Shavuot / Pentecost
On the Festival of Weeks, there are special readings in the synagogue. The portion from the Torah is Exodus 19:1-20:23, the Maftir is Numbers 28:26-31, and the Prophetic passage is Habakkuk 2:20-3:19. One should also read from the New Covenant, the book of Acts chapter 2. It is from the New Covenant that I would like to base this article. One reads in Shimon’s (Peter) address a citation from the book of Joel,
“And it will come about in the last days, declares G-d, I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your elders will dream dreams, and also My servants and My maidservants in those days, I will pour out My Spirit and they will prophesy. I will give wonders in the heavens above and signs in the earth below, blood, fire and pillars of smoke, the sun will turn to darkness and the moon to blood, before comes the great and awesome day of the L-rd. And it shall come about, all who call on the name of the L-rd will be saved.” Acts 2:17-21
It is important to understand Peter’s use of this passage and what he wants to convey and what he is not saying. He is NOT saying that all the events of this prophecy are now fulfilled or will be fulfilled in the near future. What he is revealing is that in one sense the last days are indeed at hand. The intent of this statement is that the message of the Kingdom is now available and HaShem wants people to respond to it. The outcome of this is the giving of the Holy Spirit and His work within the believer. All of this is necessary for people to be prepared and for them to prepare others. This preparation is for what he reveals near the end of this verse, which is that there will be wonders that will take place in the sky, “I will give wonders in the heavens above and signs in the earth below, blood, fire and pillars of smoke, the sun will turn to darkness and the moon to blood, before comes the great and awesome day of the L-rd.” This time of preparation is still taking place. It began on that Shavuot and it will end with Yeshua gathering up believers prior to the wrath of G-d falling.
The truth of this passage has several implications for you and me. First, have you responded to the message of the Gospel? If you have, then you are equipped with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and Messiah is at work in your life. Secondly, you have a mandate to be influencing other people to respond to this message. An important part of these two implications is the fact that there is indeed the Wrath of G-d. It is not a coincidence that more and more people are teaching a perverted message of G-d’s love which removes the reality of a Judgment Day and denies that G-d has wrath. Please understand that such an errant theology is an attack on the richness of G-d’s grace. Scripture foretold that in the end times people would depart from the truth.
Likewise, it is not by chance that upon Shavuot the Ten Commandments are read. These commandments can be grouped into two headings: those which deal with one’s responsibilities to HaShem and those which speak to one’s responsibilities to others. It is vital that the reader understand that he cannot successfully engage in these two matters without the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in his life.
Shavuot is a time when one should remember the failings of the Children of Israel in not preparing themselves to receive G-d’s revelation at Mt. Sinai and realize that we may be erring in the same manner by grieving the Holy Spirit and hindering His work in our lives. A good way to take a spiritual inventory and learn if you are in fact hindering Him, is to consider if you have the fruits of the Spirit. Paul writes to the believer that the fruits of the Spirit are: love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. When one demonstrates these things, he is walking in the Spirit and fulfilling the righteousness of the Law.
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