As Shavuot draws near, do you find yourself asking, “What is the significance of this celebration?” If you are a Christian, you believe that Jesus fulfilled the law, making the Shavuot celebration obsolete, but that just isn’t true.
God’s Word can reveal the truth about Shavuot and the connection between Shavuot and Pentecost while affirming the relevance that this celebration has in your life today.
The word Shavuot literally means weeks. It is named for the 7-week (50 day) time period or counting of the Omer that occurred between Passover and Shavuot. For centuries, Shavuot has been recognized as the giving of divine knowledge from the LORD.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.’”—Exodus 19:10-11
The story in Exodus goes on to share the events that happened as the rescued Israelites gathered at Mount Sinai and what they experienced.
“Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire…”—Exodus 19:16-18
Finally, the story concludes with Yahweh delivering the Ten Commandments—divine knowledge that is relevant even today.
Pentecost is named after the Greek word pentekoste, meaning fiftieth. It was the ancient Greek term for Shavuot.
Pentecost is the festival at which Christians celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit, and it is celebrated on the 7th Sunday, 50 days after Resurrection Sunday.
“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
The Greek word for utterance is sophia, which refers to the intimate understanding of God’s Word and His commandments, which results in holy and upright living—divine knowledge that is relevant, especially today.
The Connection Between Shavuot and Pentecost
The timing of these two holidays is not a simple coincidence. They are connected theologically.
You do not need to turn the pages back very far to find the significance, symbolism, and foreshadowing in the Bible. God’s Word gives clear instruction for how we are to live our best lives.
The Bible is intentional and relevant yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
The similarities and connection between Shavuot and Pentecost should not be ignored if we want to unlock the covenant blessings that each represents.
- Both events happened 50 days after Passover and establish a covenant:
The same day that the Jews were celebrating God’s giving of His Law on tablets of stone, the Holy Spirit came and wrote His law on the hearts of many, fulfilling prophecy.
“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel… I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord…”—Jeremiah 31:31-34
Fifty days after sacrificing the Passover lamb, the Israelites received a covenant from God. Fifty days after sacrificing Jesus, our Passover Lamb, Believers received a new covenant from God.
- Both events happened to newly redeemed people:
Shavuot occurred after the Exodus, which marked the birth of the nation of Israel. Pentecost occurred after the crucifixion and resurrection of the Messiah, jump-starting the movement of the One New Man—both Jew and Gentile Believers joining together as co-heirs with Christ.
- Both events occurred with a physical manifestation of God on a mountain:
Mount Sinai was the setting of the gift of the Ten Commandments, and Mount Zion was the setting of the gift of the Holy Spirit. In both circumstances, God’s Spirit descended in fire. The fire on Mount Sinai was one fire visible to all, whereas the fire on Mount Zion was represented individually. One fire settled on each person, representing the established covenant between each individual person and God.
- Both events had similar symbols:
In both circumstances, there were voices, wind, fire, and smoke. The Hebrew word translated to thunder in Exodus is kolot, which means voices or languages.
Why Is the Connection Between Shavuot and Pentecost So Important?
Do not fall into the trap of believing that one covenant replaced the other. God’s intention was never for us to abandon our Jewish roots. As Christians, we are grafted into God the Father’s original family tree, as explained in Romans.
“For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.”—Romans 11:16-18
God didn’t make it a mystery for you to figure out. He wants His divine plan to be proclaimed and for you to walk in the fullness of His blessings. In order to do so, you must know those covenant blessings by heart so they flood your mind, will, and emotions. They allow you to stand firm against anything that is blocking you from receiving your inheritance as His sons and daughters.
As you celebrate the Festival of Weeks this year, may God bless you to gain a deeper understanding of who He is and the spiritual inheritance you can start to reclaim today!