Shavuot and Pentecost | What’s the Connection?

As a Believer, you likely have heard of Pentecost, but have you heard of Shavuot? Understanding the connection between Shavuot and Pentecost will deepen your faith and show you more of God’s heart for humanity.

God’s Word reveals the connection between Shavuot and Pentecost and affirms the significance of Shavuot in your life today.

The Giving of the Law at Shavuot

The word Shavuot literally means “weeks.” It is named for the 7-week (50 days) period of Counting the Omer that occurs between Passover and Shavuot. For centuries, Shavuot has been recognized as a time of receiving divine knowledge and instruction from God. Exodus 19 records the moment Israel gathered to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai – God’s law. God separated the Jewish people as a people set apart to Himself.

  • “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.’”—Exodus 19:10-11

The story in Exodus goes on to share the events that happened as the rescued Israelites gathered at Mount Sinai and what they experienced.

  • “Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire…”—Exodus 19:16-18

Finally, the story concludes with God delivering the Ten Commandments—divine knowledge and instruction. God imparts His holy ways to Israel so that by keeping them, He could dwell near them. 

God’s dealings with Israel are always connected to His desire for relationship and to reveal that apart from His intervention, we cannot be reconciled to a Holy God. Israel could not keep the law on their own. Neither can we. We need the Spirit of God to empower us to keep God’s instructions.

The Giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost

Pentecost is named after the Greek word pentekoste, meaning fiftieth. It was the ancient Greek term for Shavuot. 

Pentecost is the festival at which Christians celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit, and it is celebrated on the 7th Sunday, 50 days after Resurrection Sunday.

  • “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”—Acts 2:1-4

God continues to move closer–sealing the gap, allowing for a permanent dwelling of His Presence for all who come under the blood covering of Jesus.  At Shavuot, He sent His law so His Presence could dwell with His people. At Pentecost, He sent His Holy Spirit so His Presence could dwell in His people. Forever. Paul tells us this about the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 1:13-14:

  • “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” (emphasis added)
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The Connection Between Shavuot and Pentecost

We see the spiritual connection between Shavuot and Pentecost: We need the Spirit of God to keep the instruction of God.  Let’s look at the physical connection: The timing of these two events line up perfectly, revealing more of God’s beautiful intention throughout His Word.

  • Both Shavuot and Pentecost happened 50 days after Passover and established a covenant:

The same day that the Jews were celebrating God’s giving of His Law on tablets of stone, the Holy Spirit came and wrote His law on the hearts of many, fulfilling prophecy.

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel… I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord…”—Jeremiah 31:31-34

Fifty days after sacrificing the Passover lamb, the Israelites received a covenant from God. Fifty days after sacrificing Jesus, our Passover Lamb, Believers received a new covenant from God.

  • Both Shavuot and Pentecost happened to newly redeemed people:

Shavuot occurred after the Exodus, which marked the birth of the nation of Israel. Pentecost occurred after the crucifixion and resurrection of the Messiah, jump-starting the movement of the One New Man—both Jew and Gentile Believers joining together as co-heirs with Christ.

  • Both Shavuot and Pentecost occurred with a physical manifestation of God on a mountain:

Mount Sinai was the setting of the gift of the Ten Commandments, and Mount Zion was the setting of the gift of the Holy Spirit. In both circumstances, God’s Spirit descended in fire. The fire on Mount Sinai was one fire visible to all, whereas the fire on Mount Zion was represented individually. One fire settled on each person, representing the established covenant between each individual person and God.

  • Both Shavuot and Pentecost had similar symbols:

In both circumstances, there were voices, wind, fire, and smoke. The Hebrew word translated to thunder in Exodus is kolot, which means voices or languages.

Why is the Connection Between Shavuot and Pentecost So Important?

When looking at the biblical feasts, we must remember the new covenant did not replace the old but rather fulfilled the old, making it perfect through the work of Jesus. The New Testament is a continuation of the Old Testament. We need both together for us to have a full understanding of God’s Word. Do not fall into the trap of believing that one covenant replaced the other. God’s intention was never for us to abandon the Jewish roots of our faith. As Christians, we are grafted into God the Father’s original family tree, as explained in Romans.

  • “For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.”—Romans 11:16-18

There is a mystery in this we need to allow for. God didn’t make it a mystery for you to solve but rather for you to trust Him as He connects the pieces over time.  He has more for you in your Jewish heritage. He wants to restore your true identity in Him so that you may walk in the fullness of His blessings. To do so, you must know those covenant blessings by heart so they flood your mind, will, and emotions.  They allow you to stand firm against anything blocking you from receiving your inheritance as His sons and daughters.

As you celebrate Shavuot and Pentecost this year, celebrate the connection of the old and new covenants. See more of God’s heart for you through the story of Israel– the story you’ve been grafted into. Consider joining our celebration on June 11th and discover more about Shavuot and Pentecost here