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The Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost)


Building Sandcastles

SandcastlesMy two young children, ages 10 and 11, love building sandcastles on the shores of the Lake Michigan and any other place suitable for that purpose! More often than not they erect their imposing-looking structures with turrets, moats and walls a little too close to the water mark left behind by the waves lapping the sand shore. An inevitable result of that is that their little castles get washed off their sandy foundations by one of the incoming waves. Undaunted, they begin the process all over again!

The same situation seems to be observable in the realm of Christian theology. The pattern looks thus: in every generation there are many sincere theologians, thinkers and philosophers within the Church that labor without stint in order to create a graceful and believable edifice of Christian theology. Quite often their cumulative efforts bring that theological structure to the new heights of refinement and logic. However, at the point when they seem to be reaching their ultimate goal of a perfectly symmetrical Systematic Theology of the Church, their flimsy construction collapses, being washed away by the waters of the Living Word of God, - the Hebrew Scriptures!

Sandcastles 2All the foundational beliefs of Christendom, such as: (1) The doctrine of Trinity; (2) The teaching that the Church has replaced Israel as God’s Chosen People; (3) The dogma of the Absolute Supremacy of Christ; (4) The doctrine that God’s Law has been rendered null and void in Christian dispensation; (5) The belief that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost marked the birth of the Christian Church and many others are exposed by the cleansing waters of the Hebrew Scriptures to be nothing more than a childish attempt at constructing an imposing theological sandcastle!

Erected too close to the great Shores of the Ocean of God’s Word it collapses every time the fresh wave of inspired insight comes in ashore! Dedicated to the Feast of Shavuot (The Pentecost) our today’s presentation deals with yet another little turret of Christendom’s sandcastle of theology, - the belief that the Day of Pentecost gave birth to what we commonly call the Church today! Are you ready for a thorough splashdown in the rejuvenating waters of the Holy Bible!?

Preamble

Here we are at last: the great Feast of Shavuot has finally arrived. In Christian circles it is known as the Pentecost. There is even a denomination within Christendom that derives its very name from the Day of Pentecost as it is described in the Book of Acts, chapter 2. The Pentecostal Church is filled with people “speaking in tongues” incomprehensible to anyone living on Earth, and enjoys an array of doctrines that defy both common sense and the plain teachings of the Word of God! Apart from a few “uniquely Pentecostal” teachings, however, the dogmatic foundations of the Pentecostal Church are pretty much the same as those of the rest of Christian denominations, namely the doctrines and practices passed unto all of them by their caring Mother Church, - the Roman Catholic Institution!

To be fair to my Pentecostal friends, though, I have to admit that the Pentecostal Church is among few Christian denominations, whose members are truly fired with a desire to serve the God of the Bible and to live lives pleasing in His sight. I fell in love with the LORD of Heaven and spent the “giddiest” days of my spiritual honeymoon within the “bosom” of that very denomination! Fervent Pentecostal sermons and enthusiastic prayer meetings of my brothers and sisters within that Church led me to become a “born again” believer, who went from being a spiritual infant in their hands to an Associate Pastor.

I loved all things Pentecostal: the unquestioning faith in the Bible (both of its Old and New Testament portions), the authoritative preaching of church leaders and fiery prayers of laypeople, camaraderie and other aspects of our community. Pursuing the truth of God, however, led me right “through” that church. Unbiased approach to the Word of God, coupled with a level-headed examination of history and common sense, has quickly washed the Pentecostal sandcastle off its unstable foundation.

Nails and ScriptureOne of the doctrines that our Pentecostal friends share with the rest of Christendom is the lie that God’s Unchangeable Torah has now been abrogated by the Cross of Israel’s Messiah! Twisting their own Scriptures, they proclaim that “the Law has now been nailed to the cross. . .” (Col. 2:14) They also confess that the giving of the Holy Spirit on the Pentecost signified the inauguration of the new Christian dispensation of grace and faith as opposed to the Jewish time of law and works.

If this assertion were true, than the Pentecost (Shavuot) of the Hebrew Bible and the one described in the New Testament would be diametrically opposed to each other in their spiritual significance! Since such a state of things would be absurd, we are to delve into the Word of God and discover anew what the Feast of Shavuot is truly all about!
Besides, the whole idea of the New Covenant is all about God’s writing of His Eternal Law on the hearts of His People Israel instead of abrogating it! (See our reflection on “New Covenant Believers” and Jeremiah 31:31-ff).

Before we deal with the text of the New Testament, depicting so vividly the events of the Day of Pentecost that transpired in Jerusalem in the first century CE, we will do well to establish a few pertinent facts concerning this Religious Season from the Hebrew Scriptures. Knowing the meaning and history of this celebratory occasion, we will be better equipped to interpret its significance for the early apostolic community.

From Egypt to Mount Sinai

Smearing the bloodThe Biblical Feast of Shavuot, (meaning “weeks” in Hebrew), comes seven weeks after the meaningful Festival of the Unleavened Bread, which begins with the Passover. If you have studied together with us for some time now, you know that during the Passover the Jewish Nation was freed from their slavery in Egypt after they finally cast their irrevocable lot with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by sacrificing an Egyptian deity right in the midst of that idolatrous land. By slaughtering one of the Egyptian gods and displaying its blood on the doorposts of their dwellings in Egypt, the Israelites had crossed the point of no return and were ready to leave the slavery behind! (See our reflection paper on the Passover Holiday).

Since Israel left Egypt in a great haste, their dough did not have time to be leavened and rise, - hence the Feast of Unleavened Bread that signifies their quick deliverance and freedom from the leaven of an idolatrous world. The primary lesson of the Passover experience is crystal clear, - once the Israelites were fully committed to the One Living God, their salvation burst forth without delay! How sad that there are so many people today languishing in the slavery of false religions and unbiblical beliefs!

Until we come to realize that there is no salvation or goodness in anyone apart from the Holy One of Jacob, we continue our dismal existence in the land of idolatry and oppression. The LORD is my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer; my God is my Rock, in whom I take refuge, my Shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my Stronghold, my Refuge and my Savior . . . “The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior!” (II Sam. 22:2-3, 47) – Who is your Rock, Savior, Deliverer, Stronghold, Shield, Refuge and Fortress today? Is His Name the Holy One of Israel or something else? Is He the One Living God or, perhaps, some compounded mixture of “three-in-one” as in Trinity?

Israel crossed the seaThree days after their unforgettable deliverance from Egypt and its polytheism, Israel emerged unscathed from the deadly waters of the Red Sea. Through the power of their God they triumphed victoriously over the Egyptian hordes and were firmly on the way to the Land flowing with milk and honey! The Feast of Firstfruits celebrates Israel’s miraculous reappearance on the opposite shore of the sea that has engulfed their adversaries. It was also time of the “early rains” in the Promised Land.

God’s “early rain” upon His people came in the form of their final salvation from Egypt and its oppression! Although the Chosen People were much more fully invested in God’s plan for human salvation at this point in their journey, they were not yet ready to receive the greatest gift this world has ever acquired, - the Torah of the Almighty! The seven weeks between the Passover celebrations and the Feast of Shavuot is the time of intense preparation for that event! It is the time that marks the season between the early rains and their latter counterparts!

The Covenant Established

Mount SinaiThe Bible narrates: “In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on the very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai . . . and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” (Ex. 19:1-6) – This is the moment when the Creator of the Universe seals His Perpetual Covenant with a single nation. Please, notice that their status of “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” depends on their faithfulness to the LORD God of Israel and His commandments.

During the Sinai experience the God of the Bible ratified His Everlasting Covenant with more than 3 million people at the same time! No other faith, religion or movement on the face of this Earth can lay a claim to the same powerful manifestation! Unlike all the other religions in the world, the biblical faith of Judaism did not start with just a single individual propagating his own teachings and laws. It issued from the Living LORD Himself and was given to a multitude of people!

That is why Jesus of Nazareth cannot be an initiator of a radically new and different religious cult we know today as the Christian Church. If we want to insist that Jesus established an institution that has virtually nothing to do with either the faith or practice of Judaism, we are to acknowledge that he is of the same stripe as Persian Zoroaster, Muslim Mohammed, Chinese Buddha, Tibetan Lama, Mormonism’s Joseph Smith and a host of other religious initiators from the pages of history!

As the Messiah of Israel, however, he came as a logical and prophetic continuation of the same truth that our God gave to Abraham, Isaac and Israel! Unfortunately, the Church cut herself off from the Jewish faith in One God and has strayed far into the fields of paganism and idolatry! She has gone as far as to claim that the Covenant with Israel has been annulled and that now the Church is the Chosen People of God. As a result: pagan Sunday replaced God’s Sabbath, Church-initiated religious festivals and days of observance took place of biblical holidays, heathen diet of pork and other unclean stuff superseded God’s laws of kosher eating and cleanliness, a strange new compound deity of trinity, (worshipped thousands of years ago in Egypt), replaced the One God of Israel, etc!

According to a well-established and long-held tradition of the Jewish faith, the giving of the Torah at the Mount Sinai happened during the Festival of Shavuot (Pentecost), fifty days after the Passover Night. It was a day that marked the beginning of the season of “latter rains” in the Land of Israel. This way, the Torah signifies the completion of the sacred cycle in the relationship between the God of Israel and His people! All that remains is a faithful cultivation of this relationship, sending ones spiritual roots ever deeper into the life-giving soil of the Torah and growing ever closer to the Living LORD of the Universe! How the Church is able to proclaim that the New Testament Pentecost has changed all that is beyond any honestly-thinking student of the Word!

The Decalogue

Moses and DecalogueThe heart of Israel’s Covenant with God is expressed with the help of the Ten Words, or, to use a more familiar term, the Ten Commandments. The most crucial part of the entire Decalogue is its preamble, which leads up to the First Commandment: “And God spoke all these words: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:1-3) – In essence, the core of the Everlasting Covenant between God and His people begins with a forceful reminder that Israel has now chosen to ally herself with the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob over against polytheism of the world.

God’s people are put in mind of their willful defiance of Egyptian idolatry. They are to remember that in slaughtering the Passover lambs, they, in fact, killed one of the Egyptian deities with their own hands! The LORD wants them to understand that none of the following commandments will really matter unless they reserve their worship for the One Living God! That is why the Ten Commandments start with the reminder of Who Israel’s God truly is! Who is your God today?

God’s Chosen Servant

LighthouseHaving received the Torah and other instructions from the LORD, the Covenant Nation was now ready to become the “Light unto the Gentiles.” The purpose was plain and simple, - to bring the rest of the wayward world back to the One and Only Living God, our Creator – the Holy One of Israel! “But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’ . . .” (Is. 41:8-9) – This is the same “servant,” by the way, who is found suffering unjustly and vicariously at the hands of the Gentile nations in the famous 53-rd chapter of Isaiah’s book! The Church, quite predictably, has tried to eradicate this truth from the minds of her loyal subjects!

The text continues: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope.” (Is. 42:1-4) – Please, observe a few significant things in this passage:

(1) Israel is declared to be God’s chosen servant, called by the LORD to fulfill a very special mission of converting the world to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! How much of the religious world today answers that description?

(2) Second, the Hebrew text actually says “I have put my Spirit upon him. . .,” instead of the Christian rendition of “I will put my Spirit upon him . . .”; the verbal tense employed in Hebrew does not refer to the future, but rather speaks of a completed action! The future tense, however, is crucial in Christian exegesis, which is desperate to apply this passage to the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The fact that God anointed Israel and filled her with His Spirit a long time ago will prove to be of crucial importance to us as we discuss the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost!

(3) The justice for the entire world is brought forth through Israel’s faithfulness. The notion of faithfulness stands in stark opposition to the Christians idea of “faith.” Unlike the faith in Christianity, the biblical idea of “faithfulness” presupposes a loyal commitment to God’s Law and His covenant.

(4) The farthest corners of our planet are prophesied to put their trust in his (Israel’s) law. In fact, the text reads: “And the coastlands shall await his teaching (his Torah).” (Is. 42:4) How can the Christendom proclaim that God’s Law has been done away with by being nailed to the cross if that position runs contrary to the oracles of the Word of God?

Eternal Mission of Israel

Light to the GentilesLet us put a few finishing touches to this powerful prophetic picture: “This is what God the LORD says— he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: . . .” (Is. 42:5) – As one can see, the LORD God of Israel is not some tribal deity, circumscribed by a limited geographical realm of things. The Holy One of Jacob is the Creator of everything! –

“I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles . . .” (v.6) – Here lurks another clumsy Christian mistranslation. It is quite deliberate, to be sure! The Hebrew text does not say “will make you to be a covenant for the people . . .,” but rather: “will make you a covenant people . . .” ! The difference between these two renditions is staggering!

The Christian version is false and is designed to convey an idea that the passage speaks of some future messianic figure that would be made to be a “covenant” for the nations. The proper biblical idea conveyed by the text is that the Jewish Nation is the Covenantal People! One can truly grow tired of all the Christian dishonesty and their agenda in twisting the sacred texts, - don’t they have a fear of God in their hearts!?

What’s in the Name?

Please, note how God identifies Himself in this verse: “ to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. (Is. 42: 7-8) – As you can see, our Creator lays quite an emphasis on His Proper name! The all-capitalized name “LORD” stands for “YHWH” in Hebrew. It is bound for all eternity with the notion that the Living God is the LORD God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob! (See “We Believe” for a long list of references confirming the nexus).

YHWHThe Jewish people pronounce it as “HaShem,” literally “The Name.” Therefore, HaShem (or YHWH or LORD) is the God of the Bible and the Jewish Nation. The Trinity is the deity of Christendom, encompassing the 99.99% of its members, from the Roman Catholic, who created this compound “god,” to the Southern Baptists and Seventh-day Adventists, who inherited the falsehood from their Mother Church! The crucial question to ask, therefore, is: “If the Living God is so emphatic about His Proper Name, why doesn’t Christendom care to follow His Word?”

Well they may retort: “Most likely the name of Jesus Christ was pronounced as Yeshua (or Yashua or Yehoshua) in Hebrew. This way, his name should be understood as containing God’s Most Holy Name of YHWH. It means: “YHWH Saves.” This explanation would be quite persuasive, provided we did not have such “theophoric” (god-bearing) names in the Bible prior to Jesus. Almost all the names of biblical prophets and other heroes of Jewish faith contain God’s Most Holy Name within them. That fact, however, did not transform them into the Second, Third or Fourth Person of the Divine Quartet, or Trio, for that matter.

Take, for instance, Joshua, the right-hand man of Moses. His name in Hebrew is “Yehoshua,” which, in its original context meant precisely what the Hebrew name of Jesus means as well, namely: “YHWH Saves!” Was Joshua also God in flesh? Along with many others, both before and after him, Joshua was a messiah (with an indefinite article). Jesus Christ is believed to be the Messiah (with a definite article)! Making him into the Second Person of an “interwoven deity,” however, throws us all the way back into pagan idolatry!

Having reviewed the biblical meaning of the Feast of Pentecost (Shavuot), we are now ready to embark on an exhilarating discussion of its New Testament reincarnation! A few weeks after his resurrection, 40 days to be precise, Jesus Christ gathers his faithful disciples on the Mount of Olives to deliver to them his final instructions before his ascension up to Heaven.

The Promise of the Father

Jesus' AscensionThe Pentecostal experience of the Holy Spirit is couched in the New Testament in terms of the “Old Testament” prophetic promise:“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5) – These words were spoken by Jesus ten short days before the famous outpouring of the Holy Spirit happened on the Day of Pentecost, as described in the next chapter of the Book of Acts. Our friends within Christendom, particularly the Pentecostal expression of it, take these words as Jesus’ promise of the Church’s upcoming birth with power! The promise of the Father, mentioned in the text refers to the passage in the Hebrew Scripture found in Joel 2. Let us examine the reference!

Joel 2 in Context:

The promised outpouring of God’s Mighty Spirit is captured in Joel 2:28-29: “And afterward, I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” - Please, make a mental note of the fact that on this particular occasion, the Hebrew text refers to the Holy Spirit as “My (God’s) Spirit.”

If I were writing this reflection piece for the consumption within Christian circles of believers, this short quote from Joel 2:28-29 would be fully sufficient to “prove” the connection between the prophecy of Joel in Hebrew Bible and a classic Christian doctrine on the Church’s anointing with the Holy Spirit as portrayed in the Acts. Desiring to go deeper into the text and truth of the Bible than an average Sunday school lesson, though, we should read and understand the passage in its proper context. This, after all, is one of the most important principles of “exegesis,” i.e. biblical interpretation. Whenever this principle is violated, and it is done right, left and center within Christendom, the Scriptures are twisted and its truth distorted!

Please, take a careful look at the entire second chapter of Joel’s book. The oracle concerning the outpouring of God’s Spirit is “sandwiched” between two similar “bookends” within this chapter, which speak of the “Day of the LORD” as a terrifying and awesome event in the history of humankind. These bookends signify that the chapter represents a seamless textual fabric or cloth, which cannot remain intact if we chose to cut and paste without considering the message in its entirety! Allow me to present to your attention a few key passages showcasing the flow of Joel’s narrative:

Joel the prophet“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand — a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness . . .” (Joel 2:1-2) – This is the first “bookend” within the chapter with the initial mention of the “day of the LORD.” Notice that Zion is called “God’s holy hill.”

Addressing the Israelites, Joel proclaims: “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love . . .” (vv.12-13) – Did you catch as to Who the People of God are called upon to return? It is the LORD God of Israel!

Listen to the continuation of his oracle: “Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly . . . Let them say, “Spare your people, O LORD. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?” (Joel 2:15-16) – The precision of the Bible never ceases to astonish an astute student of its prophecies! Has not the world been chanting the exact words concerning the People of Israel as this text indicates: “Where is their God?” Through two millennia of Gentile persecutions, the Jewish Nation suffered unjustly, ridiculed by the world as accursed and forsaken by their God.

Then the prophet of God pronounces Zion’s vindication: “Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. . . You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed.” (vv.23-27) – What a wondrous promise of HaShem! Beloved, everyone who does not stand with the People of God, will be put to shame by their Creator in the end! What is your position?

The Famous Portion (Joel 2:28-30)

Hebrew TextNow that we have established the proper context of Joel’s prophecy, we are ready to deal with its most famous portion, namely Joel 2:28-30. As you have seen in the verses preceding this passage, the entire prophetic oracle is addressed to Joel’s own kindred, i.e. the Chosen People of Israel. Joel 2:28-30 continues uninterrupted in very much the same vein: “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” (Joel 2:28) – The Spirit that our Heavenly Father promises through Joel to “pour upon all the flesh” within His Faithful Israel is the same Spirit that rested on Moses and all the other anointed leaders of Israel! (See Numbers 11:17)

Also, quite logically and consistently, all the personal pronouns, such as “you and your” in this passage, refer to the same entity as all the previous material in the chapter, namely to the people of Israel! So, the promise of some mighty outpouring of God’s Spirit is given to the Earth’s only monotheists, the children of Israel! They are the Chosen Witnesses to the One Living God. The Spirit of the LORD is given to them to bring the rest of the world out of the darkness and degradation of idolatry and false worship systems!

Listen further: “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.” (v.31) – This is our second and final textual “bookend”. As we have mentioned earlier in our discourse, the two allusions to “the Day of the LORD” enable Joel’s reader to perceive his oracle as one contiguous whole.

And here comes the clincher: “And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.” (Joel 2:32) – The promise of salvation is extended only to those who call upon the Covenantal Name of the God of Jacob, - YHWH (LORD)! Does your church call on the Name of the LORD God of Israel, or do you invoke the three-headed deity of Trinity, - Father, Son and Holy Ghost? Also, the deliverance is situated in an unambiguous locale, namely the heart of Israel, - Jerusalem and Mount Zion. This fact underscores the importance of the Jewish Nation in God’s master plan of salvation! If you have come to believe otherwise, - now is the time to check your facts and embrace the truth!

As you can clearly see, Joel’s prophecy about the mighty outpouring of God’s Spirit on His people pertains only to His faithful monotheists! The rest of the polytheistic world, be they Hindus or Trinitarian Christianity, are not even in the picture! This brings us back to the earlier point of our discussion, at which we took a detour into Joel’s powerful oracles. Back to the Book of Acts and the Day of Pentecost!

The Messianic Kingdom of Israel

Jesus on OlivetJesus’ disciples ask him a pertinent question: “So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.” (Acts 1:6-9) – Please, notice that the resurrected Jesus does not deny the disciples’ rightful perception of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Almost every piece of divine prophecy dealing with the end-time events and the establishing of the Messianic Kingdom on Earth speaks about a full and final restoration of the People of Israel and their spiritual Preeminence among the nations of the world! I believe it should come to us as no surprise that the words and actions of the Jewish Messiah are in full compliance with all the Messianic prophecies in the Bible! It would have been strange and unusual, indeed, if the situation were different on that point! Therefore, the exalted Jesus does not rebuke his disciples for their longing to see the Messianic prophecies fulfilled; he only admonishes them to focus on the task at hand! Why is it that we do not we hear this message in our churches?

The Pentecost

PentecostHere is our famous Pentecostal passage: “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2:1-4) - All the people on whom the gift of the Holy Spirit was bestowed in this passage belonged to the House of Israel.

They believed in One God of Israel and observed all the commandments of His Eternal Law. To become witnesses to the Messiah of Israel was to serve as trusted testators to the fact that the Holy One of Jacob raised him from the dead as a foretaste of the future resurrection for all the faithful worshippers of YHWH! The idea that they would have to convince the world in the existence of the Second Person of a heathen pantheon could not have been further from their minds or their hearts! So far, there is no discrepancy in this text with what the Hebrew Scriptures declare! Are you part of God’s monotheists or do you believe in a multiplicity of gods, such as a three-bodied divinity of the Church?

The audience of the apostles: “Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?” (vv.5-6) – Once again, the text emphasizes that both the witnesses on the Day of Pentecost and their audience are made up of God-fearing Jews. The Jews that were found in Jerusalem on that memorable occasion had all come there to worship the God of Israel, who led their ancestors out of Egypt and idolatry of the polytheistic world!

Conclusion:

God's LawHere is the gist of what the text is driving at: The outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God can never be interpreted as something that gave rise to such a thoroughly pagan institution as the Christian Church that we all know so well! If we believe that the events that transpired on that historic Day of Pentecost, almost two thousand years ago, are in a direct fulfillment of the ancient Hebraic prophecy of Joel 2:28-30, then the gift and power of the Holy Spirit was given to the faithful remnant within the nation of Israel for the purpose of bringing the entire world into the fellowship and obedience to the One Living God of Israel!

No Christian denomination today can claim that as the stated goal of their mission or the express reason for their existence! Please, examine the biblical evidence of both the Hebrew Bible the apostolic writings (New Testament) as well. All the Gentiles within the pages of the New Testament, on whom the gift of the Holy Spirit was bestowed alongside the Israelites, were either converts to Judaism or preparing to become such, which means that they were the worshipers of the One God of Jacob!

On the Day of Pentecost, our Loving Heavenly Father anointed the Messianic Jewish community in Jerusalem with the same Mighty Spirit that Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David and the faithful remnant within Israel had always known and enjoyed long before them! (See Gen. 41:38; Num. 11:17; 14:24; 24:2; 27:18; I Sam. 16:13; II Sam. 23:2; Ps. 51:11). The purpose for this anointing was the same as it had been through all the preceding millennia of Israel’s existence, - to testify to the existence of the One and Only Living God and to rescue the world out of satanic clutches of paganism, idolatry and superstition by leading them into the Covenant relationship with the Holy One of Jacob!

Summary Points:

Shavuot- Much of Christian theology resembles unstable sandcastles, built precariously closely to the testing waters of the Word of God, - the Hebrew Scriptures; as long as no one examines the oracles of the Living Bible, Christendom’s dogmas rest securely in the ignorance of its adherents!

- The original meaning of the Feast of Shavuot, still celebrated by the Jewish People today, was the joyous occasion of receiving the Torah of God at Mount Sinai; It was also an agricultural festival marking the season of the “latter rains” in the Land of Israel; from the time of the Firstfruits to the time when Israel obtained Torah from the hand of the Almighty, the people of God had gone from the season of the “early rains” to the one called the “latter rains”;

- If the New Testament is the Word of the same God that inspired the Hebrew Scriptures, then the identity of God’s servant and his mission remain the same! The faithful servant is monotheistic Israel and his eternal mission is to bring the world out of its apostasy and idolatry into the Covenantal relationship with the God of Israel;

- Both Joel’s prophecy and the account in the Book of Acts confirm the fact that Israel of God remains the vehicle through whom He will accomplish His grand plan of salvation; all who join themselves to the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and resolve to keep His Commandments become part of the faithful remnant;

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Be blessed! Celebrate the Feast of Shavuot! Praise HaShem for His Unchangeable Torah! And enjoy the Sabbath rest! Shalom!