What is Shavuot (pronounced Sha-voo-oat)?
Shavuot is also the celebration of the Feast of Weeks or to use a term the church understands better – Pentecost. It is the Jewish celebration of the giving of the Torah (the books of Genesis through Deuteronomy) to Moses on Mount Sinai. Each year, as has happened since the day God’s word was given to the Israelites, there continues to be a Jewish celebration of the giving of God’s word to Moses on those tablets that God Himself inscribed. This is the holiday of Shavuot.
What difference does it make?
Acts Chapter 2 – The First Pentecost and the Birth of the Christian Church
It’s fascinating to see the parallel within the church. Acts chapter 2 is often thought of as the birth of the Christian church. However, those early believers were not gathered to celebrate something new! Unfortunately, because the church celebrates its holiday of Pentecost completely separate from this Jewish holiday of Shavuot, they often have never experienced the fulfillment of this Jewish holiday in Christ.
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.” ~Acts 2:1
In Acts 2, we find all of the disciples and many other Christ followers together to celebrate Pentecost. This was not the Christian celebration of Pentecost, nor was this a newly created holiday of Pentecost for these believers! They were simply gathered together to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Shavuot (also called Pentecost). They were gathered to celebrate the giving of God’s word to Moses on Mount Sinai just as they had for all of their lives as God fearing Jewish people. The events that happened on this particular Shavuot, however, rocked their worlds!
“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. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” ~Acts 2:2-4
This was not an event solely for the followers of Christ at that time, men from every nation were present and witnessed this event. It could be that many of these people had been there for Passover 50 days prior and had stayed to celebrate Shavuot.
“Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” ~Acts 2:5-12
While all these people were gathered together in one place to celebrate the giving of God’s written word to Moses centuries prior, the Christ followers experienced the second Pentecost – the giving of God’s word written on their hearts by the indwelling of God’s Spirit! THIS is the fulfillment of the original Pentecost found in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ!
Dear Church… find your way again! Don’t cast off the Old Testament as “old” and no longer relevant. Don’t cast of the “Jewishness” of our Christian faith away as something dead, gone, or too legalistic. I encourage you to find the joy, the beauty, and fulfillment of all of God’s Old Testament scripture given to you in the person of Jesus Christ!