“Ruth Gleaning” by Jame Tissot, 1896
Jewish Days of Distinction
A Messianic Devotional Study of the Jewish Holidays
Shavuot is the glorious, late spring holiday that falls on Sivan 6th and 7th, seven weeks after Passover when the wheat harvest begins and the firstfruits of the seven species and loaves of bread were presented in the Temple. It is also the time when the giving of the Torah is joyfully remembered and celebrated.
Read: Book of Ruth
Hebrew Word: Shavuot – is the Hebrew plural form of the word shavua, meaning “week.” From Passover or firstfruits, the high priest counted 50 days or seven weeks to the wheat harvest. The fiftieth day became Shavuot or Pentecost (Lev 23:15, 16, 21).
“So He is our peace. In His body, He has made Jewish and non-Jewish people one by breaking down the wall of hostility that kept them apart (Eph 2:14 NCV).”
The backdrop for Shavuot is the ending of the grain harvest, which is wheat. It begins seven weeks earlier during Passover with the barley ingathering. At the time of the wheat harvest, the firstfruits of the seven species in Israel were gathered and taken to the temple as an offering (Deut 8:8). In ancient times, this was a season of great rejoicing (Jer 5:24; Deut 16:9-11). When the temple existed, an offering of two loaves of bread were baked from the wheat harvest and offered in the temple as well.
During this season, Jewish people remember and celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. As Messianic believers, along with honoring the cycle of the agricultural days in Israel, we also remember that the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples and others gathered in the Upper Room with visible signs, power, and wonders. It was on that day that the Holy Spirit was given and the body of Messiah or the Church was born.
It is customary to read the book of Ruth during Shavuot since it is the celebration of the ending of the grain harvest. The compelling story begins in Moab as three widows start their journey to Israel. Naomi, an exile in Moab and a Jewess on her way home, decided to return to her roots after she lost her husband and two sons. Orpah and Ruth, her two daughters-in-law, left with her in high hopes of starting a new life, away from the mourning and difficulties of their previous lives.
Scripture tells us that Naomi urged both women to stay in Moab. No doubt she reasoned that she could not from her own body provide sons for them to marry. And yet in Naomi’s heart of hearts, she must have known that those grieving young widows carried within their wombs the seeds of the future of their family lineage. Orpah remained in Moab, but Ruth left homeland and comfort for the unknown because of her loyal commitment to her mother-in-law and her people.
Eventually Ruth married a near relative from the lineage of Naomi. The inclusion of a Gentile in this beautiful story of redemption is remarkable! Their love story traces the lineage of Boaz and Ruth to Obadiah and on to King David and ultimately Yeshua.
This book is appropriately remembered during Shavuot–the wheat harvest. We who believe remember and honor this season as the time when the Holy Spirit was poured out on those who waited in the Upper Room. The body of Messiah was born that day with mostly Jewish believers in Yeshua; but after the outpouring of the Spirit, more and more early Gentile followers of Yeshua were added to the Church.
Ephesians 2:14 tells us that God has broken down the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile. As the prophetic picture of Ruth and Boaz in the Old Covenant, today we have become one as living stones that point to the One True Messiah and Savior of the world.
What will speak to the world more right now than Jew and Gentile loving each other? What sign would be more powerful than Arabs and Jews, ancient arch enemies, becoming one? Ephesians truthfully states that He is our peace. There is no peace in the Middle East or elsewhere without the true peace that only God can bring.
As we work the fields of harvest around us and in other countries, we bring all the grain in that is good and worthy — both Jew and Gentile. Revelation tells us that every tongue and tribe will stand before the Lamb on that day and give Him honor.
Prayer: I thank you, Yeshua, for the season of Shavuot, when we remember the wheat harvest or the time to gather souls for your kingdom. Thank you for the prophetic picture of Ruth and Boaz coming together in covenant as a Jew and Gentile. Praise your name that you have made us all worthy by your blood and crushed the wall of hostility between us.
Shavuot Celebrations and Traditions: Some religious Jews stay up all night reading the Torah as this holiday commemorates the receiving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. The book of Ruth is also read because it took place during the beginning of the barley harvest. In Jewish homes today during Shavuot, many enjoy eating milk products like cheesecakes or special cheeses. Some think this tradition originated from Song of Songs 4:11: “Milk and honey are under your tongue,” referring to the sweetness of the Torah as we partake.