So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” — Exodus 19:7–8
Beginning at sundown on May 19 through sundown May 21, Jews around the world will celebrate the biblically mandated festival, Shavuot, also known better by Christians from the Greek, Pentecost.Originally tied to the harvest and the bringing of the firstfruits to the Temple, the holiday now commemorates the giving of the Law exactly 50 days after the Exodus. This devotion is one of 12 exploring the many lessons this ancient observance has for Christians today.
One themost anticipated stops on a tour of the Holy Land is a visit to the church at Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle, turning water into wine at a marriage celebration. It’s here where couples can renew their marriage vows — and many choose to do so!
It’s always a moving ceremony to see couples of all ages come forward and recommit themselves to one another. It’s a wonderful reminder of our need to revisit and renew those bonds and commitments which are most precious to us.
It’s in this spirit that we Jews recommit ourselves to obeying and honoring God’s law during the celebration of Shavuot. Although this observance had its beginnings as a celebration of the summer harvest, Shavuot became a time to celebrate the day when God gave Moses and the Israelites His precious gift — His Torah.
At synagogue services on Shavuot morning, the Ten Commandments are read, and the congregation reaffirms their commitment to treasure and obey God’s word. We do so repeating the words the Israelites spoke at the foot of Mount Sinai after receiving God’s law: “All that the Lord says we will do.”
We also read the book of Ruth during the service not only because of its link to the harvest season (when the story takes place), but also because of Ruth’s extraordinary vow of acceptance of the Jewish faith and God: “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16).
Although foreign born, Ruth was willing to leave her home, her family, and her country and travel with her mother-in-law Naomi to Israel because of her deep love for God and the Torah. And God blessed her greatly by giving her a son. Through this son, she would be eternally grafted into the family line that produced King David, and from which the messiah would one day come.
I invite you to join us this week in affirming and renewing our commitment to the God of Israel and to obeying His word, just as Ruth did thousands of years ago.
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