Parashat B’Ha’alatkha — Numbers 8:1 – 12:16
Haftarah — Zechariah 2:14 (10)* – 4:7
Prophets — Jeremiah 45:1 – 51:35
Writings — Ecclesiastes 2:1 – 8:17
Testimony — Romans 11:1 – 16:27
Most of this week’s blog discussion points will be on these passages. If you have general comments or questions on the weekly Scripture readings not addressed in a blog post, here’s a place for you to post those. Just use the “leave a reply” link below.
The full “Read Through The Scriptures In A Year” schedule, broken down by each day, can be found on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links.” There are 4 sections of scripture to read each day: one each from the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, and from the Testimony of Yeshua. Each week, the Torah and haftarah readings will follow the traditional one-year reading cycle.
* Verse numbers in parenthesis refer to the verse number in Christian English Bibles when they differ from Hebrew Bibles or the Tanakh.
Weekly Blog Scripture Readings for 6/16/19 through 6/22/19. Today Shavuot (Pentecost/Feast of Weeks) has fully come. Chag Sameach! (Happy Feast!)
A (Re)New(ed) Covenant Involving YHVH Writing Torah on Our Hearts
Long ago Jeremiah prophesied that YHVH would make a new (or renewed) covenant being with his people Israel, which would involve both houses of Israel (Judah and Ephraim, or, prophetically speaking, the Jews and the Christians), and that he would write his Torah on their hearts.
Behold, the days come, saith YHVH, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith YHVH: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith YHVH, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their Elohim, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know YHVH: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith YHVH: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jer 31:31–34)
Contextually, in the verses surrounding this prophecy, we discover some other important details.
Verse 27, The houses of Judah and Israel were to be mingled throughout the beast (heathen) nations of the world as punishment for breaking their covenant with YHVH that they made with him on Shavuot (the Feast of Pentecost) at Mount Sinai (Exod 19–20, 24).
Verse 28, At some point in the future, YHVH’s punishment of Israel for breaking their covenant and their resulting exile among the gentile nations will come to the end. He will rebuild and restore the nation of Israel.
Verses 29–30, Whereas in times past, Israel was punished as a collective nation for their sins when they disobeyed YHVH and were similarly blessed when they obeyed him, now each person will be cursed or blessed for his own sins. Salvation is more of an individual matter now.
Verses 31–33, YHVH promises to make a renewed covenant with the two houses of Israel at some time in the future (from Jeremiah’s perspective). It will be different from the covenant he made with Israel at Sinai in two major ways:
Though it will be a covenant with Israel collectively (both houses), it also will be made with individuals.
He will deal with the heart of each individual Israelite when he writes his Torah on their hearts.
Verse 34, This renewed covenant will involve mercy and forgiveness (grace). It will involve a personal relationship between each person and YHVH (“they shall all know me…”).
Verses 35 and 37, As the sun, moon, stars, the sea, and expanse of the heavens and the earth exist, so YHVH will renew his Torah covenant with Israel. The words of Yeshua in Matthew 5:18 are reminiscent of the this prophecy. Not one jot or tittle (Heb. yud or tag, which are the smallest elements of the Hebrew alphabet) of YHVH’s Torah will pass as long heaven and earth still exist.
Verse 36, The very survival of the nation and people of Israel (and hence the fulfillment of the covenants YHVH made with Abraham), is dependent on YHVH regathering and restoring Israel. If YHVH doesn’t bring this to pass, then YHVH is a liar and his Word is a lie and there is no hope for the world! This cannot be!
This was fulfilled during the time of the writing of the Testimony of Yeshua (New Testament). The author of Hebrews talks about this in Hebrews 8.
But now, Yeshua the Messiah has attained a more excellent public service, since He is the Mediator of a more excellent covenant, one that was legislated with better promises than the former. (Heb 8:6)
The “better promises” is everything that Yeshua taught about salvation and eternal life as a person puts their trust in him. These better promises he taught during his life and ministry, and formalized this at his last supper through the communion elements. It is all these glorious promises to which the whole Levitical and sacrificial system pointed, which, as the author of Hebrews makes clear, was fulfilled in Yeshua.
If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need to look for a second one. Finding fault with THEM He said, “Look, the days are coming, says Yehovah, when I’ll enact a New Covenant with the descendants of Israel, and with the descendants of Judah. It wont be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors during the time when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt, because they didnt remain loyal to My covenant, and I rejected them, declared Yehovah. But this is the covenant that I’ll enter into with the descendants of Israel after that time, says Yehovah; I’ll put My Torah in their minds—inscribing it on their innermost thoughts. I’ll be their Aloha, and they’ll be My people. No one will teach doctrine to their fellow citizens [evangelize], or a friend, or ask: “Do you know Yehovah” [witness to anyone], because they’ll all know Me, from the youngest of them to the oldest. I’ll be merciful regarding their wrongful behavior; and I’ll no longer remember their sins.” When He [Yeshua] mentioned, a New Covenant, He was saying that the first one was old and about to be repealed; and what was then old and failing, was about to disappear. (Heb 8:7–13, GV)
Other Scriptures Relating to the Renewed Covenant and the Heart of Man
The Tanakh is full of scriptures that speak of the renewed covenant where YHVH will write his Torah on the hearts of men. For example, in Jeremiah 32:40, YHVH reiterates his promise to make an everlasting promise with Israel. This new covenant will involve his putting his fear in their hearts. As a result, they will no longer depart from him.
And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.
The following is a list of other scriptures that talk about the Torah being written on men’s hearts.
- Deut 30:6, And YHVH thy Elohim will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love YHVH thy Elohim with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
- Ps 37:31, The law of his Elohim is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.
- Ps 40:8, I delight to do thy will, O my Elohim: yea, thy law is within my heart.
- Isa 51:7 Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.
- Ezek 11:19, And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
- Ezek 36:25, Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
- Eze 36:26* A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
- Ezek 36:27, And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
- Jer 31:1, At the same time, saith YHVH, will I be the Elohim of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.
- Jer 24:7, And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am YHVH: and they shall be my people, and I will be their Elohim: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.
- Jer 30:22, And ye shall be my people, and I will be your Elohim.
- Jer 32:38, And they shall be my people, and I will be their Elohim:
- Ezek 11:20, That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their Elohim.
- Ezek 37:27, My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their Elohim, and they shall be my people.
The Testimony of Yeshua Speaks of YHVH’s Torah-Law Being Written on Men’s Hearts Also
- Rom 7:22, For I delight in the law of Elohim after the inward man.
- Rom 8:2–8, For the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, Elohim sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against Elohim: for it is not subject to the law of Elohim, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please Elohim.
- 2 Cor 3:3, Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Messiah ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living Elohim; not in tables of stone, but Messiah in fleshy tables of the heart.
- 2 Cor 3:7–8, But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
- Heb 8:10, 16, For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith YHVH; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a Elohim, and they shall be to me a people…This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith YHVH, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.
Yeshua Is Mediator of the Renewed Covenant
On Passover, Yeshua initiated the renewed covenant.
- Matt 26:28, For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
- Mark 14:24, And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.
- Luke 22:20, Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
- 1 Cor 11:25, After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
- Heb 12:24, And to Yeshua the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
- Heb 7:22, By so much was Yeshua made a surety of a better testament.
- Heb 8:6, But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
- Heb 8:8, For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith YHVH, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
- 1 Tim 2:5, For there is one Elohim, and one mediator between Elohim and men, the man Messiah Yeshua;
- Heb 13:20, Now the Elohim of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Yeshua, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
- Heb 9:15, And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
On Pentecost in Acts chapter two, Yeshua sealed his covenant on the hearts of his disciples by giving them his Holy or Set-Apart Spirit.
As YHVH made a marriage covenant with our fathers at Mount Sinai some 3500 years ago, so he promised to make a new covenant with the houses of Israel in the future.
I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah … I will put my Torah in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts and will be their Elohim and they shall be my people. (Jer 31:31 and 33)
Yeshua initiated this covenant with the descendants of the children of Israel during his last supper when he said to his disciples, “Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the renewed covenant in my blood, which is shed for you.…for the remission of sins.” (Luke 22:20 and Matt 26:28). It was the mission of Yeshua’s disciples to bring as many people into that renewed covenant—a spiritual marriage covenant—as possible. We enter into this renewed covenant with Yeshua who is the Living Torah and our Heavenly Bridegroom, when we do as the Paul says in Romans 10:9 and 10 and confess with our mouths the Master Yeshua and believe in our heart that Elohim has raised him the dead.
Romans 10:13 goes on to say, “Whoever shall call upon the name of the Master shall be saved.” Yeshua also said, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt 10:32).
Yeshua then sealed that renewed covenant when he sent his Spirit on the day of Pentecost to write his Torah on the hearts of his people. Likewise, when a new believer confesses Yeshua as his Lord and Savior and subsequently receives the Holy Spirit, this person is sealed spiritually as Ephesians 1:13–14 says,
And you were also included in Messiah when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is the deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are Elohim’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
The Counting of the Omer: Antitype and Type
In the roughly 49 days between Passover (Pesach) and the Feast of Pentecost (Chag haShavuot), a momentous spiritual dynamic occurs. This period of time is comprised of forty-nine days or seven days of seven weeks (i.e. the counting of the omer), which is seven times seven—the biblical number for complete or full perfection. After the counting of the omer, Scripture then commands us to add one day, which brings us to Shavuot or Pentecost (Lev 23:15–16). Fifty is the biblical number for the jubilee picturing redemption from the enslavement to this world.
Historically, the children of Israel were redeemed from their sins by the blood of the lamb on the first Passover in Egypt. At this time, YHVH betrothed himself to Israel (Exod 6:7). YHVH then led them out of Egypt into the wilderness, and on Shavuot he married them at Sinai (Exod 24 cp. Ezek 16:8; Jer 2:2; 31:32). At the same time, YHVH gave them his Torah, which was their ketubah or marriage vows.
Shavuot is a picture of the bride of Yeshua the Messiah coming into full maturity spiritually and coming to marriageable age. She has gone from being a spiritual child and slave in Egypt to becoming the fully mature spiritual bride and queen of the King of the universe.
At the time of Yeshua, he betrothed himself to both houses of Israel on Passover. On Pentecost, he then sent his Spirit, the Comforter, as a seal of this covenant. He hasn’t married this bride (that’s you and me) yet—something which occurs at his second coming. Rather, he betrothed himself to her (his disciples) at the last supper and then subsequently to each new believer when they come into spiritual relationship with him. In the mean time, he has placed his betrothed bride in a 2000 years-long wilderness exile outside the land of Israel where she is getting ready for him (Rev 19:7–9); she is learning to fall in love with him by keeping his Torah commands (John 14:15) and by receiving his Torah (instructions in righteousness) into her heart, so that she will become the sinless bride with whom he wants to spend eternity in the New Jerusalem.
In the end times, his bride (comprised of some from both the Christian and the Jewish people) have to one degree or another left YHVH spiritually and gone off into the world. In the end times at Yeshua’s second coming, he’s going to bring his bride out of the wilderness of Babylon the Great (called the Second Exodus), which is a worldwide antichrist system, and they will repent of their Torahless ways and return to him. We are now getting ready for this day.
Understanding the prophecies of the Bible that speak of these end-time events, and understanding who the principal players are (the two houses of Israel or the Jews and the Christians) is the key to insuring that we will be ready for our Messiah when he returns for us—that we’ll be wise and not foolish virgins, who have our lamps full of oil (the Torah and Spirit of Elohim, see Matt 25:1–13).
The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (Shavuot), along with Passover (Pesach) and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag HaMatzot) and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) are three times each year when YHVH commands his people, his bride-to-be, to gather together before him to rehearse their upcoming wedding and vows renewal and otherwise to celebrate their relationship with their Heavenly Bridegroom and commune with him (Exod 23:14–17).
Tomorrow, Sunday, June 16, 2019 is Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, which is the third of YHVH Elohim’s biblical and commanded feast day celebrations. The following information will help you to celebrate this festival as the Bible instructs with full understanding and joy as to its meaning, purpose and relevance to the modern-day Yeshua-loving saint.
Shavuot is the third festival in YHVH’s cyclical parade of annual sacred appointed times. It is also known as the Feast of the Harvest of the First Fruits (Exod 23:16), Day of First Fruits (Num 28:26) and the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot (which is Hebrew for weeks, Exod 34:22; Deut 16:10, 16; 2 Chr 8:13). Shavuot falls fifty days “from the day after the [weekly] Sabbath” (NKJV) that falls during the Days of Unleavened Bread, and hence the derivation of the name Pentecost (meaning “to count fifty”) as recorded in the Testimony of Yeshua (or New Testament/NT, Acts 2:16). According to the first-century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, the concept of counting fifty was expressed by the Jews of that day by the Hebrew word Asartha (Ant. III, x, 6). The 19th century Jewish scholar S. R. Hirsch in his Torah commentary refers to it as Azereth (The Pentateuch-Leviticus, p. 663). Both of these references seem to pointto the Hebrew word VRMG atzerah (or atzereth, Strong’s H6116/TWOT 1675c) meaning “an assembly or solemn assembly.”
YHVH through his Torah (the law of Moses) instructed his people that Shavuot was…
- a day of rest where laborious or servile work was prohibited (Lev 23:21)
- a time when all males were to bring the tithes of the increase of their income (Exod 23:14; Deut 16:16)
- a time when the priests were to offer up as a wave offering to YHVH two loaves of leavened bread made of the freshly harvested wheat (Lev. 23:17–20)
- to occur where YHVH would place his name and all were to go there to celebrate it (Deut 16:11)
- a time of rejoicing (Deut 16:11)
- to be forever (Lev 23:21)
An Agricultural Festival With Prophetic Implications
Ancient Israel was an agricultural society that had a spring harvest of grain and a fall harvest of fruit. The spring harvest consisted of the smaller barley harvest, which began during the Days of Unleavened Bread, and the much larger wheat harvest occurring fifty days later at Shavuot. Both the barley and wheat harvests were prophetic pictures symbolizing new life and new creation, and both were presented to YHVH by the priests for his acceptance—a sheaf of barley on First Fruits Day on the Sunday during Hag HaMatzot (the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Lev 23:10–11), and two loaves of leavened wheat bread on Shavuot (Lev 23:17).
On First Fruits Day, the priests of Israel would raise the newly harvested barley and wave it before YHVH for his acceptance. This was a prophetic picture of Yeshua who upon his resurrection Saturday evening, and subsequent ascension to heaven later on the first day of the week to be accepted by the Father (John 20:17) at the exact time the priests were waving first fruits sheaf of barley heavenward. Literally, Yeshua was the first to resurrect from the dead, and can thus be called the first of the first fruits of the resurrection from the dead.
Fifty days later Pentecost occurred when the priests offered to YHVH the two loaves of leavened bread made of wheat from the first fruits of the larger of the two spring harvests. This foreshadowed the larger harvest of souls during the time period from the giving of the Ruach HaKodesh (the Set-Apart Spirit) until Yeshua’s second coming. We are at the close of that time period now as the end of the age draws near. The Feast of Pentecost in Acts chapter two ushered in this time period with the harvest of thousands of people (Acts 2:41,47). It must be inserted here that an even larger harvest of people for the kingdom of YHVH is yet to occur during the fall feast days, which corresponds with the largest harvest of the entire year—the fall fruit harvest. This spiritual harvest will occur just prior to and after the return of Yeshua as an innumerable multitude of people come to faith in Yeshua out of the great tribulation (Rev 7:14) and when many more will be saved during the Messianic Age (or Millennium) itself.
The Prophetic Implications of the Feast of the Harvest of First Fruits
As we have seen, The Feast of the Harvest of First Fruits is another name for Shavuot (Exod 23:16; 34:22; Num 28:26). At Passover time, the barley (Exod 9:31 cp. chap. 12) was ready to be harvested in the land of Israel. Fifty days later at Pentecost, the larger wheat crop was ready for harvest (Exod 34:22). Barley and wheat were the two main grain crops of Israel (Deut 8:7–8; 2 Chron 2:15; Jer 41:8). In the late summer, the larger harvest of fruits and vegetables occurred.
These three harvests coincided, as noted above, with Israel’s three pilgrimage festivals: Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. The success of these three harvests was contingent upon the arrival of the fall (early or former) rains and the latter rains of the spring upon the land of Israel. In biblical and Jewish thought, these rains are prophetic of an outpouring of the Spirit of Elohim upon the earth, as well as of an outpouring of YHVH’s Torah-understanding and glory. This two-fold aspect of YHVH’s Word (spirit and truth) is expressed in many ways in many places throughout the pages of Scripture:
- spirit and truth (John 4:23–24; 1 Pet 1:22)
- letter and spirit (2 Cor 3:6; Col 1:6)
- grace and truth; the truth in love (Eph 4:15)
- truth and life (John 14:15)
- judgment and mercy (Jas 2:13)
- power and authority (Luke 4:36)
- word and spirit (Eph 6:17)
- Moses and Elijah
The land of Israel and the rain and harvest cycles are spiritual shadows of future outpourings of YHVH’s Spirit and the revelation of his Written Word upon people’s lives as they accept Yeshua and allow his Spirit to teach and instruct them concerning the ways of Elohim. The early rain and the latter rain also teach us about the pouring out of Elohim’s Spirit in a corporate way upon all flesh. The early rain prophetically points to the outpouring of the Set-Apart Spirit during Yeshua’s first coming and the latter rain points to the outpouring of his Spirit during Yeshua’s second (The Seven Festivals of Messiah, by Eddie Chumney, pp. 97–98). Chumney goes on to note that the concept of harvest represents the salvation of people with the spring harvest representing those who would receive Yeshua as Messiah in the present age and the fall harvest representing those who would come to Messiah at the end of the present age (ibid., p. 98).
- “Old” and “New Testaments”
- Mount Sinai and Mount Moriah/Zion
- the two houses of Israel (the Jews/Judah emphasizes the letter of the law/the Torah, while Ephraim/the Christians emphasize the spirit of the law/grace/Yeshua.
The Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai on Shavuot
Not of secondary importance to what we have already discussed regarding important things that occurred on Shavuot, was the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai that occurred on this day as well. On Shavuot, YHVH “married” Israel (Ezek 16:1–13) when he formulated a covenantal agreement with her to which to which she agreed when she said “I do” three times (Exod 19:8; 24:1–8). The Torah was the basis of that covenant, or the marriage vows, if you will to which Israel swore allegiance.
YHVH gave his people the words of life to live by, but because of the hardness of their hearts they were not able to be faithful to his Torah. Like a wife who says “I do” in response to her wedding vows, but cannot remain faithful to her marriage covenant, so Scripture likens Israel to such a woman who became a spiritual harlot (Ezek 16:14–34).
In spite of Israel’s apostasy and spiritual whoredoms, YHVH had made promises to Abraham and to his descendants that were unconditional in nature. Whether Abraham’s descendants remained faithful to YHVH or not, YHVH’s promises to Abraham were inviolate. Though the Israelites had violated the vows they made to YHVH at Mount Sinai, he revealed to the ancient Hebrew prophets that he would eventually formulate a second renewed covenant with Israel, and this time he would pour out upon them his Spirit and write his Torah-laws in their hearts (Jer 31:31–33; 24:7; Ezek 11:19; 36:25–27).
On Passover at the last supper, YHVH-Yeshua betrothed himself to Israel all over again (Matt 26:28; 1 Cor 11:25). As a seal or pledge of this betrothal, he promised to send to his disciples the Comforter or Set-Apart Spirt (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7; Eph 1:13–14). This occurred on the day of Pentecost when he poured out his Spirit upon Yeshua’s disciples. Each received the fire of his Spirit (Act 2:1–4). In this, YHVH fulfilled his promise to give his people a heart of flesh to replace their heart of stone, thus empowering or enabling them to keep his Torah-commandments (Heb 8:7–13). In other words, Yeshua, the Living Torah-instructions of YHVH, came to take up residence within the very hearts and minds of redeemed believers through the indwelling and empowering presence of his Set-Apart Spirit. In so doing, Yeshua is living out or fulfilling his Torah from within each redeemed Israelite believer even as he himself lived out or fulfilled the Torah-Word of YHVH when he walked this earth.
We can enter into this same renewed covenant with Yeshua who is the Living Torah and our heavenly Bridegroom when we do as the Apostle Paul says in Romans 10:9 and 10 and confess with our mouths the Master Yeshua and believe in our heart that Elohim has raised him the dead.
Romans 10:13 goes on to say, “Whoever shall call upon the name of the Master shall be saved.” Yeshua also said, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Matt 10:32). After confessing him, repenting of our sins, we must then be baptized and be prayed over to receive the Spirit of Elohim (Acts 2:37–41). Then one must continue to walk steadfastly in the truth of the gospel message, stay in fellowship with like-minded believers, and maintain a personal relationship with YHVH through personal devotional prayer (Acts 2:42).
Isn’t this a beautiful picture of YHVH’s love and care for his bride—his people? This is all part of the wonderful plan of salvation/redemption that YHVH laid out thousands of years ago to bring people into a life-giving relationship with himself through his instructions in righteousness—the Torah. This has all being accomplished through Elohim’s Son, Yeshua the Messiah, the Living Torah who now leads and guides his people through the wilderness of life not via a pillar of fire over a physical tabernacle, but through the fire of the Ruach HaKodesh living in the spiritual temple of each individual believer’s heart and mind, which guides them spiritually from within.
On Shavuot the first century redeemed believers were divinely empowered with the Ruach HaKodesh, called the immersion in the Ruach HaKodesh (or the baptism of the Set-Apart Spirit, Acts 1:5,8). As a result of the empowerment of the Spirit of Elohim, we see Peter being transformed from a spiritual mouse (compare John 20:23 with John 21:3) into a spiritual lion or dynamo (Acts 2:14–41). The immersion or saturation in the Sprit or Ruach is for the purpose of being empowered with supernatural gifts and enablements (the gifts of the Ruach, see 1 Cor 12) in order to be equipped to go out into the harvest field of human souls spiritually empowered and ready to bring in the spiritual harvest of souls. On the day of Pentecost, YHVH wrote the Torah into the hearts of the redeemed believers by the Ruach, and then supernaturally empowered them to take both the message of Torah—the light of his truth—coupled with the good news of the Redeemer, Messiah Yeshua—the Living Torah word of Elohim—to a lost and dying world. This is the fundamental message and purpose of Shavuot in the Book of Acts.
When is the Feast of Weeks (Heb. Chag Shavuot) or Pentecost? This has been a subject of debate among the Jews going back for two thousand years to the first century, and still is today among well meaning people who love Elohim and desire to follow his word. This is the question I will address in this study.
Since Shavuot is the only biblical holiday that involves counting days and weeks (hence its name, the Feast of Weeks), there are different opinions about when to start the count leading up to Shavuot. The Torah tells us to count from the Sabbath associated with the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD. (Lev 23:15–16, NKJV)
This sounds simple enough. Or is it?
The question and the subject of the debate is which Sabbath do you start counting from? The day after the weekly Sabbath occurring during the Feast of Unleavened Bread or the day after the high holy day Sabbath of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which occurs on the fifteenth day of the first month of the biblical year?
In the first century in the time of Yeshua and the apostles, there were two main opinions among the leading Jews on when to start counting the weeks (called “the counting of the omer”) leading up to Shavuot. The religious sect of the Pharisees whose spiritual descendants are the modern rabbinic Jews started the counting of the omer from the day after first high holy day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is a high holy day Sabbath (John 19:31). On the other hand, the Sadducees, the other main Jewish sects of the first century (along with the Boethusians, which was likely a sub-sect of the Sadducees; see A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, second division, vol 2, p. 37, by Emil Schurer; Commentary on the NT from the Talmud and Hebraica, vol. 4, p. 23 [commentary on Acts 2:1], by John Lightfoot) counted the omer from the day after the weekly Sabbath that falls within the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Some modern Messianics follow the rabbinic method, while others follow the Sadducean method.
It is generally understood by historical scholars that the Jewish sect of the Pharisees interpreted the written Torah in light of Jewish oral tradition, while the Sadducees rejected oral tradition and adhered strictly to the written Torah (Schurer, pp. 37–38). According to Schurer,
In this rejection of the legal tradition of the Pharisees, the Sadducees represented the older standpoint. They stopped at the written law. For them, the whole subsequent development was without binding power” (ibid. p. 38). To the scribes and Pharisees, in contrast to the Sadducees, oral tradition took precedence over the Written Torah-law. It was intolerable to them that people should “interpret Scripture in opposition to tradition. The traditional interpretation and the traditional law are thus declared absolutely binding. And it is consequently but consistent when deviation from these is declared even more culpable than deviation from the Written Torah. It is more culpable to teach contrary to the precepts of the scribes, than contrary to the Torah itself [according to the B. Talmud, Sanhedrin ix.3]. (ibid. p. 12)
The first century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37 BC to 100 BC) confirms this. He writes,
[T]he Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their fathers, which are not written in the law of Moses; and for that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them, and say that we are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written word, but are not to observe what are derived from the tradition of our forefathers. (Ant. XIII.10.6)
Commenting on Josephus’ statement, Louis Finkelstein, a noted the twentieth century rabbinic scholar writes,
This prolix statement simply confirms the talmudic record that the Sadducees rejected the Oral Law, which the Pharisees held equally authoritative with the Written Law. (The Pharisees, p. 261).
Yeshua himself castigated the scribes and Pharisees of his day for giving precedence to their Oral Law or the tradition of the elders over Elohim’s Written Torah in Mark 7:9, 13.
He said to them, “All too well you reject the [Torah] commandment of Elohim, that you may keep your tradition.…[Thus] making the word of Elohim of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
So we are still left with the following question: Which method of counting the omer toward Shavuot is correct? Do we follow the Written Torah or the Oral Tradition of the rabbinic Jews, which purports to follow the Written Torah but often doesn’t? That is the question I want to answer below.
To start, we need to first understand the meaning of some Hebrew words. Let’s look again at Leviticus 23:15–16.
And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath [haShabbat], from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths [Shabbatot] shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath [haShabbat]; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD. (emphasis added, NKJV)
The word for weeks in this passage is the Hebrew word shabbatot. Does this word mean “weeks” as in “from the first day of the week (our Sunday) to the seventh day (our Saturday),” or does it mean “weeks of seven days” irrespective of which day in the week the count starts? I will attempt to answer this question later. Also it must be noted that the Torah here uses the phrase “seven complete Sabbaths” (Heb. shabbatot). This is important to note as we will see below.
The Hebrew word for Sabbath is shabbat. The plural form of this word is shabbatot, from which the English word Sabbaths derives, and is found later in the same verse (Lev 23:15). This verse instructs us to count sabbaths, not seven weeks. Elsewhere the Bible clearly states that the sabbath is the seventh day of the week.
What do the Jewish rabbinical experts say about the meaning of Leviticus 23:15–16 and how to count the days toward Shavuot? After all, many Messianics view the Jews as the legal biblical experts that we are to follow in this regard.
To start with, the authoritative The ArtScroll Tanach Series Vayikra/Leviticus commentary is silent on the meaning of the Hebrew word shabbatot in Exodos 23:15. The commentators offer no explanations as to why they chose to ignore the meaning of the word Shabbatot when counting the days toward Shavuot. They simply assume that the word shabbatot means “weeks” (shavuot) and not “sabbaths” without giving any explanation.
The nineteenth century orthodox rabbinic Torah scholar S. R. Hirsch in his commentary on this verse attempts to explain that the word shabbatot/sabbaths in Leviticus 23:15 when combined with the Hebrew word t’mimot (translated in English as complete or perfect) means “weeks of Sabbaths” or “weeks containing Sabbaths.” To justify this explanation, he cites, not Scripture, but a prior rabbinic Jewish tradition (i.e. The Babylon Talmud, Nedarim 60a). Thus, in his translation of the Torah, Hirsch says that the word shabbatot or sabbaths means “weeks of sabbaths.” Then in Leviticus 23:16, which reads, “the seventh Sabbath,” he translates the word shabbat as “sabbath-week,” even though this is never what the word shabbat means when used throughout the Hebrew Scriptures.
The Gutnick Edition Chumash takes a libertine approach and interestingly translates the Hebrew word shabbat in Leviticus 23:15–16 as “From the day following the (first) rest day (of Pesach) — the day you bring the Omer as a wave-offering — you should count yourselves seven weeks. (When you count them) they should be perfect. You should count until (but not including) fifty days, (i.e.) the day following the seventh week…” (emphasis added, parenthetical sentences are in the original). Here, bowing to rabbinic tradition and ignoring the meaning of the word shabbat, this translator translates shabbat/shabbatot respectively as “rest day,” “weeks,” and “week.” Other than that, this rabbinic commentator gives no explanation how he justifies translating the word shabbat as he does. He focuses on the command to count, but totally ignores discussing which day to begin counting from.
Similarly, The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash in its translation of Leviticus 23:15–16 also ignores the meaning of the word shabbat and changes the word shabbat to “rest day,” “weeks,” and “week” respectively. In its commentary section, this Chumash totally omits any discussion on the subject of counting from the sabbath, or which sabbath to count from. Similarly, Rashi, the pre-eminent medieval Torah scholar, in his commentary on this verse also presumes shabbat to mean “weeks” and cites earlier Jewish sources (i.e. Targum Onkelos) as his justification, but gives no Scripture to back up his claims.
The counting of the omer from the day after the high holy day Sabbath (and not the weekly Sabbath) was normative among the dominant Jews of the first century as attested to by Josephus who makes no mention of any alternative methods than that of the Pharisees for determining the beginning of the count of the omer (Ant. III.10.5).
These are the only explanations, or lack thereof, that some of the top rabbinic experts over the past 2000 years have to offer us on this subject. This is not much to go on in order to make an informed decision about when to celebrate one of YHVH’s biblical feasts!
Contrary to what the above-quoted Jewish sages teach, The Theological Word Book of the Old Testament and Brown Drivers Briggs Lexicon, inform us that the word weeks [shavuot] is not one of the definitions of the word sabbaths [shabbatot], although BDB suggests that sabbaths or shabbatot could possibly mean “weeks of sabbaths.” Gesenius in his Hebrew lexicon suggests the same thing from the comparison of Leviticus 23:15 and Deuteronomy 16:9. The evidence supporting the meaning of “weeks of sabbaths” behind the Hebrew word shabbat is tenuous at best and should not, therefore, in all honesty, be used to build an argument on how to determine the time count leading to Shavuot.
Now let’s look at the Torah text itself, since the rabbinic scholars offer us little if any help in determining how to count the omer toward Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks.
If one were to view the day after the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread — assuming it doesn’t fall on a weekly Sabbath — as the first day of the count of the omer as the rabbinic Jews do, then how do you count seven sabbaths subsequently? For example, if the fourth day of the week (i.e. Wednesday) happens to be the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and hence a sabbath (a high holy day Sabbath, but not a weekly Sabbath), then are all the remaining Wednesdays leading up to the Feast of Weeks also sabbaths, so that the command in Leviticus 23:15 to count seven sabbaths is fulfilled? The command to count seven Sabbaths only makes sense if one is counting seven actual weekly Sabbaths with the first weekly Sabbath being the seventh day of the counting of the omer and each subsequent Sabbath as the fourteenth day, the twenty-first day and so on until one arrives at the seventh Sabbath on the forty-ninth day of the counting of the omer.
At this point, someone may ask about Deuteronomy 16:9–10, which seems to lend credence to the rabbinic Jewish tradition that the Hebrew word shabbatot (sabbaths) means “weeks.”
You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks [Heb. shavuot] from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the LORD your God blesses you. (NKJV)
In this passage, we are instructed to count weeks, not sabbaths. Therefore, can we simply ignore the Leviticus 23 passage that clearly instructs us to begin our count toward Shavuot on the day after the weekly sabbath in favor of beginning the count on any day of the week, and to count seven weeks (i.e. Sunday to Saturday) instead of seven weeks of sabbaths as the rabbinic do? Not at all, for the instructions on counting to Shavuot is first mentioned in Leviticus 23:15–16 and therefore (in light of the biblical interpretive “law of first mentions”) forms the foundation or basis for all subsequent biblical discussion on the subject. Therefore, Deuteronomy 16:9 must be understood or interpreted in the light of the Leviticus 23 passage and not the other way around, even as the New Testament must be interpreted in the light of the Tanakh (Old Testament), since it came first and forms the basis for all subsequent truth. Therefore, Deuteronomy 16:9 must be understood to mean “weeks of sabbaths” beginning from the first day of the week till the seventh day. Only in this way can Leviticus 23:16 be understood when it speaks of seven complete sabbaths being fulfilled upon arriving at Shavuot. This understanding reconciles these two passages in light of the biblical meaning and usage of the words shabbat (sabbath) and shavuot (weeks).
The closest analogous concept to weeks of sabbaths that we find in the Scriptures is the year-long land sabbath along with the seven sabbatical years leading up to the jubilee year. But in the biblical concept of seven land sabbaths, the pivotal point is still a definite sabbatical year when YHVH commanded the Israelites to let their land rest. The seven years is still tied to the year-long sabbath rest of the land, and the fiftieth jubilee year is calculated therefrom. The same is true from the day after the Sabbath, which is the first day of the week, when one starts counting toward Shavuot. After all, the Bible calls this holiday, the Feasts of Weeks. In Genesis chapter one, the Bible defines a week as being from the first day to the seventh day, which is the Sabbath (see also Exod 20:8–9). Unless otherwise stated, a week in the Bible means a week of seven days starting with the first day (Sunday) and ending on the seventh day or the Sabbath.
In conclusion, the verse that clinches the argument in my mind to help us to understand when to start the counting of the omer is Leviticus 23:16,
And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths [Heb. shabbatot] shall be completed.
Here, the Torah clearly states that the day before the Feast of Weeks is the weekly Sabbath. This is the plain meaning of the text and is what the Hebrew word shabbat means. By biblical definition based on how this word is used, the word shabbat can only refer to three things: the weekly shabbat, the Day of Atonement or the land sabbath. In the context of Leviticus 23:16, shabbat can only refer to the weekly Sabbath. Only rarely (about once in seven years) when using the rabbinical method to count the omer to Shavuot does the seventh Sabbath fall on the weekly sabbath. When one begins the counting of the omer from the day after the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Shavuot always follows the weekly Sabbath. With the rabbinic counting method, their Shavuot usually falls on the morrow or day after the seventh Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and so on, and only once in seven years on the morrow or day after the Sabbath. Therefore, their method of counting doesn’t meet the criteria as outlined in Leviticus 23:16, and which states that the day before Shavuout must be a weekly Sabbath.
I believe that this explanation gives us a fuller understanding into the phrase found in the Torah, “seven Sabbaths [Shabbatot] shall be completed” (Lev 23:15), or to a similar phrase found in the Book of Acts, “When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1). What is a complete [weeks of ] Sabbaths? It seems to indicate a complete or whole week from the first day (Sunday) to the seventh day (Saturday/Sabbath) with not a day lacking. Seven of these must be fully completed to arrive at Pentecost. It is interesting to note that Acts states, “When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1).
Moreover, it seems that the counting of the omer, which is seven seven-day weeks for a total of 49 days (7 times 7) symbolically points to “a complete completeness” representing the spiritual growth and development of the saint as they mature into perfect unity with YHVH and with their fellow saint, so that they will be spiritually prepared to receive the inner Torah of the heart, the gifts of the Spirit, and come to a place of being together and in one accord within the body of Yeshua to be able then to do the great commission and to reap the wheat harvest of lost sheep of Israel necessary to establish YHVH’s kingdom as per Acts 1:6–8 as pictured by the Feast of Pentecost.
What’s more, the weekly seventh day Sabbath is a prophetic spiritual picture of the one-thousand year-long millennial reign of King Yeshua’s on this earth, while a first day (Sunday) Shavuot is a picture of seven days plus one (or the eighth day) that prophetically points to “the spiritual upper room” of the New Jerusalem as outlined in Revelation chapters 21 and 22, when the glorified saints will dwell together and in one accord and in one place with YHVH Yeshua forever.
Perhaps the most important argument in favor of counting the omer from the day after weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread is that this perfectly points to the resurrection and ascension of Yeshua the Messiah. The Gospels’ account is clear that he rose from the grave at the end of the weekly Sabbath and at the beginning of the first day of the week, and that he most likely ascended to heaven on the first day of the week when the wave sheaf offering was being made on Wave Sheaf Day (Lev 23:9–14). Yeshua’s resurrection and ascension during this time frame perfectly fulfills all the prophetic types and shadows in the Torah that pointed forward to him. (For a full explanation of this, please see my article, “The Resurrection of Yeshua from a Hebrew Perspective Prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures,” at https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/firstfruits.pdf.)
It is my contention that to count the 49 days of the omer leading to the Feast of Weeks in the rabbinic Jewish way takes away from the glorious spiritual, prophetic picture of Yeshua and his spiritual bride to be and is therefore not the model to follow when counting the omer toward the Feast of Weeks.
My curiosity got the best of me when I saw the title of a recent podcast by American talk show radio icon, Michael Savage, so I listened to it. All I can say is: amazing, insightful; he cuts to the root of the West’s moral and spiritual sickness by explaining the central role the Torah and the ten commandments has played in Western societies.
In this podcast, Michael Savage, who is of Jewish ancestry, explains the importance of the ten commandments as a foundation for Western society, and how the ideology of the political left is anti-ten commandments all the way. Savage analyzes each commandment and discusses its importance and relevance to current social issues. He then explains the meaning of the Torah, Shavuot (to the Jews) and Pentecost (to the Christians) explaining the importance of each festival.
I encourage you to listen to this insightful podcast for a different and refreshingly new perspective on the upcoming biblical Feast of Shavuot/Pentecost. (This podcast is available at https://michaelsavage.com/podcast/.)
Numbers 7:89, When Moses. Moses going into the inner most sanctuary of the tabernacle is a lesson for us in experiencing intimacy with YHVH Elohim. The holy of holies in the tabernacle from which the voice of YHVH emanated pictured what? (See Rev 7:15.) The Tabernacle of Moses is a spiritual picture of what? (Read Eph 3:21–22; 1 Cor 3:16; 1 Pet 2:5.) If the saints are the temple of the Set-Apart Spirit, can they, like Moses, hear the voice of Elohim? (See what Yeshua said in answer to this question in John 10:3–5, 27 cp. Acts 8:29; 10:19; 11:12; 29:4.) How does YHVH now speak to his people? (Note John 16:13; 1 Cor 2:12.) How does the Spirit interact with man to speak the mind, heart and will of Elohim to humans? (See John 14:17; Job 32:8; Prov 20:27; Rom 8:16; Eph 3:16; 1 John 2:20, 27; 4:2–3; 1 Cor 2:10–14.)
A corollary passages to this verse is found in Psalms 61:4 where David speaks of abiding in YHVH’s tabernacle forever, and putting his trust in the shelter of YHVH’s wings.With this in mind, now consider this.Over the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant, which was the seat of Elohim’s presence on earth and symbolically represented his heavenly throne room, was the over-shadowing wings of the two cherubim (see Isa 37:16; Ezek 10:1–22; 11:22–23). It was in this place of intimate worship before the “Rock that his higher than me” (verse 2) that David sought shelter or refuge and deliverance from his enemies (verse 3). Phrases like, “under the shadow of your wings” is a Hebraism meaning “before YHVH in the place and state of worship” (see also Pss 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 63:7; 91:1, 4). It was also in this place—between the cherubim—that Moses heard the voice of Elohim (Num 7:89), and that David would see the power or might, strength and glory or manifest presence of Elohim in a prophetic, ecstatic or spiritual vision (Ps 63:2). The saints now have access to the throne of Elohim through prayer (Rev 5:8; 8:3).
Occasionally, YHVH will still communicate with his servants through an audible voice, dreams, visions, or an angelic visitation. But this is rare now, even as it was in biblical times. This is because YHVH is testing his people to see if they will walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7), and will remain faithful to his written word. Currently, YHVH is refining, testing and preparing his bride for her marriage to him. Will she be faithful to him having never seen him visually? The time is coming, however, when she will be in YHVH’s blessed presence forever, which is the object or end goal of her faith.
Voice of One…above the mercy seat. Think about this for a moment. The ark of the covenant upon which the mercy seat rested contained and was surrounded by several items, which give us an understanding as to on what basis we are to come into YHVH’s presence to hear his voice. First, the ark contained Aaron’s rod that budded. Second, it contained the golden pot of manna and then the two tablets containing the ten words written by YHVH’s finger. Leaning up against the ark was the scroll containing the entire Torah that was given to the Israelites through Moses.
All together these items in and around the ark teach us that man can only come into YHVH presence on the basis the Torah-word of Elohim of which Yeshua was the Living Manna from heaven, and upon which man must feed for his spiritual sustenance. Even as the manna was in a golden pot, so YHVH’s words should be within the heart of man. The ten words or commandments which were written by YHVH’s finger form the foundation of the Torah and need to be written on the heart of man. The heart of man contains two parts, like the two stone tablets, and man’s heart, until spiritually regenerated, is hard and stoney like the rock upon which the ten words were written. YHVH is calling his servants to be a kingdom of priests of which Yeshua the Messiah is our Chief High Priest of which the rod, a symbol of the tree of life, is a prophetic picture. Under Yeshua’s rulership, his priests will exercise the authority in leading this world into obedience to and the worship of YHVH. The Torah scroll leaning up against the ark shows us that obedience to YHVH’s instructions is dependent on our relationship with Yeshua through which his words must be written on our hearts by the indwelling presence of the Spirit of Elohim.
Moreover, when the high priest would come into the holy of holies, he carried a censor filled with incense and sprinkled lamb’s blood on the ark of the covenant. This is pictures the saints coming into YHVH’s Presence only through the blood of Yeshua the Messiah who atoned for man’s sins, and through humble prayer like a contrite petitioner before a mighty king.