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THE EIGHT RUDIMENTS OF CELEBRATION

THE EIGHT FEASTS OR FESTIVALS OF ISRAEL

The Feast Of Weeks Or Pentecost

Leviticus 23:15-22

(festiv5.doc)

        If you watch religious programming or are aware of the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement, there is a lot of talk about Pentecost going on in the Christian community.  But are you aware that Pentecost has its roots and its meaning in an agricultural setting?  At the Lord's direction, Jewish farmers celebrated a Feast of Harvest.  In a tradition rich with symbolism, they recognized the Hand that had given them the harvest.

        Many centuries later, the Lord chose this day to celebrate a new kind of harvest.  Fifty days after Passover week the Holy Spirit fell upon a small company of believers and then moved through the city of Jerusalem, bringing in another kind of crop:  men and women and children who were added to the body of Jesus Christ, the Church.

        I am preaching a nine message series on the rudiments, skills, or principles of celebration.

  God has been showing me that humanity needs celebration.

  He has been showing me that celebration is a very important part of the Christian life!

  He has been showing me that celebration is of special significance and importance to African-American Christians.

        Life is a struggle for everybody, no matter what your color or nationality, but for African-American people life is even more of a struggle because of the residual effects of slavery.  After we have been beat up and beat down all week; after we have struggled and striven to achieve life through material and earthly means, we need to take a break from the rat race and return to the human race by entering God's presence for a time of celebration. The importance of celebration is illustrated in the Old Testament in Leviticus the 23rd chapter.

        Five messages ago, we began to deal with the eight feasts or festivals which God commanded Israel to celebrate.  There is a major rudiment or skill which is taught in each festival, which will yield a principle that we can learn and apply to our own modern worship celebrations.

        In the first two messages, we covered the feast or festival of the Sabbath.  The major rudiment, skill, or principle of celebration that we covered was resting from our worldly labors.

        In the third message, we studied the festival of the Passover.  The major rudiment of celebration that we covered was remembering God’s redemption.

        In the fourth message, we studied the feast or festival of unleavened bread.  The major rudiment of celebration that we covered was removing all sin, worldliness, and filthiness of the flesh from our lives.

        In the last message, we studied the Feast of First Fruits.  The major rudiment of celebration that we covered was rendering sacrifice to God to thank Him for His blessings.

(Let's move on to the next major festival on God's Calendar for Israel.  Would you turn to Leviticus 23:15-22.  Would you follow along silently, as I read aloud for us.  The next major rudiment, skill, or principle of celebration is:)

V.     REJOICING.

The next major feast or festival was the Feast of Weeks, also called the Feast of Harvest, and the day of firstfruits (which is not to be confused with the Feast of Firstfruits).  It was celebrated seven complete weeks, or fifty days, after Passover (Lev. 23:15,16; Deut. 16:9); therefore, it was later given the name Pentecost (pente in Greek is "fifty," and the festival took place fifty days after the presentation of the sheaf of first fruits that was waved before Jehovah).  Following the Feast of Firstfruits there was no other festival for seven weeks.  It took the whole seven weeks to harvest their crops.  As there was a feast to acknowledge the beginning of harvest, so there was a feast to acknowledge the end of harvest.

        "According to Exodus 9:31-32, barley was the first of the grain; flax was second; wheat was third."[1]

        This festival required a special journey to Jerusalem for all the men of the land.  There were three such gatherings.  This was the second great gathering of men (the first is for the Feast of Unleavened Bread; the second is for Pentecost; and the last is for the Feast of Tabernacles).  The able-bodied men were to be present at the sanctuary, and a special sacrifice was offered (Lev. 23:15-22; Num. 28:26-31) (Holman Bible Dictionary).

        "The new meal offering had a number of disguising features (notice the chart towards the bottom of your outline):

                Firstfruits                                  Pentecost

        Barley.                                       Wheat.

        Sheaf of grain.                             Two loaves of bread.

        No leaven.                                  Leavened bread.

        First of the harvest.                     Completion of the Harvest

        Wave Offering.                            Wave Offering."[2]

(Let’s review some of the characteristics of this festival and their application for our times.)


        "For centuries Israel was an agricultural people depending for her sustenance on the produce of the land.  Pentecost was the Feast of the Ingathering of the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, a thanksgiving festival in which Israel expressed her dependence on God for harvest and daily bread."[3] At this time, the Lord was credited as the source of rain and fertility (Jer. 5:24) (Holman Bible Dictionary).

        We, likewise, should thank God for the harvest.  “What harvest?” you ask.  The harvest of souls which we are presently enjoying!!!  Any harvest of souls that we enjoy, comes from God’s rain and fertility.  One plants, another waters, but God gives the increase.  Therefore, let us rejoice when people get saved!!!

        We should also thank God for the daily bread that He provides in the Word of God!!!  We are sustained, day by day, by the bread of the Word of God.  The promises of the Word of God sustain us when we feel abandoned by friends, family, and by God Himself!!!

        "...On the Day of Pentecost `two wave-loaves' were brought to the Lord, loaves made of fine flour of the new wheat and baked with leaven.  Of all the cereal offerings, the wave-loaves were the only ones baked with leaven.  Why leaven?  And why two wave-loaves?  Leaven is symbolic of sin.  The Passover bread was unleavened because it signified the sinless body of Christ, who being without sin became sin for our sakes.  But the two wave-loaves were symbolic of Israel and the coming Church in whom there was the leaven of sin."[4]

        “Pentecost of the old dispensation was pointing to the time when Jew and Gentile should come to know and worship the one Holy God of Israel. Finally there came the Pentecost of Acts 2.  The church of Christ, made up of 3,000 Jews and some Gentile proselytes, was born.  In Christ alone this vision becomes a reality.  Today saved Jews and Gentiles are united in one church, of which the Lord Jesus Christ is both the cornerstone and head.”[5]

Ephesians 2:11-13, "Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called `Uncircumcision' by the so-called `Circumcision,' which is performed in the flesh by human hands--remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ."


Ephesians 2:19-22, "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit."

        Now we are beginning to see the meaning of the two wave-loaves baked with leaven.  For the church of Christ, of which both Jew and Gentile are members, is not without sin.  It contains leaven, the symbol of sin, reminding us to not look for perfection in the church, but in Him, the perfect Son of God, in whom there is no leaven of sin."[6] “The flesh still dwells within us:  the presence of the Spirit does not expel or alter it, although by grace its power is no longer dominant.”[7] We must get a hold of this truth.  I see so many people constantly disappointed in Jesus Christ, because they expect some kind of sinless perfection from people in the church.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Jesus Christ uses His children¾in His church¾in many ways to transmit His love and carry out His will, but these children nor His church is sinless or perfect.  When we are looking for perfection, we must look beyond the Church to its Savior, Jesus Christ the sinless Son of God!!!

(We can see the sinless Son of God in the sacrifices that were offered along with the wave loaves.  No offering that we offer would be accepted, if Jesus had not opened up the way into the throne room of heaven by offering Himself!!!)

"These sacrifices picture the work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.

·        The burnt-offering pictures complete consecration--He gave Himself completely.

·        The sin-offering, of course, speaks of our Lord Jesus dying for our sins.

·        And the peace-offering--the fact that Jesus, through His death, has made peace with God."[8]

        The feast was concluded by the eating of shared meals to which the poor, the stranger, and the Levites were invited.  The church admits to its fellowship and care, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and love, the poor, the stranger, and the religious leaders who live by the gospel.


(Alright, we now understand more about the OT. Day of Pentecost.  What about the NT. Day of Pentecost?)

        "On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came.  It was not that He was not in the world or not working before Pentecost, but that He came in a new and special way on this day.  Pentecost was the advent of the Holy Spirit upon earth, even as the birth of Jesus Christ was the advent of Jesus Christ, the Man/God and the God/Man, upon the earth.  The Holy Spirit existed and operated before Pentecost, even as Jesus Christ existed and operated before Bethlehem.  But Pentecost and Bethlehem were advents of the Spirit and the Son in new ways.  When the Holy Spirit made His advent upon earth in this dispensation, there were several implications:

·        First, the Holy Spirit would indwell people, not just come upon them.  He would be a permanent resident, not a temporary visitor."[9]

·        Second, the Holy Spirit would indwell people for sanctification, not just service.

·        Third, the Holy Spirit filled or embued believers with a new power.  The power to be a witness and bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

"You may ask, `Why didn't the Holy Spirit do all of this sooner?'  Because God has His calendar.  The explanation is given in

John 7:37-38, `Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, `From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'"'"[10]

Pentecost in the NT. was scheduled, just like Pentecost of the OT.  When the time was right, God sent forth His Spirit to indwell and fill the spirits of regenerated men and women with living water, i.e. with His eternal life!!!

        "Not only did the Spirit come (indwell believers, take up permanent residence, and empower believers), but the Spirit baptized believers into the body of Christ.  Being the anniversary of the coming of the Spirit, Pentecost is considered to be the birthday of the Church.  (The Holy Spirit baptized or submerged believers into the mystical, spiritual body of Jesus Christ).  This meant that the believers were united in a spiritual unity, identified with their glorified Savior in heaven.  This helps us understand why the priest brought two wave-loaves.  You see, at Firstfruits they brought a sheaf--individual grains; but at Pentecost, these grains had been ground, they had been made into flour, they had been baked into two loaves.  The loaves speak of the corporate body--the Church--not individual grains but grains united to each other.

        (It took suffering and affliction to form the church, just as it took suffering and affliction to prepare Jesus Christ for sacrifice.  Jesus, the perfect Grain of wheat, was ground to flour through affliction, mixed with the oil of the Holy Spirit, and baked in the furnace of affliction to produce the Bread of life!!!  The church was ground into flour through suffering, mixed with the oil of the Holy Spirit, and baked in the furnace of affliction to produce the body of Jesus Christ!!!)  As such you are not called to live outside of the Church as individual Christians, but as a part of the baptized body of Jesus Christ."[11]

(That brings us to the major rudiment of this festival:  rejoicing!)

        This was essentially a harvest celebration.  It was a time of great rejoicing for the harvest was now gathered.  It was a feast of joy and thanksgiving for the completion of the harvest season.  That is why the major skill of this celebration is rejoicing.  "One Hebrew name for this festival was hag (from the verb signifying to dance), which, when applied to religious services, indicated that they were occasions of joy and gladness" (Unger's Bible Dictionary).

        “These one-day feasts all point to certain acts of Jehovah’s hand, certain definite transactions of His, perfect and complete in themselves.”[12] Pentecost celebrated the completion of the harvest, but we, Christians, should celebrate the fact that we are living during the great harvest of souls of the church age.  The NT. harvest runs from NT. Pentecost to the rapture.  We should rejoice in the fact that we are harvesting souls for Jesus Christ.  If the angels in heaven rejoice when a soul is won for the harvest, certainly we likewise should rejoice.

        We should also rejoice that the harvest will soon be completed.  Even so, come Lord Jesus!!!

        I believe it is important to differentiate between happiness and joy.  I believe that happiness is tied to happen stance, which is rooted in the soul and circumstances.  I believe that joy is tied to being preoccupied with Jesus Christ, which is rooted in the human spirit and independent of circumstances.

        So, we, the Church of Jesus Christ, celebrate Pentecost by rejoicing in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Because of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has taken up permanent residence in each of us, we are added to the mystical, spiritual body of Christ, i.e. His Church, and we have the privilege of being filled with power to be a witness and bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is something to celebrate!!!

        In addition, we rejoice in the effect of the Holy Spirit which is the church of Jesus Christ.  We rejoice in His church, which is made up of God’s people.  We rejoice in the love, the faith, the hope, the fellowship, the encouragement, the blessed appearance of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, the prospect of hearing Him say well done, etc.

(What mode does this rejoicing take?  What does it look like?)

        The traditional African-American, Baptist Church service is a celebration service based upon certain cultural practices that will lend itself nicely to the joy of Pentecost.  The two practices that I would like to maintain and cultivate for our services are "the magical power of the word, and call-response for effective communication."[13]

        For a number of very good reasons, the spoken word was very important to native Africans and slaves in this country.  Africans often retained their tribal history through storytellers who verbally recounted the history.  “It is likely that because slaves were forbidden by law to read and write, oral expression or word of mouth became a primary mode for maintaining the culture.”[14]  I like this magical power of the word when viewed from a Biblical perspective and referring to the mystical power of the Word of God.  Jesus is the living Word of God.  The Bible is the written Word of God.  And Preaching Is the spoken Word of God.  We should give great significance and experience great joy during the spoken Word of God!!!

        In addition to this cultural practice, I would like to maintain the call-response pattern for effective communication.  We cannot use it always, because of the depth of some of the material and the teaching style that I sometimes must use, but we can cultivate a modified call-response pattern for times of familiarity.  Some of you are asking, "What is the call-response pattern for effective communication?"

        Evelyn Dandy says in her book, Black Communication, "Call-response reflects the African world view of oneness, interdependence and participation.  Smitherman (1977, p. 104) defines call-response as a `...spontaneous verbal and nonverbal interaction between speaker and listener in which all the speaker's statements (calls) are punctuated by expressions (responses) from the listener.'  Response provides acknowledgment, without acknowledgment, communication does not exist.

        In call-response, both parties talk and both parties listen.  There is an emotional synergism with affirmation.  Speakers give one another constant feedback so they can mutually assess the effectiveness of their performance.  The speaker has the responsibility of issuing the call, and the listener has the obligation to respond in some overt way - by smiling, laughing, nodding, rocking from side to side, (here standing), or saying something like `Amen" or `uh-huh' to confirm agreement or disagreement.  Responses will vary according to the individual, who will be talking both during and after the speaker speaks.  The only wrong response is no response.  There is no communication without acknowledgment.


        The European world view holds another sharp contrast:  one who `listens' to a speaker does so by sitting quietly, looking at the speaker and rarely displaying an outward sign or response.  (This will be the case for certain kinds of teaching.)  But in African-American services orality is extremely important."[15]

        As was stated in the first message, "These festivals make up God's calendar."[16]

·        God began His calendar with the shedding of blood during the Passover.

·        After salvation came remembering God’s redemption.

·        After salvation comes sanctification by removing the leaven of sin.

·        After sanctification comes consecration to God through rendering sacrifice, and

·        After consecration comes rejoicing over the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

        So, I pray that you can see the importance of celebration to humanity, to the Children of Israel, to the New Testament local church, and to African American Christians in particular.

Celebration adds vibrancy to life!

Celebration adds meaning to life!!

Celebration adds dignity to life!!!

O come and magnify the Lord with me in joyous celebration through giving, singing, teaching, preaching, praise, etc., with reverence, awe, excitement, festivity, and thanksgiving!!!

(Now is the day of Salvation.  Come to Jesus, now!)

Invitation

Call to Discipleship


----

[1] Ruth's Romance Of Redemption, Edward Boone, The Boone Publishing Company, Des Moines, Iowa, 1936, p. 60.

[2] C. W. Slemming, Thus Shalt Thou Serve, Christian Literature Crusade, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, 1974, p. 111.

[3] Victor Buksbazen, The Gospel In The Feasts Of Israel, The Friends of Israal, W. Collingswood, New Jersey, 1954, p. 15.

[4] Victor Buksbazen, The Gospel In The Feasts Of Israel, The Friends of Israal, W. Collingswood, New Jersey, 1954, pp. 16-17.

[5] Victor Buksbazen, The Gospel In The Feasts Of Israel, The Friends of Israal, W. Collingswood, New Jersey, 1954, pp. 20-21.

[6] Victor Buksbazen, The Gospel In The Feasts Of Israel, The Friends of Israal, W. Collingswood, New Jersey, 1954, p. 18.

[7]John Ritchie, Feasts Of Jehovah, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1982, pp. 50-51.

[8] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, p. 54.

[9] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, p. 56.

[10] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, p. 56.

[11] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, p. 59.

[12]John Ritchie, Feasts Of Jehovah, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1982, pp. 33-34.

[13] Evelyn B. Dandy, Black Communication, African American Images, 1991, Chicago, Illinois, pp. 33-34.

[14] Evelyn B. Dandy, Black Communication, African American Images, 1991, Chicago, Illinois, p. 25.

[15] Evelyn B. Dandy, Black Communication, African American Images, 1991, Chicago, Illinois, pp. 29-31.

[16] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, p. 7.

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