THE FESTIVAL of PENTECOST
The Festival of Pentecost is full of meaning and has great value, bringing a person a closer appreciation of God’s grace. Like all of God’s festivals, Pentecost is to be a convocation Leviticus 23:2,21–holy gatherings in which the participants come together to fellowship and joyously worship God.
If Jesus’ followers had any question whether they were to continue gathering on God’s festivals, all doubt was wiped away on that first powerful Pentecost following Jesus’ death.
You are probably familiar with the story, found in Acts chapter 2. “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (verse 1). The first thing we notice is that Pentecost was not a new celebration–it had been observed for centuries, given by God to His people as a testament of His grace. In Deuteronomy 16:9-11, Pentecost is called the Festival of Weeks because of the system used to determine what day it would fall on (in Greek, Pentecost means “count fifty”). The counting from which its name is derived is important because it links Pentecost incontrovertibly to the wave sheaf offering (see Leviticus 23:9-22), which represents Jesus being accepted by God as the Savior of mankind. When you understand the ceremony of the wave sheaf, you realize it wasn’t the resurrection that made Jesus our Savior, it was God’s acceptance of Jesus as the first fruits of all that makes Jesus Christ our Savior.
Why is Pentecost linked with the wave sheaf offering? Jesus died for our sins that we might be relieved from the penalty of sin–death–a penalty brought on by our breaking of God’s laws I John 3:4, Romans 6:23. Many scholars believe it was on Pentecost that God spoke to Israel, giving them the Ten Commandments, which He later wrote in stone. The giving of the law, then, which the apostle Paul says brings death Romans 7:10 (because we break it), is linked to Jesus’ acceptance as our Savior, who brings life.
Also linked with Jesus being accepted as our Savior is the receiving by Christians of the Holy Spirit or helper Jesus promised He would send John 14:15-18; Acts 2. The very fact that the Holy Spirit was received is proof that Jesus is our Savior Acts 2:32-33.
Now that the Holy Spirit has come to live in us, we no longer need God’s laws written on stone, because the Holy Spirit is writing them in our hearts and minds Hebrews 8:10. But we still need Jesus as our Savior; therefore the link between Pentecost and the wave sheaf offering; therefore the holy convocation–therefore the joyous gathering.