It is truly a shame that so many followers of Messiah Yeshua do not acknowledge the Festivals of Israel. These appointed times, says the Apostle Paul, teach us about the Kingdom of G-d. For Paul writes,
“Which are (the Holidays) shadow of things to come (Kingdom), but the substance (body) belongs to Messiah.” Col 2:17
Paul reveals that the Festivals (along with Kashrut (dietary laws) New Moons and the Sabbath days help us understand Messiah, His work and the Kingdom that He will bring. In this short writing we will examine the Festival of Weeks (Shavuot) or Pentecoste. This festival day concludes a 50 day count (and a 7 Sabbaths day). According to the simple rendering of the Torah, the count begins of the first Sunday after Passover. This day is called Yom Reshite. It has to do with harvesting the first fruits. This day is Resurrection Sunday and this is why Paul, in the famous chapter of the resurrection (I Cor. 15), speaks about our Resurrected Savior as the first fruits (see I Cor. 15:20,23). It is important to realize that the hope of the day is that the wheat and barley that will be harvested during the next 7 weeks would be just as the first fruit–Messiah Yeshua, Perfect.
Why the emphasis of 7 weeks and 50 days? The number 7 represents perfection and holiness, while the number 50 represents liberty (as in the year of Jubilee). One needs to realize that true liberty is when we walk in holiness, displaying the holiness / glory of G-d.
According to Jewish tradition, the giving of the 10 commandments took place on Shavuot. It is vital to understand Israel’s response to G-d during this time. In the book of Exodus chapter 20, immedately after the giving of the 10 commandments, we find these words,
And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.
And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.
In this passage the people, after hearing the 10 commandments and coming to a knowledge of the holiness of G-d and their sinfulness, were terrified as G-d began to approach them. At first this was a good response, they understood that if a Holy G-d came near to a sinful people, the people would die. Therefore the people said in verse 19, “Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” However in the next verse Moses explained that it was not to slay the people for their sinfulness that G-d was drawing near, but to give Israel a new experience. The King James translates the verse as, Fear not for G-d is come to “prove you” (see verse 20), when it actually says that G-d wants to give the people a new experience, that is to make them a new creation. What will be their new state? Just keep reading. Moses says that G-d wants to put His fear before them, i.e. that they will know His will and be put in a new condition that they cannot sin (end of verse 20). What a great offer, but sadly we refused as it say in verse 21, “and the people stood afar off…”
During this same festival nearly 1500 years later, G-d fulfilled a related promise by giving the Holy Spirit to those who accepted the Redeemer of Israel (and the world), Messiah Yeshua. It is by means of the Holy Spirit that we have the potential to walk with G-d in His Holiness, demonstrating His glory and perfection. In essence, we have the same opportunity to say yes to G-d and draw near to Him.
My hope is that on Shavuot (Pentecoste) that each of you join me as we examine ourselves and ask whether each one of us is drawing near to G-d by means of the Holy Spirit or standing far off, quenching and grieving the Holy Spirit.
Chag Semach / Happy Holiday
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