Every year it comes. I almost dread the season because over and over there are several debates surrounding the day called both Shavuot and Pentecost that keep popping up every year on many forums.
There are numerous hints that the Resurrection and Translation, collectively and popularly called The Rapture, MIGHT happen on this important day. Although I would like it to be true and am watching for it, I will not argue this idea here but rather focus on the question of When Is Shavuot/Pentecost?
Aside from valid questions pertaining to when a 13th month needs to be inserted in some years (which I will not address now), I think it is possible to know exactly when the day of Shavuot occurs.
I do not want to demean any individuals so I will not reference by name
any blog posts, but many of the arguments are not following the rule of
"Scripture First". I also see some folks falling into the trap of
focusing on one scripture to the exclusion of others. Another
common mistake I am seeing is assuming our English translations, or our
favorite Bible version, is correctly translated when often the original
language says something quite different.
First let's define a few things so we are talking the same language:
Exodus 12:2 tells us to count the months starting in the month of the exodus - in the spring. I have not heard anyone argue successfully against this. Whether the first month is determined by the ripeness [Aviv] of the barley, by the spring equinox, or the Babylonian calculations built into the Hillel calendar is a debate for another time, but I will state that for this year the aviv method and Hillel calendar agree. Also this year the dates of the months are in alignment.
Once we know when the first month and the first day are we can know when Passover/Pesach, the 14th, and Unleavened Bread/Matzot, starting on the 15th are.
However, there are two competing ideas about how to determine the day of Firstfruits that must be resolved.
The first idea comes from the Hillel calendar that the Jewish people are using now. Regarding the placement of Firstfruits, this calendar is absolutely wrong and it can be proved by history and by the day's fulfillment in the resurrection of Jesus/Yahshua!
There is solid history that during the time of Jesus, the Temple and the calendar were controlled by the Sadducees. Knowledgeable Jews will attest to this and even Wikipedia describes the details. During this time they followed the literal meaning of Leviticus 23:11 where it says this day was: "…on the morrow after the Sabbath." The first day of Unleavened Bread was like a Sabbath where no work was to be done but in verse 7 it calls it a "holy convocation", not a Sabbath. In context "the Sabbath" meant the 7th day. Almost 400 years later the Pharisees created their calculated calendar with many changes including pinning Firstfruits to the date of the 16th instead of it always being on the first day of the week (our Sunday).
Pinning this feast to the 16th is wrong and can also be proved by the accounts in the Gospels. Jesus/Yahshua was the Messiah/HaMashiach and fulfilled Firstfruits by His resurrection on the first day of the week as solidly proved by the Gospels. Four times it is recorded that the only sign given to an evil generation would the sign of Jonah, and twice He expounded saying "…the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
No matter how you reckon it, from Friday evening until Sunday morning is NOT 3 days and 3 nights! Debating whether He was crucified and buried on Wednesday or Thursday is immaterial here, but that the day of Passover is "between the evenings" which is precisely what Leviticus 23:5 says in Hebrew, and that Jesus fulfilled this day, on that day, the day of the 14th, as the Passover Lamb of YHWH is indisputable except by applying reverse engineering using poor English translations!
It is not possible to fit 3 days and 3 nights between the evening ending the 14th and the morning of the 16th on the Hebrew calendar either. Therefore the current Jewish method of fixing it to the 16th day is wrong! It was not a 1 in 7 chance that Firstfruits fell on the first day of the week in that year. It was 100% guaranteed that He would rise on the first day because Firstfruits was ALWAYS on the first day.
Because Firstfruits was always to be the first day we should be able to count days of the omer and correctly arrive at Shavuot. But there is another controversy!
Most folks think that Leviticus 23:15-16 says that there are 50 days and 7 Sabbaths counted CONCURRENTLY to Shavuot. However, there is a alternative idea being promoted that it means that we should count 7 Sabbaths PLUS 50 days. Further proofs are offered by the proponents with these ideas:
Let me first offer some insight on these points and THEN I will show you why according to scripture this double counting method cannot be correct!
Now, following the "scripture first" rule I will show you that it is indeed just seven weeks between Firstfruits/Bikkurim and Weeks/Shavuot. We can't ignore other witnesses in scripture. Here is what Deuteronomy says:
Six* days you shall eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to YHWH your God: you shall do no work therein. Seven weeks shall you number to you: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as you begin to put the sickle to the grain. And you shall keep the feast of weeks to YHWH your God… - Deuteronomy 16:8-10
* I can't pass up an opportunity for accuracy. Our Old Testament is mostly based on the Masoretic text that the Jews use now which says "Six days" in this verse. But ALL the Dead Sea Scroll versions say "Seven days" - which then matches Leviticus 23:6-8.
What's the context? This is the festival of Unleavened Bread. When do they start harvesting the barley grain? Immediately after the Firstfruits offering that falls within the festival. Does it say 7 weeks plus 50 days? No. It's just 7 weeks from Firstfruits to the feast of weeks. If we were supposed to count 7 weeks PLUS 50 days it would have told us this here ALSO - but it doesn't!
And you shall count to you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even to the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall you number fifty days; and you shall offer a new meat offering to YHWH. - Leviticus 23:15-16
I can see how the King James could be construed as adding the counts but the witness of Deuteronomy tells us differently. The Hebrew in Leviticus is much clearer. The first four words are "Ad Mimmachorat HaShabbat HaSheviit" or "Up to the day following the Sabbath the seventh". The NAS is a little clearer than the KJV saying, "You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath…" - the critical word being "to".
The two accounts in Deuteronomy and Leviticus complete the picture. Firstfruits is not on a date but the first day of the week following the weekly Sabbath that falls within the week of Unleavened Bread. Counting Firstfruits as day one, Weeks/Shavuot/Pentecost is also on the first day of the week, 50 days later.
What is this day this year? From sundown on Saturday June 11th to sundown Sunday, June 12th.