Summary: The Feast of Weeks points to Pentecost and the giving of the Holy Spirit.
Three separate names were used by the Hebrew Scriptures for the fourth feast in the Jewish religious calendar.
2) "The Day of Firstfruits" (Numbers 28:26) - This was the day on which the firstfruit offerings of the summer wheat crop were brought to the Temple. It marked the beginning of the summer wheat harvest like Firstfruits marked the beginning of the spring barley harvest.
3) "The Feast of Harvest" (Exodus 23:16) - this feast marked the official beginning of the summer harvest season.
The Hebrew word, "shavout," which is translated "weeks" is also known as "Pentecasfr " which means "fiftieth," since it was celebrated on the fiftieth day from the Feast of Firstfruits. It was celebrated in the late spring, usually late May or early June. Though a specific date isn't mentioned in the Bible, the date was very specific, being the fiftieth day from the Feast of Firstfruits, on Nisan 16. Since the finstfruit offering on the Feast of Firstfruits was known as the "omer" the counting from Firstfruits to Pentecost was called the "counting of the omer."
1. The practical significance of this feast for Israel.
A) The original significance - This was one of three feasts during which all Jewish men were to present themselves at the Temple, as they did for the Feasts of Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles. It was also a rest day on which no regular work was to be done.
Like Firstfruits, nothing was done with the wheat harvest until the firstfruits were presented to the Lord. But the offering consisted of two long, flat, leavened loaves of wheat bread (v. 17). The loaves and two lambs were presented to the Lord as a peace offering. The priest waved them before the altar forwards and backwards, then up and down. They were then set aside for the priests (v. 20) to eat later that day.
B) The eventual significance - When Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, there were various failed uprisings. A final failed uprising in 135 AD, resulted in the Jews being forbidden to enter their capital city ever again. The land had nothing to harvest; and there was no Temple to bring offerings to, nor was there hope of it being rebuilt.
With no Temple, observing of the feasts of the Lord was impossible. So in 140 AD, the Sanhedrin decided to change the focus of this feast from harvest and to the giving of the law to Moses.
Though the Bible never associated the giving of the Law with this feast, this theme was chosen because the Law was given on the third month (Exodus 19:1), the month this feast would be celebrated. Today, it is celebrated with special decorations in the Synagogue; with people gathering to hear readings from Ezekiel and Habakkuk about the Temple; feasting on dairy dishes like cheesecakes, cheese blintzes, and cheese kreplah; and with the people staying up all night (this special day starts at 6 PM Saturday and goes to 6 PM Sunday), reading and discussing selections of Scripture, including the entire book of Ruth.
2. The prophetic significance of this feast for Christians - Acts 2.
The Prophetic significance is the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Jews from all over gathered for this feast, because it was a pilgrimage feasts. The disciples were gathered together, when at 9 AM, there was a sound like a mighty windstorm, that filled the house, and what looked like tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. Everyone was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in other languages. People came running and heard the believers speaking in their own languages, about the wonderful things God had done! Paul said in 1 Corinthians
14:21 that this was a fulfillment of Isaiah 28:11-12:
"It is written in the Scriptares: 'I will speuk to my own people through strange languages and through the lips of foreigners. But even then, they will not listen to me,' says the Lord,"
Peter explained how this was a result of Jesus dying for mankind's sin, rising on the 3rd day, and ascending back to heaven. Jesus was, uExalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear," (Acts 2:33). 3,000 trusted Jesus as Messiah and Savior and were baptized, thus launching the age of the church!
A) Pentecost marked the beginning of the time of the new covenant.
"The Lord has promisecl to rescue the ciry of Zion and Jacob's descendants who turnfrom sin. The Lonn says: 'My people, promise to give you my Spirit and my message. These will be my gtfts to you and yourfamiliesforever. I, the Lono, have spoken.'" - Isaiah 59:20-21(CEV)