Shavuot – Harvest, Heavenly Fire and the Great Commission
This year on the evening of May 16th begins the biblical holiday of Weeks (Shavuot in Hebrew). Shavuot is a little known but important biblical holiday which is filled with significance for all believers! By looking at the different aspects and traditions from this holiday, we get a clearer picture of God’s wonderful redemptive plan for Israel and for all the nations.
Weeks is the festival that marks the start of the wheat harvest in Israel:
“And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest…” -Exodus 34:22
God commanded Israel to observe this holy day by going up to Jerusalem to bring a sheaf from their wheat harvest to the Temple:
“When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.” -Leviticus 23:10
All biblical holidays have a literal and agricultural meaning for the ancient Israelites, and they also have a future symbolic\prophetic meaning. In John 4 Yeshua says to His disciples, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” The harvest He spoke about was the harvest of people into the kingdom of God.
Weeks is also known as the holiday that the ancient Israelites would offer the first fruits in temple before the Lord as described in Deuteronomy 26. This aspect of the holiday reminds us to always give back to God the first fruits of the abundance He has given us as a sign of thanksgiving and worship.
Today Israel’s modern agricultural communities (kibbutz) make great celebrations during the festival of Weeks with dancing, singing and special ceremonies to present the first fruits of their crops, including the babies who were born in the year before.
Giving of the Law – Mount Sinai
According to rabbinic sages, Moses received the law on Mount Sinai on the festival of Weeks which falls on the 6th of the Hebrew month Sivan. While the Bible makes no mention of the specific day on which the Ten Commandments were given to Moses, it does state that it happened in the month of Sivan.
In Hebrews 12, the Apostle Paul describes Mount Sinai burning with fire when Moses received the law, a sight which terrified the great mixed multitude gathered there and even Moses himself. Paul then points to another mountain and a new covenant, to another divine moment that is filled with joy for all nations (Hebrew 12:22-24)
Giving of the Holy Spirit – Mount Zion
According to Acts 2, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the first believers in Yeshua when they were gathered on Mount Zion in Jerusalem to celebrate the festival of Weeks:
“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” -Acts 2:2-3
Immediately after receiving the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Peter began proclaiming the gospel to the many Jews who were gathered for the feast of Weeks in the Temple, and a great many believed—becoming the “first fruits” of the harvest that Yeshua had declared was ripe and plentiful (John 4:32). The festival of Weeks jump-started the great commission!
Shavuot Heart Focus Today
Each year we celebrate this holiday as believers in Yeshua with thankfulness in our hearts for the gift of God’s provision and for the gift of His Holy Spirit. We also celebrate this holiday with longing for and prayers focused on the end-time out outpouring of the Holy Spirit which will lead to the completion of harvest.
by Tamar Afriat