I just received the May update from the En-Gedi Resource Center:
In just a few days, both Christians and Jews will be remembering the ancient festival of Shavuot (Pentecost). At sunset on May 28, Jews will begin their celebration of Shavuot, remembering the giving of the Torah to seal God’s covenant on Mt. Sinai. On Sunday, May 31, Christians will celebrate the giving of the Spirit at the Temple to seal the new covenant of Christ’s atonement for sin. Jews will have all-night parties to study the Torah together to rejoice that God has given them his Word. As Christians, why not celebrate in a similar way? How can Pentecost be a special time to study the words of Christ?
I love learning about the Jewish tradition about the giving of the Torah on Sinai happening on Pentecost. Dwight Pryor has some incredibly accessible teaching on this. I find it very exciting that the God who wanted to write the Torah on our hearts choose this very festival to pour out His Spirit!
The Torah on tablets to the Torah on our hearts reminds me of a Joyce Meyer teaching I heard years ago, for believers the 10 commandments become 10 promises. Instead of a threatening “thou shalt not” command, they become grace filled assurances. “Relax, you won’t have any God besides me.” “Rest assured, you won’t covet any more.”
So studying this weekend seems particularly appropriate. After all, as my college advisor Dr. Marvin Wilson taught us: study is the highest form of worship.
Here are some suggestions for your studies:
- Consider reading Exodus 19, God’s giving the Torah on Sinai.
- Or reading the traditional Pentecost story from the Christian scriptures, Acts 2. Consider how Acts 2:2 could well parallel Exodus 19:16 -19.
- Perhaps reflecting on the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7 is more your speed.
- Finally, you could read the Book of Ruth. As it says on the Wikipedia article on Shavout:
“The Book of Ruth corresponds to the holiday of Shavuot both in its descriptions of the barley and wheat harvest seasons and Ruth’s desire to become a member of the Jewish people, who are defined by their acceptance of the Torah. Moreover, the lineage described at the end of the Book lists King David as Ruth’s great-grandson. According to tradition, David was born and died on Shavuot (Sha’arei Teshuvah to Orach Hayyim, 494).”
As I learned from Dwight Pryor, in the faith of Jesus, redemption isn’t enough. Freedom from slavery is necessary and wonderful, but becoming a people is the goal. Having a new identity, belonging to the One who created us, becoming a member of God’s people, that is the story of Pentecost.