I’m here in the Galilee on the shore of the Kinneret. It’s late afternoon and, as usual, the winds have come up. It’s a beautiful time of the day and these cool breezes will continue until the sun sets.
I have found a shelter from the wind while still enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of early spring. So that’s why I’ve chosen this setting for today’s message, “The Winds of Change.”
Friends, we have all been thrust, suddenly and unexpectedly into these winds of change. I believe this is a kind-of dress rehearsal for what lays ahead. Therefore, we need to find refuge in God’s hand of grace and mercy. Being assured of His faithfulness, we can walk through these winds with determination, regardless of the circumstances, to fulfill God’s purposes through our lives for such a time as this! Let us lift up our eyes unto the hills where our help comes from and beyond this current situation. Corona 19 will come to an end so as to make room for Corona 20, 21, maybe up to #30.
Scripture warns us there will be:
Wars and rumors of wars
Nation will rise against nation
And kingdom against kingdom
And there will be famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places
All these are the BEGINNING of sorrows!
Jeremiah’s challenge is relevant to each of us today:
“If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you,
Then how can you contend with horses?
And if in the land of peace,
In which you trusted, they wearied you,
Then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan? (Jeremiah 12:5)
Friend, it’s crucial that we learn NOW how to walk peacefully and victoriously through winds of change.
For the last 15+ years, many people recognized that we were headed for a change. We kept hearing “this is a new season.” But neither the season nor the goal were defined. We seemed to take a step forward and two steps back. Nothing was certain. We were definitely in a time of transition, but a transition to what? Yet the suddenness of this catastrophic challenge was indeed unexpected. So let’s step back and take a larger view. Whether personal or political, transformation usually doesn’t happen suddenly. I suggest there are three steps of change:
Tradition: Our lives are, to some level, secure. Our days are structured, ordered, and in a word comfortable.
Transition: The in-between time of uncertainty, discomfort. We know change is in the wind, but we’ve lost our balance and desperately try to control the situation by clinging to the past…our comfortable traditions.
Transformation: Our new normal.
Yet seemingly overnight, God moved the entire world out of the uncertainty of transition and brought us a step closer to His ultimate transformation as revealed in Scripture when:
[W]hom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son,
and the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of His glory,” (Romans 8:9; Habakkuk 2:14)
and I might add: His love, mercy, grace, justice and holiness.
In the words of a great rabbi, “The old is gone and the new has come!”
Personally, all the comforts of our lives and traditions are gone, having been violently ripped, away. Likewise, our plans and dreams have become doubtful if not thwarted. Despite our efforts, we can no longer put this new wine into old wineskins. We are at a loss. Globally, nation after nation is in chaos. Politically or personally our dreams are fading. We speak of the “good old days,” but friend, be honest…they weren’t that “good.” We try, but simply cannot find our footing as God is bringing us back to the ancient paths, devoid of the traditions of “man.” Scripture told of this day, but most of us either ignored or denied what we deemed to be “Tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow” is here and now.
O dear one, God has not and will not forsake us. He is “making ready the people who are prepared for His coming.” (Luke 1:17)
This is the time of our final preparation.
So how can we find hope and peace during these winds of change? Let’s open our eyes and our hearts, look through our circumstances, and hold onto the nail pierced hand of our Savior. Then we will walk together through these winds of change as we prepare ourselves to be ready for the coming of the Lord. Let’s consider 6 ways of preparation:
Recognize the surveillance
Surveillance is not new; it’s just been hidden. Now we know we’re being watched, but by who?
But remember that there has always been Another who has been watching not only our movements, but knows our thoughts and hears our words:
I say to you that for every idle word men may speak,
they will give account of it in the day of judgment.
For by your words you will be justified,
and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)
Worse, all your words will be broadcast so that everyone will hear! (Luke 8:17)
Many people today are “home bound” with severe limitations on movement. Suddenly neighbors who were once strangers are now friends, concerned and willing to help. Now, let’s be real, one day a lack of petrol would have brought us to this same place!
Through this crisis, God has brought us back to the first church of Acts 2:40-47 when the church:
continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine,
fellowship, and in prayers.
Breaking bread from house to house,
they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,
praising God and having favor with all the people.
And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
I wonder if it’s God’s hand that has allowed our church buildings to become unnecessary and released its finances so we can each minister locally to our neighbors? Meanwhile, we can thank Him that as long as possible, we can still keep connected to our pastors digitally.
Isn’t it amazing how quickly we can adjust to a simpler way of life? Lack has a way of changing our priorities.
Israel had been slaves in Egypt for 430 years and were used to lack. But influenced by the “mixed multitude” Israel soon began to complain about the food left behind. Their murmuring was not pleasing to God and He gave them the desires of their heart – quail. And while the meat was in their mouths, He brought judgement.
We need to beware of satisfying the flesh while starving the soul!
Discern the voice of God not man
There are so many voices screaming to be heard. Self-made prophets are clamoring for attention and their many followers are willing to send their “Words from God” to the thousands on FB lists.
Now is the time to be quiet and learn to discern God’s voice: test the spirit against His Word. God will never contract His written word with His spoken word.
Please beware those who claim that God is “doing a new thing.” That phrase is used only twice, and both times the context is clear…and it is NOT now!
Establish healthy boundaries
God is identifying His remnant. Don’t be unequally yoked, your time and energy are precious.
Stay out of the wilderness of the flesh
The wilderness can be a place of transformation, consider the future of Israel (Hosea 2:14) when God allures her into the wilderness to speak tenderness. And then there was the transformation of Paul (Acts 9:5)
At the same time, as the Spirit brought Yeshua into the wilderness, it can be a place of testing (Matthew 4:1).
Finally, the wilderness can be a place of temptation and discipline as Israel learned; the wilderness kept them out of the Promised Land.
It’s so easy for us to keep one foot in the wilderness (the flesh) and one in the Promised Land. Paul turned to Jesus to win the victory over temptation (Romans 7:13-25.)
Every morning I use the words of Paul to make this commitment to God and to myself,
by the mercies of God, I present my body a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable to God, which is my reasonable service.
I determine not to be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of my mind,
that I may prove what is that good and acceptable and
will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
Beloved, consider these winds of change as God’s gift to be prepared for the coming transformation.
What started as a global health issue has now expanded into a financial crisis of proportions beyond that of 1929.
And, in the midst of the upheaval we, the followers of Jesus, are God’s beacon of light reminding the world with His message: Be still and know that I, God, will be exalted over all the earth. (Psalm 46:10)
Sadly, the hearts of many are focused only on the situation before us. I hear pain and fear in their voices crying, begging for God’s grace and mercy to protect them against this terrible virus.
These prayers will not prepare us for what is to come.
Friends, we don’t need to beg God for His grace and mercy. Because of and through Jesus His grace is assured in any and every situation. Look back to those times in your lives when God did what only He can do…rescue you from the seemingly impossible.
Furthermore, we have the example of the Apostle Paul:
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
I have learned in whatever state I am,to be content:I know how tobe abased, and I know how toabound.
(2Corinthians 12:9, Philippians 4:11-2)
Consider God’s grace and mercy:
God’s grace and mercy when Israel was in bondage to Egypt:
He heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them. So I have come down to deliver them and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey.
God’s grace and mercy because we are alive for such a time as this.
God’s grace and mercy because He sent His only begotten Son that whoever believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.
His Grace and mercy as He has given us His word to discern these times and His Holy Spirit to
Shed his love in our hearts (Romans 5:5)
Lead us into all truth (John 16:13)
Give us power to endure to the end
His ultimate grace and mercy:
Consider Jesus, who, being in the form of God,
did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
For the joy set before Him endured the rejection, abandonment and betrayal of the very people for whom he came to save and those who had been His closest friends.
Precious friend, God’s grace and mercy has been, is, and will always be with us!
Let me close with this challenge from the prophet Isaiah!
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Now, go forth into the winds of change with hope as the Father transforms us
It was a David versus Goliath moment as PM Bibi announced the steps necessary to combat our unseen enemy – Covid-19. I felt numb as I watched his grim “game face” and listened to his rapid staccato gun-fire presentation. I heard but couldn’t process what he was saying. Until he spoke words that took no processing:
Victims of the enemy
And then came the explanation:
“We need to use the same digital surveillance that we use on terrorists to be able to locate and isolate those who have become victims of the enemy.”
Numbness became nausea.
This sudden change in our lives made sense. How can we argue against a system that will save lives? Especially me! I’m 75 and because of my severe dietary issues I’m a prime candidate for the disease.
But to say that someone who might have been exposed and therefore contagious needs the same surveillance as a terrorist? Is someone diagnosed with the virus a “victim of the enemy?”
Day by day restrictions become more severe. Since many Israelis are not following instructions we’re hearing the threat of new and more odious restrictions. Furthermore, to the Jewish psyche, the selection process of the elderly, the infirm, and the weak is a reminder of our horrific past.
All this is for my welfare!
Certainly the length of the hidden incubation and its rate of infection is serious and scary.
But I contend MUCH MORE serious and scary is the ramification of our response:
Friends, in breath taking speed our lives changed and our lives have a “new normal.” Our geographic location is irrelevant. Suddenly it is the dream of every globalist as we are all facing the same challenge. Recently MSNBC Senior Business Consultant Stephanie Ruhle said, “We need global cooperation and a global leader. Yes, global cooperation and honesty.”
The stage has been set and in a manner no one could have anticipated. But set for what?
People are reeling; the present is up-side down and our futures seem uncertain.
Uncertain? Not for those with eyes to see; God has given us a glimpse of what the Bible calls
Day of the Lord
The day of vengeance for the cause of Zion
Even though God’s prophetic word is 30%-40% of Scripture, these words are usually ignored, denied or dismissed. There are arguments about the reality and timing of the Rapture, perhaps teaching the book of Revelation, but a thorough teaching of the entirety of the subject is sadly omitted.
AND THEN CAME SUNDAY
This “new normal” of life kept me under the covers; I simply was not ready to face this new day. Just as God’s mercies were new this morning, I sensed God wanted to do something new in, through, for and by my life. Indeed, “Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Proclaiming the Gospel wasn’t an issue; Jesus was and will always be the only source of life and peace. Nor was I questioning the mission statement of my life and Novea Ministries:
“To fill the earth with the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Christ Jesus.”
No, I was questioning God’s new assignment to fulfill that mission. I didn’t doubt that everything I have been doing, was preparing me for something. The words of Mordecai rang in my ears:
“You have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)
God answered almost immediately from the words in Luke 1:16-17
“He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.
‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’
and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Israel should have been prepared and ready to recognize and receive her Messiah. Simeon and Anna were, but no one else. In fact, Israel was disciplined because she wasn’t prepared nor ready:
“For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every sideand level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:43-44)
For This Purpose
God has given us His “end-time” plan for a purpose. This current situation has shown us that as watchmen we need to be ready to minister to Israel and to the nations armed with an understanding of God’s prophetic word.
Commonly known by both Israel and the church is the term, “Jacob’s Trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), but few Jews understand its reality. God is committed to making Israel His people, so must discipline, refine and prune the land and the people. This is God’s purpose for Jacob’s Trouble.
But what is not commonly known in the church is “God’s vengeance for the cause of Zion” (Isaiah 34:8) when God fulfills His warning in Genesis 12:3 against the nations who have cursed (made light) of Israel. God has been patient with the Gentiles, but His patience will be replaced by His fiery jealousy for Israel. It behooves the Church now to understand God’s unique relationship with Israel…God’s witness.
Whether Jew or Gentile, these days are to be avoided at all costs.
Now is the time to:
TURN ISRAEL TO THE LORD THEIR GOD
…by proclaiming the Gospel. Jews shudder when I say, “What is coming will make the Holocaust look like a picnic.” To minister more effectively to Israelis, I have to warn them of what’s coming and give them their only hope – Yeshua.
TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS
From a “mother in Israel” (who had an absentee father) fathers need to be challenged to love their children to teach them the ways of our Father God. The Bible warns, “If possible, even the elect will be deceived” (Matthew 24:24). Through God’s love, fathers need to lead their children into truth.
[TURN] THE DISOBEDIENT TO THE WISDOM OF THE JUST….
Today more than ever, the Church needs God’s wisdom to talk to people by knowing their hearts. We cannot make even thirsty horses drink until they realize that they are thirsty! We can reach into people’s hearts can be learned by watching Jesus, listening to His spirit and speaking truth without compromise.
PREPARE THE PEOPLE
Jesus is coming soon! Without an understanding of eschatology, we will not know how to discern the times. Furthermore, there is a dire need among the Body to really know God through His word and not just experience. We need to be prepared in our bodies, souls and spirit; preparing mentally, emotionally as well as spiritually.
MAKE THEM READY
Jesus wasn’t “ready” for ministry until He won the battle of temptation against Satan. Throughout the New Testament we hear the words, “endure to the end.” The “Hall of Fame” (Hebrews 11), 1 Peter, 2 Timothy 1-3, James all remind us that suffering is part of the Christian life. Paul iterates his sufferings yet considers them “light afflictions” because he “…determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2.)
Beloved of God, we need to be ready to endure to the end…keeping our eyes fixed on the joy set before us.
Everyday I learn of another crisis, often in the lives of my friends, 5 of whom have lost a child to suicide! Hearing the cries of the pain of such loss, the pain of health issues, the pain of ….well you name it…makes words of comfort empty.
And yet, in the midst of all this pain and confusion, God keeps bringing me back to the subject of His feasts. In my head it makes no sense when there seems to be more important issues I should be addressing.
But God the Spirit keeps pushing me to try to “recover and restore” His appointed times (His feasts) to the church.
The prophet Jeremiah said it first:
This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” (Lamentations 3:21-24)
And then the writer of the letter to the Hebrews
Thus God, determining to show more abundantly tothe heirs of promisetheimmutability of His counsel,confirmeditby an oath,that by twoimmutable things, in which itis impossible for God tolie, wemight have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hopeset beforeus. (Hebrews 6:17-18)
In other words, hope in God is an anchor to our souls (our minds, our emotions and guides our wills.) No wonder God’s first command is:
“Hear, O Israel:TheLordour God, theLordisone!You shall love theLord your God with all your heart,with all your soul, and with all your strength. Dt 6:4-5
So why the feasts?
Because they give us hope.
God designed the feasts as opportunities to:
Remember His mighty acts of deliverance and His character
Recognize: Jesus, Yeshua
Reflect: on the significance of the feasts to our lives, whomever and wherever.
Let me tell you a story:
THE PARABLE OF THE SEA SHELLS
I was living in Tel Aviv, not too far from the Sea. An early morning walk along the shore as the sun was coming up was a morning necessity. One day I became fascinated by the shells. They were an unusual color so my eyes were riveted.
The Lord’s voice broke through my concentration, “Look up” He said.
I lifted my eyes and the undulating movement of the waves caught my attention.
So many times God shows His power through the waves. He challenged Job by asking:
”Whoshut in the sea with doors,
When it burst forth and issued from the womb;
When I made the clouds its garment,
And thick darkness its swaddling band;
When I fixed My limit for it,
And set bars and doors;
When I said,
‘This far you may come, but no farther,
And here your proud waves must stop!’ (Job 38:8-11)
The waves also speak of overwhelming pain or anxiety
Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me. (Ps 42:7)
And the love of God referenced, not the waves, but the sand:
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You. (Ps 139:17-18)
The voice of the Lord broke into my thoughts, “Look up” He commanded.
The beauty of the skies was broken. The sound of horses pawing the air, straining in their eagerness to be released. (Revelation 6) “Father, what are You saying to me?”
“This is a parable” the Lord explained. “The shells represent your daily lives; the simple seemingly insignificant chores of life. Or perhaps a life impacting situation.”
Friends, when facing a major problem, all our attention, rightfully goes to that situation. It doesn’t matter what else is going on, you are focused on the immediate.
The Lord continued, “The waves represent the world around you -your neighbors, community, your country and even other nations.”
At this moment here in Israel we’re facing an election. Ironically so is America.
China is fighting a horrifyingly new virus which is infecting thousands and is not only spreading throughout the world, but is impacting financial stability, and as it spreads throughout the world international markets and finances are being impacted.
Several years ago there was a terrible tsunami in Japan,
Severe hurricanes, fires, droughts
Maybe closer to home as a neighbor suddenly dies, or …
Regardless, our attention, even for a moment is off our own problems and our focus, perhaps our money or involvement goes to others.
Our attention bounces from the shells to the waves…back and forth as different issues vie for our attention.
“But Abba, what about the heavens?”
“The heavens are a reflection of Me. My child, you always need to discover my perspective of your life and the world. Don’t let the ‘facts on the ground make you discouraged or confused. My perspective will enable you to rise above all cares and confusion and live in peace.”
Friends, seeing the world through eyes of the all knowing, all powerful, all loving God gives us hope. The same God who parted the Red Sea and delivered Israel is the same God who can deliver you from whatever challenges you are facing.
Because His character never changes, when we align ourselves with His perspective, we can rejoice regardless of our circumstances and rest in His plan for our future.
THAT’s why God appointed times. Sure these special times revolved around God’s mighty acts of deliverance for Israel…that’s because God chose Israel to be His witness to show the rest of the world His character: His mercy, grace, holiness, justice, power, goodness, covenant-keeping love.
There was a mantra when I was growing up and learning how to cross streets:
This is a good description of God’s special times.
We are to stop, bring our cares and concerns to Him and leave them at His feet
Look up from our cares and concerns and find God’s perspective
Listen to His voice.
And let me add: Rejoice and rest!
Remembering, rejoicing and resting are what the biblical feasts are all about.
Celebrating Jesus through the biblical feasts are anchors for our souls.
Not long after I start a spiritual discussion with a Jewish friend, I’m asked two questions:
Are you Christian or Jewish? I answer, YES
What holidays do you celebrate… Christmas or Passover? I answer, ALL of them!
Our dialogue was confusing because I was quoting the prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah, clearly the Jewish Bible, BUT I was talking abut Jesus…talking about Him in a Jewish framework yet some of the things I was saying sounded, well, so “Christian.”
I just didn’t fit into the mold.
Which mold….Jewish or Christian?
An important Definition
Here a definition is order, a definition based on perceptions. Everything we hear is processed through our personal grids and perceptions. That’s why communication is often so difficult.
We think we’re being clear, but the hearer is hearing something completely different!
Our perceptions, whether true or not —are made through:
So what is the perception of my hearer?
This will be shocking to most of you —the perception of most Jewish people is that “Christian” is synonymous with Gentile…Let that sink in…“Christian” is synonymous with Gentile. So, if a gentile = Christian, then billy graham, the pope and hitler…all Gentiles….were all Christian!
Hence the confusion and the questions.
So not receiving a precise answer to the first question, (was I Jewish or Christian?) the second question was asked: “Did I celebrate Passover or Christmas? Thus my answer – that I celebrate all of them was even more confusing.
Friends, my answers kept me out of the box….the mold the questioner was trying to put me into. In his perception, holidays were either Jewish or Christian! The fact that Jesus, a Jew, celebrated the feasts was irrelevant to my friend.
The Holidays we celebrate emphasize the confusion.
Christmas cf Hanukkah: Jews don’t celebrate Christmas and Christians don’t celebrate Hanukkah (although Jesus did!)
Passover cf Resurrection: Jews certainly don’t celebrate Easter (Resurrection) which is on a Jewish holiday and Christians rarely celebrate Passover (again although Jesus did)
Interestingly, more and more Gentile Christians are conducting a Passover service, but rarely is it an annual celebration. And some recognize Hanukkah but focus on a legend about oil rather than the historical truth.
Jewish followers of Jesus?
What about Jewish followers of Jesus? Well that’s an issue strongly being debated to this day.
When I was a new follower of Yeshua, I was confronted about this issue, first from my Gentile pastor and later from my Jewish pastor. My Gentile pastor couldn’t understand what I wanted to do for the Day of Atonement when Jesus did it all (meaning provided atonement.)
I explained, “Pastor that’s exactly WHY I want to celebrate…All my life I sat in synagogue repenting for sins done or imagined and never knew if I’d be forgiven. Now that I know i am forgiven, how can I NOT celebrate Jesus on the Day of Atonement?”
And what about Christmas???
As a child, my family loved Christmas. Our celebration had noting to do with Jesus, it was just a time when the family got together.
Yes we had a tree and Daddy made sure that the rabbi who lived across the street couldn’t see it!
We loved hanging the ornaments…but of course we started with the Star of David so we could call it a Hanukkah bush.
And yes we celebrated Hanukkah too. Best of both worlds.
Eventually we stopped doing Christmas. It was the year by brother was bar-mitzvah and we were all convicted that as Jews we shouldn’t be associated with anything “Christian.
BUT when I became a follower of Christ, I was so eager to celebrate His birth. I could finally celebrate Christmas….really celebrate Jesus! My favorite Christmas song, actually the prayer of my heart was and is
O come, O come, Immanuel, and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear. Rejoice rejoice Immanuel HAS come to thee o Israel”
That first Christmas was not quite what imagined (or hoped) it would be, but I realized that traditions need not divide us when Christ is preeminent. We can learn so much from each other when we worship Him in
Then I looked forward to celebrating the next holidays (Purim & passover) with my Gentile brethren. But to my shock and sadness, they weren’t interested. Actually the pastor was surprised that I even wanted to.
The One New Man didn’t celebrate Jesus through those holidays….Why not?
The One New Man. Aka the church
The one new man for whom Jesus prayed and died for
The one new man of Jews and Gentiles, redeemed by God’s grace through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. Didn’t celebrate Jesus?
Was it because….yes I’m sure it was….. because for thousands of years these feasts have been identified as “Jewish feasts” and not “the feasts of the Lord.”
As time went on I discovered the terrible breach in the foundation of the church that was designed to be built on the Hebrew prophets and Jewish apostles. And nothing made that breach more obvious than the holidays we celebrated. Jewish Believers had their celebrations; and the Gentile Believers had theirs.
But the holidays had a more divisive impact than in just the Body. Celebrating the feasts even caused divisions in families and confusion in the hearts of the Believers themselves.
Here is a letter i received:
It just seems that things have been really hard and confusing ever since we started to try and learn more about observing a Biblical Sabbath. My older kids (girls 12 and 15) have especially been confused. We have our friends who make it seem like even saying the word “Christmas”, yet alone celebrating any part of it, is an unpardonable sin. They have gone as far as to say that they think those who are not following Torah may not make it to heaven.
My thought then is why did Jesus have to come and die for us?
I love God and want to do what He wants me to do. I also want to teach my children the right way to live ( I also have 2 boys- 7 and 9). Obviously I am still confused about a lot. Like I said, I want to follow God and do what He wants but at times things feel so legalistic and rigid. LG
If that makes my heart break, how does God feel? Here’s a story about a precious friend ….Mary
Mary was the daughter of a pastor so spent her entire life in church….a gentile church. She loved the celebrations I hosted and got my feast book as soon as it was published. Then several years ago she started attending a Messianic congregation with the intention of “learning enough to share with my pastor.”
Two years to “learn enough?” What was to learn that took so long?
I later discovered the problem was that she was told she had to pray certain prayers and follow Jewish traditions outlined by the Messianic Rabbi (note the change of my vocabulary: Congregation not church, Rabbi not pastor.)
As we talked she threw off the shackles and simply celebrated Jesus! The WHO not the HOW of the feasts.
Celebrating Jesus can help repair the breach
Friends, celebrating the feasts need not exacerbate the breach. In fact, I contend that nothing can repair that breach and unite the One New Man more than celebrating Jesus through the feasts of the Lord! So let’s start at the beginning.
What does the Bible say about the feasts? As I said before, we err when we refer to Biblical holidays as “Jewish Feasts” and yet God calls them HIS feasts – the feasts of the Kingdom.
“But” you say. “God gave them to Israel, the Jewish people.” Yes, He did because:
You are my witnesses that a people yet unborn will know Me (Isaiah 43:10)
Gave a testimony in Israel (ps 78:5-7)
That they might know
God designed the feasts and celebrations:
Remember His mighty acts of deliverance
Reveal His character
Reflect on the significance of each feast to my life
Today there is a lot of attention on the “restoration” of all things” necessary before Christ returns. While I question the application of that verse, I must if part of that restoration might include restoring the feasts to the church? hmmm
So to answer the question can (not should) Gentiles celebrate God’s feasts I ask another question:
Is there a valid reason why not?
Is there a page in our Bibles that does not in some way point to Jesus? And of course every feast mentioned was fulfilled by His life and ministry:
Early ministry (Savior)
Death, burial, resurrection
Current ministry (Scape goat and high priest)
Future ministry (King of all kings)
So “Yes Church, yes celebrate Jesus through the Lord’s feasts….His feasts.”
Why did the Gentiles who were worshipping the Jewish Messiah stop celebrating Him through His feasts?And why did Jewish Believers not put the new wine into new wine skins but instead try to Judaize others?
But the larger question we need to ask is….. what now?
Can we worship our savior and enjoy each other’s traditions learning and embrace in each other?
Sure we can!
So next we’ll take a quick look back at the sad history of the breach, then look up to learn about the feasts and then look forward as we celebrate Jesus!
An excellent resource for the beginner or the experienced:
This morning I was fighting doubt; a disastrous and dangerous feeling to a Believer. The project before me seems insurmountable, in fact it would be in my own strength. But God has consistently been doing what only He can do, reminding me that He is in charge.
But for the last few days, there has been some disappointments from unexpected places. Faith and excitement were soon overwhelmed by doubt and fear.
Yet as I remembered what God has been doing, I instinctively knew that I had to keep going. I made a choice:
Remember who God is and what He did yesterday,
Rest in what He will do today,
Rejoice in the certainty that He will be the same tomorrow.
Then I read James 2:18-26
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
As a Jewish follower of Yeshua (Jesus) it would be easy to confuse “works of the law” versus “works of faith.” One is trying to achieve righteousness before God while the other is the manifestation our faith and righteousness.
Once again God spoke to me as He offered encouragement and consolation. My faith in His immutability (unchangingness) was all that I needed to continue on this wonderful journey He has put before me. Doubt and fear have no place in my soul when my spirit is transformed by the reading of His word.
Whatever you are facing today,
Remember God’s faithfulness and mighty acts in your past
Rest knowing He will continue to do what He started in your present
Rejoicing in the hope of His promises for your future.
The challenge was obvious; the pastor had been challenging almost everything I had been saying about God’s unique relationship with the Jewish people. I’m sure he was certain that this was the ultimate challenge.
“Where is it written in Scripture that the Gentiles should celebrate the feasts?”
“Nowhere” was my simple reply. “If I taught that, I would be Judaizing the church.”
Should the church celebrate the feasts? Absolutely NO!
Can all Believers, Jewish and Gentile, celebrate the feasts? Sure!”
Maybe at this point some definitions would be appropriate.
The Church: Jews and Gentiles who have been redeemed by God’s grace through faith in the atoning work of Jesus, Yeshua the Messiah. Therefor term Christian is part of the church regardless of denomination. However, the general perception today of “Christian” is limited to Gentiles. But linguistically, biblically and historically that’s not accurate.
Gentile: The word in Hebrew is “goy” which is best translated as “nation.” Therefore anyone who is not Jewish/Israel is considered part of the nations, or Gentile.
Jew: Here the definition is not as simple, but it is biblical clear. A Jew is a direct descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who is culturally and ethnically part of the nation of Israel. Jews have a unique relationship with God which distinguishes them from any and all other nations. When referring to Jews we must include: the people, the land and the unique calling of God (Isaiah 43:10). Biblically and historically Jews are considered Israel regardless of their location.
The One New Man: is synonymous with “the church.” Because the terms church and Christian have been distorted over the years, the One New Man seems to be a more palatable term. Therefore the One New Man by definition must include both redeemed Jews and Gentiles.
THE DANGER OF JUDAIZING
Today there is a growing interest among Gentile followers of Jesus regarding the feasts of the Lord. I believe this is reason to rejoice as God is restoring these wonderful celebrations to His church. But at the same time I’m saddened by the accompanying Judaizing which Paul warned against in his letter to the Galatians.
What is judaizing? Judaizing is the insistence that Gentiles and even Jewish Believers adopt Jewish rituals and customs. Some even claim that these traditions are necessary unto salvation which is a total denial of the Gospel.
Celebrating the feasts isn’t a “MUST” either for salvation or even sanctification. I contend that any celebration of Jesus is a blessing regardless of how it is done. If we are not celebrating Yeshua, Jesus, we are out of order and might be offensive to God Himself. In other words, the key to a God-pleasing celebration is WHO not how we celebrate.
MOSES cf THE NEW COVENANT
I suggest part of the issue is because of a misunderstanding of the New Covenant and the Incarnation of Jesus.
The argument hinges on John 1:14: And the Word became flesh.
The argument continues: “Since “Torah” is the word and the word became flesh, if we are following Yeshua, we must follow Torah.” When asked, “What part of Torah are to follow?” After a few moments of silence, the “must” is reduced to ‘the feasts'”
Of course we do need to recognize that the Torah, as is the entire Tenach, is glorious and good, but Jesus is so much better. In fact, is this not the premise of the entire book of Hebrews?
Yeshua, Jesus, came to fulfill the law and the prophets. While there is much in the prophets that remains to be fulfilled, Yeshua said His words were to be heard, believed and followed.
So as we celebrate, let us ask ourselves what is most important: the HOW or the WHO we are celebrating?
Let us follow and celebrate Yeshua with all our heart, soul and strength
worship Him in spirit, truth, humility and love.
“Celebrate Jesus; the Christian Perspective of the feasts of the Lord.” A simple resource for the One New Man
I’ll never forget the day the Lord touched and melted my heart from anger and resentment toward the Gentiles. Of course I never realized that I had those feelings! But they weren’t too far from the surface.
THE ICE STORM
From the window in my basement apartment, I could only look up. The view was breath-taking as the sun’s brilliance glinted off the ice. The entire back yard gleamed like a multi-faceted diamond.
Despite the beauty, the scene before me was be dangerous. Tree limbs, burdened by the weight of the ice would soon break causing havoc.
But my attention was captivated by the leaves of the bush outside my window. Each no larger than my the nail on my little finger, was entombed by an icy shroud.
“What happened to cause their bondage?” I mused.
Tears ran down my cheeks. I wasn’t crying for the leaves that had obviously been battered by the storm. How many ice storms have I suffered through? Ice storms of rejection, abandonment and betrayal so common in many lives.
“O God, have years of emotional pain entombed my heart in an icy grave?
“Please Abba, by Your Spirit, please melt my icy heart.”
GOD ANSWERED BOTH PRAYERS
Much later I learned that a pastor had propheticaly prayed those very words over me the previous week!
God was about to answer both our prayers.
As my daily custom, I went to my desk and began to read Scripture. Next on my schedule was Psalm 117
Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples! For His merciful kindness is great toward us, And the truth of the Lord endures forever.
“Of course the Gentiles should praise YHWH – for His merciful kindness towards the Jews,” I reflected.
“NO!” the voice of the Spirit practically shouted. “God is faithful because He is faithful; that’s why the Gentiles need to praise Him.”
In that one second I realized I was one of the workers in God’s vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16). I was resentful that the Gentiles were equal in God’s sight, receiving all the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant through their faith in Jesus. So that there would be no question, Paul wrote to the Ephesians:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”
The Spirit of God continued reminding me of His word:
“Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?, Is it not lawful for Me to do what I wish with My own things? Oris your eye evil because I am good?” (Mathew 20
Mortified, horrified, ashamed, I sank to my knees in tears and pain that I had hurt the heart of God.
Then He challenged me:
“The Jews gave the Gentiles Jesus, now can you accept their gift of Christmas? And because you were so public about My followers NOT celebrating My birth, I want you now to publicly proclaim your celebration of My Incarnation.”
Within seconds before I had an opportunity to respond, the local Christian station called to ask if they could do an interview. “No,” I answered, “but i do have a story for you!”
So I not only told my story on the local Christian TV station, but the local paper picked it up as well. The headline read:
LOCAL EVANGELIST HAS PERSONAL REVIVAL
To make my celebration complete, the TV station handed me my first Christmas tree.
I went to work:
It was “flocked” to represent the ice storm!
A crown of thorns was it’s top-piece
It wore a tall it (Jewish prayer shawl)
All the decorations were red balls for the blood of Jesus.
How better to celebrate the Incarnation of the Salvation of Israel?
Now these many years later, I am living in Jerusalem, just a few miles where God became a man. Sadly celebrating Christmas is still an issue between Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus. Nevertheless, whether or not we celebrate the holiday, let us always celebrate the miracle of the Incarnation.
White for the ice storm, red for Yeshua’s blood, the crown of thorns and the tall it (Jewish prayer shawl).
My entire world was shaken to its core during a trip to Europe in the spring of 2017.As a result, I began to write what has become a seminar called, “Repairing the Breach, the Untold Story.”
Even though I had been to both Germany and Rome before, I sensed that God wanted to do something in my heart while I was in Germany.On my previous trip to Germany the horrors of the Holocaust seemed very far away, but that was not to be on this trip.The Holocaust wasn’t what was confronting me, but the intensity of anti-Semitism that led to it.
Suddenly I was confronted with my heritage, culture, and ethnicity – a deep seated crisis of identity.
I thought that the issue of identity had been dealt with over 15 years ago when God convicted me that my identity had to be completely and utterly IN CHRIST.Everything, and He meant everything, was secondary.Yes, I am Jewish but that was secondary to my identity in and with Him.
But, while standing outside the church where Martin Luther preached, and looking at a sculpture in its eaves I doubled over in pain and nausea. I felt but couldn’t put words to the feelings.
There was the Judensau, an anti-Semitic style of folk art from the 12th century which depicts Jewish men and children doing obscene sexual acts to a female pig.
In 1543 Rev. Luther wrote a book that referred to the sculpture:
“Here in Wittenberg, in our parish church, there is a sow carved into the stone under which lie young pigs and Jews who are sucking; behind the sow stands a rabbi who is lifting up the right leg of the sow, raises behind the sow, bows down and looks with great effort into the Talmud under the sow, as if he wanted to read and see something most difficult and exceptional; no doubt they gained their Shem Hamphoras [name of God] from that place.”
What made the experience worse was that the church bookstore sold a postcard with the picture of that sculpture!I couldn’t imagine sending or receiving such a souvenir.
Fortunately, there is a movement to remove the sculpture, but to date the efforts have been futile.
Within a week I was confronted once again, this time in the halls of the Jewish Museum in Rome, Italy…just a few blocks from the Vatican.On the walls were Papal edicts going back centuries … like this one:
“Since it is absurd and utterly inconvenient that the Jews, who through their own fault were condemned by God to eternal slavery… Jews must not live near Christians.“
The edict revoked all the rights of the Jewish community and renewed anti-Jewish legislation.Basically the Jews were subjected to various degradations and restrictions on their personal freedom.
I ran from the building unable to control my emotions or the shaking of my body.
I had a sudden hatred for everything “the Church” represented!
I wanted to rip off the cross that I had just started to wear.
In a flash I saw myself for the past 30 years walking down a road, but now saw that this road had a split…with two parallel roads. Suddenly I questioned if I were on the wrong side.Sure the road I was on was a bit strange but I had ignored the discomfort.Now I just wanted to be on the other side, a more familiar side.
Quietly and gently the Holy Spirit whispered, “put your eyes on Jesus, not on the church.’‘
In that one second I understood the Jewish angst, created from 2000+ years of anti-Semitism, especially when it came from those who claimed to be lovers and followers of the God of Israel and His Messiah.
I was experiencing in a visceral way what the Jewish people have felt for thousands of years.More to the point, what the Jewish followers of Jesus have felt for the past 2000 years.
We have a problem…we are NOT one.There seems to be two roads: one for Jewish and the other for Gentile followers of Christ.
This is completely contrary to what Jesus prayed:
Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me,that they may be one as We are.
His blood was shed to break down the wall of enmity…a wall that still stands, impossible to climb!
We have been trying to build our church on the foundation of the Hebrew prophets and Apostles, but there is a breach in that foundation.A breach that started in the first century.It started when unbelieving Jews turned against Jewish followers of Christ, then the Jewish Believers turned against the new Gentile converts, but finally the new Gentile church turned against all Jews…Believers and non-Believers.
That breach is preventing the Church from being all that Christ created her to be:
We’re not moving in the fullness of His blessings, power or authority.
We’re not seeing the fruits of our efforts.
We’re not the manifold witness of the mystery of God.
We’re not provoking the Jews to jealousy.
And worst of all, we’re breaking the heart of God.
I knew I had to go back to the root cause of this breach and travel on a most difficult journey; I needed to find God’s solution to make the two one…
And the good news is that we have the privilege and responsibility to be repairers of the breach (Isaiah 58:12)
Hence, the Repairing the Breach – The Untold Story.
The unhindered view from the 6tth floor apartment is spectacular especially at sunset; but it does have a challenge -there is no protection from sun or from wind.
Over the past few years I’ve had to experiment to discover what plants will grow well in such conditions. Sweet smelling trees like “Jasmine” are out of the question as are many pretty flowering plants. So I’ve learned to like a variety of cactus and spices.
But I so love color.
Thus I was thrilled to learn that pansies are great in the winter months AND love lots of sunlight.
So I loaded up on pansies with their face-like petals.
But some weren’t quite ready for the incessant sun. Others didn’t survive the learning curve as I determined how much water they needed. Still others didn’t last through my travel schedule.
However there were several hearty plants that thrived. That is until a “freak” storm hit Israel. Rain, hail and even snow pounded the entire country. Most destructive of all was the wind.
Although annoyed, I didn’t mind the loss of the cover for the grill that we had carefully tied down after losing the first one. But I was really upset about the beautiful pansies.
The wind had lifted them right out of the ground! They had been flexible enough to withstand the normal” late-afternoon winds, but when the pressure increased they could not stand. Only one solitary plant remained.
They had been grounded in good soil and nourished well, but they had not developed a strong enough root system.
We, like the pansies need to be grounded AND rooted!
I had learned about the importance of roots several years ago when I had a little plot of land outside my cellar apartment. The plot had been neglected for years and looked like a forest. There was one particularly ugly and bothersome plant that spewed its huge leaves onto the little space of patio. It had to go!
I cut off its leaves down to the ground. Then I tried to pull out the roots. Didn’t work. Having no real tools, I used a little pair of scissors to cut into the ground following the root system. I worked for hours digging, cutting and pulling. The root system seemed to meander all over the “garden” having neither beginning nor end.
By the third day I was determined. No I was angry. This was war.
With scissors in hand I used my God given authority to take dominion.
Eventually the victory was mine!
As ugly as I considered these roots to be, they did show me what it means to be “rooted and grounded.”
Rooted: ῥιζόω rhizoō: to strengthen with roots, to render firm, to fix, establish, cause a person or a thing to be thoroughly grounded.
Grounded: θεμελιόω themelioō: to lay the foundation, to make stable, establish
Being rooted and ground in love is crucial. Why? Because we have been created to receive and to respond to God’s love.
God’s love has given us:
And in response we:
God’s love will hold us secure through the harsh winds of winter. God’s love will comfort us when our hearts break. God’s love will enlighten our darkness. God’s love will provide a refuge when we are abandoned. God’s love will fill the hole from rejection or betrayal. God’s love is always available. God’s love never fails.
So let us pray Paul’s prayer:
[T]hat He would grant me, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith; that I, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that I may be filled with all the fullness of God.
“You have no right to be pregnant.”
“We cannot afford this baby.”
“I’m not ready to be a …”
“You’re just a child yourself.”
These words, spoken over a child in the womb will damage the child for the rest of his or her life. Although the words are spoken to or by the mother, transmits a spirit of rejection to the baby in her womb.
I know, I was such a child.
For years I went from counselor to counselor looking for the key to break me out of the bondage of rejection and fear of man. After I gave my life and heart to Yeshua, I truly hoped and expected the Holy Spirit to do whatever surgery necessary to bring me into freedom.
The tears were beyond number and the frustration beyond measure. I simply could not bring together what I knew about God with what I felt about God.
But what did God have to do with the problem of rejection? He certainly hadn’t rejected, abandoned or betrayed me?
Let me start with the problem and then I’ll share the wonderful solution.
In the first foundational steps of a major project, the Holy Spirit keeps giving me a “heart check-up.” I won’t trust anyone (especially myself) who doesn’t admit an internal and continual battle against the flesh. Years and a variety of experiences have prepared me for such a time as this, thus it’s very easy to trust in my flesh. So in His mercy, God have me some reminders this morning:
His wisdom brings peace not confusion.
What is my real motivation?
God resists the proud.
He must be my source of confidence.
God’s wisdom brings peace:
Confusion is the fruit of earthly wisdom and will always produce confusion, striving and division. Self-seeking is the bane of ministries.
James 3: 13-17: Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
What is my real motivation?
Christian ministry can be a deceiving mistress. Everything sounds and even looks so pure and selfless. But the Holy Spirit burns God’s jealousy within us challenging our motivations. Am I building my kingdom or His?
James 4:1-5: Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?
Humilty is key to God’s grace and favor:
Humility is not a gift of the Spirit but a fruit of the Spirit. We are to humble ourselves (sometimes God has to give us a “little” nudge. Worship, focusing on Him, will always put our lives into perspective.
Seeing the holiness of our Savior Jesus
Reveals the horror of our sin
Leads to the humbling of our soul
Results in the happiness of our salvation
And the honor of our service.
James 4: 6: But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
God alone is our confidence
The flesh is so strong when we are faced with a challenge, large or small. In fact, it’s the small ones which are so easily overcome by our flesh attempts. But large or small, all our confidence must be rooted and grounded in God’s love. Remember this was the song Jesus sang just hours before His crucifixion. How can we do any less?
Psalm 118:7-9: The Lord is for me among those who help me; Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me.
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.
O Abba, thank You for Your Holy Spirit which pierces my heart by Your Word. Jesus, You have broken the power of sin and delivered me from “this body of death.” Thank You for Your promise to conform me to Your image and to a completion Your work in, through, by and for me. Please keep me on a short leash that I cannot stray too far from You. You are my all.
The Lord’s festival of Shavuot (aka Pentecost) is the only holiday celebrated by both Jews and Christians. Of course, each community has different perspectives, explanations and rituals.
Although they are celebrating different events, both are celebrating an important event in God’s redemptive history. Let’s take a journey down some well travelled and some untraveled paths as we explore:
The biblical foundation,
Israel circa 32 AD,
Modern Jewish rituals,
Lessons and personal application.
‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord. You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the Lord. And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs of the first year, without blemish, one young bull, and two rams. They shall be as a burnt offering to the Lord, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to the Lord. Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats as a sin offering, and two male lambs of the first year as a sacrifice of a peace offering. 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 proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations. ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God.’”
The holiday is also mentioned in:
Deuteronomy 16:9-10, 16
2 Chronicles 8:13
Now, what does the Bible say regarding the rituals of the holiday?:
The holiday was to be on Sunday, the first day after the Sabbath of the wave offering (the Sabbath after Passover which most Bible translations calls, “the feast of firstfruits).
There were to be 7 Sabbaths between Passover and Shavuot.
It was the second pilgrim festival when Jewish men were required to present a firstfruit offering.
Two loaves of bread were to be presented as a new grain offering. The grain offering of Passover was the harvest of the spring (barley). This was to be the firstfruit of the summer harvest (wheat).
The corners of the field were not to be harvested to provide for the poor and the stranger.
Jewish tradition regarding Shavuot has become very ingrained not only among the Jewish people, but also among followers of Jesus (both Jews and Gentiles.) We can only speculate the basis for this tradition because even biblical scholars cannot agree. Nor is there agreement regarding when this tradition began. I tend to agree with the majority of Jewish religious who contend it began in70 AD after the destruction of the Temple.
Biblically Shavuot was to be a celebration of thankfulness for God’s faithfulness to give Israel a second harvest. It’s good to consider the difference between the first two harvests of Israel. The first harvest, after Israel came into the land of Israel was completely God’s grace, as Israel only reaped crops that they had not sown. But for this second harvest, the people had to both sow and reap. So with the truth in mind, let’s compare the truth what the Jewish tradition says about Shavuot:
Shavuot is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the giving of the Torah to the Jews. The Talmud tells us that God gave the Ten Commandments to the Jews on the sixth night of the Hebrew month of Sivan. Shavuot always falls 50 days after the second night of Passover. The 49 days in between are known as the Omer..
The Torah was given by G‑d to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai more than 3300 years ago. Every year on the holiday of Shavuot we renew our acceptance of G‑d’s gift, and G‑d “re-gives” the Torah.
Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) commemorates the revelation of the Torah on Mt. Sinai to the Jewish people, and occurs on the 50th day after the 49 days of counting the Omer.
Even some followers of Jesus (Messianic believers) perpetuate this same tradition:
Just as Passover celebrates physical freedom of the Israelite’s redemption from bondage in Egypt, Shavuot celebrates spiritual liberation through their experience of God’s presence and revelation at Sinai. In the Passover exodus, God brought a people out from among the nations. At Sinai on that first Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks, or later, Pentecost, God created a nation set apart for Himself. He revealed Himself and how to live as a redeemed community, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6). The presence of God on that day was attended with great supernatural events: “the mountains shook violently, the ram’s horn blew louder and louder, there were flashes of lightning, smoke rose upon the mountain and God spoke in the thunder (Exodus 19:18,19).
The people also celebrated the giving of the Law. This ritual paralleled Israel’s history, which began with deliverance from Egypt on Passover and concluded when they received the Law.
Alfred Edersheim, a Jewish follower of Jesus and a biblical scholar explains:
Jewish tradition has it, that on the 2nd of the third month, or Sivan, Moses had ascended the Mount (Exodus 19:1-3), that he communicated with the people on the 3rd (Exodus 19:7) reascended the Mount on the 4th (Exodus 19:8), and that then the people sanctified themselves on the 4th, 5th, and 6th of Sivan, on which latter day the ten commandments were actually given them (Exodus 19:10-16).
There is some wisdom in this tradition. If Shavuot is the anniversary of God’s giving the Torah to Israel, then the holiday completes the cycle of Israel’s redemption that began on Passover.
…as the dedication of the harvest, commencing with the presentation of the first omer on the Passover, was completed in the hank-offering of the two wave-loaves at Shavuot, so that the memorial of Israel’s deliverance appropriately terminated in that of the giving of the Law.
The rabbis remind us that our redemption from slavery was for the purpose of living holy lives in accordance with the Torah’s instructions. I admit that it would be so like God that if on the same day God gave the Torah, He gave the Holy Spirit but there is no supporting biblical evidence. I find it more than curious that the dates of two important events in Israel’s history are not specified. God is so detailed when it comes to dates, but for the giving of the Torah and the birth of Jesus, the Bible is silent. And when the Bible is silent, religious traditions shout.. There are other traditional beliefs that result in modern day customs and rituals:
Israel fell asleep when God gave them the Torah rather than staying awake and preparing themselves to receive it.
King David was born and died on Shavuot.
The people eat dairy products because they hadn’t been given the regulations regarding kosher.
Let’s consider if there is any truth to these traditions.
The actual location of Mt. Sinai is disputed, but every suggested mountain is at least 7,500 feet (2,285 meters) high, definitely not climbable in one day much several times in several days.
Even a cursory reading of Exodus 12-40 reveals that receiving the Torah was a long process. We know for sure that the people had to sanctify themselves for three days before Moses went up to the Lord the first time. And we also know for sure that Moses was on the mountain for 40 days when God actually began to write on the tablets. But Moses made many trips delivering God’s message to the people and then the people’s response to God. I counted at least nine times Moses went up and down and there are gaps when we cannot discern his movements. So to celebrate “the receiving of the Law” on Shavuot is just an unfounded tradition.
During the 40 days Moses was on the mountain, the people were building a “god” more to their own liking by building a golden calf.
When I bought the picture below, I said to the store clerk, “This is a bit of revisionist history. The people weren’t sitting orderly, they were dancing around the golden calf.”
The clerk said to me, “Yes they were orderly, we just need to read between the lines.”
David’s birth and death are not recorded in Scripture.
Actually the Torah does not give rules regarding kosher. The interpretation of “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk” is uncertain. Rules regarding kosher preparation of meat and eating are all given in the Talmud.
So the question, which begs to be asked and answered, is, “Are religious traditions valuable?” I suggest they have value when they do NOT mask or distort truth. Sometimes a tradition gives a sense of community and that can be valuable, but far too often this same sense of community brings pride and separation from others. Again, tradition can give us a sense of identity and roots, but as followers of Jesus, our roots and identity needs to be in Him. Through His death, burial and resurrection, He has given us a future that far transcends our past.
In the days between Passover and Shavuot in 32 AD, the city of Jerusalem must have been abuzz with excitement, confusion, and caution. The memory of Passover and the crucifixion of Jesus were still on the minds and in the hearts of many.
Jerusalem was under the firm grip of Rome who was watching for signs of Jewish insurrection and rebellion. Crucifixions continued and often the streets were lined with those whom Rome feared the most. How the people must have longed for a deliverer like Moses or Judah Maccabee. And what about Jesus and His followers? So many of the travelling pilgrims had only heard the stories of His miracles and claims, but others had seen Him dead and then alive. But now His followers were “holed up” and hidden from sight. Despite it all, the people were counting the “omer” anticipating the harvest festival of Shavuot. Shavuot was a holiday of thanksgiving, gratitude and praise. Despite circumstances, there was still much to be grateful for; God had given them another harvest. Above all, God was always worthy of praise and thanksgiving. The observance of Shavuot began as it had for hundreds of years. Worshipping pilgrims came to Jerusalem from distant lands. While there might have been fewer pilgrims than at Passover, tens of thousands took advantage of the better weather that made traveling much easier.
Acts 2:5, 9-11 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs.
The pilgrims needed time to prepare their offerings and sacrifices. Of course it was easier for the locals, but for the weary travelers, they needed to go to the Temple courts and begin the Middle Eastern negotiation. Once again we turn to Edersheim who paints the scene so beautifully.
As the stars shone out in the deep blue sky with the brilliancy peculiar to an Easter clime, the blasts of the priest’ trumpets, announcing the commencement of the feast, sounded from the Temple mount through the delicious stillness of the summer night. Already in the first watch the great altar was cleansed, and immediately after midnight the Temple gates were thrown open. For before the morning sacrifice all burnt-and-peace offerings which the people proposed to bring at the feast had to be examined by the officiating priesthood. Great as their number was, it must have been a busy time, till the announcement that the morning glow extended to Hebron put an end to all such preparations, by giving the signal for the regular morning sacrifice.
After the festive offerings prescribed in Numbers 28:26-30 were brought…The Levites were now chanting the Hallel (Psalms 113-118) to the accompanying music of a single flute, which began and ended the song, so as to give it a sort of soft sweetness. The round, ringing treble of the selected voices from the children of Levites, who stood below their fathers, gave richness and melody to the hymn while the people either repeated or responded, as on the evening of the Passover sacrifice.
Then came the peculiar offering of the day –that of the two wave-loaves, with their accompanying sacrifices. 
What was so peculiar about this offering? The wave-loaves were made with leaven, the only such grain offering. Leaven is the biblical symbol for sin. Since every offering to a holy God, the offering itself needed to be considered holy. God will not tolerate impurity, not in His worshippers nor in their offerings. In Israel’s rebellion she compromised her worship (Malachi 1:7-9). Not surprisingly there is no consensus explaining the reason for this offering – two loaves of bread presented to the Lord on one platter. However I believe it was a prophetic act that would be explained on that Shavuot of 32 AD. As worshippers were experiencing the sights, smells and sounds of the Temple, there were other sights and sounds coming from the Upper Room where 120 Jewish followers of Jesus were praying. The Apostle Luke describes what happened:
Acts 2:1-4:When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accordin one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance….
Can you imagine the uproar? Did many of the pilgrims and perhaps even some of the priests, drop everything and run to see and to hear? What did they see? Divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. What did they hear: “In our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” With the aroma of the sacrifices filling the air, I wonder how many of them remembered the smells of the Passover sacrifices, even the sight of Jesus carrying His cross to Golgotha. As God had promised through the Hebrew prophets, He was now giving to Israel and through Israel to the Gentiles:
a better Torah,
a better covenant,
a better mediator.
As there have always been mockers of God so then there was confusion, doubts and scoffing. In response, Peter stood up
Acts 2: 14-16, 40-41: …with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what the prophet Joel spoke about…
And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. Of course that wasn’t the total fulfillment of the two loaves wave-offering. About seven years later, Peter had a vision and a call from the Lord to go and preach Jesus to the Gentiles.
Acts 10:34-35, 44-45: Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.
The final explanation comes from the Apostle Paul:
Ephesians 2:14-18: For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
The unique wave offering of two loaves of bread on one platter is an illustration of God’s plan was through the sacrifice of Jesus, to create out of Jews and Gentiles a Kingdom of priests who would love, trust, worship and serve Him forever.
Exodus 12:49: And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.”
Let’s now consider Peter’s message in the context of Shavuot. First he had to give a quick lesson to those who had come from so far away. To them Jesus was probably still a source of confusion and emotional conflict
Acts 2:22-24 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.
Then he had to connect Jesus to David, thus giving Him credibility to the Jews. We do not know when the religious started reading the Book of Ruth on Shavuot, but clearly the connection with David was not lost on the pilgrims.
Acts 2:25-31 For David says concerning Him: ‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken...’ And Peter finishes with the exhortation and invitation so appropriate when proclaiming the Gospel:
Acts 2:32-36 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
The people responded (faith comes by hearing the Word of God) and the true harvest of Shavuot began. One last comment. Shavuot is the second harvest of Israel’s agricultural season. Jesus’ rose on the first harvest and is called “firstfruit of the dead (1 Corinthians 1:20).” It has been said that the “church” was born on Shavuot, the second harvest. Could this be what James was thinking when he said,
James 1:18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
 The omer is a unit of measure. According to Leviticus the people were to count the days starting on the second day of Passover until Shavuot. On the first day after the Sabbath of Passover, an omer of barley was cut down and brought to the Temple as an offering. This offering was known as the Omer. Each successive day was considered another omer, ie the 16th day, would be two weeks and two days of the Omer.”
 Edersheim, Alfred, The Temple, Its Ministry and Services, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. 1994) Pg 208.
Most of modern Jewish rituals are based on the traditional belief that Moses received the Torah on Shavuot.
In the Home: Unlike other Jewish feasts, there are no rituals prescribed by the rabbis for the home. But LIKE other Jewish holidays there are traditional foods. For Shavuot, dairy products are the standard fare. Why?
God brought Israel out of Egypt and into a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8-17).
The Beloved is described as having honey and milk under his tongue (Song of Solomon 4:11).
So cheese counters in Israel are overstocked with cheese of every variety for every taste. Dependent on culture of origin, family meals include:
blintzes (crepes both sweet and salty),
kreplachs (tri-cornered pastry with no agreement regarding its symbolism),
cheesecakes (with lots of chocolate and fruit),
braided challah (reminder of Jacob’s ladder).
Children love to decorate the home with garlands of greens and roses because it’s believed that Mt Sinai “suddenly” blossomed with flowers and because Moses was found in the reeds. Water-fights abound because the ancients say the Torah is like water! In the synagogue: Once before in Israel’s history the people tried to rectify a wrong. Despite God’s specific instructions, the people disobeyed and suffered defeat. Rather than waiting for God’s next instructions, they decided to try again (Numbers 14). We all love “do-overs” but obedience is the only way to have a successful second chance. Sadly it appears that the synagogue rituals for Shavuot are an attempt to “do over” Israel’s rebellion at Mt. Sinai. Israel started off well, agreeing to obey all that God had spoken:
Exodus 19:8 Then all the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.”
After the people sanctified themselves for three days God’s presence came upon Mt. Sinai with thunder, smoke and lightning. But Israel responded badly to this incredible opportunity.
Exodus 20:18-21 Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”
And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.
But standing afar off wasn’t the worst decision Israel made at Sinai. Becoming impatient for Moses return, the people chose to create a god they could control; thus the Golden Calf. Since that time Israel’s history has been a cycle of repentance and commitment followed by rebellion. And yet, the Jewish people are fiercely proud of their heritage:
the “Chosen” of God,
God’s unique promises made only to them.
the gift of the Torah which separated them from all the nations and peoples,.
As important as the Torah is in the life and identity of the Jewish people, much if not most of their theology and culture emanate not from the Torah but from the Talmud. They believe that God gave Moses BOTH the Torah and the Oral Law on Shavuot. Perhaps that’s their explanation for the 40 days duration of Moses on Mt. Sinai! So what are some of these traditional rituals?
Believing Israel fell asleep while Moses was receiving the law, many Jews remain awake all night studying. Furthermore they believe that the skies open for a moment at midnight and God favorably hears and answers their prayers.
The Book of Ruth is read.
Ruth begins with the harvest.
Ruth’s conversion to Judaism reflects Israel’s acceptance of the Torah.
Ruth, a Gentile and a Moabite became a proselyte showing the preeminence of Judaism and God’s grace.
Ruth is in the genealogy of David and it is believed that David was born and died on Shavuot.
At the Wall On the morning of Shavuot, June 15, 1967 Jews were finally allowed to go to the Wall. Thousands of Jews made their way to praise God and worship.Since then a new tradition arose – waiting for the sunrise. Conclusion Traditions and rituals are fine, but not when they distract from God’s word. I don’t doubt that some of the Jewish people truly desire to know and obey God, but they are blinded by their concept of God. Just as the fathers created a god of comfort and convenience, a god they could control, often man-made traditions and veneration of the Talmud keeps them from recognizing the Torah in the flesh…Jesus. God promised Israel a better Torah, a better covenant and a better mediator.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them,says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
God fulfilled that promise on His feasts of Passover and Shavuot. Let us celebrate the ultimate gift – not the Torah written on stones, but of His love and law written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, Yeshua
The tables are filled with dairy products, symbolizing Israel as flowing with milk and honey.
 “The word “Talmud” is a Hebrew word meaning “learning, instruction.” The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism and consists primarily of discussions and commentary on Jewish history, law (especially its practical application to life), customs and culture. The Talmud consists of what are known as the Gemara and the Mishnah.” In other words, it is commentary and commentary on commentary. Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/Talmud.html#ixzz33HJPATqd
 The “Oral Torah” which is a tradition explaining what [Torah] scriptures mean and how to interpret them and apply the laws. Orthodox Jews believe God taught this Oral Torah to Moses, and to others, down to the present day. This tradition was maintained only in oral form until about the 2nd century A.D., when the oral law was compiled and written down in a document called the Mishnah. Over the next few centuries, additional commentaries elaborating on the Mishnah were written down in Jerusalem and Babylon. These additional commentaries are known as the Gemara. The Gemara and the Mishnah together Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/Talmud.html#ixzz33HKGPPYe
 “Rectification for Shavuot Night,” are understood as the custom of studying with a community in order to re-experience standing at Mount Sinai, where the Jewish people received the Torah. The Tikkun Leil Shavuotwas developed by 16th century mystics in Safed, who believed that by studying on Shavuot, they were symbolically preparing Israel to enter into a sacred relationship with God. Modern interpretations and versions of this practice include study on a wide range of topics. For more: http://www.reformjudaism.org/shavuot-customs-and-rituals.
 Ruth is often considered to be the archetype of all who “choose” or convert to Judaism—accepting the Torah, just as Jews accepted the Torah at Mt. Sinai—and this passage traditionally has been understood as her conversion statement.
 The Western Wall is the western support wall from Herod’s major renovation project in 37 BC. It is considered to be closest to the location of the Holy of Holies.
Romans 15:4For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
We’ve recognized that Scripture does not validate the belief that Shavuot is the anniversary of God’s gift of the Torah. But isn’t it interesting that while God gives such precise details and dates, He is silent regarding the dating of this and the Incarnation of Jesus, two immensely important events in Israel’s history? Just as the Christian church chose December 25th to celebrate the Incarnation, the Jewish people chose Shavuot to celebrate the gift of the Torah. Regardless of the erroneous date setting, I suggest we can glean personal and significant lessons Shavuot. Lessons from Sinai Second to the Passover event, the experience with God at Mt Sinai is a turning point in Israel’s history. Thus is it’s not surprising that soon the two events (and holidays) were conjoined. Sadly Israel failed repeatedly at Sinai and thereafter.
They rejected God’s invitation to come into His presence, choosing Moses to mediate.
They rebelled and forsook their promise to obey.
They refused to make God preeminent, preferring a god of their own making, one they could control.
In how many ways do we make the same choices?
Rejecting God’s presence. By God’s grace through faith in Christ, Christians have the unique opportunity of an intimate relationship with the God of the universe. To seal and guarantee that relationship God Himself dwells within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit continuously pours the Father’s love into our hearts and takes what is God the Son’s and gives it to us.
This intimacy is unparalled in any other “religion” or “spiritual discipline.” No man can bring himself into that kind of relationship. God wants to speak to us as He did with Abraham, with Moses and with David. And yet, how often do we stand “afar off,” preferring to hear God’s word from the lips of others? We go to “prophets” to hear God’s voice giving us direction rather than allowing Him to speak to us directly. So vividly do I remember when I felt God whispering to me, inviting me to come closer. In my heart I “saw” a very dark forest, so dark that I couldn’t even see my hand before my eyes. In fear,I responded, “God it’s too dark, I cannot see where I’m going.” Then with tears I realized that’s exactly what He wanted. He wanted me to move into the dark trusting only in the Light that I knew was waiting for me.
Rebelling by forsaking promises and vows. Scripture warns us not to make and then break a vow, not to people and much more not to God. We tend to think a vow is bigger than a promise because usually a vow is public and formal. But I doubt God makes the same distinction. Our vows to God are based on these fundamental promises:
accepting Jesus as our Savior,
surrendering to Jesus as the Lord of our lives.
But then there are those “smaller” promises that we make and often break:
to live more healthy (diet, exercise),
to spend more time in Bible study and prayer,
to give more,
to love more,
etc etc etc.
Without thinking one day, I vowed never to eat another chocolate chip cookie. Before you laugh or say, “Glad it wasn’t me” let me challenge you dear reader that you probably have some chocolate chip cookies in your life. So let me tell you what happened. While driving to a church meeting I was so focused on God’s message that I didn’t realize I had almost finished a whole bag of “Chip Ahoy” cookies. My arm was on automatic, going from the bag to my mouth. I was aghast and without further thought vowed, “I will never eat another chocolate chip cookie.” And I haven’t! Of course there’s nothing inherently wrong with a cookie, but it held me in bondage. Okay maybe not as harsh as Israel’s bondage in Egypt, but bondage none-the-less. Most people don’t have a problem with eating a cookie, but for me it was poison. For others it might be alcohol, sex, work, ministry or “America’s Got Talent.” It doesn’t matter. Bondage is bondage and a vow is a vow.
Refusing to make God preeminent. When we break our vows to God we are putting Him in second place. Israel wanted (and made) a god that was more comfortable, more convenient and less demanding. All religions do the same. Rules and “how to’s” put us in bondage while at the same time making us feel good if/when we succeed.
It’s hard to comprehend the love of God who is already pleased with His children of faith. We like working our way into God’s pleasure. We like having standards against which we can measure our growth. But then our rules, our need to grow and achieve become preeminent. Paul admonishes the Philippians to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). This would be a bondage maker if we didn’t consider the context. Paul had just waxed eloquently about the preeminence and humility of Jesus. And then Paul assures us that “our working” is not isolated from Christ. Philippians 2:13: [F]or it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. I suggest that Paul’s exhortation is a reflection from the second harvest of Shavuot. Israel was given their first harvest by grace, reaping what they had not sown but they had to possess their possession, by both sowing and reaping. Likewise we are saved through no efforts of our own, it is a gift totally by God’s grace through faith, but we too must learn how to possess our possession through the process known as sanctification. What are the lessons we can apply to our lives from that day in Jerusalem circa 32? From Jerusalem. Peter’s message on the day of Shavuot came from the Hebrew prophet Joel. Joel’s prophesy warned Israel of the judgment and devastation to come that he called “The Day of the Lord.” But Joel also gave God’s promise and assurance of the Holy Spirit who would bring the salvation of Israel and restoration to the people and to the land. Finally Joel warns the nations of God’s impending judgment. Then Peter presents the Gospel of Jesus, and that it is through Him that Israel will be saved and the ultimate harvest will be of souls. Furthermore it is no accident that Peter includes the Messianic prophesies from the mouth of David. Like Paul did later, the Word was delivered in power, in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance. Consequently the people responded: Acts 2:37: They were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter’s answer is the pattern that should follow every presentation of the Gospel: Acts 2:38-39 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Too often Christians forget the context of the gift of Holy Spirit – to proclaim the Gospel of Christ for God’s harvest. Through God the Holy Spirit, God the Father is creating a Kingdom of kings and priests who will worship God the Son and serve Him throughout eternity.
“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”
Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne,
Traditionally dairy (milk and cheese) are the mainstay of Shavuot cooking. Starting from the non-biblical tradition that Moses received the Torah on Shavuot, these are the simplest to understand although requiring a stretch of ;
The Ten Commandments encompass all 613 commandments. Thus, when the Jews returned to their tents after the giving of the Torah, they were bound for the first time by the Torah’s dietary laws. Therefore, they could not eat meat, for they first had to prepare a proper slaughtering knife, remove the forbidden fats from the slaughtered meat, salt it and procure kosher cooking utensils. All this made it necessary for them to eat dairy, rather than meat, at that time.
Torah is likened to milk, as the verse says, “Like honey and milk [the Torah] lies under your tongue” (Song of Songs 4:11). Just as milk has the ability to fully sustain the body of a human being (i.e. a nursing baby), so too the Torah provides all the “spiritual nourishment” necessary for the human soul.
Honey comes from a bee, which is not kosher, and milk comes from a live animal whose meat is forbidden until the animal is slaughtered. Both honey and milk, therefore, allude to the power of Torah which can transform a sullied soul into one of holiness and purity.
According to the Zohar, each one of the 365 days of the year corresponds to a specific one of the Torah’s 365 negative commandments. The Torah says: “Bring Bikkurim (first fruits) to the God’s Holy Temple; don’t cook a kid in its mother’s milk” (Exodus 34:26). Since the first day for bringingBikkurim is on Shavuot the second half of that verse – referring to milk and meat – is the negative commandment corresponding to Shavuot day. Thus on Shavuot two meals are eaten, one of milk and one of meat.
Thursday night a small group gathered to celebrate Jesus and His gift of the Holy Spirit. The fellowship was sweet as we watched the sun set over Mt Hood. Then it was time! We began in prayer, inviting the Spirit into our midst to bring conviction and cleansing to prepare us to stand in God’s holy and loving presence. Hostess Renee read from Acts 2 recounting the wonder of that day in Jerusalem when the Spirit fell. Then we went back to the beginning, reading God’s words to Moses recorded in Leviticus 23:15-21. Weeks (the Hebrew description of the feast) commemorates the second harvest, when Israel had begun to actually possess the land. We talked about the difference between taking and keeping the land and how that applies to our lives of salvation and sanctification. Everyone shared a personal testimony of God’s faithfulness over the past year. For me, those testimonies are such a highlight. As we share our lives, strangers become brethren and God is exalted. We continued reading applicable Scriptures and sharing our lives. Since Weeks is the first fruit of the summer harvest, we concluded our sharing time by asking God for a great harvest in the coming months. We prayed in agreement for a harvest of:
revelation of God’s love
clarity and direction
greater intimacy and obedience to the Holy Spirit
And o how we worshipped! Despite our lack of pleasant voices or instruments, a joyful noise was a sweet incense to our God. Communion concluded our worship. We added two unique elements
two loaves of bread
On this holiday, the priest would wave two loaves of bread on one plate. For me this symbolizes the one new man of Jew and Gentile. Even in our midst were Jews and Gentiles. Johnathan and I spoke the blessing over the bread and the wine and then shared them with our Gentile brethren. There was something quite significant as that act represented the grafting in of the Gentiles. We then dipped the bread into the olive oil as we thanked God for His Holy Spirit. Not surprisingly we couldn’t get enough of that oil dipped bread. May your celebration of Weeks/Pentecost be as sweet.