The Jewish holidays are fantastic. Year by year they pace our lives according to the cycle God has designed into nature. They teach us many things. They remind us of some of the great things God has done in Israel’s history. They are prophecies which reveal God’s plan to redeem a remnant of fallen humanity.
The holidays begin in the spring with Passover. We remember the lambs that were killed and their blood placed on the doorposts of our houses so that death passed over us. We remember the death of the Lamb of God, who died on Passover to take away the sin of the world.
We observe the holiday of Matzah, unleavened bread, removing the leaven, from our homes, leaven, which is symbolic of sin. We are reminded of Messiah, who lived a sinless life, and how He is able to purify us from our sins and break the cycle of sin that has passed from generation to generation.
The holiday of Firstfruits teaches us about offering God the first of the barley harvest. The offering of the firstfruits of the new harvest is a prophecy of the resurrection of the sinless Lamb of God, who allowed Himself to be arrested, humiliated, tortured and killed to make atonement for us. Yeshua is the risen Messiah and the victorious Lord who is the firstfruits of the greater harvest of a remnant of humanity – those who know Him and become loyal to Him.
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.
Wheat was made into two loaves of bread, made with leaven, and waved by a priest. These two loaves of bread can be understood to be a prophecy of the two peoples that make up Messiah’s Community – the Jewish people and the Gentiles, the peoples from the nations.
The holidays of Matzah, Passover and Firstfruits were prophecies of Messiah’s sinless life, atoning death and resurrection. These holidays are about Messiah providing salvation for us. And He did provide salvation for us – however, the work of salvation is not complete in us until our old nature, our sin nature, is dealt with and a new godly nature is given to us.
Forty days after His resurrection, Messiah ascended to Heaven. And a little more than a week later, on Shavuot, the Father and the Son sent their Spirit to a small group of Messianic Jews. They became the firstfruits of the one new man, a new united humanity. The harvest of humanity was extended from the barley, the Messiah, to the wheat – us.
The sending of the Spirit completes the work of salvation symbolized by Passover, Matzah and Firstfruits.
The sending of the Spirit is one of the very greatest things that God does for us. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and the Son, the living Presence of the living God, living in us – now and forever. What an amazing blessing – to have the Spirit of God living in us – now and forever.
The Spirit ends our alienation from God and our alienation from humanity. He baptizes us, immersing us, uniting us to the Father and the Son and the other sons and daughters of God. We need to be united to that great, loving and eternal community made up of the Father and the Son and other sons and daughters of God. We need the baptism of the Spirit.
The baptism of the Spirit is part of the salvation experience. It is a one-time event. The baptism that the Spirit provides is not to be confused with the filling of the Spirit. The filling of the Spirit takes place when the Spirit enables us to get very close to God, and that can happen over and over.
The Spirit enables us to be born again, to receive a new nature that is able to live in a way that is pleasing to God. We need that new nature.
The Spirit transforms us into the glorious sons and daughters of God. Since fallen human beings are not the glorious sons and daughters, but inglorious rebels who are at war with God, we need that transformation. Only the Holy Spirit provides that transformation.
The Spirit teaches us. He helps us know God the way we need to know Him and understand the Word of God. He guides us into all the truth. We need to know God as He really is, and understand the Word of God, and understand the truth. These are things which only the Spirit can do for us.
The Spirit leads us. Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. We need to be led by the Spirit.
The Spirit helps us overcome our old, sinful nature and its perverse desires. We need to overcome the old nature and its perverse desires.
The Spirit enables us to have the desire and the power to do what is right. We need that desire and that power that the Spirit alone provides.
Human beings do not know the truth, believe the right things, sufficiently resist temptation and live the right way. The Spirit helps us know the truth, believe the right things, resist temptation and live the right way. This is what it means to “walk by the Spirit.” We need the Spirit to walk by the Spirit, so we know the truth, believe the right things, resist temptation and live the right way.
The Spirit produces the fruits of the Spirit in us – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We need fruitful lives. We need the fruits of the Spirit.
The Spirit assures us that we belong to God. By means of the Spirit we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. What a great thing to know that, in spite of our ups and downs, in spite of our sins and our failures, God is still our Father; that we are still a son or daughter of God; that we still belong to Him. We need that assurance that the Spirit alone gives.
The Spirit helps us pray. He teaches us about God’s will – what God wants and what God doesn’t want, which helps us know what to pray for and what not to pray for. The Spirit teaches us what is important to God, so that we are able to pray for the things that are important to God. When we are close to God (and it is the Spirit who enables us to be close to God), we are able to sense what we are to pray for. This is what is known as “praying in the Spirit.” And the Spirit helps us in those times when we do not know what we ought to pray for. The Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans. We need the Spirit’s help to pray.
The Spirit gives gifts to every child of God, which can include supernatural gifts. Those gifts enable us to grow in grace. Those gifts enable us to build up the Community of believers from within and evangelize those who are without. We need the gifts given by the Spirit.
We receive the Spirit at the time of our salvation. After we receive the Spirit, we need to learn how to walk by the Spirit, to live in the Spirit, to be full of the Spirit.
After we are filled with the Spirit, we can get unfilled with the Spirit. We can drift away from God. We can sin. But, we can be filled with the Spirit again, getting close to God again, and again and again. We need to be filled with the Spirit. We need to get close to God and stay close to God. How do we do that?
First, we make sure we are saved, born again, right with God, reconciled to God, headed to Heaven. We come to the Three-In-One God on His terms. We transfer our loyalties to the Father, Son and Spirit. We make a serious commitment to relate to Yeshua as Lord; to know Him; to follow Him; to be obedient.
Then, we nurture our relationship with God by practicing the Spiritual Disciplines.
We discipline ourselves to take in God’s Word by hearing it taught by a God-ordained teacher. We study God’s Word on our own. We meditate on God’s Word throughout the day, thinking about it and applying it to our lives.
We discipline ourselves to see God in creation. We look for the order, wisdom, symmetry and beauty He wove into nature. We become aware of the mathematical relationships and the chemical, physical and biological laws found in nature. As we praise the One who designed this beautiful and miraculous universe, our souls are drawn to Him and we stay close to Him.
We practice the discipline of prayer. We discipline our minds to talk to God throughout the day, having a running conversation with Him. We talk to Him about things that interest us and concern us. We praise Him for who He is and what He has done, is doing and will do.
We thank Him for all the many things He does for us. We ask Him to meet our needs and the needs of others.
We consider having special times of fasting, silence and solitude, so that we can hear God’s still small voice speaking to us.
We commit ourselves to do something to build up Messiah’s Community.
We commit ourselves to give financial support to Messiah’s Community.
We discipline ourselves to bring the Good News to those outside of Messiah’s Community.
The Spiritual Disciplines help us walk by the Spirit, live in the Spirit, be full of the Spirit.
And if we fail in our Spiritual Disciplines? If we realize we have slowly drifted away from God? If we realize we have sinned, and are not close to God like we should be?
We admit our failures. We confess our sins. We ask for God’s grace to do better the next time we face that same area of weakness. We put safeguards in place so we don’t fall into the same temptation. And the God who forgives seventy times seven renews us and fills us with His Spirit, who again empowers us for holy living.
The holidays are fantastic! Thanks be to God for Shavuot, which teaches us about God and His plan of salvation; and the reality of a new united humanity; and the importance of receiving and living by the Spirit!
Father, thank You for the holidays. They teach us so much.
Thank You for Passover. Thank You for Messiah, our Passover Lamb.
Thank You for the holiday of Matzah. Thank You for Messiah, who lived a sinless life. Thank You for Messiah’s Holy Spirit, who lives in us. May the reality of Messiah and the power of the Holy Spirit purify us from our sins and enable us to live holy lives.
Thank You for the holiday of Firstfruits. Thank You that Yeshua is the firstfruits of the greater harvest of a remnant of humanity. Thank You that we have become part of that harvest.
Use us to help with the harvest, so that others become Your sons and daughters.
Thank You for Shavuot and for the sending of the Spirit, who completes the work of salvation symbolized by Passover, Matzah and Firstfruits.
Thank You for giving us Your Spirit, Your living presence, so that He will be with us now and forever.
Thank You that Your Spirit unites us to You and Your Son, and to the other sons and daughters of God. Thank You for making us part of this great, eternal community by means of Your Spirit.
Thank You for the Spirit who has enabled us to be born again, to receive a new nature.
Thank You for Your Spirit who empowers us to resist sin and live in a way that is pleasing to You.
Thank You for You Spirit who teaches us. May Your Spirit help us know You and understand Your Word, from Genesis to Revelation! May He lead us into all truth.
Thank You for Your Spirit who produces the fruits of the Spirit in us. May He enable us to be very fruitful!
Thank You that Your Spirit gives gifts to every child of God. Help us discover and fully utilize our gifts.
Thank You that Your Spirit helps us know the truth, believe the right things, resist temptation and live the right way. May we walk by the Spirit, so we know the truth, believe the right things, resist temptation and live the right way.
Help us practice the Spiritual Disciples so that we nurture our relationship to You and stay close to You.
Father, the giving of your Spirit on Shavuot resulted in evangelism. I pray that You would fill us with your Spirit, so that we would be passionate about evangelism.
Father, when the Law was given, 3,000 people were killed. But on the Shavuot after Messiah died and was raised, 3,000 people came to life. Please so work that many more come to life because they come to know Messiah and receive Your Spirit.
Father, on Shavuot two loaves of bread were waved. We see this as a prophecy of Jew and Gentile coming together to form Messiah’s Community. Lord, I pray that more Jewish people and more people of the nations would be saved, and come together in love and unity. I pray that Shema, and the other Messianic congregations and churches around the world would better reflect this new united humanity. Amen.