If you were Jewish the Law required that you go up to Jeruslaem. Shavuot is second of 3 feasts that Jews were commanded by God to present themselves before Him in the Temple in Jerusalem. Passover and Sukkot are the other two.
Historical Background: Shavuot was first celebrated after the children of Israel settled in the promised land. It was a feast that called all Israel to thank God for the land and the start of the Harvest. With the destruction of the Temple, it was impossible to fulfill most of the commandments related to the feasts. So the Rabbi’s changed the meaning and message of Shavuot. They shifted the focus to the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. Israel left Egypt on Passover and 50 days later Moses brought the Ten Commandments down from the mountain Exodus 19:1.
Shavuot began on the Jewish calendar last Tuesday at Sundown. But there is controversy over the dating. The question is what does the Scripture mean when it says “Sabbath”. The counting of the omer, or days, begin on the day after the Sabbath of Passover. Is that Sabbath the Holy Day Sabbath or the weekly Sabbath. The Jews interpret that the Passover is the Holy Day referred to while other people of faith believe it is first Saturday after Passover that the counting is to begin. Since the feasts are a shadow of what was to come and Shavuot foreshadowed the birth of Church then Shavuot Biblically should be celebrated this Saturday at Sundown.
There are 3 significant aspects of Shavuot I want us to consider this evening:
1) The command to go up to Jerusalem.
2) the giving of the law.
3) the two loaves of leavened bread offered to the Lord.
Going up to Jerusalem – No matter where a person came from, getting to Jerusalem always involved going up. As Jews from Israel and the diaspora would come in obedience to God, they were moved to consider the Lord. It was an experience of great joy.
Thousands upon thousands of families thronging into the city of Jerusalem to participate in a celebration of the Goodness and faithfulness of God. We get an idea of what it was like from Luke 2:41-45. While the Holy Days were a reminder and for thanksgiving it also was the setting for events spoken of by the prophets; The coming of the Messiah. The Rabbis write that all the law and the prophets were for nothing except the Messiah.
Every Passover there was the anticipation that on that day the Messiah would come. We set a place for Elijah, and at certain point in the ceremony go to the door to see if he is there. For the prophets foretold that Elijah would herald the coming of the Messiah. 1500 years after the first Passover, God did send His promised Messiah to Jerusalem. The Passover Lamb as prophesied by Isaiah 53. The majority of the plain people recognized Jesus as that Messiah.
50 days later, Israel was once again commanded to come to Jerusalem to present to God the offering required by the law to give thanks for the start of the summer harvests. But God once again was setting the stage for another event in His prophetic timetable. This was to be the day that all Israel would witness the promise of God’s Spirit taking up residence not in the Temple but in His children. Acts 2:1-13 Read:
The Giving of The Law at Sinai – The Law when it was given at Sinai was a gift from God. When obeyed it brought blessing and peace. It was the requirements of God’s covenant with Israel. It set Israel apart as a special people. It provided mankind with the written expectations of God.
It also provided a means of reconciliation through the sacrificial system when those laws were broken. The psalmist wrote that the Law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul. How blessed are those who walk in the Law of the Lord. How blessed is the man who delights in the Law of the Lord. The Law was a blessing to Israel.
In Exodus when God gave His Law to Israel as Moses brought the Law down from the Mountain the children of Israel were in great sin. 3,000 were put to death on that day (Exodus 32:25-28). It was on this very day some 1500 years later that God gave the New Law not written on tables of stone but on the heart. This was the day that Jeremiah had prophesied about (Jeremiah 31:31-33). On this day we read in Acts 2 That after this message of the New Covenant was brought, 3,000 came to everlasting Life.
The Offering of the Two Loaves of Bread – These loaves were baked with leaven. Leaven in the Scriptures speak of that which is impure and defiling. Yet God specifically commands that this offering be made with leaven. Leaven consists of organisms that are characterized by their rapidity of growth and diffusiveness, so that it permeates the whole lump into which it is put, and nothing is able to stop its growth except fire.
These two loaves, are a picture of Jews and Gentiles. As the High priest was offering these loaves in the Temple 2000 years ago, God was pouring out His Spirit on Jew and Gentile. On this day our High Priest Yeshua was offering to God Jew and Gentile. The leaven is symbolic of the sin within these that are offered.
Shavuot or Pentecost was the start of the harvest. Throughout the summer the harvest was carried on. So too 2000 years ago God began the harvest of Jew and Gentile in this present age. Going up to Jerusalem, the anniversary of the giving of the Law and the Two loaves all point to an event that was to come. That event occurred on Shavuot 2000 years ago.
God desires us to be a part of His harvest. But unlike grain we have a choice. God has given us a free will to choose. Israel when they stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai chose to embrace and accept the Law of God. The result was that Jewish people became a nation of priests and a people of God, his covenant nation.
They had applied the blood of the Lamb to their door posts and came out of Egypt. A choice remains for us. God has provided the Lamb and desires to bring us into His new covenant and on the journey to the promised land.