Sunday, May 16, 2010

Reasons for Christians to Celebrate the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost)

By Brenda Cathcart

The spring Feasts of the LORD are all prophetic of Jesus’ first coming. At Passover, Jesus died on the cross. Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb as the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread began. He rose from that tomb on the Feast of Firstfruits. The events of His First Coming culminate at the Feast of Weeks with the disciples receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. We’ve all read the account of that day in the second chapter of the book of Acts, but in order to see the full impact of that day on the disciples and all who witnessed the events, we have to put the Feast into its historical perspective.

First, the Feast of Weeks doesn’t happen in isolation. It occurs fifty days after the Feast of Firstfruits and is connected to this feast through counting the days from one feast to the next. This is called the counting of the Omer.

Leviticus 23:15-16 NKJV 15 '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. 16 'Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.

On the very day of Jesus’ resurrection, the counting of the Omer began. The day of Jesus’ ascension was the fortieth day of the counting of the Omer. On the day of His ascension, Jesus tells them that they would receive the Holy Spirit very soon.

Acts 1:4-5 NKJV 4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; 5 "for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

Jesus’ disciples were excited about this prospect and spent the last ten days leading up to the Feast of Weeks in the temple praising God.

Luke 24:52-53 NKJV 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.

Second, the Feast of Weeks is a pilgrimage feast. All males were to appear before the LORD three times a year and the Feast of Weeks was one of those feasts.

Deuteronomy 16:10 NKJV 10 "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.

There would be over two million people in Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks. They would all be going to the temple to present their offerings to God. This includes the disciples who would have even more reason to bring offerings of thanks to God as well as the devout Jews who traveled from all parts of the Roman Empire for this feast. These festivities began at 9:00 a.m., the time of the morning sacrifice.

Third, God gave the Covenant at Mt. Sinai in full view of all the gathered people of Israel on the first Feast of Weeks after the Exodus from Egypt. Jesus told them the events that began at Passover were the beginning of the New Covenant written of by Jeremiah.

Luke 22:19-20 NKJV 19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

Jeremiah 31:31-33 NKJV 31 "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah- 32 "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. 33 "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

The Midrash, which is a commentary on the Torah, gives further details of the events of the first Feast of Weeks at Mt. Sinai. The Midrash says that tongues of fire circled and touched all the people gathered at Mt. Sinai. It says that there were thunderings and lightnings plural because God’s voice came in all 70 languages of the nations but only Israel answered and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.”

With this background, we see that the most likely place for the Holy Spirit to fall on the disciples was at the temple in full view of the gathered multitude. The word house used to describe where the disciples are on the Feast of Weeks is the Greek oykos which also means temple.

Acts 2:1-6 NKJV 1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.

Peter stands up and begins to preach. As Jesus promised, the power of the Holy Spirit is on him to preach the good news to all people.

Acts 1:8 NKJV 8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

Christians can celebrate the Feast of Weeks as we remember the incredible outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples, and we can rejoice that this gift is to us as well.

Acts 2:38-39 NKJV 38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."

The Feast of Weeks is a time of a new grain offering to the LORD. It is the time of the wheat harvest. The harvest season in Israel has begun. When Jesus sent His disciples out two by two to spread the message of the kingdom of heaven, he sends them out with these words recorded by Luke.

Luke 10:2 NKJV 2 Then He said to them, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

As we celebrate the Feast of Weeks, we can pray that God will send workers, including ourselves, into His harvest.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

Brenda and I are going to Israel next month, June 19th to 30th. It is not too late to join us in the land promised to Abraham for a special tour where you will see the promised Messiah of Israel like you have never seen Him before! We will visit places off the beaten path and follow in the foot steps of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Join us as we also explore the people, culture, politics and conflict that is today’s Israel and a special Sabbath day in Jerusalem. For details on the tour visit and click on tours.


  1. A perfunctory examination of New Testament texts reveals that the Books of Matthew,1 Mark,2 and Luke3 all agree that the Last Supper was actually a Passover Seder. Bearing in mind that Jesus was crucified on the very next day following the Last Supper, that would mean that according to all three synoptic4 Gospels, Jesus was crucified on the first day of Passover, or the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan (for example, if tonight were a Passover Seder, then tomorrow would be the first day of Passover5).

    The author of the Book of John, however, completely contradicts the first three Gospels, and maintains that Jesus was crucified on the eve of Passover, or the 14th day of Nissan. The Book of John reads, "Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover . . . . Then he handed him over to them to be crucified." (19:14-16)

    The implications of this stunning contradiction cannot be overstated because both claims cannot be true. In essence, this is not the sort of inconsistency that can be explained away by missionaries insisting that the reason for the varying Gospel accounts is due to different perspectives of the Gospel writers. Jesus was crucified either of the eve of Passover, which is the 14th day of Nissan, as John contends, or on the first day of Passover, which is the 15th day of Nissan, as the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke maintain. Jesus could not have been crucified on both days.

  2. Thank you for your comment on my MoedTorah blog site. I found your comment about the timing of the crucifixion of Yeshua interesting. Your assertion that the first three Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke identify the meal as a Passover is correct. In the Gospel of John the same meal is referred to as simply the “evening meal” (13:2). Later John writes in 18:28 that the Jews who led Yeshua to Pilate did not enter the Roman Palace because they didn’t want to become ceremonially unclean and not be able to partake in the Passover meal. I assume the contradiction that you are referring to is the different timing of the Passover meal in the first three Gospel accounts and that which is mentioned in John 18:28? These are actually two different “meals” referred to in these two places in the Gospel of John.

    There really is no contradiction at all once these events are understood in their cultural, linguistic and historic context. We have to clearly understand the cultural religious practices of the time as well as the linguistic nuances of the language of the day in order to clearly understand the Gospel accounts since they are a contemporary narrative. Keep in mind that these Gospels were written to an audience of 2000 years ago, not to us today.

    The most important thing to take into account is the overarching theme of Yeshua’s ministry which he stated Himself very clearly in the Gospel of Matthew:

    Matthew 5:17 KJV 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

    In other words, Yeshua came to return His people back to the Torah. Throughout the Gospel accounts of His life, He is constantly challenging the Jewish leaders to strip away the man-made traditions and practices that interfere with the Torah teaching given to them through Moses. This is where the answer to the apparent contradiction lies. Not in a “different perspective” or “different point of view” between the three Gospels and John’s account, as asserted by most of the mainstream Christian teachers, but in an understanding of the narrative from a first century perspective in terms of language, culture, history and religious tradition.

    It is interesting that I should receive this comment at this time. I am currently compiling a blog on this very topic.

    Shalom and be blessed

  3. and how do you respond to Part 1

    John begins his 13th chapter by saying, "Now before the festival of the Passover . . . ." This is a stunning opening statement because according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke that momentous night wasn't "before the festival of Passover, but rather it was the festival of Passover. Also, according to John, when Judas Iscariot mysteriously leaves the Last Supper with the moneybag, the disciples immediately presume that he is taking money to purchase food for the festive meal (13:29). Why would Judas be purchasing food for the feast if, according to the first three Gospels, they had just eaten it?

    Furthermore, John's story describes how, when the Jews were handing Jesus over to Pontius Pilate to be crucified on the morning of the crucifixion, "They [the Jews] themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover."6 (John 18:28) Why were these Jews concerned about not being able to eat the Passover? According to Matthew, Mark, and Luke they had already eaten it because the Passover Seder took place the previous night. This is not a problem for John because John states that Jesus was crucified on the eve of Passover, so that this statement makes perfect sense in his story. In contrast, the synoptic Gospels never mention in their accounts the fear the Jews had of entering the home of Pilate. Such concern would be preposterous because in Matthew, Mark, and Luke's story, the Jews had already eaten the Passover lamb the previous night.

  4. Dab, there are many contradictions in the Passion Narratives that make them untenable. We are discussing the contradictory dates of the crucifixion suggested by the gospels.

    While you mentioned that times have changed, nothing about the Torah changed. Moreover, this doesn't begin to explain away the contradictory dates claimed in the New Testament. John 18:28 is only one of many clear proofs that John places the crucifixion on the eve of Passover, rather than the first day of Passover.

  5. Shalom,

    Thank you again for your comments on my blog posts. The timing of the Passover and crucifixion as depicted in the 4 Gospels is a confusing issue but only if one relies entirely on the English translations alone as you seem to be doing. A deeper study is warranted and prudent. I am not going to get into the details of the Gospel accounts and their apparent contradictions here because it would require a quite lengthy response to address the issues at hand and give them any kind of comprehensive treatment. I will however give you some key points and references to take a look at.

    First of all, I will address briefly the major issue you raised in your comment, that being the different Passover meal timing between the first three Gospel accounts and the Gospel of John. In the case of the Pharisees celebrating their Passover a day later than Yeshua and the Disciples (or perhaps doing the second chagigah as it relates to Succah v, 7.) common practice in the day was that Galileans and Judeans slaughtered lambs over a two day period to avoid congestion. That is why Yeshua and the Disciples had their Passover meal a day earlier than when the Pharisees desired to “eat the Passover”. Clues may also reside in the difference between Synoptic and Johanine methods of time keeping. Jewish time reckoning and Roman time reckoning were quite different.

    Another issue may be a translational problem. The Greek word used in Matthew, Mark and Luke where they say “It was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread” and translated as “first” in English is the Greek “protos” which can also mean “before”. So the Greek could just as easily be translated to English as “It was the day before the Feast of Unleavened Bread”. Also, we all know that the terms “Passover” and “Unleavened Bread” are used interchangeably there by confusing the issue at hand.

    For further research may I suggest the following: One can start with these and go beyond by following the references and footnotes given by these authors.

    Signs of the Cross: The Search for the Historical Jesus from a Jewish Perspective by Andrew Gabriel Roth, Xlibris Corporation, 1997, 2001
    The Temple: Its Ministry and Services by Alfred Edersheim, Public Domain (available online see chapter 11 regarding the institutions of Passover)
    The Aramaic English New Testament, second Edition, Netzari Press, 2009 (see commentary section pages 1034-1050)

    Be Blessed

    1. I thankyou for posting this Blog and I enjoyed reading the comments and learned a lot thankyou and Shalom!


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