The rhythms of God are rhythms of preparation.
PREPARING FOR SHAVUOT
Have you ever failed to prepare for something important and then when the event came along, watched the whole thing turn to custard, knowing that it was largely due to your lack of preparation?
Have you ever prepared for something and then when the time came, felt completely fulfilled in the doing of it, knowing that your preparation had given you an edge you’d never have had if you’d simply winged it?
The rhythms of God are rhythms of preparation.
My preparation for Shavuot [Pentecost] began forty-nine days ago on a day known as Yom ha-Bikurim, the day of first fruits. The popular view of the P’rushim claims that this day falls on the day following the high Sabbath of Pesach [Passover]. However, it’s interesting to note that the Tzedukiym held to the belief that the Sabbath in question is the weekly Sabbath of Pesach, which is the day Yeshua rose from the grave. This was the day of first fruit when the first barley stalks were gathered and waved before God as an offering.
"You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to HaShem. You shall bring from your dwelling places two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour, and they shall be baked with leaven, as firstfruits to HaShem.” –Leviticus 23:15-17
The rhythms of God encompass all areas of life.
The resurrection of Messiah is not the end of God’s story; it’s a new beginning for ethnic Israel and the nations. Just as Israel counts the days [Omer] in anticipation of the feast of weeks and of the hope it reveals, we also count the days in hope for our Messiah’s return.
Are you allowing God to encompass all areas of your life?
Being intentional in our waiting is a devotional discipline, a practice of hope.
Our family is awaiting a holiday. The girls are counting down the days and we are now only 13 days away from leaving for Canada to visit family and friends. Our counting gives us a vehicle of hope, causing the growing damp of the Auckland winter to glycine with the light of future sunny Canadian summer days.
What has God promised you?
Do you trust Him to fulfil His promise?
Are you counting the days?
Are you preparing for the time when it will come to pass?
The rhythms of God bring hope in the waiting places.
Are you waiting on God for something?
The way you wait will not change the timing of God but it will determine the way you respond to Him when the appointed time comes.
LIGHTING THE FESTIVAL LIGHTS
God’s rhythms are rhythms of light.
The light (Or ha-olam: Yeshua) shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome Him.
Are you in a dark place? Ask Yeshua (Jesus) to overcome that darkness.
BRINGING A FREEWILL OFFERING
Offerings are for our benefit. The ability to give an offering reminds us that we are secure in God’s provision for us because that which we offer to God is from the abundance He has already given us.
“You are to observe the festival of Shavu‘ot [weeks] for Adonai your God with a voluntary offering, which you are to give in accordance with the degree to which Adonai your God has prospered you.” –Deuteronomy 16:10
If you are commanded to give something it becomes an obligation and no longer a gift. For example the compulsory gift that many schools ask of parents. Parents begrudgingly give this money. Or rather, pay this bill. During Shavuot God asks Israel to give freely from her abundance.
When you love someone, you want to give them something nice. You don’t begrudge them a wonderful gift. Often you will even venture beyond your means to bless them.
Do you perceive God to be like a demanding Power company asking for a bill payment?
Do you love Him?
Bondage comes from obligation but Freedom comes from love.
God doesn’t need your money. He doesn’t need you to do anything for Him. He wants you. He desires your love.
Is what you’re doing for God impairing your walk with him?
God’s rhythms are for our good.
God doesn’t eat the offering, we do. The priests of the false gods who lived around Israel offered their food and cattle to their gods, often believing that the god would literally eat the food. This food was wasted and benefited no one. The God of Israel on the other hand, gifted the offering back to the people, wasting nothing. Obedience to God in this practice was to be a reminder of His goodness; a lesson in gratefulness. Failure to keep this feast meant missing out on a wonderful banquet and celebration amongst the community of Israel. Remember the words of Messiah. “The Sabbath was made for human beings and not human beings for the Sabbath.”
THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
In light of all this, let’s consider the giving of the Holy Spirit.
During the Shavuot of 33 CE, the children of Israel came to Jerusalem from throughout the known world to present their tithes and freewill gifts to God. Because it was traditional to read the book of Ruth and the account of the giving of the Torah at this festival, their minds were on those events as well as on God’s physical provision of grain. They were also remembering King David and the anniversary of his death which was celebrated on the first day of Shavuot. While there, God gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit. They themselves became a sort of tithe, a small portion of a much larger harvest of souls that God had begun at the resurrection of His Son fifty days prior. They were a second firstfruits, Messiah being the first.
“When the day of Shavuot [Pentecost] arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided languages as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Ruach ha-Kodesh [Holy Spirit] and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians-we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine." Kefa [Peter], standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. (9am) But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
"'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of HaShem shall be saved.'”
"Men of Israel, hear these words: Yeshua [Jesus] of Natzeret, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know-this Yeshua [Jesus], delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it. For David says concerning him,
'I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to sheol [Place of the dead], or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.'”
"Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the place of the dead, nor did his body see decay. This Yeshua [Jesus] God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Ruach ha-Kodesh [Holy Spirit], He has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
‘HaShem said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.'
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Yeshua [Jesus] whom you crucified."
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" And Kefa [Peter] said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Yeshua [Jesus] Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself."
And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." So those who received his word were immersed [In the mikveh], and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” –Acts 2:1-41
© 2016 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.