About the Author

Rev Aaron Eime is the deacon of Christ Church in the Old City of Jerusalem, the first Protestant Church in the Middle East. Aaron studied at the Hebrew University in the Masters Program with the focus towards Early Jewish and Christian Interpretation of Bible. Aaron also studied Psychology and Sociology at Queensland University in Australia in the Social Work Program. He is a dedicated Bible teacher exploring the Hebraic Roots of the Christian Faith. He has taught Internationally in many countries including Europe, North America, Hong Kong and China. Aaron is the Director of Research and Education at Christ Church. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and 3 children.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Freedom comes with Instructions

Shalom from Jerusalem and Hag Shavuot Sameach! Today is the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) in the Jewish Calendar. Originally a harvest festival with a strong Temple focus, this is one of the three Pilgrimage feasts requiring all able bodied men to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem. Since the destruction of the Temple the significance of the festival has shifted to a more theological focus, that being the receiving of the Torah. Last night the Jewish people stayed up late reading and studying the Book of Ruth. 

Why is Ruth the scroll that is assigned to be read during Shavuot? Perhaps the tradition came about because the scene of Ruth and Boaz takes place during a harvest in Bethlehem. Or perhaps for the attribution of the birth of King David in Bethlehem to have occurred on the eve of Shavuot. Thus a reading of the beginnings of the House of David might be deemed fitting for the Feast. In the New Testament, whenever the text mentions ‘The Feast’ but then doesn't actually say which one, it refers to the Feast of Shavuot. For example, in the Gospel of John in Chapter 5vs1 we read, ‘Jesus went up to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Jews’ but we are not actually told which festival is in mind. 

Shavuot (Pentecost) occurs 50 days after Passover. Shavout essentially concludes the Exodus of Egypt, it finishes the redemption of Israel from slavery. Passover reflects freedom and liberation, while Shavuot denotes the giving of the Torah. It’s interesting that the chronological history of the Bible has the Jewish People being saved and freed from Egypt, and then given the Law. This teaches us many several important aspects of Freedom. Firstly, the Torah does not save you. The Israelites were redeemed before the giving of the Torah. Paul reminds Peter by saying, ‘We know that a man is not justified by observing the Law.’ Galatians 2vs16. The Israelites were saved from Egypt without knowing what the Torah was, they were brought to Mt Sinai and then given the Torah. Redemption and Salvation came first, then the instructions from Heaven. 

Secondly, we learn that freedom, liberation and redemption are empty without instruction. Freedom itself has rules. When someone says, ‘We are free in Christ,’ that does not mean we have license to do whatever we want. Although I suspect that some people actually want to think that is what that means. The phrase, ‘Everyone does what is right in his own eyes’ that we find in the Judges is not a positive one. The Freedom obtained from Egypt leads us to the desert and eventually to Sinai and the Torah. Not initially to the Promised Land of milk and honey. Freedom first actually takes us to the wilderness. It was in that wilderness that the Israelites themselves contemplated returning to Egypt, putting themselves back under Egyptian taskmasters, even if only for the cucumbers. Freedom brings us through dependence on God, to the instruction and teaching of God. Freedom from sin does not brings us to a place of no law, actually it brings us to a place of Obedience to God. 

The Messiah Himself teaches that, ‘If you love me, you will keep my Commandments’. Liberty needs meaning, or it fades away and too quickly we will find ourselves trapped back under the yoke of slavery and the bondage of sin. That meaning we find in the teachings and instructions of the Messiah and of God. How to live, how to love, how to behave with each other and who we truly are. True freedom comes with instructions.