The First Pentecost?
an excerpt from Truth, Tradition, or Tare: Growing in the Word
With no exposure to Jewish tradition, most Christians believe that the first Pentecost is recorded in Acts Chapter Two. In Jewish tradition, however, the first national celebration of Pentecost occurred at Mount Sinai. The Hebrew name of the feast is
Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks. Traditionally, the Torah was given to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai on Shavuot. A summary of that covenant is given by Moses in Deuteronomy:
Now not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath, but both with those who stand here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God and with those who are not with us here today...
In Jewish tradition, the
gerim (converts) were those also standing at Sinai (ibid. p. 193). Additionally, the mixed multitude (
Erev Rav) that went out of Egypt with the Hebrews played an important role in bringing the nations to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Although the Erev Rav caused problems in the wilderness journey, it is believed in the rabbinic tradition that "The quintessential quality of gerim is that they bring the light of the nations of the world along with them." (ibid., p. 153)
In the Book of Revelation, John acknowledges that in the New Jerusalem, the kings of the earth will bring their glory to the Holy City as Jewish tradition says:
The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.
What does this have to do with Acts 2? In Acts Two, many proselytes (
gerim) had made pilgrimages to Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Shavuot, or Pentecost, which commemorates the giving of the Torah at Sinai. In Jewish expectation, "The Torah was given in 70 languages so that the Erev Rav, who spoke these seventy languages, would in turn purify the seventy original nations of the world." (ibid., p. 58)
When Yeshua's disciples begin proclaiming the gospel in their native tongues in Acts Two, it fulfilled the Jewish expectation that gerim (proselytes, converts) would help to evangelize the nations. Later in the Book of Revelation, John prophesies a return of these righteous
gerim to Jerusalem; they are drawn to the Lamp of the Lamb, yet they return with the Light of the Good News from the nations of the earth to the Holy City.
Giving the righteous converts the gospel message at Shavuot (Pentecost) was a "replay" of what occurred in the wilderness at Sinai. The writer of Hebrews 4:2 reminds the reader that the gospel was preached in the wilderness:
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
The two peoples present at Sinai, the native Hebrew and the
(convert), did not profit from the gospel given at Sinai because of their lack of faith.
The events in Acts Two at Shavuot were very much a Jewish expectation, yet there had to be a correction of the wilderness failures of both peoples to live that good news according to faith. In Acts Two, the Torah again is proclaimed in the 70 languages of the world to the righteous converts, yet this time it is with the power of the
Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), and it is mixed with superior acts of faithfulness on the part of Yeshua's disciples.
The proclamation of the Torah to the righteous Gentiles at Shavuot is a Jewish tradition grown from truth, not a tare.
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Truth, Tradition, or Tare: Growing in the Word
Readers of the Newer Testament can find its treatment of tradition confusing. Many of the customs in its pages are Jewish, and therefore foreign to non-Jewish believers. Yeshua (Jesus) sometimes corrected those observing religious customs, yet at other times he said they should have observed them. Paul does the same in his letters, and twice he instructs non-Jewish believers to keep the Jewish customs he passed on to them.
Among believers in Yeshua today, some enjoy incorporating tradition into their worship. Some dismiss all customs as "man-made," and therefore extraneous at best or the sin "adding to" the written Word at worst. There is a way to determine the relationship of the written Word to tradition, for the Word would not leave us without comfort on such an important question. Our Father wants His children to grow in wisdom, maturity, and favor before Him as well as their communities.
The methods used by the prophets of the Older Testament (TANAKH) as well as the writers of the Newer Testament (Brit HaChadasha) did leave readers guidelines to divide the Seed of truth from tradition, and then to separate a tradition grown from truth from a "taredition" grown from a different seed. Additionally, it is just as important to the disciple of Yeshua to test the goodness of the soil on which the practice of the Word grows. The most important consideration in the Older Testament's, Yeshua's, and the apostles' instructions is the sincere heart that holds justice, mercy, and faithfulness as the weightier matters of any religious custom.
By evaluating the traditions that one chooses to observe or not observe, the individual can avoid the lament:
"O Lord, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: 'Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies, worthless things in which there is no profit.'"
By applying the instructions in the Word, every believer is encouraged in his or her growth. A careful examination of Yeshua's instructions lifts a nuance that is frequently lost in discussions of truth and tradition. The first step is to identify whether that tradition is a tare. By throwing all tradition into a mental trash bin labeled Man's Tradition, it is possible that one could throw good plants and fruit into the bin with the tares. This is a logical fallacy called oversimplification. Yeshua's parables encourage his disciples to learn critical thinking skills so that growth in the Word is abundant life.
When a disciple of Yeshua examines his or her walk in the Word, there may be times that he or she feels that there is not enough growth. The very fact that we question our growth is a sign of readiness to grow. The next step is to allow the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) to teach us how to bear good fruit. To do that, every disciple can identify beliefs and practices that either stimulate healthy growth in the Word, or they stunt it. Welcome to the living fields of the Father's Garden!
ROAD TRIP! Texas/New Mexico
For those who live in the West Texas, New Mexico area, I will be teaching in Lubbock (Dec. 8), Lovington (Dec. 7), and Amarillo (Dec. 9 & 10). Contact information is as follows:
Lubbock/Lovington: Starla Akers at firstname.lastname@example.org
"Rethinking the Rapture"
"Channukah: Truth, Tradition, or Tare?"
If you plan to attend and would like a specific product from our Shop page at
, message me by this Sunday, and we'll make sure we mark that book, menorah, or DVD set with your name to pick up. Specify your name, the product, and the teaching location (Lovington, Lubbock, or Amarillo) where you'll pick it up. This will save the shipping cost for a web order. Since the Amarillo meeting is on Shabbat, products will not be available until Saturday evening after the service.
LaMalah Children's Centre
We can't thank our donors enough for their monthly support of the Children's Center in Kenya. We are saving for the purchase of a vehicle for the Centre, so if you can help, please click on the link below: