A Sign and Seal
This past weekend was Pentecost or the Feast of Shavuot. It is celebrated fifty days after Passover and the death of Jesus/Yeshua.
In the Christian church we think of it as the day the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples waiting in the upper room. But the first Pentecost occurred for a different reason.
Exodus 19:17-20 tells us the first Pentecost was when God came to Mt. Sinai to meet with the people. God called Moses to the top of the mountain so He could give him the Law as we know it. It is also thought Moses received the Oral Law or Talmud at this time as well.
Exodus 20:18 says, “Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid[a and trembled, and they stood far off.”
Can you imagine walking towards a smoking, trembling mountain with thunder, lightning, and fire coming from it as the God of the Universe descends upon it because He wants you to hear His conversation with Moses?
“Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder…” Exodus 19:19
Moses apparently understood thunder.
Exodus 20:18 is describing the same scene, and according to what I have learned, the original Hebrew states this verse as “The people saw the voices and fires…” It’s an interesting way to think of this, but as God spoke they saw His voice as fire and the people were afraid.
How does that compare to Acts 2?
In the New Testament Pentecost, we read Yeshua gave the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire to His disciples. The people who had gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks heard the disciples speaking to them in their own languages and were puzzled, amazed, or amused.
It may not have been thunder or fire coming from their mouths, but it was still impressive.
The very first Pentecost, God spoke to everyone through Moses.
After Yeshua ascended, God spoke through His Holy Spirit through fishermen, tax collectors, shepherds, and other people.
God still speaks through His Holy Spirit! #ThisSideofHeaven #ASignandaSealTweet
In Exodus 32, Moses came down the mountain to find the people worshipping a golden calf. In verses 25-29, Moses instructed the Levites to strike down those who built and worshipped this idol. Three-thousand people died on that [Pentecost]…
Fast forward to Acts 2:41 and we read on that Pentecost, three-thousand people were added to the numbers of those who believed in Yeshua.
God does not work on a linear timeline, but a circular one. Everything comes back to redemption.
I miscarried my first baby in late September 1995. The following year on September 23, 1996, I brought my twins home from the hospital. That date was not lost on me. I knew God was redeeming the loss we experienced.
He is so kind. He loves us like He loves His Son.
Nearly everything God did in the Old Testament reflected Yeshua.
As the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, God had Moses number each tribe and gave them a specific order when they camped and traveled according to Numbers 1 and 2. As they camped, all twelve tribes sat around the tabernacle, in four groups of three, while the Levites circled the tabernacle in the center of all the other tribes.
Most drawings I have seen of this looked like a mess of tents and camps around the tabernacle.
But, using the numbered group of tribes as “legs” you see a pattern in the orderly arrangement of this camp.
They were arranged with the tribes of Dan, Asher, and Naphtali grouped together with 157, 600 north of the tabernacle.
The tribes of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad were south of the tabernacle numbering 151, 450. These two groups are close in size giving them equal “legs.”
Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun were east of the tabernacle with 186, 400 – the longest leg.
And finally, west of the tabernacle numbering 108,100 were Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamín, with the shortest leg. When you lay the tribes out as they would have looked from the top of a mountain, you get a shape like this:
In the Hebrew alphabet, the last letter is a tav, which at the time of Moses was shaped like a cross or a lowercase “t.” Their alphabet letters have meanings unlike ours. According to the Talmud, the tav means truth. It is also the first letter in the word Torah. https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/137287/jewish/Tav.htm
Along with truth, the tav means a sign, seal, or mark.
Deuteronomy 6:4-8 is called the Shema. God told us His commands (Torah) should be on our hearts. It should be taught to our children and spoken about in our homes and wherever we go.
“You shall bind [my commands] as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”Deuteronomy 6:8
The Torah was a sign or mark of following the Lord.
In the New Testament, we read that we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a sign of our faith in Yeshua as born again believers.
Ephesians 1:13 tells us, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit
From the beginning of time as we know it, God has orchestrated signs, wonders, and miracles to show Himself to us, lastly sending His Son as a sign of His love for us and desire for relationship.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.Hebrews 1:1-3
When Yeshua said, “I am the Alpha and Omega,” in Hebrew it would have been, “I am the Aleph and the Tav. Aleph being the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet meaning Leader or First. This letter is used to represent God. Essentially what Yeshua was saying is, “I am God, and I am the sign of the covenant.”