SHAVUOT: THE GIFTS OF TORAH AND THE RUACH
By Rabbi Richard Chaimberlin
Almost 3500 YEARS AGO, our Heavenly Father unveiled the Eseret HaD’varim (the “Ten Commandments,” but more literally, the “Ten Words” or “Ten Sayings”) to the Israelites at Mount Sinai.
Pesakh (“Passover”) begins as the 14th of Abib (Nissan) is turning into the 15th of Abib at sunset. Abib (Nissan) is the first month of the sacred calendar of Leviticus 23. “In the third month, when the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.”  Then the third month of the sacred calendar is Sivan, roughly equivalent to late May to early June.
God set us free from slavery to sin by placing His Spirit in us to enable us to live as He intended. Ezekiel 36:26-27: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. 27And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.”
This is basically what Jeremiah told us about the New Covenant that God would make: “Behold, the days are coming,” saith YHWH, “that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, 32not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; my covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” saith YHWH. 33But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days,” saith YHWH, “I will put my Law (Torah) in their inward parts and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”  Torah is an integral part of the New Covenant lifestyle.
Passover brought us freedom with the blood of the Passover lamb in Egypt. The Eseret HaD’varim (“Ten Commandments”) were given to us on Shavuot (“Pentecost” or Weeks) in the third month (Sivan). Freedom without laws would soon perish. Try to imagine a free society without laws; it won’t happen. Therefore, in the third month (Sivan), the Law was given at Mount Sinai. According to the Rabbis, this event happened on Shavuot (Pentecost). Thus, Shavuot is also called Atseret shel Pesach (“Completion of Passover”) in Judaism.
The Scriptures tell us that the Law was given at Mount Sinai. Most assume that Mount Sinai was in the modern Sinai Peninsula. However, according to Galatians 4:25, Mount Sinai is located in Arabia — that is, modern day Saudi Arabia. Christian archeologist Jonathan Gray located what may be the genuine Mount Sinai on a secret expedition there a couple decades ago.
We should be happy that the Ten Commandments were composed by Adonai, and not by a modern-day lawyer. There is an expression, Keep It Simple Stupid, otherwise known by the acronym KISS. If one of today’s lawyers composed the Ten Commandments, they would fill a hefty volume.
According to the Rabbis, the Ten Commandments were transmitted via the Bat Kol (“Heavenly Voice”) simultaneously in all 70 of the major languages of the ancient world, since they were intended for all mankind. They were also given outside the Land of Israel, as an indication that they were not intended just for the Jews. Another reason for giving the Ten Commandments outside the Land of Israel was to show the Israelites that they must obey Torah even in the Galut (Diaspora – lands outside of Israel).
The first “commandment” (or “saying”), according to Jewish reckoning, is: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”  The Rabbis have turned this into a commandment, since it implies that we must believe in God. I have met so-called Jewish “atheists.” Initially, they will profess no belief in God. However, if you question them more closely, you discover that they are actually angry at the God they supposedly don’t believe in, and the most insulting thing they can do to this God is to proclaim that they don’t believe in Him. I believe the overwhelming percentage of Jews do believe in God.
The second and third commandments of Christian reckoning are combined into one commandment in Jewish reckoning. That is, the commandments to not make idols and not to worship idols or other gods are both one commandment in Judaism.
From the third commandment on, it is the same for Christians and Jews, basically:
3. Don’t take the name of God (YHWH) in vain.
4. Remember (observe) the Sabbath.
5. Honor your father and your mother.
6. Don’t murder.
7. Don’t commit adultery.
8. Don’t steal.
9. Don’t bear false witness.
10. Don’t covet another’s property, etc.
The fourth commandment about Shabbat (the Sabbath) takes up 4 verses of Scripture. God spends more time with this commandment than He does with the other commandments, so I assume that He is very serious about this one. Also, in no place in the Scriptures is the Sabbath ever changed from “Saturday” to Sunday. The seventh day is Shabbat.
All 613 commandments of the Torah are important, since they came to us from God. However, the Ten Commandments were written on tablets of stone by God’s own finger, in what amounts to the Big Ten. These commandments are more important than the other 603 commandments, which Yeshua referred to in Mat. 5:19: “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever will keep and teach them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” These 603 commandments that were not engraved on the tablets of stone by God’s finger might be the “least of the commandments.” However, they are still very important!
The Ten Commandments were originally a much larger part of Jewish liturgy. They originally were among the Scripture verses on the tiny scrolls in the mezuzah and the tefillin. However, when Christians began placing so much emphasis on the Ten Commandments, Jews began de-emphasizing them. Unfortunately, one of the ways that the scribes chose to de-emphasize the Ten Commandments was to remove them from the scrolls that are in the mezuzah and tefillin. (Similarly, Jews used to kneel when praying, but stopped kneeling when they saw Christians kneeling. The Hebrew word for blessing is b’racha, from the word for knee, which is berech.)
Shavuot is the only holiday in Leviticus 23 for which no specific date is given. Instead, we are supposed to compute the proper day to celebrate it. According to Leviticus 23:11, the First Fruits (for the barley harvest) were to be waived on the “day after the Sabbath” that occurs during Passover. The word for Sabbath in this case is Shabbat. This is the 7th day Sabbath. There is another word commonly used for Sabbath, which is Shabbaton. The term Shabbaton is normally used for a High Holy Day Sabbath, such as Yom Kippur, which can occur any day of the week. Shabbaton is not normally used for the weekly Sabbath.
The First Fruits wave offering for the First Fruits (of barley) is always the day after the Shabbat that occurs during Passover. Therefore, it was (and is) only on “Sunday,” which begins Saturday night at sunset.
“And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be 7 complete Sabbaths. 16Even from the day after the seventh Sabbath, you shall number 50 days; and you shall offer a new meat offering to YHWH. 17You shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven; they are the first fruits to YHWH.”  The day after the seventh Sabbath would always be Yom Rishon (“Sunday”). The Church got this one right! Pentecost (Shavuot) is always on “Sunday,” but it begins on Saturday evening at sunset and ends Sunday evening at sunset.
The Sadducean and Karaite reckoning for Shavuot is also on Sunday. Rabbinically, the count for Shavuot begins on the day after the first day of Passover, and ends 50 days later, so Rabbinically, Shavuot can occur any day of the week, usually during the week before the biblical reckoning for Shavuot.
Curiously, Pentecost is one of the few “Jewish” holidays that Christians are interested in, although most Pentecostal Christians (for some inexplicable reason) tend to ignore it. The holidays of Leviticus 23 are the Biblical holidays, called “the Feasts of the LORD,” in the KJV. Also, “One statute shall be for you, and also for the stranger that sojourns with you, a perpetual statute throughout your generations. As you are, so shall the stranger be before YHWH. One Law (Torah) and one ordinance shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourns with you.”  Truth is truth, whether you are a Jew or a Gentile. For the most part, God’s standard is the same for all peoples, although there are some commandments which are specific to certain groups, such as Levites, kohenim, men, women, etc.
Shavuot seems to have been relegated to being a relatively minor holiday in modern Judaism. However, Biblically, it is one of the Big Three. “Three times in a year shall all your males appear before YHWH your God in the place which He shall choose; in the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover), and in the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), and in the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot): and they shall not appear before YHWH empty.”  It is one of the Shalosh Regalim (“Three Pilgrimage Festivals”).
Scripture tells us to blow the shofar (ram’s horn) for each of the Holy Days. “Blow the shofar at the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.”  The shofar isn’t just for the “Feast of Trumpets”!
All of the Holy Days of Leviticus 23 have prophetic fulfillments, some of which were fulfilled, such as Passover, and some of which point to prophetic events that will be fulfilled in the future.
Ezekiel (36:24-28) told us, “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean. I will cleanse you from all your filthiness, and from all your idols. 26A new heart also I will give to you, and a new spirit I will put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. 27And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them. 28And you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.”
In other words, the Jewish people would be brought into the Land in unbelief, and then God will cleanse them, and cause them to walk in obedience to His precepts. Some reject modern Israel, saying that the Jews shouldn’t be back in the Land in unbelief. However, this is as it was prophesied, according to God’s will.
Prophetic Signs to Come
Haggai wrote, “7And I (YHWH) will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory,” saith YHWH of hosts. “8The silver is mine, and the gold is mine,” saith YHWH of hosts. 9The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former,” saith YHWH of hosts: “And in this place I will give peace,” saith YHWH of hosts.
The “House” being described above referred to the Temple of God in Jerusalem. The First Temple under King Solomon was an architectural wonder, a magnificent building. Haggai wrote as the second Temple was being built, after the return from Babylon. It was like nothing compared to the First Temple. Ezra 3:12 tell us that the young men who had never seen the original Temple wept with joy as they beheld the foundations for the rebuilt Temple. But the old men wept with bitterness as they compared the grandeur of the First Temple with the Temple that was being rebuilt. However, we have a marvelous promise in which “the latter glory of this House shall be greater than the former.” When did this occur? Centuries later, King Herod greatly expanded the Temple. However, it did not have the grandeur of the First Temple. I would suggest another prophetic fulfillment of Shavuot:
“1And when the day of Shavuot (Pentecost) was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the House where they were sitting. 3And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” 
The result of this infilling of God’s Spirit was an enablement that emboldened the talmidim (disciples) of Yeshua to be His witnesses. The very place in which this occurred was in the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) in Jerusalem. As you may remember, Shavuot was one of the three pilgrimage festivals in which the men were to go to the Temple in Jerusalem. Also, the only one in town who had a house big enough to house all these people was God! The disciples, all being good Jews, were at the Temple, in obedience to the command.
In addition, there were gerim (proselytes to Judaism) also worshipping in the Temple (Acts 2:10). I believe that they were just as surprised as anyone else by the outpouring of the Ruakh HaKodesh. The disciples began speaking actual known languages of the many Jews who had come to Jerusalem from many other countries of the Galut. Even in the early part of the First Century, most Jews lived outside of Israel. Just as today, most Jews living outside of Israel did not speak or understand Hebrew fluently. In order to fully understand the Good News, they needed to hear it in the languages of the countries in which they lived. The problem was resolved when the talmidim of Yeshua suddenly began supernaturally speaking in other languages that they had never learned! However, the greatest miracles of that Shavuot were the changed lives as a result of the Holy Spirit writing the mitzvot on the hearts of the disciples when they recognized Yeshua as their Messiah and Redeemer.
After this rather unique experience, Shimon Kefa (Simon Peter) delivered a rousing sermon based primarily on Joel chapter 2 and Psalm 16. Remember Shimon Kefa denying his Messiah Yeshua three times prior to the crucifixion? Remember the disciples bolting their doors shut, and basically “hiding out” after the crucifixion of Yeshua? Suddenly they have become empowered and emboldened. The result was a conviction of the Holy Spirit on the hearts and minds of those present. Shimon Kefa said, “Repent, and let each of you be immersed in the name of Yeshua the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Those who received the word were immersed, about 3,000 souls! This “upper room” obviously was no ordinary house. Nobody in Jerusalem had enough bathtubs to immerse 3,000 people, except for God! However, mikveh baths (for ritual immersion) dotted the Temple Mount for the many who made pilgrimages to Jerusalem.
There are many who point to this day in Acts 2 as the “birthday of the Christian church.” More accurately, this was the birthday of Messianic Judaism, which now had become a dynamic movement. These Jews did not convert to another religion. They continued as Torah-observant Jews. The myriads (tens of thousands) of Messianic Jews in Jerusalem were “all zealous for Torah.”
The writer of Hebrews quoted the prophet Jeremiah (31:31-33) in explaining the New Covenant that God makes with His people:
“Behold, the days come,” saith the Lord, “when I will make a New Covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah: 9Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not,” saith the Lord. “10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” saith the Lord; “I will put My laws into their mind and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.”(See also Hebrews 8:8-13)
Please note that the New Covenant is made only with the House of Israel and the House of Judah. In order for a Gentile to partake of the New Covenant and have a relationship with God, he or she must be grafted into the Jewish olive tree, according to Romans 11:17-24. Those who reject the Jewish olive tree do not have a covenant relationship with God.
Similarly, Rav Sha’ul wrote: “At that time you were without Messiah, being aliens from the politeia (citizenship) of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13But now in Messiah Yeshua, you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Messiah. 14For He is our peace, who has made both into one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; making in Himself of two one new man, so making peace; 16And that He might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17And came and preached peace to you who were afar off, and to them that were near. 18For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. 19Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God, 20and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Messiah Yeshua Himself being the chief corner stone; 21in whom all the building fitly framed together grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22in Whom you also are built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:12-22)
 Sh’mot (Exodus) 19:1.  Jeremiah 31:31-33.  Sh’mot (Exodus) 20:2.  Exodus 31:18.  The little box found on Jewish doorposts containing scripture verses.  “Phylacteries,” the leather boxes containing scripture verses held onto the forehead and upper arm by leather straps.  According to the Rabbis, one loaf represented the Jews, and the other loaf represented the Gentiles. Both loaves were made with leavened bread, indicating that both had sin. Both loaves were waved before God on Shavuot.  Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:15-17.  B’midbar (Numbers) 15:15-16.  D’varim (Deut.) 16:16.  Tehillim (Psalms) 81:3.  Haggai 2:7-9.  Acts 2:1-4.  See also Luke 24:53, as well as Dt. 16:16.  Holy Spirit.  Acts 2:38.  The KJV incorrectly translates politeia as “commonwealth” in this one verse only. Citizenship is a much stronger term. My wife’s Spanish NT correctly translates this as “citizenship.”