Be Stirred, Not Shaken

"We ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled…" ~ II Thes. 2:2 *** "But stir up the gift of God that is within you by the laying on of hands…" ~ II Tim. 1:6

Category: Holy Days

Year of Jubilee & Pentecost — Inheritance & Freedom

“Count Fifty”:  Pentecost & the Year of Jubilee

Fifty is an interesting number in the bible.  Many significant numbers (such as seven or twelve) have common threads that show up throughout the entire bible and weave in and out, but there are only a few places where the number fifty is of great significance.

In general, fifty symbolizes complete perfection, the completing of a cycle, or the ending of an old cycle and beginning of a new one.  The concept of firstborn or firstfruits is also associated with the number fifty.  For instance, God redeemed the tribe of Levi as a substitute for the firstborn of the land of Israel, and consecrated them to serving Him in the tabernacle.  Levites would begin service in the temple at age 30, and finish their service at the age of 50 (Num. 4:3, 39, 43, 47).  The tabernacle itself, and later the temple, was measured off in various segments of fifty curtain loops, knobs, cubit lengths, etc. (Ex. 26, 27, 30, 36, 38).

And then there are two major events in the bible that revolve around the number fifty.  The command for the first is found in Leviticus 23, where God outlines the Feast of Firstfruits, or Pentecost.

“And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath [during the Days of Unleavened Bread], from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord. You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the Lord…they shall be holy to the Lord for the priest” (Lev. 23:15-17, 20).

The Israelites are told to count seven cycles of seven days (symbolizing perfect completeness), and on the next (eighth) day, to observe a holy convocation.  This holy day also included a peace offering, which was a joyful celebration, symbolic of eating a meal with God.

The second event, the Year of Jubilee, was commanded only a few verses later:

“And you shall count seven Sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven Sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years. Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family” (Lev. 25:8-10).

Leviticus goes on to explain that the fiftieth year was to be a rest for the land (coming on the heels of a 49th year rest as well), “neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine” (Lev. 25:11).  But more importantly, inherited land that had been lost or sold reverted back to the original family owners.

God, in His omnipotence, knew that despite all the measures He instituted in Israel to maintain economic and societal equality, some people would still get themselves in way over their heads—drowning in debt, without family to fall back on, unable to support their families.  While all of Israel had received land as an inheritance in the Promised Land, some would give up or lose their inheritance through misfortune, ineptitude, or negligence and be forced to sell themselves into slavery or indentured servitude.  The Year of Jubilee was the societal failsafe.

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Christ As Our Kinsman Redeemer: Redemption From Slavery (Passover Themes)

“As for our Redeemer, the Lord of hosts is His name, the Holy One of Israel” ~ Is. 47:4

Each of God’s holy days has many themes to be explored, Passover maybe even more so because it has already been fulfilled—so we see much more of the whole picture.

The first time we see the Passover commanded and celebrated in the bible, it directly precedes God redeeming His chosen nation out of slavery and leading them toward the Promised Land.  Many see this story as a specific event in time that the Passover commemorates, and nothing more.  However, the theme of redemption from slavery and how it ties to the Passover goes far beyond just Israel and Egypt.  It’s actually one of two core stories that permeate the entire bible from start to finish (the other being that of a betrothal and marriage that build a family).

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Passover & the Days of Unleavened Bread: Our Betrothal to Jesus Christ

There are myriad topics, allegories, and themes that can be used to learn about God’s holy days. It’s always interesting to see what filters or “lenses” I’m viewing the holy days through each year as they come and go, particularly during the Passover season. This year there have been a few larger themes playing through my mind, in particular the holy days as picturing the marriage of Jesus Christ to His anointed bride. Passover represents each and every one of us individually, as well as us collectively, entering into covenant with God and Jesus Christ. There are two types of covenants symbolized here—blood and marriage. It’s the marriage covenant and what it can teach us that I’m focusing on here.

The Bride of Christ

When looked at through one filter, the bible is a love story.  It is the story of God bringing the whole world into His family, starting with His Son and His bride.  In studying the marriage customs of ancient Israel, we can see how the holy days are an allegory for this process.  We’re told in Revelation of the actual wedding ceremony in heaven, the marriage supper of the Lamb. “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory,” John relays, “for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev. 19:7).  This happy occasion does not happen out of the blue, though.  Instead, there are several important steps in this relationship that bring the bride and Groom to this point.   If we tried to look at the marriage allegory only through our modern wedding rituals, we’d miss much of the deep and rich meaning laid out for us.  It’s not perfect and all-encompassing—all analogies and allegories break down at a certain point—but the spring holy days help teach us about God’s relationship to us and how He will bring us into His family as His son’s pure bride.

Christ frequently used the rituals of this very familiar, very exciting event to illustrate things about Himself and what would happen in the future.  He based several parables and sayings around marriage, including that of the marriage supper (Matt 22:2), the ten virgins (Matt 25:6, 10), and the bridegroom (Mark 2:19-20).  Paul took this theme further, telling us that “the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church”, and that husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church—even laying down His life for her (Eph. 5:23, 25).

Weddings in ancient Israel consisted of three main stages:  contract, consummation, and celebration. The contract stage, which is largely pictured by the spring holy days, involved making the marriage contract, paying the bride price and giving the bride gifts, and the departure of the groom, after which both bride and groom made themselves ready for the coming ceremony, consummation, and festivities.

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