Michael Boling – The Feasts of the Lord: The Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) (Part 2)

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The Feast of Shavuot (The Later First Fruits/Weeks/Pentecost) Part 2

“and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field;” (Exodus 23:16)

“And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest,” (Exodus 34:22)

15 ‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. 16 Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD. 17 You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the LORD. 18 And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs of the first year, without blemish, one young bull, and two rams. They shall be as a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to the LORD. 19 Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats as a sin offering, and two male lambs of the first year as a sacrifice of a peace offering. 20 The priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the LORD for the priest. 21 And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations. (Leviticus 23:15-21)

26 ‘Also on the day of the firstfruits, when you bring a new grain offering to the LORD at your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work. 27 You shall present a burnt offering as a sweet aroma to the LORD: two young bulls, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year, 28 with their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil: three-tenths of an ephah for each bull, two-tenths for the one ram, 29 and one-tenth for each of the seven lambs; 30 also one kid of the goats, to make atonement for you. 31 Be sure they are without blemish. You shall present them with their drink offerings, besides the regular burnt offering with its grain offering. (Numbers 28:26-31)

9 “You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. 10 Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the LORD your God blesses you. 11 You shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you, at the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide. 12 And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes. (Deuteronomy 16:9-12)

In the previous post, we explored the ceremonial aspects of the Feast of Shavuot specifically focusing on the agricultural and betrothal elements found in this important holiday. As promised, in this post we will focus on the rather significant aspect of the Feast of Shavuot, namely the remembrance and celebration of the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai.

The counting of the omer up to the beginning of Shavuot represented the time from the crossing by Israel of the Red Sea to the day when Israel received the commands of God at Mt. Sinai. Thus, Shavuot “is called the season of the giving of the Torah (Z’man Matan Toraseinu) in Hebrew because this is the literal day that God revealed Himself to the people of Israel as they stood at base of Mt. Sinai.”[1] One may argue that Scripture does not specifically state this was the exact day God revealed the Torah to Israel, however, the significance of this event in the course of Israel and for that matter, all believers, cannot be overlooked. As such, the great Jewish philosopher Maimonides noted, “just as one who is expecting the most faithful of his friends is wont to count the days and hours to his arrival, so we also count from the omer of the day of our Exodus from Egypt to that of the giving of the law, which was the object of our Exodus, as it is said: ‘I bare you on eagle’s wings, and brought you unto Myself.” And because this great manifestation did not last more than one day, therefore we annually commemorate it only one day.” [2] But wait, there’s more!

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Michael Boling – Betrothal, the Believer’s Relationship with Jesus, and Eschatology (Part 2)

Betrothal, the Believer’s Relationship with Jesus, and Eschatology (Part 2)

In part one of this series, we explored the marriage process known as betrothal, a process that would have been fully understood in the time period Scripture was written. So when God stated in Hosea 2:19 “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me In righteousness and justice, In lovingkindness and mercy” or when Jesus discussed going away to prepare a place in John 14:1-4, these were statements the hearers would have been very familiar with.

Unfortunately it seems, believers today are not as familiar with the betrothal process and more importantly, have not engaged with a great deal of diligence a study and understanding of what it means to be married to Christ, or better yet, what it means to be the bride of Christ. Most believers likely have heard of the wedding supper of the Lamb noted in Revelation 19:7-9 but the full reality of how one gets to that wedding supper seems to be literally lost in translation. If we are the bride, what does that mean, how are we to act, how are we to prepare for the wedding ceremony, when will the wedding ceremony take place? These are all valid questions to ask. It will be the aim of this post to outline the actual application of what it means to be the bride of Christ to our everyday Christian walk. We will take what we have learned about the betrothal process and with that as the background, exegete the numerous Scriptures that speak of being betrothed to God or being the bride of Christ to see exactly how this all plays out in a practical way. The discussion concerning the timing of the wedding and the wedding supper will be addressed in the final part of this series. This particular post may be divided into two parts itself due to the great amount of information Scripture has to provide on the subject. So we will see how far we get and if need be, I will break the discussion up into one, possibly two or even more posts before we get to the eschatology aspect of the bride of Christ. But wait, there’s more!

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Michael Boling – Betrothal, the Believer’s Relationship with Jesus, and Eschatology (Part 4)

Betrothal, the Believer’s Relationship with Jesus, and Eschatology (Part 4)

In part one of this series we explored the process of betrothal to include an analysis of the Kiddusin and Nis’uin ceremonies. Part 2 began our discussion over how the concept of the bride of Christ is applied to the believer’s daily life focusing specifically on the characteristic of what it means for the bride to be holy. Part 3 was an overview of what it means for the bride of Christ to overcome. In this post, we will continue our discussion by studying another characteristic of the bride, namely one who is sanctified. As with the previous post, I will include at the bottom the three part video series by Jim Staley from Passion for Truth Ministries as a resource for additional information on this subject.

The word sanctification is likely a theological term many Christians are familiar with, at least in passing. While the word may have an element of familiarity, I would venture to say most believers have not spent an inordinate amount of time study just what sanctification means in the life of the believer and why it is described as a characteristic of the bride of Christ.

Let’s begin with shall we say a theological textbook definition of sanctification. The word sanctification, in Hebrew qadosh and in Greek hagiazō, literally means to make holy. In biblical use, to sanctify something means to set a person, place, occasion, or object apart from everyday secular use in order to be dedicated specifically to use by God. We see throughout the OT a great deal of time being spent describing the process of making something holy for use before God. For example, when the various elements of the tabernacle and the later temple were crafted, God provided specific instructions on how they were to be made and cleansed. It was important for the priests to ensure both the instruments and themselves was ceremonially pure before entering God’s presence. But wait, there’s more!

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Michael Boling – Betrothal, the Believer’s Relationship with Jesus, and Eschatology (Part 3)

Betrothal, the Believer’s Relationship with Jesus, and Eschatology (Part 3)

In part one of this series we explored the process of betrothal to include an analysis of the Kiddusin and Nis’uin ceremonies. Part 2 began our discussion over how the concept of the bride of Christ is applied to the believer’s daily life focusing specifically on the characteristic of what it means for the bride to be holy. In this post, we will continue our discussion by studying another characteristic of the bride, namely one who overcomes. As with the previous post, I will include at the bottom the three part video series by Jim Staley from Passion for Truth Ministries as a resource for additional information on this subject.

A characteristic of the bride of Christ that is repeated quite often in Scripture is that of one who overcomes. I John 2:13-14 says “I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him [who is] from the beginning. I write to you, young men, Because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, Because you have known Him [who is] from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one.” I John 4:4 notes “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” Sometimes scripture refers overcoming as enduring to the end. Matt. 24:13 for instance states “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7 notes “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Finally, Hebrews 12:1-2a encourages believers to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of [our] faith,”

So what does it mean for the bride of Christ to endure? What are we enduring through and perhaps more importantly, what are we enduring for? What is it we need to overcome and why is that important for our daily walk?

Many have the impression that since Jesus has paid the bride price for us at the cross the act of salvation is the only real important event in a person’s life. Perhaps this is where the concept of “Once Saved Always Saved” gets a bad reputation, namely from those who treat salvation as merely a ticket that gets them to heaven. Still others have the impression that one who overcomes is solely meant for believers of a different time or not for believers at all, in particular where eschatology comes into the picture. Let’s look at what it means for the bride of Christ to be one who overcomes or endures. But wait, there’s more!

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Michael Boling – Betrothal, the Believer’s Relationship with Jesus, and Eschatology (Part 1)

Betrothal, the Believer’s Relationship with Jesus, and Eschatology (Part 1)

For most Christians, the last two concepts in the title of this article are at least somewhat familiar. Our relationship with Jesus is a phrase commonly by Christians and eschatology is quite simply that fancy theological term for all things related to the end of time. Betrothal on the other hand is a term I would venture to say most Christians have only a passing understanding of. Perhaps they have heard that term used from their yearly bible reading in Hosea 2:19 or more likely from Luke 2:5 and the story of Mary and Joseph. Even then, the word betrothal is often translated as espoused or pledged, thus the reason many are not familiar with the word or concept of betrothal.

So what does the term betrothal mean and why is it of any importance for understanding our relationship with Jesus and/or eschatology? Was betrothal merely an Ancient Near East (ANE) custom that has absolutely no significance for us today or is that concept and process dripping with theological importance and something we should study in order to recognize the value of such a model both for the original hearers of the biblical message and for our lives today? With that as a background, this article will explore the betrothal process examining the various elements of this marital process. In the next part of this series, we will take the understanding gained from understanding what betrothal was all about in order to see how it applies to how we are to relate to Jesus and how he relates to us. Finally, in the third and final installment of this series, we will look at how the betrothal model relates to eschatology.

First let’s begin with some definitions. Betrothal is typically defined in most dictionaries as engagement to be married or a mutual promise to marry. When defined in that manner, betrothal does not appear to be any different than the more modern term of engagement. As definitions often do, the ANE process of betrothal is quite a bit more pregnant with meaning than the average dictionary definition provides.

So what exactly did betrothal mean in the ANE? Betrothal did involve a mutual promise to marry; however, that definition barely scratches the surface of what was actually involved. The process of betrothal consisted of two distinct and vitally important events, the first being the Kiddushin and the second being the Nissuin.

The word kiddushin comes from the Hebrew root word kadosh, meaning holy or set apart. Thus, at the kiddushin, the man and woman are betrothed or promised to one another, more appropriately defined as being set apart for one another. At this important event, a number of activities took place. The bridegroom provided the bride with a dowry, typically money or something of monetary value. Additionally, both parties signed a document known as a Ketubah which outlined the “mutual obligations of the bride and groom. At one time, this marriage contract gave the bride important legal protection. Today, the purpose of the Ketubah is to remind the couple of their moral responsibilities to each other.” (See Judaism.about.com) At this point, the bride and bridegroom were considered to be legally married without the physical “benefits” of marriage. Furthermore, the bridegroom drank wine from a special glass reserved for only the lips of the bridegroom and bride. Once the bridegroom took a drink, he handed the glass to the bride. If she drank from the glass, it was understood she accepted the terms of the Ketubah. The glass was then set aside for the Nissuin.

Once both parties had agreed to the terms of the Ketubah and the document had been signed, a period of waiting and preparation began. During this period which typically lasted at least a year, the bride and bridegroom, though married, lived apart from one another. Each individual was focused on preparing themselves for the Nissuin, a day only the father of the bridegroom knew. A main responsibility of the bridegroom was to prepare a place for him and his bride to live. Additionally, the bridegroom is instructed on how to be a husband by not only his father, but also from the men of the community. The bridegroom also underwent a period of preparation in which she is instructed in matters of marriage by her mother and the women of the community. Quite often, the bride was responsible for making her own wedding garment.

At a time when the father of the bridegroom deemed it appropriate based on his confidence the bridegroom and bride were ready, the Nissuin or marriage ceremony took place. The word Nissuin literally means “to carry” which is of great significance considering the bride actually was waiting for her bridegroom to come carry her to their new home. The Nissuin was quite a celebration and “It was customary for one of the grooms party to go ahead of the bridegroom, leading the way to the bride’s house – and shout – “Behold, the bridegroom comes.” This would be followed by the sounding of the shofar. At the sounding of the shofar the entire wedding processional would go through the streets of the city to the bride’s house.” (See Nissuin) The bridegroom was responsible for erecting the chuppah under which the wedding ceremony would occur. During the Nissuin, the glass that was drank from at the Kiddusin by the bridegroom and bride was once again filled with wine. Both the bridegroom and bride would drink from the glass after which the bridegroom would step on the glass shattering it to signify the establishment of the couple as husband and wife. At the conclusion of the Nissuin, the bridegroom and bride would consummate the marriage thus fully becoming husband and wife. A sign of the bride keeping herself pure would be the stained bed sheet indicative of the bride being a virgin. The Nissuin ceremony was immediately followed by the wedding supper, a time of great celebration and feasting.

As you can see, the betrothal process involved far more than our modern day effort of “popping the question” and the giving of the engagement ring. A betrothal arrangement in ancient times involved both families and the community at large being involved in the events of the Kiddusin and Nissuin. Betrothal was a solemn commitment that could only be broken through a certificate of divorce, something that was only granted for infidelity on the part of the bridegroom or bride. Hopefully you have begun to notice some interesting parallels between the betrothal process and our relationship with our bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is those parallels that will be examined in part 2 of this series so stay tuned!

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