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‘When the day of Shavuot had come, they were all together in one place. Suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And tongues like fire spreading out appeared to them and settled on each one of them. They were all filled with the Ruach ha-Kodesh and began to speak in other tongues as the Ruach enabled them to speak out.’Acts 2:1-4 TLV
My usual morning routine (which I’ve spectacularly fallen off of since we’ve been on lockdown), is to wake up at 4:00 a.m. to the song “Goodness of God”. My next alarm is at 5 a.m to the sound of Not Afraid by Jesus Culture. It alerts me that devotion time is over and it’s time to start writing. I initially chose Not Afraid to remind me to have courage as I pursue the things that God has called me to do, although it has taken on new meaning in these times.
But on Sundays, my morning routine starts a little later at 5:30 a.m. The song I chose for that alarm is “Fresh Outpouring” by Kim Walker-Smith. It was chosen because I wanted a renewal, a new outlook, as I approached the new week.
This morning as I awoke to this song, the Holy Spirit reminded me that we are in the First Fruits period. This is the feast that begins 50 days after the Sabbath after Passover (Pesach). It ends with Pentecost (Shavu’ot).
Jewish people celebrate Shavu’ot as the time when God gave the Torah on Mount Sinai, 50 days after the Israelites left Egypt after the first Passover. Christians celebrate Pentecost as the time of the birth of the church when the Holy Spirit was poured out on those gathered in the “upper room”… seven weeks after Easter.
I believe that God wants us to seek Him during this time between Passover and Shavu’ot for a fresh outpouring.
One of the best explanations that I’ve found related to the timeline of Jesus’ death and resurrection, was in the book Celebrating Jesus in the Jewish Feasts by Dr. Richard Booker.
Based on what he calls “four witnesses”, Dr. Booker proposes that Jesus died on a Wednesday and was risen on Saturday evening at twilight. Saturday evening would actually be the beginning of the first day of the week, Sunday based on Genesis’ “and evening and morning were the # day”. Therefore, Jesus spent three full nights and three full days in the tomb.
These are the four witnesses that Dr. Booker used:
- In order for Jesus to be the Jewish Messiah, He had to be crucified(Preparation Day/Passover), buried(Feast of Unleavened Bread), and resurrected (Feast of First Fruits) on feast days (Matt 5:17).
- The sign of Jonah: Jesus told His disciples that He would be crucified on the Passover to fulfill the sign of Jonah (Matt 12:40; 26:2)
- Culture. In Biblical times, people believed that when someone died, their spirit/soul hovered over the body for three days and three nights deciding if it wanted to depart to the next world or return to the body.
- Astronomy (not astrology) Using astronomy, only one date is compatible with the other three points. Based on Calendar Book, Papers, and Code by Edward M. Reingold, that date is April 3, AD 30.
There are varying views on this but if Dr. Booker is correct, it means that this year (2020) Passover fell on the exact days that it did in the year that Jesus was crucified. That means that we are celebrating all of the other festivals on the same days that the early church would have celebrated them all those years ago. That might mean nothing, but then again it might mean something.
In any case, I think we need to be paying very close attention to what God is doing and saying in these days between Passover and Shavuot. Shavuot begins on the evening of Thursday, May 28, and ends on the evening of Saturday, May 30. Pentecost is Sunday, May 31.
Might I suggest that you (and I) make a concentrated effort to seek God during the remaining days of the Feast of First Fruits? At this time, two thousand years ago, God was preparing to birth a new church. Maybe this time around, He’s preparing to birth a new you.