The fourth of the seven major feasts—Pentecost—occurs in summer. In regard to the question, “How did Jesus fulfill the feasts?” this one relates to the current Church Age that He ushered in when He ascended and sent the Holy Spirit to guide and be with His people until His Second Coming. In will again play a role in 2025, when some believe it marks “the end of the age of grace.”
- Commanded to do in: Leviticus 23:15–22
- Talked about in the Old Testament: Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:9–10; 2 Chronicles 8:13; Ezekiel 1
- Talked about in the New Testament: Acts 2:1–41, 20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:8; James 1:18
Beginning with the wave offering of the barley firstfruits, each day for seven weeks, the Israelites observed the “Counting of the Omer.” This involved the blessing—“Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to count the Omer”—followed by the number of the day: “Today is the first day of Omer,” “Today is the second day of Omer,” and so on. The end of this seven-week counting lands at precisely forty-nine days. The following day, then, makes fifty, which is what the Greek word pentecost means; the Feast of Pentecost takes place on the fiftieth day. This is why there is no official observance date. Nevertheless, it falls in the early days of the Hebrew month Sivan, which, on our Gregorian calendar, overlaps the second half of May and the first half of June.
This counting ritual bridges the Feast of Firstfruits to the Feast of Pentecost (or Feast of Weeks). When the temple was destroyed in AD 70, the wave offering of the firstfruits was largely discontinued. The Counting of the Omer, however, remained. (Note, also, that the section in the coming pages under the heading “Greatly Misunderstood Origins and Meanings” will further address relevant dates and times as we unravel an incredible mystery about this feast!)
There are many names for the Feast of Pentecost, the alternative “Feast of Weeks” being the most referenced. However, the nature and practice of this feast has gained it several other titles worth mentioning as well: “Feast of Harvest,” “Day of Firstfruits,” and “Latter Firstfruits.” The first wheat crops (not to be confused with the barley of the last feast) would be harvested, and the first two loaves of bread baked from that yield would then be presented to the Lord in a wave offering. The offering of these “firstfruit” loaves is the reason behind the numerous names of this feast or festival.
Unlike the bread prepared during the week of Passover, these two loaves of bread are to be baked with leaven. And, unlike any other ordinary bread, the flour for these two loaves must be the finest—not just in quality, but also in that it is sifted over and over until completely free of any course material. As an odd detail to note for later: The Feast of Pentecost is the only occurrence in the Word of a two-loaf offering.
Prior to the Diaspora (the scattering of the Jews), this feast was an acknowledgment of dependence on God’s providence in the abundance of wheat for their daily bread, a thanksgiving to Him for the harvest, and a day to remember when the Torah had been given to the people. After the Diaspora, when Jews were no longer united to celebrate the same land harvests as they were all over the known world at that time, the agricultural roots of the feast faded, and the focus turned heavily on the delivery of the Law on Mt. Sinai.
Greatly Misunderstood Origins and Meanings
By now, you’re probably no longer wondering why we believe dates, times, and symbols are so important to our reflection on the feasts. We’ve observed that, hour by hour, Jesus walked the same steps the paschal lambs did during Passover week, and that He was killed in a manner that the cross-shaped roasting spit and blood-crowned lambs had foreshadowed. We reflected on how the unleavened bread is a perfect image—both physically and symbolically—of the sinless Jesus Christ. And we’ve looked at how He arose on the Day of Firstfruits, positioning Himself as the Great Sheaf. You’re likely expecting the exact parallel-fulfillment comparisons to unveil something as mind-blowing as those we have already visited.
You wouldn’t be wrong…
Let’s start with the timing.
Establishing 6 Sivan
A mathematical equation most Christians miss involves: 1) the days between the Exodus from Egypt and the time the Israelites arrived at Mt. Sinai, and 2) the few calculated days between that day and the establishment of the Law.
According to the most devout Jewish sages, Christian scholars, and experts in Hebrew, there were exactly fifty days between the Israelites’ departure from Egypt and the giving of the Torah. This interpretation begins with an irrefutable reference to Sivan, the third month on the Hebrew calendar: “In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 19:1a; emphasis added). As to what day of the third month, the Word only goes on to say, “the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.”
They came to the wilderness the same day as what, though?
Some have suggested that the following verse’s reference to their departure from Rephidim is all the clarification needed, essentially arranging the facts in contemporary English, like this: “The same day that the Israelites left Rephidim, they arrived at the foot of Mt. Sinai, which was sometime in the third month, Sivan.” Others interpret that the day’s “same as” description is grammatically joined to the word “month,” rendering: “The Israelites arrived at Sinai in the third [3rd] month, and on the day that is numerically the same as the month, the third [3rd] day.” (In other words, the third day of the third month.)
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However, the most straightforward and literal explanation reveals itself when we take a quick peek at the original Hebrew. The word translated “month” is chodesh. Hebrew language uber-master, dictionary writer, and man of widespread influence in the academic world, Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius, paid close attention to this word.. His classic work was the foundation upon which the groundbreaking 1906 Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon was based; the scholars behind this lexicon referred to Gesenius as “the father of modern Hebrew Lexicography.”[i]
In Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, the word chodesh was shown to refer to “the new moon” or “the day of the new moon”—i.e., “the first day of the month.”[ii]
This brings us to yowm—here translated “the same day.” Gesenius, in a lengthy explanation, shows that yowm stems from another root word meaning “to be hot,” and therefore etymologically evolves to refer to “the heat of the day.”[iii] (Some of this is related to a moment when new Hebrew-language root words and accents were formed by the softening of throaty or “guttural” sounds by the Hebrews in the attempted pronunciation of an Arabic word meaning “to glow with anger.”[iv])
Lastly, the location of Rephidim is unknown today. Sources reporting the distance between Rephidim and the foot of Mt. Sinai rely on knowing the precise location of that mountain, and even that is still up for debate. However, we can calculate at least an elementary idea from our Logos Bible Software’s “Biblical World Atlas” tool, more specifically from its “Route of the Exodus” map.[v] The most likely Mt. Sinai site, according to this source, is the mountain modernly referred to as Jebel Musa. From there, the land that most accurately matches what is being described in the Old Testament as Rephidim (the place where Moses struck the rock for water and the last location of the Israelites prior to Sinai) is between ten to fourteen miles away, depending on the foot path traveled. These latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates can link directly from Logos to Google World maps today, where the calculations are similar.
Now, putting modern language together with what Gesenius (and countless language scholars after him) believes were the true origins behind chodesh and yowm, these two verses (Exodus 19:1–2) communicate:
On the first day of the third month (Sivan), during the heat of the day, after traveling [somewhere from ten to fourteen] miles from Rephidim, as the children of Israel were still travelling from out of the land of Egypt, they came into the wilderness of Sinai.”
Or, as an even more concise and modern potential translation:
On 1 Sivan, the same day that the Israelites left Rephidim on their journey away from Egypt, around noon when the sun was at its hottest, the Israelites arrived at the foot of Mt. Sinai.
Amidst the ocean of Hebrew linguists that have adopted this same conclusion are a number of classic biblical literature commentators who have assisted in working out the timeline of events between 1 Sivan (their arrival) and the day the Law was given to Moses:
- The Israelites arrived at the foot of Mt. Sinai on 1 Sivan.
- On 2 Sivan, Moses went up the mountain to hear from the Lord and take His Word to the Israelites (Exodus 19:3).
- On 3 Sivan, Moses took the agreeable response of the Hebrew elders back up Sinai to God (19:7–8).
- On 4, 5, and 6 Sivan, the three-day period God gave His people to sanctify themselves and wash their clothes, they prepared for the promised appearance of God, “for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai” (Exodus 19:11)
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Altogether, this is a total of exactly fifty days from the first Pesach threshold covenant with God Almighty to the day when He, Himself, descended upon Sinai. Thus, we have the event that instigated the annual Feast of Pentecost, or, the Feast of “the Fiftieth Day.”
The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary reflects this order, documenting that the first day of the month, 1 Sivan, was:
…forty-five days after Egypt—one day spent on the mount (Ex[odus] 19:3), one returning the people’s answer [to God] (Ex[odus] 19:7, 8), three days of preparation [sanctification], making the whole time fifty days from the first passover to the promulgation of the law. Hence the feast of pentecost, that is, the fiftieth day, was the inauguration of the Old Testament church.[vi]
Let those last few words ring in your thoughts as you proceed. This day at Sinai was “the inauguration of the Old Testament Church.”
UP NEXT: Understanding the Sinai Manifestation and its Connection to the End Times and Year 2025
[i] Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A., Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press; 1977), v.
[ii] “chodesh,” Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, accessed online through Blue Letter Bible Online on June 16, 2020, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H2320&t=KJV.
[iii] “yowm,” Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, accessed online through Blue Letter Bible Online on June 16, 2020, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3117&t=KJV.
[v] “Biblical World Atlas” tool, “Route of the Exodus” map, found by searching “Rephidim,” Logos Bible Software, accessed from personal commercial database on June 17, 2020.