Shabbat Shalom! Here is my teaching tonight for Shabbat. It is rather lengthy, but for those who Want to Learn About Biblical History and Prophetic Timing it is a great read.
Five years ago at this time my wife and I were in the CNN Tower Hotel in Atlanta for a Business Trip we had earned with the insurance company I worked for. The first night was during this time referred to as “DIRE STRAITS.” We were at the pre-dinner gathering for hors d’oeuvres when we met two insurance agents from Los Angeles who were orthodox Jews. They had ordered a kosher meal for the banquet. I mentioned to them if they were aware that this was the time of year called “Dire Straits” and the 9th day of Av? They got excited and asked me how I knew about this important time of the Jewish Calendar. I then told them what I have written below. They were amazed, saying, you know more about this than we were taught in the Synagogue.
For those unfamiliar with the period called the “dire straits”, it is a 3 week time period between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av on the biblical calendar. This year, 2017, it falls between July 11th and August 1st. The first day and the last day are two of the fast days as mentioned in Zechariah 8:19. This is a time period set aside to repent and ask for forgiveness for the sins of our forefathers as Daniel did in Daniel 9:3-19.
These three weeks have always been troublous times for the nation of Israel. The 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av are linked together historically as days on which Israel has been punished for sin. The Lebanon war that broke out a few years ago started on the 17th of Tammuz. In Zech 8:19 it is prophesied that some year that day will turn to a day of rejoicing.
Tzom Tammuz – The Seventeenth of Tammuz
Five great catastrophes occurred in biblical history on the 17th of Tammuz:
1. Moses broke the tablets at Mount Sinai — in response to the sin of the Golden Calf. (Exo 32:19)
2. The daily offerings in the First Temple were suspended during the siege of Jerusalem, after the Kohanim could no longer obtain animals.
3. Jerusalem’s walls were breached, prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD.
4. Prior to the Great Revolt, the Roman general Apostamos burned a Torah scroll – setting a precedent for the horrifying burning of Jewish books throughout the centuries.
5. An idolatrous image was placed in the Sanctuary of the Holy Temple – a brazen act of blasphemy and desecration.
Notice that two of these events have a second fulfillment yet to come –
The daily sacrifices will be stopped and an idolatrous image will be set up (Dan 11:31; Eze 8:3-5; Rev 13:14-15).
Tisha B’Av – The Ninth of Av
The Israelites were in the desert, recently having experienced the miraculous Exodus, and were poised to enter the Promised Land. But first they sent out a reconnaissance mission, to assist in formulating a prudent battle strategy. The spies returned on the eighth day of Av and reported that the land was unconquerable. That night, the 9th of Av, the people cried. They insisted that they’d rather go back to Egypt than be slaughtered by the Canaanites. God is highly displeased by this public demonstration of distrust in His power, and consequently, with only two exceptions, that generation of Israelites never entered the Holy Land. Only their children had that privilege, after wandering in the desert for 40 years.
Many calamities have occurred on this date in history:
1. The spies returned from their scouting mission into the Promised Land and 10 of the 12 gave an evil report filled with fear. Standing in doubt, they were slanderous of God’s Word and promise because He said He would go before them, fight their battles and deliver them into the land. Only Joshua and Caleb gave a report filled with faith. The Israelites were sentenced on Tisha B’Av to wander in the wilderness for 40 years until that generation had died out. Only Joshua, of the tribe of Ephraim and Caleb, of the tribe of Judah were permitted to enter the Promised Land. (Num. 13-14)
2. The 1st Temple, Solomon’s Temple, was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. 100,000 Jews were slaughtered and millions more exiled. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin were carried captive to Babylon. The actual fire was set on the 9th of Av. (2King 25:8-9; Jer. 52:12-13)
3. The 2nd Temple, Herod’s Temple, was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD on the 9th of Av led by Titus. Some two million Jews died, and another one million were exiled. The Roman army laid siege to Jerusalem and on the 17th of Tammuz the Daily Sacrifice was again stopped. Roman centurions on the 9th of Av burned the Second Temple. The extreme heat of the fire caused gold of the Temple to melt and run into the cracks and crevices between the stones. When the fire cooled the Roman soldiers used wedges and crowbars to overturn every stone in their search for the gold. Luke 19:44 fulfilled. One year later on the 9th of Av the Romans plowed the Temple Mount and the city of Jerusalem to prepare the area to be turned into a Roman colony. Micah 3: 12 fulfilled.
4. The Bar Kochba revolt was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The city of Betar — the Jews’ last stand against the Romans was captured and liquidated. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered. (135 AD) The Temple area and its surroundings were plowed under. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city — renamed Aelia Capitolina — and access was forbidden to Jews.
5. In 1290 King Edward I (Longshanks) ordered the expulsion of all Jews from England on the 9th of Av. (And they did not settle there again until Oliver Cromwell gave them that right in 1657.)
6. During the Spanish Inquisition, Ferdinand and Isabella issued the Alhambra Decree, on March 31, 1492, ordering all Jews to leave Spain by the end of July 1492. July 31, 1492 was Tisha B’Av. It was during this time that Christopher Columbus, who may himself have been of Jewish descent, left to ‘discover’ America.(Note that if you use a Jewish calendar converter to check this, it may show July 31 as the 27th of Tammuz. If so, the converter has failed to take into account the Gregorian Reformation, which skipped 11 days on the calendar. If you add the 11 missing days and convert August 11 instead of July 31, you will see that “August 11” 1492 is the 9th of Av.)
7. World War One broke out on the eve of Tisha B’Av in 1914 when Germany declared war on Russia. German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust.
8. On the eve of Tisha B’Av 1942, the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.
9. On Tisha B’Av, August 14, 2005, 8,000 Jewish settlers were forcefully expelled from their homes in Gush Katif, the Southern Gaza strip.
Typically the book of Lamentations is read on the 9th of Av.
God would allow such events to befall their people. What was the cause of such a harsh punishment? Their sages have taught (Talmud, Yoma 9b) that the First Temple was destroyed because of following three things:
1. Sexual immorality
2. Widespread murder
The Second Temple, however, the sages taught, was destroyed because of one singular reason: baseless hatred (sinat chinam).
Gemora teaches that such a severe judgment was meted out despite the fact that Jews at the time occupied themselves with Torah, observed mitzvot and practiced charity. People would hate one another without a cause, slander their fellow Jews for having differing beliefs, hypocritically accuse each other of violating halachic standards, and be uncharitable to those from other Jewish sects who may not have been living up to their specific customs:
“In the times of the second Bais HaMikdosh, the “murderers” of the time did not feel that what they were doing was wrong. They did not consider their murderous actions as transgressions. Rather, they viewed them as appropriate, and even a “mitzvah!” And why was that the case? When these people saw their brethren committing various transgressions, they said to themselves “These people are Sadducees; these people are apostates who deny the validity of the Torah and the supremacy of G-d. These people are rebellious and must die, as they legally deserve such!” Were these “righteous” murderers correct? No.” (Rabbi Yehudah Prero, A Hate Worse Than Death)
It has been said that the Messiah would come “in a generation that is totally innocent or totally guilty”. Jesus called the generation of his day a “wicked and adulterous generation” (Matthew 12:39). It was said of him that he was sent to save his people from their sins. We are also told that he too became a target of that same baseless hatred that the sages taught was prevalent at the time:
If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. (John 15:24-25)
It is precisely in that environment of baseless hatred by a sinful generation that Messiah was rejected by the corrupt Rome-appointed Jerusalem leadership who were in charge of the Temple at that time. Jesus foresaw what would happen to Jerusalem and to his beloved temple within its walls:
And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. (Luke 19:41-44)
Today, we are the spiritual temple of God. Though this temple be besieged from without, we are to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered and avoid the baseless hatred that destroys from within.
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (1Cor 3:16-17)
Our Lord taught us to love one another. As end time events unfold, let’s remember that our Lord warned us that we would be betrayed by those who are of our own house (Matt 10:17-36) and that those who persecute us will think that they are serving God (John 16:2). But He also told us that we should love one another even to the point of laying down our lives for our brother. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35)
Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1John 3:15-16)
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13
For in depth article on “Why do Jews forbid Cremation go to: Chapad.org, look up the article death and morning. Here is a overview of the article:To sum up:
· is a transgression of a Biblical law to bury our dead,
· demonstrates a rejection of G‑d’s supreme “ownership” over all of Creation,
· violates our legal responsibility to return what was loaned to us (our bodies) in as wholesome a state as possible,
· constitutes a rejection of the Jewish belief of tzelem Elokim (created in G‑d’s image),
· constitutes a rejection of the Jewish belief in resurrection of the dead,
· (if done voluntarily, knowing fully the responsibilities) will cause the body not to be included among the Jewish People when the time of resurrection arrives,
· violates the biblical prohibition of following heathen practices,
· upends the soul’s natural separation and acclimation process, thus causing it additional untold pain,
· deviates from Jewish history and our forebears’ and contemporaries’ selfless and heroic efforts to properly bury our dead, and
· declares, in effect, that once the soul has departed the body, the lifeless body has no further value.
If you are like me, you feel alarmed at the lawlessness that seems to have been released in our society these days. From last weeks depiction from the female comedian Kathy Griffin of the beheading of mannequin head of President Trump to the defacing of the personal property of the NBA super star Lebron James because of his race. Now this week the play, Julius Caesar depicting a Trump like Julius Caesar who is assassinated by stabbing and pulling his body a part. What is this that seems to be unleashed. Is it because now with social media every moment is instantly recorded and now available to millions? Or has there always been this much lawlessness and we never new about it because of the limitation of technology in the past?
Scripture addresses this issue and even warns of this being a sign of the coming of our Lord, Yeshua. In 2 Thessalonians 2 warns us that there will be a great falling away until the “son of lawlessness” is revealed. This is a spirit that has been released because of a Godlessness mindset in society. It is a spirit that 1) opposes God, 2)exalts itself above all that is called of God, and 3) showing itself that it is God. 2 Thess. 2: 4.
Rabbi Paul continues to write in verses 5-10,
5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He[d] who now restrains will do so until He[e] is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
- the mystery of lawlessness is already at work…
- it is the working of satan,
- with all power, signs, and lying wonders and with unrighteous deception with those who are perishing.
- For this reason God will send them strong delusion that they believe the lie
- that they may be condemned who did not believe…
Wow, those are some strong words for society we live in!
The answer for those who believe in Yeshua is: 2 Thess. 2: 13-17:
- Stand fast to the word of God
- . Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace,
- comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.
Another words it is the Love for God and His word and a Love for your fellow man even your enemies that will overcome the spirit of lawlessness. Walk In Love! Something to think about!
Numbers 6 closes with the immortal words of the priestly blessing, a commandment for the sons of Aaron to bless Israel. To this day, the sons of Aaron lift their hands over the worshipers in the synagogue service while they utter the words, “The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).
The three lines of the priestly benediction each invoke a different aspect of God’s blessing. The first requests God to bless and keep us. Messiah “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Messiah” (Ephesians 1:3). Through Messiah, the blessing of Abraham has come upon the Gentiles, and we all experience “the fullness of the blessing of Messiah” (Romans 15:29). Through Yeshua, God is “able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory” (Jude 24-25).The second verse of the blessing says, “The LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you” (Numbers 6:25). The shining of the LORD’s face represents His attention and pleasure. His graciousness is the expression of His grace. Messiah is the fulfillment of this request as well. The gift of God’s grace comes through “the redemption which is in Messiah Yeshua” (Romans 3:24). “We believe that we are saved through the grace of the Master Yeshua” (Acts 15:11), which God “freely bestowed on us in the Beloved…according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us” (Ephesians 1:6-8).
The third verse of the blessing says, “The LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:26). The lifting up of the LORD’S countenance upon a person implies the smile of God. Messiah fulfills the request for peace: “We have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah” (Romans 5:1).
He told His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). “Let the peace of the Messiah rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15), and “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in the Messiah Yeshua” (Philippians 4:7). This peace will cover the whole earth in the Messianic Era: “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore” (Isaiah 9:7).
As many within Messianic Judaism and Christianity seek to reclaim a biblically-based lifestyle, we are rediscovering the importance of the biblical holidays. The holidays bring order to our lives. Through them we pace ourselves; on a weekly basis, as on Shabbat we enter into God’s perfect rest, and seasonally, as we mark our place during the year. God appointed these times to help us stay in touch with Him, with our Jewish roots, with our ancestors, with our families, and with the eternal purposes that God has for His people.
The calendar begins in the spring with Passover, as we remember the blood of the lamb placed on the doorposts of our houses. We eat the bitter herbs of slavery, remembering God’s deliverance of our people out of Egypt. We remember the death of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. We also celebrate the feast of firstfruits of the harvest, symbolically referring to the resurrection of the Messiah. Fifty days (seven weeks) later, we come to Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks. However, many Jews and Christians are particularly “weak” on the Feast of Weeks!
Shavuot is one of the three major festivals that all Jewish men were required to make the journey to Jerusalem to attend. It marks the end of spring, and the beginning of summer and the harvest.
Shavuot – a time for both physical and spiritual harvest
In ancient Israel agriculture was the basis of the economy, and the nation’s wealth and welfare were tied to the Land. God wanted Israel’s approach to agricultural success to be different from that of all the other nations. If we obeyed God and His Word, there would be plenty of rain and an abundant harvest. If we disobeyed, we would find a shortfall at harvest time.
On Shavuot the nation of Israel was expected to bring the first fruits of the wheat crop to God. Giving the Lord the firstfruits of the harvest was a way of showing Him our gratitude and declaring that all our wealth ultimately comes from Him. It is right to offer to God the firstfruits, the beginning and the best of the harvest. Therefore Shavuot teaches us to regard all of God’s gifts with gratitude, returning to Him, in the form of the firstfruits, that which we receive.
During Passover we offered to God the firstfruits of the barley harvest. That was symbolic of Yeshua’s resurrection. Fifty days later we returned to Jerusalem to offer the firstfruits of the wheat harvest. The harvest was extended from the barley to the wheat. Fifty days after Yeshua rose from death His first Jewish followers were gathered together in Jerusalem and the Spirit that raised Him from the dead was poured out on His first disciples. The Messianic Community, the Body of Messiah, came into being. God’s harvest was extended to more of humanity. That happened on the day of Shavuot, in fulfillment of Shavuot.
One name for Shavuot is “Atzeret shel Pesach,” the completion of Passover. Messiah Yeshua died on Passover to atone for sin, then He rose from death to overcome death. Forty days later He ascended to heaven, and from there He sent His Spirit on Shavuot to enable us to overcome sin and experience victory in our lives. The coming of the Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) completes the work of the Passover Lamb’s death on the cross. The Spirit of God indwelling us gives us the power we need to overcome our tendency to evil and completes the work of salvation.
Though marvelous in its own right, God knew that the death of the Passover Lamb and the redemption from sin was not enough. Just as the cycle of the Spring festivals would be incomplete without Shavuot, the work of salvation is not complete until a man’s sin nature has been dealt with and the power to overcome it has been granted.
Therefore Shavuot is a time when we thank God for His gracious provisions in our life, both for His material provision, the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and for His spiritual provision – the Holy Spirit which brought a rich harvest among those first Messianic Jews in Jerusalem.
Shavuot – a time for union between Jews and Gentiles
The Megillah of Ruth is one of the texts that is read on this holiday. Megillat Ruth is about the harvest, but also included the message of gathering Gentiles into the commonwealth of Israel. Ruth, a Gentile, joins herself to the Jewish people. Speaking to Naomi she says, “Your people will be my people, your God will be my God.” Ruth later marries a Jewish man by the name of Boaz, and from that union, in the third generation, came King David, and through him, King Yeshua.
On Shavuot, the High Priest waved two loaves of wheat bread made with leaven. This is the only offering in all of Scripture that included leaven. In general the biblical principle is that offerings had to be without leaven, which is usually symbolic of sin. By waving the two loaves of wheat bread, Israel’s High Priest was praying: “Lord, thank you for extending the harvest to the wheat. We offer up to you the first fruits, the beginning, the best of this crop, and Lord, we ask you to bring in the rest of the harvest throughout the year.”
Why were two loaves of bread waved and not just one big loaf? These two loaves of bread can be understood to be symbolic of the two peoples that make up the Messianic Community. In Romans 11 Rabbi Paul talks about the Olive Tree of salvation and blessing made up of the original branches, the Jewish people. Then wild olive branches, the Gentiles, were grafted into the olive tree. It could be that the two loaves represent the original branches, the Jewish people, and the wild branches, the gentiles that we grafted into the Olive Tree. Each one is incomplete without the other. The Jewish loaf needs the Gentile loaf to be complete, and the Gentile loaf needs the Jewish branch to be complete.
Shavuot – a time of empowerment
On Shavuot we remember and thank God for “Mattan Torah,” the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, one of God’s greatest gifts to us. It was about this time that the Ten Commandments were given to the Jewish people. Torah means more than just “Law;” it means “teaching or “instruction.” Through the Torah God clearly communicated to us His ways, His nature, and His will for us. Today, Shavuot is a time when religious Jews will stay up late into the night studying the Torah and reading from the Psalms.
On Shavuot we also remember “Mattan Ruach,” the giving of the Spirit, the One through whom God writes His law on our hearts. The Spirit gives us the power to live out the full spiritual intent of the Torah. We don’t dismiss the Law when we have the Spirit. On the contrary, the Law becomes alive to us. At the deepest level of our hearts, it becomes our desire to please God and to fulfill all His commandments.
Law, by itself, has an inherent weakness. It lacks power. Lawmakers may pass laws, but that doesn’t mean the people will have the desire or the ability to comply with them.
The rabbis determined that Shavuot was the same time when the Jewish people received the Torah on Mt. Sinai. While Moses was up on Sinai receiving the Torah, Israel was at the bottom of Sinai worshipping the golden calf and breaking the Law. Moses came down from the Sinai, saw what was happening and called out, “whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” The Levites came to Moses and they went throughout the camp of Israel and killed three thousand Jewish men who lead that rebellion of false worship. Three thousand Jewish men were killed on Shavuot when the law was given. When the Holy Spirit was given another three thousand Jewish people came alive!
At the time the Law was given (Exodus 32:19-29), three thousand Jewish men were put to death because their actions were now deemed “illegal,” they were weak, and the giving of the Torah alone didn’t strengthen them. But the Spirit gives us a new desire to fulfill God’s Torah and the power to do so. The Spirit gives us power to live, power to witness, power to please God, and power to have victory over the world, the flesh and the devil. It is hardly coincidental that, on the day of Shavuot when the Spirit was given, three thousand Jewish men were empowered to witness to Yeshua and His Resurrection Life.
Shavuot – a time to grow in the Spirit
Prior to the coming of Messiah, the ministry of the Spirit was limited. He seems to have come upon fewer people, to a lesser extent and for a shorter duration of time. King David had to pray, “Do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” The full indwelling of God’s Spirit was not to be realized before Yeshua died.
The indwelling of the Spirit is the greatest gift we can receive in this life. He regenerates us when we are spiritually dead, and revives us when we are spiritually cold. If it weren’t for the work of the Spirit none of us would have any spiritual life at all.
The Spirit also baptizes us into the body of Messiah. He joins us, both to the Father and to one another. Believers in Yeshua all share the same Spirit. We have a new unity and oneness with each other. We are no longer alone, but are part of an eternal community.
The Spirit assures us of eternal life and that we truly belong to God. “You have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself bears witness that we are children of God (Romans 8:15-16). Do you have that inner witness of the Spirit that God is your Father, and that you are truly one of His?
The Spirit of God guides our prayers. “We do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)
The Holy Spirit as portrayed in the Scriptures
The Holy Spirit is like a seal (imprint): A seal demonstrates ownership. We are owned by God. Thus He has a vested interest in our well-being. The Holy Spirit seals us, and there is no force in the universe that can break that seal. He will see us safely and securely to our final rendezvous with the Father on the day of redemption. We are protected, we are secure, because of the indwelling of God’s Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:13, 4:30).
The Holy Spirit is like a pledge (earnest money): He is the pledge, the down payment of our inheritance (2 Corinthians 1:22). The presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s heart is God’s guarantee that he will receive all the promised blessings of salvation, including those yet future. In human affairs, once a down payment has been made, the purchaser is pledged to go through with the transaction. The deal is closed. The presence of the Spirit is a sure guarantee that God will never fail in any of His promises connected with our salvation.
The Holy Spirit is like a Friend: Before His ascension to heaven, Yeshua said that He would send us another Comforter (“Paraklete” see John 16:7), the same kind of Comforter that He was. Comforter corresponds to the Hebrew word “Menachem” – in fact, a name given by the rabbis as one of the names of the Messiah. The Spirit is a comforter of the very same sort as Yeshua. The Greek word “Paraklete” includes the concepts of One who is called alongside, an Adviser, Corrector, Lawyer, Counsel for the Defense, Legal Assistant, Helper, Strengthener, Encourager.
Why was it to the disciples’ advantage that Yeshua left? It is because the Holy Spirit continues Yeshua’s ministry to us, but brings His life and ministry to us in a deeper way; one that is able to transform us from within. We can be even closer to Yeshua now than the disciples were who walked with Him.
In one sense, Yeshua’s ministry to the disciples was incomplete. There was more that He wanted to teach them, but they weren’t able to understand it at that point. But the Spirit is like Yeshua, the Master Teacher, the chief Rabbi, the Guide, who illumines us and enables us to understand and apply Yeshua’s teachings, His miracles, His unique birth, death and resurrection to our lives.
The Spirit guides us, leads us and teaches us all things. He brings to remembrance all the things that Yeshua taught, and guides us into all the truth. Further, He even transforms us into the image of Yeshua. He convicts us when we sin. He corrects us when we err.
The Spirit also has a prophetic teaching ministry. He can and will reveal the future to God’s people. He does this through the Scriptures and through New Testament prophets and revelation.
The Holy Spirit is like clothing: “I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). The Holy Spirit covers and protects us. He clothes us with God’s divine power and wisdom from on high.
The Holy Spirit is like a dove: The dove is a symbol of purity, it flies in the heavens, and is a symbol of peace. God’s Spirit is pure and holy. He comes from heaven and is the source of peace. Doves were used as sacrifices for the very poorest people. God’s Spirit is gracious and sacrificial. Consider that the Holiest Spirit is willing to come to the unholy, to the weakest, to the most unseemly, to the most poverty-stricken among mankind, and especially to those who are poor in spirit.
The Holy Spirit is like fire: Fire is an indicator of the presence of God. Our God is a consuming fire. The Lord was in the burning bush. The Lord was in the pillar of fire that protected Israel from the Egyptians and lead us through the wilderness. Tongues of fire appeared above the disciples’ heads in the upper room on the day of Shavuot.
Fire, when applied to metal, separates dross from ore, the impure from the pure. Fire, when applied to anything organic, separates the organic from the inorganic during combustion. Fire purifies and cleanses. The Holy Spirit cleanses and makes holy. The Holy Spirit will not abide with unholiness. The Spirit will not abide with lies. If your life is unholy or if you are given to lying you cannot legitimately claim to be operating in the Spirit.
Fire can melt the hardest material on earth, even solid rock. The Holy Spirit can melt and mold the toughest human heart. Fires makes it possible for man to live in the coldest regions on earth. It cooks our food and heats our homes. Without fire man would be reduced to a near animal existence. With fire man becomes a little more like God, no longer forced to concentrate all his energies on mere survival, but able to contemplate the deeper issues of life.
Fire sometimes indicated the approval of the Lord, like fire being sent from heaven to consume a sacrifice, as in the account of the “showdown” of Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). When we have the Spirit we have God’s blessing and approval.
The Holy Spirit is like oil: Oil was used for anointing. The prophet Samuel anointed young David with oil, announcing that he would one day be king of Israel. Yeshua was anointed with the Spirit. That is what makes Him the Messiah. We need to be anointed with the Spirit if we are to be Messianic; “little anointed ones” as it were.
Oil was burned and gave light. The Spirit of truth enlightens us, gives us knowledge. Oil was also used to cleanse, heal and sanctify. The Holy Spirit brings cleansing, healing and holiness. Just as there should always be a good supply of oil in any lamp, so we need to be daily being filled with the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is like water: Water holds fascination for man. People will travel hundreds of miles to view great downpourings of water, like the Niagara Falls. Water is relatively simple yet mysterious. It is tasteless, odorless, colorless, transparent, and buoyant. It holds up heavy objects like a metal ship or a tree. The Holy Spirit holds us up.
Water enables us to transport things, such as shipments brought on barges. The Holy Spirit transports us, His precious cargo, through life and ultimately all the way to the world to come.
Water makes life possible, and many a human being has died for want of it. The most fertile land without water is a desert, just as the most talented or gifted people without God’s Spirit ultimately miss out on life. Where there is water there is life, growth, and fruitfulness. Without God’s Spirit your life will be a spiritual desert. With water it will be a flourishing garden. The Spirit makes life more abundant.
We use water to cleanse our bodies, to our clothes, our homes. God’s Spirit cleanses us. Water is also refreshing. There is nothing like a cool glass of water on a hot day. The Spirit gives refreshment, as Yeshua said, “He who believes in Me, from his innermost being shall flows rivers of living water” (John 7:38).
The Holy Spirit is like wine: On the day of Shavuot (Acts 2) when the Spirit was poured out on the disciples, some mocked and said, “They are full of sweet wine” (perhaps because of their obvious joy and zeal). Peter stood up and said that the men were not drunk, but that it was what had been spoken of through the prophet Joel, “I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind”. Wine is a symbol of joy. God’s Spirit brings joy into our innermost being. You will never find true joy and happiness without receiving the Spirit – the source of all joy.
The Holy Spirit is like wind: The Hebrew word for Spirit, Ruach, can be translated as wind (John 3:8, Acts 2:1-2). On the day of Shavuot the coming of the Spirit was accompanied by the sound of a violent rushing wind.
Like wind His work may be not be visible, but the results certainly are. We can’t see the Spirit, but we can easily see the effect of His transforming work in people’s lives. And the Spirit’s work is Sovereign. He touches whom He will and gives gifts as He sees fit. You can no more govern the moving of the Spirit than you can control the wind.
Wind can be powerful, like a tornado or hurricane. It can carve exquisite structures out of solid rock. Arches National Monument is a good example of what wind can do. It will destroy those structures that oppose it, but not destroy those things that bend and yield to it. Allow the Spirit to have His way in your life, and He will make something beautiful of it.
Wind can also be a cool, refreshing breeze. The Holy Spirit is like a cool breeze that comforts and refreshes; and just as the wind is from the heavens, so the new birth is from above.
The Holy Spirit is like breath: Ruach is also translated breath. Without breath we die. God’s Spirit, His “Breath” gives us life. We have life and tremendous intimacy with God due to His indwelling Spirit. Our breath is close to us. God’s Ruach is as close to us as our own breath.
How to be filled with the Spirit
We receive the Spirit by faith and prayer. We continue to be filled with the Spirit by faith and prayer. Being filled with the Spirit is not something that God wants to be difficult. It is as simple as breathing. Simply pray to be filled with the Spirit. If you sin or grieve the Spirit, pray out a prayer of confession and pray to be filled anew with the Spirit, and you will be.
Pray for more of the Spirit. “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to them that ask?” Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit by continuing in sin. Be sensitive to the Spirit. Learn to hear His gentle, quiet voice. Be sensitive to His prompting and leadings.
Shavuot – a time for feasting We eat the festive loaves after the service, especially with milk dishes such as blintzes. One tradition states that after receiving the Torah, the Jewish people were too hungry to wait for meat to be cooked, so we simply made a dairy meal instead. According to another rabbinic interpretation, dairy foods are eaten at this time because the Bible compares the Torah to milk and honey.
Other Shavuot customs Reading the Ten Commandments: This reminds us of the giving of the Law.
Reading the Megillah of Ruth: This is done for three reasons:
1) The setting of the Book of Ruth is the harvest.
2) She became a follower of the God of Israel, just as Israel became a follower of the Almighty at Mount Sinai.
3)The Book of Ruth announces the ancestry of King David, Ruth’s great grandson (who according to Jewish tradition, was born and died on Shavuot). From the line of King David came Messiah Yeshua.
Decorating the home: It is customary to decorate the home and synagogue with green plants and flowers. Grass grew on Mount Sinai, and the green plants remind us of the trimming used to adorn the people’s baskets of first fruits that they gave to the Priests. It also reminds us that the Torah is a tree of life. As a tree provides fruit and nourishment, so does the Word of God.
May this Shavuot be a time of great joy for you and your family. May our hearts be as one in Messiah Yeshua, and may we experience the presence of the Ruach HaKodesh in our lives in a new way!