Musing on Remembering Pentecost

Yesterday, Sunday May 27th, 2012, was Pentecost Sunday. Unfortunately, that is a fact that many people in the church were unaware of. In most churches during most years, Pentecost Sunday comes and goes without even a mention.  It seems that by a large, a good portion of the church has simply forgotten Pentecost.  It is a day that should never be forgotten and people need to wake up and remember.  The early church fathers I think would be appalled if they were to find that such an important day is rarely remembered.  We celebrate Jesus birth, we celebrate Jesus sacrifice and resurrection, but we fail to acknowledge God giving us the comforter, the one who empowers us.  The question is why do we forget?

The day of Pentecost falls on the Biblical feast day of Shavout also known as the Feast of Weeks or Feast of first fruits. It is a day very important to God, and it is one in which He has moved to give important gifts.  It is not only the day in which the Holy Spirit came to indwell those who have been redeemed, it is also the day he provided the Torah.  God has chosen on this day to give both His instruction and His empowerment. It is a day of sealing and cementing His promises and establishing connection with mankind. 

So the question is why do we forget something so important?  Why is the day not attended to?  One could post many theories but at some level the shift comes from a looking to God’s direction and moving in our own way.  God gave us guidance through Torah and the Holy Spirit, yet we all too often want to go our own way, do our own thing, and determine our relationship with God.  We may grow in knowledge of God and grasp varied orthodox understandings of God, but do we at heart, deep down have a God directed relationship. Others may embrace spiritual experience but the focus is on what feels good, feels powerful, or looks cool but lacks depth or growth.  Do we seek Him for guidance and empowerment or do we ask God to bless us as we go about doing our own thing?  Do we follow God, and surrender to Him or just do what we want to do?  I think in essence, it comes down to that question. Going the way of self or going the way of surrender.

So here is a challenge on this day of remembrance, take time to remember God.  Take time to examine where you have gone your own way versus walking in submission to Him. Let God bring to mind what He asks of you as you move ahead.  Each us will continue to have a choice. Follow God’s ways and surrender to Him. Grow in walking His path and let Him enable each step. The other choice is the way of self. Each of us need to wake up and remember.  For God and His ways have not changed, He has shown and provided a narrow way to walk in and given us the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us along the way. So wake up and remember for God is with us, every day.

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Pentecost Sunday Musing: Holy Spirit Empowerment

Today, Sunday 6/12/2011 is Pentecost Sunday[i]. It is the day that focuses on our being filled with the Holy Spirit. It is also known as the Jewish festival Shavuot.[ii]  In terms of previous thoughts regarding Pentecost please read https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/shavoutpentecost-musings/ and https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/2010/05/23/musings-on-pentecost-sunday-shavu%e2%80%99ot/ in addition to today’s article.  Also please take time to celebrate having God with us and being in-dwelt with the Holy Spirit.

God set aside this day for a reason and a purpose. God specifically directed the disciples to wait. They were not to go off on their own and start sharing the good news about Salvation, they needed what they did not yet have.  See, on this day something happened that had not occurred before. Sure, there were instances of people being empowered by the Holy Spirit including Moses, David, Elijah, Elisha, and others.  But there never had been the moment where God took up residence within the human spirit. It was the day that the following of God’s truth and God’s ways was given the empowerment through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit enabling God with us, every day. It was the day that God’s ways, God’s law started being written on the hearts of humanity and daily fellowship with the creator enabled. 

Granted, there is a lot of ways folks understand and misunderstand the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  But, God made it clear that there is no fruit and progress without the Holy  Spirit. He directed the disciples to wait, to not go off on their own power to spread the gospel. Something else was needed.  Even then, he directed them to start local and move outward.  There were specific steps for specific times.  Now we may not always grasp or understand. At times we may be waiting, but God does go before us. He provides us what we need, when we need it. The Holy Spirit within us is evidence of this. But God gives when He gives in accordance with His will with what is necessary.  It may not match our viewpoint or understanding at all; for we do not see things clearly, only in part.  Think for a moment to what it would be like to be a disciple and having seen Jesus ascended and being directed to wait without having any idea what was coming.  Then Pentecost comes and the Holy Spirit comes and indwells. What a glorious day but no one could have possibly known what it meant until it happened. 

 

Now note that God still gives what in accordance with His will with what is necessary. It does not always line up or look like we think it should. We are told to listen and follow. We are to wait when directed to wait and we are to move forward when God says move forward. Each step involves trust.  Each instance and circumstance and life is unique.  Too often, each of us can look toward a certain way God moved and apply it broader.  But each circumstance, each person, each life is unique. God works in us all, and those of us who have submitted to God’s way and follow the true path have God with us. It is not a special thing about any of us, it is not a ‘divine spark.’ It is God taking up residence within us, to give us the power and direction to respond to God’s truth and love God and others in accordance with God’s will.  We simply need to trust and obey and be about what God directs each day. We are given power to do so each day, but it requires a daily surrender to the Holy Spirit and a seeking out and following God’s direction but in God’s word and in the prompting of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Doing so makes each day a glorious day and leads us into the path of contentment recognizing that we can do all things through God’s empowerment which is enabled by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Thank God for this day, many years ago that allows me to walk, write, and do what God sets before me when I surrender daily.  It is this that enables us all to be conquerors and empowered to do whatever is ahead. For none of us can do what God directs on our own accord, just as the disciples needed the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, so to we need this empowerment. It starts with surrender and following God with trust and obedience.  He gives the power, we just need to stay in step. When we are obedient and not relying on self, we can know that God will see us through to where He wants us, for He is promised is always faithful and He has given us the means to be empowered for whatever He asks in whatever circumstance.

Musings on Pentecost Sunday (Shavu’ot)

Sunday May 23rd, 2010 is the day of the Anniversary of Pentecost. It is also the day of the Biblical Festival know as Shavu’ot which means Festival of Weeks. It is also known as Hag ha-Bikkurim: Festival of First Fruits and Hag Matan Torateinu: the Festival of the Giving of Torah. So this day is a day that God has chosen as a day of significance and He gave two significant gifts on this day. This day paints a picture of God’s initiation and our response. God’s initiation involved two things.

The first gift from God was of the Torah, the Law, which provided the way and directions to be free from idolatry and immorality and pointed the way to Jesus. It is a day where focus in on what God has established and the importance of surrendering to Him, to walk in His way. One of the practices on this day in Jewish households is the reading of the book of Ruth, which really emphasizes the total surrender to God, of following His way not our way. It also points to the redeeming work of God, through Jesus the Messiah, to establish the way for all that may follow. Now here is an important fact. The Torah serves to lead us to the need of repentance; a written standard exposed the sinfulness and deceitfulness of the heart. The Torah exposes the need for repentance and surrender pointing to the eternal answer. The Torah serves as the lamp showing the way, the way being Jesus.

The other gift from God given on this day, was the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. He is the means by which God’s ways and laws our written on our hearts. The Holy Spirit empowers and brings us to repentance and surrender. On this day, the Holy Spirit came to all who believed. No longer was the Holy Spirit limited to a select few God chose to anoint. Rather, the Holy Spirit indwells all who surrender to God and enter into His Kingdom found through Jesus and what He did at the cross. Being made clean and whole enable the Holy Spirit to reside within, guiding us day by day moment by moment. The being indwelt with the Holy Spirit enables worship in spirit and truth, for without that ongoing presence we all falter.

Ultimately through God’s gifts, He simply gave fully of Himself to give us what we need, to set us free. God’s gifts need a response, an act of worship. Worship exhibited by bringing the first of everything produced during the early Harvest. It is the starting point of all that comes ahead, but it is when the initial rewards are returned back to God as an act of submission. It is a representation of giving fully of self, of surrendering to God fully. God’s precious gifts should bring about a response of total surrender and as we surrender, we receive more from God. When we surrender to the Holy Spirit he is able to move in sanctifying, empowering, and healing. The surrender results in more fruit and a greater Harvest. A genuine response to God of giving back results in God being free to do more. Any such response is one based not on compulsion but on true joy over what God has already given.

What God has given us is precious; freedom from idolatry, darkness, immorality, and selfishness. He has given us Salvation. He has given us life. He has given us His words to direct and the Holy Spirit to lead and empower. It is a wondrous day. How then do you respond to day and the days to come? Do you surrender fully? Do you find ways to respond in love? Do you seek to please God or satisfy self? Check yourself and see what is your response, and if it falters, then wake up and recognize what God has given and done. Reflect on where you were and how He has changed you. Give of yourself as He requests with all you are from the first to the last and ever moment in-between.

The Correct Pentecost/Shavout Date: Lessons on getting things right!

Actually contrary to my previous post the correct date of Pentecost was actually May 31st rather then May 29th as widely reported on both Jewish and Messianic information site.  The error of date was pointed out during forum discussion here: http://www.peacebringer.net/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1661 and was given sound correction on the matter.  Craig, an author of several blogs with his primary blog being www.messianicmusings.com, actually provided sound detailed information:

The original Hebrew of the relevant passage (I’m not going to look it up at this hour, so this is a loose rewording) says, on the morrow after the Sabbath, hold a sacred assembly (Feast of First Fruits) and then count off seven sabbaths(49 days) and on the morrow after THAT Sabbath, hold a sacred assembly (on the 50th day, which is Shavuot/Pentecost).

As a result, counting from the Feasts of First Fruits, Saturday, May 30 (Gregorian) is Day 49 of the counting of the Omer, so Sunday, May 31 is Shavuot/Pentecost.

So why do so many people – including the rabbis – get it wrong? It has to do with the difficulties of translation, actually.

You see, many people base their impression of the relevant passage on a Greek translation of the Old Testament, known as the Septuagint. In the Septuagint, the rabbis translated “sabbaths” as “weeks.” And that began the confusion.

See, the whole question of when to start counting comes from this. You see, first fruits is to be held “the morrow after the Sabbath,” but it doesn’t say WHICH sabbath specifically at that exact point in the text. So the rabbis (and many in the Christian church) said “Gee, Passover is a Sabbath, too… so first fruits must start the day after that.”

But Passover falls on a different day of the Gregorian week each year. This year, Passover was on a Wednesday and therefore many held First Fruits on Thursday and started counting from that point… because the Greek Septuagint says “weeks” not “sabbaths.” That puts the 50th day on Friday, May 29.

But there’s a problem with all that, or many problems.

First and foremost is this: the Greek Septuagint is a TRANSLATION, not the source language. The source language is the Hebrew, so we need to pay attention to what the Hebrew says, not the Greek.

And the Hebrew word is SHABBATH (Sabbath) not SHAVU’OT (weeks). Count off seven regular Sabbaths is therefore the more accurate translation… meaning the rabbis who translated the Septuagint got it wrong.

Here’s another problem: You can’t count off seven sabbaths and have the morrow AFTER THE SABBATH be the 50thday, unless you get lucky and passover falls on a sabbath (seventh day) that year.

So, the only correct way to read the passage… linguistically, even… not theologically… is that you hold first fruits on the morrow following the next regular sabbath and start counting off seven regular sabbathsfrom there, with the count beginning on the first day of the week (Sunday). Only in this way will the 50th day fall on the morrow after the seventh sabbath, which would be Shavuot/Pentecost.

Now, here’s where there’s a nice TREAT in the spring festivals for Messianics and Christians alike…

If First Fruits is practiced in the proper way… the morrow after the next regular sabbath, so you can count off 49 days and have the 50th day be another morrow after the sabbath and not just any old day… then here’s what happens:

First Fruits is actually symbolic of the resurrection… Yeshua rose on the the first day of the week! This, I think, is why the rabbis probably started counting the Omer differently… as a reaction to Christianity/first-century Yeshua-followers.

If you then count off the Omer, Shavuot/Pentecost ALSO falls on a first day of the week (Sunday).

Does this mean the Sabbathis changed to the first day of the week? No, but I won’t re-open THAT controversy here at length.

It should just be nice to know that when one starts the counting of the omerproperly by placing First Fruits on the morrow after a regular Sabbath, then the resurrection symbolism is restored to that feast of the L-RD because that’s when Yeshua rose from the dead… on a Feast of First Fruits… on the first day of the week (Sunday)!

By rendering the placement of First Fruits as immediately after Passover, as most rabbis do, and rendering the counting as “weeks” instead of “sabbaths,” the spring festivals are thus disconnected from their fulfillment in Yeshua… which would lead folks astray from a proper understanding.

Hope this helps.

The very fact that I had the date wrong on when Shavout really occuredis a real learning experience and gives some important lessons. The first lesson is again the importance of checking out the sources of information and continually be looking for the truth.  It was really easy to look, find the date, and accept it as accurate and act on that information, as I did.   In sense we can often go by what we are told and assume it is correct without verifying for self.  However, the seeking of truth means one needs to check, verify, and recheck the validity of a matter. 

The other lesson that strikes me as important is how easily we settle for what has been established. The fact that multiple sites including those from a “Messianic” perspective just failed to recognize when the counting of Omer is actually to start.  We can easily stick with the way things have always been reported and practiced without challenging ourselves.  This becomes a form of inertia and gives us an inability to be taught.

In actuality, one can find upon looking folks that will insist that the Pentecost calculation should be done differently and give even what seems solid evaluation of the differences.  When I think of this fact, whether we have the day correct or not really becomes irrelevant, what matters is what we do in faith before God and what he leads us to do.  For me Romans 14:4-9 really stress what any believer in Jesus in Messiah should hold to as a mindset: 

(ESV)4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

So when it comes down to it, Biblically which day is considered as a day to honor before God is irrelevant, what is important is that we bring honor to God.  Yet, sometimes each of us can get so caught up in “getting things right” that we ultimately start bringing honor to our point of view rather then ultimately honoring God.  We can become so wrapped up in being right that we lose sight that it is all about bringing Honor to God, to Jesus, and to the Holy Spirit. 

 

 

Shavout/Pentecost Musings

Today is an important day in the Church. Today is the day upon which the Holy Spirit came and indwelt man. Today is the day that we received the Comforter who was promised. Today is the day of celebration of the first fruits of the harvest, those that initially recognized Yeshua/Jesus as messiah. It is a day where Joel 2:28-29 was fulfilled as delineated by Peter in Acts 2:1-41:

 1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

 5Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs-we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

 13Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”  14Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
 17” ‘In the last days, God says,
      I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
   Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
      your young men will see visions,
      your old men will dream dreams.
 18Even on my servants, both men and women,
      I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
      and they will prophesy.
 19I will show wonders in the heaven above
      and signs on the earth below,
      blood and fire and billows of smoke.
 20The sun will be turned to darkness
      and the moon to blood
      before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
 21And everyone who calls
      on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

 22“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25David said about him:
   ” ‘I saw the Lord always before me.
      Because he is at my right hand,
      I will not be shaken.
 26Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
      my body also will live in hope,
 27because you will not abandon me to the grave,
      nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
 28You have made known to me the paths of life;
      you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

 29“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. 32God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. 33Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,
   ” ‘The Lord said to my Lord:
      “Sit at my right hand
 35until I make your enemies
      a footstool for your feet.” ‘

 36“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

 37When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

 38Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

 40With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

 

Now doing a bit of research the Celebration of Pentecost was known for two things, the giving of Torah and the two loaves of bread. Now, with the coming of the Holy Spirit we have the law written on our hearts in fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:33:

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.

 

 

Here is a chart comparing the First Pentecost and Pentecost after Jesus found here: http://biblicalholidays.com/Pentecost/Messiah-in-Pentecost.htm

First Pentecost

Pentecost After Christ

The Commandments Given The Holy Spirit Given
Fifty days from the crossing of the Red Sea Fifty days from the resurrection of Christ
Law of Yahweh written in Stone Law of Yahweh written on our hearts
Three thousand slain Three thousand receive salvation
The letter of the Law The Spirit of the Law

 

The second symbol associated with Pentecost is the two leaven loaves of bread. These two loaves related to both Jews and Gentiles who are now one through Jesus the Messiah. The above site illustrates another chart regarding the symbolism:

Symbol

Represents

Grain of wheat Messiah (John 12:23-24)
Two Loaves with leaven (Lev. 23:15-17) Jewish and Gentile believers in Messiah
As the wheat is beaten and
refined as fine flour (Lev. 23:17)
Messiah beaten, sifted, and crushed (Isa. 28:28, 52:14; 53:1-6)
Harvest Salvation Rain Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

So, with those thoughts, today is a day of celebration. The question is for each and every believer is really a time to both reflect on what God has done and celebrate his presence in your life. It would also be a good day to pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, which to me comes down to praying that Jews recognize Yeshua as Messiah Son of David and to place their faith in Yeshua. For only in Yeshua is there true peace!