bread and breath

Shavuot 2021 is May 17 and starts at sundown the evening before.

When God called Israel out of Egypt to be a people unto Him, He commanded they observe annual “appointed times” before Him. Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks, is one of them. It’s a commemoration of receiving, offering and thanksgiving.

The gift of bread

In ancient Israel, Shavuot was an agricultural feast. Every man physically able was to bring the first of his wheat crop to the Temple in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord. It was an act of both thanksgiving for present provision and trust for the full harvest yet to come. At Shavuot, we thank the Lord for His provision of food to nourish our bodies and sustain our lives.

The gift of the Torah

Shavuot also commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. The Israelites left Egypt on Passover and arrived at Mount Sinai just over seven weeks later. There, Adonai gave us His Law, the Torah. It is the collection of His commandments for how we are to live for Him and with Him as His people.

God’s Word, our bread

The word Torah means “instruction.” As such, we celebrate the whole of Scripture on Shavuot. It, too, gives us nourishment and sustains our spiritual lives. The Lord fed the Israelites with manna for 40 years in the wilderness. They complained about the lack of variety, but the Lord had a reason for it. He explained in Deuteronomy 8:3 that it was to show them that life is not merely about eating to stay alive, but that we should take in His every word as life-giving sustenance.

“He afflicted you and let you hunger, then He fed you manna—which neither you nor your fathers had known—in order to make you understand that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of Adonai.”
—  Deuteronomy 8:3
 

Jesus, hungry after 40 days of fasting, quoted this same verse to the devil when tempted to turn stones into bread (Matthew 4:4). Jesus told His disciples that the words He spoke to them are Spirit and life (John 6:33).

A prophecy within Shavuot

At Shavuot, we celebrate the gifts of God’s provision and His Word. Both are meant to sustain and feed us. Yet, this Feast of the Lord holds another gift as well. In it, God placed a prophetic picture of what He would bring to pass in fulfillment of what the prophets Joel and Jeremiah foretold.

“Even on My servants, both men and women, I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”
— Joel 2:29
 
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts, I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
— Jeremiah 31:31, 33 NIV

The gift of the Spirit

Shavuot is also called the Feast of Weeks as God told Israel to determine its date by counting seven weeks from the Sabbath after Passover and then bring the first fruits wheat offering. Because this marks 50 days, Shavuot is also known as Pentecost, from the Greek word meaning 50. 

The New Testament event known to most Christians as Pentecost, the giving of the Holy Spirit to Believers that is recorded in Acts chapter 2, is Shavuot. Jewish travelers had flooded into Jerusalem on their pilgrimage to present their Shavuot offerings. The miracle of the Holy Spirit descended on the Believers there and caused them to speak in languages they didn’t previously know. Jewish pilgrims from every nation heard the wonders of God in their own language, and thousands came to faith in Jesus the Messiah on that very day.

Holy Spirit, breath of new life

While the Hebrew word for spirit is “ruach,” the Greek word is “pneuma,” which also means wind and breath.

Bread and breath

Shavuot joins two amazing gifts from God. The Lord gave us “bread” when He gave us the Torah, His instruction. It nourishes us with His words and is infused with His life. When He gave us His Spirit to live inside us, He gave us the “breath” of new life and placed His Law in our hearts in fulfillment of what He said He would do.

May your Shavuot be a celebration of God’s provision and these life-giving, life-sustaining gifts.

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