There are three festival seasons when God commanded the people of Israel to come to the temple in Jerusalem. Each festival included a “sacred assembly,” which was a convocation or gathering when God would meet with His people.
The second annual festival, Shavuot (Pentecost), is approaching. If you choose, you too can meet with God at that time (we no longer have to be in Jerusalem because God’s Holy Spirit is with us through our faith in Christ). So, let us look at the deeper meaning that the festival of Shavuot represents.
We will consider the festival according to the Hebraic sense of time. Shavuot has not only been fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (when God gave the gift of His Holy Spirit to those with faith in Christ; Acts 2), but Shavuot is also in the process of being fulfilled in your life today (when you activate the gift and walk by the power of the Spirit). After all, God created time, and God is in all aspects of time (past, present and future). So, to the extent that you are walking with God through your faith and love of Christ, you can also be in all aspects of time with God. You can bring the past (and the future) into your life today.
Let us look at the ritual of Shavuot and what it represents. Pesach (Passover) occurs 50 days before Shavuot. We know that Christ was the sacrificial lamb who was crucified and buried on Passover Eve. During the 7 days of Passover only unleavened bread, called matzo, could be eaten (leaven represents sin, so matzo points to a sinless sacrifice). On the third day of Passover, which is the day of giving the first fruits of the barley harvest to God, Christ was raised from the dead as a perfect first-fruit gift.
Before turning to the second annual festival, let me suggest that Pesach identifies who belongs to God (that is, who will be saved). God claimed all the children of Israel as His firstborn son at the time of the first Passover in Egypt, when death passed over them because of the blood of the lamb on their doorposts. Then, 1500 years later, Gentiles (non-Jews) with faith in Christ have now been added to God’s covenant community through their faith in the blood of the lamb, Christ, whose blood was shed on the cross. Thus, all of God’s children become righteous in His eyes when they believe in the blood of the lamb. At that time, they become a possession of God, which Scripture calls a new birth, new life, or born again.
Now it is time to consider the second festival, which will occur this year on June 8. The ritual of Shavuot is startling because, instead of unleavened bread (matzo), there are two loaves of leavened bread made from wheat, not barley. You will remember that leaven represents sin. I suggest the upcoming festival of Pentecost (Shavuot) points to God’s fulfillment of His promise to Abraham. “In you [Abraham] all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen 12:4), a promise that is referring to those who are not Jews (they are known as Gentiles). God first set the children of Israel apart as holy, and gave them the law so they could walk in His ways. The Gentiles, however, were unholy without the law. They were lumpy with leaven and sin. What is Shavuot teaching us?
First we must ask, “Why are there two loaves?” One represents Israel and the other stands for the Gentiles, who have been added to God’s covenant community by their faith in His son. Both now belong to God despite the unholy condition of the Gentiles.
Second we ask, “Why are the two loaves leavened? Although God sees His children as righteous when they first belong to Him (all newborns are sinless), He then pats us on the back and says, “Now I want you to learn how to walk in righteousness so you can draw near to me in your daily life.” God loves His children and wants a relationship with them.
Finally we ask, “Why are the two loaves of bread made with wheat instead of barley?” Barley was the poor man’s food that was available to all. Therefore, at Pesach (Passover) all of God’s children, both Jew and Gentile, belong to Him. However, wheat was the rich man’s food that was only available to some. At Shavuot (Pentecost) I suggest that God is making a selection, not of who will be saved (all the children of Israel still belong to God as do all Gentile believers in Christ) but a selection of Jews and Gentiles who believe in the death and resurrection of Yeshua. These children of God have the gift of the Holy Spirit, and are able to walk in righteousness by their faith in Christ because the law has been written on their hearts.
Richard Booker offers an interesting observation in his book, "Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts." There is a long period of time between Shavuot (June) and the fall festivals (September-October). During these long, hot summer months, the planting of seeds that took place during the winter and early spring begin to ripen and bear fruit. After harvesting wheat at the time of Shavuot, the harvesting continues throughout the summer for figs, grapes, olives and dates. Booker suggests that this is the “time of the Church.” That is, God is now working with the body of Christ to bring His message of repentance and salvation to the nations.
The fall festivals begin with the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, which is a call to judgment for both Israel and the nations. God is (and will) decide who has been bearing fruit and who has not been bearing fruit. My work on the remnant has led me to conclude that God’s judgment on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement which follows ten days after the blowing of the trumpet, does not represent God’s decision of who will be saved and who will not be saved. Instead, God will be selecting who is worthy and prepared to participate in the remnant. Sukkot (Tabernacles), which follows five days after Yom Kippur, represents the end of time when all of God’s children will be gathered to Him.
What will happen between Yom Kippur and Sukkot, and what role will the remnant play? That is a mystery in Scripture just waiting to be uncovered. Needless to say, I am working diligently to uncover it. More on that mystery revealed in a future article.
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