Just when you thought you were getting a handle on the Feasts of YHVH, along comes another holy day that depends on how you count!
What is it about Hebrew Roots that makes me count all the time? First, I had to learn to count to three because it is impossible for the crucifixion to have taken place on a Friday (good or otherwise) with a resurrection on Sunday and fulfill the sign of Jonah that Yeshua spoke about! I mean, seriously, you cannot get three days and three nights from Friday to Sunday morning, no matter how you slice it!
So, if the church I grew up in cannot even count to three, why would I think that they have it right when they teach about Pentecost? Or, more accurately, Shavuot!
Have you been counting the omer?
WHAT’S AN OMER?
And why do we count them?
Shavuot was originally an agricultural festival when the new grain was offered to YHVH. Shavuot is reached by “counting the omer” (counting 50 days) from First Fruits —- hence in Greek it’s called “pentecost” which means “fiftieth.”
So is ‘omer’ another word for day? Nope! “Omer” is a Hebrew word that means “sheaves of a harvested crop”
When do we begin the counting?
ANOTHER CALENDAR DISPUTE!
The first day to begin counting the ‘omer’ is another area where there is confusion! According to the Jewish calendar, the count begins on the second day of Passover when the first offering of the ‘omer’ was taken to the Temple.
But, what does the instruction from Leviticus 23 say?
Lev 23:10 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, 11 and he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, so that you may be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.
The confusion is which ‘Sabbath’ is the one that marks the counting of the ‘omer?’
Is it the High Sabbath that occurs on the first day of Passover (Unleavened Bread)? [This is what the Jews observe.]
OR is it the Sunday (First Day) following the regular weekly Sabbath when First Fruits is made as a ‘wave offering?’
If we do not understand when to observe First Fruits, we cannot understand how to begin our 50 day count!
WHY ARE WE CONFUSED?
It is easy to see where the confusion arises.
Read Leviticus 23:12: And on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to the LORD.
That sounds like Passover, doesn’t it? But, there is more to this instruction! Read on!
13 And the grain offering with it shall be two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, a food offering to the LORD with a pleasing aroma, and the drink offering with it shall be of wine, a fourth of a hin. 14 And you shall eat neither bread nor grain parched or fresh until this same day, until you have brought the offering of your God: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
If we go back to the Exodus account where Moses was given the instructions for the Feasts of YHVH, there may be some clues in how the Mt. Sinai event is a model of the Spring Feasts.
The waving or offering up to God of the first sheaf in Hebrew is omer. It literally means the first omer. It’s from this term, omer, and what was done with it, being offered up to YHVH, that sets the beginning of ‘the counting of the omer.’ From the day the barley flour was offered, Israel counted 50 days to the next feast, Shavu’ot (Pentecost). (source: http://www.seedofabraham.net/feasts4.html)
So, the first grain harvest that was presented as a wave sheaf to YHVH each spring was the barley harvest. This lines up with our understanding of the head of the year being based on the Aviv Barley and Sighting of the first sliver of the moon, as documented by Michael Rood’s Astronomically & Agriculturally Corrected Biblical Hebrew Calendar.
“Shavuot will always occur on a Sunday just as Firstfruits will. Messianics should not let their distaste for the Christian Sunday observance deter them from commemorating FirstFruits and Shavuot on a Sunday. I mention this since many Messianic studies on the internet attempt to place Yeshua’s resurrection on a Saturday Sabbath, and similar articles try to find ways to make FirstFruits and Shavuot fall on any day but Sunday. The day after the weekly Sabbath is Sunday.”( http://www.lightofmashiach.org/moedim.html)
As you can see, there is no consensus on the calendar issues! It is refreshing to read what the above website says about Sunday marking First Fruits and Shavuot, but I cannot agree with his remark that the resurrection too was on a Sunday. Yeshua was already absent from the grave when the women came ‘early’ on the first day.
Here we are again, trying to un-learn our perception that a day begins and ends at midnight rather than the Hebraic understanding that a day begins and ends when the sun sets.
Joh 20:1 On the first day (which began at Sundown on the Sabbath) of the week, early in the morning and while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and noticed that the stone had been removed from the tomb.
Joh 20:17 Jesus told her, “Don’t hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”
HE TOLD MARY NOT TO TOUCH HIM! WHY?
Without an understanding of the Temple service, we are behind the curve when we try to understand the events of this momentous day! Yeshua was Our Passover Lamb, but He is also our High Priest (see http://www.bulldozerfaith.com/who-is-your-high-priest )
The High Priest (Cohen Gadol) was to remain in seclusion from the marking of the first fruits until they were offered in the Temple on Yom HaBikkurim (First Fruits)! Yeshua fulfilled that seclusion by his three days and three nights in the tomb!
He told Mary he had not yet ascended and to tell his disciples so! Yet, later that same day we see Him appear to his disciples and invite them to touch his hands, feet and side!
Apparently, between his ‘early’ encounter with Mary on that Sunday, and his appearance to his two disciples on the road to Emmaus and the rest of them in Jerusalem, He had completed his ascension to offer the First Fruits to the Father as his first duty as the High Priest of the order of Melchizedek. (see The Chronological Gospels, Michael Rood)
To adopt the Jewish calendar date of First Fruits being the day following the High Sabbath of Passover week, is to destroy the shadow picture given to us to foretell the miracles fulfilled by the Messiah! And, it doesn’t really match the time-frame that we see in the account of Moses and his trips up and down the mountain between Passover and the giving of the Ten Commandments.
All of the Feasts of YHVH are shadow pictures of the Messiah! ALL of them!
According to the gospel record, Yeshua ascended to His Father on that Sunday (the first day of the week)! At least on the year of His crucifixion, First Fruits was offered on a Sunday! He wasn’t resurrected on Sunday; he ascended to present the First Fruits on Sunday!
If He was our Passover Lamb, and according to His own statement to his disciples, the only sign given would be the sign of Jonah (three days and three nights in the tomb), then how can we reconcile that first fruits would occur on the second day of Passover?
We cannot count to three if we do that! Can we?
And, if we fail to determine the correct day to present the First Fruits, we cannot accurately count the fifty days to Pentecost (Shavuot)!
PRECISION IN COUNTING
I grew up in the Christian church that said the crucifixion happened on ‘good Friday,’ and he arose on Sunday. And, to this day, many will say that it isn’t about accuracy, it is about what happened!
What kind of God would we serve if He didn’t care enough to follow through with what He determined to do? If he said it was going to be three days and three nights in the tomb, then that has to be what happened. Otherwise, we make Him out to be a liar!
If we swallow that a ‘traditional’ belief in a Friday-Sunday window for our reconciliation is good enough, what other ‘traditions’ are we allowing to obscure the precision of YHVH’s Word?
He hasn’t changed! Why should we accept a lie?
Maybe I am just naïve. But I have always believed that there is only One Truth. Truth is not a sliding scale; it is either truth, or it is a lie. Shades of grey are not truth.
It is like a glass of water. Pure water is clear and unpolluted. That is what we all want to have! But if someone handed you a glass of water that was cloudy and grey, would you drink it? Sure, there is some water in there, but until you filter out all the pollutants, it is not pure water. And depending upon what is added to the water it may or may not be lethal! Are you willing to chance it?
I want to drink the pure water of truth from YHVH. That means filtering out errors…even when they come from ‘scholars,’ ‘ministers,’ ‘theologians,’ ‘teachers,’ and ‘prophets.’ What did he put in place for us to understand? It is all in the Scripture (Old Testament) as Yeshua explained to his disciples on the way to Emmaus!
My wakeup call was when I understood how to count to three! Now I am learning to count to 50!
Guess what? We are going back to Mt. Sinai again!
Read the account and do the math! Moses went up to meet with YHVH. He climbed up to meet with Him Face to Face! Below the mountain that was covered in thick clouds and fire, the Israelites were assembled. It is a picture of a Hoopah, do you see?
The Ten Commandments were given to Moses and the Israelites on Shavuot! It was their Ketubah (marriage covenant)!
WHAT DOES SHAVUOT MEAN?
In his e-book, The 2300 Days of Hell, Joseph Dumond elaborates on the roots of the word Shavuot.
“By investigating just these three Hebrew words (H-7620, H-7650 and H-7651) alone, which stem from the word “Shavuot,” we now have a sound basis and very strong case for seeing the correlation between the three Hebrew words and their connection to the “Feast of Oaths.” When you seven yourself, you are making an oath.
“The Book of Jubilees, an ancient text that survived in part in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in its entirety in the ancient Ethiopian language Ge’ez, gives an entirely different spin on Shavuot. The word ‘shavua,’ (or) ‘week’ is a near-homonym to the word for ‘oath’ (‘shevuah’), and the anonymous author of Jubilees says that Shavuot was, in fact, the “Feast of Oaths.”
“Nissan Mindel confirms this meaning of Shavuot in his book:
Shavuot means not only ‘weeks’ but also ‘oaths.’ The name indicates the two oaths, which G-d and the Jewish people exchanged, upon the day of the Giving of the Torah, to remain faithful to each other forever.” (page 234 “The 2300 Days of Hell” Dumond)
Dumond’s book elaborates on the mechanics of a Suzerain-Vassal Treaty. Rico Cortez also teaches about these covenant agreements. I will not elaborate on that here, but you might be curious to study it on your own.
Suffice to say that when we entered into a blood covenant with YHVH at the base of Mt. Sinai, it was binding. It was a matter of life or death. We, as a people, may have broken the covenant, but YHVH never has and never will. (see http://www.bulldozerfaith.com/the-blood-covenant )
IS IT IMPORTANT?
It was important enough to YHVH to send His Son, Yeshua, to mend the breach and restore the covenant.
SHAVUOT IS A PILGRIMAGE FEAST
On the Feast of Shavuot, we are to offer up bread from the first fruits (bread made with the grain sheaf offering from First Fruits) and observe it as a High Sabbath day.
Lev 23:20 Then the priest is to wave them—the two lambs with the bread of first fruits—as raised offering in the LORD’s presence. They’ll be sacred to the LORD on account of the priest. 21 “On the same day proclaim a sacred assembly for yourselves. You are not to do any servile work—and this is to be an eternal ordinance wherever you live throughout your generations.
Doesn’t this look like a shadow-picture of the Shemitah and Jubilee years? Seven Weeks, Seven Years, Seven weeks of years (Jubilee)!
Shemitah (Sabbatical year): The seventh year, during which the fields were to be left fallow (Leviticus 25:1-7) and debts released (Deuteronomy 15:1-11) In Hebrew: Shemitah (“Release”).
Jubilee: From the book of Leviticus (25:8-24) where it is stated that a series of forty-nine years [was] to be and every fiftieth year declared a special year during which there was to be no agricultural work; all landed property was to revert to its original owner; and slaves were to be set free.
If we are correct and First Fruits always occurs on a Sunday, then that would perfectly shadow the rest for the land that happens on a Jubilee year too. Every seventh year (i.e. Sabbath) was a rest cycle. And every 50th Year (i.e. Shavuot) was a Jubilee!
If you look at the counting of the omer with an eye to how it models the Jubilee cycle it is a witness that First Fruits has to fall on a Sunday! And wouldn’t it make sense that the ‘8th’ day would be a Jubilee?
WHAT DOES SHAVUOT HAVE TO DO WITH PENTECOST?
Back to the Christian viewpoint! I learned that Pentecost (Greek for Shavuot) was the beginning of the church! That’s when the outpouring of the Holy Spirit fell like flames of fire on the disciples! Everyone was speaking in tongues and it was amazing!
And, it was amazing! It was the ‘Helper’ that Yeshua had promised to send to his disciples! It was the very event that He made sure his disciples waited to receive after he ascended into Heaven after forty days walking among them after his resurrection.
He told them to stay in Jerusalem! (Of course, as observant Jews they would have wanted to be there because Shavuot is one of the three commanded pilgrimage feasts!)
So, the disciples waited in Jerusalem for ten days after they saw Yeshua ascend into Heaven. [I think there is another shadow picture here, if you are paying attention.]
Then, on Shavuot, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was an echo of Mt. Sinai!
What do we know about the Mt. Sinai event? There was a mountain covered in flame and cloud! There was the Voice of YHVH that spoke to them about who He was! The Israelites were all gathered at the base of the mountain, all cleaned up and ready for their appointment with YHVH! They were a ‘mixed multitude’ of people of different tribes and different cultures! The noise was so great from the blowing of trumpets (shofars) that the people were astonished and frightened!
Many believe that the Israelites (a mixed multitude) HEARD the Word in their own tongues. They SAW the Words manifested in Flame and Fire, and they FELT the tremors caused by the loud blowing of the Shofars!
Then what happened in Jerusalem?
Act 2:1 When the day of Pentecost was being celebrated, all of them were together in one place. 2 Suddenly, a sound like the roar of a mighty windstorm came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.3 They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated, and one rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them that ability. 5 Now devout Jews from every nation were living in Jerusalem.
Act 2:6 When that sound came, a crowd quickly gathered, startled because each one heard the disciples speaking in his own language. 7 Stunned and amazed, they asked, “All of these people who are speaking are Galileans, aren’t they? 8 So how is it that each one of us hears them speaking in his own native language: 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the district of Libya near Cyrene, Jewish and proselyte visitors from Rome, 11 Cretans, and Arabs, listening to them talk in our own languages about the great deeds of God?”
Think about it! On the anniversary of when the Ten Commandments were given to Moses (and the Israelites), an echo of the event happened in the Temple at Jerusalem! (I know…some of you think this all happened in the ‘upper room’ but that doesn’t seem logical when they were commanded to go up to the Temple in Jerusalem on Shavuot! It would have needed to be a pretty huge room to hold 3,000 new converts!)
There was a miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the “Day of Oaths!”
WHAT ELSE IS USUALLY DONE ON SHAVUOT?
If we understand that the Shavuot is the ‘Feast of Oaths’ it is even more exciting! It commemorates the oaths made by the Israelites in the Betrothal Ceremony when the Commandments (Ketubah) were ratified in blood!
It is traditional to read the Ten Commandments and the Book of Ruth on Shavuot!
Both are examples of making an oath. The Israelites made an oath (covenant) with YHVH and Ruth made an oath (covenant) with Naomi and her GOD!
WHAT ABOUT RUTH?
I was surprised to learn that the book of Ruth is read on Shavuot. There are only two books in the Bible that are about women. One is Esther (a Jew) and the other is Ruth (a Gentile)! Not only was Ruth a Gentile, she was a Moabite!!
Why is that such a big deal?
The Moabites, if you will recall from your studies of the Old Testament, were particularly to be avoided! The Moabites conducted child sacrifices and worshiped ‘other’ gods! Proof, I guess, that anyone can be redeemed into YHVH’s family!
The fact that Ruth began as a Moabite and turned away from her customs, family and nation to become grafted into the family of Israel is great news for all of us! She CHOSE to have YHVH as her God, and Naomi’s people as her people. And, to top it all off, she became a part of the family tree of Yeshua!
We are all familiar with the Book of Ruth because we quote from it at nearly every wedding event! “Wherever you go, I will go, where you lodge, I will lodge, your people shall be my people and your GOD my GOD.”
Doesn’t it help to connect the dots when we recognize that the Mt. Sinai event was a Ketubah? It was a marriage covenant between YHVH and His ‘Bride’ Israel! So, if Mt. Sinai was the Betrothal, was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit the consummation of the marriage?
What a blessing to know that we can choose to be the Bride! We don’t have to begin as a Jew like Esther! We all can be grafted into Yeshua’s Family Tree, just like Ruth!
All we have to do is repent for breaking His covenant! Then, because we love Him and want to enter into that covenant agreement (either turning or returning), we will follow!
ARE YOU READY FOR SHAVUOT?
Will you ‘go up’ and offer your Oath. Will you ‘seven’ yourself to our LORD and Savior?
WHAT IF I HAVE TURNED AWAY?
What does Yeshua teach his disciples?
Luk 17:4 Even if he sins against you seven times in a day and comes back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
Would he instruct them in something he isn’t willing to do himself?
Act 3:19 Therefore, repent and turn to him to have your sins blotted out, 20 so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord and so that he may send you Yeshua, whom he appointed long ago to be the Messiah.
Act 3:21 He must remain in heaven until the time of universal restitution, which God announced long ago through the voice of his holy prophets. 22 In fact, Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You must listen to everything he tells you.
So, here is the question we must answer for ourselves: If Shavuot is when the Ten Commandments were given, and the same Feast marks the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, then doesn’t it follow that Mt. Sinai and Acts 2 are connected?
Why would we entertain the notion that the commandments that Yeshua spoke about and upheld are now abandoned? If, as Moses and the apostles agreed, we must listen to everything that THE PROPHET that was appointed to be our Messiah said, then the Torah that He taught, lived and fulfilled is still in effect! And how blessed are we that it is!
Yeshua said: “If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments.” John14:15