Bible Study Tools / Holidays And Holy Days

Pentecost: A Vital Part of God’s Master Plan

by Rainer Salomaa

The book of Acts begins with about 120 disciples of Jesus Christ waiting during the interval between the Passover season and the Feast of Pentecost.

They were following Christ’s instructions found in Acts 1:4-7 where, “... He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ ...‘But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’”

The Passover had taken place in A.D. 31. Christ had made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, close to the time that the Passover lamb was to be chosen (John 12:12-15; Exodus 12:2-3). He washed the disciples’ feet and introduced new symbolic meaning for the bread and wine during the Passover. Later, He suffered horribly, poignantly demonstrating how our sins bring suffering. On the Sunday morning after his Wednesday crucifixion, He was approached by Mary Magdalene, but would not allow her to touch Him because He had not yet ascended to the Father (John 20:17).

Why? It is because He was the wave-sheaf offering, pictured in Leviticus 23:10-11. This was a “sheaf of the firstfruits” that was offered to God. The early harvest season in Palestine began with it being waved before the Lord on the Sunday morning, following the Passover during the Days of Unleavened Bread. Before Christ could be touched, He had to be accepted by the Father. Later that day, after appearing before His Father and then returning, He did allow certain women to touch Him (Matthew 28:9).

The disciples were told to wait. They did. They gathered together, fifty days after the Sunday appearances of Jesus Christ, to keep the next festival (Leviticus 23:9-22) – the Feast of Harvest (Exodus 23:16), also called the Feast of Weeks (Exodus 4:22), or in Greek, the Feast of Pentecost, which means “fiftieth.” Acts 2:1 records that, “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.”

On that day, a remarkable event took place. God poured out His Holy Spirit on the assembled international group and used miracles of hearing and speaking in various languages to communicate to that startled group of believers.

That Pentecost in A.D. 31 marked the beginning of the early New Testament church. Thousands of years earlier, possibly on another Pentecost, God had given Israel the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai using similar types of attention-getting methods. Now He had given mankind the ability to become Godly in thoughts, attitudes and actions through the precious gift of the Holy Spirit, given en masse to the embryo of the New Testament church.

The disciples had kept the seven days of unleavened bread. They had kept these days without possessing the Holy Spirit, a lesson being that God expects us to be willing to put sin out of our lives by our own efforts. Mankind has needed to put sin out for six thousand years, but has not generally done so. Peter declared that anyone who has been called, repents and is baptized can receive the precious gift of God’s Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39). Through that gift, God helps us, but only after we first begin the process of removing sin out of our lives.

The harvest of spiritual fruit began with God’s calling of a small elect from the time of righteous Abel. That harvest accelerated on the day of Pentecost and continues to this day, ultimately culminating in a spiritual resurrection from the dead at Christ’s second coming. Scriptures describe those called out ones as firstfruits. The implication is that other fruit will be harvested later.

James wrote about converted Christians saying, “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18). Paul referred to brethren as those “who have the firstfruits of the Spirit” in Romans 8:23 and alluded to several first-century Christians as the firstfruits of God’s calling (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:15).

Christ is called the “firstborn of many brethren” in Romans 8:29 and “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” in 1 Corinthians 15:20. He is the “firstborn over all creation” and “firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:15, 18). All of this is closely linked to the Feast of Firstfruits.

Jesus Christ instructed His church to go forth and harvest, preaching the gospel, baptizing and teaching believers to observe all things that He commanded (Matthew 28:19-20). The church that will be the harvest is also used to do a part of the harvesting. God will have used seven different periods of harvesting, as represented by the seven candlesticks in Revelation 1:12-13, 20. The work of the church must be complete before Christ returns. He will marry His bride, who will have made herself ready (Revelation 19:7-8).

An Old Testament parallel is found in the book of Ruth, where Boaz and Ruth culminate a union during the early barley harvest. A virtuous Gentile woman is grafted into an Israelite household, becoming a part of the genealogy of the Messiah. Gleaning instructions are even given in the section of scripture having to do with the Feast of Firstfruits (Leviticus 23: 22). God is logical. He is organized. He has a plan. The blueprint of His plan can be found in the meaning of His festivals.

The Feast of Pentecost is so rich with meaning – how He is calling a small firstfruit, how He provides the gift of His precious Holy Spirit, how ultimately, He will pour out His Holy Spirit upon “all flesh” (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:14-17). But that is another, larger harvest and it is pictured in the fall festivals.

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