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Pentecost and the Mystery of the Ages

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Pentecost and the Mystery of the Ages

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After being delivered from slavery in Egypt and crossing the Red Sea, the people of Israel wandered through the desert for five weeks following the pillar that led them. In the pillar was the God whose presence is so glorious and bright it would blind or kill any human, so it was covered in a cloud. Israel arrived at the base of Mt. Sinai as God had earlier directed Moses. According to Exodus 19:1 Exodus 19:1In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.
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, this was on the first day of the third month of the year: “In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day [first day of the month], they came to the Wilderness of Sinai.”

God called Moses up to meet Him on the mountain and pronounced a summary of the covenant that Israel was to agree to: “‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel” (Exodus 19:5-6 Exodus 19:5-6 [5] Now therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure to me above all people: for all the earth is mine: [6] And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.
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).

Moses then relayed the message, and the people of Israel promised to do everything that God said. “So Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the Lord commanded him. Then all the people answered together and said, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do.’ So Moses brought back the words of the people to the Lord" (Exodus 19:7-8 Exodus 19:7-8 [7] And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. [8] And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD has spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people to the LORD.
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Three days later would be the Day of Pentecost, the first time that events occurring on that day are recorded in Scripture. God told Moses to have the people prepare to hear His voice pronounce the words of the covenant. “And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people” (Exodus 19:11 Exodus 19:11And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people on mount Sinai.
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).

On the third day all Israel gathered at the base of Mount Sinai, and their God descended on it glory and power. “And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice” (Exodus 19:17-19 Exodus 19:17-19 [17] And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. [18] And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. [19] And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by a voice.
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).

The Israelites heard the voice of God thunder the Ten Commandments and became so fearful they asked Moses to be their intercessor. Moses then went up the mountain to hear God for them and relayed the additional words of the covenant to them, and all Israel promised again they would obey and keep the covenant (Exodus 24:3 Exodus 24:3And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD has said will we do.
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). There were offerings given and blood sprinkled to signify the agreement (Exodus 24:6 Exodus 24:6And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.
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). Moses again read all the words of Exodus 20:1-23 Exodus 20:1-23 [1] And God spoke all these words, saying, [2] I am the LORD your God, which have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. [3] You shall have no other gods before me. [4] You shall not make to you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. [5] You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; [6] And showing mercy to thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. [7] You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain. [8] Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. [9] Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: [10] But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates: [11] For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: why the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. [12] Honor your father and your mother: that your days may be long on the land which the LORD your God gives you. [13] You shall not kill. [14] You shall not commit adultery. [15] You shall not steal. [16] You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. [17] You shall not covet your neighbor's house, you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is your neighbor's. [18] And all the people saw the thunder, and the lightning, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. [19] And they said to Moses, Speak you with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. [20] And Moses said to the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that you sin not. [21] And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was. [22] And the LORD said to Moses, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, You have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. [23] You shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall you make to you gods of gold.
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to them, and Israel a third time promised to obey (Exodus 24:7 Exodus 24:7And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD has said will we do, and be obedient.
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).

Next, in what is likely a type of the coming wedding supper of Revelation 19:9 Revelation 19:9And he said to me, Write, Blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me, These are the true sayings of God.
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, Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and 70 of the elders of Israel went part way up the mountain and shared a meal. The God of Israel appeared to them in a reduced power form, with the shining glory that surrounds Him appearing only under His feet (Exodus 24:10 Exodus 24:10And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.
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).

What was all this leading up to? What was the intent or purpose of all these incredible events?

The Purpose of the Tabernacle

The answer is given in Exodus 25:8 Exodus 25:8And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
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: “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” God clearly intended to dwell among the people of the covenant who were obeying Him and living according to His laws.

Moses knew the only way for Israel to be separate from the world was to have God dwelling among them.

After giving instructions for the tabernacle and priests, God added: “I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am the Lord their God” (Exodus 29:45-46 Exodus 29:45-46 [45] And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. [46] And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God.
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Moses went up Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments written on stone by the finger of God. While he was gone, terrible sin occurred. Moses was gone many days, and Israel convinced Aaron to make a golden calf. As a result of this sin, 3,000 men who were involved in the calf worship were killed by the Levites, and many more died in a plague (Exodus 32:28 Exodus 32:28And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.
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, 35). Moses had to pray for Israel so God would not punish them further.

As a consequence of worshipping the golden calf, God removed His presence from Israel. The tent of Moses served as a temporary tabernacle where Moses would meet with God, and God had Moses move the tent to a place outside the camp (Exodus 33:7 Exodus 33:7And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out to the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.
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). The people watched as Moses went out of the camp to meet with God and the pillar of cloud descended to that tent. It was a daily reminder that God no longer dwelt with them (Exodus 33:8-11 Exodus 33:8-11 [8] And it came to pass, when Moses went out to the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. [9] And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. [10] And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door. [11] And the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
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Moses understood that Israel could not survive without God dwelling among them. After some days passed, Moses interceded with God on behalf of Israel. This was the third time he had to pray for them to survive. His incredible prayer is recorded for us in Exodus 33:12-16 Exodus 33:12-16 [12] And Moses said to the LORD, See, you say to me, Bring up this people: and you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, I know you by name, and you have also found grace in my sight. [13] Now therefore, I pray you, if I have found grace in your sight, show me now your way, that I may know you, that I may find grace in your sight: and consider that this nation is your people. [14] And he said, My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest. [15] And he said to him, If your presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. [16] For wherein shall it be known here that I and your people have found grace in your sight? is it not in that you go with us? so shall we be separated, I and your people, from all the people that are on the face of the earth.
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. Moses knew the only way for Israel to be separate from the world was to have God dwelling among them (Exodus 33:16 Exodus 33:16For wherein shall it be known here that I and your people have found grace in your sight? is it not in that you go with us? so shall we be separated, I and your people, from all the people that are on the face of the earth.
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). God honored Moses’ request and told Moses to hew two additional stone tablets for the Ten Commandments.

Moses again spent 40 days on Mount Sinai with the Lord. With his face shining, due to being in the presence of the glory of God, Moses came back to the camp of Israel. He brought with him the new Ten Commandment tablets and renewed the covenant with Israel (Exodus 34: 30-32). According to The Jewish Encyclopedia, Moses delivered the second set of commandments, and the covenant was renewed on the Day of Atonement (The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906 Edition, Volume 2, page 281).

Work then began on building the tabernacle for the presence of the Lord to dwell in the middle of Israel. The tabernacle was finished on the first day of the second year (Exodus 40:17 Exodus 40:17And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up.
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), and the glory of the Lord, demonstrating His presence, filled the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34 Exodus 40:34Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
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).

The Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem

More than 400 years later, King David wanted to build a temple for God in Jerusalem. God did not allow him to do so (1 Chronicles 22:7-8 1 Chronicles 22:7-8 [7] And David said to Solomon, My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build an house to the name of the LORD my God: [8] But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, You have shed blood abundantly, and have made great wars: you shall not build an house to my name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight.
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). After Solomon was established as King of Israel, he built the temple as a place for the Lord to dwell among the people of Israel. When the building was being completed, then the word of the Lord came to Solomon saying: “Concerning this temple which you are building, if you walk in My statutes, execute My judgments, keep all My commandments, and walk in them, then I will perform My word with you, which I spoke to your father David. And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel” (1 Kings 6:12-13 1 Kings 6:12-13 [12] Concerning this house which you are in building, if you will walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with you, which I spoke to David your father: [13] And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel.
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). God still wanted to dwell among His people who were obeying Him. After Solomon’s heartfelt prayer for God’s mercy at the dedication of the temple, fire came down as the glory of God filled the temple and His presence dwelt there (2 Chronicles 7:1-3 2 Chronicles 7:1-3 [1] Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. [2] And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD's house. [3] And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD on the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endures for ever.
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).

The glory of God stayed in the sanctuary of the temple until about the year 587 B.C. God cannot abide dwelling with sin and evil, and after many years of idol worship by Israel and Judah the Lord decided to no longer dwell in the temple. Ezekiel 10-11 record for us the glory of God leaving the temple and going to the Mount of Olives, from where it ascended back to heaven.

Babylon’s armies destroyed the temple, and the glory of God never again dwelt in a building. Even though a second temple was constructed later by Ezra and was then built into a magnificent building by Herod, the glory of God did not dwell in it. The Jews hoped it would return.

The Day of Pentecost, A.D. 31

Jesus Christ promised His disciples that He and the Father would come and dwell in them (John 14:17 John 14:17Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you.
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, 20, 23). That promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost and recorded for us in Acts 2. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them” (Acts 2:2 Acts 2:2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
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). Those assembled there knew the glory of the Lord appeared “like fire” (Exodus 24:17 Exodus 24:17And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.
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) and was often accompanied by wind (Exodus 14:20-21 Exodus 14:20-21 [20] And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night. [21] And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
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Peter and the other disciples understood the Spirit of God was now being given to individuals (Acts 2:17 Acts 2:17And it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour out of my Spirit on all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
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) and that God was giving the Spirit to those who would obey Him (Acts 5:32 Acts 5:32And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God has given to them that obey him.
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). Not many days later Stephen told the Jewish Council this new profound truth: “The Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 7:48 Acts 7:48However, the most High dwells not in temples made with hands; as said the prophet,
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). They stoned him for saying that and showing that they were as guilty as their forefathers. The Jews of the first century, along with almost all of mankind since, never understood the mystery.

What Mystery?

God the Father and Jesus Christ now dwell in the hearts of converted people. This is the great mystery of all time, understood by a few because it has to be revealed to a mind opened by God.

Paul emphasized it several times. “The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1: 26-27).

Our minds are now the temple where the Spirit of God lives and produces the fruit of a changed life. Our responsibility is to grow in grace and knowledge, aware that we are part of the spiritual temple God is building.

Think about Paul’s admonitions to the church in Corinth as we keep the Day of Pentecost: “For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be my people’” (2 Corinthians 6:16 2 Corinthians 6:16And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
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).