The Feast of Weeks, also known as Shavuot and Pentecost, is celebrated this week, one of the three Biblical feasts appointed throughout the year. Its timing coincides with the wheat harvest in the Holy Land…did someone just mention a plant? O joy! Let us be summoned by this Biblical botanical to worship the Lord in this special engagement. Since the festival forms around the readiness of wheat, I am prompted to ask, have you been sifted this week? Sifting may be our surprise preparing for Pentecost.
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat Luke 22:31 ASV
Why do I begin by asking about your sifting since this was a warning to Simon Peter from Jesus over two thousand years ago? Because I am being sifted, yikes! And maybe (likely) I am not the only one under threshing pressures. If you can relate, let us keep company and be steadied by Simon Peter’s story.
Jesus used “sifting” as a metaphor, alluding to a series of character confrontations that would cause a deep soul-cracking. Simon’s sifting can help us understand our own experiences of disruptions, delusions, and denials of our Lord as a spiritual happening, so that our hearts will be opened to the Lord’s purposes and restored to worship.
Sifting Like Wheat
Sifting is a synonym for threshing according to Farm & Animals. While sifting wheat flour in the kitchen is a gentle filtering of flour particles through a sieve, the word “threshing” connects to the more brutal blows needed to separate the edible, nourishing wheat kernel from the brittle casing enclosing it, called the chaff. Chaff serves its purpose as the plant grows in the field, fostering the kernel formation, but it is useless to feed us. Remember in ancient times, flails, clubs, and horse or donkey hoofs trampled the grain heads spread across a hard surface, the threshing floor, to break free the kernel from the chaff. Maybe your week feels this shocking!
Good news! Jesus has prayed for us. While the devil tries to divide and destroy us through sifting, our Father secured our life with Him when we believed in Jesus. Jesus will see to it that whatever denials of Christ we have made will be used to separate out what is no longer useful in our lives. The VOICE Translation is worded so beautifully, I think:
Simon, Simon, how Satan has pursued you, that he might make you part of his harvest. But I have prayed for you. I have prayed that your faith will hold firm and that you will recover from your failure and become a source of strength for your brothers here. Luke 22:31-32 VOICE
I am praying for us, too. May this Word help us find our way back to Jesus and recover from our failure and become a source of strength to our families and community.
Preparing for Pentecost
In God’s elegant alignment, our sifting this week ushers us into a preparing for Pentecost, the celebration of the arrival of the Holy Spirit. How so? Because turning away from sins and offenses revealed in the sifting process makes us ready for a new heart and new spirit:
So turn around! Turn your backs on your rebellious living so that sin won’t drag you down. Clean house. No more rebellions, please. Get a new heart! Get a new spirit! Ezekiel 18:31 The Message
Hurl away from you all your offenses which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Ezekiel 18:31 NASB
You must get rid of all the guilty sins you have committed and clothe yourselves with a new heart and a new spirit. Ezekiel 18:31 TPT
The Lord has gone before us to provide exactly what we need, the power of His Spirit to keep His ways in a thorough manner.
I will graciously give you a new, tender heart and put a new, willing spirit inside you. I will remove your hard heart of stone and give you an obedient, responsive heart instead. And I will put my Holy Spirit in you to empower you to keep my laws and to live by them. Ezekiel 36:26-27 TPT
O thank you, Lord!
Restored to Worship
Enjoy these Words of worship with Shavuot tonight, preparing for Pentecost through the weekend. Consider the similar drama and fiery dazzle of the arrival of the Holy Spirit and the giving of Torah, the Holy Word at Mount Sinai:
When the day of Pentecost came, all the believers were gathered together in one place. Suddenly there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak. There were Jews living in Jerusalem, religious people who had come from every country in the world. Acts 2:1-5 GNT
Torah was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Yeshua the Messiah. John 1:17 TLV
On the morning of the third day [of the third month] there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up…And God Spoke these words… Exodus 19:16-20, 20:1 NIV
Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2 NIV
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13 NIV
“Sh’ma, Yisra’el! Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad [Hear, Isra’el! Adonai our God, Adonai is one] Deuteronomy 6:4 CJB
You see, Moses gave us rules to live by, but Jesus the Anointed offered us gifts of grace and truth. John 1:17 VOICE
So the one whose heart is open let him listen carefully to what the Spirit is presently saying to all the churches. Revelation 2:29 TPT
Let my cry come right into your presence, God; provide me with the insight that comes only from your Word. Give my request your personal attention, rescue me on the terms of your promise. Let praise cascade off my lips; after all, you’ve taught me the truth about life! Psalm 119:172-73 The Message
Jesus said to him a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus had asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” “Lord,” he said to him, “you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. John 21:17 NASB
If you plant the good seeds of Spirit-life you will reap beautiful fruits that grow from the everlasting life of the Spirit. And don’t allow yourselves to be weary in planting good seeds, for the season of reaping the wonderful harvest you’ve planted is coming! Galatians 6:8-9 TPT
Wheat is one of the Seven Species listed in Deuteronomy 8:8, learn more about these plants of the Bible in The 7 Species: A Garden-to-Table Guide
Learn more about growing wheat in your garden in the Plant Guide
Have a little fun with Pentecost Poetry
Photo Credits: ©Shelley S. Cramm and ©2018 Davidbena, Ripening grain in the Elah valley (Israel)
ASV marks Scriptures taken from the American Standard Version of The Holy Bible, an American revision of the King James Version published in 1901 by Thomas Nelson & Sons, which is public domain in the United States.
CJB notes Scripture quotations taken from the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD 21029. www.messianicjewish.net.
GNT denotes Scripture quotations from the Good News Translation® (Today’s English Version, Second Edition) Copyright © 1992 American Bible Society. All rights reserved.
The Message denotes Scripture quotations taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries.
NASB denotes Scripture quotations taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
NIV denotes Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.®
TLV denotes Scripture quotation taken from Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.
TPT denotes Scripture quotations taken from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018, 2020 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ThePassionTranslation.com
VOICE denotes Scripture quotations taken from The Voice™. Copyright © 2012 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.