The Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 as the “birth of the Church.” This language ostensibly implies the start of something new. However, we should be cautious of such terminology lest we fall into the trap of “replacement theology.” The Pentecost event in Acts was not a replacement of Israel but rather the renewal of covenantal relationship and purpose with a radical expansion.
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).
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.
Should Followers of Yeshua celebrate Christmas if it is based on a pagan holiday? I think you will be surprised by this answer and may even learn a few things about the ‘root’ of other holidays as well.
Holiday Mirrors: What Hanukkah and Christmas Have in Common. The rich tradition and theological substance of holidays like Hanukkah bind us together as a community. Why wouldn’t we want to remember and celebrate an event that caused heaven’s armies to pause and erupt in lavish praise? As much as the Nativity and Hanukkah have some profound differences, they also have some deep similarities. As such, they both deserve a place in our practice and our communal storytelling.
What is Thanksgiving? It is so much more than a holiday—it’s a lifestyle for Followers of Yeshua – Jesus! Being thankful when things are going well in our lives is one thing, but “always”? “In everything”? The Apostle (and Rabbi!) Paul gave clear directives to those early believing communities. He expected thanksgiving would be a constant among them, even when enduring challenges. Frankly, this seems a bit idealistic, don’t you think? How can believers be thankful all the time?