The biblical feasts are so rich with themes that we can apply in our daily lives that it’s always a challenge for me to pick just a few to write about in these blogs. Well the Feast of Shavuot is no different, but since the holiday itself only lasts 1-2 days, and I am traveling this week, I had to limit myself to writing about only two of those themes: 1) the intimacy that God desires to have with us; and 2) thankfulness and hope for God’s provision and healing.
To sum up the Feast of Shavuot in one sentence, it is the day that God gave the Torah to the Israelites over 3,300 years ago in Exodus 19-20; and it is the same day that God gave His Spirit to Yeshua’s followers in Acts 2, ten days after He ascended into heaven.
The story of Shavuot is a beautiful story of love and marriage given to us straight from the mouth of God. I believe that it is because we have such a difficult time truly grasping — deep down in our hearts — the depth of God’s love for us, and the intimacy that He desires to have with us on a moment-by-moment basis — that He chose to use the earthly illustration of marriage to help us really “get it” deep down in our hearts, not just in our heads.
Shavuot is an unprecedented day – never before and never since – when God, the creator of the universe, spoke directly and audibly to an entire nation of 3 million people. Moses ascended Mt. Sinai alone where he received the Torah, but the opening ten commandments (Ex. 20) were heard by all the Israelites (at the same time) directly from the mouth of God — accompanied by fire, smoke, trumpets, and a trembling mountain. God stepped out of the heavens, onto the top of a mountain, and told them who He was “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage! (Ex. 20:2)
This fact alone is incredible, and it reminds me and encourages me that God desires to reveal Himself and His will to us! He does NOT desire to hide Himself or His Will from us! Yet, how many times have we allowed the enemy to deceive us into thinking that He does? That God is distant from us, that He doesn’t care about the minute details of our lives, that He is disappointed in us, mad at us, tired of dealing with us, that we’re not important enough to get His attention, that He just plain out won’t tell us His Will, or that somehow He enjoys playing games with us! Shavuot proves to us, that these beliefs about God are misperceptions of Him, they are lies from the enemy, and perhaps they feel true because we are putting someone else’s face on God!
Well in my excitement I’m jumping way ahead. Three days before God revealed Himself, He asked Moses to tell the people of His intent. Now here’s where the marriage symbolism fits in. It’s almost as if God is the suitor, the object of His affection is the Israelites, and He is asking for their hand in marriage. In fact, while they were still in Egypt, He said, “I will take you for my people, and I will be your God.” (Ex 6:7) — in marriages in the Ancient Near East, the groom declared “You will be my wife and I will be your husband.”
The Ketubah is the marriage contract. It includes the provisions, terms and conditions of the proposed marriage. It is an inviolable covenant that describes the relationship between two people. God asks Israel to enter into a covenant relationship with Him in Ex. 19:5-7 – Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant (obey the commandments of the Torah), then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. …Then all the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.”
Even before hearing the actual voice of God, they agreed! God asked for her hand in marriage, and she consented. Three days later, Ex. 19:16 – Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. V. 18 – Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. Ex. 20:19 – Then the Lord said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘You have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.’”
Mt. Sinai (hovering over the Israelites) is likened to the wedding chuppah or canopy under which the bride and groom stand for their betrothal ceremony.
After the thunderings and smoke, etc. the people asked Moses to speak to them for God (Ex 20:16-18), and he went up and received the entire Torah. Exodus 24:7-8 – Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.” And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you according to all these words.”
Jumping ahead (for the sake of time and space!), the final event of the marriage covenant was the shared meal. Exodus 24:9-11 – Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank. Then, after seven days, the Lord called Moses up into the midst of the cloud on the mount for forty days and nights where He received the Torah.
The very next words that the Lord spoke to Moses were to make for Him an offering, and in Ex. 25:8 – “Let them construct a sanctuary for me, that I may dwell among them.” A sanctuary likened to the special bridal chamber prepared for the bride, where the marriage was consummated following the ceremony, a sanctuary where the manifest presence of God dwelt with His people. Oh, my favorite topic — The Tabernacle/Temple — I’d better save that for another teaching!
It’s absolutely amazing to me how the God of the Universe could care so deeply about communicating His love and His desire for intimacy with us, that He would illustrate His covenant relationship with us so perfectly, so detailed, and so lovingly by using an earthly illustration of marriage that is familiar to all. Please let that sink deep into your heart. God desires intimate relationship with you, and there is no limit on what lengths He will go (even taking on death) to communicate this to you and to make Himself known to you. Don’t let the enemy rip you off from experiencing this intimacy by believing anything different about God!
But wait! There’s even more! Let’s fast forward approximately 1,345 years to the Shavuot that occurred 50 days after the Passover when Yeshua was sacrificed as the Passover Lamb.
Jerusalem was packed with millions of people because Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) is one of the three feasts when all men (and their families) were commanded to come up to Jerusalem. “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed.”(Deut 16:16)
When the day of Shavuot had come, they were all together in one place. Suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And tongues like fire spreading out appeared to them and settled on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them to speak out (Acts 2:1-4)
On the first Shavuot, God gave His Word, speaking through tongues of fire. 1,345 years later, God gave His Spirit through tongues of fire. The Torah is the Teaching and the Spirit is the Teacher. They are in one voice, one accord. Eph 1:13 -14 tells us that “we are sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit. He is the guarantee of our inheritance, until the redemption of His possession – to His glorious praise!”
Let’s go back to the marriage illustration. Following the betrothal ceremony, before the groom went back to his Father’s house to prepare a place for the bride, he would give her a gift (matan) and the father would also give her a gift (shiluhhim). These gifts sustained the bride during their separation (one year) until the wedding day. The matan was a pledge of the groom’s love for the bride, a guarantee and a reminder that He would return to receive her as His wife. Yeshua and God the Father gave us the Holy Spirit to sustain us until Yeshua returns for us, until He prepares a place in His Father’s house for us, His bride (be watching for a new powerful teaching to be released next month on “Preparing our Hearts for His Return”).
Now that’s exciting! You may still be asking yourself, “How can I apply this beautiful story of love and marriage to my daily life?” Let it be a reminder to you of how intensely God desires intimate relationship with you on a moment by moment basis. I am continually reminded each day that my purpose for that day is not to get my to-do list done. It is not even to be on time for my flight at the airport that day. It is not even to get this blog done! (You may be asking will it ever be done!)
God is not standing over your head with pressures and deadlines, demanding that you work harder, get your to-do list done, and condemning you when you fall behind. He is rejoicing over you with singing! As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you (Is 62:5). The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. (Zeph 3:17)
More than anything you can accomplish for Him, He wants relationship with you!! He died to have relationship with you, not for you to work for Him or to accomplish everything on your to-do list and be stressed out every minute that you’re performing!
Performance, drivenness, perfectionism and all the stress that comes with them, are not from God!! He desires intimacy with you and in HIS PRESENCE is fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11)! Once you really get it in your hearts and minds — that your purpose is to KNOW HIM intimately (and then you’ll naturally reflect HIs life to others) — then you will also see your purpose as being acutely aware of and ready to deal with anything that comes in the way of that intimacy! Which would include: fear, stress, self-condemnation, accusations toward ourselves and others, performance, taking rejection into our hearts, anger, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, etc. etc.
When you really see accept into your hearts your true identity — that you are co-heirs with Yeshua (Rom 8:17; Gal 4:7), and the Holy Spirit guarantees that inheritance; you have His authority, His victory, His position at the right hand of God; you are a daughter or son of the King and you lack nothing that you need; that He desired intimacy with you SO much that even though His holiness required elaborate and intensive rituals of purification from anything remotely associated with death, He took on death to have relationship with you — you can finally rest, you are covered, you no longer have to perform and be controlled by fear and stress, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of being unprotected, fear of having to hold everything together.
Let the Feast of Shavuot remind you of the intimate love, the perfect marriage relationship that God desires to have with you. Start each day reminding yourself that your purpose that day is not what you have to accomplish, your purpose is to have intimate relationship with God, to be in His presence. Be committed to dealing with whatever blocks that intimacy by using your weapons of warfare (confess, forgive, cancel Satan’s authority, receive God’s truth in your heart). You’ll be amazed at the blessings that flow from being in His presence, and you just might be surprised at how things will get done and fall into place as a result! This Shavuot, celebrate your intimacy with God!!
Chag Shavuot Sameach!