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The Feast of Shavuot / Weeks / Pentecost
- Babel – The Roots of Pentecost
It’s called The Feast of Shavuot / Weeks / Pentecost / as well as a second Firstfruits.
When we think of Pentecost, as Christians, we think about the one that occurred 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. And hopefully, we think about the first Pentecost with Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai, free from Egypt.
But there are several profound shadows & types or prophetic pictures of Pentecost as far back as 4,000 years ago at the Tower of Babel. Plus, there is a Pentecost event in the life of Jacob and a fascinating shadow in the life of David. Each one of them reveals a unique revelation of what the heart of Pentecost is (even beyond the tongues and fire).
So, how do we encounter Jesus in Pentecost? Let’s start back at the beginning with Babel. The Tower of Babel account is surrounded by two genealogies. So, it serves as a transition between Noah’s Flood and the life of Abram. And tongues fit in nicely because the genealogy in Chapter 10 lists 70 of Noah’s descendants, each of whom became the forerunner of a major people group and most likely a unique tongue.
Genesis 11: “Now the whole earth had one language and the same words [or “unified words”].
It can be rightly translated that way, but those words in Hebrew are [dvarim achadim]. [dvarim] means “words”. [chadim] means “sharp”.
So, [dvarim achadim] are sharp words – words that challenge or oppose God.
So, this story isn’t just about a people who all speak one language, but about a people who also are opposed to God. It may be helpful to remember that this is right after the time of Noah. Remember, his half-son/grandson Canaan is opposed to God, his father Noah, and his brothers, so the roots of Babel are alive in Canaan and his descendants.
“Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth….”
This tower, or in Hebrew [miḡdāl (mig-dawl’)] – is like an elevated stage (they are also called ziggurats). They are not trying to reach God in heaven. They look at themselves and want everyone to see their greatness. They built this tower to climb atop it as a sort of “high place”. They likely wanted to unite around false worship and make themselves as gods – they definitely had idolatrous intentions.
“And Yehovah said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.”
“So Yehovah dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there Yehovah confused the language of all the earth.”
They’re of one mind. And that unity is around opposing God. And the result is the confusion of their language, and they were scattered across the earth.
The scattering is a theme that will stretch through all the shadows – all the way to Jerusalem where, 40 years after the Pentecost of Acts chapter 2, Rome destroyed the temple eliminating sacrifices, and the unbelieving Jews are scattered.
There’s also a bit of veiled Hebrew wordplay going on in this story that plays a big part in understanding the heart of Pentecost. It involves the Hebrew idea of obeying. There is only one word for that idea and it’s [shema] – which means to hear, listen, obey.
The same word [shema] means both “to listen” as “to obey”. The linkage is certainly not unique. We imply the same thing in English when we tell our kids to listen, but we really mean obey.
Shema is the name of their most important prayer. The Shema Prayer from Deuteronomy 6 is usually prayed by every Jew first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening, and it’s supposed to be the last words you speak before you die.
They consider the Shema to be the most important verse in the Bible. The verse calls the Israelites to love God with all their heart, soul, and strength. “Shema Yisrael, Yehovah Eloheinu, Yehovah Echad.” “Hear O’ Israel, Yehovah is our God, Yehovah is One.”
The Babel story is all about language, hearing, and obeying. Shema is at the heart of the story. When the story begins, they all spoke the language of creation – Hebrew. Because they could all speak and hear Hebrew, they could be united – and so could obey or disobey God as one when He spoke.
But they chose false worship and disobedience, and they tried to build a tower to worship a false God atop to “make a name for ourselves”. So suddenly, instead of one unified language, there were many – which brought confusion and disunity. They could no longer hear/obey Hebrew, and they were scattered.
And this is another bit of wordplay. The word name is [šêm – shame] – which is the first part of the word shema (hear and obey). Which is to say, your name defines you. You hear and obey God’s specific call and the actions of your life – your purpose – are also your name – which also means honor and renown.
At Babel, their desire to disobey God [shema], and to make a name [šêm – shame] for themselves, led to the loss of the ability to [shema], hear the voice of God, the language of God (Hebrew), and the loss of their honor and renown. And He scattered them across the earth.
The story then immediately transitions to the lineage of Shem (his name means name, honor, and renown) from whom comes Abram whose name becomes a source of blessing and honor to all mankind. His story is “the story” told from then on. So, that’s a lot of Hebrew wordplay.
And since Shem is the father of the Semites, those who speak Hebrew, we can assume that they alone retained the original language of creation after Babel.
These are major themes of Pentecost: A tower (migdal) is present. There is a focus on heaven. Someone is exalted. There is unity. Language/tongues is a huge focal point. A name is important. And the people are scattered.
- Jacob’s Ladder
Babel is the roots of man’s Pentecost – man trying to make a name for himself. So, we know already that God’s true Pentecost will be the opposite and redeem that.
Jacob’s Ladder – Let’s journey a few hundred years to the time of Jacob. This picture of Pentecost is easy to miss, but really amazing. In his backstory, Jacob desired the blessing of his father who loved his brother Esau more than him. Jacob was not the favorite. He was not like his father.
So, Jacob was more of a mamma’s boy. And we see Rebekah conspiring with him to lie and cheat Esau. But his father’s blessing was really important to him, so he lied and cheated to steal the blessing. And then he has to flee from his brother.
Genesis 28 – “Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven.”
Let me hit pause to show you why this Pentecost shadow is easy to miss in English. The word in Hebrew they translate into English as ladder is [sullām (sool-lawm’)] – it was more likely a staircase. (A ladder to heaven is terrifying.) The word is only used once in scripture so if we look at its root [saw-lal’] – it speaks of raising up mounds and roads, so a better picture of this “ladder” may be of a massive circular tower (a migdal or ziggurat) with a winding staircase.
It was probably similar looking to the tower they attempted at Babel – but obviously focused on God. There are just a lot of Pentecost themes in the story. Let’s pick it back up.
“And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it [the staircase]! And behold, Yehovah stood above it and said, “I am Yehovah, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring…and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”
“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely Yehovah is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
You have all the major themes of Pentecost: Instead of Babel’s tower with the focus on man and idolatry, God is at the top of this tower, and instead of pride and selfishness, this tower is unified around God and blessing for the whole earth. God speaks His name to Jacob. And Jacob is actually in the midst of being scattered from his home as the result of his actions toward Esau.
At Pentecost 2,000 years ago, we see God revealing that His blessings are for more than just the Jews – He is reaching out to the world. Language is a focal point because you have all the families of the earth blessed; since they are already scattered, that theme is here too.
God showed Jacob the future blessing of Yeshua Jesus on Passover and the blessing of the Spirit on Pentecost. And God promised to bless him beyond his desires and to bless the entire world through Jacob – which was his heart’s cry.
Then, Jacob woke up from this staircase/ladder dream and realized that what he was seeing was the House of God. Remember, when the Spirit fell on Pentecost, it was in a courtyard on the Temple Mount outside the Temple which housed the Holy of Holies – which contained the Ark of the Covenant or Testimony with the Mercy Seat where God dwelt – the House of God on earth and the Gate of Heaven.
Moses was the next to encounter that House of God as Yehovah descended onto Mount Sinai and later in the both the Tabernacle and the Tent of the Presence, a special meeting place Moses erected outside the camp.
Many years later, it was a young King David that changed everything about meeting with God. In fact, when David brought the ark of God to Jerusalem, he set it up a tent which came to be called the Tabernacle of David which had no veil separating the ark from visitors. Yet, no one was killed in this tabernacle for its 40-year existence.
The Tabernacle of David with the Ark of the Covenant became the center of a new order of joyful worship which was quite different than the Tabernacle of Moses with the constant blood flow and sacrificing of animals; the sacrifices offered at David’s Tabernacle were the sacrifices of praise, joy, and thanksgiving. It was a new kind of priesthood. It was Jacob’s staircase – it was Pentecost.
The prophet Amos prophesied of the Church, “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen…”. And later James quoted him to describe the Spirit-filled church in Acts 15.
As a young man he wrote in Psalm 23 of God as his Shepherd and sang of walking with God and his desire to dwell in the house of Yehovah forever. By Psalm 26 he was singing, “O Yehovah, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells.”
In Psalm 27 he cried, “One thing have I asked of Yehovah, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of Yehovah all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of Yehovah and to inquire in his temple.”
Those psalms are all the pursuit of God. As King he experiences God’s presence even more deeply as The House of God was transformed into The Tabernacle of David.
- Voices and Fire
The first Pentecost at Mount Sinai is probably the best ancient picture of “what Pentecost is”. On the first Pentecost, signs and wonders accompanied the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. There was smoke, fire, and clouds on the mountain. The mountain trembled and the blast of a shofar sounded louder and louder. The voice of God was audibly heard by the entire nation.
What do we have present? Just like the vision Jacob had at Bethel of a ladder/tower, you have a mountain with God at the top and He is ready to release blessing over everyone.
You also have two really amazing themes happening – one we’ve seen already – languages – and the other is new – fire.
According to the Midrash (a Jewish commentary/interpretation of Scripture), the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai was accompanied by several wonders.
- Flames of fire which came to each individual at Sinai: “On the occasion of the giving of the Torah, the Children of Israel not only heard Yehovah’s Voice, but actually saw the sound waves as they emerged from Yehovah’s mouth. They visualized them as a fiery substance.”
- The voice of God speaking in every language known to man (in Rabbinic lore, there are seventy mother languages.) Exodus 20:18 says: “And all the people witnessed the thunderings“. The Midrash says, “So, it is said that God’s voice, as it was uttered, split up into seventy voices, in seventy languages, so that all the nations should understand.”
Exodus 20:18 “When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear.” In Hebrew, the “thunder and lightning” in this passage reads “voices and (torches or fires or lights).”
Theologians believe “Voices” was translated “thunders” in English because voices are normally heard rather than seen, and “torches” was translated “lightnings” to perhaps match logically.
The Hebrew word for “voices” is plural. What the people heard was one God, but many voices or languages. This means that everyone heard the Torah in a way that they could understand it in the language that they spoke, even though they were a “mixed multitude” (Exodus 12:38).
In Acts 2:1-4, we have: “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. (a large fire of some sort came down from heaven and then divided and covered each one of them) All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit [Ruach HaKodesh] and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” You have voices and torches again.
Acts 2:5-8 “Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?”
The Bible says the people heard in their language, but it doesn’t say they spoke in that language. Just like at Sinai, everyone heard in their own language as God spoke.
The disciples and followers of Jesus were all aware of the giving of the Torah at Shavuot. They knew the story of the “words of fire” resting on each individual at Shavuot. They knew the story of God’s voice speaking to all mankind in every language at Shavuot.
Therefore, the miracles and signs and wonders they experienced in Acts chapter two carried deep significance and prophetic fulfillment. The tongues of fire and the speaking in every tongue were both direct allusions to the Mount Sinai experience and to the receiving of the Torah.
Was the Baptism of the Holy Spirit an event in history – Yes
Has it continued to happen even to our current day – Yes
Is it a one-time occurrence or a constant refilling – More is always available.
In a very practical sense, we countdown the 50 days to Pentecost because 2,000 years ago was not a one-time experience for the disciples, but rather the first experience of a constant refilling of the Spirit.
As we arrive at Pentecost let’s seek together to encounter the Baptism of the Holy Spirit for those who never have and ask for even more of the wonderful manifest presence of Jesus for those who have encountered the Baptism but are still longing for more of His touch.
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit [Ruach HaKodesh] has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
If your particular church upbringing has left you confused or even hesitant about the possibilities of such encounters and experiences in our day, listen to Jesus describe what the average Christian life would look like just before He ascended:
“And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents [that’s not an invitation or encouragement to handle snakes by the way]; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them [likewise, that’s not an invitation or encouragement to drink poison]; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:17-18
- Two Firstfruits
The two most important Biblical Festivals/Feasts are the ones we know the most about,
1) Passover (I’m including Firstfruits or Resurrection Day in that) and
And they are forever connected. We’re going to pick everything apart so we can understand them historically, spiritually, and personally – how do they affect me and you?
Passover and every other Biblical Feast has a set day, like the 1st of the month or the 10th of the month or, in the case of Passover, the 14th of the month. But there is one exception – Pentecost. It doesn’t have a set day on which it occurs. It can’t exist without Passover and Resurrection Day.
To determine when Pentecost is, we have to arrive at Passover, then wait for the day after the Friday/Sabbath, and then on that Sunday start to count for 50 days to determine when to celebrate Pentecost.
We are between those two harvesting seasons right now, in a period called: Sefirat HaOmer (sif-a-ret haw-omer) – the Counting of the Omer. Spiritually speaking, when you are counting days or weeks, you are counting “to” something, and that “something” which you are arriving at is “a promise”.
An Omer is a measure of grain (a sheaf). There were two primary grains grown in Israel – barley and wheat. The barley ripened first and was harvested at the time of the Feast of Pesach or Passover. They were to celebrate a Festival called Firstfruits a few days after Passover to thank God for supplying the barley.
The wheat took a bit longer to ripen, so they were commanded to wait and count seven more weeks (50 days) after Passover and Firstfruits before harvesting the wheat at The Feast of Shavuot (which means weeks) or Pentecost (which means 50). Pentecost is also called “firstfruits” because they bring the firstfruits of the wheat harvest.
At both firstfruits feasts, nothing from that year’s harvest could be eaten until after the wave offering was made. Why? God established these festivals as times of Divine renewal or newness – what was forbidden becomes permissible.
When Jesus came out of the grave, He presented to His Father the Firstfruits wave offering of all the souls who had been locked away in Hades. He opened the door into eternity with God for all mankind who had been trapped in sin and death. We who were forbidden to approach God became acceptable and part of the Divine harvest.
When He poured out the Holy Spirit, He enabled us to go from redeemed to empowered, from indwelt to overflowing. He is always taking us from glory to glory. We are not done when we are saved, and we are not done when we are empowered.
There was no salvation or infilling of the Holy Spirit without the cross. There is no power apart from the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Is there more to this than harvest festivals? Yes, the 50 days was the time it took to travel from Egypt to Mount Sinai. The Counting of the Omer also remembers the 50 days between the Passover in Egypt and the giving of the Word of God on stone tablets at Mount Sinai 3,500 years ago.
For 1,500 years that’s what the Jews did each year. Then, about 2,000 years ago everything changed when Yeshua Jesus, shed His blood and died as the Pesach Lamb on the cross on the day of Passover to set humanity free from sin, death, and over all the power of the enemy.
The Spring Feasts were about to come alive for anyone who would choose to receive Him and follow Him, because three days later on the day after the Sabbath at the Feast of Firstfruits, 1 Corinthians 15:20 tells us, “He was raised, from the dead, the firstfruits of those who are asleep.”
Now that’s a big clue as to what Pentecost is about. If Firstfruits at Passover is an offering about resurrection, then Pentecost, which is also called Firstfruits, must also involve an offering and resurrection.
Just as tablets of stone were turned into the very Words and Laws of God at Sinai, so were hearts of stone turned to hearts of flesh as the Holy Spirit [Ruach HaKodesh] came upon them in Jerusalem. There is always more to the story.
After His resurrection, Yeshua spent the next 40 days with the disciples and told them to wait in eager expectation because the Holy Spirit would be poured out by Him from heaven in not too many days; and then on day 40 He ascended into heaven.
Ten days later on Pentecost, while they were all gathered together at the temple courtyard to remember God’s gift of the Torah and the Commandments, and awaiting what Jesus promised, they didn’t know quite what to expect, only to expect an outpouring of God upon them.
Suddenly the Holy Spirit exploded onto the scene and was poured out on those who were waiting. There were flames of fire and they all spoke in new tongues which they didn’t know – But that is just scratching the surface!
Joy filled them, and courage and boldness soared within them. They were the Firstfruits [bikoreem] of His power, now empowered to be who Jesus had prepared them to be.
- Written on Our Hearts
Let’s follow that clue from 1 Corinthians 15:20, “He was raised, from the dead, the firstfruits of those who are asleep.” That’s about what He began on the cross (think of a tree) at Passover.
So, happens on trees? They produce something – life – in the form of seeds – which when they fall to the ground and die – then produce more trees. It’s the cycle of fruit.
And again, if Firstfruits is about resurrection, then Pentecost, which is also called Firstfruits, must also involve some type of resurrection.
Genesis 2:17 “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die (or certainly die).” [מ֥וֹת (mōe·ṯh) repeated three times] Literally it would be: “dying, you will die” or simply “you will die, die” – or “you will be really, really, really dead”. It’s not just expressing the certainty of your death, but the degree of it.
This is death, as opposed to the many facets of life that God has given them.
Like God, they are triune. God is triune – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Man is triune – spirit, soul, body.
Their bodies would die (the unity that existed with their spirit or breath would stop and it would depart, along with the awareness of life which their soul experienced). The unity that existed between their spirit and God would also cease, along with their eternal life, which is to say they would be eternally dying – in a state of death or separation from all that is life.
Genesis 2 “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” God puts the man to sleep and takes his rib to form woman and, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked [ʿārôm- aw-rome’], the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”
[ʿārôm – aw-rome’] the word that’s used for naked before sin, doesn’t specifically mean to be unclothed. The man and woman were covered in God’s [shekinah] (light or glory) [mantle] because God Himself was their covering…when it’s gone, they are naked in a different sense.
This may be one way to understand the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. It’s not the breath of salvation, it’s the [shekinah] or mantle of God’s Spirit covering us.
Of course, we know the sad end of the story. Adam and Eve both ate the fruit, and it says, “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
1) And they heard [shema] the voice of Yehovah God walking in the garden
2) in the cool of the day (or breeze of the day – [rûaḥ (roo’-akh) “Spirit”],
3) and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Yehovah God among the trees of the garden.” Genesis 3:7-8
Here we have the “voice” of the Spirit of God “walking” – and man hiding from Him.
This is the preincarnate Yeshua Jesus (these appearances in the Old Testament are called Theophanies – He is usually called the Angel of the Lord [Yehovah]). And notice that He is coming in the [rûaḥ (roo’-akh) “Spirit”], which is how He will come in the flesh 4,000 years later.
And the voice is the focus here – just like at Pentecost when “they spoke with tongues and prophesied”. And when Jesus explains why He will send the Holy Spirit; “He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
Pentecost always has Voices and Fires (or His presence). When God wrote His word on stones at Sinai there are tongues and there is fire. And when He writes His word on our hearts at Pentecost there are tongues and there is fire. Passover/Salvation is a baptism in water – Pentecost is a baptism in fire.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 sums up all of this, “Behold, the days are coming, says Yehovah, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah – not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says Yehovah.
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Yehovah: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know Yehovah,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says Yehovah. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Hebrew 8 quotes that passage in Jeremiah and connects it to Pentecost. “Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that Yehovah set up, not man.”
He didn’t fulfill Jeremiah 31 on the cross, walking out of the grave, or during the 40 days He remained on earth.
He fulfilled Jeremiah 31 by sending the Holy Spirit from the throne room in heaven on Pentecost. That’s what the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was and is.
The first Pentecost occurred 50 days after God brought them out of Egyptian slavery when they arrived at Mount Sinai and heard the voice of God declare the 10 Commandments, which they would later carve into stone, and made a covenant with Him to obey.
But 1,500 years later, on that same day, Jesus rewrote that law on their hearts; He poured out the Holy Spirit and filled them with the power of His word. That’s why the baptism of the Holy Spirit is so important.
Why Tablets of Stone – Why hearts that can turn to stone?
Long after you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit you can fall away deep into sin but still have the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gifts that come with Him. It’s the same reason that God chose to engrave His commands on tablets of stone.
There are two kinds of letters. Letters which are written, and letters which are engraved. The difference is that written letters are separate from what they are written on. They are not one with the paper or parchment. The letters are of ink, and they adhere to the paper, and then are they one.
When letters are engraved, the letters themselves are from the same medium as that on which they are written. The letters are not something external, they emanate from the stone itself. “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people”. Jeremiah 31:33 and Hebrews 8:10
So, when God does a work in us, it’s literally transformative, He becomes a part of us. You can misuse any gift, use them in immaturity, use them in sin, and submit them to the devil. You can walk away from your relationship with God as a son and into disobedience and throw away your relationship now and for eternity.
Romans 8:14 “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” The baptism of the Holy Spirit doesn’t make a different kind of Christian. He fills you with His presence, empowers you with His presence, equips you with His presence, comforts you with His presence, etc. We need His presence!
Think about Counting the Omer this way: The first 40 days of the Omer are the same days that Jesus walked the earth after His resurrection.
And day 40 is when He ascended into heaven. On the top of the Mount of Olives at the same place He will return. And the same place the scapegoat disappeared with the sins of the nation on the Day of Atonement.
When the Jews count the Omer for Day 40, nothing significant happens. There’s no significant historical tie-in. Which begs the question, why did Jesus ascend on that day?
The question is kind of answered if you read the story. Jesus walks them up the Mount of Olives and says “Goodbye, it’s time for me to go and almost time for you to go into all the world”. And He disappears, but they just keep standing there.
Jesus has to send angels back to say, “The movie’s over. He’s done here. It’s you now. You’re the Omer. Day 41 is you. Go and pray and get ready for day 50. You’re going to do “greater works” because He has gone. Peter, James, John, be the Omer.”
Then on Day 50 the church was birthed. You were birthed. I was birthed. Counting the Omer was never about barley or wheat. It was always about you and me.
What is the Lesson we should gain from Counting the Omer to Pentecost? The Exodus journey is the very roadmap we need for a life of faith. Every lesson we need is part of their journey.
I think the ultimate lesson is Waiting in faith.
Waiting isn’t wasting time. We have an important relationship to time. Ephesians 5:15-17 tells us, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Habakkuk 2:3-4 “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright – but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.”
“Wait for it though it linger…” Being full of faith, while you wait, is part of being upright.
The Temple Courtyard
Where Pentecost happened 2,000 years ago is a very significant aspect, because this Pentecost is “the tower / staircase / mountain” which has been casting a shadow from Babel to Bethel to Sinai. The shadows and types are called that because they have a source.
Acts 2: “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place (one mind). And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
The word they translate as “house” is [oikos (oy’-kos)] house, building, temple. In this case it was “the House of God”, specifically, the Temple courtyard. More than enough room for thousands to gather and everyone to react to what happens.
The day of Pentecost arrived, and these men are sitting together, somewhere in the courtyard of the Israelites, when this roaring, rushing, violent wind (like the sound of a tornado) blasts onto the Temple Mount and into the Temple courtyard of the Israelites, which is overflowing for the Temple services of Shavu’ot.
The Holy Spirit in voice and fire falls on this group of men on the Temple Mount. “And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house (courtyard) where they were sitting.”
“Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven… and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language… we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”
The crowd all spoke the countless “confused tongues” that came from Babel. But suddenly they could all hear the God of Hebrew being worship even in their languages of confusion. For the first time since Babel, unity was restored. It was Jacob’s ladder/staircase/tower/Temple Mount and God was atop. They were able to [shema] again. They were able to follow God again.
Peter preaches, and his words are very important. “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “Yehovah said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet. Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
Remember the words from Babel, “let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves”. Now that they can hear [shema], instead of their name, it’s the name [šêm – shame] of Jesus which they will come to shema (hear and obey). Name also means honor and renown. Instead of a tower, they will become the church.
“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”
“And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need… And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
And eventually, “…there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” The result of the scattering was the gospel was spread across the earth to all nations.
- They Shall Prophesy (Testimony)
So, from Babel to Jerusalem, there are lots of overlapping pictures that help reveal the heart of Pentecost. And also show why there can be no such thing as a baptism in the Holy Spirit without the impartation of the gift of tongues.
It’s easy to think we have the entire picture of Pentecost when we journey from Babel to Jerusalem, but let’s catch up with Peter in Acts 2:17-18 Peter is preaching and quotes Joel 2:28-29, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy.”
Interestingly, his last statement, “and they shall prophesy” was not from Joel’s prophecy. Peter prophetically added the last phrase, to underline the significance of what God was doing.
With the release of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, God gave everyone who received the baptism, a prophetic anointing as well. We are not in the office of the Prophet; we are given the gift of prophesy (the ability to hear God and know His will).
But there’s a bigger question. Why did Peter choose this passage? They had just experienced flames of fire over them and received the gift of tongues, as they worshiped God in languages none of them knew before.
But this verse from Joel says nothing of flames of fire or tongues, which were the primary experiences of the Holy Spirit infilling that day. And the experience of Pentecost for the others there did not include dreams or visions.
1 Cor 14:39 links together prophecy and tongues, “Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.” But it doesn’t say they must occur together.
Acts 19:6 tells of a time they happened together, “And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.”
Peter was experiencing the baptism of the Holy Spirit after staying up all night with the other disciples studying the Torah to celebrate God’s giving of the Law to Moses on that same date 1,500 years earlier. And suddenly he saw those same friends now experiencing the outpouring along with him, and his first thought was that something has changed just as Jesus had told them.
Common men, after receiving the Holy Spirit, were suddenly “prophesying” in the streets in a way that only someone in the office of a Prophet had done before and it was happening just as Joel predicted.
What is clear is that the outpouring at Pentecost 2,000 years ago was just a partial fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. The signs such as the sun and moon growing dark with blood, fire, and smoke did not occur. The Spirit rested on only 120 believers in one city, but the fullness of Joel’s prophecy requires a global dimension.
There is more to come in the last days. And more importantly, that outpouring tells us that everything is not always cut and dry as to how Old Testament shadows and types become New Testament realities. There is always more to see and understand!
Forty-four years ago I was saved in the middle of a field at a Jesus Festival. One-year later, Forty-three years ago, on the second Friday of August in 1980, when I received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, I was utterly shocked that other languages which I didn’t understand or speak were suddenly pouring out of my mouth.
A moment before I had been standing in a field worshiping in the only language I have ever spoken, English. I had never heard anyone speak in tongues before or heard anyone teach on it. The Holy Spirit massively changed my life in much the same way Jesus had the year before when I gave my life to Him.
I have known many people who have earnestly sought the Baptism of the Holy Spirit but still haven’t received. Some went away bitter, some went away offended, some stopped seeking and plunged into denial declaring that they had received the Baptism when they were saved, and no tongues were required. “Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.” 1 Corinthians 14:39
Sadly, I also know of teachers who claimed to be filled with the Spirit and intentionally deceived other seekers into mumbling repetitious phrases and declared it a move of the Spirit. Striving in the flesh for a move of God is agonizing. So is screaming at the wind to blow where we want it to blow.
Kelly’s story and Corrie’s story
- A Countdown to a Wedding
In the Old Testament – It Was a Countdown to a Wedding that never occurred. Leaving Egypt as free men, Israel is on what will be a 50-day journey to the Mountain of God where every one of them hear God’s voice and receive His Law on stone tablets.
That encounter at the mountain was to be the wedding between God and His people. They just weren’t receptive. They couldn’t imagine that God loved them and was for them. They could not believe that they could become one with God. They could only see a great God and a bunch of slaves.
So, every year they are commanded to count 50-days (day by day) from Passover to Pentecost. Counting the Omer. After the resurrection of Jesus, they finally got to see a part of the wedding when Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit onto the Apostles and the new church, as a deposit of what was to come in eternity.
Hearts of stone were turned to hearts of flesh. And we realize that God wants to be even closer to us, so He fills us with the Holy Spirit. The Letter of the Law on stone had killed 3,000 at Sinai and the Spirit gave new life to 3,000 in Jerusalem.
While Moses was forced to hide the glory behind a veil, Jesus tore down the veil and made the glory visible to all.
But the short version of the story starts in the Garden on Day 6 when everything was good, but it wasn’t good that Adam should be alone, so we encounter the first marriage – of Adam and Eve. They were created to be so close that she isn’t even given a name.
If you skip ahead to the end of the story in Revelation, you will find another wedding, between the church and Jesus. And again, she has no name – just “The Bride.”
In the New Testament – Counting the Omer was a countdown to be a Partaker in the Divine. Counting the Omer was always a countdown to something.
Nothing from the year’s barley or wheat harvest could be eaten until after the wave offering was made. Why? It’s a time of Divine renewal or newness – what was forbidden becomes permissible.
When Jesus came out of the grave, He presented to His Father the wave offering of all the souls who had been locked away in Hades. He opened the door into eternity with God for all mankind who had been trapped in sin and death. We who were forbidden to approach God became acceptable and part of the Divine harvest.
When He poured out the Holy Spirit, He enabled us to go from redeemed to empowered, from indwelt to overflowing. He is always taking us from glory to glory. We are not done when we are saved, and we are not done when we are empowered.
There is always more of Him to pour out and He wants us to live our lives counting the days till our next encounter, waiting expectedly for another promise to come, confident in faith that we will pass right through the trials of life because our hearts are set on pilgrimage.
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” (Romans 8:14)
He wants us to grow up in Him, not remain children forever.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit doesn’t make a different kind of Christian, He fills us with His presence, empowers us with His presence, equips us with His presence, comforts us with His presence, etc.
The original outpouring of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost is told in Acts 2.
But soon, these same people, are seeking to be refilled again:
Acts 4:23-31 “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” It was the same place and people, but a different time, and not a Holy Day. The Baptism was not a one-time experience, but rather a constant refilling of the Spirit which they needed to change their world.
They continually sought to be empowered to accomplish whatever task God assigned to them, so they kept getting filled – and refilled — and refilled. The Counting of the Omer is our yearly reminder that there is an endless supply of “more” for those who keep asking, seeking, and knocking.
In Acts 8, the Spirit fell on Samaritans. The Holy Spirit was poured out five times in the book of Acts, first to the Jews and eventually Gentiles. God’s Spirit will be “poured out on all flesh” before the great and terrible day of the coming of Yehovah.
“But if from there you will seek Yehovah your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29
- Many Gifts
Earlier in Mark 16 we can see why they needed a significant encounter. When the women first came to the tomb after the resurrection and encountered an angel, “they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”
Then when Mary Magdalene finally gained the courage to tell the apostles, “They did not believe.” When the two disciples who walked with Jesus on the road shared their story, “they did not believe them either…Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.”
Obviously, Jesus doesn’t want any of us to repeat the mistakes of the apostles or fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 28, “Whom will He teach knowledge? And whom will He make to understand the message…For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people, to whom He said, “This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest,” and, “This is the refreshing”; yet they would not hear.”
Gifts of the Father, Son, and Spirit
When Peter began preaching after the Holy Spirit fell on them in the temple grounds, he spoke of King David, whose tomb was right beneath them. Peter quotes David saying, “I saw Yehovah always before me, because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my TONGUE rejoices; my body also will live in hope.”
Peter was pointing out that this gift of tongues was a fulfillment of what King David saw prophetically. And he adds, “Yehovah said to My Lord [The Father said to the Son], sit at My right hand until I make your enemies a footstool to your feet.” Peter was saying that the purpose of the infilling and empowering was to cause all the Sons’ enemies to be subjugated.
The Holy Spirit Baptism can occur any time after Jesus comes to dwell in our heart. He doesn’t get buried in our hearts; He plants Himself in order to bear fruit. We become a tree that bears spiritual fruit. All we have to do is ask and receive. Sometimes that includes asking until we receive.
The nine fruits listed in Galatians 5 all come as the result of “life” on a tree which requires us to grow. Controlling the tongue is not easy; our unruly tongues require revival. Faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, joy, kindness, longsuffering, love, peace, and self-control are all expressed many ways, but never so beautiful as with the tongue. Proverbs 18 tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Still, there’s more to the Spirit than tongues or what and how we speak. 1 Corinthians 12 tells us, “There are many spiritual gifts including: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, different kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.”
The Spirit distributes them individually as He wills. Why does He give them? These nine gifts require us to minister to others in order to use them. They are not for keeping or storing up, but rather for using and giving away.
And Deuteronomy 30 reminds us, “But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.”
Acts 1:4-8 …He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit [Ruach HaKodesh] not many days from now.”
- There has been more conflict throughout church history on this one subject then probably every other issue combined because it is not intellectual and can’t be understood or argued or controlled by man. It requires faith and obedience.
- The experience was different for me, then it was for Kelly, and then it was for Corrie.
- Wait for the promise – no matter how long it takes –
- No matter what others experience don’t assume God will do things the same way with you.
- Worship Him constantly – ask to be filled.
- When opportunities arise for the laying on of hands – have faith and see what happens.
- Don’t stop till you are full.
Can you be baptized in the Holy Spirit and power without speaking in tongues? If you don’t speak in tongues, but obviously have gifts and anointing then they are coming from God, but not from what is known as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Gifts of the Father
Romans 12:4-8 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Gifts of the Son
Ephesians 4:11-13 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
1 Corinthians 12:7-11 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
In the annual Pentecost Festival, they were commanded to make more sacrifices/offerings than at any other festival. But there has been no temple in existence for the Jews since it was destroyed in 70 AD. For Christians, with the death and resurrection of Yeshua Jesus, the sacrificial elements are completely fulfilled.
There are four offerings – to apply this keep in mind that sacrifices are taking the place of YOU dying – They are the Ultimate Judgment and Contrast (it’s life or death – Jesus or destruction).
- The Meal Offering
Leviticus 23:15-21 “‘From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to Yehovah. From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to Yehovah.
It is leavened bread that’s waved – flour, frankincense, oil, salt –
At Passover, the bread was unleavened because leaven represented sin Jesus was holy and made us holy – or unleavened. Then as we Count the Omer, we live a new redeemed life day to day.
When we arrive at Pentecost – the bread is now leavened.
But the leaven represents the Holy Spirit now – not sin.
In the same way that the Israelites lifted up the serpent in the desert and it represented Jesus on the cross, this leaven represents the Holy Spirit.
At Passover, Jesus became sin for us and took our punishment.
At Pentecost, we are holy from the blood of Jesus
He sees us like “the finest” flour so we can receive the Holy Spirit – the Power to Live.
Matthew 13:33 “Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
In this case, the Holy Spirit in us is causing a change in us, convicting us and continually leading us to repentance (we are overcoming sin daily). He is changing our nature and character into a sweet-smelling fragrance (fresh yeasty bread smells awesome).
- The Burnt Offering
Present with this bread seven male lambs, each a year old and without defect, one young bull and two rams. They will be a burnt offering to Yehovah, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings – a food offering, an aroma pleasing to Yehovah.
It’s All Burned – the life and death of Jesus perfectly accomplished the will of God.
- The Sin Offering & Fellowship Offering – these both are to cover the priests.
The Sin Offering “Then sacrifice one male goat for a sin offering…and two lambs, each a year old, for a fellowship offering. The priest is to wave the two lambs before Yehovah as a wave offering, together with the bread of the firstfruits. They are a sacred offering to Yehovah for the priest.
The Fellowship or Peace Offering – He became our peace or substitute. Pentecost was when the words of the Holy Spirit poured out of the mouth of His church, the fruit of their lips was praise and the gospel which led to revival.
Acts 2:36-39 Peter preached, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit [Ruach HaKodesh]. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
- On that same day you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.”
The focus of Pentecost is on wheat, but they brought the firstfruits of all their crops. There were 7 common crops at Pentecost (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates). There are 7 Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit.
Pentecost is the day the Holy Spirit came upon the believers gathered together. What happens when the Holy Spirit comes into your life? You manifest the Fruit of the Spirit.
The Feast of Weeks is fulfilled in the empowering of the Church to bring the harvest of the Gospel and the end time harvest by Jesus. “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am Yehovah your God.’” Leviticus 23:22
“I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was One like a son of man with a crown of gold on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand…the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So He who was seated on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.” Revelation 20:14-16
- Freewill Offerings
All Feasts involve not only sacrifices performed by the priests, but several “other elements” which were commanded of the people. So modern day celebrations focus on those “other elements”. For instance, at Passover there is the eating of the Seder Meal. One of the consistent “other elements” of Pentecost that still gets the focus is giving offerings.
Give An Offering “Three times a year all your men must appear before Yehovah your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before Yehovah empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way Yehovah your God has blessed you.” Deut. 16:16-17
And specifically at Pentecost, the Freewill Offering takes central stage. Deuteronomy 16:9-12 “You shall keep the Feast of Weeks to Yehovah your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as Yehovah your God blesses you.
We’re not talking about a tithe, or a percentage that is required. A freewill offering is just that. You give according to how you have been blessed. Pentecost is harvesting time; it follows along with the idea of firstfruits.
They couldn’t eat any of the harvest until they gave their firstfruits. God is always trying to teach us not to “claim anything as ours”. Whenever we receive, we give back to say thank you to God for His provision.
What’s the application? What happened at Pentecost 2,000 years ago? Jesus, from heaven, released the Holy Spirit onto the disciples. There was fire and tongues and the release of the Fruit of the Spirit in their lives. This is the “offerings and giving” we are emulating.
The barley harvest at Passover was a picture of our salvation. Jesus was the first-born son. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Romans 8:29
When we give our firstfruits at Passover, we are remembering the resurrection of Jesus, and every saint that walked out of Hades and the grave that day. We’re not thankful for our blessings. We are thankful for Jesus overcoming death. It’s firstfruits. God chose Israel to be his chosen people so He could become flesh through them and die for all people.
For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Ephesians 2:18-19
The wheat harvest at Pentecost was a picture of the giving of the Word of God and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. John 14:26 says, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit [Ruach HaKodesh], whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit [Ruach HaKodesh] has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
So, when we give our Firstfruits of Pentecost, we remember receiving the Holy Spirit who is continually empowering us [or in faith we are still asking for Him to fill us and empower us].
Again, we’re not thankful for our blessings. We are thankful for the gift of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Shavuot (Pentecost) is about thanking God for all He provides. What’s the best way to be thankful – according to God you give to someone in need. So, first you give.
Next, You shall rejoice before Yehovah your God, (or Be joyful at your festival) you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you, at the place where Yehovah your God chooses to make His name abide. So, think about God and rejoice! And think about Others and give.
Why? “And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.”
Isaiah 42:16 promises, “I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, and not forsake them.”
This 50 days of counting to Pentecost is a time to reflect on our character, to prepare ourselves to receive, as well as to live out God’s Word. Receiving the Torah seven weeks after God miraculously brought them out of Egyptian bondage meant not only accepting the privilege of knowing God, His Word, and living as set-apart people; it also meant accepting the responsibility of what the Word exhorts us to do.
The Word of God commanded them to provide for the Levites as well the fatherless, the widows, and even foreigners in the land. The blessings God has freely given us are not just for our own gain. We are to share with others who are in need. It was for this reason that God also commanded the people not to harvest the entire field but to leave the corners of their fields for the poor.
“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am Yehovah your God.” (Leviticus 23:22)
The 50-day journey through the desert from Egypt to God’s Mountain was to prepare them to constantly be on a pilgrimage. Psalm 84:5 reminds us, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage.” God would own the land and own them, so that He could care for both. That was the life of blessing that God had prepared.
In Exodus 6:2-4 God shows Moses His grand plan. “I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, in which they were strangers.” It was never a journey to the Promised Land but a life-journey through the land that God would lease to them so He could provide their every need. A Pilgrimage-life of giving and receiving is the heart of Pentecost.
- How Should We Celebrate Pentecost (Apart From Giving)?
Don’t Approach God Unprepared:
“And Yehovah said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day Yehovah will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.” Exodus 19:10-11 [The Israelites had three days to prepare to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai. They were told to wash their clothes and to stay ritually pure.]
All Night Study: Pentecost is the time to intentionally prepare yourself to receive more of the Holy Spirit. Customarily, a study and discussion of the Torah would start at dusk and carry on throughout the watches of the night, as a remembrance of those 3-day of preparation so they could receive God’s Word at Mount Sinai. They would study a portion of all five books in the Torah.
Read the Book of Ruth – She is considered a Gentile harvested into Israel. The Torah reading for the Sabbath immediately preceding Shavuot is usually BaMidbar (“In the wilderness”). It’s believed that the Torah was given in the wilderness to demonstrate that it was not the property of a tribe but rather was available to anyone who chose to claim it as theirs.
Ruth is often considered to be the pioneer of all who “choose” or convert to follow the Living God, just as Jews accepted the Torah at Mount Sinai. They believe Ruth 1:16-17 is her conversion statement. “…Ruth said: ‘Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. Yehovah do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.’”
Ruth is in the line of King David and therefore Yeshua Jesus [her husband Boaz owned the ancestral land of the family in Bethlehem Ephrathah where Jesus was born], and it’s believed that David was born and died on Pentecost, so we can look at David’s life as an example of our life journey.
Pentecost Foods: Passover is about deliverance from sin and oppression. It has a Seder with Lamb, wine, unleavened bread, candles, and songs. Pentecost has none of that. Pentecost was their arrival at Sinai, meeting with God, and receiving the Law and Commandments.
It was the springboard to enter the Promised Land of milk and honey. So, at Pentecost you eat cheese plates, cheesecake, and quiche. And they remember the wheat harvest with bread, pasta, and pizza are great. The most popular Pentecost food is cheesecake. It’s so popular that some call Shavuot “Cheesecake Day”. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, Yehovah, have given me.” Deuteronomy 26:9-10
Summary: What is Pentecost? What is God doing ultimately?
- It’s something beyond and separate from our salvation.
John 20:22 tells us that after His resurrection Jesus came to the disciples and, “He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
That verse has caused many Christians to confuse Receiving the Spirit (which occurred directly after the resurrection – and happens when we are saved) with the Baptism of the Spirit (which first occurred at Pentecost – and is a separate event involving the Holy Spirit).
In the same way, when we confess and receive Christ as our Savior, we are told to get baptized in water directly after. Likewise, when we receive the Spirit of God into our hearts at salvation, we are told to wait for the Holy Spirit to Baptize us with fire and speaking in tongues.
At salvation we became God’s holy temple; He dwells in us through the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?”
But, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not what happens to you as part of your salvation. Acts 1:4-8 …He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit [Ruach HaKodesh] not many days from now.”
He is not baptizing us with His Spirit to save us (that’s part of Passover and the cross).
- The Baptism of the Spirit comes with speaking in tongues, a baptism of fire, and power which emboldens us and overflows us.
Acts 19:6 tells us, “And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied [testified – as a witness of His presence].”
Acts 2:18 “…I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy.”
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit [Ruach HaKodesh] has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” He is giving us power to be His witnesses.
1 Corinthians 12 tells us, “There are many spiritual gifts including: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, different kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.” The Spirit distributes them individually as He wills.
- He is restoring the intimacy of His presence which we lost in the garden of Eden.
Sin not only led to our spiritual and physical death; it separated us from God’s intimate presence. He is enabling us to go from redeemed to empowered, from indwelt to overflowing, from glory to glory.
Romans 8:14 “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” The baptism of the Holy Spirit doesn’t make a different kind of Christian. He fills you with His presence and leads you with His presence, empowers you with His presence, equips you with His presence, comforts you with His presence, etc. We need His presence!
- He is putting His law in our minds and writing it on our hearts; so that we know Him intimately.
John 14:26 says, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit [Ruach HaKodesh], whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”