The Lord (YHVH) commanded the grain offering on Shavuot, (known as Pentecost among Christians), to be made of the finest flour, baked with yeast, that is, leaven. Leaven, in the Bible, is almost universally, a symbol for "sin", and in the OT is strictly forbidden on the altar of YHVH., yet here, in the Feast of Weeks it is commanded as part of the offering. Just six weeks prior to this festival, Israel had spent a week eating unleavened bread, a clear picture of the connection between the Passover Lamb and the removal of sin from our lives. Now the grain offering for Shavuot contains yeast; two loaves with it. Why? A common interpretation of this for NT believers is that the loaves represent Jews and Gentiles, the two types of redeemed people, who, of course, still contain sin in our lives.
This Saturday evening begins the celebration of Shavuot. Most Christians might recognize this as the celebration of Pentecost in Acts 2. However, the very first Shavuot actually took place fifty days after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea about 1500 years before Acts was even written. It was on this day that the law was given on tablets of stone.
One of the greatest moves of God took place in 1727 on the estate of Count Zinzendorf. Count Zinzendorf was a strong believer who was deeply influenced by the faith of his grandmother and aunt. At the tender age of 22, he opened a portion of his estate to refugees seeking asylum from the religious persecution throughout Europe.
When the Torah was given on Shavuot in the days of Moses, the sin of the golden calf resulted in the death of 3,000 men. Some 1500 years later at the same season the Holy Spirit descended causing 3,000 men to be saved! The Lord has never changed; His mercy and His holiness are the same throughout all ages. But the contrast of these two historical events during the same Holy Day may be seen as a powerful illustration of this principle: “the letter [of the Law] kills, but the Spirit gives life." (2 Corinthians 3:6)
Between the years 1861-1865 the United States found itself in the midst of a bitter civil war over the issue of slavery, and several other serious disagreements. By the time the North won the war nearly 620,000 soldiers had perished. There were many in the North who were so embittered that the South had dragged them into such a deadly conflict that they wanted the South to pay dearly.
Luke 10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Have you ever thought about how much power God releasing in our midst right now? Is it 20%… 50%… 100% of His great power?? I […]
It ought to be obvious to all of us believers that we are in a spiritual war that is taking place all over the earth — and that we are called to fight in this battle. In the world's armies, soldiers are not sent into battle before receiving many months of serious training. They need to get physically in shape first and then to learn how to handle different wartime situations and tactics of the enemy.
The first man was called "Ah-dom", we know him as "Adam". The word used for "man", as in "mankind", in Genesis 1, is also the same word – "Ah-dom". "Ah-dom" is rooted in the three Hebrew letters, aleph-dalet-mem, and one of the Hebrew words for earth is "Adamah", which contains the same three letters, however it ends with the Hebrew letter "hay". "Adamah" means "red earth", or "red clay", and this word points to the natural earth elements, the "earth dust" that composed Adam’s body, and the body of every human being since. "Man" is "ah-dom", in a very real sense, "clay".
There is a process going on in us believers. Since the day the Holy Spirit came to dwell in us He has been at work with perfect wisdom and supernatural power to renew and transform our character, to some extent, our personality, and even our physical body. Our outward man, this mortal body with it's natural weakness and sinful ways was doomed to death and is "wasting away" even now.
Early in his life David was forced to flee from his king and father-in-law, Saul — to flee for his life. During this long season of exile and hiding David began to find himself surrounded by loyal friends who joined themselves to him. But these were friends of an unusual kind: they were men who had all been unhappy, distressed, helpless, or in debt — by and large, the outcasts of the world. But an amazing thing happened to these formerly hapless human beings when they joined with David; they were empowered and became his "mighty men." When David finally became King of Israel, these men were ennobled and raised to be princes and officers in his Kingdom.
During the Great Depression, poverty swept across America like a whirling tornado, ripping up dreams and scattering hopes to the wind. One such poverty twister hit a small part of Texas where a man named Yates ran a sheep ranch. Struggling even to keep food on the table, Yates and his wife did all they could to survive. Finally, they had to accept a government subsidy or lose their home and land to the creditors.
The Lord gave us His promise to send us a helper — the Holy Spirit. The word for "helper" in the NT Greek is "paraclete". This word has more meaning then simply "helper" — it was also an ancient term used in warfare. When Greek warriors went onto the battle field, they went out in pairs, so when the enemy attacked they could stand back-to-back, covering each other's blind side. The battle partner in Greek was called a "paraclete" — he was there to watch your back!
As we celebrate Shavuout, we're looking at the promise given 2000 years ago: that normal people will lead extraordinary lives; that disciples, who were terrified on the night of Yeshua's (Jesus) death, were transformed into bold saints of God; and that fishermen, tax collectors, and housewives – normal everyday people – became empowered, and turned the Roman Empire inside out and upside down!
As we celebrate Shavuot (Pentecost) in a few weeks, my spirit is anxiously awaiting what God will do! Each Shavuot season during the counting of the omer, I love to study past revivals and in studying them, there's two recurring themes that stand out.
Shortly after WWI, Lawrence of Arabia was entertaining some of his Arab friends in Paris. He showed them the sights of the city: the Arc d'Triomph, the Louvre, the Champs Elysees. It was a remarkable irony to Lawrence that these amazing sights were not what most impressed his Arab friends — but rather the bathtub faucet of their hotel room. They were completely astonished that someone could turn a handle…and get all the water he wanted.
While on the road to Damascus, Jesus appeared to Saul, blinded him and directed him to go to Damascus. There, God spoke to Ananias of Saul and told to lay hands on this troubled man. Ananias did as he commanded and Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit, healed of his blindness and immediately baptized.
A National Geographic article published a few years describing a real celestial event which took place at the time of the birth of Jesus reminded me of Risto Santala’s explanation in his book, "The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings". He wrote about a conjunction of major planets that took place which could have led the wise men from the east, to Israel.
I love this passage of scripture. If you can imagine the disciples on this day — they had gone through a roller coaster ride of emotions over the past 50 days. They had seen their Lord crucified. And then had gone into hiding … until they discovered in amazement, He was alive! Just over 7 weeks had transpired and they were now watching Yeshua (Jesus) departing Earth and returning to His Father. The disciples were understandably unsure what was next, and so they asked a very reasonable question — "Lord, will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?"
Often in the Bible you will see the word wind or breath. The root meaning of these words, both in Hebrew and Greek, is almost always Spirit. It is important to keep in mind that we can never dictate which direction the wind will blow. It would be absurd to think we could! The wind blows as it will. And in the same way, the Spirit of God blows where it wishes. Well if this is so, how can we be filled with the Spirit? Must we jump up and catch it and just hope for the best? No.
D.L. Moody has been influential in my personal life as I study and read about his life and ministry in the 1800's. I remember reading a story about how D.L. Moody was preparing to lead a revival throughout England to which an elderly pastor protested and said, "Why do we need this 'Mr. Moody'? He's uneducated, inexperienced, etc. Who does he think he is anyway? Does he think he has a monopoly on the Holy Spirit?"