Celebrating Pentecost and the Feast of Weeks

Many Christians have heard of Pentecost and remember it as the time to celebrate and remember when the Holy Spirit came to dwell in the early church believers after the death and resurrection of Christ. This truly is a holy day worth celebrating. Our Father sent a Helper to dwell among us… to teach us and lead us as His people. The Spirit dwells amongst believers today, though many have been taught to dismiss the Spirit as an active part of experiencing relationship with our Father in our daily lives. We don’t, as a culture, know how to relate to and experience the Spirit in our lives anymore.

Pentecost is a wonderful event that followers of Christ should want to remember given that we are promised the Holy Spirit dwells in all of us. What a great reminder that we have that Helper from our Creator to guide and teach us… to comfort and counsel us. We are not alone in trying to live our lives obedient and pleasing to the Lord as we face hardship in this world.

Acts 2

The Day of Pentecost

      1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

      5Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. 7They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8“And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? 9“Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” 12And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”

Peter’s Sermon

      14But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. 15“For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; 16but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:

      17‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says,
‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND;
AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY,
AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS,
AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS;

      18EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN,
I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT
And they shall prophesy.

      19‘AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE
AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW,
BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE.

      20‘THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS
AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD,
BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME.

      21‘AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.’

      22“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24“But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.

25“For David says of Him,
‘I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE;
FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN.

      26‘THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED;
MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE;

      27BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES,
NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.

      28‘YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE;
YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE.’

      29“Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30“And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, 31he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. 32“This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 33“Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.

34“For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says:
‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD,
“SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND,

      35UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.”’
36“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”

The Ingathering

      37Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39“For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 40And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

      43Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Reading through Acts 2, we are reminded of the power of the Holy Spirit in us. What an inspiring event! Look at how Peter was transformed from the man who denied Christ three times as he followed to see what would become of Him on the way to crucifixion into now a powerful man of God addressing large crowds and bringing many to the Lord.

If we dig a bit deeper, note that the very beginning of this scripture identifies that the day of Pentecost was drawing near, and many had gathered for it… before the Holy Spirit showed up.  This day already had significance. It is often referred to as the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot by Jewish people.

Pentecost is simply Greek for “50 days”. It was applied to this day because the Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot, was a festival to be observed seven weeks from the second day of the Passover. Since seven weeks times seven days per week is 49 days… the day after would be 50.

The Feast of Weeks is the second of three major Jewish festivals with the others being Passover and Feast of Tabernacles. This celebration corresponds to when the first fruits of the wheat harvest were offered to the Lord. Many also traditionally associate it with commemorating the giving of the law at Mount Sinai.

Leviticus 34:22-24

22“You shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks, that is, the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year. 23“Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel. 24“For I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your borders, and no man shall covet your land when you go up three times a year to appear before the LORD your God.

Leviticus 23:15-21

    15‘You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. 16‘You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD. 17‘You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to the LORD. 18‘Along with the bread you shall present seven one year old male lambs without defect, and a bull of the herd and two rams; they are to be a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD. 19‘You shall also offer one male goat for a sin offering and two male lambs one year old for a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20‘The priest shall then wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering with two lambs before the LORD; they are to be holy to the LORD for the priest. 21‘On this same day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be a perpetual statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.

Numbers 28:26-31

 26‘Also on the day of the first fruits, when you present a new grain offering to the LORD in your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work. 27‘You shall offer a burnt offering for a soothing aroma to the LORD: two young bulls, one ram, seven male lambs one year old; 28and their grain offering, fine flour mixed with oil: three-tenths of an ephah for each bull, two-tenths for the one ram, 29a tenth for each of the seven lambs; 30also one male goat to make atonement for you. 31‘Besides the continual burnt offering and its grain offering, you shall present them with their drink offerings. They shall be without defect.

I am still personally coming up to speed on some of historical context and rich meaning behind the feasts of the Lord as He instructed in the Old Testament. There is much to be studied and appreciated there. Our Father makes a habit of tying together the Old and New Testament events. Often one is a foreshadowing of another, not one a replacement of the other. For example, Jesus was crucified at Passover. This was not coincidence. As Passover celebrates God’s people being set free from slavery in Egypt by the mighty power of God, so too Jesus death and resurrection on the cross should be celebrated as setting His people free from slavery to sin.

Consider also, then that the Holy Spirit being sent to the believers after the death of Christ on Pentecost. This is not coincidence. God intended the two to be linked. We must then explore the Old Testament to fully understand what God is telling us in the New. Consider that a homework assignment… a challenge for each of you who are hungry to seek the Lord. Put some time aside for additional study of Pentecost and how the Old Testament feast foreshadows the coming of the Holy Spirit to our lives.

As a start, I am beginning with my family to set aside the day of Pentecost as a Sabbath day of rest as God instructed. We will discuss the significance of both the Feast of Weeks and Pentecost. Both are worthy to be remembered and celebrated.

You can study more about the creators calendar using sites like Hebrew4Christians.com or Psalm119Ministries (select Time: Our Creators Calendar to see collection of videos available). You can learn about what the scripture says about these holy days, when they occur, why God told us to celebrate Shavuot, and traditions.

There is some debate amongst different sources as to the date of the Passover and thus Shavuot/Pentecost each year.  Don’t let this discourage you from getting started celebrating and studying God’s holy days.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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