Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before יְהוָֹה thy אֱלֹהִים in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before יְהוָֹה empty: Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of יְהוָֹה thy אֱלֹהִים which he hath given thee. Deuteronomy 16:16-17 (AV)
In this post we are going to explore the biblical Feast of Weeks, called Shavuot in Hebrew and commonly known as the Feast of Pentecost in Christianity. This biblical feast has high doctrinal and prophetic significance in terms of living a powerful Christian life and possessing a dynamic Christian spirituality.
The Feast of Weeks
We find the Feast of Weeks, the second of three annual Sabbath feasts in Israel, mentioned in several Old Testament passages of Scripture to be held on the sixth day of the Hebrew month Sivan–fifty days or seven weeks following the Feast of Pesach or Passover on the fourteenth day of the month Nisan (Exodus 34:22; Leviticus 23:15-16; Deuteronomy 16:10, 16 etc.).
The Hebrew word שְׁבֻעָה shbu‘ah (transliterated Shavuot) means ‘week’ or ‘seven’ hence the feast of weeks or seven days or seven full weeks from the sabbath of the Feast of Pesach (Passover). Koine Greek uses the word πεντηκοστή pentēkostē, in English Pentecost as an express name of the Feast of Pentecost with derivative meaning ‘fifty’ signifying fifty days after the Pesach or the feast of Passover on which it was to be celebrated.
The Feast of Weeks is also known as the celebration of the Firstfruits of the Harvest (Exodus 34:22) in acknowledgement of the arrival of the wheat harvest in Israel, where several offerings were to be made to יְהוָֹה recognizing His blessing upon the land through a fruitful annual harvest of wheat.
The Feast of Weeks in New Testament times is mentioned on three occasions as Pentecost firstly in the supernatural account of the Spirit’s descent upon the disciples in Acts 2:1-4 through the whole chapter, again in Acts 20:16 where it is said that Paul the Apostle desired to attend the feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem and lastly noted in the epistle of 1 Corinthians 16:8 being a cross reference or second witness to the same event.
Significance of Shavuot
Shavuot has significance to both Jews and Christians in today’s world being to the former the same acknowledgement of the harvest time and also through Jewish tradition, signifying a correspondence of the giving of the Torah to Moses although there is no biblical support for the dates. To the latter it is symbolic of the birth of the church in the giving of the Holy Spirit and the subsequent mission of the church in the Gospel harvest of souls in to the Kingdom of God through the power and direction of the Holy Spirit.
To the Christian, the Feast of Shavuot or Pentecost is significant touching the power of the Holy Spirit. It cannot be stressed enough how much of a role the Holy Spirit has to play in the Christian life, not only in performance of it, but in its overall driving direction. Without a clear understanding of Shavuot and the events that transpired in Acts 2, the Body of Christ is void of direction and power.
The Acts 2 Feast of Pentecost marks the initial giving of the Holy Spirit to the church, which is the fulfillment of the promise of the Father mentioned by Jesus in Luke 24:49:
And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. Luke 24:49 (AV)
And in Acts 1:4-5:
And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. Acts 1:4-5 (AV)
This event is often misinterpreted by biblical scholars to be a one time fulfilled event, whereas it is evident that its fulfillment is ongoing finding complete fulfillment in the end times completion of the harvest of souls into the Kingdom of God before the return of Jesus. The whole discourse of Acts 2 reveals that Pentecost kicked off the harvest of souls through the power of the Holy Spirit beginning in Jerusalem where Peter the Apostle declared the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 now beginning its fulfillment, and on that day resulting in three thousand Jewish conversions to Christ from those gathered back from all nations for the feast.
The prophecy of Joel tells us that the Spirit would be poured out followed by a series of cataclysmic events resulting in the arrival of the great day of the Lord:
But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Acts 2:16-21; cf. Joel 2:28-32 (AV).
These corresponding passages reveal a prophetic fulfillment spanning out over a literal period of time coming to a close through several apocalyptic events climaxing in the return of Jesus Christ. During this time period from Acts 2 until the coming of the Lord the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon all nations or ‘all flesh’ also signified in the initial outpouring upon the noted Jews from all nations during the specific Acts 2 Pentecost.
This outpouring would be evidenced through the Spirit of prophecy being poured out upon God’s elect of all nations converting them to Christ and enabling them to share in the prophetic gifts of the Holy Spirit including the ability to speak in other tongues as the Spirit would empower, the receiving of dreams and visions and the ability to prophesy under the revelation of Christ.
This wonderful fulfillment provides revelation of the New Testament age and history and also gives perpetual direction to the true Body of Christ in working towards the goal of harvesting souls through the power of the Holy Spirit into the Kingdom of God.
Impact on the Christian Life
A Christian life which is empowered and has clear direction will be a fruitful one. This is why the Holy Spirit must be received in power as on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Too many Christians are living a powerless and inactive Christian life simply because they have no revelation about Pentecost and do not possess the power of the Holy Spirit. This is most prevalent in the non supernatural denominations of the church, which because of blindness to the prophetic Spirit, cannot see revelation in Scripture and thus cannot receive the promised power of the Holy Spirit.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:8 (AV)
It is clear in Scripture that the disciples and Apostles although being saved, did not receive the power of the Holy Spirit until the day of Pentecost. Jesus in the above passage declared that they would receive power after the Holy Spirit would come upon them for the function of being witnesses to Him and of His Gospel; therefore, before this time they did not possess the power or directional knowledge to be witnesses to Christ.
This pattern in now repeated in today’s church where myriads of Christians have been saved and justified but have yet to receive the Holy Spirit. Traditional interpretations have confuscated justification with receiving of the Holy Spirit resulting from a confusion of doctrinal instruction with practical application of Scripture. This confusion has produced many powerless Christians that go to church and profess religion but are unable to be effective and dynamic witnesses of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Spirit Baptism, When?
Scripture declares that the Holy Spirit is to be received in power following salvation whether immediately or at a subsequent time.
Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. Acts 8:14-16 (AV)
The above passage clearly states that the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples of Samaria quite some time following their salvific justification. They had heard the Word of God but had not received the Holy Spirit until the Apostles came with the revelation and power. This is the case today across the Body of Christ, where many have been saved by grace through faith being born again by the Word of God, but are yet to receive the Holy Spirit.
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. Acts 10:44-48 (AV)
The above passage from Acts 10 allows us to see that it is also possible for the power of the Holy Spirit to fall upon believers at the same time forensic justification occurs. But this is not without evidence of the power, which in both cases whether following justification or at the time of, is the manifestation of speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the clear experiential event manifested by speaking in tongues, which when received endues the believer with prophetic revelation and power for the Christian life of service in witness to Jesus. This prophetic revelation provides God’s people with insight to the prophetic future of the world thus also providing them with direction in evangelistic purpose, wisdom and skillful action in anticipation of the return of Jesus Christ as King and Lord of all.
Receiving Spirit Baptism
It is essential to the survival of the Body of Christ and continuance of the ministry that today’s Christians receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The greatest barrier to receiving the Holy Spirit is the blindness of denominational tradition. Traditional strongholds have paralyzed thousands upon thousands of sincere Christians from serving the Lord and fulfilling their God given mandate to be witnesses to Jesus Christ in the world.
To receive the Baptism of Holy Spirit there must be simple faith in the Word of God and trust in God concerning practical manifestation of the Spirit, particularly speaking in tongues. Many Christians simply will not step out in faith and experience the power of God due to fear or lack of faith. It is fair to say that there are many counterfeits and abusers of this truth which have caused doubt in the church and hindered the Spirit’s work, but ultimately those who will innocently receive the power of God will receive.
The first piece of advice to those who have not received the Baptism of the Spirit is to study the Scriptures with fresh eyes away from denominational instruction. The reader will find the New Testament evidence for Spirit Baptism overwhelming being abundantly and repetitively witnessed throughout all four Gospels and the Book of Acts and even the Old Testament Prophets.
Secondly there must be supernatural personal confirmation which is sought through prayer. Pray to the Lord for revelation and supernatural experience to confirm His Word on the subject and this will be a powerful game changer ultimately leading to the truth and manifestation. The prime manifestation is speaking in tongues. Once the Holy Spirit has placed the gift of tongues within the believer the witness of the truth is undeniable and the transforming supernatural power of the Holy Spirit is manifested.
The Feast of Weeks or Shavuot is the revelation of the harvest of souls through the power of the Holy Spirit. To the Jews the spiritual significance it is yet to be revealed as the veil is still placed over their eyes in the reading of the Old Testament (2 Corinthians 3:14-16). The same significance and power is still hidden to Christians who being saved are yet to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit through blindness of tradition.
But to those born again and saved Christians filled with the Holy Spirit, baptized in His power, let us celebrate this blessed Shavuot season, knowing that He Who is in us is greater than he that is in the world–being mindful that we have a great and noble responsibility to declare the Gospel as instruments of the Spirit’s outpouring and dynamic witnesses of Jesus Christ till that great and notable day of יְהוָֹה come. Shalom.
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