A Look Back at Shavuot (Pentecost)

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Shavuot (Pentecost) is one of the seven major Biblical feasts commemorated by Jews since their days of enslavement in Egypt. It actually commenced at sundown last Saturday (June 8), but rather than interrupt our series on the Six Day War, I chose to delay this post.

We have discussed the Biblical roots, yet differences, of Shavuot and Pentecost previously. So, today I want to share some devotional thoughts as we look back upon Shavuot/Pentecost.

As noted in the post linked above, Shavuot and Pentecost share many similarities, and Christian and Jewish perspectives represent two sides of the same coin. For Jews, Shavuot is the commemoration of the giving of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai; whereas Christians celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit to believers following Jesus’ ascension into heaven.

The parallel events of the Torah being given at Sinai and the Holy Spirit being given in Jerusalem are no coincidence. Both signified a birth of the two religions, if we may call them that, and both were from the hand of God. One happened seven weeks after the Passover and liberation from Egypt, and the other seven weeks after the crucifixion and resurrection of our Passover lamb, Yeshua the Messiah. Both catapulted faith communities into action.

~Shavuot: The Feast of Weeks, One for Israel

At Passover (the first of the seven major feasts), God birthed a new nation out of another, as the Israelites fled Egyptian captivity to become a nation of their own. By giving the law to Moses at Shavuot, God birthed Israel spiritually. Though free physically at Passover, the Jewish people still suffered enslavement mentality. Thus, Leviticus 23:15 demands a 49-day counting of the omer and a grain offering, represented by the 49 days between First Fruits (during Passover) and Shavuot. (“Shavuot” means “weeks,” and it took 7 weeks to fulfill the days of counting.) This was a process representing spiritual preparation necessary for true freedom to receive the Torah (giving of the law).

Christians, on the other hand, view Jesus as the Passover Lamb and the fulfillment of First Fruits, giving us new (spiritual) birth. However, a Christian might still suffer enslavement mentality spiritually, just as the Israelites did. Acts 2:1-4 tells us, though, that it was at Pentecost God poured out the Holy Spirit to set us free and give us power to minister the glory of God. That was true in the lives of early Christians, and it is true of us today! Without the Holy Spirit’s power, we can do nothing; yet with it, we can impact the world!

So, as we reflect on Shavuot/Pentecost, let’s pray specifically for the work of the Holy Spirit in both Jews and Christians.

  • For Jews, pray the spiritual revelation of the Messiah will come alive! May they encounter the living God, just as the Christians experienced the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
  • For Christians, ask the Lord to fill churches, pastors and congregants with a fresh pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Universally, the church lacks power today, and it is the responsibility of each of us (not just pastors!) to seek the Lord and yield ourselves to the pouring out of His Spirit. Pray for your pastor! We cannot imagine the huge target on their backs as the enemy tries to destroy the impact of the church. Pray for ministries, both in Israel and around the world, working to fulfill God’s call upon them. Pray for the Holy Spirit to be poured out upon your brothers and sisters in Christ, and that doors of opportunity will open wide to declare the Word of God.

Indeed, we have more in common with our Jewish friends than first meets the eye. May the Lord fulfill His call in them, as He fulfills His call in us!

Blessings!

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