Christ in the Feast of Pentecost

David Brickner & Rich Robinson

Pentecost means "fiftieth" and refers to the holiday that goes by the name Shavuot in Judaism. Shavuot means "weeks" and falls 50 days after Passover or about seven weeks later. What Christians should understand about Pentecost is that when we read the account in Acts chapter 2, we are really reading about a Jewish holiday. By the time of Jesus and the apostles, the day had become the celebration of the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, complete with fire and thunder.

Essentially, what we have in Acts 2 is another giving of God's word, with similar sounds and tongues of fire. It was another Mount Sinai experience. There also was a legend among the Jewish people that God had spoken his Law to all the nations of the world, each in their own language, before offering it to Israel, so on the day of Pentecost in Acts, God's word through the apostles is heard by many nations, each in their own language.

From the days of Moses to the time of Jesus, Shavuot was an agricultural holiday of first fruits. God gave the land, he blessed the crops, and so you brought the first of the produce to Him. Before the days of Jesus, there developed the association that God had given the Law on Shavuot. When the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., it ceased being an agricultural holiday and became a historical one entirely, commemorating Mt. Sinai.

Lots of traditions have accumulated over the years, and chief among them are eating dairy foods on Shavuot, decorating the synagogue with greenery, and if you're religious, you'll stay up all night studying the Torah.

The first fulfilments had to do with first fruits. Just as the first of crops were brought, the New Testament also tells us that Jesus was the first fruits of those who will rise from the dead. Paul also uses the first fruits idea to refer to the first people in any area who came to faith in Jesus.

The first fruits of a crop were essentially a guarantee or promise that the rest of the crop would follow. Jesus' resurrection guarantees our own, and the first to come to faith in an area suggests more will follow. And in Romans, Paul remarks that we have the "first fruits of the Spirit."

The ultimate fulfilment will be our resurrection when we receive the fullness of what God has for us. Till then, our Christian experience is only a "first fruits."

The coming of the Holy Spirit dramatically changed the lives of these early Christians. The book of Acts is filled with accounts of the early Church's remarkable spiritual impact on the surrounding society. A transformation was so evident that nonbelievers accused the Christians of "turning the world upside down" (Acts 17:6). Such was the dynamic, miraculous power of the Holy Spirit.

Pentecost serves as an annual reminder that our Creator still works miracles, granting His Spirit to those called to be the first fruits of His spiritual harvest, empowering them to carry out His work in this world.

Helen Delevingne

Moody Publishers

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