Shavuot — also known as the Feast of Weeks — is the second of three mandatory pilgrimage festivals to Jerusalem that the men of Israel were required to make each year. These three so-called “ascendant” festivals served as a visual affirmation of the nation’s commitment to the Most High. They were mandated by Torah, and a condition of the nation’s covenant promise to Yahuah.
Three times a year all your men are to appear before the LORD your God in the place He will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the LORD empty-handed.Deuteronomy 16:16 Berean Study Bibles
Since all believers in Messiah through faith and obedience are considered Israel,1 when we memorialize Yah’s feasts we honor our Heavenly Father. Through our actions we show others that we want to go home — back to the Garden. We are demonstrating our faith in the Father’s promise that through Yeshua we will live with Him in New Jerusalem. This place is also known as the Promised Land which descends to earth following the tribulation.
Then one of the seven angels with the seven bowls full of the seven final plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the holy city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, shining with the glory of God. Its radiance was like a most precious jewel, like a jasper, as clear as crystal. The city had a great and high wall with twelve gates inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, and twelve angels at the gates.Revelation 21: 9-12 Berean Study Bible
A Foreshadowing of the Coming Kingdom
The heart’s desire of every believer is to go home. Our journey back to the paradise that was lost by Adam involves a rough and tumble pilgrimage. The way is paved with heartache, pain, disappointment, fear, deception, and betrayal. However, humanity’s dream of ultimately dwelling with our Creator can only become a reality through Yeshua. He meant it when he promised to prepare a place for us in the Kingdom to come. (John 14:2,3)
Both Isaiah and Micah hinted at these pilgrimages actually being dress rehearsals for what resurrected saints will see happening once New Jerusalem comes down to earth. The “sheep nations” (Matthew 25:31-34) consisting of mortal humanity who enter the Millennium will also participate in these pilgrimages as part of their training in righteousness.
In the last days the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways so that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.Isaiah 2:2,3 Berean Study Bible
And many nations will come and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.Micah 4:2 Berean Study Bible
And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.Revelation 21: 24-26 New King James Version
Our Return to the Kingdom
In our effort to get back home, we must ascend or go up little-by-little. The Hebrew word for ascent is ma’alot. It is used often in the Psalms of Ascent — Psalms 120-134. Just as the Hebrews journeyed up to Jerusalem to present their gifts, we must also ascend to a higher way of living.
Many believe the ascent referred to were the 15 steps that led to the Jerusalem temple. Others think the ascent is connected to the people’s journey back from exile. Both interpretations hold true. Like rebellious Israel and Judah, we too have been disobedient. We have spent years in exile, separated from the Father. We have broken His covenant and long for His presence.
While the earthly temple was never meant to be an end in itself, it pointed to a time and place where Father and Son would dwell with humanity. So ultimately, these Psalms of Ascent remind us that Yah’s presence with His people will become a reality.
Here are excerpts from just a few of the Psalms of Ascent that the people sang on their way to Jerusalem.
I will lift up my eyes to the hills — From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.Psalm 121:1-4 NKJV
Jerusalem is built as a city that is compact together, where the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, to the Testimony of Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD. For thrones are set there for judgment, the thrones of the house of David.Psalm 122: 3-5 NKJV
Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, until He has mercy on us.Psalm 123:1,2 NKJV
Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD; Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If you, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope.Psalm 130:1-5 NKJV
If your sons will keep My covenant and My testimony which I shall teach them, their sons also shall sit upon your throne forevermore.” For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place: “This is My resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her poor with bread. I will also clothe her priests with salvation. And her saints shall shout aloud for joy. NKJVPsalm 132:12-16
These Psalms of Ascent remind believers that when we follow the Way of Yeshua, we will ascend to a higher level of faith and spiritual maturity. We will remember the Father’s mercy, forgiveness, kindness, long suffering, redemption and love. These are the things that bring us joy as we focus on the Father and His rules for living righteously.
Shavuot’s Ties to Noah, Abraham, and Moses
Shavuot is a festival of renewal of the eternal Covenant. Jubilees tells us that this festival has been kept in heaven since the beginning — before the earth was created. It was celebrated by Noah, Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
We serve a Creator who keeps His promises and expects us to do the same. Yah told Noah that He would never again destroy the world with a flood and promised that the Seasons would continue as long as the earth remained.
And He gave to Noah and his sons a sign that there should not again be a flood on the earth. He set His bow in the cloud for a sign of the eternal covenant that there should not again be a flood on the earth to destroy it all the days of the earth. For this reason it is ordained and written on the heavenly tablets, that they should celebrate the feast of weeks in this month once a year, to renew the covenant every year. And this whole festival was celebrated in heaven from the day of creation till the days of Noah…Jubilees 6:15-18 Pseudepigrapha, by R.H. Charles
“Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said: This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: “I set My rainbow in the clouds and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.Genesis 9:11-13 New King James Version
After Noah died, his sons and grandsons did not continue this feast. However, Abraham did.
But Abraham observed it, and Isaac and Jacob and his children observed it up to thy days and in thy days the children of Israel forgot it until ye celebrated it anew on this mountain.Jubilees 9:19 Pseudepigrapha, by R.H. Charles
And in the fifth year of the fourth week of this jubilee, in the third month, in the middle of the month, Abram celebrated the feast of the first-fruits of the grain harvest. And he offered new offerings on the altar, the first-fruits of the produce, unto the Lord, an heifer and a goat and a sheep on the altar as a burnt sacrifice unto the Lord; their fruit offerings and their drink offerings he offered upon the altar with frankincense. And the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him: ‘I am God Almighty; approve thyself before me and be thou perfect. And I will make My covenant between Me and thee, and I will multiply thee exceedingly.’ And Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him and said: ‘Behold my ordinance is with thee, and thou shalt be the father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but they name from henceforth, even for ever, shall be Abraham. For the father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee very great, and I will make thee into nations, and kings shall come forth from thee. And I shall establish My covenant between Me and thee, and to thy seed after thee.2Jubilees 15:1-9 Pseudepigrapha, by R.H. Charles
It is interesting that the golden calf incident in Exodus 32 is also connected to Shavuot. In their impatience and impudence the people pressured Aaron into making an idol. This act violated the first and second commandments.
And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made molded calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” So when Aaron saw it, he built an alter before it. And aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD.”Exodus 32:4,5 New King James Version
I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt; out of the house of bondage. You hall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.Deuteronomy 5: 6-9 New King James Version
And do command the children of Israel to observe this festival in all their generations for a commandment unto them: one day in the year in this month they shall celebrate the festival. For it is the feast of weeks and the feast of first fruits: this feast is twofold and oaf a double nature: according to what is written and engraved concerning it, celebrate it. For I have written in this book of the first law, in that which I have written for thee its sacrifices that the children of Israel should remember and should celebrate it throughout their generations in this month, one day in every year.Exodus 32:4,5 New King James Version
Shavuot is Pentecost
Shavuot is not just a “Jewish” thing as some naively insist. It is a festival that we are told to celebrate from generation to generation. Yeshua recognized its significance when he chose this day to fill his disciples with the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room on Pentecost.3 (Pentecost to the Greek work which means “the fiftieth day.” This is not a coincidence.
Leviticus tells us that this “Feast of Weeks” happens on the fiftieth day, following 7 weeks of Sabbaths after Passover (7×7 = 49 +1). It is also the day Moses presented the Torah (rules for living) to the people at Sinai.
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. ‘You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD.Leviticus 23:15,16 Berean Study Bible
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.Acts 2:1-4 Berean Study Bible
What was inscribed on stone tablets at Mount Sinai was now proleptically being inscribed on believing hearts of flesh. When the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) was given in Acts, it was a foreshadowing of the first Resurrection event when the redeemed would receive new bodies. Our resurrection bodies will have the Torah engraved on our hearts so we will never sin again.
Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt — a covenant they broke, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD. I will put My law in their minds and inscribe it on their hearts. And I will be their God,and they will be My people. No longer will each man teach his neighbor or his brother,saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquitiesand will remember their sins no more.”Jeremiah 31:31-34 Berean Study Bible
This New Covenant reality has not yet materialized. If you are tempted to say yes, it has, then ask yourself these questions: “Do you have all of the commandments contained in the Scriptures committed to memory? Do you still sin?” Both Jeremiah and the author of Hebrews 8:8-10 are speaking of a future event.
The Joy of Remembering Shavuot
Although as believers in Messiah we are not journeying to a temple in Jerusalem these days, we are encouraged to remember Yah’s Feasts Days. These annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem reminded the Israelites of their heritage and the eternal promises of Yah. They were considered joyous occasions because the people were given the opportunity to give back to Yah in appreciation for all He had done for them. It should do the same for us as we await our Messiah’s return.
As you read through the Psalms of Ascent your heart will be lead to meditate on the goodness of Yah. In his rules for living called the Torah, we are taught how to love our Father and our brothers and sisters. These festivals are a way of promoting community, strengthening our faith, and giving honor to Yah. The gift of the Holy Spirit was meant to empower us to do this. What a joy!
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing — Life forevermore.Psalm 133, A Song of Ascents of David, New King James Version
1 Biblical Israel has nothing to do with the nation which currently bears that name in the Middle East. It consists of believers from every nation, tribe, tongue and people who have put their faith in the Messiah for redemption. This process, also known as salvation is carried out by our High Pries Yeshua and will reach its apex at the resurrection. However, the land on which earthly Jerusalem now sits will also be the place where the New Jerusalem will descend to earth. See The Gospel Worth Dying For, Chapter 6, “Here Comes the Bride.”
2 Compare with Genesis 15 and The Apocalypse of Abraham Part 2, Chapters 9, 20
3 From Strong’s #G4005, pentekoste. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon gives this definition: “the second of the three great Jewish feasts, celebrated at Jerusalm yearly, the seventh week after the Passover, in grateful recognition of the completed harvest.”
Brenda Ross is a co-author of the book, “The Gospel Worth Dying For.” She enjoys writing, cooking, reading, and almost anything Sci-Fi. Her craving for learning new things will not be satisfied until she learns how to play the acoustic guitar. Brenda loves meeting new friends and spreading the message of the Gospel of the Kingdom.