As millions of professing believers prepare to observe the national day of Thanksgiving on November 23rd, few will realize that this tradition has nothing in common with Yahuah’s true harvest festival — Shavuot. When one considers Shavuot’s significance in biblical history, a case can surely be made that it is arguably the most significant of all the moedim Torah instructs us to observe each year. This can not be said of the Thanksgiving day observances in which many will participate in out of tradition. More on this later.
The significance of the Shavuot pilgrimage festival is affirmed in the Torah as well as the canonical Book of Jubilees.1 Jubilees devotes considerable attention to this dual festival, also known as the Feast of Weeks joined with First-Fruits. Here is the angelic account of the dual nature of this harvest festival as told to Mosheh (Moses) on Mt. Sinai:
For it is the Festival of Shabuoth and the Feast of First-Fruits: This Feast is twofold and of a double nature: according to what is written and engraved concerning it, celebrate it. For I have written in the book of the first Torah, in that which I have written for you that you should celebrate it in its season, one day in the year, and I explained to you its slaughterings that the children of Yisra’el should remember and should celebrate it through their generations in this month, one day in every year.Jubilees 6: 20,21 Halleluyah Scriptures
Shavuot is anchored to our Covenant with Yahuah Most High (YHWH).
Genesis tells us that after Noah and his family endured the horrors of the deluge, the Father made a promise to him and all of humankind.
And I shall establish My Covenant with you, and never again is all flesh cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again is there a flood to destroy the earth. And Elohim said, “This is the sign of the Covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for all generations to come: “I shall put My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the Covenant between Me and the earth. And it shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud, and I shall remember My Covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh, and never again let the waters become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I shall see it, to remember the everlasting Covenant between Elohim and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.Genesis 9:11-16 Halleluyah Scriptures
The writer of Genesis quickly moves on from here. However, the sixth chapter of Jubilees sheds more light on Shavuot.
During the time that Moses was on Mt. Horeb (Sinai), the angelic agent2 of Yahuah also revealed that this unique festival day had been written on heavenly scrolls and had been observed since the Creation.
He placed His rainbow in the cloud for a sign of the everlasting Covenant that there should not be a flood again on the earth to destroy it all the days of the earth. For this reason it is ordained and written on the tablets of the shamayim (heaven/s), that they should celebrate the Festival of Shabuoth (Shavuot) in this month once a year, to renew the Covenant every year. And this whole Festival was celebrated in the shamayim from the day of creation till the days of Noah: twenty-six Yobelim (Jubilees) and five weeks of years.Jubilees 6:16-18(a) Halleluyah Scriptures
Moses was also informed that even though Noah’s sons failed to continue in their father’s ways after he died, the festival of Shavuot was celebrated by Abraham.
And Noah and his sons observed it for seven Yobelim and one week of years, till the day of Noah’s death. And from the day of Noah’s death, his sons forsook it until the days of Abraham, and they ate blood. But Abraham observed it, and Yishaq and Ya’aqob and his children observed it up to your days, and in your days the children of Yisra’el forgot it until you celebrated it anew on this mountain.Jubilees 6:18(b)-19 Halleluyah Scriptures
Religious Appropriation or the Plan from the Beginning?
Many in the Orthodox Jewish (and Evangelical Christian) community share the sentiment below that was posted recently on the GWDF YouTube channel. The video that triggered this person featured a recent Sukkot celebration held in Texas by this ministry.
The Scriptures teach that Yisrael was to be a light to the world. All nations were to be blessed through Yisrael, based on the nation’s obedience to Torah.
It was prophesied that the Messiah would come through the line of Judah (Yahudah). However, Yisrael (as in all 12 tribes) was expected to instruct the “stranger” among them in the ways of the Torah and hold them to the same religious standards as themselves. Yah’s rituals associated with Covenant obedience were designed to teach everyone proper worship. These instructions in righteous living also pointed to promises regarding the coming Messiah who would be an agent of redemption through his High Priesthood.
A heart that professes to love Elohim Most High but desires to keep the glorious news of the Gospel veiled to all but a chosen few raises red flags.
The Book of Acts sadly reminds us that one of Yeshua’s inner-circle disciples — Peter — took issue with sharing what ‘belonged’ to Yisrael with unclean gentile nations. This was not a vision about unclean animals. It had everything to do with opening the door of the Kingdom to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.3 Peter had to purge his mind and heart of error-filled rabbinic theology.
And on the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Kepha (Peter) went up on the house top to pray, about the sixth hour. And he became hungry and wanted to eat. But while they were preparing, he fell into a trance, and he saw the shamayim opened and a certain vessel like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth, in which were all kinds of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping creatures, and the birds of the shamayim. And a voice came to him, “Rise up, Kepha, slay and eat.” But Kepha said, “Not at all, Adonai! Because I have never eaten whatever is common or unclean.” And a voice came to him again the second time, “What Elohim has cleansed you do not consider common.”Acts/Maaseh 10:9-15 Halleluyah Scriptures
Theologian Albert Barnes:
Perhaps Peter would suppose that the design of this vision was to instruct him that the distinction between clean and unclean food, as recognized by the Jews, was about to be abolished, Acts 10:17. But the result showed that it had a higher and more important design. It was to show him that they who had been esteemed by the Jews as unclean or profane – the entire Gentile world – might now be admitted to similar privileges with the Jews. That barrier was broken down, and the whole world was to be admitted to the same fellowship and privileges in the gospel.
At this point, it is important to distinguish between true biblical Yisrael and the nation-state that currently bears the name Israel in the Middle East. Biblical, spiritual Yisrael consists of believers from every nation, tribe, tongue, and people who have put their faith in Yahuah’s son — our Messiah — for redemption. This process, also known as salvation, is carried out by our High Priest Yeshua and will reach its fulfillment when we are resurrected. So, no one group can claim ‘ownership’ of Covenant blessings that have been ordained since the foundation of the world by our Heavenly Father. While everyone is ‘eligible’ to receive these promises, not everyone will qualify.
Thanksgiving — A Shavuot Counterfeit?
Christianity has marketed the third Thursday of November as a day set aside to give thanks to God for agricultural bounty. When you research the origin of Thanksgiving you may be shocked to discover its pagan harvest festival roots.
Since childhood, most of us were told that Thanksgiving is a day ‘to honor God’ for all His blessings. Do you believe Yah approves of his children participating in a meal that is linked to gods of agriculture and at one time was associated with child sacrifice?
When you research the origin of Thanksgiving you may be shocked to discover its harvest festival roots that can be traced back to ancient Babylon and Rome.
This so-called holiday is also linked to war. Norman Rockwell’s iconic “Freedom from Want” painting was a promotional poster for the World War II war effort and insinuated that we should give thanks for the effort that kept Americans free from want. It appealed to the emotions of a nation desiring the comfort and security that only The Most High can supply.
Even Country Living online magazine is aware of Thanksgiving’s pagan roots and symbolism such as the Cornucopia or Horn of Plenty:
The word “cornucopia” is derived from two Latin words: cornu, meaning “horn,” and copia, meaning “plenty.” A frequent presence in Greek and Roman folklore, the overflowing cornucopia was often depicted as a symbolic accessory carried by gods and goddesses like Hercules, Fortuna, and Demeter. It was first described as an actual animal “horn” taken from Amalthea, the goat nurse of Zeus. According to the ancient Greeks, baby Zeus was being cared for and fed by Amalthea when he broke off one of her horns, which began to emit a constant supply of food for him. That’s how this “horn of plenty” first came to symbolize prosperity, wealth, and abundance. The pagan symbol was later adopted by Christians and used often in European harvest festivals to celebrate lush, bountiful crops. It was also used on currencies, coats of arms, and church decorations.
Knowing all this, should we, as Torah-observant followers of Yeshua, continue to believe that Yahuah is pleased when we serve up Thanksgiving ‘holiday’ meals? We are commanded not to worship in the manner of the heathen. The Father has already designated a day in the Spring for harvest thanksgiving. It is Shavuot.
1 The book of Jubilees is considered canon by Ethiopian Jews and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Fragments found amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran which were compared to the Ethiopian version of Jubilees found them to agree.
2 See Chapter 9, “Agency and Prolepsis”, The Gospel Worth Dying For, page 147
3 Revelation 14:6, Revelation 5:9
Photo credit: Laura James