Today is the Eve of Shavuot or the “Feast of Weeks” in Judaism, Shavuot starts at Sunset (the beginning of the new day for Jews). Shavuot commemorates the single most important event in Jewish history – the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Christians call this "the First Covenant".
Shavuot is one of the 3 great pilgrimage feasts where all went to Jerusalem. It marks the all-important wheat harvest in the Land of Israel (Exodus 34:22) Shavuot starts 50 days after the first day of Passover. Three millennia ago, after leaving Egypt on the day of Passover, the Jews travelled into the Sinai desert. There, the entire Jewish nation – 3 million men, women and children – directly experienced divine revelation:
The giving of the Torah was an event of awesome proportions that indelibly stamped the Jewish nation with a unique character, faith and destiny. And in the 3,300 years since, the Torah’s ideals – monotheism, justice, responsibility – have become the moral basis for Western civilization.
Shavuot in Greek is "Pentecost," the Greek word means "the holiday of 50 days." Some religious Jews seem to think that their Shavuot has no relation to our Christian Pentecost but they are wrong. God deliberately chose to give the Second Covenant on the anniversary of the First one.
We will celebrate the Christian Pentecost, the Second Covenant, the giving of the Holy Spirit on Sunday (because the Hebrew and Christian calendar's are out of sync). It is ironic that Shavuot is such a little-known holiday, among secular Jews while Pentecost is hugely celebrated among Christians. But the element in our Christian Pentecost of the giving of the first Covenant is important, without it, civilisation as we know it would never have existed and I hate to think what our societies would look like without the moral basis of the law. Besides without the first Covenant there would not have been a second one, and I thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit.