by Ken E Murray
So …why are we keeping Pentecost?
I asked this question on an internet Forum the other day and here’s what one astute woman replied:
“Because I believe it is meaningful to focus, on a day set aside in scripture for Holy Purpose, on how this ancient observance pointed forward to the work of Christ back then, and backward to it now … and forward again to when and how He will finally complete the work of bringing many sons and daughters to glory.”
So …i replied: “Now, that is a good comment.
Yes, Pentecost is a fascinatingly positioned Holy Day, in the middle of the 3 harvest seasons (barley-wheat-fruit) …and is pivotal in the Plan of God regarding the Father’s and Christ’s loving family relationship with us.
It points back to “The Wavesheaf” (Christ – Barley – First of the firstfruits) links up with Pentecost (the Firstfruits – Wheat) …via 7 stages of sabbaths and 49 days to the Jubilee 50th day …and then points to the final Festival harvests of abundant Fruit, yet to come.”
Pentecost has to be counted
The instruction for counting Pentecost is found in Leviticus 23:15-16. It tells us to count 50 days from the day after the Sabbath that falls during the festival of Unleavened Bread.
Unlike any other Holy days which are appointed specific days of the month on which to be observed, Pentecost is commanded to be counted by God and is nowhere set down, in scripture, as a specific date, such as 6 Sivan.
“And you shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath (mi mohorat ha-shabbat =from and including OR beginning with), from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall you number fifty days; and you shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.” (Leviticus 23:15-16)
Why called Pentecost?
It is commonly called Pentecost, from the Greek pentekoste which means pente = 50 and koste = Count …count 50.
So, even in the name Pentecost we see we are commanded to count 50 days, and not to take it into our own hands and give it a set date, such as 6 Sivan.
The Jews refer to it in various ways. One is as Shavuot, meaning “Weeks,” because the date of its observance is determined by counting a specific number from an earlier religious observance.
Another name given it is Hag Hakatzir, the Festival of the Harvest, for it marks the harvesting of the wheat, the last grain harvest of the spring harvest season. And, in that context, it is also called Yom HaBikkurim, the Day of the Firstfruits.
Pentecost reminds us of 2 Great Events
Pentecost reminds us of 2 great events that occurred in history—the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai and the giving of God’s gift of the Holy Spirit.
Regarding the giving of the Law …In his book To Be a Jew, Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin writes:
“Shavuot commemorates the awesome event experienced by the children of Israel seven weeks after the exodus from Egypt when they camped at the foot of Mt. Sinai somewhere in the Sinai Peninsula. This event was the Revelation, when God’s will was revealed to Israel. It marked the declaration of the Ten Commandments … While the exact manner of this communication between God and man is not known and was always subject to various opinions by the great thinkers and Sages of Israel, it was an event of awesome proportions and a unique spiritual experience that indelibly stamped the Israelites with their unique character, their faith, and their destiny.”
Pentecost is also a celebration and reminder that God works in us through His Spirit.
For us to change from the ways of our carnal, proud and stubborn human nature and to be led by God’s Spirit, is a miracle.
Christ foretold the giving of His and the Father’s Holy Spirit, to us: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8 New American Standard Bible).
Christ’s prophecy was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, when the gift of the Holy Spirit was made dramatically known to the disciples: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.” (Acts 2:1-5)
Peter then explained on that Day of Pentecost how other people can receive God’s gift of the Holy Spirit: “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself” (Acts 2:38-39, NASB).
Throughout the book of Acts we read example after example of God’s gift of the Holy Spirit being given to people, who believed in God and repented of their sins and were baptised and received the laying on of hands of the ministry. Their lives were changed for the better as they were led by God’s Holy Spirit from that time forward.
The changes were so evident that they were even accused of having “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Such was the transformation of their lives through the indwelling power of God’s Holy Spirit.
Being led by the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of which the Father and Christ, His Son, are composed.
Just as we are humans composed of flesh, so the Father and Jesus are composed of Holy Spirit.
Without the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within us, God does not consider us as belonging to Him: “But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” (Romans 8:9)
Paul explains that being “led by the Holy Spirit” of God is vital, if we are to be considered as a Christian and a son or daughter in God’s Family: “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14).
“Christ in us” (Colossians 1:27) is what happens when we have God’s Holy Spirit within us.
That can only happen with faith, repentance, baptism and the receiving of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands of Christ’s ministry.
Once we receive God’s Spirit we allow God, through His Spirit, to lead our lives His way of life, not ours.
It then produce the qualities of true Christlike character in us of “love, joy peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, humility and self control.” (Galatians 5:22-23
With God’s Spirit within us that we are regarded by God as His children. (Romans 8:14-17).
How does God’s Spirit work in us?
Here are some examples of how God’s Holy Spirit, within us, leads us.
- God’s Spirit keeps us in contact with God’s mind: God’s Spirit works with our mind. The apostle John describes it this way: “Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit [which] He has given us” (1 John 3:24). Through the Holy Spirit, which is given to us, we can be influenced by God for the good. This is in contrast to the situation in the world around us and our own human nature.
- God’s Spirit provides a deeper understanding of God’s Word and His will for us: As 1 Corinthians 2:9-11 tells us: “But as it is written, ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (emphasis added throughout).
- God’s Spirit gives us Spiritual Discernment: Without that Spirit, a person cannot understand God’s divinely expressed Word and will, “for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
- God’s Holy Spirit helps us in overcoming: There is nothing too difficult for us with the power of God working in our lives. Romans 8:26 tells us that God’s Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. Paul, the writer of the letter to the Romans, speaking for all of us said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27). The Christian life is to be one of overcoming. We must not believe that God wants us to remain just as we are whenever we are called. Instead, we must “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Christianity is a lifetime of overcoming and growing;
- God’s Holy Spirit convicts our conscience and helps us see sin as it really is. Speaking of the Holy Spirit, which would be given to His followers after His death, Jesus Christ said it would “convict the world of sin . . .” (John 16:8). God’s Spirit within us, working with our conscience, helps us to recognize and avoid sin. The guilt that we feel is real, prompted by recognition of sins. Hebrews 9:14 tells us that Jesus Christ’s sacrifice “cleanse[s] your conscience from dead works to serve the living God,” meaning that we have forgiveness from God, and, through repentance, we no longer need feel guilt for our sins. Christ’s sacrifice washes away the sin in our lives, but we must still come to understand sin and how it affects us. Repentance must precede the forgiveness that God promises to each one of us, and repentance means change and effort to avoid sin, which is the breaking of God’s laws. (1John 3:4)
- God’s Spirit produces godly fruit in our lives. Just as an apple tree produces apples, God’s Spirit produces a particular type of fruit in the life of a Christian. Galatians 5:22-23 lists the fruit that should be evident in the lives of those who are led by God’s Spirit, which are: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control.
- God’s Holy Spirit comforts and encourages us. Jesus Christ promised to send His followers “another comforter” (John 14:16, KJV). True comfort and reassurance come from the Spirit of God dwelling in us. We need not be unduly worried about the future or what may happen to us. God’s Spirit gives us the reassurance that whatever happens will be for the good “to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). This provides an outlook on life that is quite rare in our world today. It is certainly possible for a Christian to become discouraged, but it is through the Holy Spirit that we can begin to look upon life differently. As noted above, peace is one aspect of the fruit of God’s Spirit in the life of a Christian.
Pentectost is an annual reminder of God’s gifts of His Law and His Spirit to us
Keeping Pentecost reminds us:
- we have been given the awesome opportunity to be part of the Firstfruits to follow Christ as the First of the Firstfruits in the First Resurrection, yet ahead for us: “Of his own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” (James 1:18)
- Pentecost is an annual reminder of God’s gift of His guidance system for our lives – His Laws, commandments, statutes, ordinances, principles, precepts and wisdom of how to live His way of life; and
- Pentecost is also a reminder to be eternally thankful to Him for blessing us with the gift of the power of His Holy Spirit …through faith, repentance, baptism, and laying on of hands …so that we have His power to overcome temptation and sin …and to develop the mind and character of Christ within us.
Pentecost is the pivotal Holy Day in the centre of the sacred year, which encouragingly reminds us of our salvation and eternal life in God’s Family.
Meantime …keep pumpin’!
Ken E Murray
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