Summary: Fourth in a series on how Jesus fulfilled all seven of the Old Testament Feasts prescribed by God.
Note: This message was presented by both of our pastors as a team.
Once again this morning we’re going to take a break from our journey through Ecclesiastes to focus on the Jewish Feasts and focus on how they reveal Jesus, the Messiah. Back in March, we focused on the three spring feasts – Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits – and we discovered that Jesus fulfilled each of those feasts at his first coming through his life, death and resurrection.
This morning, we’re going to focus on the feast that we know most commonly by its Greek name – Pentecost. However in the Bible it is known by several different names - the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Harvest, and the Latter Firstfruits. To the Jews it is known by its Hebrew name – Shavuot.
As we’ve done with the other three feasts, Dana is going to give you some historical background on the origins of the feast and how it is celebrated by the Jews today and I will focus on how Jesus fulfilled the feast and its meaning for us as followers of Jesus.
Before we look at the Feast of Weeks in detail, we need to take a few moments to review and put the feast in its proper context.
There are a total of seven feasts that God gave to His people to observe. The feasts are broken down into three main seasons. The Spring feasts – Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits coincide with the barley harvest and were fulfilled by Jesus at His first coming.
The Feast of Weeks coincided with the completion of the wheat harvest and, as we’ll see this morning was fulfilled by Jesus by the giving of the Holy Spirit which inaugurated the church age in which we now live.
The final three feasts – the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles - occur in the Fall, and they will be fulfilled in full by Jesus at His second coming.
The instructions for the observance of the feast of weeks are given to us in Leviticus chapter 23. You may remember that is the same chapter where we also found the instructions for the three Spring feasts that we looked at in March.
15 ’You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. 16 ’You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD. 17 ’You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to the LORD.18 ’Along with the bread, you shall present seven one year old male lambs without defect, and a bull of the herd, and two rams; they are to be a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offering and their libations, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord. 19 ’You shall also offer one male goat for a sin offering and two male lambs one year old for a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20 ’The priest shall then wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering with two lambs before the LORD; they are to be holy to the Lord for the priest. 21 ’On this same day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be a perpetual statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.
Leviticus 23:15-21 (NASB)
This feast is most widely known to us today as Pentecost, which is a Greek word meaning fiftieth. The feast derived that name because it is celebrated on the fiftieth day following the regular weekly Sabbath that occurs during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. When we looked at the Feast of Unleavened Bread we determined that the first and last days of that eight day feast were considered to be High Sabbaths. And sometime during that week there would also be a regular weekly Sabbath. The Feast of Firstfruits was held on the day after that weekly Sabbath and the Feast of Weeks occurred seven weeks later, or fifty days after the weekly Sabbath that occurred during the Feast of unleavened Bread.
The main activity of the Feast of Weeks was the presentation of a wave offering of two loaves of leavened bread before the Lord. Since Israel was an agricultural nation depending on the produce of the land, the Feast of Weeks celebrated the ingathering of the wheat harvest. It was a thanksgiving festival in which Israel expressed her dependence on God for the harvest and for her daily bread. Unlike other grain offerings where the bread was to be thrown into the fire, the loaves that were waved before the Lord during the Feast of Weeks could be consumed by the priests, as long as they were ritually clean. In addition, there were also animal sacrifices made and no laborious work was to be done.