No Excuse Not to Be ReadyJune 7, 2022 - 12:00 am
…be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. — Exodus 19:11
From sundown June 4 through sundown June 6, my family and I joined Jews around the world to celebrate Shavuot, also known as The Festival of Weeks or Pentecost. Initially, Shavuot was a harvest festival, but since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, we have celebrated it as the giving of the Torah, which occurred seven weeks, or 50 days after the Exodus.
Getting the house ready for Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks, is a fun family activity in our home. Like many Jewish families, we decorate our home with lots of flowers and fruit and other items that are reflective of the themes of this holiday.
At school, the younger kids usually make art projects related to Shavuot, such as beautiful baskets filled with fruit, reminiscent of the firstfruits once brought to the Temple on Shavuot.
As Shavuot also commemorates the day when God gave Israel the Ten Commandments on Sinai, we pick flowers and greenery and place them all over our dining room, because, according to Jewish tradition, when God appeared on Mount Sinai, the desert mountain miraculously bloomed and became full of flowers.
Still another interesting custom of Shavuot is the practice of staying up the entire night to study the Torah. In most Jewish communities, the synagogue will even arrange a schedule of lectures and Bible study classes that lasts from late evening until sunrise, at which point we join together for the morning synagogue service.
No Excuse Not to Be Ready
The custom of staying up all night on Shavuot is based on the story of the revelation at Sinai in Exodus. Moses told the children of Israel to “be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.”
A few verses later, the Bible tells us that on the morning of that third day, “there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled” (Exodus 19:16). The Jewish sages taught that the thunder, lightning, and trumpet blast were needed to wake up the children of Israel. Even though Moses told them to be ready, they overslept!
I believe there’s a deeper lesson in this teaching of the sages. The children of Israel did not know what was in the Torah that God was about to give them. Maybe that’s why it was hard for them to be excited. But we, who know how beautiful God’s Word is, have no excuse to not be ready to receive God’s greatest gift to us.
So, on Shavuot, we stay up all night so there’s no chance of sleeping in. It’s a way of showing God how eager we are to receive His Torah once again.
Your turn: Show God your eagerness to serve Him. Choose a day to wake up extra early and devote that time to added prayer and worship.