Saturday, May 30, 2020

Shavuot and Pentecost

Shavuot (shuh.voo.owt) comes from Exodus and commemorates the all important wheat harvest in the land of Israel.  It is an “Atzeret (assembly)”; also known as the Feast of Weeks because it is held seven weeks and one day after the second night of Passover… ending the period of the counting of the Omer; the end of the grain harvest at Passover time.  It was known originally as the one day Feast of First Fruits but it was later changed to a period of 50 days which is 7 weeks from Passover; it was done with great anticipation, a time when Jewish farmers would bring the first fruits of their crops as an offering to God in the temple.  It begins at sundown (when three 3 stars visible in the night sky) unlike other holidays that begin at dusk. This Feast of Weeks marks the end of the barley harvest and the beginning of the wheat harvest.  Counting the days from the second day of Passover to Pentecost is called the “Counting of the Omer”.
The Feasts of Weeks is an observance of the giving of the Torah by YHVH to the Hebrew people over three thousand years ago on Mount Sinai.

The Feasts, Shavuot and Pentecost, will lead us to the Book of Acts; it is extremely important that we see Christ in both Covenants because He is the Head of the Church.  Acts is a history of the forming of the Church after Christ ascended to Heaven to be with YHVH (the tetragramaton, a four letter Hebrew word  יהךה  (yud hey vav hey), one of the Biblical names of God.). The Feast of Weeks is extremely critical to our understanding of Pentecost which happens in the beginning of Acts.
The link between Shavuot and Pentecost lies in their names.  Pentecost comes from the Greek word pentékosté which means 50. Fifty days also represent the span between the second day of Passover and Shavuot.  It reminds Believers of the important connection between Passover which freed the people from Egyptian bondage and the giving of and acceptance of the Torah on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19 and 20) which redeemed them spiritually from their bondage to idolatry and immorality.  It is a sacred Covenant between God and His chosen people.  Ezekiel 1 (a prophetic vision of Adonai’s glory) is also read.

Historically, the main activity on the Feast of Weeks was the presentation of a wave offering to the Lord, two loaves of bread with leaven.  The bread was to be brought with seven male lambs, a young bull and two rams as a burnt offering.  The sin offering was a male goat.  Fruits such as fresh dates, pomegranates and grapes were given as an offering.  An ox offering was led before the people.  The horns of the ox were overlaid with gold, with an olive branch and a crown on his head.  Each family brought two loaves of the finest bread.  Only the best was chosen for the offerings to YHVH.  The wave offering expressed the Hebrews’ dependence on God for the harvest and their daily bread.  It was a thanksgiving offering.  The loaves can represent the Jews and Gentiles.  The link between Passover and Pentecost is the omer.  The second night of Passover (Firstfruits) the barley is harvested and the first sheaf is waved before the altar in the Temple.  On Pentecost, two loaves are waved as an offering before the same altar.  As was stated earlier, the day of First Fruits became the Feast of Weeks. The cutting of the omer of the new barley marked the beginning of the counting period; on the 50th day, Pentecost is observed.  It is also the closing of the Passover season.  Pentecost is the only festival for which no specific date is given in the Bible.  People were instructed to count 7 weeks from the “morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering” (Leviticus 23:15).  Passover freed the people physically from bondage, but the giving of the Torah on Pentecost redeemed them spiritually from their bondage to idolatry and immorality.  (Biblical Holidays.Com) Passover was a foreshadowing of Yeshua.  The original Pentecost marked the day that Moshe (Moses) gave the Hebrews the Torah from Mt. Sinai.  The 50th day of Pentecost marks this event and even more importantly, it marks 50 days after the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea to freedom and YHVH did not want them to forget what He did for them at the Red Sea.  However, He needed to deal with their disobedience and sinful ways, hence the 50 days after crossing marks the giving of the Law, instructing them in righteousness.  YHVH put His commandments and righteousness in stone tablets and presented it to them via Moshe.  According to the Jewish Study Bible, it is believed that more than Ten Commandments were given to Moshe.  It is believed by many Jews that Moshe was given the whole Torah (The five Books of the Law) and that he wrote the end of Deuteronomy with his own tears as YHVH.

At Shavuot the Hebrew people left Egypt on Passover and arrived 40 days later at Mt. Sinai.  Moses went up the mountain to meet God and received Torah and came down ten days later, Exodus 24:13 and Isaiah 2:3.  The people broke Covenant because of doubt, fear and impatience because they believed that Moshe was taking too long while receiving the tablets from God and demanded that Aaron make them a golden calf which they worshipped and idolized; on the day of this Pentecost, which is the first Pentecost, the people had sinned by building idols while Moshe was with YHVH on the mountaintop receiving the Law this angered YHVH and as a result three thousand (3,000) people died.

The events of Pentecost in the Book of Acts marked the birth of Christianity with the giving of the Holy Spirit. Those gathered were Jewish believers and gentiles who were Messianic converts and were gathered to celebrate Shavuot.  As they were praying and praising God, as was promised by the Messiah, the Holy Spirit descended, in what seemed to the gathering to be tongues of fire that separated and landed on everyone there. The disciple Peter eventually brought clarity to what transpired. He admonished them to turn from their wicked ways…repent and return to God and be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:29-39).  Those who accepted what Peter offered were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit.  Three thousand (3,000) were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit that day.  

Passover was a foreshadowing of Yeshua.  However, what did Pentecost foreshadow and reveal?  The original Pentecost marked the day that Moshe (Moses) gave the Hebrews the Torah from Mt. Sinai.  The 50th day of Pentecost marks this event and even more importantly, it marks 50 days after the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea to freedom and YHVH did not want them to forget what He did for them at the Red Sea.  However, He needed to deal with their disobedience and sinful ways, hence the 50 days after crossing marks the giving of the Law, instructing them in righteousness.  YHVH put His commandments and righteousness in stone tablets which were then delivered to them by Moshe (Moses).  According to the Jewish Study Bible, it is believed that more than Ten Commandments were given to Moshe.  It is believed by many Jews that Moshe was given the whole Torah (The five Books of the Law) and that he wrote the end of Deuteronomy with his own tears as YHVH described how Moshe would die and not be allowed to go into the Promised.  According to many Jews, it would not take 40 days to write Ten Commandments.  It is believed by many Jewish scholars that the 10 Commandments are a framework that the 613 Commandments of the Torah fit under. When Moshe returned to them, 3000 were slain because of their sin.  Despite that, the Torah was given; the Feast of Weeks continues to be celebrated. What does the Feast of Weeks have to do with Yeshua?  Yeshua went to the cross, died, was buried and after three days and three nights He resurrected from the tomb right before the ending of Shabbat.  [Shabbat is Saturday and is the 7th day and day of rest for the Jews.  It is their Sabbath like Sunday is the Christian Sabbath].  On the First day of the week, (which starts Saturday at Sundown for the Jews) He became the “First Fruits” which was 8 days after He entered Jerusalem, on a donkey while the people shouted Hosanna, Hosanna and waved palms at Him!  [His entry into Jerusalem for the last time is called Palm Sunday by Christians].

There are many who believe that He resurrected on the Sabbath (Saturday) and that the next day (Sunday) was the “Feast of First Fruits” which He became. That is spiritually important because Yeshua is the “First of the Fruits” and we are “His Fruits” so to speak.   Rav Shual (Apostle Paul) wrote about Yeshua being the “First Fruits.”  Like the Hebrews, when the Passover happened, followed by Pentecost, which gave them spiritual freedom, we became spiritually free and fully free from the penalty of sin through Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection and then 50 days later at Pentecost, Ruach haKodesh (the Holy Spirit) came and the Church began!   Once Yeshua resurrected, the count (The 50 days of Pentecost) began because the 50th day was going to be critical to all believers.  50 days after the resurrection, Ruach haKodesh came like a mighty rushing wind to the Temple where 120 saints of Yeshua were gathered.  As planned, the 2nd Pentecost happened with those that believed in Yeshua.

Three thousand (3,000) believed in Jesus and were saved.  Both events clearly showed God’s plan and His works and the parallels.  In Exodus the people received a Covenant from God; fifty (50) days after Yeshua, our Passover Lamb, died, rose triumphantly from the grave and ascended to the Father’s right hand. YHVH sent the Holy Spirit as was promised by Yeshua.  Both were similar in characteristics, wind, fire, smoke and voices.  The fire from Mt. Sinai was one fire visible by all but was kept away from the people.  The fire came to the people but did not touch the people.  The Holy Spirit’s fire touched all individually. In both instances we see the manifestation of God to the people (Theophanies)…God showed up!!  He was in their presence (Exodus 19:18-20 and Acts 2:4).  At Mt. Sinai God gave the Law written on a stone tablet and at Pentecost He wrote the Law on their hearts of flesh, Jeremiah 31.  The Holy Spirit changed the people from within.  They now have hearts of flesh and God’s Law abides in them.

This was God’s plan in both instances.  Now that we believe in His Son, our hearts are open to receive Him as our Lord and Savior and be in covenant with our Father God.

Of Note…

The book of Ruth is also read in the synagogue on Shavuot.  Ruth was not born Jewish.  Ruth was a Moabite who journeys from Moab with her Mother-in-law Naomi, to her homeland, Israel, after the death of her husband, one of Naomi’s sons.  This occurrence opens the door to other non-Jews who embrace Jewish tradition and the Jewish faith.  This all took place around the time of Shavuot and acceptance of the Torah by the Hebrew people.

In medieval England Pentecost was sometimes called “White Sunday” or “Whitsunday” for the custom of wearing white.  Modern day Christian believers wear all white (Whitsunday) or all red (symbolizing tongues of fire as the fire that came down from heaven and rested on the heads of the people) to church on Pentecost.

FIRST PENTECOST                                       PENTECOST AFTER CHRIST

The Commandments Given                                The Holy Spirit Given
Fifty days from the crossing of the Red Sea        Fifty days from the resurrection of Christ
Law of Yahweh written in Stone                        Law of Yahweh written on our hearts
Three thousand slain                                        Three thousand receive salvation
The letter of the Law                                        The Spirit of the Law


Monday, April 13, 2020

Hearing the Heart of God

Hearing the Heart of God

On the morning of Friday, March 27, 2020 a little past midnight I was startled by bolts of lightning that lit up my bedroom.  That was immediately followed by peels of thunder that sounded like nothing I’d ever heard and that included my early childhood years growing up in Barbados.  I am used to hurricanes and loved being outside in the heavy rains, hearing the thunder and the heavy raindrops falling onto the galvanized roof of our home.  There is no rainy weather in San Diego, California where I live so this occurrence got my attention. It was followed by hail!!
This was no ordinary peels of thunder.  I remembered thinking the Lion of the Tribe of Judah just roared.  God is not pleased with His children.  I imagined  a massive lion as Jesus is depicted when this reference to Him is made.  He was standing like a man, with His “fists” clenched, His teeth bared and fire coming from His mouth. His voice was like rolling water and it emanated from deep within.  God was just “not pleased”, He was angry!! 
He is waiting for those “who are called by His Name” to come to Him in prayer.  ‘If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land”. II Chronicles 7:14.  Our Father’s heart is broken because His children, those whom He calls His own are acting like the world.  Our focus is on what the world thinks, what the world is saying, what the world says we should do. We’ve become television magnets waiting with bated breath for what the government says we should do.  We’re not seeking to hear our Father’s heart. It is important that we follow those essential directives, practice social distancing…6’ apart, wear your masks and gloves and wash your hands regularly.  While you’re following those directives, remember who your God is.  Yes indeed, He is BIGGER than COVID-19.  
When this is over, He will still be God, the Creator of the universe, the One Who sits outside of space and time.  He is Elohim, the Creator of Heaven and earth Who was in the beginning. He is El-Elyon, our Lord and Master, the Most High God.  He is  El Shaddai, the God Almighty of blessings.  He is Adonai, the completely existing One; He will still be Jehovah T’zikenu, our Righteous God, He will still be Jehovah M’kaddesh, the God Who has set us apart for Himself; He will always be Jehovah Nissi, your victory, your banner, your standard.   One who will stand up for you against any enemy who will dare to come against you; He will still be Jehovah Shalom, your peace which surpasses all understanding.  Hold your peace in the midst of this storm, for it will pass.  He remains Jehovah Raphe, your Healer.  Yes, people are dying because of COVID -19 but KNOW that God knows all things.  His thoughts are unsearchable. Romans 11:33  The deaths are a bitter pill to swallow but God will heal the broken hearts. He is Jehovah Jireh, He sees our need and provides.  We don’t have to hoard all the toilet tissue in the land, paper towels, rice, etc.  He will miraculously provide for you and your family all that you need.  He is Jehovah Rohi, our Shepherd, when we call on Him, He will answer because He knows us and He hears when we call and He will answer.  We are His sheep, we know His voice.  He is Jehovah Shammah.  He will never leave us nor forsake us.  He is our helper.  He changes not;  He is Jehovah G’Molah, the God of recompense.  He will repay or He will reward.  It all belongs to Him.  Trust Him with your life. You belong to Him.  Before He knitted you in your mother’s womb, He knew you.  Psalm 139:13-16;  Abba declared our end from the beginning.  Nothing we can do to change that outcome. Isaiah 46:10
During this season, do not fear, do not doubt.  Trust Him to fight this battle for you.  Spend minimal time seeing what everyone has to say about what’s going on.  The less talking-heads you hear the better off you will be.  I am creature of habit.  Since high school in NY I’ve watched 60-Minutes and CBS is my favorite so I  get my round-ups at 11pm.  I watch YouTube for the ministries that have blessed me so if something catches my attention, I will watch but I make it my business to give my time to our Father.  It is important that I know my Father’s Heart. Draw closer to Him.  We have so much time now.  Many are forbidden to go to work; schools are closed, businesses are closed.  More time with your families; home-schooling your children allows you to teach them about Who God is; along with the required curriculum; learn to hear the Father’s heart.  
See through spiritual eyes, beyond what your natural vision sees.  See from the spiritual realm.  How will you move forward from this experience?  COVID-19 will eventually come to an end.  It will meet its demise.

Ø How will you be different?  
Ø What kind of relationship will you have with your Heavenly Father?
Ø Will you now not just speak the Word but live it every moment of every day with the help of the Holy Spirit?

What has our Father called us, you and me, to do…individually or collectively as the body of Christ …what battle plan has He dropped in our spirits to do for His Kingdom?

How are we preparing?  How do we hear His voice?
Unequivocally we must respond in obedience and we cannot go without Him or before Him.  His plan has been perfected.  It will work for our good and His glory.

Don’t  be afraid of the plans of the enemy. We have a faith that can deal with problems and overcome them. The victory here is that we can bear witness that God is greater than the problem. We celebrate that what the enemy planned for evil in our lives, God will turn it around for good. If you follow God, your problem will become a victory.