We are in the midst of celebrating the holiday of Shavuot/Pentecost. It is one of the greatest of all the Jewish holidays for a multitude of reasons. However, I am going to get very personal and share with you what has been revealed to me over the last few weeks regarding the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life and the miracle of Shavuot/Pentecost. I hope you will give me a little leeway and lots of mercy and grace.
Shavuot/Pentecost occurs fifty days after the Spring Feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits). In the Modern/Rabbinic Jewish understanding of the holiday, it is believed that Shavuot/Pentecost coincides with the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. The holiday today in the Jewish community, especially the Orthodox ones, often includes an all-night Bible study of the book of Ruth and other Biblical passages.
In the Christian tradition, we remember the holiday as Pentecost and the arrival of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. And depending upon your comfort level, some either REALLY celebrate the holiday or others sit on their hands in FEAR. So … the question then is where and how is the truth? Is the Modern Jewish tradition correct? Is the Christian tradition correct? And my fully opinionated answer is … BOTH.
I have no idea whether or not it was on Shavuot/Pentecost that God gave Moses the Torah at Mount Sinai. It is a tradition; however, I love the concept of devoting a period of time to all-night Bible study. I also do however know that the Holy Spirit arrived to indwell the hearts/souls of believers in Messiah on the first Shavuot/Pentecost following Jesus’ Ascension to heaven (Acts 2).
Therefore, I would like to make a couple of quick observations as we both Jewish and Gentile arrive at this Shavuot/Pentecost 2017 period.
- We need to return to the Scripture of the Torah, Prophets, Writings and the New Testament. We have abandoned a serious study of God’s Word for books about the Word of God. Whether it is the Talmud or Mishnah in the Jewish world or whether it is Beth Moore and John Piper books in the Christian world, we need to focus instead on what the Scripture has to say and not on what someone else has to say about it. I would like to challenge non-theologians to challenge themselves to take on the task of learning Biblical Greek and Hebrew so that they are not dependent on commentaries and other resources. Stand on your own two theological feet!
- Get away from prooftexting God’s Word. This is a sin of the first degree in Biblical study and those who knowingly engage in it … SHAME ON YOU! Those who accidentally do it … STOP IT! The Word of God must be read in the sense of the whole Canon of His Word and not in isolation or by itself in individual verse. And in case you are in doubt, here is a definition:
Prooftexting is the practice of using isolated quotations from a document to establish a proposition. Using discrete quotations is generally seen as decontextualised. Critics note that such quotes may not accurately reflect the original intent of the author, and that a document quoted in such a manner may not in fact support the proposition for which it was cited when read as a whole. (FREEBASE Dictionary)
- The Holy Spirit arrived on the Day of Pentecost/Shavuot to indwell those who received the gift of salvation secured through the atoning and sacrificial gift of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection via the Spring Feasts. What we see in the story of Acts 2 on Shavuot/Pentecost is the, for the lack of a better expression because words fail me at this moment, is the realization of the Trinity at work — God the Father is the Sovereign King of the universe, God the Son through His redemptive act provided the salvific act for the universe and God the Holy Spirit indwells those of the universe who receive the salvation gift. This is mindblowing! And I am sure/confident that I have mangled explaining it but I am still in awe and grateful for the reality of it all.
Thankfully, the Word of God (see below) explains it much better than I do if we only understood and studied it more. And this is another point of why Shavout/Pentecost is so important … STUDY TO SHOW THYSELF APPROVED! And a better much use of time than trying to figure out what #covefefe means!
ROMANS 8:9-11 — But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
GALATIANS 4:6 — And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.