Tag Archives: Pentecost

3,000 Souls!

Here’s a weird but real riddle: When in human history with God have we seen a single loss of 3,000 souls (human beings), then the additional of 3,000 souls, and then perhaps the loss of 3,000 souls on American soil? The answer hints at the importance of remaining in the covenant (two-way marriage-like relationship) with God.

First, God told the Israelites that He would be their God (King) if they would be His people. The arrangement was based on the ancient Hittite suzerain-vassal (lord-servant) covenant in Abraham’s day renewed through Moses. The Israelites agreed and then committed spiritual immorality by worshiping a golden calf while Moses worked with God to receive His Instructions written in stone. Moses commanded that all who aligned with God join him and worship God as they had promised. The rebellious died for breaking their word to God and leaving the covenant. Guess how many people died that day? Yep – 3,000 (Exodus 32:26-28).

Second, and conversely, 3,000 people gained their lives so-to-speak by embracing the covenant during the post-resurrection Pentecost celebration (cf. Acts 2:36-41). Alright – 3,000 lost souls replaced. Good. But have we then lost 3,000 again at any time on our turf in the U.S., perhaps because we’ve left God’s protection? Maybe.

About 3,000 (2,996) people died in the horrific September 11, 2001 attacks (https://www.history.com/topics/21st-century/9-11-attacks). You’re probably thinking something like, “But, Ron! Aren’t we a godly nation and in God’s good graces and protection?” Not really. We might have been hundreds of years ago.  After all, our nation was founded on Christian principles by God-fearing people. Schoolbooks used the Bible to teach anything from the alphabet to morality, and Harvard and Yale were Christian institutions. Abortion was not a consideration, and divorce was uncommon. Sexual immorality existed but wasn’t pervasive or acceptable behavior.

Today? Christianity in the United States is declining, and churches are closing their doors at an alarming rate. Abortion is legal and commonplace, and divorce frequently divides families inside the Church and out. Most schools cannot teach about Christianity, allow prayer, or tolerate Christian gatherings. Universities like Yale and Harvard discourage the faith and even teach against it occasionally. And we engage in or condone immoralities, not unlike that of Sodom and Gomorrah or Emperor Caligula’s Rome. Was the loss of 3,000 souls on September 11, 2001, related to a decaying morality and departure from God? Who knows? Still, the 3,000-soul death toll and our nation’s direction make interesting bedfellows!

The Exodus and Acts messages’ thrust is the covenant (two-way relationship) and dedication to the Lord God. Next week, we’ll explore that relational framework that began with Abraham and continues today. Why? So that you too may choose well.

Blessings and peace,

Ron Braley

Let the Feasting Begin!

In His covenant with His bride, Israel, God ordained 7 feasts and festivals: 4 in the spring, and 3 in the fall.  While followers of Jesus aren’t forced to observe them, knowing of the events and their past, present, and future significance will help understand where we’ve come from and God’s covenant with Israel and our Christ’s covenant with the world are related.

~ Spring Feasts of the Lord (fulfilled by Jesus’ first coming) ~

Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread: These first two spring feasts commemorate the salvation of the Hebrews from God’s judgment against Pharaoh and their exodus from Egypt in about 1445 BC. Passover commences on the 14th day of the first month at twilight. The Feast of Unleavened Bread lasts for 7 days beginning on the day after Passover. Jesus fulfilled the role of Passover lamb sacrificed for the choice of salvation (just as with the Hebrews in Egypt), and He represented the removal of leaven (yeast) – sin, as we see in 1Corinthians 5:6-8.

Feast of First fruits: This marks the beginning of the harvest period and gives Israel an opportunity to present the first fruits of that harvest to God in thanksgiving. It occurs 50 days prior to the Feast of Weeks. Jesus fulfilled this event as the first fruits of the resurrected dead presented to the Father (1Corinthians 15:20 & 35-48).

The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost): This particular feast occurs 7 weeks and a day (50 days total) after the feast of First Fruits. The purpose is to signal the end of the grain harvest and give thanks to God for His provision. It’s also marked the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to send the Spirit of God to empower His followers for ministry (John 14:16).

~ Fall Feasts of the Lord (will be fulfilled by Jesus’ return to earth) ~

The Feast of Trumpets: This ‘memorial of blowing of trumpets’ is to happen on the first day of the 7th month (usually September) and will most likely signal our Christ’s return to earth and the gathering of His bride at the ‘last trumpet’ (cf. Matthew 24:30-31 and 1Thessalonians 4:16-17).

The Day of Atonement: The event is meant to be a time of atonement for the Jews and will most likely mark the manifestation of salvation and reconciliation between God and Israel at the end of the ‘time of the gentiles’ (cf. Luke 21:24 and Romans 11:25-27).

The Feast of Tabernacles: Finally, this feast commemorates the Israelites’ time in the desert just before entering the land of Canaan. During the festival, which lasts 7 days, Jews are compelled to live in structures – booths – made of branches, twigs, and leaves. This practice most likely also represents the time of Jesus’ kingdom where He will dwell with man and once again be the protector and provider for Israel.

Which will it be for you – feast or famine (spiritually-speaking)?

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