As you may know, in the context of the Bible, Jesus is in EVERYTHING. Old Testament, New Testament, everything points to Him in some way, shape or form.
A few months ago I was researching for a sermon and came across some things that were really fascinating to me about Pentecost. (Within the post, click on the hyperlinks in BLUE to read the Scripture directly.)
The word “Pentecost” originates from the Koine Greek term meaning “50 days.” This was the Harvest Feast, or Feast of Weeks, celebrating the firstfruits of the wheat/barley harvest.
The practice was to bring in two loaves of wheat bread made with the first of the wheat harvest that year. Until these loaves were “wave” offered, none of the wheat/barley was supposed to be consumed. God gives the sun and the rain, and then the wheat harvest comes. And they were to wave it back to Him in the form of bread to recognize that it was from His hand that the harvest was given to them on earth.
Hmmm, this wave-y bread offering is interesting in and of itself to me.
Recall that Jesus calls Himself “The Bread of Life.” (Click here: John 6:35) After He feeds many, drives out demons and heals the multitudes, this hard teaching is what drives people away from Him and sifts all who aren’t in it to win it. He tells the people they have to eat His body and drink His blood in order to have eternal life. This is likened to Communion, when we take bread and juice/wine, emblems of His Body and Blood. He teaches the disciples later at the Last Supper that this is how they are to remember Him.
Now, to me, this bread-y OT wave offering of the Feast of Weeks and Firstfruits ties in directly with Jesus because it is the completion and the culmination of what the Pentecost festival was meant to represent.
Bear with me…
Acts 2 talks about a miraculous day. Everyone from all over the known world is in Jerusalem at that time for this big celebration. The Feast was one of the major festivals of the Jewish calendar.
That very morning, the Holy Spirit comes in fullness to man from God. You might recall what happened. The disciples, with the gift of the Holy Spirit, begin speaking in the languages of all the people from every nation under heaven, telling them all about the Gospel.
Check this out: In true Christ form, Jesus appropriately gives to believers the most incredible first-fruit offering EVER once He has seated Himself next to Daddy in heaven: He sends His Holy Spirit on the first day of the Pentecost Harvest Feast!
After His resurrection and ascension, as He watches His people wave their bread outside the Temple, could it be that He waves back from heaven, and as His giant hand waves, the wind begins to rush and little bits of fire from the throne come down from heaven and land on the disciples? I wonder.
The Holy Spirit is the FIRST gift given to the apostles in order to disseminate the Gospel on that Day of Pentecost. Remember, in John 14:16 Jesus promised He would send the Spirit of truth.
But wait…there’s MORE!
There are direct parallels between the Old Testament and New Testament to Pentecost.
I find it interesting that in Exodus, on the fiftieth day after the deliverance from Egypt, the Law was given by God from Mt. Sinai through Moses. And that day, the people offered themselves to God as living first fruits. The Israelites’ consecration to God as a nation happened at the 50-day mark after slavery.
Just as the appearance of God on the fiftieth day on Sinai was the birthday of the Jewish nation, so was Pentecost the birthday of the Christian Church. (Smith’s Bible Dictionary: Leviticus 23)
The point is this:
In the Old Testament,
1. God gives the Law,
2. receives the People of Israel
as His firstfruit.
In the New Testament,
1. Jesus gives His Spirit,
2. receives the Church filled with
believers back as His firstfruit.
For us now, as believers,
1. We are His Harvest.
2. We receive the fruit of the Spirit.
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. Against such things there is no law, (Galatians 5:22-23) and so by these first fruits of the Spirit and the blood of Jesus Christ, we are able to supersede the Law.
Maybe it’s not mind-blowing in application but it is certainly faith-increasing in context of the depth of consistency of the Scriptures. It’s like a tapestry with threads weaving the whole picture together for us.
One final thing.
During Pentecost, the people were supposed to be in good cheer and predisposed to kindness as they were walking into the Temple to make their free-will offerings. “With a liberal spirit toward the priest, the stranger, the orphans and widows” is how the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia describes the atmosphere of the celebration.
When I think of it, this is who the Gospel captivates the most. A royal priesthood, WE were once strangers far off from God. Jesus said He wouldn’t leave the disciples as orphans but He would send a Helper, the Holy Spirit. Finally, we are all helpless and without covering (like the widows of old and like the ones I have seen in India) without our Savior.
As we make our offerings to serve God, do we remember to pour out kindness to our pastors, newcomers, children and those who are alone or without family?
So God poured out His Spirit liberally on the day of Pentecost to enable and empower the disciples. Joel 2:28-32 passage comes to my mind where God says He will pour out His Spirit on all people. It is in fact the Old Testament Scripture that is quoted in the Acts 2 passage! And as we see throughout the rest of Acts, He doesn’t reserve His Spirit only for the best and brightest. He pours it out on all people–Jews and Gentiles alike–who receive His Son.
“And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” Joel 2:32
That is fruit, indeed.
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