Pentecost – new beginnings
June 20, 2011
by Pastor Jonathan Woetzel, Rivers of Grace Church, Cokato

June 12 is marked as Pentecost Sunday on most calendars this year. But what exactly is Pentecost, and what are its roots?

Literally, Pentecost comes from the Greek pentekoste, which means 50th day – which begs the question, 50th day of, or from what?

My dictionary tells me Pentecost is “a Christian feast on the seventh Sunday after Easter commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles,” and for some Christians, it is. However, it has been my experience that many denominations do not officially in any way recognize Pentecost Sunday. Even some “Pentecostal” denominations, while recognizing the decent of the Holy Spirit, do not in any way officially celebrate Pentecost on Pentecost Sunday or any other day.

But, back to understanding what Pentecost is exactly, and what its roots are.

The Lord instructs His people to count 50 days from the day the priest brought in and waved the barley sheaves on “Early First Fruits,” covering seven Sabbaths (Leviticus 23:15-17), which brings them to the Lord’s next feast, known as “Shavuot,” or “Latter First Fruits,” and what Christians now call Pentecost.

The Early First Fruits feast 50 days prior to Shavuot is the very day Jesus rose from the dead. The counting of 50 days directly connects the resurrection of our Lord and Savior to Shavuot, or the Latter First Fruits feast known among Christians as Pentecost.

Traditionally Shavuot is observed as an agricultural festival, and also recognized as the time to commemorate the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. As one of the three pilgrimage festivals, Jews from all over the world during the time of Christ would come to Jerusalem to celebrate Shavuot and reaffirm their commitment to the covenant of Moses.

On Shavuot the year Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to many people over 40 days, something new and spectacular occurred! While waiting in Jerusalem as instructed, about 120 devout followers of Christ Jesus were gathered together on the day of Shavuot and received the power from heaven that Jesus promised they would just a few days earlier. They received an infilling, or baptism of the Holy Spirit, so that they might be witnesses for Jesus to all people and boldly proclaim the gospel.The “Church” (from the Greek ekklesia, which means the called out ones or those separated from the world and sin unto God) was born.

On the very day that Jews from around the world gathered in Jerusalem to reaffirm their commitment to the covenant of Moses, the Holy Spirit descended upon the 120 in the upper room, and 3,000 Israelites later that same day. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to all who will believe and ask (Acts 2:1-42). This new covenant makes God’s Word a matter of the heart, written by the Spirit, that yields a life fruitful in the service of God.

Shavuot marks the day when God entered into covenant with the Jewish nation. During the first Shavuot at Sinai, God instituted the Mosaic covenant and gave the Torah in written form, but during the Shavuot after the resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus), God poured out the Holy Spirit, as promised, as our comforter, teacher, helper, and giver of the gifts of the Spirit, who writes the Word on the hearts of Yeshua’s followers.

Believers in Jesus who ask for the Holy Spirit will receive the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in new languages (Luke 11:13 and Acts 10:45-47). As we submit to Jesus as His servant, He will blow the wind of His Spirit through us, thereby manifesting the kingdom of heaven here on earth. Followers of Christ have reason to celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit and the power which He bestows upon us to live for Jesus, produce the fruit of the Spirit, and operate in the gifts or power of the Spirit.

If you have not, or do not know that you have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I strongly encourage you to seek it. You can read about several occurrences of receiving the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts, with the evidence of speaking in new languages, and sometimes prophesying. A full gospel minister should be able to assist you in seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit.