Celebrations to the LORD! – Pentecost Sunday
Pentecost is one of the most important celebrations for Christianity. It is the pouring out of the Holy Spirit! So I recommend that everyone of you actually attend Church this Sunday to hear the Word of the LORD and take part in the celebrations.
Here on the site, however, I will concentrate on one of the readings from the vigil, which gives us a hint of how people prepared for their celebrations and how they did the celebrations to the LORD in Moses’ day.
Ex. 19: 3 to 20:  And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;  Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and [how] I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.  Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth [is] mine:  And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These [are] the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.  And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him.  And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.  And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD.  And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes,  And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.  And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, [that ye] go [not] up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:  There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether [it be] beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.  And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes.  And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at [your] women.  And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.  And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.  And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.  And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.  And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses [up] to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.
Actually, the official Catholic Church Reading skips the verse which gives us the hint on celebrations. The Lectionary omits verses 9 to 15 from the above. It is verse 15. It says, ‘Come not at women!’ It does not say ‘your’ and there is no word for ‘wife’ in Hebrew. It just says ‘women’.
So to prepare for celebrations of the appearance of the LORD the people had to wash their clothes (verse 10) so that they would look their best at the celebrations. And they should not come at women! Why that? Why doesn’t it say their women? Because they were not that particular about it. This can easily be seen in the description of one of the other celebrations.
This other celebration is the feast organised by Aaron in Ex. 32 in honour of what many think was another god, the golden calf. However this was a feast in honour of God. After Aaron had made the golden calf in verse 4, he said in Ex. 32: 5, ‘To morrow is a feast to the LORD.’ In the Hebrew text it actually says the name of God whenever it says the LORD in the English Translation. The people actually thought that this calf was an image of God. Bulls were strong and feared animals and God obviously is very strong. So just as we sometimes visualise God to be an old man with a long beard in spite of the commandment not to have images of what is in heaven, the Ancient Hebrews visualised God as a Bull, probably because of his strength!
So how did the people do their celebrations in honour of God? After Aaron had built an altar in verse 5 the people (Ex. 32: 6), ‘… rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.’
What exactly does play mean? It is the same word translated as ‘sporting’ in Gen. 26: 8, when king Abimelech of Gerar saw Isaac ‘sporting’ with Rebekah which made him realise that she was his woman. That’s what the people did in their celebrations for the LORD!
In Ex. 32: 25 King James even translated that Moses saw the people being naked! Other translations say ‘out of control’, ‘broken loose’, or ‘unbridled’. But these are just expressions for following their unrestrained feelings (see Greetings from Paradise the chapter ‘Ecstasy)! This feeling of unrestrained ecstasy was seen as a feeling of being close to God! This was seen as the state of prophecy! (see also Where Did Abraham’s Servant Put His Hand?)
So Sex is not only allowed, it was seen as divine, a divine way to come into the presence of God! (See also Rabbi Schneerson, ‘Toward A Meaningful Life’ Chapter ‘Why is Sex so Powerful?’)
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.