In Bible times, this holiday was an agricultural festival-a time for our people to present the firstfruits of the crops to God, gratefully giving back to the Lord that which He had given to us.
A firstfruits offering was actually presented at the end of Passover (Leviticus 23:9-14). Then, seven weeks after Passover came Shavuot. This feast literally means “weeks.” Shavuot fell fifty days after the Sabbath which came during Passover (Leviticus 23:15, 16), thus in Greek it was called Pentecost, or “fiftieth.”
After the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70, the agricultural rites associated with the biblical feasts could no longer be observed. Jewish tradition made a connection between Shavuot and the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, which was understood to be the fiftieth day after the Israelites came out of Egypt. The holiday also came to be called, “The Season of the Giving of the Law.” To this day, it has become traditional to observe Shavuot by staying up all night and studying Torah.
In Acts 2 and 3, the New Covenant records that the Holy Spirit was poured out at Shavuot. As a result, 3,000 Jewish people recognized that Yeshua was indeed the Messiah, and they turned to God. These souls were the firstfruits of God’s gospel harvest. Today, Jewish believers in Jesus participate in Shavuot in various ways, as you’ll see in this section.