“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” Acts 2:1
Most folks are familiar with the word Pentecost and the event in the New Testament which it represents. It was on this day 2000+ years ago that the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and they all spoke in tongues. It is the day that marked the birth of the Christian church.
Several thousand years before that, on the very anniversary of Pentecost, God introduced Shavuot to His people. It was a memorial to be observed exactly 50 days (or 7 weeks plus a day) from the Jewish Feast of Firstfruits (which was the tithe and regard to God for the spring harvest) that took place right after Passover/Unleavened Bread. The word “Pentecost” means fiftieth. On this blessing-of-the-summer-harvest or pilgrim-“feast of weeks,” the people were to bring out of their habitations two loaves of bread, this time baked WITH leaven (unlike Passover and Firstfruits), of the same weight, and therefore also referred to as the Counting of the Omer (a dry measure or sheaf of grain).
Firstfruits and Shavuot are both grain harvests. Firstfruits is a harvest of barley, and is the setting for the story in the Book of Ruth where Boaz harvests his fields and leaves behind a little for the gleaners (the poor who lived in the land). Ruth came to glean in order to provide food for herself and Naomi, her mother-in-law, who had both been away in another country until the death of their husbands forced them to come back home. Boaz was Naomi’s close relative, and therefore Boaz honored a Hebrew obligation to redeem the land for his cousin/close friend who died and left no living male descendents to carry on his name. Out of respect for Naomi, Boaz graciously married Ruth (who was not Jewish) and the two had a son who then had a share of Boaz’s wealth and an inheritance in the land. Boaz became the kinsman redeemer, and his valor is a gorgeous picture of hospitality.
Shavuot is the firstfruits offering of the wheat harvest waved to the Lord to honor and thank God for His provision. The leaven in the flour of those loaves was covered by bread that had risen, the leaven therefore was no longer visible. The summer wheat harvest was always a bigger harvest than the spring barley harvest, but a mere drop in the bucket compared to the fall (fruit) harvest.
Once again, Jesus is the fulfillment of these beautiful Jewish feasts. He is our “Bread of life.” He has covered our “sin” (leaven) by his body that was sacrificed and now is risen.
He is our Kinsmen Redeemer because He has graciously married us, who are not Jewish, and given us a new life and an inheritance in the kingdom to come, grafting us in and making us part of the family of God by His redeeming blood.
But all of this, as fascinating as it is, is only part of the grand masterpiece I wish to paint for you today.
It’s been many years ago, but I was part of a small group Bible study which met in a friend’s home, when God opened His word to me in a way that has meant so much and has stayed with me for all these years regarding Pentecost. Pentecost is feast number four in the series of feasts fulfilled (each feast was created by God to be celebrated by His people and remembered every year, but each also have a future fulfillment in His kingdom. They were and are a copy and shadow of things to come). Jesus, before He ascended into heaven (BTW: on the very day of Firstfruits), instructed his disciples to “tarry in the city until they were endued with power from on high” Luke 24:49.
It was an event He had been preparing them for since before He went to the cross and one He reminded them of again after His resurrection, during the 40 days of His appearances before His ascension. He told them He would be leaving and that it was to their advantage that He go, for if He didn’t go the Holy Spirit would not come. He encouraged them that the Holy Spirit would stay with them and help them. The Holy Spirit would convict the world of sin. He said the Spirit of truth would guide them and relay to them whatever He heard from the Father. He would tell them of things to come, remind them of the scriptures they had read and heard, and give them power to heal and to preach.
But it was the word “tarry” in His instructions to His disciples that captured my imagination. In Luke He asked them to tarry in the city. A few of the gals in my study group believed this meant Jesus wanted His disciples to go and wait in the city for the next big event. And they believed that Jesus wants us to wait for the Holy Spirit and not be disappointed if He doesn’t come and give us His gifts the instant that we want Him to. But my inquisitiveness to know what was really being said here coaxed me to pull my Complete Word Study of the New Testament book off the shelf and research the word tarry in Luke 24:49. When I did I found that the Greek word translated tarry in this one place is kathizo (Stongs 2523) and next to it is a tiny grammatical code “aim.” It is an abbreviation of the words aorist imperative, which indicates that this was a simple action to be done in the future, not “pim,” which is present imperative, and would have commanded a continuous or repetitive action. Now, this might seem like splitting hairs, but the jots and tittles in scripture are important, so much so that not one of them shall pass away until they are fulfilled.
I looked up the word kathizo and found that it means to sit, to set down, to seat down, to dwell. It is never used however when the action is to rest, but refers rather to a person taking a special seat of importance, one reserved for important tasks, like a judge sits at his bench in a courtroom to hear a case, or a king on his throne to govern his kingdom, or a preacher in his pulpit to preach to his congregation, or a watchman at his post to guard the city. It isn’t about taking a load off; it’s about taking the captain’s chair in the control tower. Literally the scripture could be read, “…but sit (take your place) in the city…until you are endued…”
Isn’t that interesting? Well, I hope YOU’RE sitting down, because I have something even more exciting to share and I can hardly wait for you to see it. Please turn to Acts 2:2 and fill in the blank below to find out what the disciples were doing when the Holy Spirit arrived:
“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as a rushing might wind, and it filled the whole house where they were ________________.”
I could hardly believe when I read this. And doesn’t it just thrill you to death when Jesus excavates the scriptures and unearths a treasure for us like this? Jesus told His disciples to go sit in Jerusalem in the special place, and when the time was fully come for the Holy Spirit to arrive, I can just imagine His voice in that mighty rushing wind as He shouted from His throne in heaven: Are you sitting? Here it comes! It honestly gives me goosebumps to think of it.
So, can this just be a coincidence that the Holy Spirit dropped by ON PENTECOST…on Shavuot? — The fourth feast in a row that our Lord fulfilled with impeccable timing! And, just as He promised, the disciples received power when the Holy Spirit came upon them.
Let me paint the picture for us: Jewish people from every nation and language of the world were in Jerusalem that day to celebrate the Feast of Weeks, and consequently they all became eye witnesses of the spectacle of its fulfillment. They each heard the gospel of salvation being preached to them in languages that they spoke. Everyone present became witnesses to Jesus in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and took the testimony back to their homes far and wide, and ultimately to the ends of the earth. And the powerful sermon that Peter bravely preached to them that day resulted in the salvation of 3,000 people.
3,000! This was a greater number of souls than was harvested at Jesus’ crucifixion (when the graves were opened and the bodies of the saints were raised, but only a drop in the bucket to the fall harvest which is yet to come. I believe 3000 is an intentional number, for it was the exact number who were killed on the day the law came down from Mount Sinai, because of the golden calf (Exodus 32:28). Second Corinthians 3:6 says, “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Pentecost marked the birth of the Christian church, the adopted children of God, with the same inheritance as their Jewish brothers and sisters. Jew and Christian = two loaves.
Let’s recap the closing words of Peter’s famous sermon: Repent! Be baptized! Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit!
“For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)
The promise is the same today as it was yesterday, and last year, and last century, and that magnificent day in the ancient world.
“The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matthew 10:37).
If we are born again, we are laborors for Christ. One disciple may plant the word of God into mens hearts, while another waters what was planted, but truly it is only the Lord who gives the increase and causes the seed to to live and breathe and have its being. No man comes to the Father except the Spirit draws him. If it is the Lord who gives the increase then it is foolish for us to get puffed up and take credit for anything, isn’t it?
“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Paul asked of the new Ephesian disciples. “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” “And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them…” (Acts 19:2, 6)
Ask, and It shall be given to you! The Spirit cannot be purchased (Acts 8:14-24), and if you do not have Him working through you, beware (see the story of the Seven Sons of Sceva, Acts 19:11-19). But, if you are saved, and you fear the Lord, and your motives are pure, ask of the Father and He will give you the Helper to lead you, protect you, enable you, empower and guide you in all wisdom. You don’t have to wait for it.
“If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” (Luke 11:11-13)
If you have asked Jesus into your heart, confessed and repented of your sins, been washed and cleansed in the blood of the Savior, been baptised (died to your old fleshly ways and been raised to new life) making confession before men, and yet do not feel as though you recieved the Holy Spirit when you believed because you didn’t speak with new tongues, or because you don’t feel the power (boldness) that the scriptures speak of, then ask my dear brother or sister, please ask. Ask your pastor to pray with you. Ask a Spirit-filled believer to pray with you. If you give God your whole heart He will fill it, because without the Holy Spirit we are unable to do God’s work. We are unable to resist the devil. And we are slaves to our flesh (the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak). The Holy Spirit is given to us for our good and the good of the world. GO…PREACH…SLAY!!!!
You and I are in the summer harvest time of God’s calendar: “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9)
And let us look forward to that great fall harvest, when the greatest body of Jews will join the church at the Second Coming of Christ (Zechariah 12:10; 13:1), the great fall harvest when “All Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26). That is when the times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled. God will bless us who have blessed her, and curse those who cursed her, and welcome us both to our inheritance. Two loaves!!!!!
“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:46-47
*This mini-Bible study is part of a study of the feasts of Israel. If you have enjoyed it you may also enjoy reading about all the other feasts in scripture: “The Lord our Passover,” “FIRSTFRUITS,” “Feast of Trumpets,” “No Man Knows the Day or the Hour…,” and “Feast of Booths.” You can find the links to these in the list of recent posts featured on the right column of this page. Thank you for sharing this journey with me. I pray that you are blessed by God’s word and filled with a desire to know Him with all of your heart and share Him with a lost world.