Have you ever wondered about the importance of Shavuot? Have you asked about the connection between Shavuot and Pentecost? Do you know how fire played a key role in both events? Then join us as we uncover the answers to these and other questions!
Shavuot and Pentecost…
Shavuot and Pentecost are, at the core, the same. Shavuot, the “Festival of Weeks,” is called Pentecost by many Believers. Shavuot, also called “Festival of Reaping” or “Day of First Fruits,” is the second of three Pilgrimage Festivals in God’s Word and is still celebrated today. Instituted by God during the time of Moses, Shavuot has many ties to agriculture in the Word as it marked the beginning of the wheat harvest.
Yet, while this agricultural importance has lessened in recent years, Shavuot and Pentecost remain significant for all who believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Falling precisely seven weeks after Passover, Shavuot is celebrated each year, beginning at nightfall on the fifth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan—usually between May 15 and June 14 on the Gregorian calendar.
Yet, what is the significance of Shavuot and Pentecost, and what does God’s Word say about them…
God Implemented Shavuot as an Annual Feast
First is the fact that God chose to implement Shavuot as one of three annual feast days. The first mention of this is found in Exodus 23, where God gives various commandments and holidays to Moses for God’s people to observe—Shavuot, the Feast of Harvest, among them.
Yet, God took it a step further, setting it apart as one of three occasions where the people were expected to travel to God’s Holy Place and give a portion of their increase, or the first fruits of their harvest as was the case with Shavuot.
“And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end.
“Three times in the year all your men shall appear before the Lord, the Lord God of Israel. For I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither will any man covet your land when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times in the year.”—Exodus 34:22-24
This command to observe Shavuot is found in Exodus 23 and 34, and many other times throughout the Old and New Testaments. Some today claim that Shavuot was not laid down by God, yet Jesus—the Perfect One who promised to send a Helper—chose Shavuot, the Day of Pentecost, as the day to send His Holy Spirit, the Helper!
If God had not created Shavuot, the Day of Pentecost—if that day had been a mistake—then why would He have chosen it for such a momentous occasion?
Surely God is more intentional than that. Surely He not only established Shavuot, the Day of Pentecost, but deemed that day fitting to impart His Holy Spirit…
If we think that Shavuot and Pentecost are unimportant for Believers because…
- we are removed from observing the Law
- Jesus removed the curse of the Law
- we are unable to obey every Law
… then we must examine God's Word further. It is then that we will better understand His instruction regarding the day.
From Jesus stating that He did not come to remove the Law, but to fulfill it (see Matthew 5:17-18), to imparting His Holy Spirit (as seen in the book of Acts), we would see that Shavuot and Pentecost still hold great importance for us as God’s “grafted-in.”
“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”—Numbers 23:19
“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
God chose Shavuot—the Day of Pentecost—to deposit His Holy Spirit, His fire, and languages from Heaven! He could have chosen any day, any holiday, but He chose Shavuot. God does nothing by chance, so we must ask ourselves…
- What makes Shavuot such a special time to God?
- Why did He choose it?
- And why did He send His Holy Spirit fire on that day?
Well, those are all good questions, ones which the best biblical scholars would likely have differing opinions… but there are two things that scream out at us: “fire” and “harvest.”
The Importance of Fire and Harvest During Shavuot and Pentecost
At a glance, we would think that fire and harvest hold no significant connection. After all, fire can consume; it can take away a harvest.
The Power of Fire
- It is the fire of God that consumes the sacrifice—the portion of harvest laid before the Lord.
- It is the fire that can prepare the ground to yield a better harvest in the future.
- It is the fire that can change the very nature of what is laid before it, such as with metal being crafted into a blade to prepare for the reaping of a harvest.
Yet, before we explore the fire, let us first begin with both the harvest of Shavuot in the Old Testament and after the coming of Jesus…
The Harvest of Souls
Occurring 50 days after Passover—the time when God spared His people with the innocent blood of a lamb, and later, Jesus—Shavuot reminded the Children of Israel of God’s goodness and power. By the time we reach Shavuot and Pentecost, we have seen God’s power, but we have also seen His loving goodness in the coming of the harvest. Shavuot is a time when the harvest is ripe…
A time when the very substance that would give God’s people bread and prosperity—life—in the coming season were ready… they would remember God for His goodness in the harvest by giving Him a portion of their increase.
Yet, what changed with Jesus? Well, with the coming of Jesus came a more important harvest. Before Jesus, very few Gentiles could know God, and even the Jewish people struggled on and off for thousands of years in their walk with God. The laws that God had laid down were good and perfect, but to follow them all without the help of the Holy Spirit was impossible. Yes, the Holy Spirit did dwell with and within many in the Old Testament, but not everyone had such direct and continual access.
Through Jesus, the importance of Shavuot’s harvest rested on souls, which is one of the many reasons He sent fire to that upper room on Shavuot—the Day of Pentecost.
Fire and the Harvest Come Together at Shavuot and Pentecost
Shavuot was the time for the largest harvest of souls the world had seen, and it needed purified vessels to rest in. It needed the temple of men to be purified through fire and made ready for the whitest, ripest harvest!
“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!”—John 4:35
The fields were ripe then, just as they are now… but God has to cleanse with FIRE! His Holy Spirit fire not only burns away what does not belong—purifying the fields of our hearts—but gives subsistence for the crop to thrive.
Fire changes things. It can take a piece of clay and, if properly molded and readied, it can turn it into a vessel prepared to hold oil from Heaven!
You see, with the coming of Jesus, Shavuot changed, and yet, it remains the same. We are still to be focused on God’s great love toward us and in turn, give Him an offering for the fire of His altar. However, instead of mere grains of wheat, we can now add to the offering, the harvest of souls—our soul, and the souls of those we impact.
This is a time where we are to turn our focus to God and His harvest, readying ourselves for the fire AND bringing in His harvest to His storehouse—laying it upon the altar.
No matter what we call it, Shavuot or Pentecost, it is meant to draw us and all God’s people closer to Him and His great love for us.
It is time we get ready for the fullness of the fire of the Holy Spirit and do as Jesus wanted us to do 2,000 years ago… prepare His harvest for His soon return!
“Then He said to them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’”—Luke 10:2
“Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.”—Revelation 14:14-16