What Was God Thinking? (Week 4 of 7)
From the Seminar, Walking in the Light of Pentecost
Jesus celebrated the festival of Shavu'ot (Pentecost) and we are making connections and learning lessons from his Bible, the Hebrew Scriptures. We can summarize our study to this point thusly,
The purpose of Passover was fulfilled in the reality of Pentecost.
The LORD redeemed a people in order to rule, to lead them.
God came down on Mt. Sinai, as a teacher, to instruct his people. There he revealed his desire and intention to dwell in their midst.
Pentecost shows us three important aspects of the character and intent of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
(1) The LORD is an inbreaking God.
God, by his initiative, broke into human affairs and showed himself as sovereign. It was a cosmic act that happened at Sinai. The rabbis call it the second act of creation. In the first creation, he created the world. In the second creation, he created a holy nation that was to participate in the redemption and the blessing of the world.
In the first creation, by his word he turned chaos into order. In the second creation, he gave his word and transformed slaves to sons, the least of the nations into a holy nation. His word turns chaos into order; his word takes the least and turns them into a kingdom of priests.
And his word will do the same for you and for me because we have a priestly calling. Sadly, too many of you, like me, are slouching on the job. We are sitting on our tassels.
(2) The LORD is an indwelling God.
Searching for a people who will bear his image and bless the nations—in his name—is God's perennial purpose. Therefore salvation, in this context of Pentecost, is not just some escape to another world, it is not a free pass to heaven.
Salvation is a summons to the service of the Sovereign of the universe.
If you are not responding to the summons you are in trouble, and you are also out of blessing. Pentecost teaches us that salvation has to do with serving God here and now. The present moment (i.e. in this world) is where his kingdom is realized. The reward of our salvation is in the world to come.
God has saved us in order to rule and reign over us today, by his word, so that his created world which he loves will come into its divine calling and purpose. He is looking for a people to dwell in, among, and through.
(3) The LORD is inclusive.
All of Israel saw these events. This was not some mystical experience or spiritual hallucination happening upon a high mountain after fasting for forty days. All Israel heard the word of the Lord go forth. It was a cosmic event, not some private revelation.
The sages say Torah was given specifically in the desert and not in the land of Israel. Why? It was given in an open place where anybody could have come. Torah is for all, given in a public place.
You and I, in Jesus, have been brought to Mt. Sinai and joined together with Israel.
In Leviticus 23:17 we read,
You shall bring from your dwelling places two loaves of bread to be waved [...] they shall be baked with leaven, as firstfruits to the LORD.
Two loaves with leaven are to be waved before the LORD at Pentecost, in marked contrast to Passover in which there is no leaven. At Passover it is the lamb that is sacrificed without blemish or spot—Jesus is our Passover Lamb (I Cor 5:7). But at Pentecost it is to be you and me, ordinary people: menservants and maidservants, the greatest and the least.
We all have leaven and sin in our lives but we are still to be offered up to God as two loaves—both Israel and the nations. We are to become a holy nation, offering up before the LORD our sacrifices of worship, of service.
Listen to how the early church understood their identity and calling in light of their Passover and Pentecost in Jesus,
For through Jesus we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:18-22)
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:9-11)
Well, you say, all I really care about is being saved, getting some blessings, and going on to my eternal reward. Well, I pray that God sends a Moses from the mountain to cast down the covenant and crush the idols of our existence; pulverizing them and saying, 'take eat, this is your God.'
This devotional study is from a professionally produced transcription of Dwight's audio message. It is a full and accurate transcript, formalized and edited for readability and clarity by JC Studies.