"Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee." ~ Deuteronomy 16:17 (KJB)
This year, Shavuot falls on May 28th and 29th.
As you may have deduced, the coming Biblical holiday, or Holy day, has myriad names and oodles of significance.
I feel like there are so many things to talk about, I'm bursting with ideas. I hope I stay coherent. :)
Seemingly, the most important element of Shavuot is to commemorate, honor, and celebrate God's gift to His people of the Law, the Torah, at Mt. Sinai. And, of each person considering themselves to have personally received the gift of the Torah on Mt. Sinai.
The celebration is seen as a time to recommit to the God of Israel.
Conveniently enough, Pentecost also fell on Shavuot. What a beautiful, beautiful pairing. God gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to the followers of His Son on the day reserved for honoring the gifts of God and our gifts to God, on the day His Jewish children choose to recommit themselves to the Lord and honor Moses bringing the Torah down from Mt. Sinai.
Shavuot is also an agricultural festival landing between spring barley harvest and summer wheat.
With the harvest comes an offering of firstfruits to the Lord, as well as leaving the edges of the field for the poor to glean. I'm not 100% sure, but I would guess that's some of why the tradition is to read the book of Ruth as part of the Shavuot celebration. That, and an acknowledgement of the ways the Creator can influence a life when she (or he) chooses Him and His Way.
Before I get distracted, let's go back to the core celebration of the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai.
When Moses came down the mountain, he found the Israelites asleep and had to wake them to give them the gift of the Law.
Isaiah 50:2 tells us that when God discovered this, He said, "Why was no one there when I arrived? Why did no one answer when I called? Is My hand too short to redeem you? Or do I lack the strength to deliver you? Behold, My rebuke dries up the sea; I turn the rivers into a desert; the fish rot for lack of water and die of thirst..."
Because of this misstep, the Jewish people atone by staying up all night after the first night of the Shavuot celebration and reading the Torah. There are also more strict observers who stay up the second night as well, but most commonly it's one night.
I love this kind of acknowledgment and honoring of our most amazing God. It sets my soul aflame, somehow. And think, just for a moment, of all of the people throughout history who have taken this opportunity to be still with Him on this night. To read, to learn, to glean, to draw nearer to Him.
Breathtaking. And, what a privilege to get to participate.
The Jewish people believe the purpose of education to be dedication to the Father and His purposes, of becoming a vessel fit for His work in the world. Colloquially or secularly, we think of education as a tool in service to all who choose to wield it. I'm rather fond of the implication given by the term "Dark Ages," as we come into the Light through His gifts and promises. In taking the time to commit to staying up and study His Word, to further educate ourselves, we come even more into that Light.
Shavuot is considered to be the time when the Torah was given, that is very specific language. I once read the words of a rabbi who dug into why the word was "given" and not received or accepted. He posited that, while we were all given that monumental gift that long ago day when Moses descended from Mt. Sinai, we must choose to receive the gift each new day.
So, as we recommit our hearts to the Father, daily, but most especially this day, may we each know the joy of renewal, as well as the refreshed gifts of salvation and the Holy Spirit.
There is so much more here, the implications of the harvest and first fruits offering, the story of Ruth, the Yizkor memorial service, wanting to shake God's children for being afraid to engage with Him on a personal level, the interplay of this holiday and the Christian celebration of Pentecost, and beyond.
I encourage you to dig in.
But, in the interest of brevity and clarity, let us keep our focus on the gifts and promises of our most amazing El Elyon, on the ways we are willing to sacrifice and give ourselves over for and to Him, and on being renewed in our walk with and toward the Most High.
Thank You, Abba Father, for giving us the opportunity to recommit our hearts, our lives, ourselves, to You. Thank You for helping us to be salt and light, to be Your ambassadors in the world. Thank You for giving us a deep longing to walk with You, to be Yours, and for helping us to move through this life in such a way as to draw nearer and nearer to you, until we walk this earth no more. Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us understand your Word as we steep in it and walk in Your Way.
"Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, 'This is what you are to tell the house of Jacob and explain to the sons of Israel: ‘You have seen for yourselves what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you will be My treasured possession out of all the nations—for the whole earth is Mine. And unto Me you shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.'..." ~ Exodus 19:3-6 (BSB)
"Also observe the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of your produce from what you sow in the field, and observe the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather your produce from the field." ~ Exodus 23:16 (CSB)
"And when the days of Pentecost were fulfilled [the day of Shavuot came,] as all of them were assembled together, Suddenly there was from Heaven a sound like a mighty wind and the whole place in which they were sitting was filled with it. And tongues like fire that were divided appeared to them, and they sat on each one of them. And all of them were filled with The Spirit of Holiness, and they were going out speaking in various languages, according to whatever The Spirit was giving them to speak." ~ Acts 2:1-4 (ABPE)
"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. You shall present a burnt offering as a sweet aroma to the Lord..." ~ Numbers 28:26-27a (NKJV)
May the Good Lord bless you and keep you, friends... always, in all ways. Amen.
A bonus song of praise... ♥