Pentecost, Shavuot, and Feast of Weeks refer to the same Biblical feast day. It’s one of God’s Appointed Times, spelled out in Leviticus 23. To calculate the date of Pentecost, start with the counting of the Omer, which begins after the weekly Sabbath during Passover. (Many believe that the count begins after the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is a no-workday but not the weekly Sabbath.) Count seven Sabbaths or 49 days. Day 50 is Pentecost.
Jewish men were required to go to the Temple in Jerusalem three times a year. They went there to celebrate Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot. On one level Shavuot was a celebration of the first fruits of the wheat harvest (not to be confused with the first fruits of the barley harvest during the Feast of Unleavened Bread). On a spiritual level, Shavuot celebrated the giving of the Law of Moses to God’s people at Mount Sinai. (However, when Moses came down from the mountain, he found the people worshipping a golden calf. Three thousand died for their disobedience.)
THE FIRST SHAVUOT FOLLOWING THE RESURRECTION
Fast forward several thousand years to the first Shavuot–or Pentecost–following the Resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. One hundred twenty of His followers were gathered in one place (traditionally the Upper Room where the “Last Supper” was held).
Suddenly there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak. There were Jews living in Jerusalem, religious people who had come from every country in the world. When they heard this noise, a large crowd gathered. They were all excited, because all of them heard the believers talking in their own languages. In amazement and wonder they exclaimed, “These people who are talking like this are Galileans! How is it, then, that all of us hear them speaking in our own native languages? We are from Parthia, Media, and Elam; from Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia; from Pontus and Asia, from Phrygia and Pamphylia, from Egypt and the regions of Libya near Cyrene. Some of us are from Rome, both Jews and Gentiles converted to Judaism, and some of us are from Crete and Arabia–yet all of us hear them speaking in our own languages about the great things that God has done!” (Acts 2: 2-11)
A miracle had occurred. Believers in the Messiah were filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to demonstrate the gospel to non-believers. Peter stood up and boldly quoted the following passage from Joel 2: 28-32: ” ‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says, ‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT UPON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS; EVEN UPON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT and they shall prophesy. AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE, AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BENEATH, BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE. THE SUN SHALL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS, AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD, BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME. AND IT SHALL BE, THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE saved’ “(NASB).
Peter continued to preach a rousing sermon highlighting the death and resurrection of the Messiah and concluded, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2: 38-39, NIV). That day 3000 people repented, believed, and were baptized.
WHEN IS PENTECOST?
If you search Pentecost on the internet, you will come up with two different dates for 2016: May 15 and June 11-13. Many churchgoers calculate Pentecost based on the Easter timeframe. The problem is Jesus did not rise from the dead on Easter but on First Fruits during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This year Easter was almost a month before than Passover; so Pentecost cannot be May 15.
June 11-13 (often a 2-day celebration) is the accepted date in 2016. The date varies each year on the Gregorian calendar but stays the same on the Hebrew calendar, Sivan 6-7.
As believers in Jesus, we have much to celebrate this Pentecost. I pray that each of us has a “road to Damascus” experience, that we return to the Hebrew roots of our faith, and that the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah will spread to the ends of the earth as we–His people–demonstrate the Gospel of Christ in love and in *Pentecostal power. In Yeshua’s (Jesus’) name.
* “Pentecostal Power” is the name of a song found in the old Baptist and Methodist hymnals.