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How to Count to Pentecost
As most know, the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost, as recorded in the New Testament. But few understand the Old Testament importance of this day or the great significance it has in the New Testament.
Yahweh's annual observances represent a covenant between Him and His people. Perhaps of all commanded memorials, none characterizes our covenant relationship better than Pentecost. This observance, also called the Feast of Weeks, is one of three during which we are commanded to assemble. (The other two are the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Tabernacles.)
The covenant between Yahweh and Israel was ratified on Pentecost, first given to Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 20 and expounded upon in chapters 21-23). Israel had agreed to observe Yahweh's law as His chosen people (Exodus 19:5 and 8), but they soon broke the covenant at Sinai and Yahweh promised to make a new covenant with man. About 1500 years later the New Covenant was put into effect, again at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). The New Testament (covenant) assembly of Yahweh's chosen was born that day, when the Holy Spirit was given to enable man to better keep the covenant law.
How do we know when Pentecost occurs? Let's go back to Leviticus 23 where the holy days are mentioned in detail. Leviticus 23:4 instructs us, "These are the feasts of Yahweh, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons." Verse 11 reads, "And he shall wave the sheaf before Yahweh, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it."
Here we find that on the morrow after the Sabbath the wave sheaf is to be offered to Yahweh. It is also the day that we begin our count to Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks (Exodus 34:22). Verse 15 instructs, "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."
Which Sabbath Starts the Count?
The Jews and others contend that the Sabbath being referred to is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is Abib 15, the first holy day of the year (Leviticus 23:6-7). If this was true, would not Yahweh have given an exact date for Pentecost, as He does for Passover, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Feast of Tabernacles? If the Sabbath is the holy day starting the Feast of Unleavened Bread, your count for Pentecost would always end up on the sixth day of the third month, according to the Jewish calendar.
Why give detailed instructions on how to calculate Pentecost when all you need to do is to wait until the third month and sixth day? Verse 16 of Leviticus 23 goes on to say, "Even to the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall you number fifty days." By giving us this method of calculating, Yahweh tells us that, although the morrow after the weekly Sabbath (within the Days of Unleavened Bread) may be a different date within Abib, we are to observe Pentecost exactly 50 days from that day.
It Is Simple 1-2-3
Clearly, we are to count seven Sabbaths and the day after the last Sabbath, which would always be Sunday. When we tell our children to count from 1 to 10, do they begin with the number 1 or do they skip 1 and start with the number 2? Obviously, the number 1 is included. So the word “from” includes the starting day.
If we were to begin our count the day after the High Sabbath rather than after the weekly Sabbath during the feast, the 50th day could fall anywhere between the second and the seventh day, and not on the first day of the week or the “morrow after the seventh Sabbath,” as Scripture clearly prescribes. The word translated “morrow” is the Hebrew “mochorath,” #4283 in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance Hebrew Dictionary, and is translated in 25 other places as “morrow,” or “day after.”
In Hebrew reckoning (or true scriptural reckoning), a week is complete as the Sabbath ends. The first day of the week is, therefore, always the “morrow after the Sabbath.” Leviticus 23:15 also says that seven weeks or Sabbaths of weeks shall be complete. The morrow after the weekly Sabbath (“Sabbath” is #7676 in Strong's which is the weekly Sabbath, not #7677, “Shabbathown”—a special holy day) is always Sunday. Seven full weeks of seven days each brings us to the 49th day—the seventh Sabbath. Thus, on the very next day—Sunday—we arrive at Pentecost.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911 Edition) under “Pentecost,” page 123, reads in part: “The Hebrews' numeration always included the day which is the terminus a quo (starting point), as well as that which is the terminus ad quem (ending point).” If the Jewish calendar has Passover on the wrong day, then they will not be keeping Pentecost on the correct day. Those who follow this line of reasoning will fail to receive the blessings and benefit of these days. The Jews have rejected Yahshua as the Redeemer of Israel; therefore, they are not aware of the spiritual intent and meaning of Yahweh's plan of salvation embodied in His feast days.
At one time the Sadducees were the priestly house. Because the offices were inherited, the Sadducees represented an older, more biblical heritage. The Jewish Encyclopedia article on the Sadducees reads: “They (Sadducees) contend that the seven weeks from the barley sheaf offering to Pentecost should, according to Leviticus 23:15-16, be counted from the day after the Sabbath, and consequently that Pentecost should always be celebrated on the first day of the week.” In this, they obviously followed Scripture.
New Testament and Pentecost
In John 20, Yahshua was speaking to Mary Magdalene after He rose from the grave. Take special note of verse 17, Yahshua said to her, “Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren, and say unto them, ‘I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My El, and your El.’” From John 20:1, we see that it was dark, dawning toward the first day of the week. The count toward Pentecost had begun. Notice that Yahshua had told Mary not to touch Him because He had not yet ascended to His Father, to be accepted by Him. He was to be the Firstfruits, the wave offering.
Notice the following Scripture: "But now is Messiah risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Messiah shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: MESSIAH THE FIRSTFRUITS; afterward they that are Messiah’s at His coming," (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). His sacrifice fulfilled the symbolism of the wave sheaf.
Following His resurrection, Yahshua had to appear before the Heavenly Father to be accepted. In the same way, the Old Testament high priest had to wave the sheaf of barley to be accepted of Yahweh before the spring harvest could commence (Leviticus 23:10-12).
The offering of the wave sheaf was to begin the count toward Pentecost and was waved “on the morrow after the Sabbath” (Leviticus 23:11). Yahshua fulfilled this prophecy and ascended to the Father the “morrow” after the weekly Sabbath. He could not have ascended to the Father the day after the High Sabbath (which is the first day of Unleavened Bread) because He was in the tomb that day. He had to be in the tomb three full days and three full nights (Matthew 12:40). When evening and morning, or day and night, are used together, a 24-hour period is denoted (Companion Bible, appendix 144).
The morrow after the weekly Sabbath is the only day that Yahshua could have ascended to the Father. Counting 50 days from that day brings us to another first day of the week—Pentecost (or Firstfruits). When Yahweh said that Pentecost would be observed on the day after the Sabbath, it would then always fall on the first day of the week—Sunday. It should be clear when we harmonize Scriptures that the morrow after the weekly Sabbath is the day to begin our count. Yahweh set all the Sabbath days according to His plan, not man’s reckoning of time.
Leviticus 23:14 says, "And you shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that you have brought an offering to your Elohim: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings." The mention of bread, parched corn, and green ears refers to the fact that they were not to eat any of the new grain harvest until after they had made the offering to Yahweh. They would, of course, have bread of the old harvest to use for Passover and the first High Day, because we have been commanded to eat unleavened bread beginning with Abib 15. They used their old grain until “the morrow after the Sabbath.”