Friday, September 10, 2010

Jewish Festivals/Names of God and Shavuot 2010

Someone commented that they weren't sure we believed in Jesus anymore since we had so many blogs about Jewish feasts. Nothing could be further from the truth! Our faith in Jesus Christ the Messiah has, if possible, increased as we have studied Him in the Old Testament. He has saved us because of His grace and mercy and His love for us is unimaginable.
Our studies over the last few years have enhanced our understanding, and as such we have changed our celebrations and traditions as we align them with what we find in God's Word. Our studies began in earnest when Paul was asked to speak at a Feast of Tabernacles Celebration. You can hear him here.
As he studied and prepared, one thing that really stood out to him was that God calls these different feasts "My Feasts." (Lev. 23) The Hebrew word translated feast actually means "appointed times" and He wants His people to hold them in high regard and commemorate them. History shows us that God keeps His appointed times, some obvious examples are: God rested on the Sabbath, Jesus died on Passover, was buried at the start of Unleavened Bread, was raised on First Fruits and God sent the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Weeks. There are many more examples that have happened in the past and I believe many of God's prophecies yet to come will also be fulfilled on His Appointed Times. I believe one of the many reasons God commanded us to keep them is so that we will be as ready as possible for what is to come. God has so much to remind us of and teach us as we keep His Appointed Times. Unfortunately the Christian Church has let its traditions move away from the celebrations that God commanded us to keep. If we are going to keep celebrations that honor God why don't we keep them as He commanded us to? No matter how heartfelt our celebrations are, I am reminded of when Samuel chastised Saul because he decided to keep the best animals in order to sacrifice them to God instead of slaughtering them as God commanded. (I Sam. 15:10-35) God wants our obedience.
The last three feasts of this year, The Feast of Trumpets or Day of Shouting (Yom Teruah), The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) (otherwise know as the Fall Feasts) begin this week. God is teaching us much from them. Take the time to do a little research and celebrate them too.
Here are some links to our past celebrations:
David Martin made a video of our Shavuot (Festival of Weeks) 2010 celebration. You can watch it at the bottom of this post. I had some trouble loading it, so if you can't watch it look back in a couple of days and I'll try and get David to put it on his website and I'll link to it.

Something else that has been a powerful testimony to us as we have studied the Old Testament is the actual name of God. In Hebrew it is יהוה. In English we would write it YHWH and probably pronounce it either Yahuwah or Yahweh. His name was not pronounced for so long that we are not sure how to pronounce it and you can read many articles defending several pronunciations. YHWH is found almost 7000 times in the bible, in the KJV it is translated Jehovah twice and as the LORD the rest of the times. YHWH is a proper name and LORD is a title. During the period of the Old Testament YHWH was used and pronounced. God told us to call Me by My name, revere My name, pray in my name, swear in My name, greet each other in My name, fear My name, etc. Sometime after the Old Testament was written Jewish religious leaders decided it would be better not to pronounce God's name because we are told not to take His name in vain. Kind of a better safe than sorry idea. They started pronouncing YHWH as adonai which means lord and thus the English translators substituted LORD for YHWH. You can tell the difference when you are reading most English translations by looking at whether it is capitalized or not. If it is translated from YHWH it is LORD if Lord is meant then the last three letters are small. Yah is also used especially in the Psalms as an abbreviated name for YHWH. Since God tells us to use His name, we'd better do it the best way we know how for now and not just totally change it to Lord. Of course, it should never be taken in vain!
Jesus, on the other hand, I believe is an honest form of Yahoshua, transliterated from Hebrew to Aramaic to Greek to Latin to English. During Jesus' time the common rendering was Yeshua so this is probably what His mother called Him. Yeshua means salvation and we lose so much in our English translations. If we were reading the Old Testament in Hebrew we would see many references to Jesus that we miss in the English translations. Here is a link to a good article by Myron Martin talking about Yeshua in the Tanakh:
David Martin has also written a couple of articles about God's name.

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