An excellent Gentile Biblical Scholar, Risto Santala mentions in his book “The Midrash of Messiah page 32”…….”Schalom Ben-Chorim wrote that there are fundamental differences between Greek wisdom and Biblical thought. In the Greek understanding, the dominant objective is to find the systematic philosophical regularities, it fitted the details to larger units, forcing them into predetermined categories.” In other words, everything has to fit into a box.
On the other hand, in Biblical Hebrew thought the opposite is true, going from details to rules, from concrete observations to ideas; from the particular to the general. Ben Chorim said that this is the reason that the Bible is not acquainted with dogmatic and systematic theology. This is totally a gentile invention forcing most people to study their understanding about G-d but which actually has nothing to do with G-d. The Scriptures themselves warn us not to do that. We cannot explain G-d! Scriptures have this objective: It narrates incidents to give us a set of teachings, the Torah by which we can live by — the Torah is intended as our guideline for life.
With this background, let us once again look at Shavuot. It is the time of great rejoicing for the giving of the Torah. We as Messianic believers understand it to be the fulfillment of the prophecies of Ezekiel 36:24-28 and Jeremiah 31:31-33 when Torah would be placed in our hearts. G-d would be revealing Himself to us more fully— His Presence would be dwelling in us. This is G-d’s revelation as opposed to a simple knowledge of Him. We have at this time, more revelation than at any other time in human history. Knowledge of Scripture is not equivalent to what God has revealed to us about Himself through Scripture. To put it conversely, what God reveals to us is neither dependent upon nor proportional to knowledge of Scripture. For example, when Yeshua spoke to the Pharisees, he said that Abraham saw his day and rejoiced. He asked them if they believed in Moses and if so they needed to believe in him because Moses wrote about him. They had the knowledge of Moses but didn’t have the revelation given to Moses about the coming Messiah.
The Word of G-d reveals everything we need to know about G-d and Yeshua. In Matthew 16:16, Yeshua spoke to his talmidim: “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living G-d.” Yeshua replied, “Blessed are you, Shimon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.” And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my assembly…” These verses have been totally taken out of context for a specific purpose. Knowledge is often based on what the dominant organized religion tells us what to think and do. What has been done with G-d’s revelation to Peter in these verses is a good example. When Yeshua asked Peter who people said He was Peter answered that Yeshua was the Messiah. Yeshua replied that G-d had indeed revealed this to him and that he would build His assembly on this rock. The dominant Christian church, understanding the play of words between Peter’s name and the word rock, changed the focus of the building of the assembly from the revelation of Yeshua as the Messiah to the person who received the revelation, Peter. They based their religion and organization not on the revelation of the Messiah but rather on the personality of Peter, even though Peter himself said in Acts 4:10-12; 1 Peter 2:4-8 that he is not the rock but that Messiah Yeshua is the Rock. Consequently for almost 2000 years this human doctrine has spread out and destroying the truth of Scripture and deceiving millions of people.
On Shavuot we come to understand that G-d took on flesh, became incarnate, coming from the Highest with thunder and lightning declaring “I am here”. From that moment we would understand fully the Presence of G-d with us…“Immanuel.” It is not another god, or a little god. In reaction to Christianity, Judaism also destroyed the truth of the Scripture making certain that no one could believe that G-d could do such a thing although it can be found in many places in Torah.
When Christians say that the Holy Spirit came in a new way on Pentecost thus forming the church, they are simply incorrect. The Holy Spirit (Ruach ha Kodesh) has been here from the beginning. Any system that defines itself by what it is not is doing an injustice to its followers. It eliminates partial truth. Systematic theology based on Greek syllogism teaches if A equals B and B equals C then A equals C putting God into a defined box. Hebrew thought is not syllogistic, though A equals B and B equals C it does not necessarily follow that A equals C. Hebrew explanation of scripture is not always a logical progression. This has lead to a clash of religious thinking as to which one is right resulting in the imposition of dogmatism. If you don’t believe as I do then you are wrong, a heretic. Many people have been destroyed in the name of dogmatic theology.
It is time we humble ourselves and accept that we are limited in how we understand G-d’s revelation to us. It is not our knowledge that saves us. G-d gave us His Torah, His teachings by which we would find life. This is the emphasis. When He said that He would give us a new covenant, He was not talking about throwing out the Torah. Let me give you an example of what it means. Let’s say that I want to purchase a home. I find the right one and sign the contract. Then the bank finds out that I have a wife and makes me sign a new contract with her a co-signer. It does not change the house. The house and the sale of the house are still valid. In the same way, the Torah does not change however when it was given the first time, the results were dependent upon the obedience of the people to keep it. Sadly, they failed. Now there would be a new guarantor, G-d Himself would pay the full price through the shed blood of Messiah. This does not change the Torah; it changes the fulfillment of its requirements which are now fully covered by G-d.
Our sages have chosen to read the book of Ruth on Shavuot for many good reasons. We read about Ruth gleaning in the fields at the time of the barley harvest, which would have been at Shavuot. At the end of Ruth we read the list of her descendants ending with King David. Rabbinic tradition teaches that King David was born and died on Shavuot, which is a sign of a full and righteous life. Messiah would come from the David’s line. The book of Ruth is filled with pictures of Messiah beginning with the name of Naomi’s husband— Elimelech, which means My G-d, the king. From his line, through Boaz and Ruth would stem the redemption for the children of Naomi. When Ruth was blessed in the name of Leah and Rachel all of Israel was included thus Ruth’s child belonged to Israel not to Ruth. “May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel” (Ruth 4:11a). Not only do we still bless our daughters to this day with this prayer but it is important to notice that these women were not Jews pointing to the gentiles becoming one with the Jewish nation. The gentile remnant will one day like Ruth leave their gods behind and say, “Your G-d is my G-d, your people are my people”.
In Ruth 4:11b we read …“May you have standing in Efrat and be famous in Beth-lechem.” Believers in Yeshua the Messiah can clearly see that this is referring to Bethlehem being the birthplace of Messiah. It is we Jews who have been blinded to this until the right time.
In Ruth 12;14a we read “Through the offspring the LORD gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Peretz, whom Tamar bore to Judah.” Judah redeemed Tamar, a Canaanite; Boaz redeemed Ruth, a Moabite; from this lineage came King David right down to King Messiah.
Verse 16: The women living there said, “Naomi has a son.” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. Obed means Servant…Yeshua the suffering servant came to teach us how to serve one another.
Through this teaching we can see the important significance of Shavuot. God comes to us and reveals Himself to us. He works in us according to the measure of each of our needs.
Let us pray that whenever we read and study Torah, He will remove our preconceived ideas. Let us be humble enough to see that our knowledge does not save anyone and let us be obedient to Him and to Torah.
CHAG SAMEACH SHAVUOT! ZMAN SIMCHATEINU!