The Pilgrimage Feast of Weeks / Pentecost
How to Walk Out the Journey That Leads to Meeting With Our Elohim
By David M Rogers
Published: July 2014
Updated May 2015
Table of ContentsActs 2 - Is Pentecost the Birthday of the Church?
The popular Christianity of our day celebrates the day of Pentecost (well, sort of...), because in their view, the "New Testament Church" was born on that day! Cloven tongues of fire, charismata and laying on of holy hands highlight this day on which they celebrate the so-called anniversary of the Christian Church. They reminisce of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and they retell the great and mighty miracles done in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Unfortunately, popular Christianity, once again, has many of the facts of Scripture twisted and distorted when it comes to the meaning and understanding of Pentecost. Nothing was "born" at the time of the Acts 2 Pentecost - certainly not the Church. The gifts of the set-apart Spirit are not given to those who refuse to obey the commandments of the Almighty. And the miracles, healings and wonders done in churches today are more likely inspired by some other spirit - not from the Set-apart (Holy) Spirit.
Admired teachers, preachers and televangelists conveniently ignore the true meaning and roots of the celebration they like to call "Pentecost" but which is called Shavuot in the Hebrew Bible. If they would begin to pay attention to the the Law and the Prophets as the Master told his disciples to do (see Matt 5:19-21), many of their theologies would be transformed. Christian leaders might begin to understand the importance of the Words of Instruction which Yahuwah has given to those who love and serve him. Their lifestyles would be transformed, as well, because their walk would change, their mind set would change and their attitude toward sin would change.
Shavuot is about all these things. Shavuot was the appointed time when Elohim gave his people the Torah to teach them how to walk and live pleasing to Him. Shavuot is also the appointed time when Elohim gave an outpouring of the Holy Spirit to enable his people to live this set apart life of obedience to his Covenant Laws. Let's open up the Scriptures and take a deeper look into this high holy day called Shavuot. There is much to discover there which will change our lives and lead us to a closer relationship with our Maker.
The Hebrew word shavuot means weeks. It comes from the root word shavuah, which means seven, but in the plural form it is rendered shavuot. This pilgrimage feast is also called the Feast of the Harvest in Exodus 23:16. The word Pentecost (which means fifty) comes from the Greek rendering of this day. The reason for the name of the Feast and the instruction for calculating the time of Shavuot is given in Vayiqra [Leviticus] 23:15-16:
You must count for yourselves seven weeks (shavuot) from the day after the Sabbath, from the day you bring the wave offering sheaf; they must be complete weeks. You must count fifty days--until the day after the seventh Sabbath--and then you must present a new grain offering to Yahuwah.
The counting to Shavuot begins on the day after the Sabbath which is the first day of the week which falls during the week of the Pilgrimage Feast of Unleavened Bread. To be sure, the counting begins on the first day of the week which occurs during the Feast. Then you count seven weeks to the seventh Sabbath, and the day after that Sabbath is Shavuot. (For more information about this see my article The Hebrew Calendar). Because of this counting to the day, this appointed time and pilgrimage festival is named Chag HaShavuot or the Pilgrimage Feast of Weeks.
Let's begin our pursuit of the correct understanding of Shavuot (Pentecost) by looking first at the Instructions for Shavuot. Shavuot is outlined and described for us in the book of Leviticus:
From the places where you live you must bring two loaves of bread for a wave offering; they must be made from two tenths of an ephah of fine wheat flour, baked with leaven, as first fruits to Yahuwah. Along with the loaves of bread, you must also present seven flawless yearling lambs, one young bull, and two rams. They are to be a burnt offering to Yahuwah along with their grain offering and drink offerings, a gift of a soothing aroma to Yahuwah. You must also offer one male goat for a sin offering and two yearling lambs for a peace offering sacrifice, and the priest is to wave them--the two lambs--along with the bread of the first fruits, as a wave offering before Yahuwah; they will be set-apart to Yahuwah for the priest. On that same day you are to proclaim a set apart assembly and do no regular work. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live (Vayiqra [Leviticus] 23:17-21).
The first part of the Instruction for Shavuot deals with the offerings brought by the worshipper to the priest. That study is for a later time. We want to focus here on the details given at the end of the passage which describe the general order of Shavuot.
We find this instruction wedged in a passage in which Mosheh is rehashing the information Yahuwah taught him about the special days of the year called appointments (Hebrew moedim). These are days which require all those in covenant relationship with the Almighty to cease their regular labor and to gather together for corporate proclamation and explanation of His Word. These appointment days are times to meet with Elohim.
The Instruction here in verse 21 tells us that on Shavuot, "On that same day you are to proclaim a set apart assembly and do no regular work. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live." The Hebrew word ar'q.mi is pronounced miqra and means convocation; convoking, reading, sacred assembly. We are commanded to set this day apart and to proclaim a holy assembly. This assembly is for the purpose of reading and proclaiming this appointment day and its significance for those assembled to worship Yahuwah.
There is more information we need to know about Shavuot. Shavuot is one of the three annual pilgrimage festivals. Everyone was required to leave home and go to the place where Yahuwah's presence was dwelling.
Three times a year all your men must appear before Yahuwah your Elohim at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before Yahuwah empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way Yahuwah your Elohim has blessed you.
Israel was given these instructions to appear before Yahuwah. Three times a year - at the times of the major harvests - all Israel was required to take the trip to the Dwelling Place and present their tithes of the first fruits of their harvests.
The word feast comes from the Hebrew gx; (pronounced chag). The feasts should not be confused with the moedim (appointments), though they are related. The moedim are the special days which features a set apart gathering and no work to be done (similar to a Sabbath). The chaggim are times when Israel journeys to the place of the Dwelling of Yahuwah.
There are ONLY three feasts of Yahuwah, while there are seven annual moedim. The Feast of Unleavened Bread begins and ends with a moed. Shavuot is a one day feast and a moed. And the Feast of Tabernacles begins with a moed and is followed by another moed. There are two other moedim that occur apart from the feasts (Yom Teruah and Yom HaKippurim). (Technically, the last annual moed occurs on the day after the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, so it too does not occur during a feast.)
The command to "go up" three times each year also appears in Exodus:
Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me. Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of the Aviv, for in that month you came out of Mitzrayim. "No one is to appear before me empty-handed. Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field. Three times a year all the men are to appear before Adonai Yahuwah (Exodus 23:14-17)
Here, Shavuot is called the "Feast of Harvest." And the "Feast of Ingathering" at the end of the year is Sukkoth.
You can read more about these feasts and appointment days in a study entitled, The Hebrew Calendar: Understanding the Times and the Seasons.
A miqra-qodesh (set-apart assembly) took place on Shavuot even before Israel was given the instructions for it. It took place in the wilderness after the sons of Yisrael were delivered from the hand of Pharaoh in their exodus from Egypt, their passing through the Reed Sea and their subsequent journey to Mt. Sinai. Mosheh (Moses) recorded for us the events at that time in the book of Exodus:
In the third month after the sons of Yisrael went out from the land of Egypt, on the very day, they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they journeyed from Rephidim, they came to the Desert of Sinai, and they camped in the desert; Yisrael camped there in front of the mountain.
Though this account does not give us an exact count of 50 days from the first day of the week during the Festival of Unleavened Bread to this day (more about this counting in The Hebrew Calendar), we can see that the events described here "in the third month" occur at the same time as Shavuot does. From the middle of the first month (the time of the exodus) to the beginning of the third month is approximately 45 days. Then the events occurred that lead up to Elohim's appearance on Sinai.
We can be certain that something very significant must have taken place at Shavuot that first year Israel came out of Egypt, and this is the only possible event that could have met the criteria. A miqra-qodesh did in fact take place that day as Yahuwah met on the appointment day with his people. Furthermore, Rabbinical tradition holds that Shavuot is the day when the 10 commandments were spoken by Elohim at Mt. Sinai. The preponderance of the evidence brings us to conclude that this is precisely what happened.
Let's look at the calendar to see when Shavuot was that year. We know from Exodus 16:1-2 that the 15th day of the second month was a Sabbath day.
The whole community of the sons of Yisrael set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Mitzrayim. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Mosheh and Aharon.
That same day - the 15th day of the second month - the sons of Israel grumbled about the food. And Yahuwah told Mosheh to tell them that that very night quail would come and that the next morning (the 16th) manna would be on the ground.
Then there were six days of manna and on the seventh day (the 22nd of the month) there was no manna on the ground, because it was another Sabbath day. Therefore, the 15th and the 22nd were both Sabbaths. So, here is the calendar for the second month (assuming a 30 day month):
(The 30th day was the following first day of the week). The calendar for the 3rd month was therefore like this:
Going with a 30 day 2nd month, the Shavuot must fall on the seventh day of the third month, because this is exactly as the Torah requires. It is the day following the counting of seventh Sabbaths beginning on the day of the wave offering during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The full rendering of the calendar for the first three months is as follows:
After the sons of Israel came into the Sinai region on the first day of the 3rd month, we are told that Mosheh took no less than two trips up the mountain to speak with Elohim and to get his further instruction for what to do. Here is the account of his first trip to the mountain:
Mosheh went up to Elohim, and Yahuwah called to him from the mountain, "Thus you will say to the house of Ya'acov, and declare to the people of Yisrael: 'You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I lifted you up on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. And now, if you will diligently obey me and keep my covenant, then you will be my special possession out of all the nations, for all the earth is mine. And you will be my kingdom of priests and a set-apart nation.' These are the words that you will speak to the sons of Yisrael."
So, Mosheh took the message back to the sons of Yisrael. And here is the account of his second trip up the mountain:
So Mosheh came and summoned the elders of Yisrael. He set before them all these words which Yahuwah had commanded him. And all the people answered together and said, "All that Yahuwah has commanded we will do." So Mosheh brought the words of the people back to Yahuwah. Then Yahuwah said to Mosheh, "I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and will always believe in you." And Mosheh told the words of the people to Yahuwah. And Yahuwah said to Mosheh, "Go to the people and set them apart today and tomorrow, and make them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, for on the third day Yahuwah will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people (Shemot 19:1-11).
Thus, Mosheh had several days after their arrival in the area of Mount Sinai to take the difficult trip up the mountain to meet Elohim and to come back down and communicate to the people. He did this twice.
Then Mosheh communicated the instructions to the people:
Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, 'Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. He shall surely be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on him. Whether man or animal, he shall not be permitted to live.' Only when the ram's horn sounds a long blast may they go up to the mountain. After Mosheh had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. Then he said to the people, "Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations." (Shemot 9:12-15)
This meeting of Yahuwah with his people was not a casual event. No one can approach Him unprepared. The people needed to be consecrated and clean. Even sexual contact was to be avoided lest the people become defiled (unclean from bodily emissions, see Leviticus 15).
The Festival of Shavuot is the celebration and remembrance of the ratification of the Covenant at Sinai between Yahuwah and his people. It was actually a frightening event for the people, as the text makes clear:
On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Mosheh led the people out of the camp to meet with Elohim, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because Yahuwah descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Mosheh spoke and the voice of Elohim answered him.
Yahuwah descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Mosheh to the top of the mountain. So Mosheh went up and Yahuwah said to him, "Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see Yahuwah and many of them perish. Even the priests, who approach Yahuwah, must consecrate themselves, or Yahuwah will break out against them." Mosheh said to Yahuwah, "The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, 'Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.'" Yahuwah replied, "Go down and bring Aharon up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to Yahuwah, or he will break out against them." So Mosheh went down to the people and told them. (Shemot 19:16-25)
The people were so afraid that they later told Mosheh that they didn't want to hear the voice of Yahuwah any more. They would rather have Mosheh get the instructions from Yahuwah and come and tell them himself.
The book of Hebrews describes this scene with graphic terminology:
You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned." The sight was so terrifying that Mosheh said, "I am trembling with fear." (Hebrews 12:18-21)
Even Mosheh who had met with Elohim now on a number of occasions was trembling with fear. It is not unreasonable then that the people didn't want Elohim to speak to them any more because they were so frightened by this meeting.
So, the purpose of this appointment Yahuwah made with the nation was to ratify a covenant with them. He would be their Elohim and they would be his special possession, a set apart people, a holy nation and a kingdom of priests. This agreement transaction is recorded for us in Shemot [Exodus] 19:4-8:
Then Mosheh went up to Elohim, and Yahuwah called to him from the mountain and said, "This is what you are to say to the house of Ya'acov and what you are to tell the people of Yisrael: 'You yourselves have seen what I did to Mitzrayim, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the sons of Yisrael." So Mosheh went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words Yahuwah had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together, "We will do everything Yahuwah has said." So Mosheh brought their answer back to Yahuwah.
So this is the offer Yahuwah made to the sons of Israel: "Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." And they answered: "We will do everything Yahuwah has said." Yahuwah offered a relationship based on the people's obedience and the people accepted the offer. In this way Israel came into Covenant with the Almighty.
The Ten Words he spoke to the people were the stipulations of the Covenant which the people were made responsible for holding up their end of the agreement. The people could keep their side of the agreement by simply obeying these commandments.
Everyone knows the history of the nation of Israel. Their generations over and over again rejected the Covenant and chose to walk in the ways of the nations around them. They turned to idols and continually provoked Yahuwah to jealousy and anger. They refused to obey the Covenant commandments and so broke the Covenant over and over again. This led to the people being spewed out of the land and their scattering to the four corners of the earth.
The prophet Yirmyahu (Jeremiah) was given a message about a new covenant which Yahuwah would make with his people Israel in the future. The heart of Elohim is to love and bless his people. He had made promises to our forefathers, to Avraham, Yitschak and Ya'acob to give them the land and to bless their seed after them. So, this promised new covenant was to fulfill these promises to the seed of Yisrael.
"Indeed, a time is coming," says Yahuwah, "when I will make a new agreement with the people of Yisrael and Yehudah. It will not be like the old agreement that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt. For they violated that agreement, even though I was a faithful husband to them," says Yahuwah. "But I will make a new agreement with the whole nation of Yisrael after I plant them back in the land," says Yahuwah. "I will put my Instruction within them and write it on their hearts and minds. And I will be their Elohim and they will be my people. "People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me. That is because all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me," says Yahuwah. "All of this is based on the fact that I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done." (Yirmyahu 31:31-34)
In the translation above, the word agreement is the translation for the Hebrew word brit (or covenant). The Christian Church believes that the New Covenant which Jesus (Yehoshua) ratified is for "the Church." But they are gravely mistaken. And here is where I have a sharp criticism of the Church and the teachers and theologians of the Church. No promise is ever made for a Church which Messiah would build.
However, the Prophet Yirmyahu tells us exactly with whom this New Covenant is made. Elohim has not given up on the House of Israel and the House of Yehudah. Though they violated his covenant (agreement) and were scattered across the world, Yahuwah promises to make a New Covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Yehudah. This New Covenant is NOT made with the Gentile Church.
The New Testament Church is WRONG to proclaim a New Covenant ratified by Jesus and based on an agreement between God and the "Jews and Gentiles" Church based upon the "new" commandments and teachings of Jesus. No such thing is ever taught in the Scriptures - Old or New. Messiah Yehoshua came to reconcile the House of Israel with our Father in Heaven. All of his teachings are rooted in the commandments of his Father. Everything he taught was in sync with His Father's Commandments.
In teaching the Church that Jesus made a new covenant with the Gentiles based upon a repudiation of his Father's Law and an establishment of a New Law of Love which Jesus allegedly proclaimed, the theologians and teachers of the Christian Church are essentially proclaiming a different gospel based on different promises with a different hope than the Law and the Prophets and Yehoshua himself proclaimed. This is the basis of the "other gospel" Paul talks about. That gospel is a false gospel and has led hundreds of millions of Christian astray and away from the Covenant which our Father in heaven seeks to establish. The only Covenant Yahuwah has ever offered mankind is based on obedience to His commandments.
The true, biblical Gospel is the one proclaimed by the Law and the Prophets. The true Gospel announces that Elohim will restore his people Israel by putting a new heart in Israel. Elohim would place HIS Law (Hebrew Torah, Instruction) in his people Israel. His Spirit is placed in the believer so that he might obey the laws and right-rulings of Elohim's Torah.
The prophets give us the definitive answer about how to identity the work of the Spirit of Elohim and distinguish it from the work of deceiving spirits. Yechezqel (aka Ezekiel) reveals to us the purpose for which the Almighty is bringing people to repentance. Just as Jeremiah reveals in the passage above, Yahuwah was explaining to Ezekiel what is to become of the scattered House of Israel in the last days.
I will give them one heart and I will put a new Spirit within them; I will remove the heart of stone from their bodies and I will give them a heart of flesh, so that they may obey my rules (Hebrew, "chukot") and keep my right-rulings (Hebrew, "mishpatim") and observe them. Then they will be my people, and I will be their Elohim. (Yechezqel 11:19-20).
When Elohim places his Spirit in repentant believers in the last days, the Spirit causes them (makes them, compels them) to obey the rules and keep the statutes (or judgments) of His Law given through Moses. In a nutshell, the Spirit can be discerned by the behavior and walk of those claiming to possess it. The true believer will no longer be in rebellion against the Covenant commandments of Elohim, which is why they were rejected and scattered in the first place. The genuine Spirit-filled people will be obeying the Law of Mosheh and can be identified in this way.
And in case we missed it the first time, Yechezqel reiterates this message.
"'I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries; then I will bring you to your land. I will sprinkle you with pure water and you will be clean from all your impurities. I will purify you from all your idols. I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you; I will cause you to walk in my rules (Hebrew, "chukot") and carefully observe my right-rulings (Hebrew, "mishpatim"). Then you will live in the land I gave to your fathers; you will be my people, and I will be your Elohim. I will save you from all your uncleanness (Yechezqel 36:24-29).
The tried and true method of testing the spirits to see whether they are from Elohim is to look at the results - what does the Holy Spirit cause people to do? If the spirit causes the believer to walk in obedience to the commandments of Elohim, then this is proof that the spirit is the Set-apart Spirit from God. The Set-apart Spirit always causes the one being set-apart to repent from disobedience and to walk in full compliance with the instructions and commandments of Scripture. But if the spirit within you causes you to forsake and ignore the commandments of Scripture, be sure that it is some other spirit that is controlling you, and not the Set-apart Spirit of Elohim.
When you "walk in the Spirit" you do not "accomplish the lust of the flesh." The lust of the flesh is all those activities which Yahuwah has commanded us not to do. Disobedience to the commandments of the Almighty is a work of the flesh and is a result of the lust of the flesh. But when one walks in the Spirit, he is doing what the Spirit is "causing" him to do. And Yechezqel tells us that the Spirit of Elohim always "causes" those so influenced and controlled by the Spirit to walk in the commandments and judgments as set forth in the first five books of the Bible - the Law.
Thus, the New Covenant as established and ratified by Messiah Yehoshua (Jesus) is a fulfillment of the promises made by the prophets that Elohim would make a "New Covenant" with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah. The Spirit which was given at Shavuot, or Pentecost in Acts 2, was the fulfillment of the promise of Elohim made through the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel and the other prophets as well. This New Covenant is stipulated upon Yahuwah's Law, not some alleged New Law of love given by Jesus. Thus, believers in Messiah Yehoshua (Jesus) will be identified by their fruit, as He said, the fruit of obedience to the Law which is the purpose for which the Spirit was given at Pentecost.
The term Born Again is well know, not just in Christian circles, but in secular settings as well. The world has heard those words so many times that it has become part of the collective vocabulary of English speaking people. For the non-Christian, born again means a life changing experience. As Merriam-Webster defines it, newly interested in and enthusiastic about something and eager to make other people think the way you do.
Of course, the Christian definition of born-again is to have an encounter with Jesus such that one's life is forever transformed. Zealous Christians, especially fundamentalists, think they have a corner on that experience which is indicated by the label born again. For them, being born again means that you believe in Jesus the way that they believe in Jesus. And this is where the denominational teaching about who Jesus is fits in. To be born again, in their view, you must identify Jesus the way they identify and define Jesus or else you are not truly born again.
Anyway, the term born again comes from the lips of Yeshua (Hebrew for Jesus). He told one of the religious rulers of that day that one must be born again in order to see the Kingdom of God. And so, Bible thumpers everywhere find an interpretation of this teaching of Yeshua in accordance with their own liking and the denomination they belong to.
What is quite puzzling about these various interpretations is that they fail to consider the source of Yeshua's teaching about being born again. In fact, Yeshua scolded Nicodemus who was the teacher in Israel for not understanding what he was talking about. Evidently, the Scriptures (the Torah and the Prophets) teach about this concept of being born again. Yet, you will never hear a Christian tie this teaching of Jesus back to anything the Prophets said. Why is this?
And don't you think that we would have a better understanding of what Yeshua was saying if we knew what the "Old Testament" prophets said about this new birth? Certainly, if we have a foundational understanding from the Torah and Prophets it would give us a fuller understanding of what the Master was saying to Nicodemus and to all of us. Let's make that our goal in this study: to explore the prophetic utterances which reveal to us the born again experience.
Lazarus, who wrote the 4th Gospel account commonly known as the Gospel of John, tells us of the encounter of Nicodemus with Yeshua. I cite here the King James Version:
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the
Jewish ruling council.
So, let's go back and set the stage for this teaching of the Master about the need to be "born again." It was the time of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (see Lazarus 2:23-25):
Now while he was in Yerushalayim at the Pesach during the Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Yehoshua would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.
Next, chapter 3 begins and the introduction of Nicodemus. During the Pilgrimage Feast of Unleavened Bread, all the pilgrims who were in Covenant Agreement with our Father in Heaven were in Jerusalem celebrating. Often, they would stay up late into the night for fellowship with family and friends and to worship Yahuwah Most High.
And thus were are introduced to Nicodemus who came to Yehoshua at night during the Feast - not an unusual thing to do. The first thing Nicodemus says to Messiah Yehoshua is to acknowledge that the Pharisees admit that Yehoshua was sent by Elohim, because the miraculous signs Yehoshua was performing could not be done otherwise.
But Yehoshua cuts into the speech begun by Nicodemus. He knows where Nicodemus is going with this. Nicodemus had come to question Yehoshua about the right path to walk because he understood that Yehoshua was that "Prophet like Mosheh" who was to speak all the words that Yahuwah puts in his mouth and that everyone would be accountable to obey everything this Prophet said.
Yehoshua explains to Nicodemus that "no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." But Nicodemus completely misunderstands what Yehoshua is telling him. He asks a silly question because he is void of understanding. He says, "How can a man be born when he is old? Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" Nicodemus, though designated "the Teacher is Israel" had no clue about what Yehoshua was telling him. This is somewhat an indictment of Israel's rulers in those days. They really didn't have a clue as to what Elohim was doing in their days nor did they understand the Scriptures they were supposed to be teaching Israel.
Yehoshua then begins to explain to Nicodemus what he means by being born again.
"I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." (Lazarus 3:5-8)
So the Master describes for Nicodemus what he is speaking of when he says one must be born again to see the kingdom of Elohim. The Spirit gives birth to spirit. So, being "born again" means to be born of the Spirit. He is not talking about a physical birth as Nicodemus ponders over, but a birth by the Spirit of Elohim.
Nicodemus still doesn't understand.
"How can this be?" Nicodemus asked. (verse 9).
Yehoshua is surprised by the ignorance of Nicodemus.
"You are Israel's teacher, and do you not understand these things? (Lazarus 3:10)
How can someone whose life has been directed to understand and teach the Scriptures to Israel not even comprehend something as basic as the need for one to have a Spirit birth? All the prophets spoke about the Spirit birth. Yahuwah promised through the prophets that he would pour out his Spirit in the last days and that the Spirit would instruct Israel to obey the laws and right-rulings of the Torah.
What does it mean to be Born Again? Ezekiel describes this "birth" by the Spirit:
"Therefore say: 'This is what Adonai Yahuwah says: I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Yisrael again.' "They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their Elohim. (Ezekiel 11:17-20)
The New Covenant which Jeremiah writes about is this time when Elohim would give His people His Spirit to direct them in the path they should go. And here, Ezekiel speaks of that time when Elohim would restore his people Israel and put his Spirit in them.
In another place, Yahuwah scolds his people to repent and to receive a new spirit - His Holy Spirit - so that they won't have to die in their sins:
"Therefore, O house of Yisrael, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares Adonai Yahuwah. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Yisrael? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares Adonai Yahuwah. Repent and live! (Ezekiel 18:30-32)
So it is that Yehoshua tells Nicodemus that he must be born of the Spirit. This Spirit that Elohim will give directs men to repent from their sin and walk in the life-saving commandments of the Almighty.
Later, Ezekiel again describes the Spirit which Israel must receive in order for them to repent and learn to obey the commandments of Elohim:
"'For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your Elohim. (Ezekiel 36:24-28)
Again, it is a most basic understanding of the fulfillment of prophetic utterance that Elohim would do a work of placing his Spirit into his people. This is part of the gathering of the lost sheep of the House of Israel and their repentance back to the Elohim they left.
Nicodemus should have known what Yehoshua was referring to when the Master talked about being born again of the Spirit. But he didn't and needed reminded of this fundamental truth about Elohim's restoration of his people which the Prophets spoke extensively about.
To be born again, then, means that one who has repented from their sins and is turning to Elohim receives the Holy Spirit into his being and begins to be controlled by the Spirit in his walk of faith. This manifestation of the Holy Spirit in one's life is evidenced by obedience to the laws and right rulings of the Torah of Mosheh which Elohim gave to his people as the stipulations of the Covenant He makes with them. The New Covenant is the agreement Elohim makes with his people when he puts his Spirit in them to direct them to obey his commandments.
Yehoshua told his disciples that he would send his Spirit to dwell in them:
15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." 22 Then Yehudah (not Yehudah Iscariot) said, "But, Master, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?" 23 Yahusha replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. 25 All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (Lazarus 14:15-26)
This is exactly what the Prophets said would happen in the last days. Yehovah was going to give his people a heart of flesh to replace their heart of stone. And he would place his Spirit in them. Once again, we see that everything that Messiah Yehoshua taught his disciples was already revealed through the Torah and the Prophets.
Yehoshua explained to his disciples that he would be sending the Spirit of truth to them and that this Spirit would live in them and be with them. He refers to the Holy Spirit as the Counselor because the Spirit would teach them all things and remind them of everything Yehoshua said. What exactly did Yehoshua say and teach his disciples? Was it not to obey the laws and right rulings of the Torah? Do you see how this teaching of Yehoshua is completely in agreement with what Ezekiel said about the giving of his Spirit when he explained that
And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws (Ezekiel 36:27)
The giving of the Holy Spirit at Shavuot was the fulfilling of what the prophets said would happen when Yehovah made a New Covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Yehudah. And the giving of the Holy Spirit was also a fulfilling of what Yehoshua told his disciples which was also based on Ezekiel's prophetic utterance.
It now should also be clearer why Messiah Yehoshua said that if we love him we will obey his commandments. This is what happens when the Spirit comes to dwell within someone. The evidence of the Holy Spirit in one's life is that this person repents from sin and obeys all the laws and right rulings of the Torah. And this is also in agreement with what the Book of Revelation says about the true disciples in the last days. Those true saints and followers of the Messiah are described in this way:
Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring-- those who obey Elohim's commandments and hold to the testimony of Yahusha. (Revelation 12:17)
This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey Elohim's commandments and remain faithful to Yahusha. (Revelation 14:12)
The saints of the Most High are those who both obey the commandments of Elohim (because the Spirit in them compels them to obey) and who are faithful to Yehoshua.
The popular teaching in many Christian churches is that Pentecost was the birthday or beginning of the Church of Jesus Christ. This thought process is the basis for many other theological errors that Christian churches have adopted. Yet, most Christians don't even realize that the Acts 2 Pentecost took place on an appointed day that was observed every year since the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai.
The Acts 2 Pentecost was not the birthday of the Church of Jesus Christ, nor was it the beginning of the Church of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not come to build a church, nor did he come to establish a Christian Church. He came to teach his disciples how to keep his Father's commandments. As such, he always kept his Father's appointed times. Pentecost, know in the Hebrew language as Shavuot, was one of those appointed times that Yehoshua kept and came to the place of Yahuwah's presence (Jerusalem during those times).
There is a sense in which Pentecost is a birthday. In the way we celebrate one's birthday on the anniversary of the birth each year, so all of Israel was gathered together at the temple to celebrate the birthday of Israel, which was the day when Yahuwah made a Covenant with the sons of Israel at Mt. Sinai. Pentecost is the birthday of Israel, not the so-called birthday of the Church.
The text reads as follows:
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. (Acts 2:1)
The day of Pentecost falls on the 1st day of the week following the counting of 7 full weeks after the first fruit offering made during the Pilgrimage Festival of Unleavened Bread. So, this day was one of the Appointed Days Yahuwah established when he gave all his laws and right rulings to Moses at Sinai. The people were all gathered together in one place - the place of Yahuwah's Presence at the temple in Jerusalem.
This is where the sound of the mighty wind was heard by all.
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:2-4)
It was Pentecost/Shavuot and the Spirit was poured out on all. This is in fulfillment of what the Prophets wrote about and what Yehoshua talked about. Yahuwah was putting His Spirit in the followers of Yehoshua.
The time is again confirmed where it notes that worshippers from all around the world were gathered there that day. They had come to Jerusalem to keep the Pilgrimage Feast of Shavuot.
Now there were staying in Yerushalayim Elohim-fearing Yehudim from every nation under heaven. (Acts 2:5)
These who were gathered there heard Yehoshua's disciples speaking in each of the languages that these Jews were from:
When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Yehudah and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Mitzrayim and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Yehudim and converts to Yehudaism); Cretans and Arabs-- we hear them declaring the wonders of Elohim in our own tongues!" Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?" (Acts 2:6-12)
The rest of the story is well known as Peter stood up and boldly explained these events by quoting the prophet Yoel:
'In the last days, Elohim says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18)
Next Peter brought his audience to understand that they had rejected and crucified the very Messiah they were seeking. And many came to believe in Yehoshua that day - about 3000.
So, on the birthday of Yahuwah giving Moses the Law on Mt. Sinai, the Almighty poured out his Spirit on his people so that they could keep the Law, according to Ezekiel's clear prophetic declaration. This is what Pentecost was all about. It is about the fulfilling of the Prophetic Promises and the building up of the nation of Israel by pouring out the Holy Spirit.
Peter not only explained the pouring out of the Spirit on Pentecost, but he also speaks of this same "born again" experience in his epistle.
Praise be to the Elohim and Father of our Master Yahusha Messiah! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Yahusha Messiah from the dead.
The Greek word employed here, avnagenna,w (ana-genna-o), means literally regenerate, father anew, bring to birth again; figuratively, of God's act in bringing about a spiritual rebirth causing a definite change for the better; active cause to be born again, regenerate (1P 1.3); passive be born again (1P 1.23) - (Friberg Lexicon)
This verb corresponds perfectly with the words used in Lazarus 3:
...no one can see the kingdom of Elohim unless he is born again ( gennhqh/| a;nwqen gennaythay anothen, where ana and genna are two words combined into one word, anagenna-o, by Peter) (Lazarus [John] 3:3)
Yehoshua was talking about the Spirit birth when the Spirit comes to dwell in his people. And Peter also is talking about the experience of Spirit birth - being "born again" - in his epistle, which he witnesses at Pentecost.
Peter speaks of it yet again later in the same chapter:
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of Elohim. (1 Peter 1:23)
This born again experience is "through the living and enduring word of Elohim" because it was the word of Elohim spoken (and written) through the Prophets that needed to be fulfilled in the pouring out of the Spirit.
Shavuot - the Pilgrimage Feast of Weeks - contains another highly significant event in the life and ministry of Messiah Yehoshua. On that very same Shavuot in Acts 2, Messiah Yehoshua was seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven and enthroned as King and High Priest in the order of Melkitzedek. It was Peter in his speech to all those who gathered in the place who spoke of another fulfillment of the prophetic vision, quoting Psalm 110:
For David did not ascend into heaven, but he himself says, 'Yahuwah said to my master, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."‘(quoting Tehillah 110:1). Therefore let all the house of Yisrael know beyond a doubt that Elohim has made this Yehoshua whom you impaled both Master and Messiah.” (Acts 2:34-36)
Psalm 110 tells us about two ways the Father is honoring His Son, the Messiah. He sits him down at his right hand. And he establishes him as High Priest in the order of the Melek Tzadik.
Of David. A psalm. Yahuwah says to my master: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." Yahuwah will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies. (Psalm 110:1-2)
Yahuwah has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." (verse 4)
Both of these were fulfilled in the Acts 2 Pentecost.
The Book of Revelation, which is the Revelation of Messiah Yehoshua, tells us that Yehoshua is sitting at the right hand of the Father on his throne:
I will grant the one who conquers permission to sit with me on my throne, just as I too conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. The one who has an ear – listen (shema’) what the Spirit says to the congregations.'“ (Revelation 3:21-22)
When did he sit down on his throne?
So also Messiah did not glorify himself in becoming high priest, but the one who glorified him was Elohim, who said to him, "You are my Son! Today I have given you birth," as also in another place Elohim says, "You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.“ (Hebrews 5:5-6)
This indicates that when he was “glorified” he was also made a “priest forever.”
The Book of Hebrews also reveals that when he "sat down at the right hand of the Father," he had entered the Most Holy Place to do so:
But now Messiah has come as the high priest of the good things to come. He passed through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, and he entered once for all into the most set-apart place not by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood, and so he himself secured eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:11-12)
The throne where he sits is in the Most Set-apart Place.
This flies in the face of Seventh Day Adventist doctrine which is based on the teachings of Ellen G. White. She said that this event of Jesus entering into the Most Holy Place took place in 1844. The truth which the Scriptures above underline is that Yehoshua entered the Most Holy Place on Shavuot as recorded in Acts 2. Nothing of any biblical significance happened in 1844. The Adventists would do well to realize this and come out from under the bondage of Ellen G. White and the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
A scripturally informed opinion about Shavuot is worlds ahead of the popular Christian view of the meaning and purpose of Pentecost. Yahuwah had given our forefathers the very words of life, in the instructions passed out at Mt Sinai, to the people who would be in covenant relationship with Him. The instructions are altogether righteous and set-apart and spiritual. They direct his people into the paths of right living. Those who would be like Him will strive to live by the laws he gave.
But where it was clear that through man's weakness, even the righteous instructions didn't have the full desired effect of leading people into righteousness, Yahuwah gave his set-apart Spirit to his followers, so that they would always be reminded in their thinking, of the right path to take. The Spirit was given to help us know and remember to do all that is written in the Instructions of Scripture.
And he did all of this work at the preordained appointed time as detailed in Vayiqra 23. He gave the Instructions of the Torah on Shavuot, and later, at the anniversary and celebration of the Law of Elohim, he gave the gift of his Spirit to keep those Instructions in our minds and before our eyes so that we may obey them. Thus is the renewed covenant enacted: The Spirit of Elohim placed within us reminds us and directs us into the instructions of the Torah for the righteous way of life Elohim has called us to live.