As the Holiday of Shavu'ot approaches, on Israel's 50th year of Independence, I'm thinking anew about God's pattern of giving us something good first, and adding something better later. In ancient Israel, Shavu'ot was the transition from the good barley harvest to the better wheat harvest. Later, on Shavu'ot, God gave us His Spirit to indwell every believer, thus adding a renewed and better covenant-expression to the good ones already in place.
But this good pattern did not end with biblical times. It continues to this day. For example, in the sixteenth century, at the Reformation, the Lord brought those who love Him back to the Scriptures and to the knowledge of personal salvation. In the nineteenth century He brought us into His program of world outreach. In the twentieth century He has been re-introducing us to His Spirit.
During the last 50 years, He has been doing it for the Jewish People. Fifty years ago He made Israel a nation again. Thirty-one years ago, He restored our City, Jerusalem, to us. Right after that, He began a large-scale people-movement of Jews turning to their Messiah, starting with the Jesus movement and the good, creative work of Jews for Jesus. Then He moved among us to help us return to His Torah and worship Him in Messianic synagogues. He keeps giving us one gracious gift on top of another. None of the earlier gifts are outdated or irrelevant for today. We should not discount any of them in the least. But today He is adding something new to them.
I'm beginning to realize that the current gift Yeshua is restoring to His People, is the small-group/havurah/beth-midrash movement. He wants us to extend the welcome, acceptance and ongoing care for each other in small study-and-support groups that we could not do as individuals or entire congregations. Our non-Messianic Christian brothers and sisters, and also some Messianic groups, have already pioneered for us in this, made plenty of mistakes, and learned from them. Under the guidance of Scripture and the Spirit, we can combine the best of their insights with the best insights from Jewish tradition, to build a loving and powerful network of tiny havurot, both face-to-face and online, both for outreach and to gently call each other deeper into Yeshua's life, holiness, and joy.