In our study of Pentecost, we are examining if this feast could possibly be fulfilled by the rapture of the church. In our consideration of other feast days, the Feast of Trumpets has been well associated as the “Feast of Unknown Day/Hour”. My goal in this post is to see if Pentecost might also be a contender for that title!
Previously, we have discussed:
- Pentecost Ties Everything Together For The Church
- Pentecost marks The Giving of Law, The Giving of Grace
- Pentecost seems to mark Dispensation Changes and Birthdays
Today let’s examine how the date of the feast of Pentecost is determined.
(note this was previously posted as Part 5, the counting of the Omer)
The Counting of the Omer
Pentecost is the last of the Spring feasts. Another name for Pentecost is the “feast of weeks”, which stems from how it is to be calculated – seven weeks after the waving of the omer (firstfruits sheaf of barley offering) on the feast of Firstfruits.
“You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath.” (Leviticus 23:15)
You shall count seven weeks. Begin to count the seven weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain. Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you. (Deuteronomy 16:9-10)
Notably, it is in Deuteronomy that we can show there are NOT two back-to-back day counts of 7 weeks as some have hypothesized from Leviticus 23. It is clear from Deuteronomy that we shall count seven weeks, and this is how: begin to count the seven weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain (for the feast of Firstfruits). Then, celebrate the conclusion of the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost).
How can we verify this? The answer is found in Acts chapter 1 (bolding mine):
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” …
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.” (Acts 1:1-5, 12-14, 2:1)
From scripture we know that:
- Jesus was crucified on Passover, to fulfil this Feast literally – the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29, 1:36, Revelation 13:8)
- Jesus was buried and rose again on the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
- Jesus’ resurrection was literally on the feast of Firstfruits, to fulfil that feast (1 Corinthians 15:23)
- Jesus ascended into heaven FORTY days after His resurrection (Acts 1:3)
- During this forty day time period, He ordered the apostles not to depart from Jerusalem. They were to WAIT for the promised Holy Spirit who would come *NOT MANY DAYS FROM NOW* (Acts 1:5)
- As commanded, after Jesus’ ascension, the apostles returned to Jerusalem to the upper room where they were staying, and gathered. And waited. (Acts 1:12-14, 2:1)
Is ten days “not many days”? What about ten plus another fifty? Or ten plus another hundred? My friends, it is plain that the apostles did not have to huddle together in the upper room for 60 or 110 days. That would be too “many days”! When the plain reading of scripture makes sense, do not look for any other sense… lest it might be nonsense (David L. Cooper). Well, his golden rule of interpretation actually goes like this:
“When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at it’s primary, ordinary, usual meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise.”
Hebrew4Christians states “The 49 day countdown to the holiday is called the “Sefirat Omer” – Counting of the Omer. Every day of the countdown a special blessing was recited naming exactly how many more days were left before the climactic 50th day – a Jubilee of days!” I found that statement interesting in light of all the Jubilee talk going on in the watching community! I personally believe that the Jubilee will be prophetically fulfilled at the Second Coming, not at the rapture. However, Pentecost seems to be a recurring type of shadow fulfillment of the Jubilee cycle with its’ 50 day count.
In my previous summary about Pentecost, I discussed how this feast, like the Feast of Trumpets, is one where we do not know its exact “day or hour” very far in advance. This is because instead of God placing it on a certain date, it is based on a calculation. The calculation is based on a few factors… which of course (of course!) vary between the Jewish sects. Fascinating, huh?
Pentecost Calculation Controversy – The Day and Hour Unknown?
Interestingly, the Sadducees, Pharisees, and Karaites all had different methods of calculating the date on which Pentecost was to fall. If you have been following the discussions about whether or not the “Barley Was Abib” (or “aviv”), then you have already been introduced to the Karaite version.
Hebrew4Christians and Nehemiah’s Wall both nicely detail the controversy surrounding how the date of Pentecost is to be established. To help you better understand this controversy, let’s walk through finding the date for Pentecost 2020.
When is Pentecost 2020?
First we have to determine the start of the Jewish year – Nisan 1. In order to determine whether or not this will be a leap year, we need to examine the ripeness (or “abib” or “aviv”) of the barley. I like to use Renewed Moon to check the barley reports:
Fortunately, this year, it seems very clear that no leap month (AdarII) needs to be added to the calendar. The firstfruits of the barley were aviv (ripe). If the barley had not been ripe, there can be discrepancies between the calendars used by the different sects.
Once the first day of the year is known, each Jewish sect has developed their own ways of calculating the feast of weeks. Which sect is most accurate? Which one does God go by? We cannot know for sure, so I will calculate them all for you!
Summary – Possible Dates for Pentecost 2020
For those of you who prefer a summary:
Sadduccees: May 31, 2020 (8 Sivan)
The Sadduccees begin the countdown of the Feast of Weeks on the first Sunday after Passover. This Sunday always falls within the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Pharisees: May 29, 2020 (6 Sivan)
The Pharisees begin the countdown of the Feast of Weeks on the day after Passover. Since Passover occurs on Nisan 15, a fixed date of Sivan 6 is used for Shavuot (Pentecost).
Essenes: June 7, 2020 (15 Sivan)
The Essenes begin the countdown of the Feast of Weeks on the Sunday after the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Thus, it always falls a week after the date calculated by the Sadduccees.
Karaites: May 31, 2020 (8 Sivan)
The Karaites based their countdown of the Feast of Weeks on the ripeness of the first sheaves of barley. Once barley ripeness was established, the Firstfruits offering could be made during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, on the day after the weekly Sabbath. The Feast of Weeks countdown began at this Feast of Firstfruits. In general, their method coincides with the Sadduccees.
It seems we may not clearly be able to know the Day of Pentecost, unless you can determine which view is correct! I would suggest that this places Pentecost as a contender in the “feast that no one knows the day/hour” category; what do you think?
I personally believe the Karaites’ method is most likely to be the accurate one, as it is the only method that takes into account barley ripeness. This would seem to be crucial to the calculation, based on God’s command in Deuteronomy 16:9-10 to begin the day count from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain. Logically, the sickle can’t be put to the standing grain until it is ripe.
If you’d like to know how I arrived at these dates in particular, keep reading…
New Moon or First Sliver?
For all of you who have been following “high watch dates”, you are aware that there are calendar discrepancies. Not only between the Hebrew and Gregorian calendars, but within the Hebrew calendar itself. We have discussed the “missing years” in other posts, but for our purpose here – finding Pentecost – we need to look at establishing the correct months so we can start adding in our feasts.
As we learned from the Fall Feasts, the Hebrew calendar is heavily tied into the moon phases. The start of each month is determined by the new moon. It seems there is some uncertainty as to whether the start of the month was determined by the New Moon itself or by the First Sliver of Crescent Moon, and may have differed between Jewish sects. The viewing of the first sliver of crescent seems to be the most heavily referenced and documented. The teaching that the Hebrew months went by full moons instead of new moons seems to stem from Seventh Day Adventist teachings and is incorrect as far as I can determine.
What I have referenced in this post is the first sighting of crescent sliver as I believe this to be most accurate, but I will place dark new moon dates in brackets in case you are interested. The first sliver was determined by 2 witnesses visually sighting the first sliver of moon after the new moon by the unaided eye. I have estimated this at around 1% illumination, although some sources state it might be closer to 2.5%. Of course there are many factors other than illumination, including moonset and moonrise times, glare, humidity, fog, clouds, dust, etc that can affect first sighting.
(Reference data regarding new moon versus crescent sliver located at bottom of this post).
My goal this morning is to figure out the possible dates for Pentecost 2020 – what I personally believe is our highest watch day of the year. All dates listed here start at sunset Jerusalem time, which is the night before on the Gregorian calendar.
First, we need to find Nisan 1 and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover).
Nisan 1 – Sighting of The New Moon in Jerusalem:
March 25, 2020 (March 24 calculated 0.2% illumination; March 25 calculated 1.2% illumination) – Source (TimeandDate)
This result was confirmed visually on March 25, 2020 by Renewed Moon.
For these reasons I will base 1 Nisan as beginning the evening of March 25, 2020. There is no secondary calculation required, as there is agreement by all sects this year that the leap month of AdarII is not needed. Confirmation was made that Hebcal, Chabad, and AISH confirm Renewed Moon’s dates above.
Ok, so we have our head of the year (Rosh Chodesh) established. Now let’s work to determine the dates of Passover and Pentecost!
“Unlike the other mo’edim given in the Torah, however, Shavuot has no explicit date but must be inferred from Leviticus 23:11 and 23:15: “And from the day on which you bring the omer offering – the day after the Sabbath – you shall count off seven weeks”. The key phrase is “the day after the Sabbath”. Does this phrase refer to Sunday or perhaps to the Sabbath of Passover?”
First we need to understand that the Jewish sects determine the date of Pentecost differently. So we’re going to calculate all of them here!
The Tzaddukim (Sadducees) believed that the word “Sabbath” was used in its regular sense, as the seventh day of the week, and therefore began the countdown on the first Sunday after Passover (Talmud: Menachot 65). Now since Shavuot occurs 7 weeks later to this day, this implies that it also fell on a Sunday. Moreover, since the day of the week for Passover varies over the year, the date of Shavuot would likewise vary.
[The Sadducees] agreed with the Essenes that Shavuot must be counted from a weekly Sabbath, but disagreed [with the Essenes] as to which one. The Sadducees believed the 50-day count must begin on the weekly Sabbath that falls out during the seven-days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. According to their reckoning, the counting towards Shavuot could begin anywhere from the 15th to the 21st day of the month, depending on what day of the week the Feast of Unleavened Bread began. If Unleavened Bread began on a Sunday, the count would begin on the 15th day of the month. If Unleavened Bread began on a Saturday, the count would begin on the 16th day of the month, and so on. Based on this counting, Shavuot could fall out from the 4th to the 12th of the Third Hebrew Month. Karaite Jews have accepted the Sadducee reckoning as the only one to be consistent with the plain meaning of the biblical text.
If we use the Sadducees method of calculating Pentecost:
March 25, 2020 – 1 Nisan [March 24 if New Moon used]
April 8, 2020 – 14 Nisan, Passover
April 12, 2020 – 18 Nisan, Firstfruits (Sunday)
May 31, 2020 – 8 Sivan, Pentecost [unchanged if New Moon used]
The Perushim (Pharisees), on the other hand, believed that “the day after the Shabbat” referred to not the weekly Sabbath but to the first day of Passover (which is a shabbaton or day of work restrictions), and therefore began counting the following day, that is, the day after Passover (which is also the second day of Unleavened Bread). This is supported in Joshua 5:11-12 when Israel first entered the land and ate of its firstfruits. Now since Passover always occurs on Nisan 15, this established a fixed date for Shavuot 49 days later on Sivan 6.
Historically, the Pharisee’s position prevailed in the Jewish tradition, and the modern Rabbinical calendar marks Shavuot on the fixed date of Sivan 6 (in May/June), exactly 49 days after the second day of Passover (Nisan 16). This accords with the testimony of first century historians Josephus and Philo, who both state that the “day after the Sabbath” meant the day after the holiday Sabbath.”
Note that Passover is Nisan 14 (not a No Work Day) and Unleavened Bread starts Nisan 15 (a No Work Day), so I disagree with Hebrew4Christians above. The site Nehemiah’s Wall interprets Joshua 5:11 as supporting the Sadducees method of calculating the “morrow of the Passover”, as well. However, the end result is the same in that, for the Pharisees, Pentecost / Shavuot always occurs on Sivan 6.
The Pharisees argued that Shavuot is to be counted from the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which they designated a “Sabbath.” According to the Pharisees, “morrow of the Sabbath” means the “morrow of the 1st day of Unleavened Bread.” The ancient Pharisees and their modern day successor the Orthodox rabbis begin the 50-day count to Shavuot on the second day of Unleavened Bread, which is always the 16th day of the First Hebrew Month. As a result, the Pharisee Shavuot always fell out in ancient times from the 5th to the 7th day of the Third Hebrew Month (Sivan). After the destruction of the Temple, the Pharisees became the predominant surviving faction among the Jewish leadership and their interpretation is followed by most Jews until this very day. In 359 CE, the Pharisee leader Hillel II established a pre-calculated calendar and ever since the Pharisee Shavuot has always been observed on the 6th of Sivan.
If we use the Pharisees method of calculating Pentecost:
March 25, 2020 – 1 Nisan
April 9, 2020 – 15 Nisan, Passover
April 10, 2020 – 16 Nisan, Firstfruits
May 29, 2020 – 6 Sivan, Pentecost
**Since 359AD, the Pharisees have always observed 6 Sivan as Pentecost regardless of the day of the week it falls on.
The Essenes, who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, began the 50-day count to Shavuot on a different Sabbath from the Pharisees. In their reckoning, the Omer offering was to be brought on the morrow of the weekly Sabbath, in modern terms: “Sunday.” The Essenes began their count on the Sunday after the seven-days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As a result, they always began their count on the 26th day of the First Hebrew Month. The Essenes had a 364-day solar calendar, which began every year on a Wednesday and had fixed lengths for each month. Based on the Essene calendar, Shavuot always fell out on the 15th day of the Third Hebrew Month. The Essenes are presumed to have been wiped out when the Romans invaded Judea in 66-74 CE and only their documents survive today.
The main issue I see with using the Essenes method, is that it places Firstfruits after the 7 day feast of Unleavened Bread has concluded. Why is that a problem? Well… remember that Jesus died on Passover… was buried to fulfil Unleavened Bread… and rose again ON THE THIRD DAY to fulfil Firstfruits (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). If Firstfruits comes AFTER Unleavened Bread, this would place Jesus in the grave for over a week!
If we use the Essenes method of calculating Pentecost:
March 25, 2020 – 1 Nisan
April 8, 2020 – 14 Nisan, Passover
April 9 – 15, 2020 – 15-21 Nisan, Unleavened Bread
April 19, 2020 – 25 Nisan, Firstfruits (first Sunday AFTER Unleavened Bread)
June 7, 2020 – 15 Sivan, Pentecost
The Karaites rejected both these methods but instead relied upon the sighting of the new moon (Rosh Chodesh) and the appearance of the first sheaves of barley to determine the month of Aviv and the festival of Firstfruits, respectively. After these observations, the wave offering of the firstfruits would then be presented at the temple on the day after the weekly Sabbath, and only then would the 49 day countdown to Shavuot begin. Therefore, since the appearance of the first barley sheaves is not constant, the date of Shavuot could not be foreknown with any certainty.
Karaite Jews have accepted the Sadducee reckoning as the only one to be consistent with the plain meaning of the biblical text.
The Karaites agreed with the Sadducees that the Sabbath in question for the Feast of Weeks was the weekly Sabbath that fell within the feast of Unleavened Bread. The Karaites took into account the barley ripeness to determine if it was to be a leap year or not. This year (2020) it was clear the barley was aviv (ripe) in March and thus it is not a leap year. This makes our calculation a little easier.
If we use the Karaites method of calculating Pentecost:
March 25, 2020 – 1 Nisan
April 8, 2020 – 14 Nisan, Passover
April 12, 2020 – 18 Nisan, Firstfruits (Sunday)
May 31, 2020 – 8 Sivan, Pentecost
Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt? Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape? If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.
Main Pentecost Study Menu: Everything You Need to Know About Pentecost, the Feast that Ties It All Together For The Church
What Are the 7 Dispensations? (GraceThruFaith)
What are the 7 Dispensations? (Gotquestions)
Does Scripture Support a Pentecost Rapture? (PDF – T.W. Tramm)
The Feast of Pentecost (GraceThruFaith)
Shavuot – Revelation and the Fruit of the Spirit (Hebrew4Christians)
The Mystery of Pentecost (Prophecy Watchers)
The Bible is infallible. I am not. I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture. I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details, some of which I think might need to be adjusted slightly. I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!
Passages Describing the Feast of Pentecost
When studying Biblical teaching, I believe it is always important to read the source for yourself. Not just a verse or two, but the entire relevant passage. This will sharpen your discernment skills, as you examine the scriptures for yourself to see if these things are so. Much of the fall ruckus over the Jubilee and Yom Kippur could have been avoided if everyone had just read Leviticus chapter 23. So with no further delay, here are the relevant passages describing the celebration of the Feast of Pentecost (Weeks):
On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai.
Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. 8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.”
the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments 11 and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. 13 No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” 14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments. 15 And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.”
16 On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. 19 And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. 20 The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
[10 Commandments Given]
18 Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” 21 The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.
[Additional commandments Given – the Law]
3 Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lordhas spoken we will do.” 6 And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
15 Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain.16 The glory of the Lord dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17 Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. 18 Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
Exodus 19:1, 5-8, 10-20; 20:18-21; 24:3, 6-8, 15-17
“You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the Lord. You shall bring from your dwelling places two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour, and they shall be baked with leaven, as firstfruits to the Lord. And you shall present with the bread seven lambs a year old without blemish, and one bull from the herd and two rams. They shall be a burnt offering to the Lord, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. And you shall offer one male goat for a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old as a sacrifice of peace offerings. And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. And you shall make a proclamation on the same day. You shall hold a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a statute forever in all your dwelling places throughout your generations. “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 23:15-22 ESV
26 “On the day of the firstfruits, when you offer a grain offering of new grain to the Lord at your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, 27 but offer a burnt offering, with a pleasing aroma to the Lord: two bulls from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old; 28 also their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, three tenths of an ephah for each bull, two tenths for one ram, 29 a tenth for each of the seven lambs; 30 with one male goat, to make atonement for you. 31 Besides the regular burnt offering and its grain offering, you shall offer them and their drink offering. See that they are without blemish. Numbers 28:26-31 ESV
“You shall count seven weeks. Begin to count the seven weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain. 10 Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you. 11 And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your towns, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are among you, at the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell there. 12 You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt; and you shall be careful to observe these statutes. Deuteronomy 16:9-12 ESV