As soon as the Jews left Egypt, a fiery Pillar of Cloud appeared before them, leading them from Rameses to Succoth and then south to the desert. But Pharaoh and his army pursued them in order to enslave them once again. Six days later (Nisan 21) the Israelites were trapped between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea.
(See Exodus 13:20-22; Exodus 14:4)
Shavuot marks one of the most important days in human history. On that day, we celebrate the revelation of God and the giving of the Torah to humanity. The practice of counting the days between Passover and Shavuot is known as counting the Omer. It is named for the barley sacrifice, called the omer that was brought during this time when the Temple stood. At the end of these seven weeks, a new and different offering was brought – one of new grain. But let's not get ahead of ourselves...
The Pillar of Cloud
The Pillar of Cloud moved behind the Israelites between them and the Egyptians. Moses stretched out his staff, miraculously the sea parted for them, and they walked through on dry ground. After they had all crossed over, the Egyptians tried to follow but Moses again stretched out his staff and the waters caved in on them and drowned the pursuing army.
After 45 days in the desert they reached Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:1) and Moses ascendedthe mountain where God gave him the Ten Commandments and eventually Torah. Passover is seen Israel’s betrothal to God whereas Shavuot is considered the Wedding Anniversary of the Covenant between God and Israel sealed at Mount Sinai.
The Ketubah or wedding contract was the Ten Commandments and Torah, Sephardic Jews often recite Hosea 2:19-20 at this point.
Shavuot is also known as the Conclusion of Passover as God’s intention in the Exodus was His revelation at Sinai.
- Passover celebrates the Exodus,
- Unleavened Bread recalls the crossing of the Red Sea,
- Counting the Omer brings to mind the days before reaching Sinai ,
- Shavuot celebrates receiving Torah, exactly 7 weeks after the Exodus.
Shavuot marks the end of the barley harvest and the beginning of the wheat harvest. Counting the Omer begins with a wave offering of barley and continues for 7 weeks (49 days) until the wheat offering on Shavuot (Deuteronomy 16:9-10).
Surely, it would make much more sense to say, 49 days left until the big day, now 48, only 47 left, and so on. Yet the Bible commands us to start at 1 and count out loud every day until we reach 50. Something changes in these intermediate weeks. They are intended to be introspective and transformational, so much so that what a person can offer God in the beginning is profoundly different by the end. At the beginning of the 50 days, a journey begins. By the end, we are ready to receive the Word of God.
That’s why we count up, and not down. As each day passes, we become more, not less. Like climbing the rungs on a ladder, we ascend toward Heaven one step at a time. By the time we reach the top we can appreciate the distance that we have travelled. Passover celebrates our physical redemption, but it takes seven weeks until we are able to experience our spiritual redemption on Shavuot.
At the Temple, the priest took the sheaves, the firstfruits of the harvest, and waved some in every direction for the crowds to acknowledge God's faithful provision and sovereignty over all the earth. The priests also waved 2 loaves baked with yeast before the Lord in such a way that they appeared to become one loaf!
The two loaves can be seen as the Jews and the Gentiles in the Kingdom (Romans 11:17ff) the natural and in-grafted branches being supported by the holy root of the Patriarchs and the Remnant of Israel.
Today, Jewish men traditionally stay up all night studying Torah. The story of Ruth is read as it is set during the harvest season. She left Moab, her homeland and followed her mother-in-law Naomi to Israel after the deaths of their husbands. In Bethlehem, she married Boaz, one of their closest relatives, a kinsman-redeemer from the Royal House of Judah.
Their grandson was King David1 and from the line of King David also comes Messiah Yeshua. It’s a message of sacrifice and redemption as Ruth, a Gentile, said to Naomi; Your people will be my people, your God will be my God. Boaz typifies the loving-kindness of Yeshua our Redeemer.
At Shavuot the Lord demonstrated He had not finished with Israel. He proved His Covenant Faithfulness by making His New Covenant (Jeremiah 31) with the people He had rescued from Egypt and restored from exile:And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved;for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said,even among the survivors whom the Lord calls (Joel 2:32).
The Keynote and accompanying Leader’s Edition booklet give all you need to host an evening that will include worship and food as well as be informative.
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
El-Elyon na Adonai,
Age to age You're still the same,
By the power of the Name.
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
Erkamka na Adonai,
We will praise and lift You high,