Exodus 19:1-20:23; Maftir: Numbers 28:26-31
Haftarah: Ezekiel 1:1-28, 3:12
Most believers know that in the New Covenant the Holy Spirit was first given to believers on Pentecost. However, these same individuals often do not know that this day was a festival which had been observed by the Jewish community for approximately 1500 years previously. Traditionally this day, also known as the feast of Weeks, is mentioned in the Torah as one of the three festivals that must be observed in Jerusalem. The question which is often asked is why is this festival called by two different names: feast of Weeks and Pentecost? The answer in the book of Leviticus (See 23:15-16) is that one is instructed to not only count seven weeks, hence the feast of Weeks; but also fifty days, hence Pentecost (meaning fifty).
The point which I want to emphasize is that this counting, which is commanded by the word of G-d, has a purpose behind it. Before discussing this purpose, how many believers pay attention to the command to count? The purpose relates to a sense of expectation. Whether one focuses upon this festival as the giving of the Holy Spirit or as Rabbinical Judaism asserts, the giving of the Ten Commandments, there should be a sense of remembering HaShem’s provision.
Jeremiah wrote about the New Covenant in chapter 31 of his prophecy. There, by means of the Holy Spirit, HaShem writes the Law upon the heart of every believer. If you are a disciple of Yeshua, then this is a reality for you. Whereas in Judaism the provision has a degree of completion (giving of the Torah), for believers the giving of the Holy Spirit prepares us potentially to serve G-d completely. Because of this, one should see the seven week period / fifty day period as a time to ponder prayerfully on how G-d wants each person to utilize His provision. Therefore allow me to ask you if the Holy Spirit is functioning in your life?
It is important to remember that this period of time begins with the special day called “Resheet”. This word means the “first”. It relates to bringing to the Priests the first fruits of the barley harvest. According to Judaism, this day relates to a victory. By the way, it was on this same calendar day (Hebrew calendar) that Messiah Yeshua rose from the dead. Because of His resurrection, demonstrating the victory over sin, the believer by means of faith in Yeshua and the receiving of the Holy Spirit is equipped for victory.
What Judaism relates is that the period is no longer anticipating what HaShem is going to do; rather it is now G-d anticipating what His people are going to do with His provision. This brings me to my primary point, the victory has been won and the provision has been supplied, the only thing which is left is for you and me to walk in this victory. Unfortunately, most believers are not taking the steps in victory. Why is this? The answer is that they are walking in the direction of their desires, instead of moving in the direction of the will of G-d.
This is not because these individuals are rebellious believers, but because they simply are not being taught the Scriptures. Bible teaching has been replaced with self-help counseling sessions which focus on achieving one’s goals and solving one’s problems. What happened to the verse which states:
“All Scripture is G-d breathed (inspired) and is profitable for doctrine, for conviction, for discipline, for the instruction in righteousness, in order that complete (ready) that the man of G-d should be, for every good work having been fully equipped.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Recently when having a friendly discussion with a leader of a congregation, the conversation turned to the importance of good works. Although he acknowledged that this is the emphasis of Timothy, he said he seldom mentions doing good works to those who he taught. Why? He answered that he was concerned that people would misunderstand that instead of relying upon the grace which Yeshua provided for salvation, they would believe it was by good works.
I ask you, cannot a believer understand justification by faith in the grace of Messiah Yeshua and also see that it is only the saved believer who is the one who has been fully equipped for good works? Is it necessary to ignore the why one was saved, so as to protect the means of salvation?
I hope that this Shavuot / Pentecost believers across the world will ponder their call in Messiah and the provision of the Holy Spirit in their lives and begin to live out the victory which they were saved to proclaim in the doing of good works to the Glory of G-d.
Do not forget the verse wherein Yeshua stated,
“Let your light shine before men so that they should see your good works and glory your Father in heaven” Matthew 5:16
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