How Two Flocks Become One
Have you ever wondered exactly how God plans to merge the two flocks talked of in Scripture? Ezekiel tells us of a vision where God takes the stick of Judah and the stick of Ephraim and merges them into one stick. It says there will be one people with One Shepherd. Ephesians 2 speaks of Gentiles who are bought with Messiah’s blood, so they will be able to join with Israel and become one. And John 10:16 (CJB) puts it this way…
Also I have other sheep which are not from this pen; I need to bring them, and they will hear my voice; and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
I think the Christian walk has been designed from the beginning, and I believe that we have imitated pretty much everything biblical Israel did in the Scriptures, but we do it in different ways, so we may not see it. The more I read Torah and the rest of the Old Testament, I can see the repeated behaviors and truly understand that there is nothing new under the sun; or “under The Son” in our case. So the promise that we will become one flock with one Shepherd is a beautiful one for both Jews and Gentiles. Think about these things when you read all the Torah portions I share on this blog.
In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 15:19 through Deuteronomy 16:17, we complete another week and another portion. Shabbat Shalom (Sabbath Peace) to you as we conclude another week of study. Today’s portion begins with instruction for setting aside the firstborn cattle and sheep for God. Though God should not have to say it, He reminds Israel not to give anything to Him that has a defect. Either way, they get to eat it, but to eat as a sacrifice in the presence of God, it must be perfect.
The next parts of the portion discuss the feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. In Hebrew, they are Pesach, Shavu’ot, and Sukkot. Part of Passover is the feast of matzah or “unleavened bread” that follows for a week after the day of Passover, and these three feasts are the three times a year God calls for all the men to appear in His presence. God says He will tell them where they are to gather to celebrate His name at the appointed times.
The last of these festivals, Sukkot, is also called “Booths” or “Tabernacles” because it represents the temporary dwellings of Israel before she takes her promised possession. It is also the big gift-giving season for God as He says that no one should come to this feast empty-handed. He doesn’t give a set amount or type of gift, but He says that each person should bring a gift based on how God has blessed him in the previous year.
I encourage readers to click on the link above to read this portion for yourself as the summary of these feasts is such a perfect representation of our walk with God. We don’t celebrate these feasts and festivals to look good before God, or to get God to do anything special for us. We celebrate them because God has given them to us as His gift and as a remembrance. He says these are His feasts that He is sharing, and He wants us to celebrate them forever–so forever includes the “grafted in” as well as the original children of Abraham. Here’s a brief summary that compares the feasts with our walk in Messiah.
Passover shows His sacrifice for us. It is followed immediately by the week of unleavened bread that represents deliverance from Egypt and symbolically from sin and pride. Seven weeks later, we have a summer harvest celebration with Pentecost that can represent our growth as children of The Lord. The celebration of growth may be considered a celebration of obedience since obedience brings growth. Finally, we have the “season of our joy” at Sukkot with the fall harvest. This celebration ends the year and fills us with the promise of good crops and harvest for the next year.
If you’ve read my previous posts on Sukkot, you know that I wholeheartedly believe this to be the time of Messiah Yeshua’s birth. With it being the last time in the year where men were to appear before God’s presence, it fits for why Miriam (Mary) and Joseph were traveling. Plus, the eighth day is “The Joy of Torah” (the day I started all of this last year) and can represent the day of circumcision for the baby. And what better Reason is there for a season of joy and hope for the harvests of the upcoming year than for our Savior to promise the abundance of mercy we need to gather for Him. Hmm, I just realized, as I was writing, the significance of Sukkot also being called “The Feast of Ingathering.”
Just before Sukkot, we also have the feasts of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Those two holidays represent the new year (or maybe “new you”) and “The Day of Atonement.” I find it interesting that a person can celebrate them wherever he is at, and when we first come to God, He accepts us as we are and wherever we are at. So, if we add those two feasts to the mix, we now have deliverance from bondage, sacrifice, humility, growth, newness, reflection and atonement, and then appearing before God for a time of joy. For me, this pattern most certainly represents the Christian walk, and that means it comes with the promise that our real season of joy will come when God gathers all those who love Him into that one flock under one awesome and wonderful Shepherd Messiah. Hallelu-Yah!
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