A Fire that Will Not Die “You will receive power… and you will be my witnesses…Acts 1:4,5,8 – The Resurrected Lord spent forty days with His disciples, preparing them to set the world on fire and carry out the Great Commission. However, He did not immediately send them out. Instead, He told them that they needed to wait and pray. While they knew the Father and spent years getting to know Yeshua, they would now need to receive and get to know the Ruach (the Hebrew word for “Spirit”).
Shavuot / The Sinai event was several things wrapped in one; perhaps most significantly, the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. In recounting the giving of the Law at Pentecost, Moses said, “Adonai came from Sinai and dawned on Bnei-Yisrael from Seir. He shone forth from Mount Paran, and He came from the holy myriads— blazing fire for them from His right hand.” (Deuteronomy 33:2). Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks), also known as Pentecost, is the traditional Jewish celebration of the reception of the Torah. It occurs seven weeks or fifty days after the feast of Passover, hence its name (the Greek word Πεντηκοστή – Pentēkostē, meaning “fiftieth”)
Firstfruits in the Bible holds significant spiritual and symbolic meaning for Followers of Yeshua – Jesus. The concept of firstfruits refers to the practice of dedicating the first and best portion of one’s harvest or income to God as an act of worship and gratitude. It is a way of acknowledging that all blessings come from God and expressing trust and reliance on His provision.
Starting from the second night of Passover, the Bible encourages us to all become “Pentecostals” by initiating a forty-nine-day minor festival culminating on the Day of Pentecost—“Pentecost,” meaning “fifty.” The first fruits festival, known as “The Counting of the Omer” or simply “The Omer,” marks a culmination of three unique historical events and has enormous significance in the life of a disciple of Yeshua – Jesus.
We see Passover’s “core purpose” in Exodus 13:8, “You are to tell your son on that day saying, ‘It is because of what Adonai did for me when I came out of Egypt.'” In a previous “Holiday Mirrors” article, we briefly discussed how communal storytelling finds its zenith in Passover. We can say the same regarding the traditional liturgies of Easter (and the lead-up to it).
El Shaddai appears in the Bible seven times, or as just Shaddai an additional forty-one times. English translators typically (and conveniently) render El Shaddai as “God Almighty.” Its meaning is murkier and will require some verbal archaeology to uncover. Moreover, it is one of the few biblical names of God that is virtually absent from the Jewish liturgy, only finding its place when we read Psalm 91:1 in the evening service, “He who dwells in the shelter of Elyon, will abide in the shadow of Shaddai.”
In Jewish thought, depression is seen to be one of the most dangerous and destructive forces in our spiritual lives. It is a curse that cripples us. Depression can rob us of our ability to love and serve God and others. We are in the midst of the Purim season, which is supposed to be one of the happiest times on the Jewish calendar. It’s a time of great simcha (celebration). Joy is to abound during this holiday and the entire Hebrew month of Adar. Esther 9:22 refers to this time as “the month which was transformed from sorrow to joy.”
We should also keep in mind that the half-shekel tax funded the operation of the Tabernacle/Temple. As to the value of each individual—existentially and liturgically (i.e., pertaining to the significance of their worship)—each Israelite was equal. There were no spiritual giants or supermen whose worship and prayer were more valuable. Neither were there spiritual infants whose spiritual service was worth less.
By observing Rosh Chodesh, we “invite” God into the entire month and make Him Lord over all “our” time. The observance of Rosh Chodesh starts with, “This month will mark the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year for you” (Exodus 12:2). In response to this text, the Midrash notes, “‘For You’, God said to Israel, ‘Until now, the sanctification of months was in My hands, from now on it is given to you.’” The first and critical part of Rosh Chodesh observance is the sanctification of the month. As a general principle, sanctification or holiness means “set apart,” and in biblical thought, set apart to God.
The people saw glimpses of both Elohim and YHVH, but most could not understand who Yeshua was. His hidden divinity as Elohim made it hard for people to see beyond His physical being. His true identity was hidden like that of God’s identity in nature. The Divine clothed and concealed in the garments of gashmius—physicality. But after the Resurrection, those who had “eyes to see” recognized Him as both Elohim and YHVH.