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A Tale of Two COVENANTS – Shavuot (Pentecost)

by Christine Egbert

Those who teach that Yeshua came to start a new religion need to study the Hebrew scriptures, and to realize that it is God’s word that is inspired, not the translation they are reading. As I have pointed out in previous articles, translators have made many honest mistakes as well as some agenda-driven ones that seek to distance the Old from the New. That is why it is so important to study God’s word, especially that portion of the Holy Scriptures called “Old”, at what I now think of as Scripture’s cellular level, it’s 3 letter Hebrew root.

My pastor, Matthew Miller of the Vineyard, delves into that “cellular level” on a regular basis. Recently, he presented a teaching (available on Youtube) titled, “They Saw His Voice.” In this teaching, Matthew revealed amazing parallels between that first Shavuot (Exodus 19) and the one in Jerusalem following Yeshua’s resurrection. At the first Shavuot (Pentecost) the Torah was given to His covenant people, Israel. Then 1,200 years later, on the Shavuot following Yeshua’s resurrection, the Holy Spirit was poured out on God’s covenant people in Jerusalem.

Exodus 19:1 opens on the 1st day of the 3rd Hebrew month, Sivan, the month during which Shavuot (Pentecost) is celebrated on the 6th day. By verses 10-11, Moses has ascended and descended the mountain a couple of times, and he instructs the Israelites to sanctify themselves, for in three days Yahweh will “go down before the eyes of all the people on the mountain of Sinai.”

At the opening of Exodus 20, verses 1 & 2, Yahweh identifies Himself, then proclaims His Torah (his instructions) to the children of Israel (versus 3-17). Then, in verse 18, Moses wrote something incredible. “And all the people SAW the thunders, and the lightenings, and the sound of the rams horn, and the smoking mountain. And the people looked and they trembled, and they stood from a distance.”

Moses wrote that the people SAW (ra’ah/ Strong’s 7200) sounds (thunder and the ram’s horn). In a midrash about Israel seeing sound the famous Rabbi Rashi wrote, “They saw the audible, which cannot be seen under any other circumstances.”

Sight, as a sense, is thought of as more concrete than hearing. Hearing is abstract. In his book, “The Coming Revolution, Science Discovers Truths of the Bible,” Zamir Cohen writes the following:

“Hearing entails the receiving of sounds. Yet sound lacks clear definition.

Who is talking?

From which direction are they speaking?

In that sense, voices are more spiritual than visible, material objects. Hearing operates in the dimension of time, over which we have no control…In contrast, sight works within a spatial context that is under our control, and through which we can grasp events in a single glance…At Mount Sinai, the People of Israel saw mighty revelations. They saw into the distance to that which lies beyond the immediate senses. They saw the spiritual with the certainty of seeing the material. They saw the ineffable as tangibly real.”

But Exodus 20:18 also speaks of seeing “lightening.”

In Hebrew the word translated as lightening is “lap-peed”, Strong’s H3940. But literally, it means a “flaming torch or fire.” And it’s the very same word used in Genesis 15:17.

“And it happened, the sun had gone down, and it was dark. Behold! A smoking furnace and a TORCH of fire passed between those pieces.”

Israel SAW Yahweh’s spoken WORDS. They SAW His voice as “flames of fire.” This should bring to mind those tongues of fire spoken of in the second chapter of Acts.

Deuteronomy 4:32-33

For ask now of the days past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, from one end of the heavens to the other end of the heavens, has there been a thing as great as this, or has anything like it been heard? Has a people heard the voice of God speaking from the midst of the FIRE, as you have heard and lived?

Psalms 29: 7

The voice of Jehovah is cutting through the flame of fire.

Deuteronomy 5:26

For who, of all flesh that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?

Jeremiah 23:29

Is not My Word thus like fire, says Jehovah…

Philo of Alexandria, a Jewish philosopher and Bible commentator, who lived from about 20 BCE to 50 CE (during the time of the apostles), wrote “the flames became articulate speech in the language familiar to its audience”, and “the people seemed to see, rather than hear, the words formed by the flames.”

The Targums, which are ancient Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Scriptures, make similar claims. Both Pseudo-Johnathan and the Ganeza Targum fragments portray Yahweh’s words as shooting stars and flaming torches of fire. This idea of God’s word appearing as flames is rooted in the midrashic notion that at that first Shavuot each one of the LORD’s words was divided into 70 languages, the 70 languages of the 70 nations of Genesis chapter 10.

At Mount Sinai, the word’s that Yahweh spoke floated down from the mountain, each letter becoming a flame above each person’s head, and both native born Israelite and the mixed multitude that came out of Egypt with them heard and saw God’s instructions, His Torah, in their own native tongue, just as it happened in the Acts 2:11.

And They Trembled.

Seeing God’s spoken words, which turned into flames, the people looked and “trembled” Exodus 20:18 informs us.

Trembling is another of the similarities between what happened at that first Shavuot and the one following Yeshua’s resurrection. Only “trembling” really isn’t the best translation. Let’s look at the Hebrew word itself.

The word translated as “trembled” is a Hebrew word spelled with a nun, a vav, and an ayin. It’s pronounced “no’-ah”, and is Strong’s H5128. It means “to reel, to stagger, or to shake”, and is found also in the following passages.

In Isaiah 66:5 this Hebrew word is translated as “tremble.”

Hear the Word of Jehovah, those who tremble at His Word.

In Psalms 107:27 it is translated as “stagger.”

They reel to and fro and stagger like a drunken man...

In Isaiah 24:20 it is rendered “reel to and fro.”

The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard…

And in Isaiah 29:9 the word is translated as “stagger.”

Stay yourselves and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.

After reading these, you should all be thinking of what Peter said, in Acts 2:15, “these men are not DRUNK as you suppose.”

Even Rashi and Rombam, two of the most revered Jewish Rabbis, who often disagreed, agreed on the fact that, at the foot of Mount Sinai, the Israelites reeled two and fro like DRUNKS.

My closing thoughts…

At the codifying of that first Covenant at Mount Sinai, God wrote the Torah with His finger on tablets of stone. At the codifying of the New Covenant, the Shavuot of Acts chapter two, God wrote that very same Torah on the tablets of our Heart, (Jer 31:31 & Heb 8:8) which is why Hebrews 8:6 calls it a better covenant.

In both Covenants God’s people received gifts. In the first, they received His instructions, His Torah. Then, in Acts 2, God’s in-covenant people, Israel, received the Holy Spirit. But, make no mistake, these are two interrelated gifts, like batteries for a toy.

“How are they interrelated?” you ask.

The answer is found in Romans 8:4. Paul informs us that when we walk in the (Holy) Spirit, we can fulfill the righteous requirements of the Law–God’s first gift, His Torah, those spiritual instructions (Romans 7:14) for living righteously in God’s Kingdom.

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