Richard Agee

Shavuot teaches encountering God ‘in spirit and in truth’

Richard AgeeThis is a special time in God’s calendar. We have reached Shavuot, the “Feast of Sevens.” It’s also called Pentecost, which is Greek for 50th. This feast is, in a sense, a continuation of the fulfillment of the covenant God made with Abraham.

The book of Exodus shows us how God did not forget the covenant He made with Abraham. It was not fulfilled during the lives of Abraham, Yitskhak (Isaac), Ya’akob (Jacob) or Yosef (Joseph). He took more than 400 years to fulfill that promise.

The first harvest of God’s year for Israel was at Passover, of barley. The second harvest was at Shavout, of wheat. The third harvest was of grapes and olives, celebrated at Sukkot, the Festival of Tabernacles, or Booths.

What happened at Mt. Sinai? What does Exodus 20 tell us? We are very familar with the 10 Commandments, but this is what was given to the children of Israel on this day. But they were given something else as well. 

It’s good to rehearse the Law. We must speak “in season,” as the apostle Paul instructs us (2nd Tim. 4:2). We must refresh our minds from time to time looking back on what we have learned before.  

In Ex. 23:14-19, the people were coming in to take part in something. The people were to partake in the these feasts — literally in Hebrew, appointments — not just observe them from afar. 

There three basic versions of how Shavuot is observed:

  1. Pharisee and Talmudic: Shavuot is always on sixth day of the third month of God’s calendar, also known as Sivan.
  2. Sadducee and Karaite: Shavuot is always on a Sunday. 
  3. The third option is that Shavuot is always on a weekly Shabbat, and that is when this congregation celebrates it. 

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. ‘He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. ‘Now on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb one year old without defect for a burnt offering to the LORD. ‘Its grain offering shall then be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering by fire to the LORD for a soothing aroma, with its drink offering, a fourth of a hin of wine. ‘Until this same day, until you have brought in the offering of your God, you shall eat neither bread nor roasted grain nor new growth. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. ‘You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. ‘You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD. ‘You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to the LORD.” (Lev. 23:9–17)

When we present an offering to God, we are simply returning the property to the rightful owner. 

God pulled out the first harvest, the barley harvest from Egypt. He did it literally in the plagues of the locusts but also did it figuratively when He uprooted the children of Israel from Egypt with His might works. 

God keeps secrets. He kept the secret of how He would fulfill His covenant with the children of Israel for 400 years ago. You can see that it would have been easy for them to doubt His promise when God “delayed” Himself for such a long time. Some people are very young when God starts to work on them, some are old but that work is on God’s timetable, not ours. 

God tells us that when we harvest our grains, we are not to harvest every little bit from the land. The children of Israel aren’t supposed to clean up every part of what is on the threshing floor either. The story of Ruth, who was a Moabite gentile, is the story of a woman who was called into God’s people during Shavuot. She gleaned in the fields and at the threshing floor. This is why her story is recalled every Shauvot.

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? “And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs ― we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” (Acts 2:1-11)

I imagine that what they heard was more powerful than a tornado or a hurricane. Have you heard the sound of fire? It crackles, it roars. It certainly draws attention. 

The people who were in Jerusalem during Shavout heard the voices of Galilean disciples speaking in their own languages yet the foreigners knew that the Galileans speaking to them were speaking in their own language, not only speaking foreign words but even mastering their accents.  

We also that this day was spoken about in the book of Joel and the apostle Peter points them to it when he explains to the people what they were witnessing. The audience Peter was speaking to were all “devout Jews.” The Gentiles weren’t called in until some years after this, maybe up to 20 years later. 

When Paul was ministering to the Gentiles in Corinth, he was still keeping Shavuot/Pentecost.

Seraphim and ‘tongues of fire’

I have hard time seeing what Isaiah saw in Isa. 6:1-2, but we will go over it. We see that God was seated on His throne in the presence of beings called שְׂרָפִים seraphim (Strong’s lexicon No. H8314b). Their name means fiery lights. This is not necessarily fire that burns or consumes. The book of Acts talks about “tongues of fire” that came down. The fire was not there to burn people but to give light. These lights came from the throne of God. We are called to be lights, not to burn people but to enlighten them. 

When the Apostle Peter spoke to the people at Shavuot, he spoke promises of life to them. He didn’t burn them with condemnation. That is why 3,000 people came to believe in Yeshua in one day.

Worshiping ‘in spirit and in truth’

John 4:5-42 tells us the story of a particular woman, a Samaritan. Yeshua came to this town, not for a drink of water but for her. The Samaritan woman conversed with Yeshua and realized quickly and realized that He was not an ordinary person. Yeshua opened the door for her to repent. She didn’t have to go to a particular location to repent but she simply needs to worship God in spirit and truth. 

The people that the Samaritan woman brought to Yeshua were not Jewish, yet they were looking for the same promise. 

The “punchline” is how Yeshua explained this to His disciples:

“But He said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples were saying to one another, ‘No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?’ Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.'” (John 4:32-38)

The Jews in Yeshua’s time were obsessed with “the last days,” associated with the time and themes of Sukkot. But Yeshua is telling them that they need to reach to Shavuot first. The Samaritans were already to be harvested for the Kingdom even before Yeshua’s death and resurrection. The Gentiles are ready now. This didn’t happen during the time of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, King David, Solomon.

Each appointed time will be fulfilled in His time, not ours. We think that God took a long time to fulfill the promise of Abraham. From Abraham to Messiah were many generations and from Abraham to our time is even more generations. 

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Rom. 8:1–2)

It’s kind of difficult for me to explain. It’s a different point of view.  We aren’t going to gather all the grain from the fields and the threshing floor. Some will be left for others to harvest. When the Samaritan woman recognized who the Messiah was, she was no longer in sin and condemnation. She did not remain in her old life but started a new life. 

What is the “torah of the spirit of life”? What is the law in the spirit of life? When you trust God, the fiery darts of the devil bounce off you, they can’t do anything to you. 

We have to trust the word of truth. The Word said to Abraham that the world will be blessed through him, although Abraham didn’t live to see the fulfillment. 

The flesh is always weak, it will never be strong. We are to seek the Kingdom and His righteousness. We can not over come the law of sin and death in our flesh. Yeshua is the one who overcame the law of sin and death by Himself. We can only overcome the law of sin and death in Yeshua. 

“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (Rom. 8:9)

If the spirit of the Father lives in you as it lives in Yeshua, you have life. This is an awesome promise for every man, woman and child in the past, present and future. How does God own you? Does He own you in Hell? in Death? No, He owns you in Life!

God loved you so much that He put His own Son to death for us. God can separate breath from spirit with His word. We will not be apart of God’s kingdom in the future with breath but with spirit. That is what He told Nicodemus. 

When human beings try to obey God in the flesh without a redeemed spirit, they will inevitably fail. When God raises us up at the last day, the flesh will pass away. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. We will not be of the earth but of God. 

Let’s compare 1st Cor. 15:20-28 and Ex. 23:19. Yeshua is the ultimate First Fruit. The are three resurrections, and the third one will be greater than the first. The first resurrection was one man, the last will be many people. Those of the second resurrection, the first fruits will be assisting the Messiah in teaching the others about God. God can perform His work better than any of us yet He wants us to assist Him. God will finish the work He started in us. 

We lift up two loaves at Shavuot. We will have one made of wheat and one made of barley. Both are His, and we will give both back to Him. There is so much hope for mankind at this time, even for those who are “not of us.” We were allowed to gather up the remnants in the field and on the threshing floor. 

Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy.

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