Christ) (Ex 24: 4-11).

On the 50th day after Firstfruits (Hence: Pentecost or Weeks), two loaves, made with fine wheat flower and yeast, are brought as a wave offering before the Lord. This was a picture of inclusion. One example of this was the inclusion of Rahab into Israel at the fall of Jericho (Js 6:22-23). The Israelites celebrated Passover (Pesach) shortly after crossing the Jordan River, they renewed their covenant by having all the men circumcised, met to worship, and then took the city of Jericho. The time for all these events to happen would likely take some time, so being at Jericho around the time of Shavuot would be likely.

Another example of inclusion was Ruth, originally from Moab, and Boaz, from Judah. Boaz married Ruth around the time of Shavuot: “So, Ruth stayed close to the servant girls of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law” (Ru 2:23). Barley harvest was at time of Firstfruit. Wheat harvest was at the time of Shavuot.

Christ’s birth marked another paradigm change. Christ was likely born on Shavuot 2 BC (Sivan or June). His conception was likely on Rosh Hashanah 3 BC (Tishri 1st or September 10th). Shavuot of 2 BC was Sivan 6th or June 8th. The Jewish calendar had another month added to the calendar in 2 BC – making the days between Rosh Hashanah and Shavuot 272 days (average gestation is 280 days). Therefore, a very viable period of gestation between conception and birth. Christ’s birth was definitely a paradigm change for Israel – and for the world. He brought the true meaning of Scripture back to life and his death was for all of mankind and not just for the Jews. Again, a message of inclusion.

The giving of the Holy Spirit on Shavuot (Pentecost) marked another paradigm change (Acts 2). The Holy Spirit was given to Christ’s followers 50 days after His resurrection. Christ’s resurrection occurred on Firstfruits. The Holy Spirit was given on Pentecost (Shavuot). This is considered the birth of the Church. However, the first followers were Jewish and/or Jewish proselytes. Later, Gentiles were added to the church – another message of inclusion. Because of the message of total inclusion, this is likely the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy.

Many have tried to understand the meaning of the two loaves of bread (made with yeast) used in this feast and what symbolic meaning they provide:

1.      Two tablets of the Law given at Mt. Sinai

2.      Two houses of Israel

3.      Old Testament; New Testament

4.      The two characteristics of the Messiah (suffering & reigning)

5.      Jew & Gentile

However, once you understand the reason for the feast, then the meaning is clear: the church is composed of both Jews and Gentiles. The conversion of Saul put the inclusion of Gentiles into the church on fast-track.

Why is this important? Shavuot marks the beginning of the Church Age. It is interesting that all the feasts from this point on allows Gentiles to be a part of them. Yet non-proselytized Gentiles were not part of the original church. We need to be sure that our world-view is correct to Biblical teaching. We need to look at all of Scripture to be sure we have interpreted specific parts correctly. Paul was very clear that the Church Age was a secret mystery revealed to him by God, but it would come to an end (Ro 11:25 – The Church Age will come to an end; Ro 11:26 – All of Israel will be saved). We have been allowed to be part of Christ’s kingdom due to God’s grace.

Isn’t it amazing how God’s word reveals such marvelous secrets to us, that when understood, seem not so much a secret after all – especially since it only echoes God’s character.