Be Transformed This Shavuot!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Shavuout

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions.

Leviticus 23:15-17 'And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord. You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the Lord.

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.

So the sequence of these two spring festivals can be seen to illustrate, on the one hand, our perfect deliverance from sin and death through the Passover Lamb (Yeshua); and subsequently, the reality of our true condition as "leavened loaves" offered to the Lord as "first-fruits". We know that having come to faith in Yeshua (Jesus), cleansed by His shed blood, we stand righteous and perfect in Him; and yet, we constantly struggle with our Adamic nature. In this light, Shavuot begins to emerge as a festival marking and illustrating the opportunity and means for our transformation. The Lord's sending forth of His Holy Spirit at this time awakens and empowers us to change; to be inwardly transformed from the old creation into a new creation.

On the day of Pentecost, 2000 years ago, this transformation process was dynamically accelerated and made accessible to every believer. Baptized with the Holy Spirit of God, and with His fire, our sinful nature with all its impurities and "leaven" takes a back seat to the powerful indwelling of the Spirit of Messiah, so that as we continually pray, walk in obedience, and thus cooperate to be filled with His Spirit, we are sanctified and transformed into His likeness – "from glory to glory", and so become His effective witnesses. Praise God that He works with our issues– and is transforming us into a bride without wrinkle or spot!

Allow the Holy Spirit to burn away the impurity of your sinful nature; to purge out the dross, and deeply penetrate your life. The process can be "firey" and involve some painful sacrifices, but the result is purity and the holiness without which no one will see God. And remember that Yeshua is returning soon, greatly anticipating a bride who is prepared for His arrival!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Shavuout

Fill up!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Shavuout

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Jeremiah 31:31-33 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

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.

Interestingly, it was also fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus that Shavuot was celebrated again. But this time, the law of God was written upon the hearts of men, just as God promised through the prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah.

Shavuot is both a celebration of the God's faithfulness in the early harvest and an anticipation of the abundance of the harvest yet to come. This day, a couple of thousand years ago, 3000 Jewish people came to faith in Messiah. The day will soon come when those for whom we've been weeping and petitioning God in prayer will come to know the Lord and all of Israel shall be saved!

Let's pray for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit today, and let's anticipate great things! Be praying for revelation for those we love who haven't yet seen the truth of the Lord. And please also be praying for the salvation of Israel!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Shavuout

Our Goel Lives!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Shavuout

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions.

Job 19:25 For I know that my Redeemer (Goel) lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;

As we continue our study in Ruth during this Shavout season, the theme of redemption is prevalent. We read that Boaz became Naomi and Ruth's "kinsman redeemer", or "goel" – from the Hebrew, "lig'ol", to redeem, receive or buy back. In the Torah, a provision had been made for the poor person who was forced to sell part of his property or even himself (into slavery). This man's nearest of kin could step in and "buy back" or "redeem" what his relative had been forced to sell. [Leviticus 25:25] A slave could be redeemed from his bondage by his "goel" who literally purchased his relative's freedom.

In the story of Ruth, we read that Boaz became Naomi and Ruth's "goel", their kinsman "redeemer". First, Boaz was qualified as kin to Naomi's deceased husband Elimelech [Ruth 2:1]. Secondly, he needed to be able to redeem by paying the price of redemption. [Ruth 4:2-3]. And finally, he was willing to redeem the land which had belonged to Elimelech.[Ruth 4:4].

Naomi's losses had been devastating in Moab. Her husband and two sons had passed away and she had returned to her ancestral homeland a desolate woman, with no inheritance. Her only solace was Ruth, whose love and loyalty were legendary. But Ruth's character of devotion apparently inspired Boaz to love her, and even to ignore her Moabite ancestry; for when Boaz decided to redeem Elimelech's property, he also agreed to marry Ruth. Naomi's life, her inheritance and her destiny were also redeemed in this sweeping transaction. She had returned to Israel in deep bitterness, yet through this beautiful and unexpected redemption her friends exclaim "Blessed be the LORD, which has not left thee this day without a 'goel'. [Ruth 4:14]

The marriage of Ruth and Boaz produced a son named Obed, and a grandson named Jesse, who was the father of King David; four generations of the lineage of Yeshua the Messiah. And through his redemption of Ruth and Naomi, Boaz became a picture of Yeshua (Jesus) our Kinsman-Redeemer, who redeemed us for Himself, out of desolation and slavery to sin, and made us His own beloved bride!

Isn't it amazing how a tiny slice of human history can be filled with such significance and typological meaning? Only God could invest a beautiful human love story with an eternal redemptive purpose. Can we do any less than to fall-or rather rise-hopelessly in love with such a Redeemer?!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Shavuout

Your God Shall Be My God!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Shavuout

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Ruth 1:16-17 But Ruth said: "Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me."

As we continue our study in Ruth, this Shavuot season, I want to suggest a prophetic mystery hidden in this book.

We have seen that names have significant meanings, and as discussed earlier, Elimelech, whose name means "My God is King", left Bethlehem with Naomi his wife and their two sons. The birth of these two boys must have brought joy and happiness, yet, having perished in Moab actually caused their very names to lose their original meanings. The firstborn, Mahlon, which meant "ornament", over the years came to mean "sickly". Their second son, Chilion, derived his name from the Hebrew root for "joy", but his name came to mean, "pining" and "whining". Naomi, whose name means "pleasant", changed her name to Mara, which means "bitterness", saying, "the Lord has dealt very bitterly with me."

Now Ruth, whose name means "friend", remained persistent, despite Naomi's exhorting her to separate and return to Moab. Instead, true to her name and character, Ruth invokes one of the strongest, most beautiful expressions of faith and faithfulness in all of scripture: "For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me." Thus Ruth forsakes her native land and joins herself irrevocably to the nation, people and God of Israel…a truly faithful friend, even to the point of death.

I would like to draw out from the story of Ruth, a possible contemporary meaning and application for us to ponder. I would suggest that Naomi and her two sons can be viewed as a type or picture of the people of Israel, and that Elimilech's decision to leave the Land of Promise with them became a picture of Israel in the diaspora. This present exile of the Jewish people since 70 AD culminating in the holocaust, has often rendered them both "sickly" and "pining" for home, and Naomi's experience outside the land of Israel brought death and desolation upon her.

The modern nation of Israel, birthed after centuries from the ashes of the Holocaust, and a long painful exile, has been suddenly restored to her ancient homeland, yet, in much bitterness, just as Naomi had returned to her homeland from Moab. Yet Ruth's love and faithfulness must have been a profound comfort to her mother-in-law. So, Ruth can be seen as a picture or type of Gentile (Christian) believers, whose faithful love, friendship and comfort bring deep solace to the people of Israel, who are still experiencing the bitterness of the exile and even now, the misunderstanding and opposition of the nations of the world. Many Israelis already know that their truest and most faithful friends in the world today are Bible believing Christians whose love for them is unconditional, and beautifully reflects the devotion of Ruth to Naomi.

Finally, it seems significant that Ruth's loving and faithful character became inspiration for drawing out the redemptive grace of Boaz toward Elimelech's widow, Naomi, so that her family line and inheritance were restored and preserved. As their Kinsman Redeemer, Boaz was deeply moved by the humility and faithfulness of Ruth to her mother-in-law, and as such, she can be seen as a type of intercessor between Boaz and Naomi. For if Boaz is pictured as a type of Yeshua (Jesus) our "Kinsman-Redeemer", then Ruth, lying down "at his feet" can be a picture of believers' humble prayers and intercession for the Jewish people entreating the Lamb of God for the mercy which restores us all to the inheritance which belongs to Him.

If in fact, Ruth can be seen as a "type" for Gentile believers, and Naomi, a picture of Israel, restored to her land, but still in bitterness, then Ruth can be an inspiration and a pattern for Christians who love Israel and who recognize her irrevocable calling as a nation. If the faithfulness of Ruth through love and intercession helped to restore Naomi to her true Kinsman-Redeemer, can it also be that the faithfulness and intercession of Gentile believers will be a powerful influence for the restoration of the Jewish people to their "Kinsman-Redeemer, the Messiah Yeshua Himself? Our friendship with Israel in word and in deed, and our prayers, in the midst of global opposition [Zechariah 14:2] will be a powerful testimony for Yeshua, and will help to remove the veil from Jewish eyes concerning His true identity. As we support the restoration of their Land (a Biblical promise), we also help to open the way for the far greater blessing of eternal life. Doing so, we also will be blessed according to these timeless words; "I will bless them that bless thee, and I will curse them that curse thee!"

Worthy Christian Devotions » Shavuout

Stay in Faith, No Matter What!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Shavuout

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions.

James 5:11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord — that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

During the Biblical festival of Shavuot, the book of Ruth is read. It's a powerful story of faith, restoration and redemption. The book opens with a famine in all the land surrounding Bethlehem, forcing a difficult decision upon Naomi's husband, Elimelech. Now, Bethlehem (beth: "house", lechem: "bread") literally means “house of bread”, so the irony of Elimelech's departure from his home, "house of bread", during a famine, is lost on English speaking readers, but reveals that every detail in the word of God can be meaningful, especially the meanings of names.

Now the name "Elimelech" literally means, “My God is King” — so immediately, another irony appears: a man whose name expresses the personal testimony of God's authority over every circumstance and His complete trustworthiness, decides to leave the Promised Land, and settle in Moab, across the Jordan — a land that had become alien territory for the Israelites because of the Moabites' inhospitable treatment of Israel during the sojourn from Egypt. Elimelech either forgot or ignored the example of the patriarch, Isaac and failed to apply the same faith as his forefather had, and to remain true to his own name!

Genesis 26 recounts how that Issac had thought of leaving Gerar (modern day Gaza) to go to Egypt in hope of finding food in the midst of a famine, but instead, he stood firm in faith and remained in the Promised Land. The Lord's response was to bless Issac a hundred fold that same year! [Genesis 26:12] However, we also read in Genesis 12 how Abraham had left the land during a famine and had encountered problems in Egypt that were as frightening or worse than the famine. So Elimelech had these two illustrations, one positive, one negative, both of which might have moved him to choose to persevere through this difficult time, and remain in the place of his inheritance.

Whatever the immediate cause, it seems that Elimelech's departure from the Promised Land was not to be reversed. He died in Moab, leaving a discouraged widow, and eventually, two widowed daughters-in-law. We might ask, what would have been Elimelech's legacy had he stayed and prayed through this extremely difficult and frightening trial in Caanan? What might have been his "hundred-fold" blessing?

Our world today is experiencing famine in various places, and there are recent predictions of the increase of food shortages even in the prosperous West. Yet famine has many faces, and the various trials and afflictions in our lives can have the same frightening effect to test the metal of our faith. Many of us are being severely tested these days with trials that are shaking us to the core. There are examples of the faithful who have persevered through to victory and received tremendous blessings from the Lord for their stand of unswerving faith. Yet there are also examples of those who somehow did not live up to their own testimony, for failure to stick it out through tough situations. We have these two paths before us.

Yeshua (Jesus) asked this question; "Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?"? And in another place He spoke directly to Satan these timeless words; "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word from the mouth of God." If there was ever a time to believe these words, it is now, even as the world stands on the brink, and the earth groans in the travail of childbirth. Some of us have the opportunity of a lifetime to get through our particular trial, in faith. The Lord Yeshua will be faithful to us, and He will abundantly reward our faith in Him. Let's stay the course.

Worthy Christian Devotions » Shavuout