Leviticus 23.1-2, 15-22
Today, well actually starting at sundown yesterday, is when Shavuot started, and ends at sundown today.
Shavuot in Hebrew means Weeks because it occurs seven full weeks after the “Morrow of the Sabbath”.
And the festival of Shavuot is also called Pentecost meaning 50th.
Now the spiritual significance of Shavuot or the reason the Lord God commands all mankind, and I repeat, all mankind to observe Shavuot every year, has at least five important requirements of the Lord God.
1/ Shavuot teaches us to be obedient to the Lord our God, to His Word, His Laws and His Commandments.
2/ Shavuot also teaches that everyone, Jewish or not Jewish requires an atonement for forgiveness of our sins, to be right with God.
3/ Shavuot is a Day for all mankind to set aside special and quality times that is dedicated to the Lord our God at a Service, or a gathering of the people.
4/ Shavuot is a Sabbath. No work of any kind should be done.
5/ Shavuot was the time when thousands of Jewish People, the early Believers in Messiah Yeshua, received The Holy Spirit and led their lives according to God’s Torah, The Law of Moses.
This morning our teaching on Shavuot will be in two areas.
-How does Judaism observe Shavuot today?
-What are God’s Commandments to observe Shavuot?
We’ll start with a controversy in Judaism. The controversy is this. When Is the exact day and date of Shavuot?
The controversy is, What Sabbath is the Lord referring to?
That Sabbath could be the Saturday before Passover. It could be the first day of Passover because the first day of Passover is a Sabbath. Or the Sabbath could be the seventh day of Passover because the seventh day of Passover is also a Sabbath.
The Pharisees maintained the Sabbath as in, You shall count from the next day after the “Sabbath,” means the Sabbath was the first day of Passover. Thus they claim, the count to fifty or to Shavuot started the day after the first day of Passover.
To add to this debate, the Sadducees had another understanding as to when the Sabbath was. And the Samaritans and the Karite Jews joined in with them later. They maintained the next day after the Sabbath was Sunday, or the first Sunday after the first day of Passover. The count to Shavuot started on Sunday after the Saturday Sabbath after the first day of Passover.
Beta Israel, which is the House of Israel or the Ethiopian Jews, saw the next day after the Sabbath as the day after the seventh day of Passover. Thus, they started the count to Shavuot the day after the seventh day of Passover.
The interpretation of the Pharisees was accepted and is the standard in much of Judaism today. So now that I have you thoroughly confused, let’s continue.
Judaism believes Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah or the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. Yet Shavuot was to be given to the Children of Israel at a future date. Now, with all these disagreements as to the exact date of Shavuot, how can they all be right?
Exodus 19.1,14-20, Exodus 20.1-6
19. 1 The third month on the Jewish calendar is Sivan.
19. 16 If the count to 50 or to Shavuot started on The Day After the Sabbath Before Passover, then the Torah would have been given on Shavuot, at least this year.
Continuing on how Judaism observes Shavuot.
Shavuot is a time of thanksgiving for the early spring harvest.
Two loaves of leavened bread, usually challahs, are baked and eaten in all Jewish households.
In Temple times, that is during the first and second Temples, two loaves of leavened bread were brought into the Temple, and with much ceremony, waved by the Priest in every direction before the Lord to show appreciation for all His provision for His People.
The Synagogues are usually decorated in greenery and flowers and baskets of fruit to symbolize the harvest mood of Shavuot.
The Scripture readings in the Synagogues are often Exodus chapters 19 and 20, the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. Ezekiel chapter 1, Ezekiel’s vision of God and His magnificence, and the Book of Ruth, David’s great grand mother and an ancestor of Messiah Yeshua. Ruth is read because it takes place during the spring harvest.
Many Jewish men who love Torah, stay up all night studying on Shavuot.
Also many Synagogues hold Confirmation Services for teenagers on Shavuot. I have to tell you the truth, I had to look up what a Confirmation was for a Jewish teenager. The Confirmation is something relatively new and different in Judaism. It was introduced in 1810 in Kassel, Germany as a Reform alternative to Bar Mitzvah for the thirteen year old. It is a rite of passage for the sixteen year old teenager. It was felt to be more in keeping with the times as a sixteen year old was closer to adulthood. Today, Confirmation is practiced in Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism and somewhat in Conservative Judaism.
Back to Shavuot. At home, the holiday table is set with the best linen and dishes. Holiday candles or Yom Tov candles are lit by the woman of the house. Traditional prayers and blessings are chanted over a cup of wine or kosher grape juice, called the Kiddush. And the challah bread is then blessed and shared by all.
A traditional holiday meal with foods symbolizing Shavuot is then served, which would include milk products, cheese blintzes, and cheesecake. Now, that should fill just about everybody.
That would be much of the Jewish observance of Shavuot.
Now, let’s look at the Commandments of God regarding Shavuot.
Leviticus 23 records all God’s Festivals or all God’s Appointed Times for all mankind and not just Judaism. Why? Because Leviticus 23.2 says, Theses are the Appointed Feasts of the the Lord.
God’s Appointed Times or Feasts are His Seventh Day Sabbath which is Saturday. Passover, Shavuot or Pentecost, Rosh Ha Shannah or The Blowing of Trumpets, Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, Tabernacles or Sukkot, and the Eighth Day of Sukkot.
The Sheaf offering is the Omehr or the Wave Offering – A measure of newly harvested barley or grain of the new harvest.
A new meat offering is a bread offering to the Lord. In Hebrew, Meenkha Khadahshah LahYehhovah.
We should have two loaves of leavened bread, either in our house or at our Service. Usually the breads are challahs. 2/10 deals of a measure of fine flour. The two loaves of bread were the first fruits to the Lord or a new grain offering.
Everyone, Jewish or not Jewish, is required by the Lord God to have atonement for forgiveness of their sins to be right with God. Sin is breaking God’s Law of Moses. 1John 3.4.
Sin must be forgiven and we must lead a life of obedience to God’s Law of Moses to be written in God’s Book of Life to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
As there is no Temple in Jerusalem today, animal sacrifices are forbidden.
Our atonement for sin is the atoning death of the Messiah Yeshua. It is His atoning death that forgives us our sins, forever. We must however lead a life of obedience to God’s Law of Moses. That is Scriptural.
The Writer of Hebrews repeats the words of the New Covenant given to the Prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31.31-34 given for Israel and all the world. Yeshua is the New Covenant for the forgiveness of our sins.
Shavuot is a Sabbath and our time should be set aside for the Lord our God in a Service dedicated exclusively to Him and Messiah Yeshua.
Shortly after Messiah gave His Life as our atoning sacrifice, and ascended into Heaven; on the following Shavuot or Pentecost, thousands of Jewish People received Messiah Yeshua, and The Holy Spirit. They were Baptized, and they adhered to and obeyed and continued in the Law of Moses, The Laws of God, the Apostle’s Doctrine.
So in conclusion
The spiritual importance of Shavuot is this:
-Shavuot teaches us to obey God. His Word, His Law and His Commandments.
-Shavuot teaches us all humanity requires atonement for our sins to be right with God. Sin is breaking the Law of Moses, 1John 3.4. Our atonement today is Yeshua the Messiah.
-Shavuot is a Day to set aside quality time for our God and Messiah. Shavuot is dedicated especially to Him.
-It is a Sabbath. No work of any kind should be done on Shavuot.
-And Shavuot was the time thousands of Jewish People, the first Believers along with the Disciples of Messiah, received Messiah Yeshua and The Holy Spirit and lived their lives in accordance to the Law of Moses, The Laws of The God Of Heaven.
Shalom, Ira Weinstein