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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Avery Foley – Ancient Shopping Lists Confirm God’s Word

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When soldiers at a remote desert fortress in Judah penned their shopping lists (or, more accurately, their provisions lists) over 2,600 years ago, they probably did not think that archaeologists would be poring over their handwriting years later!

Using a computer algorithm, researchers from Tel Aviv University have been studying these ancient lists of military provisions written on pieces of pottery (called ostraca). By analyzing the handwriting, they were able to deduce that at least six individuals were involved in writing these inscriptions. The inscriptions themselves are rather mundane, merely featuring instructions on what supplies to send to a remote desert fortress; but the writing is accurate and well done. Much of the writing was penned by rather low-ranking officials, suggesting that even humble soldiers serving in a remote corner of the country could both read and write.

Literate or Illiterate?

Scholars have long disputed the level of literacy among ancient Israelites. Many believe only the educated—scribes, priests, royalty, and the bureaucracy — were literate and that the general populace was unable to read and write. But Scripture implies that literacy would be a necessity, even among the general populace.

Genesis 5:1 mentions the “book of the generations of Adam” (using the normal Hebrew word for book or scroll), suggesting that Adam was created with the ability not only to speak but also to write. It also seems reasonable that the genealogical information in Genesis 5 and 11 was also written down. And given that Noah and his family built the Ark, is it likely that they could not write? The Israelites were commanded to write the commands of the Lord on their doorposts and bind them on their hands and foreheads (Deuteronomy 6:4–9, 11:18–20). If they could not read or write, what would be the point of these commands? When Joshua prepared to allot the inheritance to seven of the Israelite tribes, he asked each tribe to send out three men to survey the land. These men “wrote the survey in a book” (Joshua 18:9); they could read and write. And in Joshua’s farewell address, he commanded the people to obey everything written in the Book of the Law of Moses, implying they could read (Joshua 23:6). When King Hezekiah made the decision that Israel and Judah would again keep the Passover, he sent letters across the land to inform the people. This would have been useless if they could not read his letter (2 Chronicles 30:1). Other passages also suggest literacy among the ancient Israelites (Judges 8:14; 2 Kings 17:37; Psalm 102:18; Habakkuk 2:2).

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Robert Saucy – A Rationale for the Future of Israel

It is generally agreed among Biblical students that the Scriptures teach a special relationship between God and Israel. While there is much controversy over the meaning of Israel in the NT, most will agree that the historical Israel of the OT referred to a community of people bound together physically by descent from Abraham through Jacob and religiously by a covenant relationship with God. That this community of Israel also constituted a nation in the usual sense of this term is clear from Scripture. When the question is raised as to the rationale of the unique relationship of the nation of Israel with God, there is likewise the general belief that Israel was elected and brought into a covenant relationship with God for service to the rest of the world. The way of this service, however, and thus the place of the nation of Israel in God’s history evokes diverse explanations. Aside from the understanding that sees Israel and Judaism as a legitimate way to God alongside of Christianity, a position that has traditionally been rejected by Christians, four views regarding the mission of the nation Israel may be noted.

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Mark Nussbaum – The Book of Ruth: More Than a Love Story

We do a great injustice to sacred Scripture by contenting ourselves with quaint stories and life lessons as if they were the prime products of our study of God’s word. The book of Ruth has undoubtedly received its fair share of undervaluation at this point. For example, the theme of marriage occupies much of the story, but when viewed as an idealized romance between faithful Ruth and godly Boaz, the rich theology of this book passes right under the noses of many of its admirers. Before the story is about this couple, it is about God. The book of Ruth is first and foremost about the covenant faithfulness of the LORD to ensure the arrival of our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ.

It has been said that Ruth 1:1-7 may be viewed as a microcosm of the entire book. It is in itself a movement from emptiness to fullness even as the Book of Ruth opens with death—the death of Elimelech and his sons (1:3-5)—and ends with life in the birth of Obed (4:13). It is, in this sense, a paradigm for redemption as it contains a shift from human deprivation to God’s saving provision. If we can observe how some key events within this passage develop to meet Israel’s needs, we might develop a greater hunger for the theological richness of the book.

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George Mendenhall – Law and Covenant in Israel and the Ancient Near East

ANCIENT ORIENTAL AND BIBLICAL LAW

In this article we shall present a study of Israelite law in the light of recent developments in the study of ancient oriental law, especially of the great Mesopotamian cultures. By law we intend to mean the exercise of coercive power by the community or its agents. For every state is or tends to become a monopoly of force which denies to its members the exercise of private force for obtaining redress of wrong. Law rests upon commonly accepted opinion that certain acts are wrong and must be punished or otherwise compensated for; and, if someone has been injured, he has a right to appeal to the coercive power of the community to obtain redress. That common body of what might be called the sense of justice in a community we shall call “policy”. What happens in a law court; however, is usually much more directly related to the technical corpus of specialized legal acts and traditions. These are “techniques” whereby the generally vague community concepts of justice are translated into action in the specific cases which come before judges.(1) The writer is convinced that only by drawing some such distinction between policy and technique can the lawcodes of the ancient world and especially the laws of the Bible be at all adequately understood.

Legal and Religious Obligation

Theology and jurisprudence have a great deal in common.(2) Both impose obligations upon the individual and the community; both are now faced with the problem of interpreting written documents as a basis for action, and both have to deal with questions of fact as well as judgments of value. The sanctions by which those statements of obligation are upheld differ. When the coercive force of the community is exercised against a member, the action is law regardless of the source of the policy which directs the action. It goes without saying that in the ancient world there is a very close relationship between religious and legal policy. The maintenance of justice and the protection of the community are the two functions of the king for which he has been chosen by the gods.(3) What that meant in practice is probably that the legal policies were determined by the king and therefore received divine sanction, though it is probably true that even the king could not proclaim as policy something which was contrary to the interests of the most influential body of citizens.(4) At any rate the conclusion would seem justified, that there was no independent religious tradition in the pagan nations of the ancient world which had enough vitality and support to become the basis for a condemnation of royal policy while the king was still alive.(5) Religious and legal obligations were not so closely identified in Israelite religion.

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Neal Ocampo – Replacement Theology

What is Replacement Theology?

Replacement Theology is a term use for the doctrine saying that the Church has replaced Israel in God’s redemptive plans. It teaches that God has set aside Israel and made the Church as the “new Israel,” the new chosen children of God. There are many variations within the broad spectrum of Replacement Theology, but the main approach is this:

Israel’s role as the children of God was already fulfilled and Israelites are no longer can partake to the renewed covenant. The promise that God gave them in the Old Testament (Tanakh) have been claimed by the Church.

Other Replacement theologians are more straightforward and actually said that the supposed replacement of Israel was God’s judgment on the nation for its rejection of the Messiah. So they say that when Messiah came and has been rejected by his own Jewish brothers, Israel’s purpose has ended. A sudden changed and replacement occurred at that point, and the Church took over as the people of God and became the primary focus for the outworking of God’s redemptive plan of salvation. It suggests that God is no longer working administratively through Israel.

Historical Origin of Replacement Theology

Understanding how the Church eventually distance itself from the Hebrew roots of its faith will hopefully aid us in retracing the path back to the biblical perspective of God’s plan for His people. But wait, there’s more!

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Adolph Saphir – The “Mystery” of Israel

It is the duty of every minister of Christ to explain the mystery of Israel. It is a part of our holy religion.

It belongs to the counsel of God. It is inseparably connected with the truth as it is in Jesus.

There can be no true and full preaching of the Gospel without explaining the mystery of Israel. The very “simplest form of speech which infant lips can try”—the most elementary expression of our faith—is, “Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah”; and who can understand what is meant by the word Messiah who does not know the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, that this is the book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham? The sum and substance of all the declaration of the Church is this—that Jesus has come in humility and died upon Golgotha, and that Jesus is coming again in glory. And who can understand the first and the second advents of our blessed Lord, without understanding that people which, so to say, forms the link between the two, even Israel, whom God has chosen that through them should be made known His glory and His salvation?

A minister is a steward of the mysteries of God—things which no human wisdom, and things which no human mind by its own exertions, can understand, but which God has revealed unto us in the Scripture and by the Holy Ghost. There is the mystery of godliness, “God manifested in the flesh.” There is the great mystery of “the Church which is His body.” There is the mystery of Israel, the everlasting nation, chosen of God to be the centre of the earth, and to show forth His power and goodness to all nations.

Now in these three mysteries there is one side which is patent and intelligible to all men.

Jesus Christ is an historical character. The words of Jesus are read by all. It is a matter of history that there was Jesus, and that He exerted a mighty influence in the world. But there is a mystery of godliness—God manifest in the flesh; and no human analysis will be able to discover that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. We, then, if we are messengers of Christ, must tell every one we know that there is a person, Jesus; but who Jesus is can only be revealed to you by the power of the Holy Ghost. We declare to you the mystery of godliness. Likewise every person knows that there is a Church, that there is a community of people who profess to believe in Jesus, but what the Church really is, is a mystery—Christ the Head, and we the members.

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