Rabbi Schneider - Pentecost. Knowing God and Making Him Known
Rabbi Schneider: Shalom beloved ones. God bless you and Baruch Hashem, blessed be the name of the Lord. Cynthia as we're in this season of Shavout or Pentecost, I think about the fact that Yeshua said in the book of Acts chapter 1, that He would baptize us in the Holy Spirit. And when we received this baptism in the Ruach Hakodesh, Yeshua said we receive power and become His witnesses. And I'm so thankful that we just recently got back from New York. And in order to fulfill this calling, as you know, not only did we put a billboard right in the middle of New York City advertising Yeshua as the Messiah in Times Square, but additionally we took out a full page ad in the New York Times. And on page 21 of this Sunday's addition of the New York Times we had a full page ad of the JewishJesus.com, which is not our main website, but it's a specific website for Jewish people to go to, to understand how Jesus is the completion of Biblical Judaism. It was powerful.
Cynthia Schneider: Yes, yes, it is so exciting to be a witness for Messiah, to know that His Spirit that lives within us is shining through us into the world to call His people to Himself. And so I'm excited about Shavout and the message today, that we will be filled with His Spirit, that we will be lit up and a witness to all in the world that He is alive.
Rabbi Schneider: Baruch Hashem beloved ones. We are gonna be focusing today on the holy day called Shavout in Hebrew. In English or Greek we pronounce it Pentecost. Many of God's people don't understand that when we first read about Pentecost in the book of Acts chapter 2, that it was a holiday that had already been celebrated by Jewish people for 1500 years. I want to take you now to the book of Vayikra, we speak in English the book of Leviticus. And we're gonna go to the 23rd chapter here and I'm gonna read to you where the Lord speaks to the Hebrew people about this holy day that the church calls Pentecost, meaning fifty, but which the Israelites first called Shavout, meaning weeks; because it took place seven weeks and a day after Passover. Hear the Word of God as we're laying the foundation to understand what actually happened in the book of Acts chapter 2. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but hallelujah beloved one, the Word of God abides forever.
Hear the Word of God. .Leviticus chapter 23, beginning here in verse number 15. The Lord says, "You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete Sabbaths. You shall count fifty days," and that's where we get the term Pentecost, because it took place fifty days afterwards. "You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord". So once again, this holy day took place fifty days after Passover, that's why it's called in Greek Pentecost, meaning fifty. But the Jewish people refer to it, once again beloved ones, as Shavout; meaning weeks, because the Lord said, "seven weeks after Passover and a day you shall celebrate this holy day". Now let's first of all look at what the Jewish people were celebrating in their initial historical context. Then we're gonna consider what it meant to them and what it means to them prophetically and then we're gonna tie those things together as we go to Acts chapter 2 and understand what was happening when they were gathered together there in one place in Acts 2.
So first of all the Hebrew holy day Shavout has to do with the wheat harvest. It marked the wheat harvest in Israel. It was a time of thanking the Lord for His provision. But the Jewish people also came to associate this holy day, Shavout or Pentecost, with the day that God gave them the Law at Mount Sinai. Now that's important. Think about this. The Hebrew people associated Shavout or Pentecost with the day that the Lord of Israel appeared on top of Mount Sinai in fire and glory, spoke to them from there and gave them His Law.
With that in mind, when we come to Acts chapter 2, I want you to consider this with me. When all these believers were gathered together there in one place, they weren't expecting anything to happen at first. They were just recounting how God had revealed Himself to them on Mount Sinai. They were thinking about the glory, they were thinking about the fire, they were thinking about the voice of God, they were thinking about the revelation they received. And suddenly while they're recounting, beloved ones, what the God of Israel had done for them 1500 years earlier, suddenly boom, the God of Israel appears again in an instant, revealing Himself with the same glory, with fire, they heard His voice. But this time He didn't speak to them by tablets on a stone, written by His finger. But this time, beloved, He spoke inside them and wrote His Law inside their hearts.
I want you to go with me now to the book of Acts if you've got your Bible. We're gonna begin to read what exactly happened in Acts chapter 2, beginning there in verse number 1. Baruch Hashem, bless the name of the Lord. "When the day of Pentecost had come," or the day of Shavout in Hebrew, "they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit," with the Ruach Hakodesh we say in Hebrew. The Ruach, the breath of God. "They were all filled with the Ruach Hakodesh and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language". So think about this, the believers are there. They had been thinking about how God had appeared to them 1500 years earlier at Mount Sinai, how they heard His voice and trembled, how God wrote His Law with His finger on the tablets of stone. And while they were thinking about this, while they were accounting those days, suddenly the God of Israel appears again in fire and this time He writes His law in their hearts. He then fills them with His Spirit, just as was prophesied that the God of Israel would do in the prophets. And as He did so, they began the scripture says, to speak with tongues. And as they began to speak with tongues, they were inspired to be able to speak with the language that was not naturally known to them. It was totally supernatural.
The Ruach Hakodesh, the Spirit of God, came inside them and they began to utter languages that they had never learned, by the power of this living person that had now come and filled them. And those that were around gathered, witnessing the scene. They heard the Spirit of the Lord speaking to them through these believers that had been filled, in their own language. In other words, there was believers there the scripture tells us, from every nation under heaven. And when these that were filled with the Spirit began to speak in languages that they had never learned, they were speaking in the languages of the people that had been gathered there, the scripture says from every nation under heaven.
So to put it in simple terms. If I am American and you are Chinese and I don't know Chinese and I want to share the Good News with you; it'd be as if suddenly God supernaturally by His Spirit gave me the ability to communicate the Gospel to you in Chinese, even though I didn't know Chinese. That's exactly what happened. These first believers that were filled spoke, they were listen now, they were known languages, they were the languages of those that were gathered there from different nations. But the believers that were speaking didn't know those languages, but they supernaturally were able to communicate the Gospel so that everybody there could understand what was going on.
Now the first thing I'd like to point out about this miracle, beloved ones, is that this miracle is different than what often times Charismatic and Pentecostal churches are referring to when they speak of speaking in tongues. Because in many Christian circles there's an association with being filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, but the tongues that are most often spoken about, or that we see in many Charismatic and Pentecostal churches it's a different phenomenon than what happened in Acts chapter 2; because in Acts chapter 2 it wasn't a prayer language that they were speaking in. But in Acts chapter 2 they were speaking in known languages that they didn't know.
In other words, in once again, the traditional Charismatic or Pentecostal church, there's an association of the initial evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues. But the type of tongues that are manifest in many of those circles are the language of personal prayer language between the individual that's filled with the Spirit and the Lord. The person that is filled with the Spirit in the Charismatic and Pentecostal backgrounds is most often not speaking in a known language that they don't know. In other words, they're not speaking in Swahili, they're not speaking in Chinese, they're not speaking in Yiddish, they're not speaking in German, they're not speaking in Hebrew. They're speaking a language that is of the Spirit that it only makes sense to God. And I'm simply pointing out that there is a difference between what actually happened in Acts chapter 2 and what many people are saying is the initial evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit. They're two different types of the manifestation of tongues, the ability to supernaturally speak a language that is not coming from your natural. I just wanted to point that out historically, to bring some clarity to that.
It's also interesting, I've actually experienced the phenomenon. I had somebody come to my congregation with their family member and this person that had come to my congregation from a family member was from Peru and she didn't understand English. And she was there for a Shavout or a Pentecostal service. I was preaching in English, but this woman that didn't know English heard me in her own language. So that's interesting that in Acts chapter 2 the miracle was that these first believers spoke in languages of the world that they didn't know and never learned. But I've also experienced kind of the opposite type of miracle, where I was preaching in English, but someone who didn't know English, by the power of the Holy Spirit was able to hear me in their own language. God is so awesome. He's just as capable obviously of doing everything and anything.
I want to focus now however, beloved ones, on two particular aspects of Shavout or Pentecost. And I'm calling these two themes, listen now, knowing Him and making Him known. Let that sink in for a second. The gift of the Spirit, that's what we're celebrating in the New Testament in terms of the gift that we received at Pentecost. Even as Israel received the Law at Shavout or Pentecost, even as Israel received the revelation of Yahweh the God of Israel on the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai; as believers we're seeing the fulfillment of this by receiving the gift of God's Spirit at Shavout initially and in receiving the Spirit we receive His Law being written on our hearts and we receive the revelation that comes to us through the voice of the Holy Spirit, even as Israel received the revelation that Father God was giving them as they stood at the base of Mount Sinai. It's just that Jesus, Yeshua brings it all to fulfillment.
Now I want you to consider this, the gift of the Spirit given at Shavout. Just like Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesied that the days would come when the Lord would put His Spirit within us and cause us to walk in His ways. Now I want you to consider this, Yeshua talked a lot in His ministry about the fact that we were gonna be receiving the gift of God's Spirit. In the book of Luke chapter number 24, Jesus spoke about the gift of the Spirit, listen now, as being the promise of the Father. Yeshua said, "I'm gonna give you the promise of the Father". And He said, "When I give you the Spirit, which the Father has promised". He said, "You're gonna be clothed," think about that. Clothed, the power of God surrounds us. Yeshua said, "You're gonna receive the gift of the Ruach Hakodesh and be clothed with power". Yeshua also said that when we receive this gift, not only would we be clothed with power, but in John chapter 14 verse 16 and 17 Yeshua said, "He would come, the Spirit would come and live," listen, "Within us".
Now listen, in the Hebrew Bible the Spirit of the Lord wrote on the tablets of stone. Jesus said to the disciples before the gift of the Spirit was given, He said, "The Spirit is with you, but will be in you". So when the Spirit was given in Acts chapter 2, Yeshua's words from John 14 were fulfilled. Yeshua prophesied the Spirit's with you and will be, listen now, in you. So as believers today in New Testament times, we're both clothed with the Spirit and the power of that and the Spirit is living within us. We've received the gift now of the Ruach Hakodesh and the next thing we want to ask ourselves beloved church is why? And to answer that question I want to bring you to the book of John, the Gospel of John. We're gonna go to chapter 16 today. The grass withers, the flowers fade, but hallelujah the Word of the Lord abides forever. This is really beautiful. I think it just incorporates so much of what our life purpose is. I mean when you think about what is your purpose in this world? I'm gonna answer that for all of us by the Word of God. I'm not answering for you. I'm just telling you what God said our purpose is. The Lord identified the purpose of His children as two fold.
Number one, to know Him and secondly to make Him known. By the way this is the same story we see revealed in the Song of Songs, the Shulamite bride said to the king, "Draw me near to you and let us run the race together". Let me partner with you in life. Bring me close to you and let me partner with you in life to make your glory known on the earth. Listen to what Jesus said beloved church in the Gospel of John chapter 16. I'm gonna begin here in verse number 12. Yeshua said, "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now". Now this is interesting. Yeshua says, listen, "I want to speak to you about deeper things. I have mysteries to share with you, but you can't hear them yet". That's why He gave us the Spirit, so He could continue to give us more revelation. The gift of the Spirit, I mean it is our breath, it is our life. Without the Spirit we can't know Him.
Paul said, "Unless we have the Spirit we don't belong to Him". Jesus says, "I have so much more that I want to reveal to you, that I want to share with you, that I want to give to you, but you can't bear them now. But when I give you my Spirit," Yeshua said, "I'm gonna share with you these things that you're not ready to hear". Let's hear what He says next in verse 13, "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; and therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you". Let's just put this in perspective. Jesus says, "Listen, I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now". And then He said, "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He is gonna guide you into all truth".
"He will take of Me," Yeshua said He's gonna take of My heart, He's gonna take of My nature, He's gonna take of My Spirit and He's gonna reveal it unto you. The Spirit beloved, is our life. The Spirit is God manifest unto us. You see the Father is in heaven. Yeshua is in heaven at the Father's right hand, but the Spirit, the Ruach Hakodesh, the Holy Spirit, He is on earth to reveal God to us. The Bible says, "Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, neither has it ever entered in to the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those that love Him. But these things," Yeshua said through the writer of scripture, "Are given to us and revealed to us by His Spirit".
So as we celebrate the gift of Shavout or Pentecost, we rejoice and celebrate the gift of the Spirit that we received, in order that we could know God. God reveals Himself to you and I by His Spirit. But there's one other important principle we have to realize, that God gave us His Spirit, that we would have power to be His witnesses. Yeshua spoke about this often. He said, "You shall receive power," in the book of Luke, "and be My witnesses". Right before the Spirit was given we read this in the book of Acts chapter 1 verse number 8. Remember the grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord abides forever. Hear the Word of God. Yeshua is speaking. He said, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit, when the Ruach Hakodesh has come upon you and you will be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and even to the remotest parts of the earth". Beloved, the gift of the Spirit is that we would know God and that we would be empowered to be His witnesses. The scripture also tells us that the more we obey the more the power of God is manifest in and through our lives. The gift of the Spirit is a free gift, but we enter into the fullness of the gift through obedience.