The Feast of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit – Deuteronomy 16

“You shall count seven weeks. Begin to count the seven weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain. 10 Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you. 11 And you shall rejoice before the Lord…Deuteronomy 16:9-11 ESV

The Feast of Pentecost, or Feast of Weeks, is a celebration of the wheat harvest (named Shavuot in Hebrew) in Israel recognizing the blessings given each year by the Lord.  It was a time for each Israelite family to take the first fruits of their harvest and go to Jerusalem to offer them as a gift of thanksgiving, enjoying the bounty as a meal eaten together before the presence of the Lord.

Farmers in Israel would sometimes tie ribbons around the first growth to appear in their fields to later identify the first fruits to bring to the Pentecost celebration.

In the same way, the Pentecost that came seven weeks after the Passover of the Lord’s Supper (ten days after the resurrection of Jesus) represented the birth, or first fruits, of the global Christian church.  By God’s design, the first fruits of the harvest of Christian believers came from Jewish worshipers, who were gathered in Jerusalem from all the known nations of the world to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. Later, the church would spread like wildfire throughout the world to the Gentiles.

As Jews gathered from all nations for the Pentecost feast, 120 disciples of Jesus were also assembled in Jerusalem. As Jesus had instructed them just prior to His ascension to heaven, the believers were gathered to pray in the upper room of a house, waiting for the promised baptism of the Holy Spirit. 

2 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they (the 120) 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 the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.  Acts 2:1-4 NKJV

The Jewish people had been scattered to other nations over the previous centuries and spoke many different languages as a result.  But with the coming of the Holy Spirit, those gathered to celebrate the Pentecost could each miraculously understand the 120 disciples of Jesus as they glorified God.  The believers boldly gave testimony about Jesus as the Messiah and salvation of the world.  Peter stood up and gave a sermon proclaiming Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy in the scriptures, and this new Pentecost event as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel.

16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. Acts 2:16-17 NKJV

Convicted in their hearts through the presence of the Holy Spirit, over 3000 believed in Jesus as Lord that day and were baptized in water by the apostles.

Who is the Holy Spirit?  The Holy Spirit is God, and is a Being, not a thing. The Holy Spirit has feelings. The apostle Paul wrote later that we can “grieve” the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus was baptized by John to begin His ministry, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus from heaven like a dove.  The Father also spoke over Jesus, confirming that Jesus was His Son, and pleased Him greatly.  This moment gives us a complete picture of the Holy Trinity of God, with all three present.

The Holy Spirit directs praise towards Jesus, and Jesus towards the Father.  Jesus also notes that the only sin that cannot be forgiven is ascribing the work of the Holy Spirit to the devil.  My interpretation of this sin includes a lifetime of rejection of the Holy Spirit’s generous offer of love and redemption through Jesus Christ.  Salvation is offered to all who are alive on this earth, no matter what manner of sin or rejection of God they have previously committed.

After Pentecost, the Spirit of God no longer resides in a building, but in the hearts of believers.  Jesus said that where two or three are gathered in HIs name, He is present in their midst. This occurs through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

Paul writes of the Holy Spirit throughout his New Testament letters to the various churches, in which he gives them both teaching and encouragement in the inspired word of God.  When we receive Christ, the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts and we become born of the Spirit.  This is what Jesus was referring to when talking to Nicodemus in John 3.  As humans, we are born though water, or natural birth, but we also become spiritually born from above when we believe in Jesus Christ and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

Paul writes in the letter to the Romans,

11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.  Romans 8:11 NKJV

May we all open our hearts to the invitation of the Holy Spirit as the Father draws us nearer to Christ today.

Reflection

We are born from above when we surrender and open our hearts to Christ, the atoning sacrifice for our sin.  Jesus is standing at the door and knocking, but there is no opener on the outside of the door.  The door of our heart can only be opened from within, through our own free will. The Holy Spirit of Jesus is gentle and will only enter our hearts if He is invited.

May we invite the Lord today to come into our hearts to join us and to save us, wherever we may be on this wonderful planet He has made.  May Jesus bless you and reveal Himself to you in a remarkable way today.

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