ORIGIN OF PENTECOST
In order to properly understand the day of Pentecost as mentioned in the first chapter of the book of Acts, we need to investigate its origin as given in the Old Testament. Remember what Chuck Missler was fond of saying, “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.” Every aspect and detail presented in the New Testament has its foreshadowing in the Old. The Old Testament presents a ‘model’ or ‘type’ that undergoes a further enlightenment in the New. ‘Pent’ means 50, so therefore fifty days from the resurrection of Christ on the first day of the festival of First Fruits until the giving of the Holy Spirit. This corresponds perfectly with the two wave offerings, that the Jewish nation was instructed to observe. The first ‘wave offering’ is termed “waving the omer,” and occurs on the first day of the festival of first-fruits and involves waving a barley sheaf of the first fruit of the barley harvest. They are then instructed to count off 50 days, (termed ‘counting the omer,’) until the celebration of Shavuot, (lit., weeks) which is celebrated with a 2nd waving only this time it is a sheaf of the first fruits of the wheat harvest. The little chart below may help.
Diagram 1 FIRSTFRUITS
Barley wave ripening wheat 2 loaves of wheat
Firstfruits counting 49 days Shavuot (50th day)
Christ Resurrection 50 days Holy Spirit given
Both the feast of Firstfruits and the Feast of Weeks, (Shavuot) are inextricably linked, like bookends about the central theme of Firstfruits.1
Before venturing further along these lines, a little review of history is needed.
“The New moon of Nisan marks the start of sacred time, Passover remembers the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb, the first day of Unleavened Bread remembers the Exodus from Egypt, the seventh day of Unleavened Bread remembers the crossing of the Red Sea, the counting of the Omer recalls the days before the giving of the Torah at Sinai, and Shavuot remembers the giving of the Torah exactly seven weeks after the Exodus, on Sivan 6. Indeed, Shavuot at Mount Sinai is sometimes considered the day on which Judaism was born.” 2
So, the LORD commanded Moses to go to Pharaoh to have him released the Hebrews from their slavery and bondage. After many signs and wonders and terrors, Pharaoh released the Hebrews, after the terror of the night of Passover where the blood was applied to the door frames. God commanded each household to choose an unblemished young male lamb to be sacrificed to the LORD. On Nisan 14 the lamb was sacrificed and the blood applied. The lamb was then roasted and eaten with unleavened bread (matzah) and bitter herbs. They were to eat in haste since they would be leaving Egypt the next morning. The Angel of Death passed over each household bearing the blood of the innocent lamb sacrifice. Six days after leaving Egypt Pharaoh’s armies closed in on them as they congregated before the Red Sea. The pillar of fire was placed between the two camps while God parted the waters of the sea and the Israelites passed over to safety. Pharaoh’s troops were subsequently drowned. Three days later, on Nisan 24, the people came to Marah, where the water was bitter. Moses threw some wood into the waters, and they became sweet water good for drinking. (Ex. 15:22-26). Later, after much grumbling, they were provided with manna to feed them (Ex. 16). They next camp was at Rephidim where they are provided water from the rock. It is also here that they are attacked by the Amalekites, who are descendants of Esau (Ex. 17:9-16). So, what has all this got to do with Pentecost? Let’s consider the parallelism of this 40 day journey to Mount Sinai with the ‘journey’ from Christ’s death and resurrection, to Pentecost; the journey to Mount Sinai and the giving of the law with the journey to Mount Zion and the giving of the Spirit; from the formation of the nation of Israel to the formation of the Church.
The coming out of Egypt gives us the physical picture of Israel’s release from bondage and slavery – it represents our journey as Gentiles as we come out of the “land of sin and slavery.” We place our trust and faith in the Lamb of God, slain for us. We consider ourselves ‘under the deliverance of the blood’ just as the Hebrews placed their faith and trust in the Passover lamb. As Col. 1:13 reminds us, “[God] has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son:” So we have in effect passed out under the blood of the Passover Lamb, out from the power of darkness, and into the kingdom of His Son by the passing through of our own Red Sea. This is then followed by the teachings that Israel encountered during the 40 days in the desert. God demonstrated the magnificent benefits to be received as He outlines some of these with the models and types given to the Hebrew travellers in the desert. Once we pass into His care our lives which once were bitter and unfit for anything or anyone, are made sweet. This is demonstrated for us as the Hebrews arrive at Marah were the water is bitter. It is made sweet water. And how does this happen? Moses threw wood into the water and the waters became sweet water (mayim chayim), (Ex. 15:22-26). It is the ‘wood,’ the wood of the cross of Christ that changes us from bitter to sweet. We trust that it is the wood that took our bitterness away as it supported our Pascal Lamb who became our sin. So, we pass under the blood and cling to the cross of Christ that begins our new journey and our new life. Just as the bitter water of Marah was made sweet and drinkable by the wood, so too, our lives become sweet and drinkable to others by the cross of Christ.
Next, God fed them with manna. It became literally their bread of life. It sustained them and provided for them even though it was something never seen before. Just as is our Bread of Life. Jesus said that He is the Bread of life that comes down from heaven. (John 6:35,48). The Hebrews received the manna from heaven EVERY DAY. So we obtain daily sustenance from Him, our Bread of Heaven, Bread of Life. We are not to worry about tomorrow nor all of its cares, for today has enough to concern us. We are to trust that He knows we need food and water and clothing for the day and just as the Hebrews could only collect enough manna for the present day, so we are to ‘collect’ what we need for this day, and not to worry about tomorrow. “Give us THIS DAY our daily bread.”
Their next stop before arriving at Sinai, was at Rephidim which means, resting place, and here they are gifted with the miraculous provision of water from the rock. Waters of life were provided by the ‘Rock of our Salvation.’ “But whosoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst; but the water that I give him will be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).
Finally they are told to watch for and never forget their enemies (Ex.17:9-16). They were attacked by their life-long enemy the Amalekites (descendants of Esau.) We also, are warned to be on the lookout for the attacks of our arch enemy, The Devil.
In summary here, the Hebrews pass out under the blood at Passover, journey through the Red Sea, are supernaturally protected by the LORD, journey 40 days through the desert where they experience the bitter water becoming sweet, are fed with the manna from heaven, watered by the water from the rock, are victorious over their enemy the Amalekites and are able to rest before Mount Sinai. We experience the same. We are translated out of our bondage and darkness into the kingdom of Christ, our lives become sweet to the LORD rather that bitter and stale, we are fed with the manna of heaven, and watered by the waters of life, we are alert to the wiles of the Devil and find victory as we rest in Him.
When the Jews settled the Promised Land the meaning of Shavuot was transformed into an agricultural holiday, a celebration of the LORD’s provision. They were instructed by Moses in Deuteronomy to observe Passover (Deut. 16:1-7), Unleavened Bread (Deut. 16:8), the Omer Count (Deut. 16:9), and Shavuot:
“You will count seven weeks. Begin to count the seven weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain. Then you will keep the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you will give as the LORD your God blesses you. And you will rejoice before the LORD your God.”
(Deut.16:9-11) Shavuot means seven weeks (49 days). Exactly seven weeks after the first harvest of barley is the celebration of Shavuot (weeks), one of the three pilgrimage holidays where Jews would come to the Temple to present the firstfruits of their spring crops before the LORD. Since Shavuot occurs on the 50th day after Passover, the Greek translators of the Torah called this day “Pentecost.”
There are seven specific fruits of the Promised Land which are barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, dates, olives and wheat. Pilgrims would bring a basket of one of these firstfruits to the temple each year and present their basket to the priest. Just as a sample of the first crop of barley was waved before the altar during the festival of Firstfruits, so on Shavuot a sample of the first crop of the wheat harvest was brought to the priests, baked into two loaves of leavened bread, and then waved before the altar as a concluding rite of the season. This was the ONLY TIME leavened bread was used by the priests for the service.
So, Firstfruits day one was the exact day Christ rose from the grave. He represents the Firstfruits of the dead. 1 Cor. 15:20:
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the Firstfruits of them that slept.”
As He rose from the dead, the Firstfruits of the barley harvest was being waved in the temple on the first day of the festival. The first sheaf of barley (omer) was waved. The unleavened bread of the Exodus was made from barley that was unleavened. This speaks of Christ being without sin. There was no leaven present in Him. There then follows the ‘counting of the omer,’ seven weeks in duration, culminating on the 50th day, the Festival of Weeks or Shavuot, and is signified by the ‘wheat offering’ the waving of two loaves of bread made from leavened wheat. To believers in Christ, the two loaves signify the two groups, Jew and Gentile, who together have become the “one new man,” the “one new creation,” and the leaven would indicate our sinful natures as we come to offer ourselves to the LORD. Thus on Pentecost both Jew and Gentile are gathered in the upper room about to receive the Fruit of the Spirit. This moment is the beginning of the Church just as the same point in time years earlier on Mount Sinai represented the beginning of the Jewish nation. Fifty days from Passover in Egypt to Mount Sinai, the giving of the law and the beginning of Judaism. Fifty days from the Resurrection of Christ on the 1st of Firstfruits to Mount Zion, Pentecost; from the giving of grace to the beginning of the Church.
Today, most Jewish homes celebrate this festival with great joy and enthusiasm. It is especially fun for the children. The counting of the omer has become a great family time of excitement. I fondly remember when our children were small that the countdown to Christmas was very similar to this Jewish time. We would make a paper chain of twelve loops, each representing a day. We would hang the lopped chain in a prominent place and each morning or evening the children would run to the chain and tear off a loop and exclaim, “10 days ‘till Christmas!” A similar time is followed by Jewish households as they count down the omer until the day of Shavuot (Pentecost to us).
On the very day that devout Jews from around the world gathered in Jerusalem to reaffirm their commitment to the covenant of Moses, the Holy Spirit descended upon Israel to offer the promise of the New Covenant to all who would believe. (Acts 2:1-42) This new covenant would have the ‘law’ written on the hearts of believers, (Rom. 2:15), rather than the law of Moses written upon stone. And the wave offerings of the two loaves offering up the fruit of our labour, the Holy Spirit’s descent upon believers brought the fruit of the Holy Spirit to us.
The resurrection of Yeshua, on the first day of the festival of Firstfruits, represents the Firstfruits of those who have died, (1 Cor. 15:20) and fulfills the waving of the barley on the same day, so too the giving of the Holy Spirit to the church, on the exact same day of Shavuot, fulfills the wave offering of the two wheat loaves. Fifty days exactly between both events. From the day of the first Passover until the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, fifty days, and the resurrection of Christ unto the giving of the Holy Spirit, fifty days. The counting of the omer! On Pentecost all of Israel offers up the fruit of their labour in celebration to the goodness of God and His provision, as the church receives the fruit of God’s Spirit from His completed work, and we celebrate His goodness.
Fifty days from Passover until the formation of Judaism. Fifty days from Christ’s resurrection until the formation of the Church. During the ‘counting of the omer,’ Jews reflect on the goodness of God. He provided sweet water from bitter, manna from heaven, water from a rock, and deliverance from their life-long enemy. And believers during this ‘counting of the omer,’ we witnesses the resurrected Christ ministering for forty days before His ascension. Demonstrating the true revelation of turning bitterness to sweetness, of feeding on the True manna from heaven, of watering the word with the Waters of Life, of deliverance and authority over our arch enemy, of resting in His goodness. God descended upon Mount Sinai and tabernacled with the people for a season. He had to withdraw due to their ultimate sin and disobedience. Christ came and tabernacled among us as per John 1, and as He departed this earth at His ascension He did not leave us comfortless, but gave us of His Spirit, and also left us with His words, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.” Matt. 28:20. See also Hebrews 13:5. Pentecost is His sealing us forever with His Holy Spirit; His giving us His fruit;3 His writing His law upon our hearts; His filling us to overflow with His joy, praise and worship. Amen.
Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory. Forever, and ever. Amen.
Hallelujah! To God be the Glory indeed! We serve a Living Saviour. He’s in the world today. We know that He is living, whatever men may say. We see Your hand of mercy, we hear Your voice of cheer. And every time we need You, You are always near. Thank You Lord, that Jesus is alive, that He walks with us and talks with us on our faith journey. How truly amazing!
Thank You Lord that Jesus is alive in our hearts. Thank You that it says in John 14, verses 21 and 23 that if we love Jesus and obey His teaching, He will love us and Father God will love us and You will both come and make Your home in our hearts. Hallelujah! How wonderful is that!
Thank You Lord that Your presence surrounds us – as the Psalmist says – the Angel of the Lord encamps round about us and turns back every evil plan of the enemy for our ruin. Wow! Lord, how truly amazing!
And Jesus told His disciples that when He left them, He would send another Comforter, the Spirit of Truth. Hallelujah! We thank You, Lord, from the bottom of our hearts for the Holy Spirit who encourages us, counsels us, helps us, intercedes for us, strengthens us, supports and champions us, and can always be relied on when needed. Thank You that Jesus said in John 14 verse 17 that although the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart) the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, (because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him), we will know and recognize Him, for He lives with us [constantly] and will be in us. Hallelujah! Thank You Lord for Your faithfulness. Thank You Lord for Your steadfastness toward us who believe and love you. Thank You Lord for Your great and incredible provision of the Comforter. Thank You Lord Jesus that, according to Your Word, You have not left us orphaned – [comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, helpless], (verse 18).
Lord God Almighty, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. There is none like You. You deserve all of our worship and all of our praise. Thank You for Your wonderful plan of salvation and for Your chosen people Israel. Thank You for revealing Yourself to us through the Old Testament and the New. Thank You for Jesus, the Living Word of God, and for the written Word of God. Hallelujah!
Thank You Lord, for Pastor Bob’s good explanation of Pentecost and what it means to us as believers. I especially like the part about the two barley loaves, one representing the Jews and the other, the Gentile believers. Thank You Lord, that in Jesus, we are one body to the Glory of God and Jesus, our Messiah.
Father, I pray for the needs of those in our midst who are grieving today, especially for Ila whose dear brother passed recently. I ask You Lord to comfort her and strengthen her, as only You can. Pour out Your great love upon her Lord and help her heart to heal. And I pray likewise Lord, for each person amongst us who is carrying grief in their hearts.
Father, I pray Your blessing upon every person who is struggling with health issues, financial issues, relationship issues or mental health issues. I would say that includes each of us one way or another. Lord, make a way where there seems to be no way for each of us to appropriate the healing You have provided through Your Word and Your Great Love. You have every answer that we need to every question. And You are our Healer. Thank You that every day, our Lord Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, rises with healing in His wings for each one of us. Hallelujah!
And Father, I pray for wisdom for our political leaders all across Canada. And I pray Father God for men and women of Christian faith to rise up and be counted when it comes to making themselves heard with regard to right and wrong. We pray Father God that Bill C-8 be defeated (and Bill S-202 is similar). It is breathtaking in its scope and its eradication of constitutional rights. It will outlaw any kind of clinical therapy, spiritual counselling, prayer or parental guidance to help a person or child overcome unwanted gender identity confusion or same-sex attraction. Come, Holy Spirit to stir people up to stand against the outrage of sex-change operations for children. It is nothing short of horrific child abuse. Help us O God, we need You so very much.
Father, we offer our praise and prayers, in Jesus’ name. Amen
1 Bruce Scott The Feasts of Israel page 58’
2 John J. Parsons Shavuot – Revelation and the Fruit of the Spirit. Page 1
3 Gal. 5: 22-23