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Pentecost or Shavuot?

Guest blogger Linda Morris (aka Batnabas)

What is the difference? Is it important? Those of you who know me, or have read other things I have written, will not be surprised that my answer is ‘Yes.’ An emphatic ‘Yes.’ Because this is partially to blame for the church – in general – moving away from its Hebraic roots.

Pentecost is an important date in the Christian calendar. We sing songs proclaiming that God poured out His Holy Spirit on that day and “the church was born.” You will hear people preaching the same. Well it was not, and I am sorry if this offends you. But I am not apologising for it.

Jesus did NOT come to start a new religion. Neither did Paul.

The crowd in Jerusalem, in Acts chapter 2 were primarily Jews, but some gentiles (non-Jews) would have been there too. We know that the disciples plus Jews and others who had accepted Jesus as their Messiah were among them. The reason they were there was to fulfil the Biblical command to observe the feast of Shavuot. They were to present the firstfruits of the wheat harvest to God (Lev 22:15-17). Nowadays, it also represents the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. So they celebrate God’s provision for them physically and spiritually at Shavuot.

They received another gift from God that day – the Holy Spirit!

Jesus is called the firstfruits (1 Cor 15:23).

At Shavuot, the Book of Ruth is read, mainly because it is a story about a harvest, but it also tells the story of Ruth, a Moabite woman, joining herself to the Jews. This gives a little hint that God would join the gentiles to His people in the future, through Jesus. Ruth is one of 4 women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus, who were all gentiles. The only other woman in this list was His mother, Mary, who of course was Jewish.

Ruth said, “your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”

Ruth joined herself to the Jews, but many Christians have at best, separated themselves from the Jews, and at worst turned against them, even hating them. The beginning of this was in the 4th century at the Council of Nicea when the church split from its Jewish roots. One of the results of this is that some years there can be a gap of a few weeks between the Jews celebrating Passover and the Christians celebrating Easter, depending on our calendars.

Another is the erroneous teaching that the Jews were unfaithful to God, therefore He broke His Covenant with them and replaced them with the church! This is called ‘Replacement Theology’ and is quite rife in the Christian church.

Don’t you see? If God broke His Covenant with the Jews He can just as easily break His Covenant with us! Are Christians perfect? Are we always faithful to Him? If we believe that God breaks His Covenants, then what are we doing going to church?

If He is not a Covenant-keeping God, then we are wasting our time!

Unfortunately, we have lost a lot by casting off our root, particularly in the area of understanding the Bible. I have often thought that as Christians we just float along the surface in Bible study. By discovering and accepting our Hebraic roots we gain such a deeper understanding of Scripture, of God, of Jesus. It brings the Bible to life.

Tom Bradford, a Bible teacher in America, has said that ‘even open-minded Bible commentary writers find themselves at the end of a promising road to new discoveries of the Bible because they are unwilling to pursue it. It could be disruptive to the inner workings of the institutional church.’ He also says that in recent years there has been an upsurge internationally in Christians turning to Hebraic Roots teaching which he attributes to the Holy Spirit. So it seems that many Christians are realising that there is so much to gain, so much to learn. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Once you start, you wonder why you did not do it sooner.

I am not in any way advocating that we all convert to Judaism. That is a backward step. The Messianic Jewish movement (Jews who have accepted Jesus as their Messiah) is growing rapidly in Israel and among Jewish communities in other countries. When people in the UK accept Jesus, they say ‘the prayer’ committing their lives to Jesus and approach the faith through Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Messianic Jews have the whole story. The Covenant with God, the ‘Law and Prophets’ (The Tanakh – our Old Testament) which tells the whole story of God’s love for His people and the promised Messiah. We are not New Testament people – we are Bible people. It is a fascinating book, and you will discover and be amazed and excited by all the new things you can learn when you look at it in its Hebraic setting. If you need help with how to access this aspect of Bible study let us know and we will be glad to guide you.



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