Counting to Pentecost
Counting the days until the Feast of Weeks, also known as Pentecost
“You shall count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering: there shall be seven complete sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath” Lev 23:15-16.
We count 50 days. That means counting 7 weeks, or 7 Sabbaths (which is 49 days) + 1 day =50. The Hebrew name for this celebration is Shauvot, or Feast of Weeks, because we count the weeks until its coming. The Greek name is Pentecost. The word ‘pente’ means 50.
It’s a count of 50 days from Firstfruits until Feast of Weeks (Pentecost). Yet, there’s been a long debate over many centuries as to when the count should begin. Scripture says, “You shall count from the day after the sabbath” Lev 23:15.
The big debate has been: Count after which Sabbath? Count after the ‘weekly’ Sabbath (Friday night & Saturday)? or Count after ‘the high holy’ Sabbath (the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread)?
So what is the answer? This was a hotly debated issue because the count designated the day the people took off work to celebrate the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) …and it was only one day! It’s a very important day because it’s an “appointed time of the LORD” on His Biblical Calendar.
The Sadducees thought the count was to begin after the ‘weekly’ Sabbath and the Pharisees thought the count should begin after the ‘high holy’ Sabbath.
So how do we know which one is the Biblical count? The answer is Yeshua (Jesus). It all points to Him and has its fulfillment in and through Him. All of the “appointed times” point to Him! We can find the answer as we look at His life, death & resurrection. Yeshua was the Firstfruits!
Refer to the chart above. Yeshua was crucified at Passover (signified by red cross). He was put in the grave before sunset – before the ‘high holy day’ which was a ‘sabbath’ because it was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (represented by the green square with the Matzah because it’s the 15th day of the Biblical month). The boxes represent the 3 “nights” (15th, 16th 17th) in the grave. Arrows show the 3 “days” Yeshua was in the grave (God’s pattern “evening & morning – ref. Gen 1).
Although it had been debated as to which Sabbath Firstfruits was after…Yeshua Himself prophesied and fulfilled this truth showing Firstfruits is always on the first day of the week, on Sunday. Yeshua presented Himself as the Firstfruits offering after He arose from dead. The Scripture says, “Messiah has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep… Messiah the Firstfruits” (1 Corth 15:20, 23).
The Pharisees asked Yeshua for a “sign”. He prophesied and said to them, “no sign will be given… but the sign of Jonah the prophet, for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt12:38-40).
This answers the question of which Sabbath. The count should begin after the weekly Sabbath.
When we look at the year Messiah was crucified, He was crucified in the middle of the week, on a Wednesday. He was in the grave 3 nights & 3 days and then arose from the dead. He offered Himself as the Firstfruits offering on Sunday, the first day of the week! It is ONLY this count that designates Firstfruits on the day after the weekly Sabbath and reflects the 3nighst & 3 days Yeshua was in the grave! It’s the “sign” Yeshua spoke about!
All Scripture points to the Messiah and has its fulfillment in and through Him. The answer is found by looking at Yeshua (Jesus). He was the Firstfruits! “Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who are asleep” (1 Cor 15:20).
Let’s review the reason the religious leaders had this debate.
The Sadducees believed Firstfruits was after the weekly Sabbath (Friday night & Saturday) and the count should always begin on the first day of the week, on the Sunday after Passover. In this way of counting, the “date” would change for Firstfruits from year to year. Even though Passover is ALWAYS on the 14th day, Passover is not always on the same “day” each year. This means the “date” for the count of Firstfruits would always be different each year according to how many days are in between Passover and the day after the weekly Sabbath. So, the “date” for Firstfruits would not be a fixed date. The Scripture confirms this view as the Bible never gives a fixed “date” for Firstfruits in Lev.23.It’s this count that gives Yeshua 3 days & 3 nights in the grave. The very “sign” Yeshua spoke about.
But, the Pharisees thought Firstfruits was on the day after the high holy sabbath (the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread). This Pharisaical count always begins on the same “date” each year. This Pharisaical count always begins on the 16th day of Nisan. Refer back to the chart. Notice if the count began on the 16th, it would only give Messiah 1 night and 1 day in the grave and the “sign” would not be fulfilled. It would also put Firstfruits during the week (on the 16th). This Pharisaical count does not reflect the biblical picture of Messiah!
Only God knows why this Pharisaical count dominated after His resurrection? Today, this Pharisaical count is still reflected in the Traditional Rabbinical Jewish Calendar because they don’t see that Yeshua, the Messiah, fulfills the Biblical Calendar. We must continue to pray for God’s mercy upon His people who are blinded. He will keep His promises. He is the One who opens the eyes of the blind and opens deaf ears to hear.
We are to “lift Yeshua up” as believers. It is our responsibility to “lift Him up” and give a correct reflection of who He is. Yeshua said that He would “draw all men unto Himself” when He is lifted up. Our act of worship is to lift Him up and worship Him in “spirit and truth”.
So let us lift Him up as the Lamb of God who was slain. Let us lift up the Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Let us lift Him up as the One who was put in the grave during the Feast of Unleavened Bread…the One who was without sin, without leaven. Let us lift up the One whose body was in the grave for 3 nights and 3 days as a “sign”, just like Jonah… whose body did not see corruption or decay. Let us lift up our Messiah who was raised from the dead and declare that we know the One who resurrects the dead!!! Let us lift up the One who offered Himself as the Firstfruits offering…the One who is the firstborn from the dead…the One who has promised that we will receive a new body just like His…”Messiah the Firstfruits, after that those who are Messiah’s at His coming” (1Cor15:23).
Because our hearts desire is to worship Him in spirit in truth, let us seek after this. Let’s seek to lift Him up on the Appointed Day. Oh the joy and blessing of joining Him at His Appointed Time. Will this cause jealousy to burn in the hearts of His people? What a wonderful opportunity to witness and declare the reason for our count when asked….Because it all points to Him and gives a correct reflection of Him and testifies to who He is. Let us worship Him in spirit and in truth. Maybe that’s why the LORD has allowed there to be a debate in the count.
This year, Firstfruits was April 24th (the day after the weekly Sabbath after Passover). “Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits” 1 Cor15:20. The 50 day count began at Firstfruits and ends on Pentecost. It’s when God poured out His Spirit like He promised (Acts 2).
May the LORD pour out His Spirit on us & our households as we worship Him in spirit & in truth. May He give us dreams & visions. May we as sons & daughters of God prophecy. May He open up our ears to hear His voice more clearly. May we boldly declare all His mighty deeds!