Pentecost, also known as Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks is a very significant time of celebration. It’s a time to celebrate God’s fulfilled promises. And it’s a time to celebrate and appreciate the gifts that God has given us through His revealed will first given through the commandments, and secondly given by the Holy Spirit.
But is this a holiday that we, as Christians, don’t need to celebrate anymore? Let’s explore that a bit as we dig deeper into what Pentecost means for Christians.
The command to observe Pentecost
The first time Pentecost is mentioned is in Exodus 34:22, where it says:
“And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.” – Exodus 34:22
Then, again, it is commanded in Leviticus 23:
“And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord. Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord. And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the Lord, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the Lord. Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings. And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations. And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the Lord your God.” – Leviticus 23:15-22
Here in Leviticus we are given some idea of when this Feast of Weeks (aka Pentecost) is to be observed. First, we are to count seven sabbaths (7th day sabbaths) after the Feast of Firstfruits. And this will be 50 days. On the 50th day it is to be a very special holy day.
The First Pentecost: the giving of the commandments?
It is widely believed by those who observe Pentecost, both Jews and Christians, that the first observance was actually the day that God gave the commandments to the Israelites.
There have been studies done based on the dates given in the Bible (like this one) that support and hypothesize that the very day that God revealed His will through the tablets of stone was the very same day that God revealed His will through the Holy Spirit in the New Testament.
Now, I think there is some pretty compelling evidence, however I can’t speak if this is 100% true or not. The dates in the Bible aren’t exactly solid around this time. But here’s what I will say about it. It completely fits with God’s character. And here’s why…
All of the Feasts all represent a fulfillment that Jesus has (or will) complete. They begin as shadows of these promises to come and then turn into a celebration of these fulfilled promises. So the times that God has fulfilled something always seems to fall on significant dates given in the Bible, and I have no reason to believe that the giving of the commandments would be any different. It fits perfectly with the spirit behind Pentecost and a lot of the evidence seems to line up.
But whether or not this is true I can’t say for sure. However, either way I do believe it’s a wonderful time to celebrate that God reveals His will to us in many forms. Through the giving of His commandments, to the divinely inspired scriptures as a whole, and to the giving of the Holy Spirit. Which brings me to my next point…
The fulfillment of Pentecost: the giving of the Holy Spirit
There is one thing I can say for sure, and that is that the gift of the Holy Spirit was given on Pentecost. I don’t think anyone would argue this considering it is plainly expressed in scripture.
But what is so special about this is that it wasn’t just a New Testement promise from Jesus that was fulfilled (John 14:16; John 14:26; John 16:17). Rather, this is something God has been promising for a very long time. And we can see one such promise in the book of Jeremiah:
“But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” – Jeremiah 31:33
As you can see from Jeremiah, God has been planning on giving His Spirit to us for a long time. This was all in His plan and He has promised this from the beginning. And it’s also important to note here that the giving of the Holy Spirit doesn’t negate God’s law. But rather it writes God’s law on your heart. For the Holy Spirit doesn’t speak of Himself, but rather He will speak what is given to Him through the Father:
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” – John 16:13
And He will teach and bring to remembrance all things that God has taught us:
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” – John 14:26
What Pentecost means for Christians
Feast of Weeks, Shavuot, or Pentecost, is a special time for Christians. Because it is a celebration of God’s revealed will to us and a celebration of God’s fulfilled promise to write His law on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33) and to never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Matthew 28:20).
What a precious gift it is to know the revealed will of God. Through His commandments, His law, the inspired works of Scripture, the words of the Messiah, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We have a special gift to know how we can please our Creator. To know what He wants for us and the plans He has for us. This, my friends, is something we all too often take for granted. And it’s something to be celebrated.
Pentecost is special because it’s a day that God instructs us to eagerly anticipate by counting the days up to it (Leviticus 23:16). So this is a day to celebrate with eager anticipation and joy all that God has done for us and continues to do for us each day.
Finding the Date of Pentecost This Year
If you decide to observe the Pentecost (aka the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot) (or any of the other biblical feasts) with your family, be sure to remember that the day of Pentecost is different every year because it’s based on the moon cycle. You can find accurate dates for all the Biblical feasts on this page. They even have a printable calendar that you can use to remember when they are each year.
Be leery of following any of the Biblical feast dates on the Jewish calendar because unfortunately the Jews have switched to a fixed calendar for observing the Biblical feasts. The link above is to a Christian organization that determines the Biblical feasts based on the moon cycles (which is how the dates were originally determined).
May God bless you and your family as you observe Pentecost and God’s fulfilled promises this year.