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The Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost)


Readings: Deut 26 ... Lev.23:15-21, Exodus 23:14-19




1. Introduction


The Feast of Pentecost was originally called the Feast of Harvest. This harvest festival occurs 50 days after the waving of the sheaf during the Passover week. It also coincides with the start of the wheat harvest in Israel.


Festival Seasons


YaHuWaH 's command concerning His three festival seasons are as follows:


Exo.23:14 Three times thou shalt keep a Feast unto Me in the year.
15: Thou shalt keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Aviv; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:)
16: And the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of thy labors, which thou hast sown in the field: and the Feast of Ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labors out of the field.
17: Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before Adon YaHuWaH.


Two Wave Loaves

Besides the sacrifice of certain animals, two loaves of leavened bread were offered to YaHuWaH at the Feast of Harvest. These represented the first fruits of the wheat harvest from the field. On a higher level the loaves of bread represent purified believers in whom the leaven of sin has been totally de-activated. They are now holy people, dedicated solely for priestly use. Sacrificed animals, most Christians know, represent YAHUSHUA the Messiah; but finely ground flour, fruit and incense represent the holiness and prayers of the people of the Most High.


Lev 23:17 Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto YaHuWaH.
18: And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto YaHuWaH, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savor unto YaHuWaH.
19: Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings.
20: And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before YaHuWaH, with the two lambs: they shall be set apart to YaHuWaH for the priest.

A Basket of Fruit


In addition to the young bullock, the rams, the lambs and the loaves, during the harvest season individual Israelites were required to bring a 'basket of fruit' to the Most High: and they were commanded to enact the following drama.


Deut. 26:1 And it shall be, when thou art come in unto the land which YaHuWaH thy Elohim giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest it, and dwellest therein;
2: That thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the Earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that YaHuWaH thy Elohim giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place which YaHuWaH thy Elohim shall choose to place His Name there.
3: And thou shalt go unto the priest that shall be in those days, and say unto him, I profess this day unto YaHuWaH thy Elohim, that I am come unto the country which YaHuWaH sware unto our fathers for to give us.
4: And the priest shall take the basket out of thine hand, and set it down before the altar of YaHuWaH thy Elohim.
5: And thou shalt speak and say before YaHuWaH thy Elohim, 'A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous:
6: And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage:
7: And when we cried unto YaHuWaH Elohim of our fathers, YaHuWaH heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labor, and our oppression:
8: And YaHuWaH brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders:
9: And He hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey.
10: And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O YaHuWaH, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before YaHuWaH thy Elohim, and worship before YaHuWaH thy Elohim:
11: And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which YaHuWaH thy Elohim hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.

The basket of fruit was symbolic of the spiritual fruit Israel's Elohim would produce in the lives of His people after He had rescued them from the slavery of sin. More about this fact later.


Without Delay

There are a few points concerning firstfruits that we should note. They are mentioned in the following commands:


Exo:22:29 Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto Me.

The Best


Num:18:12 All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the firstfruits of them which they shall offer unto YaHuWaH, them have I given thee.

2. Blessing / Cursing


At their highest level, and I'm not meaning the symbolic level of animal sacrifices and the waving of loaves of bread, the laws of YaHuWaH are living, active and eternal laws. Like the laws of thermodynamics or the law of gravity, they are in operation at this very moment and the better we understand and obey them the better it will be for us. In short, if you do what the Almighty says, you will be blessed. But break His commands and they will break you. This fact is detailed in Deuteronomy chapter 28. I will quote a few verses concerning the results of obedience and disobedience.


Obedience


Deut.28:1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of YaHuWaH thy Elohim, to observe and to do all His commandments which I command thee this day, that YaHuWaH thy Elohim will set thee on high above all nations of the Earth:
2: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of YaHuWaH thy Elohim.
3: Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.
4: Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
5: Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.

Disobedience


Deut.28:15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of YaHuWaH thy Elohim, to observe to do all His commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:
16: Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.
17: Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.
18: Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.

3. Spiritual Priorities


How important is all this to us living in this century? Does it really make any difference to the quality of one's spiritual life, or the welfare of this small congregation, whether we keep these Feasts of YaHuWaH or not? After all, most of us don't make our living at agriculture. We don't grow wheat or keep sheep. We don't keep cattle for milk: neither do many of us keep bees for honey.


How does this feast of firstfruits affect us? The answer is: these low-level laws all have high-level spiritual meaning.


  • We are the soil. We were made from the dust of the Earth.
  • Sacred spiritual truths (the Word of Elohim) have been sowed in our minds.
  • The Set Apart (Holy) Spirit is tending each one of us - with our permission - like a gardener tends his plot or a shepherd his flock.
  • YaHuWaH expects us to be producing sacred fruit in thought, word and deed.
    This is the purpose of our salvation.

Those ancient commands may not concern us at their low agricultural level: but most certainly they do at their high spiritual level. We are expected to bring forth 'fruit of the Holy Spirit.' Failure to do so will be catastrophic. Consider this parable:


Luke13: 6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
7: Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
8: And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
9: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

The meaning of this story is obvious. It needs little or no explanation. A vital clue to the importance of offering the best to YaHuWaH is found in what, at first glance, appears to be a misplaced instruction.


Exo.23:19 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of YaHuWaH thy Elohim. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.

What has this last sentence about cooking a kid in its mother's milk to do with firstfruits? The answer, I suspect, is: offering the first of the firstfruits is as vital to spiritual growth as milk is to a new-born kid. Withholding the best from YaHuWaH is tantamount to seething a kid in its mother's milk. In other words, consuming the very thing (the milk) which was intended to make the kid grow. Withholding the firstfruits from YaHuWaH, in other words, is fatal. It will kill you in the end. I would say with the wise man:


Proverbs 3:9 Honor YaHuWaH with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:

4. High Level Firstfruits


As I stated before, firstfruits come at several levels: farm produce, living beings (believers) and the holy thoughts, words and actions of those believers.


  • YaHuWaH 's only begotten Son is a first fruit; the fruit of His own body.

  • YaHuWaH 's people are also firstfruits; the first to be saved from sin.
    Jer.2:3 Israel was holiness unto YaHuWaH, and the firstfruits of His increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith YaHuWaH.

  • The 144000 priests or prophets of YaHuWaH.
    Not so much first in sequence; but first - (best) in quality. They are absolutely faultless.
    Rev. 14:4 ... These are they which follow the Lamb withersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men being the firstfruits unto YaHuWaH and to the Lamb.

  • Individual Believers
    James 1:17-18 ... The Father of Lights ... of His own will begat us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
  • Potential
    2Kings 4:42 "And there came a man from Baal-shalisha, and brought the man of Elohim bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat."
    Note how that this man's tithe provided food for many souls.

5. Spiritual Fruit


To produce a crop one must sow seed. Pause a while and consider that basic agricultural fact. Without sowing there can be no harvest. It is exactly the same in the spiritual realm.


Sowing


Prov 3:9 Honor YaHuWaH with thy substance and with the firstfruits of all thine increase. So shall thy barns be filled with plenty and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.

Sowing to the flesh is not just committing blatant sin. Sowing to the flesh means sowing in the spirit of error and self-interest. This includes:

  • Pride: The first and most dangerous sin.
  • Greed.
  • Jealousy, envy and secret hate.
  • Misjudgement.
  • An unforgiving heart etc.

These seeds produce a harvest - nothing but heartache.


Sowing to the Spirit


I would add to this list, qualities such as: mercy, tender-heartedness, kindness, generosity, hospitality, compassion, good judgment, self-sacrifice, a sense of humor and the desire for reconciliation etc. If you produce such fruit the Most high will be your friend.


Matt.7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16: Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17: Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18: A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19: Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20: Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

The Feast of Harvest (Pentecost) is primarily about spiritual fruit. I tell you our very lives depend upon the kind of fruit we are producing. Just as we do not expect young children to produce offspring, or young fruit trees to produce fruit, in exactly the same way YaHuWaH gives us time to produce spiritual fruit in our lives.


Remember:


  • We are a kind of firstfruits - all of us.
  • He is looking for the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. If he finds no good, spiritual fruit, it could end in being hewn down and cast into the fire!
  • We are commanded to put Him first and to bring Him the best.
  • We are recognized by others, believers and unbelievers, by our words and actions. We are known by our fruits.

The basket on this table here represents our website. It contains a variety of the best fruit we could find in the locality. Just as these fruits are all different, so too are we different from each other. But you are here, part of this symbolic basket of fruit. By the blood of the Savior you were brought out of Egypt, out of sin. Why? The answer is - to produce the fruit of the Set Apart (Holy) Spirit.

In the light of these facts let all of us examine ourselves and ask ourselves the question: Am I producing good fruit or evil fruit? That is the question we must address today - on the Feast of Firstfruits.

Amen