Festival of Shavuot

June 12, 2016

We just celebrated the festival of Shavuot (Hebrew for “Weeks”), also known as Pentecost (“pent” means “50”, relating to the 50 days of counting the omer to get to Pentecost). We talked about the history of Shavuot — that it was the day that Moses was given the Torah, and a day to offer the Firstfruits of our harvest to the Lord. A Firstfruit offering is 100% of the initial part of our harvest, while a tithe (10%) is a small part of 100% of our harvest! Firstfruit offerings can only be offered at the very beginning of the produce. When we bring the Firstfruit offering, God promises to bless our entire harvest.

We also talked about a promise that is not well known — in Exodus 34:24 — “For I am going to expel nations ahead of you and expand your territory, and no one will even covet your land when you go up to appear before Adonai your God three times a year.” This is referring to the three Pilgrimage Feasts (Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Shavuot, and Feast of Sukkoth) — on these dates, all adult males are to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem, bringing a specified offering.

Yeshua promised the disciples that, when He went away, He would send the Spirit. This happened on Shavuot. The same day the Torah was given to Moses is the same day that the Spirit was given to the Jewish believers, so they could be empowered to walk in the Torah.

If we compare the story in Exodus 19 (when Moses was given the Torah) and the story in Acts 2 (when Yeshua gave the Spirit), we see some common occurrences — a loud sound coming from the heavens, fire and smoke, and rushing, violent wind.

What is the significance of the “tongues of fire”, and the empowerment to speak in other tongues. Remember the Tower of Babel? YHWH confused and separated everyone, by creating several different languages. When the Spirit was given to the church, YHWH put the scattered folks back together — under the power of His tongues.

Also, consider the book of James that discusses the tongue, the little member of our bodies, and yet it can cause so much destruction. Consider Proverbs 18:21, that says that “life and death are in the power of the tongue.” Man cannot tame his own tongue, but YHWH can! When we yield our tongue to the Spirit, and let him speak through us, we are going to speak LIFE, not death! We can change the course of our lives with our tongue.

The message of Shavuot is this:

1) Bring our very first produce to the Lord and He will bless the rest of the harvest.

2) Moses gave us the Torah on stone tablets, and the Spirit wrote the Torah on our stony hearts.

3) When we obey YHWH’s instruction to come before Him during the three pilgrimage festivals, He enlarges our territory and keeps our enemies away from our property.

4) When we yield our tongue to the Spirit, we produce a harvest that brings LIFE.

And thus, we have completed our 50-day cycle of Counting the Omer! SHALOM! Blessings on your crop!

Yeshua’s “Last Will and Testament”

June 2, 2016

Imagine if this was your dying day, and you knew you would be saying your final good-byes to your closest loved ones. What would you say? These final words would be the most urgent things you could express, the matters that were most important to your heart.

For 40 days, we have been counting the omer, during the days of the maturing harvest of barley, and leading to the celebration of first fruits of the wheat harvest. It was during these 40 days after Yeshua arose from the grave (and many more after Him) that He appeared suddenly and unexpectedly to his disciples, and to several hundred people at a time. Now it was the 40th day — the day when He knew He would be ascending into the heavens. It would be his final moments with his beloved disciples. What did He say to them in His parting words?

In Acts 1:3, it says “During a period of forty days they saw him, and he spoke with them about the Kingdom of God.” Of course, the Kingdom of God was an important topic! But what was the topic in the very final moments (Luke 24, Mark 16, and Acts 1)? Acts 1:8 says ” But you will RECEIVE POWER when the Ruach HaKodesh comes upon you; you will BE MY WITNESSES both in Jerusalem and in all Judah and Samaria, indeed to the ends of the earth!”

This was Yeshua’s “last will and testament” to the heirs of the Kingdom, and He expected them to execute His final wishes. He instructed the disciples to stay together, waiting for the promise from the Father, the gift of the Spirit. His Spirit would empower them to be witnesses. What is the duty of a witness? It is to testify! To speak the truth! To tell what they had seen and heard and experienced, to the best of their ability!

These parting words were for them, and for all Yeshua’s disciples. Notice, we are to start with the Jewish people — Jerusalem, Judah and Samaria, and then the rest of the world. Yeshua told the woman at the well that “salvation comes from the Jews” (John 4:22). Romans 2:9-10 shows us the Father’s order — “to the Jew first”, in suffering and in blessing. The “Great Commission” is to receive the Spirit’s power, and to preach the gospel to the Jew first! Are we fulfilling the final, most important words of Yeshua?