Oasis Newsletter

Oasis Volume 12, Issue 5

The Shepherd and Shavuot

by Moshe Morrison

Three  times  in  the  year shall all your males appear before the Lord your God in the place which he shall choose; in the  Feast  of  Unleavened Bread, in  the  Feast of  Weeks,  and in  the  Feast  of Tabernacles  and they  shall  not appear  before  the Lord  empty.  Every man should give as he is able according to the blessing of the Lord your God which he has given you”  (Deuteronomy 16:16, 17).
Years ago, I read somewhere of relating the three pilgrim festivals to  Psalms  22,  23  and 24.  Since  then  I’ve  made  reference  to  it  on occasion  but  never  really  researched  the  connection.  This  year  I thought it might be a nice lesson for Shavuot to take the psalm that represents it and see what it has to say to us.
First,  a  little  explanation  as  to  why  each  of  these  psalms represents the holiday that they do: It’s very obvious that Psalm 22 is connected with the sacrifice of the Messiah. It opens with the words that  Yeshua  spoke  while  dying  on  the  cross,  “My  God,  my  God, why  have  you  forsaken  me?”  Some  have  suggested  that  Yeshua recited the entire  22nd  Psalm  while  hanging  on  the  cross.  Though we have no evidence that that is the case, the majority of the Psalm is  unquestionably  a  description  of  what  He  was  experiencing.  The Scriptures  clearly  connect  the  atoning  sacrifice  of  Yeshua  with  the festival of Passover.  “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Messiah our  Passover  is  sacrificed for  us.  Therefore  let  us  keep  the feast,  not  with  old  leaven,  neither  with  the  leaven  of  malice and  wickedness;  but  with  the  unleavened  bread  of  sincerity and truth”  (I Corinthians 5:7, 8).

Skipping  over  to  Psalm  24,  in  the  first  verse  we  immediately  see a  declaration  of  God’s  kingship:  “The  earth  is  the  Lord’s  and  the fullness  thereof;  the  world  and  they  that  dwell  therein.”   It goes  on to tell of those who may stand before the Lord on His holy mountain  because  their  hands  and  hearts  are  clean.  The  concluding verses proclaim that the Lord of hosts is the King of glory.

Kingship really is the theme of Sukkot. It is the festival of the kingdom of God. “And  it  shall  come  to  pass,  that  every  one  that  is  left  of  all  the nations  which  came  against  Jerusalem  shall  even  go  up  from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles”  (Zechariah 14:16).

Psalm 23 is probably better known than almost any other psalm.  Its six short verses speak volumes about the care and comfort of the good Shepherd.  It is the guidance of the Shepherd that links Psalm 23 to Shavuot.  Shavuot is the journey from Passover to Tabernacles. Shavuot  is  the  time  of  the  giving  of  the  Torah  (God’s  instruction manual)  and  the  time  of  the  coming  of  the  Spirit  (God’s  power generator). It is the journey from our initial redemption to the fullness of the coming kingdom of God. We travel under the shepherd’s staff held in the hand of Yeshua and with the tools He’s given to us. On that  journey our Shepherd manifests His other attributes.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie  down  in  green  pastures.  He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of  righteousness for his name’s sake. Even  though  I  walk  through  the  valley  of  the  shadow  of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my  life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  (Psalms 23:1–6)

“The Lord is my shepherd”   (Adonai Roi) . The psalm opens with the picture of a very personal shepherd but expands that vision to help us to see just how much is involved in tending His flock.

“I shall not want” ( Adonai Yireh  – The Lord sees/provides). Genesis 22:14 demonstrates that God saw the faith of Abraham and Isaac and had also seen the upcoming need for a substitute; therefore He prepared a ram to be offered up in place of Isaac.

“He  makes  me  to  lie  down  in  green  pastures” ( Adonai Machaseh  –  The  Lord  is  my  refuge).    Psalm  91:9  says  that  there  is danger in this world, but in the Lord we have a place of refuge like a sheltered and tranquil green meadow.

“He leads me beside the still waters”  ( Adonai Shalom – The Lord is peace).  Judges 6:24 shows the relief that came to Gideon’s heart  after  the  Lord  spoke  peace  to  him.  It  was  like  the  difference between a quiet stream and turbulent rapids.

“He  restores  my  soul”  ( Adonai  Rophecha   –The  Lord  is your  healer).  Exodus  15:26  is  a  promise  that  if  we  heed  the  Lord’s instructions and do what is right before Him, He will be our healer and the one who brings restoration to spirit, soul and body.

“He leads me in paths of righteousness” ( Adonai Tzidkanu – The Lord is our righteousness). Jeremiah 23:6 says there is a soon coming king from the house of David who will make all things right and it’s the same shepherd we’re following.

“For His name’s sake”  This compiled list is just a small number of His matchless names.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”  ( Adonai M’chayeh – The Lord gives life). 1 Samuel 2:6 is Hannah’s song of praise for the birth of Samuel, exalting the Lord of life who triumphs over barrenness and death.

“I will fear no evil; for you are with me”   ( Adonai Shammah –  The  Lord  is  there).    Ezekiel  48:35  is  the  end  of  the  prophet’s description of the millennial Israel and Jerusalem.  Everything is as it ought to be because the Lord is there.

“Your rod and your staff they comfort me” ( Adonai Nissi – The Lord is my banner).  Exodus 17:15 says the staff of Moses was held up like a banner, defeating the Amalekites. We are comforted by our shepherd’s staff, the sign of His authority.

“You  prepare  a  table  for  me  in  the  presence  of  my enemies”   (Adonai Tzvaot – The Lord of armies). Zechariah 8:7 is God’s  promise  to  return  Israel  from  exile.  The  Lord  of  armies  will bless His people regardless of their enemies’ opposition.

“You  anoint  my  head  with  oil;  my  cup  runs  over” (Adonai  M’Kaddishchem   –  The  Lord  sanctifies  you).  Exodus 31:13 exhorts Israel to keep the Sabbath.  It, like the anointing oil, sets them apart for special service to God.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” ( Adonai HaChesed – The Lord is merciful). Psalm 130:7 reminds that there is plenty of mercy in the Lord; enough to last longer than a lifetime.

“And  I  will  dwell  in  the  house  of  the  Lord  forever”  (Adonai  Goalecha  –  The  Lord  your  redeemer).  Isaiah 44:24 says our God has made the entire universe and redeemed us so we could enjoy it with Him forever!

Another  name  for  the  Lord  is  El  Shaddai,  which  is  sometimes translated as, “the all-sufficient God.” As we celebrate the festival of Shavuot, let us remember that we are celebrating the God who has given us everything we need for life and godliness.  As  we  put  our trust  wholly  in  Him  we  will  see  these  great  and  precious  promises unfolding along the pathway of life’s journey.

Why Was This Night Different From Every Other Night?

By Marty Shoub

This year, Tents of Mercy organized a congregational Seder for some 250 congregants and family members.  According  to  the Haggadah,  in  order  to  emphasize  our  new  found status as free people, we should eat the Passover meal in a leisurely fashion. Well, I can testify that we tried, but  when  you  have  two  hundred  and  fifty  guests  it never goes quite as leisurely as ten or so sitting around one table.

Leisure aside, we are also instructed to eat our Passover meal with celebration and joy. We hit that one on the head.  A choir sang “the Four Questions” and “Di-ainu”. When Avishalom called out the ten plagues, instead of the traditional spilling ten drops of wine on our plate, we flung various finger toys and candies at each other, to the delight of children young and old.

Our  special  guest  for  the  evening  was  none  other than  Moshe  Rabbenu  himself.  Surprisingly, Moshe looked very much like Eitan with a towel wrapped on his  head,  but  I  am  sure  all  the  adults  were  convinced of  his  credentials,  even  if  the  children  were  a  tad suspicious. As many a reviewer has concluded, “a good time was had by all.”

Avishalom leading the Seder

Moshe looks pretty good after 3,400 years

Chocolates for finding the Afikoman

Seder crowd

The Blessing of the Passover Basket

By Marty Shoub

Our front-line worker Svyeta G helping a client

Passover baskets ready for distribution

When the Lord determined that the month of Nisan was to be the head of the year (Exodus 12:2), He did so to commemorate the Passover. However, the focus on this pivotal event is not so much about at what point in the year it took place as it is about the priority of its significance.

Today for Israelis and Jews around the world, Passover is still the pivotal event of the year and Tents of Mercy is no exception to this trend. Every Passover, no matter what our job description, we are conscripted onto the Passover basket assembly line to fill up six hundred and fifty bags of food designated for our clientele and for folks referred to us from the municipal social service agency. Our facilities engineer, Sasha Bortkevitch, becomes our leader and the likes of Eitan, Avishalom and Moshe take their place as “bag stuffing grunts” just like the rest of us.

To lend a hand and be a blessing to those in need in the name of Yeshua is a great privilege. Following in the tradition of Jewish Passover charity provides an occasion to shine our light and affirm our place within the community. Christian charity to Israel is a great blessing but it cannot help but convey a sense that it is coming as aid and relief from those who are outside of the community. As a local Messianic Israeli organization, Tents of Mercy stands within the community. We are not those helping from outside – we are friends and neighbors joining others to make our community a happier and more prosperous place.

This year, the message of solidarity was affirmed by local government officials taking a day out of their schedule to volunteer to stuff bags alongside Tents of Mercy staff. The mayor of our city got into the act – personally ensuring that a ton of fresh fruits and vegetables were delivered to Tents of Mercy for distribution to our clientele and local residents.

Tents of Mercy assembly line

Taking home a load of veggies

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