Of all the three major pilgrim festivals, Shavuot is unique. “Shavuot” actually means “Weeks.” Why is it called this? It is not because the festival lasts for many weeks! Rather, it is called the Feast of Weeks because of the way you find out when it is to be celebrated. Unlike Passover and The Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Weeks is dateless.
In order to celebrate Shavuot, you had to count “seven weeks” from “the day after the Sabbath” of the Passover, and the next day, the fiftieth day, would be Shavuot (Leviticus 23:15-16).
Why don’t the Scriptures just give the date? In this fast-paced, “day-timer”-controlled world we live in, we would have been inclined to say to Moses, “Forget counting fifty days, and just give me the date and I’ll show up and worship!” No, you had to count fifty days regardless of how busy your schedule might be. Why?
In the same way, can you imagine if your mother never told you your birthday? Rather, suppose she told you to celebrate it fifty days after the anniversary of your Uncle Murray’s death. When you are very young, this might be okay, but in high school, it would be embarrassing not to know the date of your birth. “Hey Joel, when’s your birthday?” “Well, it’s fifty days after the day my Uncle Murray died.” You would eventually run home, insisting on knowing the date of your birthday. Mom would reply, “It’s fifty days after your uncle Murray died.”
“But, Mom why do I have to count fifty days from Uncle Murray’s death?”
“Because, your Uncle Murray left you his fortune and I never want you to forget your Uncle Murray!”
Israel was to count fifty days so that in order to celebrate Shavuot they would never forget Passover.
May it never be that Israel would reckon itself from the giving of the Law, and not from the true foundation of their life as a people at Passover. Shavuot is traditionally remembered as a time when God made Israel one people in the Law. Nevertheless, it was Passover when God redeemed us from bondage and destruction through the blood of the Lamb.
Passover is to be the foundation and head of the year (Exodus 12:2). It celebrates Israel’s redemption from bondage, and redemption is the foundation of our salvation. Thus the foundation of Israel’s redemption was provided only in Passover, not Shavuot. Every year as Israel counted the weeks from Passover to Pentecost they remembered that their redemption as a people was found in the lamb of Passover.
Likewise, we are never to forget our Messiah who gave His life for us, and with that, the unspeakable riches of our new birth in Him. Like Israel’s redemption from bondage, our foundation of faith as believers in Messiah Yeshua is forever tied to Passover and our redemption in the Lamb of God. We are not firstfruits to God just because we look to the Holy Spirit, but when we look to Yeshua as the true foundation for our spiritual lives. Through Him we are a firstfruits offering, for God’s use only.
Every Shavuot, believers are to remember Passover and the Passover Lamb, Yeshua. Though Pentecost is the ‘birthday celebration’ of the Body of Messiah when the Holy Spirit came, we are never to look to the Holy Spirit as the foundation of our faith either individually or as a body of believers. No matter how big or small our congregations may be, we are not secure in congregational size, wealth, or prestige. Our security is experienced only when we look to Yeshua as our foundation of faith. Our confidence is in the Lord and in Him alone. The Passover redemption of the believers reminds us each year that despite all that the world, the flesh and the devil may throw at us, we are secure in Messiah.
Passover was meant to be like the foundation of a house in a storm:
Yeshua said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25)
How strong is your foundation? Do you trust in someone or something besides the Lord (Jeremiah 17:5)? If you are trusting in anything or anyone else, stop! Place your faith in His eternal atonement for your sins and receive new life in Yeshua, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).