Shavuot – 3-4June.2014
Greetings dear brothers and sisters,
Only by His grace will He be glorified and only by His grace will this bring you any blessing and encouragement. Lord, thank you for Your grace… so much more intricate and precious then we can imagine.
Shavuot begins in a few more hours, at sundown tonight. It is one of the three High holy days that God commanded all of the males of the tribes of Israel to “Come up to Jerusalem” and present themselves before Him. So many times, both in the Gospels, in Acts, and in the letters, we read about Jesus or the disciples “Going up to Jerusalem” for the feast. It was a scriptural command that remains in tact for the Jews of today, and is obeyed by the religious and many less religious.
My favorite scripture specifically about Shavuot is found in Deuteronomy 26:1-11 –
“and it shall be, when you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it, that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground, which the Lord your God is giving you, and put it in a basket and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. And you shall go to the one who is priest in those days, and say to him, ‘I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the country which the Lord swore to our fathers to give us.’
Then the priest shall take the basket out of your hand and set it down before the alter of the Lord your God. And you shall answer and say before the Lord your God: ‘My father was a Syrian, about to perish, and he went down to Egypt and dwelt there, few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. But the Egyptians mistreated us, afflicted us, and laid hard bondage on us. Then we cried out to the Lord God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and looked on our affliction and our labor and our oppression. So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O Lord, have given me.’
Then you shall set it before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God. So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given you and your house, you and the Levite and the stranger who is among you.”
We also read:
Leviticus 21:15-16, 21 “You shall count for yourselves — from the day after the Shabbat, from the day when you bring the Omer of the waving — seven Shabbats, they shall be complete. Until the day after the seventh sabbath you shall count, fifty days… You shall convoke on this very day — there shall be a holy convocation for yourselves — you shall do no laborious work; it is an eternal decree in your dwelling places for your generations. “
This is really the end of Passover. After the eating of matzo, the people are commanded to begin counting the omer for 50 days (omer being the ripened grain within the husk). A week of weeks and that is where the name Shavuot or “weeks” comes from. Many actually abstain from eating wheat from the beginning of Passover until the presenting of the new harvest before The Lord and thanking Him for it on Shavuot.
But Shavuot is celebrated by the church worldwide as well. It is known as Pentecost. (The word ‘Pentecost’ meaning 50 days) That is why it is written in Acts 2:1
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place…v.5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven…”
They were dwelling there temporarily, just like today, when devout Jews come from around the world to Jerusalem to bring their offering and fulfill the command.
When I first read about Pentecost in the light of the scriptures about Shavuot, it thrilled me. The Holy Sprit given, the fulfillment of time − just as the end of the counting of the omer is the fulfillment of time and the ripening of the grain within the husk. Oh the plans of The Lord are so intricately beautiful, even in our small glimpses. May His Holy Spirit – our Teacher Who has promised to lead us into all Truth – give us understanding and help us to rejoice before Him with an offering of firstfruits, for His glory.
I don’t know how today’s traditions evolved, but it is a day when those who observe Shavuot generally wear white and eat dairy. It is the time for commemorating the day that the Torah or the Law was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. So perhaps the white represents the pure milk of The Word, and thus the dairy food and white clothing coupled with study groups.
Our prayer is that these groups will return to studying Scripture, for as it stands now, it generally isn’t. These study groups have actually evolved into a very interesting thing. Twenty years ago, when we came, the religious had a monopoly on them. Long processions of seekers, dressed in white, would wind their way through the Old City streets to the wall, the night gently lit by old-fashioned torches that they carried on the way. They would sit all night and all of the next day in front of the western wall of Solomon’s temple, studying, reading, and praying.
Over the past few years, many of the religious started to reach out to the more secular. They hold study groups all over the country, in homes, schools, parks, any area. Not to be outdone, many secular leaders began holding their own study groups and the subjects began to vary until there are really some far fetched ones out there.
One year my boss (a Doctor) told me that he had studied with a large group of doctors – debating different philosophies applied in modern medicine in the light of Torah (example; extending life by machines, issues concerning suffering, etc.).
To read more about how Shavuot is observed there are many sites to google and there is always https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shavuot. I simply love reading what God says in His Word.
I challenged my boss this year; “Why don’t you study the Prophet Ezekiel this year?” I asked.
He looked puzzled. “Will you?” he asked me.
“Sounds good to me, ok,” I answered.
So, it looks like I will do just that. I pray that the Lord will start stirring my boss’ hungry heart to just READ THE WORD! And MANY hungry hearts, for there truly are many.
One thing that I learn daily as I look into His Word, is that there is ALWAYS room at the Cross for me AND for everyone else. God bless you as you seek Him.
your sis J