Shavuot or Feast of Weeks is the definitive purpose of Passover. One without the other is utterly meaningless. The feasts of Israel or appointed times are inter-connected in God’s plan and cycle of renewed life as the calendar turns, as the Lord’s people from all nations gather themselves unto Him in devotion and love.
Passover is the watershed event for the Jewish people who brought deliverance from the cruel and unjust slavery of Egypt. According to ancient tradition, the Israelites knew they would receive the “Torah” or greater revelation of the One True God, whose name is unknown and unspeakable this side of heaven, fifty days after the Exodus. So eager, they counted the days in joyous anticipation.
Omer is a sheaf of barley and was presented as an offering in the Temple each of the 49 days before Shavuot. The counting period is a time of repentance and personal dedication, preparing hearts to receive the revelation of God’s Word.
Imagine if you knew that in the period of one month and a half that your spirit would have greater understanding of the Creator of the universe? Imagine knowing the One who made you on a deeper, personal level? You and I would count the days too.
On the first Shavuot, when the Israelites did receive the Torah as Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, they became bonded to God and to each other in a new and vital way. They received a code of conduct, which revealed the marvelous attributes of the God they knew only from afar and feared. Who He was became clearer, and what He required became a lifestyle. They began to see the beauty of His unapproachable holiness, His infinite glory, His dwelling place.
Sadly another revelation they received in time was the cold, hard fact that they could not obey the Torah. The Law inscribed on stone from the hand of God to the hand of Moses grew impossible to keep. Ironically, as time passed the most religious and pious among them created more laws to keep as they sought to understand God even more, as they sought to follow more closely. They created a heavier burden that became overwhelming. Eventually, their own commentaries, written by the most devout scholars, became of equal value, maybe even of more value than the Law given at Sinai.
Still to this day the mountain of the Law is insurmountable and the desire to keep all of it resides deeply in many religious followers. Thousands upon thousands let go—the climb became too steep, the journey too uninteresting compared to the pull of the modern world.
If you have ever seen a Simchat Torah celebration, you are in for a treat. I have never witnessed this in person, but have seen on television. It is laden with joy and dancing—exuberance almost to the point of drunken happiness. Those celebrating know the profundity of the place of God’s Word in life. It is a holy thing, a treasure, an heirloom, and a living, breathing force that changes the soul. It’s worth giving your life.
They celebrate the Word inscribed on stone, now paper.
Now imagine how you would count the days if you knew on such and such day, you would receive a revelation of God in a new way, not written in stone but on the very flesh of your heart. “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33).
That is what Shavuot is about on the other side of the life, death, and resurrection of Messiah Yeshua, the long-awaited Anointed One!
The Church or Body of Messiah was born as the disciples waited in the Upper Room for a filling of power and boldness as Acts 2 tells us in detail. They had counted the days, offered the sacrifices of Omer, and the waited on Jesus who had ascended. That day the Holy Spirit fell with fiery tongues, foreign languages, and 3,000 came to believe in Yeshua in that moment when Peter preached his heart out. This was in great contrast to the 3,000 who died at Mt. Sinai before an awesome and terrible God, who does not compromise holiness. That Old Covenant brought death. The New Covenant brings life!
But we don’t toss it out—the old. We put it in a new container because it’s living and vibrant. In reality, we cherish the old more than ever, because we understand it better. We walk in it more reverently. We see the depth and the breadth. We see Yeshua who completes it fully.
The Word written on hearts brings life and the ability to keep the Law. We who believe and are new creations because of the shed blood of Yeshua should have a Simchat Torah to end all Simchat Torahs! Oh the joy! Oh the freedom—to keep the Law without burden.
Imagine not stealing because you know your Father in heaven will provide for you? Imagine not cursing with His name because you love Him so much? Imagine not lusting after your neighbor’s house or wife because you are so satisfied with God’s provision for you? This comes from a changed heart.
Relationship is what makes all the difference with the Father through the Son. If you are a Jew reading my words, Yeshua is your Messiah. If you are a gentile who thought religion died a century ago, take hope in the hopelessness of your life. Your streams of life can flood to overflowing with new joy and purpose. You can call the Creator of the universe, “Father.” He is one who never lets you down. You can bring Yeshua out of the shadows of doubt and ridicule.
He has been drawing you for a long time.
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20).