‘FEAST OF MYSTERIES'
The Feast of Shavuot has many names, such as; Pentecost (meaning the 50th day), Feast of Conclusion (because it ends the conclusion of the spring feast days), and my favorite is the Feast of Mysteries. Shavuot holds many mysteries as to why God commands us to keep this day holy. The way we are commanded to celebrate this day and the events that have unfolded on this day throughout history and tradition are rather peculiar, but they seem to help steer us in the right direction. It is my attempt to show you these mysteries and traditions and try to draw a conclusion as to what God’s plan is for this commanded festival. Proverbs 25:2, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter but the honor of a kings is to search out a matter.”
Let me begin with explaining some of the mysteries behind the festival:
1. There are two loaves of bread that gets presented as a wave offering. I will go back to my five year old self and ask the question, why are there two loaves? And why are the priests waving the two loaves?
2. The two loaves of bread are leavened bread. Leavened in scripture is used to symbolize sin, so why would God’s people wave a symbol of sin on this day?
3. There is no specific date that God commanded us to keep this day on. It has been highly debated for thousands of years on when to keep this day.
4. Shavuot is commanded to be observed on the 50th day. Why the 50th day?
5. In Acts 2 we see people talking in tongues. Why does God unite everyone’s languages on this day?
6. According to tradition 3,000 people died on this day at Mount Sinai, and oddly enough 3,000 people were saved at Shavuot after the Holy Spirit fell on them. Why such a coincidence between the days? Why is it important?
7. It is the first time that we see God blowing a trumpet. Why is He blowing a trumpet?
Before we start trying to unravel this mystery it is important to understand how Israel has viewed this day throughout history. I cannot prove that these events actually all happened on this feast but it is interesting that Israel has passed down this particular history and the traditions that it did.
1. It is known as the day that Enoch got translated.
2. It is also thought that David died on this day.
3. Interesting that it is believed that the Tower of Babel was destroyed on this day.
4. God gave His commandments to His people and here we witness the first marriage ceremony.
5. God sent His Holy Ghost to dwell in us and here we witness the renewing of the vowels or some might say another wedding all together.
There are a few peculiar traditions as well:
1. Many people renew their wedding vowels on this day. (My wife and I actually got engaged on this feast day and were baptized as well.)
2. According to the tradition, the Israelites were caught sleeping the day that God came down on Mount Sinai to deliver His Torah, and Moses had to wake them all up. Since then people stay up all night and study Torah to show their appreciation to God giving His written word.
3. The book of Ruth is read on this day.
4. The first chapter of Ezekiel is read as the haftarah reading for the week.
5. People eat dairy to symbolize them entering the land that flows with milk and honey.
What a crazy day that God commands us to observe! It is day of talking in tongues, fire flowing from our mouths, God coming down a mountain in the form of a cloud and sounding like a trumpet and God writing on tablets the laws for us to follow. I don’t know about anyone else but if I hear about a group of people out in the wilderness going up to a mountain to be with God and talking in tongues, I might stay away from them. But, we are so conditioned to not expect miracles or the power of God in our lives. Most of us are probably scared of something like this happening to you; just think how you would react if you were part of these events. We have gotten soft in our spiritual walk, only talking about the power of God, but never actually expecting the power of God to show up. People stayed up all night praying and reading the word of God. I don’t believe they stay up all night just out of appreciation of the written word but because they are expecting God to show up. Perhaps there is more to be accomplished on this day and maybe we should approach this season each year expecting to receive the power of God.
Let’s look at the fact that Shavuot is kept on the 50th day, which if you know much about the number 50, it represents a jubilee year. In Israel every 50th year is known as a jubilee year. Let’s look at what scripture says about the jubilee year: Leviticus 25:8-10, “8 “‘Count off seven Sabbath years—seven times seven years—so that the seven Sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. 9 Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan.” This is another example of restoration of God’s creation. Shavuot is a mini jubilee that is given to us each year. We are all to return to our own family! Are we not part of God’s family? Are we not to be the bride of Christ?
Lightbulbs went off when I discovered that this day is known as the day that the tower of babel was destroyed. Before the tower was destroyed there was only one language amongst man, and after the destruction God confused the people’s languages thus creating many new languages. Then later in History God decides to use this same day as the day that He enable His people to speak in tongues, thus providing only one language for everyone. Acts 2:5-6, “5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.” According to some this was not the first time on Shavuot that people spoke in tongues and fire came from their mouths. Many Jewish sages claim a similar story at Mount Sinai when God came down to deliver His word. Rabbi Moshe Weissman says, “On the occasion of matan Torah, the Bnai Yisrael not only heard Hashem’s voice but actually saw the sound waves as they emerged from Hashem’s mouth. They visualized them as a fiery substance. Each commandment that left Hashem’s mouth traveled around the entire camp and then came back to every Jew individually, asking him, “Do you accept upon yourself this Commandment with all the law pertaining to it?” Every Jew answered, “Yes.”, after each commandment. Finally, the fiery substance which they saw, engraved itself on the tablets”
We have two marriage ceremonies, one where God writes His law on stone tablets and tell us if we are to do all that is commanded then we are to be His people and He will be our God, and the other marriage we see God sending His holy spirit to dwell in us and write the law on our hearts. II Corinthians 3:3, “3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” For by the law we are all deemed the death penalty which is why we see 3,000 people perishing at the giving of the law but thousands of years later we see 3,000 people being saved by the spirit of God. II Corinthians 3:6, “6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” This now enables us to be able to worship God in spirit and truth. (John 4:24)
Everything we see through scripture, history, and tradition points to the restoration of God’s bride on this day. Even the tradition of reading the book of Ruth on this day. The book of Ruth is all about the kinsman redeemer in Israel redeeming a gentile bride. The law and spirit are not for the Jew only but for all of Israel and for all the world. Jesus told His disciples to preach throughout the entire world. Mark 16:15, “15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Even at Mount Sinai God gave His torah not just to the Jews but to every person that walks the earth.
Perhaps there is still more to be accomplished on Shavuot. Ezekiel 37:16-22, “16 “Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, ‘Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.’ Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, ‘Belonging to Joseph (that is, to Ephraim) and all the Israelites associated with him.’ 17 Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand. 18 “When your people ask you, ‘Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?’ 19 say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick. I will make them into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’ 20 Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on 21 and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. 22 I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.” We have witnessed a modern day miracle, of the Jews still being a race. No other race has endured so much exile and attempts of eradication by the nations. Now today we not only witness the survival of the Jew but the reuniting with their homeland of Israel and the reemergence of their ancient language Hebrew. However, the kingdom is still not whole as prophesied in Ezekiel. Could this be the day in the future that God decides to unite His bride?
This day is just another part of the love letter that God has written to each of us; unveiling His plan to ultimately redeem His bride. The two loaves seem to represent the two sticks of Israel being reunited, which is an old prophecy that we just read in Ezekiel 37. The loaves represent the two kingdoms of Israel, (House of Israel in the North and the House of Judah in the South). The leaven of the bread represents the sin of both kingdoms. Now any other time unleavened bread is used during feasts and rituals at the temple, and they are completely burnt up on the altar, but God does not allow any leaven on His altar (Leviticus 2:11). Instead the High priest waves the two loaves facing eastward to God, by using a motion of forward and back, and side to side. Now I know many in the COG believe that the cross is pagan, however the cross is also represented as the Tau in the Hebrew alphabet which Jesus is the Aleph and Tau. So it seems that on this day God is restoring the two kingdoms of Israel into one kingdom, and instead of burning the offering on the altar the offering is saved by the grace of God.
There are many more mysteries out there to discover about this holy day and the word of God. I challenge everyone to seek out the depths of God. And remember to never take my word for anything. Behave as a Berean, always be open minded and study the scriptures daily to find the truth.