Shavuot, also known as Late Firstfruits, or by its Greek equivalent, Pentecost, is another agricultural festival, this time marking the beginning of the late spring wheat harvest. Also, it celebrates the fact that the Israelites reached Mt. Sinai “in the third month”, Sivan, traditionally on the date Sivan 1. Also by tradition (probably true) the 10 Commandments and “Rulings”, Israel’s Torah, were given to Moses on Sivan 6 or 7, 50 days after crossing the Reed Sea. That date is therefore associated with revelation and revival. Assuming, as I do, that Nisan 17 is the correct date of the Early Firstfruits celebration (see Part 8), then Sivan 7 is the correct date for Late Firstfruits.
Leviticus 23 establishes precisely that Shavuot is to be celebrated on the 49th week and a day, i.e., the 50th day, counting from Day #1 on Early Firstfruits. Traditionally, the days are counted off formally; this is known as the Counting of the Omer. An omer is a measure of dry produce volume, about the amount of barley or wheat that can be held by one person without tying, or bundling; a “sheaf”.
In terms of typology, as mentioned above, and in previous parts:
- Passover looks back at Israel’s Redemption from slavery to Egypt by the Death Angel, and, by Jesus’ proclamation of the New Covenant on the actual evening of the Feast, forward to all believers’ Redemption from slavery to sin .
- Unleavened Bread looks back at Israel’s Sanctification by removal of the stain of slavery, and, by Jesus’ death on the actual day of the Feast (not on the sacrifice day), forward to all believers’ Sanctification by removal of the stain of sin.
- Early Firstfruits looks back at Israel’s Resurrection as a people as they cross the Reed Sea, and, by Jesus, the Firstfruit of Resurrection, on the actual day of the Feast, forward to all believers’ Resurrection.
In the same pattern, Shavuot looks back to Israel’s Revelation in God’s Torah delivered at Sinai, and, by Jesus’ delivery of the Holy Spirit (Heb. Ruach HaKodesh) on the actual day of the Feast, forward to all believers’ Revelation in New Testament Torah. John 14:26 (ESV),  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Notice also that, unlike the previous feasts, Shavuot bread must contain leaven! Why is this? Because it represents the sin that we enter with on the Feast day. The required animal sacrifices then cover that sin, so that the worshippers leave ritually clean.
Shavuot is another of the three regalim, or pilgrim feasts, a Shabbat which all adult males in Israel or the Diaspora must attend annually, if they are physically able.
This is a good place for a parenthetical slide. Leviticus 23:22 seems to hang line a non sequitur between Shavuot and the Fall Feasts. Is there something we can learn from it? I think it bears a very important truth! We are living in a parenthetical time. All other verses in the Chapter represent historical events in the life of Israel, but with prophetic themes that benefit both Israel and the New Testament church. In this verse, the command for Israel is pretty much, “Step aside and leave the gleanings to ‘the poor and the foreigner (non-Jew)'”. Days after Jesus’ Ascension, on and after Shavuot (Pentecost), the Holy Spirit was imparted to all Believers. It is now the so-called “church age” when we, both Jew and non-Jew, glean from what Israel planted. The Spirit will, by the Theology I follow, depart again at the Rapture of the Church, which we will talk about more in the next Part of this Series.
Table of Contents: The Jewish Feasts
Start of Series: The Jewish Feasts: Part 1, Chapter Introduction
Previous in Series: The Jewish Feasts: Part 8, Early Firstfruits
Next in Series: The Jewish Feasts: Part 10, The Days of Awe