Leviticus 23: 15-22 (HCSB)
“You are to count seven complete weeks, starting from the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the presentation offering. You are to count 50 days until the day after the seventh Sabbath and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD. Bring two loaves of bread from your settlements as a presentation offering, each of them made from four quarts of fine flour, baked with yeast, as firstfruits to the LORD. You are to present with the bread seven unblemished male lambs a year old, one young bull, and two rams. They will be a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offerings and drink offerings, a fire offering of pleasing aroma to the LORD. You are also to prepare one male goat as a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old as a fellowship sacrifice. The priest will wave the lambs with the bread of firstfruits as a presentation offering before the LORD; the bread and the two lambs will be holy to the LORD for the priest. On that same day you are to make a proclamation and hold a sacred assembly. You are not to do any daily work. This is to be a permanent statute wherever you live throughout your generations. When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap all the way to the edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the foreign resident; I am Yahweh your God.”
Shavuot, also commonly referred to as the Feast of Weeks, is one of our Creator’s appointed times that is to be observed by those in covenant with Him, young and old alike. In mainstream Christianity, Shavuot is popularly known as Pentecost. It is the closing festival of the Passover season and occurs 50 days after the feast of First Fruits. A feast to be observed as a time of remembering, giving, and rejoicing, Shavuot has both historical and agricultural significance.
Shavuot marked the end of the barley harvest and the beginning of the wheat harvest, a new agricultural season. In addition to wheat and barley, worshipers also brought the firstfruits of their grapes, figs, dates, pomegranates, and olives to the temple. These foods are referred to as the seven species of Israel. Loving kindness was also extended to the poor and foreigners as residents were instructed to leave a portion of their crops for provision of those less fortunate.
Historically, Shavuot is known for two events that are of utmost importance to every believer; the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai and the giving of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Acts 2. Fifty days after their redemption from Egypt, Israel, consisting of native-born and a mixed multitude, camped at the base of Mt Sinai and entered into a covenant with YHWH. The words spoken by our Creator that day were written on tablets of stone. YHWH’S instructions, known as Torah, were to be a source of life and blessing to those that walk in obedience to them. Israel was to be light to the nations declaring His justice and righteousness. Parents were to diligently teach these eternal truths to their children. Fast-forward to the days of our Messiah, who through the shedding of his blood and resurrection, confirmed the Renewed Covenant. Fifty days following Messiah’s resurrection, believers were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Shavuot. As they were gathered together, the Holy Spirit, as promised by Messiah, was given. The Holy Spirit enables believers to walk in obedience to the Torah, God’s truth. Also, the Holy Spirit empowers believers to bring the good news to the world. Today, we are blessed to have both the Spirit and the Truth. Scripture tells us the Father is seeking such worshipers.
Families can make Shavuot a memorable event year after year. As it is written, it is “to be a permanent statute wherever you live throughout your generations.” The feast should be a time to draw close to YHWH and strengthen your relationship with Him while delighting in fun times with loved ones. Although Shavuot cannot be observed in its entirety, there are several aspects of the commandment that can and should be obeyed.
Bring two loaves of bread from your settlements as a presentation offering:
Moms and dads get your children involved in baking two homemade loaves of bread. During the evening, wave the two loaves before YHWH and offer thanks for all He has blessed you with this year. You may even want to go around the room and allow each person the opportunity to share what they are thankful for. The two leavened loaves are said to be symbolic of Jews (The House of Judah) and Gentiles (The House of Ephraim), both divided, and guilty of transgressing God’s instructions (sin). Despite the shortcomings of both groups, each in their own respective ways has maintained the message of Torah and Messiah, the Word of God. We are to eagerly desire to eat of the bread of life. In addition to the grain offering, you may choose to display grapes, figs, pomegranates, dates, and olives on your table in a decorative display.
Make a proclamation:
The Hebrew word for proclamation is qara (Strong’s 7121) which means to call, proclaim, read. At Sinai, the commandments were proclaimed for all to hear. Following the giving of the Holy Spirit, the apostles proclaimed the gospel and thousands were saved. As a family, seek out opportunities to share the good news of Torah and Messiah with family and friends. Use this time to rededicate your life and family to YHWH and to the study and implementation of His Word. Just as Israel proclaimed, “We will do all that YHWH has spoken,” as a family or congregation take the time to read the commandments and declare your obedience. Shavuot is about covenant renewal. This may also be the perfect time to be baptized, if you or members of your family have not already done so, or honor those that have confessed faith in Messiah and entered into covenant with YHWH this past year. You may also want to speak a blessing over your children and your spouse. Children may get creative and design posters and banners with scriptures and pictures significant to Shavuot and display them around the home. Read aloud as a family or congregation Psalm 113 and praise our awesome King!
Hold a sacred assembly:
YHWH instructs his children to gather together and celebrate this feast as an assembly or congregation. If you are not part of a congregation, seek out other like-minded believers, families, and fellowships through social media and locator maps such as those found at 119 Ministries. As a group, worship with your voices, instruments, and dancing. Study, eat and even take part in some of the traditions associated with the feast. It is customary to invite guests. Moms and dads help your children make homemade invitations to pass out to family, friends, and neighbors.
You are not to do any daily work:
Shavuot is to be honored as a Shabbat, a Sabbath day of rest. YHWH commands His children that no work be done on this day. In preparation for this day, give the kids chores (i.e. clean rooms, vacuum, do the laundry, mow the lawn) to perform around the home in the days preceding the feast as well as have them actively participate in any errands, such as shopping for food and supplies, that are needed to make your feast special. Enjoy the gift of rest and celebration that accompanies the feast of Shavuot.
Provide for the poor:
The weeks preceding the feast, talk with your children and congregation about extending loving kindness to the poor, the widow, and the orphan. As a family and/or congregation, determine how YHWH can use you to meet the needs of people in your congregation, neighborhood, community, and around the globe. You may choose to donate food, clothing, or monetary funds as well as dedicate your time in performing a helpful service. Extend an invitation to these individuals and welcome them to your feast.
Traditions have been carried down throughout the generations that help to make the feast even more memorable. Traditions are a wonderful thing as long as they don’t detract from the original commandment. Children love tradition, so do adults.
The following are some of the most well-known traditions associated with Shavuot.
Read the story of Ruth:
The book of Ruth takes place during the Shavuot agricultural season. The story offers us a clear illustration of how the widows and poor were provided for as we read of Ruth, a poor widow, gleaning the leftovers of Boaz’s field. Just like the two loaves of bread, Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, are representative of both Jews and Gentiles being welcomed into a covenant relationship with YHWH.
Stay up all night:
It is customary to stay up all night, using the time to meet with YHWH through study and prayer. As parents, we know that our kids certainly need their rest; however, make Shavuot a special event and extend your child’s bedtime. Older children may be permitted to stay up until 1 or 2 AM, while younger children will need to get to bed earlier. Use this special family time to watch one or more of the recommended movies below, play games, make a craft, read the Bible or book about Shavuot, and enjoy special snacks. You may even like to set up a tent and use this experience as a way to teach your kids about how Israel camped out at Mt. Sinai.
Eat foods made from dairy products:
There are many reasons offered for enjoying dairy during Shavuot. Some say it is because Israel was promised a land flowing with milk and honey. Others say it is because the Torah, which was given at Shavuot, is likened to nourishing milk. Still, others claim that due to the dietary instructions given to Israel as Sinai, that they did not have time to prepare items in a “kosher” manner so instead, they consumed only dairy. Cheese blintzes and cheesecakes are very popular menu items during Shavuot. Most children enjoy helping in the kitchen so get them involved in making some of the dairy dishes you will be feasting on during this special day. Below you will find links to recipes that can be made and enjoyed together. We also recommend Pinterest, it is a wonderful resource for recipes. To make your feast even extra special, consider hosting an ice cream party or set up a yogurt bar. Offer a variety of flavors and toppings, and set out special bowls, spoons, and napkins.
Decorate the home with flowers, greenery, and fruit:
Decorating the home with flowers, greenery, and fruit reminds us of the beautiful world God has made and His blessings. Depending on your budget, decorations can be kept simple or be more elaborate. Kid’s love decorations, especially making them. Bowls of fruit, vases of fresh or homemade flowers, green vines, bundles of tied wheat or barley, are just some of the items you can use to decorate your home. Make decorating a family activity. Pinterest is a great website to browse and find decoration ideas that will fit your budget, style, and skill level.
In addition to performing acts of charity and providing for the poor, orphan, and widow, Shavuot is also an opportunity to give back to those from whom you have harvested your spiritual food. This should include your congregation as well as other ministries you have been blessed by. Determine what you are able to give and enclose the gift in a thank-you card. You may choose to have your children make a homemade card that they can decorate with their own personal drawings, stickers, as well as glitter and gems. Add a personal message that expresses your appreciation.
There is an additional instruction given to the children of God to follow during Shavuot, and it is found in Deuteronomy 16:11 (HCSB).
“Rejoice before Yahweh your God in the place where He chooses to have His name dwell–you, your son and daughter, your male and female slave, the Levite within your gates, as well as the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow among you.”
We are commanded, both young and old, to rejoice before YHWH! No matter our status, no matter our role, no matter our circumstances, we are to have a joyous celebration in the presence of our God; a time of gladness for all.
The following resources are provided to help you and your family have a joyful Shavuot! (Please note this is not an exhaustive list. Coastlands does not endorse or agree with all of the religious views held by the parties that we have borrowed ideas from.)
The Ten Commandments (Animated)
The Ten Commandments (1956)
Day of Pentecost from Acts of the Apostles
Shavuot Game (Similar to Candyland)
Shavuot Coloring Pages from Torah Tots
Shavuot Coloring Pages from Aish
Shavuot Recipes from Joy of Kosher