- Article 1,'The Shepherd and Shavuot'
- Article 2,'Why Was This Night Different...'
- Article 3,'The Blessing of the Passover Basket'
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.”
The Blessing of the Passover Basket
By Marty Shoub
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.