Shavuot Holiday June 11

ShavuotTorah reading: Exodus 19:1 - 20:23, Deutronomy 15:19 - 16:17, Numbers 28:26-31, Leviticus 23:15-22

Haftarah: Ezekiel 1:1 - 28, 3:12, Habakkuk 3:1-19

Megilah: The book of Ruth

Psalm: 68, 29, 19

NT: John 14:15-26, Acts 2, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:30-32

This Sunday we celebrate Shavuot - "the week holiday". It is called that because we count 7 weeks from Passover till Shavuot, as you can read in the relevant Torah readings. In greek the holiday is called pentecost, after the seven weeks. The Torah portions in Numbers and Leviticus speak of the holiday as a purely agricultural holiday, the day of harvest. However, in the Jewish tradition this is also the day that we received the Torah at mount Sinai, and that's why we read the relevant passages in Exodus.

This tradition is very likely true, since we can see in the book of Acts that the first church received the Holy Spirit on the same day, when they were gathered to celebrate Shavuot. There is a clear equivalence here:

On Passover the children of Israel were released from the physical slavery in Egypt, but they were orphans and didn't know where to go or what to do, except follow the cloud pillar to Mount Sinai. Similarly, after Yeshua gave us the final atonement and released us from the slavery to sin, the first apostles didn't know what to do, except following Yeshua's instructions to wait for the Holy Spirit.

On the day of Shavuot, the children of Israel received God's holy Torah. The precise instructions from God on how to live a pure life and which sacrifices to make when sin needs to be atoned. In the same way, the apostles received the Holy Spirit - the supernatural manifestation of God's power that makes the Christian a new creature that desires a pure life and fellowship with God rather than living in sin.

To be set free from slavery in Egypt is not enough - we also needed a Torah to guide us so we have knowledge of what sin is. Similarly, salvation from sin cannot be complete if we continue to live in our old sinful nature. That's why we need the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is a spirit and not matter. He is a person and not a personification. He is God, he dwells in us and if you are filled with him, you will be more and more like Yeshua (2Cor 3:18). He is not a momentarily enthusiasm because his dwelling in us is permanent. If we ignore him he can be grieved or quenched (Ephesians 4:30, 1 Thes 5:19). Let's not do that.

Many of the readings, especially the haftarot and the psalms, emphasize God's awesome power, as manifested on Mount Sinai. The same incredible power was manifested on the day the apostles received the Holy Spirit. He is the creator of the universe, the One and only, the Lord of lords and the King of kings. When we read these passages we should be filled with awe and with holy fear of the Lord. And then comprehend that he has chosen to give us of his spirit.

That is an incredible privilege that is almost impossible to understand. Don't let anyone rob you of that amazing privilege. And don't let life's difficult circumstances rob you of that faith. Don't forget that the house on the rock go through the same storms as the house on the sand, "but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." (Mark 13:13). If you struggle with difficult circumstances in your daily life, let God be your comfort, and make Habakkuk 3:17-19 your prayer.

The holiday starts at sunset on this Saturday evening and continues till Sunday evening. It is tradition to eat food with a lot of milk products (especially cheese cake - milk is a symbol of life), and to play games that involve a lot of water. Water is a symbol of life, and a symbol of both the Torah and of the Holy Spirit.

Chag Sameach - Happy Holiday! Let us rejoice in our Lord!