Happy Shavuot!

God freed the people of Israel from bondage in Egypt by the Ten Plagues.  God taught the Israelites to celebrate their deliverance from slavery and preservation from judgment in the Passover, or Shavuot in Hebrew.  Fifty days after they left Egypt, they came to Sinai, and God gave them His law which constituted them as a nation and provided them the basis on which He would continue to dwell with them and be their God.  Fifty days after Passover, they were to celebrate the Feast of Weeks, which was a celebration of the completed harvest, but also became associated naturally with the giving of the Law at Sinai.

Of course they never kept the law, and eventually God’s patience and longsuffering came to an end and the nation was exiled in Babylon.  But God promised a restoration, and one of the characteristics of that restoration was that the Spirit of God would be poured out on them, working the law of God in their hearts (Jer. 31:31-34).

Jesus died on the cross to deliver His people from their sins.  He is our Passover (1 Cor. 5:7), the Lamb of God who was slain for the sins of the world.  Fifty days after His death on Passover, on the day of Pentecost, the Spirit of God was poured out on the early believers, just as was promised.  The parallel with Sinai helps us see what the point of this was.  It was not just the miraculous display.  That was just the sign of what was really going on, which was the new giving of the law.  Now the law was being given not on tables of stone but on the fleshy tables of the heart.  The Spirit of God would reconstitute Israel according to the presence of the law in their hearts.  He would make His home in believers’ hearts, making those hearts His temple, a temple sanctified with the blood of Christ and filled with the Spirit of God so that the presence of God would never again leave His temple.

We look to no new temple, no new kingdom, no new Passover to be re-instituted.  All the ceremonies and rituals of the Old Testament merely looked forward to the reality of Christ, and His sacrifice on our behalf.  On the foundation of His blood the Israel of God is constituted and filled with His Spirit, never again to be rejected and sent into exile, not because we are better than the Jews but because God is putting His Spirit into His people to make them what He would have them be.  He never fully did that with the Jews, precisely to show them and us our need for the power of God unto salvation.  His tabernacle is established in our presence, His Spirit is in our hearts, our sins are forgiven.  All that remains is the consummation of our salvation, when we have finished our wilderness journey and enter into the Promised Land of our rest.

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