We have just finished celebrating Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. These feast days reminded us of our commitment to God the Father and Jesus Christ. We renewed our relationship with God at Passover, accepting and claiming the great sacrifice that is bringing about the forgiveness of our sins. We continued to walk in God’s way by, symbolically, removing from our lives the leaven of sin during the seven days of Unleavened Bread, as we had physically removed all leaven from our homes. The number seven pictures completeness – the symbolism of seven days shows us the need to eradicate sin completely. We realize, of course, that we cannot do that without God’s help. God, though, offers and provides us with this help – through the gift of His Holy Spirit.
Now, we look down the road to the next Holy Day, the Day of Pentecost. There is a strong connection between the Passover season and the Feast of Pentecost. During the Passover season, we renew our commitment by counting the cost of living a Godly life. At the same time, we start quite literally to count fifty days, beginning with the Sunday following the weekly Sabbath after the First Day of Unleavened Bread. On that Sunday, the wave sheaf offering was waved in ancient Israel. This is quite symbolic, as it pictures Christ’s ascension to heaven on that very day, being accepted by God the Father. Christ was resurrected from the dead on the Sabbath, just before sunset, but He ascended to heaven on Sunday morning, exactly at the same time when the priest waived the wave sheaf offering. Fifty days later, we reach the Feast of Pentecost. That is where the name “Pentecost” comes from – it means “counting fifty.”
God the Father accepted Christ as the first of the firstfruits. Since Christ is the first of the firstfruits, who are the other firstfruits? We know, of course, that Christ’s Church comprises the other firstfruits. It is interesting that the Feast of Pentecost is also called the Feast of Firstfruits – it is focusing on the collective spiritual body of Christ who were called and still will be called to salvation prior to Christ’s return.
There is another strong connection between the Passover and the Pentecost seasons – having to do with the process of conversion. Conversion starts with God’s calling and enlightening of our minds, followed by repentance and faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ, baptism and the laying on of hands. After that, God bestows on us the gift of His Spirit. Applying this to the symbolism attached to the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread and Pentecost, we have, during the Passover season, gone through the requirements, spiritually speaking, of repentance and baptism. In looking forward to Pentecost, we are approaching the event of receiving of the Holy Spirit. The Festival of Pentecost does, of course, remind us of the time when God bestowed His Holy Spirit on the collective body of the Church. God gave the Holy Spirit so that the disciples could keep the law more perfectly.
Historically, God spoke to Moses and ancient Israel the Law of the Ten Commandments on the day of Pentecost. At that time, there was a tremendous display of God’s awesome power and magnitude, so much so that the Israelites told Moses, “You talk to God.” They were afraid of talking to God themselves (Exodus 20:18-19).
The New Testament Church began in 31 AD on the Day of Pentecost. We can read the account in Acts 2. When God gave the Holy Spirit, He saw to it that there would also be a mighty display of signs and wonders – as had been the case when the law was declared to ancient Israel. In 31 AD, there were also unusual events – the sound of a mighty wind, flames of fire resting on the disciples, the ability of the many foreigners assembled in Jerusalem to hear the disciples speak in their own language, and of course Peter’s inspired moving sermon causing 3000 people to repent, believe in Christ’s sacrifice, and get baptized on that very same day (Acts 2:41).
God saw to it that great signs and a powerful witness of the power of the Holy Spirit accompanied the giving of His Holy Spirit. He made it clear for all times that man NEEDS this power in order to be able to overcome, to remain in the grace of God, and to finally conquer sin. In addition, all who have received God’s Holy Spirit have become the begotten children of God, beginning to fulfill what God always wanted to happen. God’s desire is revealed in Rev. 21:3 – God wants to be our God, and that we should become His children.
As we look forward to the Feast of Pentecost, let us be mindful of the fact that we must allow Christ to work in and through us by the power of His Holy Spirit.