by Robert Berendt
Pentecost is the third Holy Day of God as listed in Leviticus 23:15. There it is called the Feast of Weeks and it is counted as the 50th day following the day after the Sabbath which fell during the Days of Unleavened Bread. It is also called the “Feast of Harvest” (Exodus 23:16). Therefore Pentecost always falls on a Sunday. God placed great importance on Israel offering the firstborn of animals or firstfruits of the harvest to Him (Deut. 26:10).
At Passover, the wave sheaf offering was waved before God on the day after the Sabbath and the Bible explains that Jesus Christ would not let His followers touch Him until He had ascended and been presented to God the Father, but later that day Jesus came to them and they could touch Him (John 20:17,20). The wave sheaf seems to have looked forward to Jesus Christ just as the Passover lamb looked forward to Him. Jesus was resurrected on Saturday afternoon, but waited until Sunday morning to ascend. God is acutely aware of His days and symbols. When we observe how carefully each prophecy of Scripture was fulfilled and how each Sabbath and Holy Day played a part in the life and death of Christ, it becomes clear why they are “God’s” days.
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ introduced the new and better way for mankind to be reconciled to God (Heb. 8:6). God had found fault with the people as they did not develop the character to love and be obedient to His laws. In the new covenant, His laws are written in the hearts and minds of those who believe and follow Him (Heb.8:10). Paul was quoting Jeremiah 31 in the book to the Romans and there is no doubt about what laws are God’s laws. There was to be a “new” covenant because of the failings of the people.
The system of sacrifices was intended only to remind people of sin – not absolve them) and did not lead to the godly offspring God was seeking (Mal.2:15). There was a law that was added (Gal.3:19). Paul wrote that the law was added 430 years after Abraham and would last until Christ would come (Gal.3:17). God loved Abraham because he obeyed all of God’s laws and statutes (Gen.26:5). 430 years after Abraham, God wrote the Ten Commandments on stone, but those ten were not new, they existed since the creation of Adam and Eve.
What was added was the Passover and the laws of sacrifices. That is what ended with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who became our sacrifice. Moses added to the law due to the hardness of the hearts of the people (Matt.19:7-9). Those additions and others were due to the faults of people who did not love and obey God’s laws. The only law that Jesus Christ removed was the law of sin and death or in other words the sacrificial system that was to remind people not to sin (Heb.10:1-4). The blood of animals could never take away sin, as Paul wrote, they reminded people of sin and the need for a Saviour. God was so careful in every detail that Paul noted that just as the bodies of the animals whose blood was brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin were burned outside the camp, Christ Himself also suffered outside the gate (Heb.13:11,12).
James refers to the saved as a kind of “firstfruits” (James 1:18). This harvest would be the early or spring harvest in Israel with the second and greater harvest coming in the fall. We can see in the scriptures that there is a smaller harvest of God’s people that happens at the second coming of Christ and it is called the “first resurrection” (Rev.20:5,6). The statement “rest of the dead” would then apply to all who had not been redeemed by Christ’s blood, but who would live after the 1,000 years to become part of the still greater and final harvest of mankind.
Pentecost is designed to teach that there is a first harvest of humans that will be resurrected with spiritual bodies and be like Christ (I John 3:2). It points to a greater hope for all of mankind. Jesus taught about a resurrection to life, rewards and glory with Him and the Father (John 5:29, Matt.19:28-30). God wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth (I Tim.2:4). He gives the opportunity to many for we see many are called – that is invited (Matt.22:14). Jesus stated that many who were invited were not willing to come and had excuses (v.3,4).
Some grew angry and murderous at the invitation and Jesus said they were not worthy (v.8). Finally others were invited, both bad and good and they did come, but some of them treated the invitation carelessly and were cast out (v.13). The lessons taught by Jesus Christ about the resurrection to life are serious and not to be taken lightly.
God began the process of receiving repentant sinners into fellowship with the apostles on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:1-3). God shows the importance of His holy days by waiting for a few more days until the day of Pentecost had fully arrived. Now the work of the early harvest from among the people in Jerusalem could begin. What seemed like a violent, howling wind rose on Pentecost as the followers were gathered together and something that looked like flames of fire rested on each of them (Acts. 2:1-4). The sound attracted the attention of many of the devout Jews who had come from all over the Roman Empire. To the utter astonishment of the gathered crowds, each person could hear the Word of God spoken in their own language.
Meanwhile the Spirit of God was moving the hearts of many of those gathered together. They learned that they needed to repent and be baptized to be forgiven. Then they would receive the Spirit of God and the Father and Son would dwell in them. Three thousand were baptized on that day and God who was directly involved, added more to the group every day (Acts. 1:38-47). However, there were more than the 3,000 who heard the words. Some were skeptical, some angry, some mocked and some just did not care. The 3,000 did care.
The path to eternal life had been set and to this day, it has not changed. In order to be part of the resurrection that happens at the return of Jesus Christ, each person must know what sin is so they can repent of it. They must believe and accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ which cleanses us from sin (I John 1:7 – 2:2). Peter writes that God in turn expects us to be holy in all we do (1 Pet.1:13-23). The Father and Son dwell in converted people through the Holy Spirit (I Cor.3:16). Pentecost teaches the first harvest and marks the end of the spring holy days. These days look forward to the greater harvest from all of mankind which is revealed in the fall holy days. God has done all He could do for mankind.
He loved them so much that He sent His Son (John 3:16). We love Him because He first loved us (I John 4:19). Pentecost is exciting as it marks the “better resurrection” (Heb.11:35). Those who are part of this resurrection will live and reign with Christ for about 1,000 years before the greater harvest takes place (Rev.5:10). The invitation is open to all who would hear just as it was to the whole crowd gathered before the disciples on that special Pentecost. Many are called and that is part of the task of God’s people today. Few are chosen and that is partly their choice, but it is the area in which God works (Matt.22:14). Peter encouraged them to “save themselves from this corrupt generation” (Acts 2:40). The message of Pentecost is the same today. The door is open to become part of the firstfruits.