Shavuot - our faithful God fulfills His Promise
“Speak to the sons of Israel, and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am going to give you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your (barley) harvest to the priest. And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for you to be accepted; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.’” (Leviticus 23:10,11) This ceremony began a 50 day countdown from Passover to Shavuot/Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15,16) which was designed to heighten expectations for what God was about to do in bringing forth a bountiful wheat harvest. This first fruits offering was a declaration of faith in the trustworthiness of God. It was an act that illustrated a confidence in God's ability to provide in the future even as He already had.
The resurrection of Yeshua took place at the time of the first fruits offering and was prophetically portrayed by it. Rav Shaul draws the parallel (1 Corinthians 15:20,23) that as God was faithful in raising Yeshua as the first fruits from the dead, we can totally entrust our lives to Him, and that our future resurrection is also secure. It is not only our bodily resurrection that is promised to us. We are also assured that the one who foreknew us and called us intends to conform us to the image of His Son. (Romans 8:28,29) Almost the entire 8th chapter of the book of Romans indicates that this process was to be the ongoing work of the Spirit of God.
Shavuot is the traditional date for the giving of the Torah on Sinai. The receiving of God's eternal instructions was the natural follow-up to the deliverance from Egypt. Another reason for the 50-day countdown from Passover to Shavuot was to emphasize that connection. Freedom from slavery in itself is not sufficient to bring fulfillment in the lives of individuals or communities. The ways of the Lord must be known and followed or else human nature will gravitate back into bondage. It is also no coincidence that God chose Shavuot as the day on which He immersed the first community of Messianic Jews into the power and glory of the Holy Spirit. This was connected with the freedom that Yeshua purchased for His people on the preceding Passover. Forgiven from our sins and freed from our past, we must be filled with His Spirit. The power of God's Spirit, is the necessary component for God's people to achieve their destiny; prophetically living and communicating the word of God to a lost world. Moses said, “Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them.” (Numbers 11:29) This is why Peter quoted the passage from Joel 2 to explain what was happening on the day of Shavuot. “I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.” (Acts 2:17)
The 50-day count is a lesson in waiting on the LORD, with the coming of Shavuot as a picture of the reward of faithfulness. “Be patient, therefore, brethren until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (James 5:7,8) There are also numerous other exhortations in the scriptures to not grow weary or lose heart. Time is the crucible in which our faith is tested. God has placed us there because it is only in relation to time that we truly can see if we will trust the invisible promises of the Lord. Our flesh wants the concrete evidence of our expectations to be available immediately. But Hebrews 6:12 says it is “through faith and PATIENCE we inherit the promises.”
The tragedy of the golden calf on the very threshold of receiving the Torah was a product of yielding to impatience. “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled around Aaron and said to him, ‘Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’” (Exodus 32:1) It is not so much at the beginning of our wait when we are fresh and full of faith, but rather as we approach the end when we need to hang on tightly to the Lord with all our strength. For it is then that the enemy of our souls would apply the most pressure and seek to cause us to interpret every passing moment as evidence that we have somehow missed the will of God. Of the 50 days that the disciples waited for the “promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4) Yeshua appeared to them and instructed them for the first 40. It was the last 10 days of tarrying in Jerusalem after He had left them that were filled with the greatest challenge, knowing only that it would be “not many days from now” that they would enter into the power of the Spirit.
Our forefathers at Mt. Sinai gave up on Moses when he didn’t return in their time frame. The 120 in the upper room, rose to the challenge of waiting, by continually, with one mind, devoting themselves to prayer. “And when the day of Shavuot was fulfilled, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting …and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”(Acts 2:1,2,4)
While all of us who love Yeshua are waiting for His physical return to this earth to set up His kingdom, we are also waiting for Him to come in very personal ways. Whether it is the need for a healing, salvation for a loved one, reconciliation, or revival in our communities, the principle is the same. It is His arrival by the power of the Spirit in any and every circumstance that makes the difference. We are shaped in and by the waiting process, but we are filled with joy and thanksgiving and the power to move on in Him when He shows up and we experience the fulfillment of a promise. This Shavuot, let us embrace this message and devote ourselves to prayer in faith until His Spirit arrives in a new and fresh way.