Pentecost

Pentecost represents God using His Church—those who are converted, revitalized and transformed by His Spirit—to do His work in this current age of Satan's spiritual dominance over humankind.

Was observing Pentecost important to the apostle Paul?

"For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost" (Acts:20:16).

"But I [Paul] will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost" (1 Corinthians:16:8).

The Scriptures record that, on at least these two occasions, Paul carefully arranged his schedule according to where he wanted to be on the Festival of Pentecost. The only logical reason for Paul to "tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost" would be to observe this feast day with the gentile Christians there. As with Paul's instruction to gentile Christians in Corinth to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, here we again find an obvious indication that early Christians, Jew and gentile alike, observed God's annual festivals.

What biblical events are associated with the Feast of Pentecost?

"The LORD our God made a covenant with us [ancient Israel] in Horeb ... The LORD talked with you [ancient Israel] face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire" (Deuteronomy:5:2, 4).

"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit ..." (Acts:2:1-4, NIV).

On Pentecost, according to a respected Jewish tradition, God established Israel as His holy people—through His covenant with them—after He spoke the Ten Commandments from the top of Mount Sinai. A special relationship between Him and the Israelites was sealed at that time. They then became known as the "congregation of the LORD" (Numbers:27:17).

Equally important, Pentecost is also the anniversary of the beginning of Christianity under the New Covenant. It was on Pentecost that God first made His Spirit available to all who would repent—thus beginning the Church, which He commissioned Christ to build (Matthew:16:18). Pentecost is especially significant to Christians because on that day God established the New Testament Church.

Pentecost represents God using His Church—those who are converted, revitalized and transformed by His Spirit—to do His work in this current age of Satan's spiritual dominance over humankind.

After Jesus' resurrection, what did He tell His disciples?

"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" (Acts:1:8).

The first part of this prophecy was fulfilled when, on the Feast of Pentecost, Christ's disciples received the Holy Spirit and began their work of proclaiming His gospel to the world (Acts:2:1, 4-18). Their lives began to miraculously change. This spiritual transformation, made possible by the power of the Holy Spirit, is the third major step in God's master plan of salvation.

God's gift of His Spirit began the fulfillment of the prophecies in Jeremiah:31:31-33 and Ezekiel:36:26-27. He promised to make a new covenant with the community of faithful believers. Through the Holy Spirit He promised to write His laws on their hearts and minds and no longer only on tablets of stone, as in the time of Moses. It was on the Feast of Pentecost of Acts 2 that the Church of God—the faithful believers in Christ imbued with God's Spirit—was founded and began preaching Christ's gospel to the world.

Anciently the Festival of Pentecost only anticipated a converted body of believers, but now it annually acknowledges and celebrates the importance of the Church and its work in God's plan.

Does the Bible refer to the Feast of Pentecost by other names?

"And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest ..." (Exodus:34:22).

"On the day of firstfruits, when you present to the LORD an offering of new grain during the Feast of Weeks, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work" (Numbers:28:26, NIV).

The Greek word pentekoste, which means "50th," became the New Testament name for the Old Testament "Feast of Weeks" because it occurs 50 days (seven weeks plus one day) after the first weekly Sabbath that falls during the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus:23:10-16).

Pentecost was also known as "the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors" (Exodus:23:16). This name foreshadowed the establishment of the New Testament Church. Christians are those "who have the firstfruits of the Spirit" and those who are "redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb" (Romans:8:23; Revelation:14:4). James writes, "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).

The festivals that follow Pentecost point to God's plan for bringing the rest of humanity to repentance. The aspects of God's plan represented by the three spring festivals—Passover, Unleavened Bread and Pentecost—have already occurred. But the prophetic implications of the last four festivals, observed in the autumn of each year, are yet to be fulfilled. Those look forward to prophetic events yet to occur.

Let's see how the later festivals represent aspects of God's great plan to offer salvation to many more people.

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Humanity has been deprived of the keys that unlock a comprehensive understanding of God's plan and purpose for humankind. God reveals His splendid plan in the prophecies and teachings of the Scriptures. In this lesson you will see how God has provided us with the keys to unlock His plan through His sacred festivals.

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