By David Faust
When my wife, Candy, and I moved to a different neighborhood a couple of years ago, we asked God for opportunities to connect with our neighbors, and the Lord answered our prayers. A Muslim family whose house sits directly across the street from ours invited Candy to attend a monthly Turkish cooking class where she befriended a group of young women—most of them Muslim as well.
These relationships led to interesting discussions. Our new friends asked sincere questions like “What is Easter?” and “What do Christians believe?” Three of them visited our church’s Sunday worship services. Two of these families invited us to their homes for lengthy discussions about faith. It has been a privilege to learn from them, laugh with them, and tell them about Jesus. The conversations are good and so is the delicious homemade food our friends serve—bread, salads, and desserts washed down with cups of hot, sweet tea.
Meals as Lessons
In the Hebrew worldview, mealtimes were natural venues for religious instruction. The law of Moses said more about feasting than about fasting. The Jews celebrated several major feasts including Passover in the spring, Tabernacles in the fall, and the Feast of Weeks in early summer.
The Feast of Weeks started seven full weeks after Passover—on the fiftieth day. (That’s why the feast is also known as Pentecost, which means “fifty.”) The Feast of Weeks celebrated the firstfruits of the harvest with “an offering of new grain” (Numbers 28:26). During this feast the people gathered for worship and the priests presented two loaves of bread to the Lord. But unlike the unleavened bread used in Passover, which Christians recognize as a symbol of the sinless Christ, these two loaves were to be “baked with yeast” (Leviticus 23:17).
Many see the loaves of leavened bread as a picture of God’s people in whom there is imperfection—the leaven of sin. Why two loaves? Perhaps they symbolize Jews and Gentiles—two imperfect, “leavened” groups that together would become one body in Christ (Ephesians 2:14-18). Centuries after Moses, Peter’s Pentecost sermon resulted in thousands of people from all over the world coming to Christ—the firstfruits of a spiritual harvest that continues even now.
Just as the Jews found joy and encouragement in celebrations like the Feast of Weeks, this ancient festival reminds us that it is “pleasant and fitting” to praise the God who satisfies us “with the finest of wheat” (Psalm 147:1, 14). It causes us to anticipate future celebrations in Heaven where we will fall on our faces before God exclaiming, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign” (Revelation 11:16).
Perhaps most of all, the ancient Feast of Weeks reminds us how God poured out the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, not just so we would experience a spiritual high or dine safely at home with our families. He poured out the Holy Spirit so we would be his witnesses in an ever-widening circle from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
And so we would walk across the street to talk and eat with others who need the hope of Christ just as much as we do.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
|Feb. 8||M.||Psalm 147:1-11||Praise the Lord|
|Feb. 9||T.||1 Chronicles 17:16-27||Thanks Be to God|
|Feb. 10||W.||Ephesians 5:15-20||In All Things, Thanks|
|Feb. 11||T.||Romans 7:14-25||In Spite of Everything, Thanks|
|Feb. 12||F.||2 Corinthians 4:7-15||Increasing Thanks|
|Feb. 13||S.||Revelation 11:15-19||In the End, Thanks|
|Feb. 14||S.||Leviticus 23:15-22||Praise for a Bountiful Harvest|
Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version © 2011, unless otherwise indicated.