Old Testament

Shavout: The Feast of Pentecost (or Weeks)

A Jewish man was confronting a Christian man: “You know, you people borrowed the Ten Commandments from us.”

“Well,” responded the Christian, “we may have borrowed them from you, but you cannot say we kept them!”

Much of Christianity is borrowed from Judaism because Christianity is a form of Judaism. I am among a small minority who would define our faith as “Trans-cultural Messianic Judaism.” That perspective leads me to look differently at Pentecost.

Some churches observe Pentecost Sunday as a celebration of the Holy Spirit’s “coming” in a mighty rushing wind. We are certainly right to appreciate the Spirit’s power and work in our lives, but I am not sure an annual recognition is the best way to go about it. Walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25)—in contrast to grieving Him (Eph. 4:3)—is one of the best ways to honor His presence. Still, we cannot help associating the Spirit with Pentecost. Since Pentecost predates Acts 2, we can better understand Acts 2 by first looking back further.

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Shall We Cast Lots? Identifying "Biblical Patterns"

(First published at SI, June 6, 2006)

Pitfalls in the Pursuit of Biblical Patterns

In Scripture, casting lots is routine. Some might even say it’s the normal way to decide a difficult question. The OT 1 contains 24 references to “cast lots,” “casting lots,” and “the lot fell.” Two of these are in Proverbs where lot-casting is highly recommended.

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord (Prov. 16:33).

Casting lots causes contentions to cease, and keeps the mighty apart (Prov. 18:18).

In addition, the Urim and Thummim (probably a form of lot-casting) have a prominent place in Mosaic Law. All in all, the OT is very pro-lot.

The NT seems to be in favor of the practice as well. Casting lots is mentioned there eight times, and one of them refers to the selection of an apostle to replace Judas (Acts 1:26). So if we have frequent favorable references to lot-casting across both Old and New Testaments, do we have a “biblical pattern”? Should we be casting lots in our churches rather than voting? After all, the Bible contains no direct command to vote on anything (some might argue that voting is the brainchild of humanistic philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his ilk).

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