Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua. Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is —
Shalom Brothers and Sisters,
I greet you with thanksgiving that we are “one loaf of bread” together before Him, for His purposes and glory, sisters and brothers, family, in this together to encourage one another all the way home. May HE be glorified and blessed and may you be edified.
Today is Shavuot, called Pentecost in the New Testament and in the English “Old Testament” translated as Feast of Weeks. It is one of the three holidays when all men of Israel are COMMANDED to come up to the temple, NOT EMPTY HANDED, and to bring an offering and rejoice before God. The other two “Pilgrim Feasts” are Passover and Sukkot. Of the three holidays, the least is written about Shavuot, and what IS written could cause one to scratch their head. and say, “Huh?” It acts like a minor holiday and yet GOD called it one of the three MAJOR ones, so it is wisdom to listen to and hear HIM.
The Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134) were all songs that were sung (and still are) by the children of Israel as they made the pilgrimage up to Jerusalem from north, south, east and west, up the trails toward the temple mount. Undoubtedly Yeshua (Jesus) and his family sang them as they came up to Jerusalem for Passover as is recorded in Luke 2:41-52. Of course, there WAS no New Covenant yet, so He was brought up according to the Old Covenant, as were his disciples, who later added their writings.
Because there are so few scriptures, I have written them out in full for you at the end of this letter, beginning with Acts 2, because I have found that God does NOTHING in a shallow manner. It is all in seed form, and we do well to wait for the ripe fruit.
So, what IS Shavuot basically? Well, it seems to me that it is “the joyful offering to God of the first fruits in the place that HE has set.” This is an act of obedience. The temple is not here. Of course it also wasn’t yet built when He first set this commandment. The first fruits and grain, two loaves of bread made with the new grain, the best with joy. These words are familiar to us and I find Shavuot a wonderful time to examine my own heart, How much of my joyful offering is rote or flesh. But the first fruits, our first love…Ah ha! What an opportunity to refresh, revive, examine, and offer again our all and best.
BUT HOW IS IT CELEBRATED HERE?
Now, THAT is a good question, because it sure has taken its twists and turns over the years.
Milk! It’s the dairy holiday. We make tons of cheesecake, cheese blintzes, quiche, and more exotic foods. We eat dairy and dress in white. Why? No one knows.
There is a second modern tradition that is evolving into something interesting though. For years there has been a tradition for religious Jews to stay up all night and the following day to study the Torah. But mostly Mishna and Talmud (the commentaries on the scriptures written by the sages, so the students study and argue concerning the interpretations of the rabbis).
Over the past few years, many secular study groups have been rising up spontaneously throughout the country with young and old reading the scriptures for themselves and discussing them. This is exciting to me. People seeking answers outside of the mainstream rabbinical framework. The scriptures promise us that hungry hearts seeking Him will indeed find Him.
Several days ago the following article appeared in our local newspaper Israel h’Yom:
THE BIBLE IS SPREADING ONCE AGAIN by: Dr. Gabi Avital
Over the Shavuot holiday, synagogues and places of Torah study will fill up with worshippers and those eager to learn. Many, even those considered secular, will try to maintain the growing tradition of studying Torah throughout the night.
This spectacular display goes completely against the academic predictions from more than 60 years ago. For example, Prof. Zvi Adar’s “The Educational Values of the Bible” states that “past generations did not speak about the Bible, but they lived in its ways, whereas we, who speak highly of it every day, live outside of it, and so it too is outside of us.”
Later in the book, Adar proposes another approach, a humanistic one — according to which mankind is at the center and God is pushed to the sidelines — to teaching the Bible and adapting it to the nation in Zion. The central reasoning: “The decline of traditional religion in the world as a whole, and in Israel in particular, has also led to the decline of the religious objective for teaching the Bible.”
His reasoning is not completely unfounded. Europe underwent deep secularization, the influence of which is evident in every poll and study, including among Bible researchers and students in the Holy Land. What has happened to the Bible since the early years of the state? What was the result of the painful experience of creating a melting pot of people? Was the Bible also crushed in the mix? As the places of Torah study were only beginning to internalize the depth of the impact the Holocaust had on yeshivas and religious institutions, the academic community took the lead.
The scientists made “critical commentaries” about the Bible. They compared it to the Code of Hammurabi and the Epic of Gilgamesh; dismantled it into verifiable passages; took over its soul with an enlightened scientific spirit; wrote articles, and attended conferences. And yet some say it is precisely because of this that the Biblical Studies departments at the universities emptied out.
However, among the “ignorant,” those who see the Bible as a holy book, the situation is the exact opposite of what the concerned academics are claiming. Bible study is growing and flourishing like spring flowers in a year blessed with rain. Young Israelis are learning Bible verses and passages by heart; the International Bible Contest is taken seriously, and each Shabbat people are reading the weekly Torah portion.
And why is this? From the moment that the future of the Bible was “deposited” into the hands of academia, its fate was sealed: The science that forced its way into Bible research wiped out its soul. Those who remove the soul — that is, God — from the Bible are left with a confusing, violent and irrelevant book. Biblical researchers from academia and the secular seminaries have decided that we must first read the “criticism of the text” and only later a verse on love or social justice. They do not realize that the Bible is not a “biblical text.” It includes some elements of a history book, but that is not the heart of it. The Bible is the foundation of the Jewish people’s soul. The Bible and the Talmud, the Mishnah and the
are amazing creations that any nation would be proud of.
Ahead of Shavuot, the holiday during which we celebrate receiving the Torah, it seems that the Bible is not as scary as people think. Recognition that the Bible is also the foundation of international support for the existence of the sole Jewish state is becoming more and more apparent. The archaeological finds are growing in number and contributing to the verification of events that took place in this land in past generations. More and more people are refusing to believe that the people of Israel are nothing more than a wandering tribe. The spread of the Bible is no longer just a theoretical concept.” (this was in our secular newspaper on the 9th of June)
The scriptures for Shavuot:
May we each be found IN HIM ALONE…With our eyes fixed upon Him…for His glory.
your sister J