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Brit Chadashah

May 30, 2015
Sivan 12, 5775

Shavuot

Naso
 

Num. 4:21-7:89
[Table Talk]

Judges 13:2-25

Acts 21:17-26

 

Jerusalem Day

The Holiday of Shavuot...

Saturday, May 23rd (at sundown) marked the end of the 49 days of counting and the beginning of the "Jubilee" of Shavuot (i.e., "Weeks" or "Pentecost"). Recall that the Torah instructed (Lev. 23:15-16) that we count from the day following Passover (i.e., Nisan 16) for exactly seven weeks, until Sivan 5 (i.e., from April 4th until May 23rd this year). On the 50th day (i.e., Sivan 6), a special celebration was to be observed. This annual "countdown period" recalls both the time from the Passover until the revelation at Sinai, and the advent of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) among Yeshua's disciples in Jerusalem (Acts 2:1-4).

According to the sages, the festival of Shavuot marks the culmination of the experience of redemption, sometimes called Atzaret Pesach, the "conclusion" of Passover. Since the Exodus from Egypt was intended to lead to the revelation given at Sinai, the goal of Passover was the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people.

In other words, the LORD took the Jews out of Egypt so that they would be His own treasured people, holy and separated from the pagan cultures around them.  Indeed, all of the mo'edim (holidays) of the biblical calendar are connected with this event, including the fall festivals of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.

During this time, it is customary for young adults to recommit themselves to Talmud Torah (the study of Torah) and to renew their decision to live as Jews. In addition to formal "confirmation ceremonies" observed at synagogues, some other Shavuot customs include decorating the home and synagogue with greenery, eating dairy foods and sweets (as samples of the "milk and honey" of the promised land), and staying up the entire night of Shavuot to read selections from the Torah and from the Talmud (this custom is called tikkun leil shavu'ot: תִּקּוּן לֵיל שָׁבוּעוֹת, "Rectification for Shavuot Night"). For the Messianic Jew, Shavuot is the time of celebrating the birth of kallat Mashiach - the Bride of the Messiah (or the new covenant assembly), since the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) was poured out to the believers in Yeshua during this festival (Acts 2:1-4).

At the synagogue, it is customary to start the Shavuot evening service later than usual, to ensure that the 50th day has arrived (see "counting the omer").  As mentioned above, many people stay at the synagogue throughout the entire night listening to poems and favorite portions of Scripture, or reading from a special book (tikkun leil Shavuot) that includes key verses of each Torah portion, passages of each tractate of the Mishnah and from the Zohar. This custom is observed to "repair" the night of Shavuot from the error of sleeping so soundly before the Torah was revealed at Sinai that God had to awaken the Jews with piercing shofar blasts, thunder, and lightning the following morning.

Shavuot Torah Readings:

The following Torah portions are traditionally read during the Festival of Shavuot:

Day

Torah

Haftarah

Brit Chadashah

Erev Shavuot
Sat. May 23nd - eve

Tikkun Leil ShavuotReading assorted passages of Torah, Talmud, etc.

Shavuot 1
Sat. May 23nd -day

Exod. 19:1-20:23
Num. 28:26-31
(M)

Ezek. 1:1-28; 3:12
Ruth (K)

John 1:32-34; Mt 3:11-17;
Acts 2:1-21, 37-41

Shavuot 2
Sun. May 24nd -day

Deut. 14:22-16:17 Num. 28:26-31 (M)

Habakkuk 3:1-19
Ruth (K)

Acts 2:1-13

Note: For additional insight into the portions of Torah read during the festival of Shavuot, please click here (day 1) and here (day 2). To read a brief Shavuot meditation, please see the heart of Torah. For further information about Shavuot, see the Site Updates pages.

Jewish tradition teaches be'chol dor vador - that in every generation each person should consider him or herself as having personally received the Torah at Sinai. The climax of the Shavuot morning service is the recitation of the famous Akdamut poem followed by the reading of the Ten Commandments, when all the congregation stands to "relive" the experience at Sinai. A second Torah scroll is then taken out of the ark and the portion is read (Num. 28:26-31) that describes the sacrificial offerings made at the Temple during Shavuot, and the Haftarah (Ezek. 1:1-28; 3:12) concerns the amazing revelation of God in the form of the Throne/Chariot.

The Scroll of Ruth (מגילת רות) - a beautiful story about God's redemptive love - is traditionally read on the second day of Shavuot. As the Goel (kinsman-redeemer), Boaz was a wealthy man of the tribe of Judah (Bethlehem) who married a Gentile bride. Boaz's name means "in Him is strength," a picture of the Yeshua the Messiah, his greater Descendant, who also redeemed for himself a bride from among the nations. Among traditional Jews, the Book of Ruth is is read since the events recounted took place during the time of the spring harvest (linking it to the agricultural aspect of Shavuot), and Ruth is a picture of willing acceptance of a Jewish lifestyle (linking it to the events of Sinai).

The holiday of Shavuot is one of the shelosh regalim (three major "pilgrimage festivals") commanded in the Torah (Exod. 23:14-17; Deut. 16:16) and therefore it reveals profound spiritual truth for followers of Yeshua (Luke 24:44; 2 Tim. 3:16). God did not want us to miss the significance of this holiday, since it expresses the freedom and truth of the New Covenant of Zion. From my family to you: Shavuot Sameach - "Happy Shavuot!"  May this be a time of renewal and great joy in your lives....

Shavuot and Eschatology

Some people believe that the ultimate fulfillment of the holiday of Shavuot is found in the mysterious catching away (ἁρπάζω, harpazo) of believers before the time of the "Great Tribulation" and the Great Day of the LORD (1 Thess. 4:17; John 14:3; 1 Cor. 15:51-52). They reason that since Shavuot marked the day of dramatic revelation, with signs of fire and the sounds of a heavenly shofar blast, an appointed time that marks the jubilee fulfillment of Passover, it can therefore be seen as the rapturous end of redemption for those who believe, symbolic of a wedding day, when God betrothed Israel as His own people, separate from all others.  Both Jew and Gentile will be "waved" before the LORD (as symbolized by shtei ha-lechem, the two loaves), representing the "one new man" of kallat Mashiach, the "bride of Messiah," or the assembly of those called out from every tribe and tongue to be a part of God's heavenly kingdom.


 

Though no one knows the day or hour of the return of Yeshua our Messiah (see Matt. 24:36; Acts 1:7), there are clues given in Scripture about the conditions of the world before His return, and Yeshua himself gave us parables admonishing us to actively be looking (Matt. 24:2-14; 25:1-13). The Apostle Paul said that followers of the Lord can know the "season" of Messiah's return, and warned that He will come "as a thief in the night" - not in great power and glory at the end of the age (1 Thess. 5:2-6). Moreover, Paul forewarned of the rise of worldwide godlessness (2 Tim. 3:1-7) and even of the apostasy of the "institutionalized" church (1 Tim. 4:1-3). Other Scriptures foretell of the coming One World Government, the rise of the Messiah of evil (Antichrist) whose "god" will be the "security state" (Dan. 11:38), the persecution of the national Israel (a nation miraculously restored to the promised land), the rebuilding of the Temple, the coming Great Tribulation, and so on. "When these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (Luke 21:28).

David Reagan relates that back in 1990, the late Elbert Peak, who was 80 years old at the time said, "Sixty years ago when I first started preaching, you had to scratch around like a chicken to find one sign of the Lord's soon return." He paused for a moment, and then added, "But today there are so many signs I'm no longer looking for them. Instead, I'm listening for a sound - the sound of a trumpet!"

Regarding the fate of the "world system," however, we have quite a different vision... The LORD God Almighty has vowed to break the pride of the "kings of the earth" with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel, and the shattering will be so ruthless that among its fragments not a shard will be found with which to take fire from the hearth, or to dip up water out of the cistern (Psalm 2:9; Isa. 30:14). For from His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty (Rev. 19:15). Nebuchadnezzar's great dream will soon be fulfilled: "As you looked, a Stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, breaking them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth" (Dan. 2:34-35). "And the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed ... and it shall stand forever" (Dan. 2:44). One day the edifice of man's godless pride will come crashing down, and there will be no trace left of its rubble... Even so, come quickly, Lord!

Blessing before Torah Study:

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Some terms:

  • Parashah is the weekly Scripture portion taken from the Torah. Each parashah is given a name and is usually referred to as "parashat - name" (e.g., parashat Noach). For more information about weekly readings, click here.
     
  • Aliyot refer to a smaller sections of the weekly parashah that are assigned to people of the congregation for public reading during the Torah Reading service. In most congregations it is customary for the person "called up" to recite a blessing for the Torah before and after the assigned section is recited by the cantor. For Shabbat services, there are seven aliyot (and a concluding portion called a maftir). The person who is called to make aliyah is referred to as an oleh (olah, if female).
     
  • Maftir refers to the last Torah aliyah of the Torah chanting service (normally a brief repetition of the 7th aliyah, though on holidays the Maftir portion usually focuses on the Holiday as described in the Torah).  The person who recites the Maftir blessing also recites the blessing over the Haftarah portion.
     
  • Haftarah refers to an additional portion from the Nevi'im (Prophets) read after the weekly Torah portion. The person who made the maftir blessing also recites the blessing for the Haftarah, and may even read the Haftarah before the congregation.
     
  • Brit Chadashah refers to New Testament readings which are added to the traditional Torah Reading cycle. Often blessings over the Brit Chadashah are recited before and after the readings.
     
  • Mei Ketuvim refers to a portion read from the Ketuvim, or writings in the Tanakh. Readings from the Ketuvim are usually reserved for Jewish holidays at the synagogue.
     
  • Perek Yomi Tehillim refers to the daily portion of psalms (mizmorim) recited so that the entire book of Psalms (Tehillim) is read through in a month. For a schedule, of daily Psalm readings, click here.
     
  • Gelilah refers to the tying up and covering the Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) as an honor in the synagogue.
     
  • Divrei Torah ("words of Torah") refers to a commentary, a sermon, or devotional on the Torah portion of the week.

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