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- Category: Scripture Studies
- Created on 23 July 2014
- Last Updated on 23 July 2014
- Written by Ivan Ezras
Two notable historical events occurred on this day of Pentecost. One is chronicled in the history of Israel as the coming down of Yah’v’h on Mt. Sinai who gave His set of laws and judgments to Moses and His people Israel. This day also marked the occasion when the Holy Spirit came down on Christ’ disciples gathered in Jerusalem in 30 CE (Common Era).
Both events commemorate the day when the Rock of Israel (that ‘Rock’ was Christ—I Cor. 10:4), forged and sealed a covenant with His people: the former being with the church in the wilderness (Acts7:38), that is ancient Israel, and the latter with the New Testament ‘ecclesia’ (Acts 2:1-4) in the first century.
“Asartha” is another name with which the Hebrews call Pentecost. The Hebrew word ‘asartha’ is derived from the root word ”azar” or “asar” (pronounced ‘aw-zar’) which means to ‘bind’ (compass) about or belt up. As we study Scripture, we will discover that the covenants made on both cases mentioned earlier, were deemed by the Rock as a marriage covenant.
Jeremiah 31:32 “Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. (NKJV)
2 Corinthians 11:2 “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
Considered a treasure to Himself among all the nations of the earth (Ps 135:4), Yah’v’h revealed his mind on the wedding customs, services and ceremonies to the Hebrews (Jews) (Rom 3:1-2,9:4). A Study of this particular custom, therefore, will reveal tow distinct stages comprising the Hebrew marriage. Engagement period make up the first stage, while the second is the consummation of marriage that lasted for seven days (see Gen 29:26-27).
An engage couple is looked upon by God, and therefore by the Hebrews, as husband and wife (married). Engagement can only be broken and terminated by a certificate of divorce. However, engaged couples do not live together as yet, nor indulge in any forms of physical intimacies.
Isaiah 54:5 “For your Maker is your husband,
The Lord of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth.”
Deuteronomy 22:23-24 “If a young woman who is a virgin is betrothed to a husband, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry out in the city, and the man because he humbled his neighbor’s wife; so you shall put away the evil from among you.”
Joseph and Mary (Jesus’ mother) were engaged to be married. Thus, when Joseph found out Mary was pregnant, he took steps to secretly divorce her, but was prevented from so doing when an angel of God appeared in his dream and talked him out of it.
Matthew 1: 19-20 “Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”
Judging from what the Eternal inspired to be written in Scripture, we can comprehend that he looks for and desire an intimate personal relationship with His people; one likened to that of an engaged couple. What differs mainly is the intensity of feelings and emotions involved.
Unlike physical human beings, the Spirit God possess much more depth in feelings, height of emotions and much more profound expressions. Consider the Eternal’s command to his people whom he is molding in his likeness:
Mark 12:30-31 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.] 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The Rock of Israel revealed how he love God (the Father); and on the other hand shows how a Spirit God like Him should be loved by his bride. This way, the bride is being sanctified and prepared to think, speak, act and love the way Yah’v’h does, so she will be ready for life ahead in the spiritual Kingdom.
Scriptures had a lot to say about the existence of a spiritual ‘dimensions’. A mountain exists in the heavenly kingdom of God and is called Mt. Zion. Out there is the sea of glass, thrones, mansions, armies on horses, dominions; not to discount spirit beings like humans, animals, and flying objects or machines. Solid physical structures offer no barriers to spirits, by may just see like air that can be passed through with ease.
That spirit realm is eternal , a real world in comparison to this visible, fleeting cosmos we are in. This ephemeral world is but a parallel image of the timeless spiritual universe. Side by side, we may compare spirit to an ancient tree while the physical is likened to flowers in the field that blossom for a while (a day or two), then wither and are gone (Ps. 103:15-16).
Unseen forces that drive a tornado, super typhoons and lightnings are so powerful, and devastating. Sound and air waves, heat and microwaves, electricity, communication and data transmission lines are all in common use and mankind know they exist, but somehow, he takes them all for granted.
The Eternal is preparing a people to live with him in that ‘other dimensions’, and what He is working out and building up here on this planet is a close personal and lasting relationship: one that is solidly founded on complete trust, total commitment, sincerity, and truth; being built up on love, respect, honor, living faith, joy and gladness, knowledge and understanding seasoned with grace and humility.
- Category: Scriptures With Songs
- Created on 13 July 2014
- Last Updated on 13 July 2014
- Written by Raul Hipe
FACILITATOR: Joyous Sabbath brethren. Welcome to our Worship Hymn Singing and Scripture Reading for today’s Sabbath service. May we call on Mr. _______________________ to lead us in the opening prayer.
Thank you, Mr._________________. Let us open our hymnals on:
HYMN 1: Magnify, Glorify, p.1
HYMN 2: Halleluiah! Praise God! p.26
HYMN 3: Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken, p.122
A.The Glory of God-What is it?
In Today’s Scriptural Reading theme, we will be focusing our meditation and readings on one of the most often heard and discussed subjects in the Bible, yet I suspect only quite a few really understand or grasp what it means. We all talked about it, some people pretended and acted like they have it, yet still the question is: What does it mean when the Bible speaks about God’s glory? Can a person give glory to God if he/she does not know nor understand the meaning and purpose of it?
As Christian believers, to know and glorify God is to have the understanding of His holiness, all His attributes, His divine and supreme majesty, His perfection and beauty. We are to continually seek and know Him to the fullest of what He has revealed to us and all His will in our lives.
We can only glorify God if we know God intimately and so we can make His glorification known to others. The chief end of man and the purpose of his creation is to glorify God in all things and to declare His glory in full thanksgiving and praises in both life and works. Many Christians believe the purpose of why God gives us life is to share God’s goodness with others and to help those who are lost and needing salvation. While this is true, it is only secondary to the supreme purpose of our life which is to glorify God in everything and make His glory known to everyone.
Our first set of Bible readers will read to us foundational Bible verses showing us that the glory of God represents all the wonders of His creation which is the attribute of His character and being:
BIBLE READER 1: Glory as an attribute of God’s character and His being
Psalm 24: 1-10
Psalm 29: 1-11
BIBLE READER 2: Glory of God as manifested in all His works
Psalm 8: 1-9
Psalm 19: 1-6
FACILITATOR: Thank you Bible Readers. Brethren, let’s please stand as we sing praises through the following hymns:
HYMN 4: The Heavens God’s Glory Do Declare, p.12
HYMN 5: Arise, Shine p. 141
B.God’s Glory as manifested in the Clouds and that resides in the Tabernacle and Temple of God
FACILITATOR : Please be seated brethren. The biblical word “glory” comes from two Hebrew words: “hod”( or hode) which means grandeur (that is, an imposing form and appearance): - beauty, comeliness, excellence, glorious, glory, goodly, honor, majesty. Another Hebrew word is “kabod” from H3513; which means weight or heaviness; figuratively in a good sense, splendor or grandeur; hence glorious or greatness, honor and majesty. Both words denote the heaviness of God’s presence. In the Bible, these presence of God can be manifested in the cloud or fire or even as it appears in God’s own tabernacle or Temple. The following set of readers will show us these verses.
BIBLE READER 3—the Glory of God as it appears in the Clouds
2 Samuel 22: 8-22
BIBLE READER 4—the Glory of God Dwelling in the Tabernacle and Temple
Exodus 29: 42-46
2 Chronicles 5: 12-14
Thank you Bible Readers. Brethren, please all stand as we responsively offer our next hymns:
- Category: Meditations
- Created on 06 July 2014
- Last Updated on 12 August 2014
- Written by Ofelia Limpoco-Magat
a unique being,
With a world of experience beyond compare,
With a style of life formed at birth.
a personality, a character
with a destiny you alone can make,
with a script to play in life’s stage.
If you are a performer,
Then there must be a judge,
Why then do you judge one another?
If you be a judge,
Who then is the performer,
What standard do you compare one to another?
I heard a voice
Calling, calling, calling...
Where art thou who will teach
righteousness to the youth of today,
The leaders of tomorrow?
Where art thou who will fill in the thirsty soul with knowledge of good,
The wisdom of the future?
Where art thou who will feed the hungry millions growing to be billions?
Who will heed the call?
Will it be a voice in the wilderness?
Will it be just a sound in the air,
And then an echo and then silence….?
From Poems’s Dedication to the Almighty, Alpha & Omega of lIfe
- Category: Scripture Studies
- Created on 01 July 2014
- Last Updated on 02 July 2014
- Written by Raul Hipe
How should one recognize a “prophet from God” today? Will we be able to recognize him? What is this thing called “prophecy” or “prophesying”? Should Christians prophesy today?
When we think of a prophet and prophecy, we normally associate the words with the great prophets of old in the Bible. We think of eccentric and rough dessert men like Elijah or John the Baptist. We recall the vivid and very colorful yet enigmatic prophecies of Amos, Joel, Daniel or Ezekiel. We learn from the Bible that God actually could raised up a prophet from the royal line who was educated, and who would use his literary talents to write poetic prophecies, like Isaiah. And, God even chose a prophet while he was still in his mother’s womb, like the prophet Jeremiah.
But who are God’s prophets today? And what does prophesying have to do with being a Christian?
In a letter that the apostle Paul wrote to Christians at Corinth, after emphasizing to them the all important role of love and how spiritual gifts can be made more effective through it (I Corinthians 12 and 13), he brought them back to the basics of why we need spiritual gifts from God. He wrote:
"Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but specially that you may prophesy." I Corinthians 14:1
In verse 31, Paul says that all of us can actually prophesy. He wrote:
"For you can ALL prophesy one by one, that all may be encouraged."
Later in the same chapter, in verse 39 he again emphasized and wrote down, "Therefore, brethren, DESIRE earnestly to prophesy…" In the authorized version (KJV) it reads, "Covet to prophesy."
What did Paul mean by the above verses, specifically pointing out that we must all "covet" or "desire earnestly" to prophesy? Is there something in prophesying that, like the early Christians at Corinth, we still do not understand?
Let’s have some background.
In the book of Acts during the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter declared before thousands of gatherings, the following words (quoting the prophecies of Joel):
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see vision; your old men shall dream dreams. And on my menservants [men] and on My maidservants [women] I will pour out My Spirit in those days and they shall PROPHESY." Acts 2:17-18
Here we can learn that prophesying was a phenomenon that accompanied the giving of the Holy Spirit and is very much a sign of God’s people. Those who heard the words of apostle Peter obviously understood his meaning and saw its fulfillment or they wouldn’t have believed him and be baptized on that very same day. The record says three thousand people were immediately added to the church (Acts 2:41) and daring feats were made by them as we can read in succeeding verses and chapters of the book of Acts.
In a letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul noted that prophets and prophesying are part of a five-fold ministry that God equips His church:
"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,…" Ephesians 4:11-12
Hence, the church is built on these foundations as Paul affirmed earlier (Ephesians 2: 20-22).
As Paul also explained in I Corinthians 12, prophecy is one of the nine gifts (or manifestations) that the Holy Spirit gave to every believer:
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one…
the word of WISDOM…word of KNOWLEDGE…FAITH…gifts of HEALING…workings of MIRACLES…PROPHECY…DISCERNING of Spirits…different kinds of TONGUES…INTERPRETATION of tongues. I Corinthians 12:7-11
But the question now is: Can we all receive the same gifts? Can one man take to himself an inventory of these gifts and use them as he wills?
In concluding the same chapter, Paul asked the question: "Are all apostles? Are all prophets?… Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues?" (I Cor. 12:29-30) The implication of his questions was that all these gifts are not for one man or woman alone but that these gifts are given in different measures so all will profit and learn from one another so that the whole body (Church) will be edified (12:26). These are enabling gifts not for the individual but for the church. But then he says that we should "earnestly desire the best gifts." What did he mean?
In I Corinthians 13, Paul gave us the proper motivation for gifts to be exercised properly—and to the fullest. Contrary to what some believe that Paul talked about the "greatest gift" in this chapter and by that, they mean love, Paul actually viewed love (Gk: agape) as "the fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:9) which is present and must grow in each individual and without it, spiritual gifts would be misdirected—thus, would amount to nothing (I Cor. 13:1-10). In earnestly desiring the best gift Paul showed them "a more excellent way" which is the exercise of spiritual gift through love. Consequently, love should be the stirring factor in all spiritual gifts. And, Paul’s emphasis should be viewed in the light of what he said in chapter fourteen, when he asserted, "Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but specially that you may PROPHESY."
So, why? What does that mean?
First, notice what he said in that same chapter:
"For we know in part and we prophesy in part." I Corinthians 13:8
Prophesying therefore is something that is present in us. We all have it, it is part of God’s earnest upon receiving the Holy Spirit. Just like the disciples in Acts 2, they were given utterances and prophesied as they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Each one who receives the Holy Spirit have that spirit of prophecy. And, what is this "spirit of prophecy"?
Let us read from what the apostle John heard and recorded:
"And I [John] fell at his [angel] feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’" Revelation 19:10
So, something must by clear by now in what Paul is trying to explain. Revelation 19:10 says, that the SPIRIT of prophecy is the "TESTIMONY of Jesus Christ." To have the testimony [Gk: martureo from which the word ‘martyr’ was derived] means to bear witness or have a witnessing evidence or proof of His Words (Psalm 19:7; John 21:24). This is what Paul meant when he wrote early on to the Corinthian brethren that, "…you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you so that you come short in no gift…" (I Cor. 1:5-7). Again, he said, "I…did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God." (I Cor. 2:1) This comment is interesting in the light of what he said in I Corinthians 13:8 and 14:1. Every Christian who has the testimony of Jesus Christ has the spirit of prophecy. Though we can’t all be prophets (i.e, "office" of the Prophet) but because we have the testimony of Jesus Christ, we can prophesy "in part", said Paul.
But how is this done? How can one prophesy? Paul’s answers to these can be found in the immediate verse of I Corinthian 14, he wrote:
"But he who prophesies speaks edification, and exhortation and comfort to men." Verse 3.
Thus, this is the emphasis of Paul. To prophesy is to be able to exhort and give comfort for "he who prophesies edifies the church" (verse 4). As he continues:
"How it is then brethren? Whenever you come together, each one of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all thing be done for edification…For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may be encouraged." I Corinthians 26, 31
Contrary to what some people believe that prophesying always refers to foretelling or forecasting of future events, the meaning refers to a witnessing testimony of God’s words and of His Son, or forth telling (or declaring of something ‘from this day onward’).
- Category: Scriptures With Songs
- Created on 15 June 2014
- Last Updated on 15 June 2014
- Written by Gina Constantino
Good Sabbath afternoon brethren. Please all rise as we call on Mr.___________________ to lead us in the opening prayer.
Thank you Mr.__________________. Let us open our hymnals and turn to:
HYMN 1:_p6 Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee
HYMN 2:_p222 The Song We Sing
HYMN 3:_page 214 Make Music to the Lord
Thank you brethren. Please be seated.
In II Chronicles 5:13, 14, it says:
"It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lifted up their voice with the instruments of music, ... that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord; so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God."
The above verses describe the time of King Solomon when he brought the ark into the temple. The priests coming out of the Most Holy place, the Levites, the singers were in unity in praising and thanking God that they sounded as one, saying “For He is good, for His mercy endures forever”. They lifted up their voices, sang songs, played their instruments. God was so pleased that the house of God became filled with His glory and the priests could not continue ministering.
What a wonderful sight to see and to experience. Could we, a small flock, a fellowship ever come to this point of seeing the glory of God? Could we, given with skills and abilities to play instruments and sing songs be able to stand in the presence of God, sounding as one, singing as one, in harmony? This song service is all about how the people of God used music to the praise and glory of God.
What kind of musical instruments did God provide for us? How did David and others use music?
Reader 1 will read about various musical instruments used in the Scriptures
Reader 2 will read on how King David “the man after God’s own heart” used music in worship and in praising God
Reader no. 3 will continue to read on how David used music in the service of God
Thank you readers. Notice that David had appointed musicians and singers in the service of God. They were engaged day and night. They did not just play or sing, they had to be trained until they reached that time that they were singing as one. The gift of music comes from God but we need to do something to that gift. We can’t let it sit idle. We can’t say it’s enough that we know how to play or sing. We need to be trained and be skillful.
Please rise brethren as we sing hymn of praise…
- Category: Scriptures With Songs
- Created on 12 June 2014
- Last Updated on 13 June 2014
- Written by Raul Hipe
FACILITATOR: Joyous afternoon celebration of the Feast of Pentecost brethren. Welcome to our Hymn Singing and Scriptural Reading service. As we begin, may we call on Mr. _________________ to lead us in the opening prayer.
Thank you, Mr._________________. Let us open our hymnals for our opening praises and rejoicing on:
HYMN 1: God of Our Fathers (page 43)
HYMN 2: Guide Us, O Thou Great Redeemer (page 60)
HYMN 3: Wisdom Begins With The Fear of the Lord (page 100)
Introduction: Welcome brethren to our afternoon service of the Feast of Pentecost. As we have completed our count to Pentecost, we are thankful that God has continually provided us the impetus and thrust as we reap His blessings and benefits even as we count them.
One unique aspect of Pentecost is that the command to count is very explicit as given in the Bible. “Begin to count the seven weeks,” to quote from Deuteronomy 16:9 “from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain.” The given emphasis is on some future and yet very certain harvest. Lev 23:15 “from the day that you brought the wave offering, seven Sabbaths [or weeks] shall be completed.” (Leviticus:23:15, NKJV).
This makes Pentecost very unique among God’s feast days, which is unlike any other holy days. So with counting, we feel the anticipation and the continuing preparation as we ready ourselves for the spiritual harvest.
But why counting? Have you think about it? What is there in counting that God wanted to impress upon His people? What are some of the salient lessons God wanted to teach us daily and weekly as we count from the Feast of Unleavened Bread leading and culminating to the feast of Pentecost?
In today’s Scriptures reading, we will look at some of these lessons. Our first set of Bible readers will take us back to these instructions and the principles behind the command to count as God began to reveal His Will to ancient Israel (Reasons of our Counting):
BIBLE READER 1: ________________
Exodus 23: 10-19
BIBLE READER 2:_________________
Exodus 34: 10-28
BIBLE READER 3:_________________
Deuteronomy 16: 9-12
FACILITATOR: Thank you bible readers. Brethren, let’s please stand as we sing the following hymn…
HYMN 4: Fear Not Rejoice And Be Glad (page 86)
B. FACILITATOR: How We Count: With counting, we learn that Pentecost is a harvest festival that lasted for 7 weeks. It began with the harvesting of barley crops during Passover and ended with harvesting the wheat for Shavout or Pentecost. One immediate and apparent lesson one may be gained during these periods of counting in such an agricultural setting, is the total dependence and trust a farmer will develop as he rely solely on His Maker and Provider. Thus the strength of one’s faith can be tested during this period and seasons. Our next set of Bible readers will provide us examples and lessons from the Bible.
BIBLE READER 4_________________
BIBLE READER 5_________________
BIBLE READER 6_________________
Hebrews 11:1-3, 23-29.
Thank you Bible readers. Brethren, please all stand as we responsively offer our next hymns:
HYMN 5: Faith is the Victory (page 2.13)
Thank you brethren, please be seated.
FACILITATOR: Counting on God: The meaning of our counting to Pentecost can cover wide spectrum of our life, if we only know how God actually takes care of each and everyone of us. From our conception to birth, to our calling, His ways are very mysterious, but in all these, God seem to be saying we can count on Him! Our next set of Bible readers will help elucidate on these:
BIBLE READER 7_____________________
BIBLE READER 8_____________________
BIBLE READER 9_____________________
- Category: Scriptures With Songs
- Created on 29 May 2014
- Last Updated on 29 May 2014
- Written by Ofelia Limpoco-Magat
FACILITATOR: Joyful Sabbath brethren. Welcome to our Hymn Singing and Scriptural Reading for today’s Sabbath service. May we call on Mr. _______________________ to lead us in the opening prayer.
Thank you, Mr._________________. Let us open our hymnals on:
HYMN 1: Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee (page 6)
HYMN 2: Praise My Soul, The King of Heaven (page 8)
HYMN 3: The Lord Eternal Reigns (page 9)
A. COMMAND TO REJOICE BEFORE THE LORD
The Holy Bible is replete with exhortations to rejoice. In fact, the word “rejoice” can be found in the Bible 258 times (194 in the Old Testament, 64 in the New Testament). Add to these are words “glad” “gladness” and “joy”, “joyful”, and we can come up with hundreds of times these words were written and enjoined in the Scriptures.
In addition, God commanded us to rejoice before Him. And it is a command with specific purpose. We are not only to rejoice anywhere or anytime or with anyone we want to. But these are explicit commands to rejoice in His presence—before our God the Creator. Our first set of Bible readers will further explain these:
BIBLE READER 1: ________________ will be reading verses that will explain the command to rejoice in the place that God has chosen and to rejoice with the family, household members and strangers within your gates or in other words, guests in your house
BIBLE READER 2:_________________ will be reading verses that will illustrate the command to rejoice during the appointed time of the Lord – the Feast Days of God
Leviticus 23:2,4, 39-40
Deuteronomy 16:10-11, 13-15
Deuteronomy 26:3, 10-11
FACILITATOR: Thank you bible readers. Brethren, let’s please stand as we sing the following hymn
HYMN 4: O Give Thanks and Praise the Eternal ( Page 15)
B. CAUSES OF REJOICING – NATION OF ISRAEL
FACILITATOR : Please be seated brethren. Let us now focus our attention on the causes of rejoicing. In a poem made by Helen Steiner Rice, she aptly summarized the reason for our rejoicing:
You ask me how I know it’s true
That there is a living God-
A God who rules the universe,
The sky… the sea.. the sod…
A God who holds all creatures
In the hollow of His hand,
A God who put infinity
In one tiny grain of sand…
A God who made the seasons-
Winter, summer, fall and spring,
And put his flawless rhythm
Into each created thing…
What better answers are there
To prove his Holy Being
Than the wonders all around us
That are ours just for the seeing!
Our next set of Bible readers will be reading some of the events that caused the nation of Israel to rejoice before the Lord.
- Category: Feasts and Holy Days
- Created on 10 May 2014
- Last Updated on 10 May 2014
- Written by Cesar I Lumbuan
Of all God’s feast days, Pentecost is the only one where the Eternal commanded ancient Israel to count the days and weeks to determine the exact day.
Laying down certain conditions so that His people will know when the counting should commence, the Eternal caused His words to take effect as it is written:
a. Deuteronomy 16:9 Seven weeks shall you number: begin to number the seven weeks from such a time as you begin to put the sickle to the corn.
The first condition sets the start of counting simultaneous to reaping the harvest of the standing grain (or corn).
b. Leviticus 23:15 You shall count from the morrow after the Sabbath from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, seven Sabbaths shall be complete.
God’s second command assigns the counting to begin the day after the Sabbath when the wave offering is given to the priest. A sharp controversy existed between the rabbis and some Jewish sect concerning what Sabbath is referred to by God in this verse. Was it the weekly Sabbath or the Sabbath of the first day of Unleavened Bread?
It is premature to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion until we make a thorough analysis and complete study of the matter and consider God’s third command which is equally important as the previous two.
Most religious teachers and scholars totally ignore this third command since it appears to have no relevance at all today but only concerns ancient Israel. However, we should include this third command from God since it constitutes 1/3 of the revealed evidences or facts when the counting should begin.
c. Leviticus 23: 14 You shall eat neither bread nor parched (dried)corn nor green ears, until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
The Eternal God prohibits Israel from eating the old corn (grains) of the land, the new harvest, green ears and bread before they bring in and give to the priest the required wave sheaf offering. Take note, it is a statute forever for Israel, throughout their generations and in all their dwellings.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread is the very first feast of harvest for the entire year in Israel. Firstfruits harvest begins in the first month of Abib (Abib means green ears). That’s the time when barley begins to ripen and is ready for harvest, while winter wheat is still in green ears.
Periodically, for the harvest and the calendar to coincide, the priest adds an intercalary month (resulting in leap year). This is to compensate for the irregularities in the solar and lunar cycles. Without the intercalary month, the Eternal’s Feast days will fall out of season over the years. Thus, we can find a 13th month in the Hebrew calendar intervals of approximately 3 years.
With God’s conditions on our hand, we can now begin to study and find out when the count to Pentecost must begin. Pentecost counting issue is mainly centered upon which Sabbath the Eternal God refers to. Is it the weekly Sabbath or the high day Sabbath of the first day of Unleavened Bread?
Using the Weekly Sabbath within the Days of Unleavened Bread as Basis for Counting Pentecost
This idea or doctrine of using the weekly Sabbath as basis for counting Pentecost is known to have originated from the first century religious sect of the Sadducees, continuing with the Karaites of the early Middle Ages. The basis of their doctrine stemmed from their understanding that the weekly Sabbaths were counted and not the weeks. Also, there were those who believed Christ offered himself again to the Father on the first day of the week after His resurrection as the first fruits (or as the wave sheaf offering).
Leviticus 23:15 is one passage where this understanding is based upon and where it says “…count from the morrow after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, seven Sabbaths shall be complete.”
The Sadducees interpreted this passage to mean that the wave sheaf offering should be given to the priest on the weekly Sabbath during Unleavened Bread. But, should one interpret a passage and make a conclusion and not allow the Scriptures to rightly interpret itself?
Opinions varied as to the significance of the “day after the Sabbath” mentioned in Leviticus 23:15. The Boethuseans (Sadducees) took this literally and counted from the first regular Sabbath (Saturday) after the first day of the Passover, so that Pentecost would always fall on a Sunday.
The Pharisees, however, looked at Leviticus 23:15 to mean the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the 15th of Nisan, and thus counted seven full weeks from the 16th of Nisan, so that Pentecost would fall exactly on the 50th day after the 16th of Nisan. Accordingly, through this reckoning, the day of the week on which Pentecost fell would depend on the day of the week the Passover began.”(Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 1976, The Jewish Feast of Pentecost)
The Pharisees interpreted the ‘Sabbath’ of Leviticus 23:15 as the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread (cf. Leviticus 23:7), so that in the Jewish calendar, Pentecost now falls on various days of the week.” (New Bible Dictionary, 1996 Pentecost, Feast of)
Once we examine the word for word translation of the original Hebrew text in the King James Version Bible, a few questions will crop up.
Do seven complete Sabbaths equal 49 days? Does it also mean that there is actually an incomplete Sabbath? Basic arithmetic dictates that seven will always be 7 complete days, no more, no less. The word Sabbath of the verse in question is sensibly and clearly understood to mean sevens or weeks as the other scriptural passages interpret it.
Sabbaths in Leviticus 23:15 refer to weeks and regardless of what day it begins, it does not necessarily mean that it always starts on the first day of the week (Sunday). It can start on Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday etc. as long as there are 7 complete days.
Deuteronomy 16: 9 Seven weeks shall you consider, begin to number the seven weeks from such a time as you begin to put the sickle to the corn.
The start of the harvest signals the start of counting to Pentecost. It is not the weekly Sabbath that serves as a basis.
Many bible translators and scholars render the same Hebrew word shabbat here in Leviticus 23:15 as weeks. It is the weeks that can either be complete or incomplete as the case may be. We should allow other scriptures to define more clearly the verse in question before we readily conclude its meaning according to our own interpretation. A similar command mentioning seven Sabbaths is found in:
Leviticus 25:8 You shall number seven Sabbaths of years to you: seven times seven years; and the space of the seven Sabbaths of years shall be to you forty and nine years.
Practically the same line of thought is expressed here - it refers to seven Sabbaths of years. The Hebrew word shabbat used here clearly means sevens or weeks, based on how the Eternal precisely defines it in His word. The verse in question (Leviticus 23:15) should also mean seven times seven or seven weeks.
One of the best ways to truly understand God’s commands is to put ourselves in the shoes of ancient Israel. Consider ourselves as part of ancient Israel in the Old Testament times. Do God’s commands make sense and result in good? Are God’s Feast days occasions of rejoicing and thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest? We know these are the will of the Eternal God for His people. But let’s face it; is the end result of the doctrine we have embraced good and not confusing? Does the symbolism match the reality perfectly?
a. Looking now from the standpoint of ancient Israel, let’s remember that the Eternal God forbade them forever to eat of the harvest, the bread and dried grains until such time that the wave sheaf offering was given to the priest. Then, what if the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread falls on the fifth or sixth day? What will be the source of feasting and rejoicing in the first few days of the feast knowing that the harvest, the bread and dried grains couldn’t be eaten before the weekly Sabbath?
In this case, the actual Feast will commence only on the sixth or seventh day of Unleavened Bread. Does this make sense at all? Will God author a law that results in a real seven day feasting only once in three years? There must be something wrong with using the weekly Sabbath as basis for counting Pentecost!
b. If the weekly Sabbath used as a basis fell on the seventh day of Unleavened Bread, should the counting begin the day after the feast as some churches do? Should the actual feast and rejoicing begin the day after Unleavened Bread?
Or, should the rule be broken and the Sabbath before Unleavened Bread must be used instead as the time to hand over the wave sheaf offering? Would the priests be able to attend to it knowing they are busy with Passover sacrifices? Which one is correct between the choice of the Sabbath or the method? Who is the authority to decide since there is no scriptural verse to support either method?
c.What about the symbolism, do we give the wave sheaf of the firstfruits harvest to the priest before the death and sacrifice of Christ?Will the Eternal author a prophecy and shadow of a future event that is disorderly and will only be true once in three years?(Only once in three years, the weekly Sabbath falls on the first day of Unleavened Bread).Will the Eternal cause His people to proclaim their keeping and enacting a shadow that doesn’t tell the truth about the reality?