This weeks post is coming a bit early. Shavuot is the festival that will be observed beginning at sundown tonight, Saturday, June 8, and continue unto sundown, Monday, June 10. Christians will acknowledge Pentecost on Sunday, June 9. Essentially these are the same holiday although the main focus is slightly different. Both of these holidays are frequently overlooked and probably the least celebrated by both people groups, arriving less than 2 months after Passover and Easter. Nonetheless, we should give this special day priority as a day of remembrance as one of three Moed,מועד, festivals or appointed days as a lasting ordinance by the LORD. It is also a sweet occasion to remind us of the generous nature of our ABBA, Father.
“ ‘From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD. Leviticus 23:14-17 NIV
Similarly, both observances, Shavuot and Pentecost, remember a sweet gift from God to His children. Our Jewish friends, remember the giving of the Law, the 10 Commandments, to Moses on Mount Sinai.
Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ Exodus 19:3-6a NIV
To Christians the importance of Pentecost is on the sending of the Holy Spirit to the faithful as recorded in the book of Acts. After Christ's ascension, the Talmidim were to wait for the Counselor to come which arrived as fire upon those believing in the Lordship of Yeshuah.
After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized withthe Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:3-5 NIV
The Hebrew emphasis of Shavuot is on learning, which is why some stay up all night reading and studying Yahweh's Law all night, absorbing the goodness of what He has provided. The books of the Law are the life line, or rules for living, to the Hebrew people. They revere and thirst for the contents with a sincere affection for the very words from God's lips to their heart.
97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.
148 My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises. Psalm 119:97,99 and 148 NIV
Blintzes, fruit covered cheese cakes and other dairy products are added to the menu, which is unusual, for a major holiday. During most other festivals, dairy is restricted, but on Shavuot, dairy may serve as a reminder of the Kosher laws that were handed down on this day which limited the meat sources for the ancient Israelites or perhaps it is simply a beautiful picture of God's love for us as demonstrated in the additional Shavuot readings from the Book of Ruth.
“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17 NIV
The Book of Ruth is not only a precious story of one Gentile's devotion to her mother-in-law, but also emphasizes the result when we voluntarily choose to act when it is not easy, convenient, or does not appear to be in our own best interest. Ruth was not bound by Hebrew tradition to stay with the mother of her deceased husband since she was a Moabite. However, her devotion to Naomi was deep and she was committed to caring for her. Through her obedience, Elohim made her legacy one which brought forth a king who was similarly devoted to Yehovhah, a man after God's own heart.
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife... and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” ...they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. Ruth 4:13-17 NIV
Dear friend, I encourage you to read the story of Ruth to be reminded of God's faithfulness to those who commit their lives to the precepts that were provided to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Read the listing of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. Then read the first two chapters of the book of Acts. Our wondrous Creator God made a plan for those who love Him. He guides us by His precepts, redeems us through His lovingkindness, and has provided a Counselor to help us walk in relationship with Him while on the earth He created. Make a cup of coffee, cut a slice of cheesecake and settle into a comfy chair. The readings may take you a bit of time, maybe not all night, but in the end you will "taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him." (Psalm 34:8 KJV)
Loving, omnipotent Adonai, there is no end to what You will do to rescue, redeem and restore those whose hearts belong to You so our relationship may be one of devotion and humble service to You, the One who has given every good gift. May Shavuot become a priority in our lives as we draw near to Your holy throne of grace, feast upon Your Word, and have every hunger and thirst satisfied by our Counselor who dwells within us. Amen.