Monday, January 28
The Day of Pentecost
When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. 3 And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech. 5 There were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 When this sound occurred, a crowd came together and was confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 And they were astounded and amazed, saying, "Look, aren't all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 How is it that each of us can hear in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites; those who live in Mesopotamia, in Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs-- we hear them speaking the magnificent acts of God in our own languages." 12 They were all astounded and perplexed, saying to one another, "What could this be?" 13 (Act 2:1-12 CSB)
In modern Christianity, we celebrate Pentecost (if we celebrate it at all) as the day that God poured out His Spirit on those who believed in Jesus. While that is what happened—and what we should celebrate more than we do—Pentecost was already a holy day prior to Acts 2.
Pentecost, also called the Festival of Harvest or Festival of Weeks, was one of three annual pilgrimage festivals when Jews from all over would travel to Jerusalem to celebrate and make sacrifices. Passover was the first major pilgrimage festival, and Pentecost followed ‘a week of weeks’ (7 weeks) after the first Passover—or 50 days. This festival celebrated the harvest, and worshippers brought offerings to thank God for His provision. Also, the celebration commemorated the giving of the Law on Sinai (which occurred approximately 2 months after the first Passover), and this holy day is still observed by Jewish communities today as Shavout.
Whenever we read the New Testament, it is important to remember that Jesus, His disciples, and many of the new Church were Jews, and continued to consider themselves Jews. When that first post-resurrection Pentecost arrived, the apostles had spent the last 49 days being taught the Scriptures by Jesus Himself. Jesus explained how He was the fulfillment of all the Scriptures—including all the Jewish festivals. His death during the Passover was not coincidence. The disciples understood that Jesus was the perfect Passover Lamb. They recognized that His perfect sacrifice obliterated the need for any further sacrificial system. They knew that His death had literally ripped apart the priesthood and Temple system of mediated access to God.
As they gathered for their first post-resurrection Pentecost, they must have wondered how this celebration had been fulfilled in Jesus. As they celebrated the harvest and God’s provision for another year, surely one of the disciples remembered Jesus’ words that “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” In the moments before the Spirit descended, were they praying that the Lord of the Harvest would empower and send more workers?
And as they celebrated the giving of the Law—when Yahweh met with Moses in the midst of cloud and smoke and made a covenant with His people, providing His instruction on how to live as God’s people—one of the disciples must have recalled the prophecy of Jeremiah that God would one day write His law on their hearts and put His Spirit in them.
God’s timing is never coincidental. Pentecost was not just a random day on the calendar. This year, as Jews gathered to celebrate just as they had been doing for hundreds of years…this year, the God of Sinai rushed in once again in wind and fire. This year, the Lord of the Harvest rushed in with power upon His workers. This year was the year they had waited for.
In Jesus’ time, Jews traveled hundreds of miles and stayed in town for a week to celebrate Pentecost. In Jesus, we have the perfect fulfillment of what that Old Testament festival foreshadowed, yet we barely note the day on the calendar. What greater reason do we have to celebrate on the holy day of thanksgiving for the Harvest and the Law? How could we more jubilantly celebrate what God did on that day?
Lord of the Harvest, empower us to be your workers. The fields are ripe, and the harvest is abundant—in our own homes, communities and countries and beyond. Holy Spirit, we await in joyful anticipation. Fill us, instruct us, transform us, send us. Amen.
Pick Four More Activities
Listen and Worship.
Pray a Psalm.
Read a Book.
Retell the Gospel to Yourself.
Take Some Notes on Today's Devotional.
Pray for Yourself, Your Family, Your Church, and the Lost.
Memorize a Verse.
List Five Things You're Thankful For.