PENTECOST (WHITSUNDAY)

PENTECOST OR WHITSUNDAY

50 days from the day the first fruits of the barley harvest was waved before the Lord, (50 days from the morrow after the sabbath after Passover), is Shavuot or the Day of Pentecost. Rabbinic scholars believe that it was on this day that God visited His people after their exodus from Egypt and through Moses, brought the Law down from Mount Sinai. This earthshaking day of visitation, trembling, and betrothal is the birthday of the nation of Israel. Moses brings down the Torah or Law for the nation. Because of sin 3,000 die under the Law that day. The Old Covenant is a national covenant between God and His covenant people. And so the nation of Israel was established. They agree to follow Him in devotion and obedience. In spite of past failures the nation of Israel will indeed be restored. The Jewish House of Judah will be saved and the throne of David in Judah will be established upon this earth under Messiah. But that is not all. The lost sheep of the House of Israel, the lost ten tribes of Israel, will be found and brought back home to Israel again. (See Ezek.37). The nation and Kingdom of Israel along with Messiah's Melchizedek Priesthood will be fully restored as a single Elect and Chosen people. The Old Covenant and the Law has not been "done away with" as we have been told. Both estranged houses of Israel will embrace Messiah. Then with their partial blindnesses healed they will rediscover each other at the end of this age to restore the Union in both Righteousness, (the royal national burden of the Jews), and in Grace, (the holy priestly burden of the Church). Both Houses of Israel are being sifted through the nations.

Those being saved are bringing many companions home to Israel with them. (See Ezekiel 37:15-28) The nation will be reunited and regathered as that Commonwealth of Israel spoken of by our Apostle Paul. (See Eph. 2:12-13). Restored Israel is destined to be cross-linked together as that "royal priesthood and holy nation spoken of by both Moses and by the Apostle Peter. (See Exod. 19:6, and 1Pet.2:9). The Old Covenant God made with the nation of Israel and the righteous rule of Israel's Messiah upon this earth are in the heart of the Jewish House of Judah. Gods righteous rule will surely come and the nation of Israel will be restored, but only under Messiah and not by might or by power. The restoration will not come by a seducing religious humanism, or by the military might. It will come by God's Holy Spirit. (See Zechariah 4). The New Covenant is established soul by soul and silently in the gentle bonds of love and devotion as Messiah is received into human lives. It is by Grace through faith that His Law is written into the hearts. The prophet Jeremiah spoke of this mystery. See Jer. 31:31. See also Hebrews 8:8-12. The prophet Zechariah saw the Jewish House of Judah in Israel repenting and receiving Messiah rather late, even as Jerusalem was surrounded by armies at the close of this age. See Zechariah 12:7-13:1. 


50 days from the day the Firstfruits of the barley harvest was waved before the Lord, (that is 50 days from the morrow after the weekly (Saturday) sabbath after Passover), in the summer of the year of Yeshua's passion, God visits His people by His Holy Spirit. This is another earthshaking day of visitation and betrothal. But on this occasion God's Presence is not as unapproachable as on the former visitation back at Sinai. Moses had ordered 12 boundary markers placed around the foot of the mountain to hold back the people lest the fire of God flash out upon them. Amidst the thunderings and lightnings God came down as a consuming fire and blackened the entire summit. Only Moses could stand in God's Presence. Mount Sinai has recently been discovered east of the Gulf of Aquaba in the former land of Midian, (now Saudi Arabia). The real Mount Sinai with many accompanying archaeological proofs of its authenticity is Jabal el Lawz, now hidden from the world behind security fences and armed guards of the Saudi military forces. Back at Sinai it was a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But this next Pentecostal visitation was quite different. Tongues of fire descended from heaven to rest upon consecrated individuals gathered to wait upon God. All of them had received Messiah and had come to know Him in a personal way in the New Covenant. And so just as Moses had seen the burning bush that was not consumed the fire came down and rested upon the 120 in the upper room, not to consume them but to fill them with the Holy Spirit and bathe them in the glory of God.

This day of wonder sees the Holy Spirit descend in a splendid flooding wave. This was the beginning of the Holy Spirit outpouring. And Joel saw this coming to a peak at the 6th seal at the very end of the latter days. See Joel 2:28-32. The revival spreads out from the Jerusalem epicenter as the disciples go out into the streets of the city proclaiming the Good News of salvation. Whereas 3,000 had died under the Law on the previous visitation 3,000 are now saved by Grace as the Apostle Peter preaches to the crowds coming up to the Feast. And so on this awesome day in holy history, the 7th day of Sivan on the Hebrew calendar, the Feast of Pentecost comes to its appointed New Covenant fulfillment. The Feast of Pentecost, the fourth of the Seven Feasts of Israel is taken up to the next level. It becomes the birthday of the Church. The Holy Spirit revival spreads out from Jerusalem into Judea, Samaria, and thence onward to the utmost parts of the world. This was that promised Light to the Gentiles Isaiah spoke about. See Isaiah 49:6) The ensuing 2,000 years sees Israel's Messiah continuing to 'call out' His 'ekklesia', His Congregation, by His Holy Spirit. The Good News of the Gospel overflows Israel and spreads out into the heathen gentile nations. And God's Covenant people expand out of Israel to become a global Congregation (or "Church"), even as Israel's Jordan river overflows its banks all the days of the harvest.

An understanding of the feast days of the Church is essential in understanding the spiritual progress of faith in the Catholic Believer by way of the individual church feasts which are patterned after the feasts as given in the Old Testament. Almighty god has been faithfull to deliver a systematic order of development of our faith and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Thus observance of these feasts are very essential.

   

Pentecost (Whitsunday)

A feast of the universal Church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ, on the ancient Jewish festival called the "feast of weeks" or Pentecost (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10). Whitsunday is so called from the white garments which were worn by those who were baptised during the vigil; Pentecost ("Pfingsten" in German), is the Greek for "the fiftieth" (day after Easter).

Whitsunday, as a Christian feast, dates back to the first century, although there is no evidence that it was observed, as there is in the case of Easter; the passage in 1 Corinthians 16:8 probably refers to the Jewish feast. This is not surprising, for the feast, originally of only one day's duration, fell on a Sunday; besides it was so closely bound up with Easter that it appears to be not much more than the termination of Paschal tide.

That Whitsunday belongs to the Apostolic times is stated in the seventh of the (interpolated) fragments attributed to St. Iren. In Tertullian (On Baptism 19) the festival appears as already well established. The Gallic pilgrim gives a detailed account of the solemn manner in which it was observed at Jerusalem ("Peregrin. Silvied. Geyer, iv). The Apostolic Constitutions (Book V, Part 20) say that Pentecost lasts one week, but in the West it was not kept with an octave until at quite a late date. It appears from Berno of Reichenau (d. 1048) that it was a debatable point in his time whether Whitsunday ought to have an octave. At present it is of equal rank with Easter Sunday. During the vigil formerly the catechumens who remained from Easter were baptized, consequently the ceremonies on Saturday are similar to those on Holy Saturday.

The office of Pentecost has only one Nocturn during the entire week. At Terce the "Veni Creator" is sung instead of the usual hymn, because at the third hour the Holy Ghost descended. The Mass has a Sequence, "Veni Sancte Spiritus" the authorship of which by some is ascribed to King Robert of France. The colour of the vestments is red, symbolic of the love of the Holy Ghost or of the tongues of fire. Formerly the law courts did not sit during the entire week, and servile work was forbidden. A Council of Constance (1094) limited this prohibition to the first three days of the week. The Sabbath rest of Tuesday was abolished in 1771, and in many missionary territories also that of Monday; the latter was abrogated for the entire Church by Pius X in 1911. Still, as at Easter, the liturgical rank of Monday and Tuesday of Pentecost week is a Double of the First Class.

In Italy it was customary to scatter rose leaves from the ceiling of the churches to recall the miracle of the fiery tongues; hence in Sicily and elsewhere in Italy Whitsunday is called Pascha rosatum. The Italian name Pascha rossa comes from the red colours of the vestments used on Whitsunday. In France it was customary to blow trumpets during Divine service, to recall the sound of the mighty wind which accompanied the Descent of the Holy Ghost. In England the gentry amused themselves with horse races. The Whitsun Ales or merrymakings are almost wholly obsolete in England. At these ales the Whitsun plays were performed. At Vespers of Pentecost in the Oriental Churches the extraordinary service of genuflexion, accompanied by long poetical prayers and psalms, takes place. (Cf. Maltzew, "Fasten-und Blumen Triodion", p. 898 where the entire Greco-Russian service is given; cf. also Baumstark, "Jacobit. Fest brevier", p. 255.) On Pentecost the Russians carry flowers and green branches in their hands.

Pentecost (pen`t?k [Gr.,=fiftieth], important Jewish and Christian feast. The Jewish feast of Pentecost, in Hebrew Shavuot Shavuot (sh?v`?t) [Heb.
 , the Feast of Weeks, one of the three pilgrimage festivals, arose as the celebration of the closing of the spring grain harvest, which began formally in Passover 50 days prior; there are numerous references to it in the Bible. From Rabbinic times, the festival commemorates the giving of the law to Moses at Mt. Sinai.

On the Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus (50 days from the Passover in which He was crucified), the Holy Spirit, according to the Acts of the Apostles, descended on the disciples in the form of tongues of fire accompanied by the sound of a rush of wind, and gave them the power of speaking in such a way that people of different languages could understand them. The Christian feast of Pentecost is an annual commemoration of this event, and it is solemnly observed as the birthday of the church and the feast of the Holy Spirit.

In ecclesiastical calendars Pentecost is the seventh Sunday after Easter and closes Eastertide. In the Western Church there are special observances, e.g., a penitential vigil, and in ancient times neophytes were baptized at this time. From the white garments of these converts comes Whitsunday, an English name for Pentecost. The great liturgical Latin hymns Veni Creator Spiritus and Veni Sancte Spiritus were composed for Pentecost. The Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday; until Advent the weeks are counted from Pentecost or Trinity

Pentecost
(from Greek pentecoste, fiftieth day) Christian festival commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus, occurring on the Jewish Pentecost, after Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension. The disciples began to speak in the many languages of the people assembled there, a sign that the disciples should spread the Christian message throughout the world. Jewish Pentecost was a thanksgiving feast for the first fruits of the wheat harvest and was associated with remembrance of God's gift of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai. Christian Pentecost is celebrated on the Sunday concluding the 50-day period following Easter. It is also the name of the Jewish celebration of Shavuot (Festival of Weeks).

Pentecost
1. a Christian festival occurring on Whit Sunday commemorating the descent of the Holy Ghost on the apostles
2. Judaism the harvest festival celebrated fifty days after the second day of Passover on the sixth and seventh days of Sivan, and commemorating the giving the Torah on Mount Sinai

The Season of Pentecost begins in late spring with the Feast of the Pentecost and ends in late November with Christ the King Sunday.

After Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension, his disciples met in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish feast of Shabuoth, the Day of First Fruits, or Feast of Weeks, which falls fifty days after the Passover.

When the disciples had gathered (Acts 2: 1 - 21), the Holy Spirit came down from heaven in tongues of fire and rested on the heads of everyone in the room. All the people began to speak in every language that had ever been heard in Palestine at that time.

Because Pentecost is the day that the Holy Spirit touched ordinary people, the Season of Pentecost focuses on the Spirit and the way in which it touches everyone in the world. One of the ways the Spirit reaches the world is through the Christian church.

And because everyone in the room began to speak about the wonders of God and about the life of Jesus, on Pentecost Sunday we celebrate the birthday of the church, the birthday of ministry, and the birthday of evangelism.

The Feast of the Pentecost is a special time for baptisms and confirmations.

Christians spend the Season of Pentecost looking at the relationship of God with His people as they experience his Holy Spirit. It is a time of outreach, and a time of letting the Spirit flow through each Christian to touch God's creation. Christians go to camp during Pentecost in order to appreciate God's beautiful world. It is also the time they begin to keep their confirmation promise of going into the world to make disciples of all nations.

Pentecost is a time of praise, of fellowship, and of spiritual renewal, as each Christian draws the Spirit into himself or herself with every breath.

The Season of Pentecost is the Season is which Christians develop their relationship with the risen Christ. Festival Days during Pentecost include the Feast of Pentecost, the Holy Trinity, Reformation Day, All Saints' Day, and Christ the King.

The color of Pentecost is green. Pentecost foods include all the grains of the grain harvest (especially wheat and barley), so sweet breads and eggs are special for the day. Many modern Jews eat cheesecake on the Day of Pentecost.
The Festival Days of the Church Year
The church year calendar is built around six seasons and twelve festival days.

The first festival day of the church year is Christmas, which falls on December 25. Christians celebrate the day Jesus was born to Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem.

On January 1, Christians celebrate the Name of Jesus. On this day the Baby Jesus was circumcised in a Jewish ceremony call a bris, was given his name, and was accepted as a member of the Jewish community, who were the only people in the world at that time who worshiped the One God. The Name of Jesus falls in the season of Christmas.

Epiphany, celebrated on January 6, is the day the Wise Men came from the east to worship the baby Jesus in Bethlehem and to give him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Oils of frankincense and myrrh, which were very expensive incenses and balms, can be found inexpensively in specialty gift shops, so the children can enjoy their fragrances.)

The Baptism of our Lord is celebrated the first Sunday after Epiphany. On this day Christians remember Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist in the River Jordan when he was an adult. A dove came down from the sky to rest on Jesus' head, and a voice spoke from heaven, saying, "This is my son, in whom I am well pleased."

The Transfiguration of Our Lord falls on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. This day commemorates the day Elijah and Moses appeared with Jesus on the mountain top, as Jesus was revealed to his disciples as the true Son of God. A voice also spoke from heaven on this day, which is the last day in the Season of Epiphany.

Easter is the day Jesus rose from the dead after he was crucified on Good Friday. The date of Easter is based on the phase of the moon, so the date varies from year to year. Because of this variation, Easter is called a movable feast.

The Ascension of Our Lord falls forty days after Easter. It is the day the disciples watched Jesus ascend into heaven, and it marks the end of Jesus' time on earth.

The Feast of Pentecost falls fifty days after Easter. Christians celebrate the appearance of the Holy Spirit on tongues of fire on the heads of Jesus' followers, who had met on that day to celebrate the Jewish Feast of Weeks.

The Holy Trinity is observed the Sunday after Pentecost. On this day Christians honor the Triune God, God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Reformation Day, the last Sunday in October, is celebrated by Protestant Christians to honor Martin Luther and the positive changes he made in the daily lives of Christians. It falls during the season of Pentecost.

All Saints' Sunday, the first Sunday in November, is the day Christians give thanks for the faithful departed: all the good people God has put in their lives who now live with God in heaven. All Saints' Sunday falls during the season of Pentecost.

Christ the King is the last Sunday of Pentecost and of the church year, when Christians celebrate Christ Triumphant, ruler of everyone and everything.
        
  
 
Pentecost Feast-The Gifts and Charisms of The Holy Spirit   The Feast of Pentecost:
The Gifts and Charisms

A reflection on the meaning of the Feast of Pentecost and the person, gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit.  The Feast of Pentecost, originally the Jewish Feast of weeks commemorating the gift of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai 50 days after the Exodus, was the day when the Holy Spirit was poured out in the Upper Room upon the apostles and other disciples in the form of tongues of fire and a strong wind, fifty days after Easter Sunday, the day marking the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  Pentecost is seen as the birthday of the Church.

 

As a teen, I thought the clergy were supposed to do everything.   We laity were just called to pray, pay, and obey.  Oh yes, and keep the commandments, of course.  The original 10 seemed overwhelming enough.  Then I discovered the Sermon on the Mount and nearly passed out.

 

Perhaps this is why many inactive Catholics are so resentful of their upbringing in the Church.   For them, religion means frustration, failure, and guilt

Somehow they, and I, missed the good news about Pentecost.  OK, we Catholics celebrate the feast every year and mention it in Confirmation class, but lots of us evidently didn't get it.

Because if we got it, we'd be different.  Bold instead of timid, energetic instead of anemic, fascinated instead of bored.   Compare the apostles before and after Pentecost and you'll see the difference the Spirit makes.

 


The gospel is Good News not just because we're going to heaven, but because we've been empowered to become new people, here and now.  Vatican II insisted that each of us is called to the heights of holiness (Lumen Gentium, chapter V).  Not by will-power, mind you.  But by Holy Spirit power. Holiness consists in faith, hope, and especially divine love.  These are virtues, literally powers, given by the Spirit.  To top it off, the Spirit gives us seven further gifts which perfect faith, hope, and love, making it possible for us to live a supernatural, charismatic life.  Some think this is only for the chosen few, the mystics.  Thomas Aquinas taught to the contrary that the gifts of Is 11:1-3 (wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, piety, fortitude, and fear of the Lord) are standard equipment given in baptism, that all are called to be mystics.

Vatican II also taught that every Christian has a vocation to serve.  We need power for this too.  And so the Spirit distributes other gifts, called charisms.  These, teaches St. Thomas, are not so much for our own sanctification as for service to others.  There is no exhaustive list of charisms, though St. Paul mentions a few (I Corinthians 12:7-10, Ro 12:6-8) ranging from tongues to Christian marriage (1 Cor 7: 7).  Charisms are not doled out by the pastors; but are given directly by the Spirit through baptism and confirmation, even sometimes outside of the sacraments (Acts 10:44-48).

Do I sound Pentecostal?  That's because I belong to the largest Pentecostal Church in the world.  Correcting the mistaken notion that the charisms were just for the apostolic church, Vatican II had this to say: "Allotting His gifts to everyone according as he will (1 Cor. 12:11), He [the Holy Spirit] distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank. . . . These charismatic gifts, whether they be the most outstanding or the more simple and widely diffused, are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation, for they are exceedingly suitable and useful for the needs of the Church" (LG12).

Powerful gifts, freely given to all.  Sounds like a recipe for chaos.  But the Lord also imparted to the apostles and their successors a unifying charism of headship.  The role of the ordained is not to do everything themselves.  Rather, they are to discern, shepherd, and coordinate the charims of the laity so that they mature and work together for the greater glory of God (LG 30).

So what if you, like me, did not quite get it when you were confirmed?   Ive got good news for you.  You actually did get the Spirit and his gifts.   Have you ever received a new credit card with a sticker saying Must call to activate before using?  The Spirit and his gifts are the same way.  You have to call in and activate them.   Do it today and every day, and especially every time you attend Mass.  Because every sacramental celebration is a New Pentecost where the Spirit and his gifts are poured out anew (CCC 739, 1106).

 

Thats why the Christian Life is an adventure.  There will always be new surprises of the Spirit!
 
 
The Feast of Pentecost: The Firstfruits of God's Harvest

In the process of revealing His plan of salvation for mankind, God established His annual Holy Days around the harvest seasons in the Middle East (Leviticus 23:9-16; Exodus 23:14-16). Just as His people harvested their crops around these three festival seasons, God's Holy Days show us how He is harvesting people for eternal life in His Kingdom.
The Holy Days have meanings that build upon each other. Together they progressively reveal how God works with humanity.

Earlier we saw Passover symbolizing Christ's giving of Himself for us so our sins could be forgiven. We also learned how the Days of Unleavened Bread teach us that we must remove and avoid sin, whether in actions or attitudes. The next Holy Day, Pentecost, builds on this important foundation.

This festival is known by several names, which derive from its meaning and timing. Also known as the Feast of Harvest (Exodus 23:16), it represents the firstfruits (Numbers 28:26) gathered as the result of the labor of those who completed the spring grain harvests in ancient Israel (Exodus 23:16).

It is also called the Feast of Weeks (Exodus 34:22), with this name coming from the seven weeks plus one day (50 days in all) that are counted to determine when to celebrate this festival (Leviticus 23:16). Similarly, in the New Testament, which was written in Greek, this festival is known as Pentecost (Pentekostos in the original), which means "fiftieth" (Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, "Pentecost").

Among Jews the most popular name for this festival is the Feast of Weeks, or shavuot, in Hebrew. When celebrating this festival, many Jewish people recall one of the greatest events in history, God's revealing of the law at Mount Sinai.

But Pentecost doesn't just picture the giving of the law; it also shows through a great miracle that occurred on the first Pentecost in the early Church how to keep the spiritual intent of God's laws.

The gift of Pentecost: the Holy Spirit
God chose the first Pentecost after Jesus Christ's resurrection to pour out the Holy Spirit on 120 believers (Acts 1:15). "Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues [languages], as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:1-4).

The speaking in various languages occurred as a crowd of people gathered in Jerusalem, with each visitor hearing the speech of the disciples in his own native tongue (verses 6-11). These astounding events demonstrated the presence of the Holy Spirit.

At first the people of Jerusalem who witnessed this miraculous phenomenon were astonished, with some attributing the actions of the Christians to drunkenness (Acts 2:12-13). The apostle Peter, now filled with the Holy Spirit, boldly explained the event to the crowd as a fulfillment of Joel's prophecy: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh" (Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28).

Peter explained how his listeners could also receive this Spirit: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:38-39).

God used these miracles and Peter's preaching to add 3,000 people to His Church in one day. These converts were all baptized and received the Holy Spirit (verses 40-41). From this pivotal point, God's Spirit has been available to all who truly repent and are properly baptized. The Day of Pentecost is an annual reminder that God poured out His Spirit to establish His Church, the group of believers who are led by His Spirit.

Why we need God's Spirit
Humanly speaking, no matter how hard we try not to, we still sin (1 Kings 8:46; Romans 3:23). Acknowledging this inherent weakness of humanity, God lamented in Deuteronomy 5:29, "Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments that it might be well with them and with their children forever!"

Here God explains that humankind has a heart problem. Academic knowledge of the law does not enable us to think like God. Becoming godly in our thoughts, attitudes and actions is beyond the comprehension and ability of men and women without an additional ingredient: God's Spirit.

God's way of thinking produces peace, happiness and concern for others. Jesus complimented a lawyer who correctly quoted the essence of God's law: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind" and "[love] your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27). This man cited Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18, from two books of the Pentateuch. Jesus here confirmed that the Old Testament scriptures are based on these two great principles of love (Matthew 22:40).

The essence of God's law is love (Romans 13:8-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:9). God gave His commandments because He loves us. Writing to brethren who had God's Spirit, John said, "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:2-3).

Because God's Spirit was now residing in the Church, its members could express genuine love. "A new commandment I give to you," Jesus had said, "that you love one another; as I have loved you ... By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35). God's gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost made it possible for the Church to fully express God's commandments of love.

Jesus Christ: the firstfruits of eternal life
Firstfruits are the first agricultural products to mature and ripen. Throughout the Bible, God uses the analogy of the harvest and, particularly on Pentecost, firstfruits to illustrate aspects of His plan of salvation. Israel observed this day in the late spring after the barley and wheat harvests. A special offering of the first ripe grain during the Days of Unleavened Bread, called the wave-sheaf offering, marked the beginning of these harvests, which continued during the next 50 days and led up to Pentecost (Leviticus 23:11). This spring harvest was the firstfruits of the yearly agricultural cycle.

One of the first harvest lessons of the New Testament is that Jesus Christ "is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:20). The wave-sheaf offering represented Jesus Christ, who was the "firstborn over all creation" and the "firstborn from the dead" (Colossians 1:15, 18). He presented Himself to God the Father as a type, or example, of firstfruits on the Sunday after His resurrection, the same day during the Days of Unleavened Bread on which the first sheaf of grain of the spring harvest was waved before God.

Early on the first day of the week (Sunday morning), while it was still dark and Jesus had already been resurrected (John 20:1), Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and discovered that the rock in front of it had already been rolled away. She ran to notify Peter and John that Jesus was no longer in His grave. The two men hurried to the tomb and verified that Jesus was gone (John 20:2-10). After Peter and John left for their homes, Mary Magdalene stood outside Jesus' place of interment (verse 11). As she wept, Jesus appeared to her but would not allow her to touch Him because He had "not yet ascended" to the Father (John 20:17).

Later that same day Jesus appeared again. This time He allowed certain women to touch Him (Matthew 28:9). His own words show that, between the time Mary Magdalene saw Him and the time He allowed the women to touch Him, Christ had ascended to, and had been accepted by, the Father.

The wave-sheaf ceremony God gave to ancient Israel thus represents Jesus Christ's acceptance by His Father as "the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:20).

The Church as firstfruits
Romans 8:29 speaks of Jesus Christ as "the firstborn of many brethren." Yet the New Testament Church is also considered to be firstfruits. In speaking of the Father, James said, "Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures" (James 1:18).

God's Spirit within us identifies us and sanctifies us-sets us apart as Christians. "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ," wrote Paul, "he is not His," and "as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Romans 8:9, 14).

Paul also referred to the brethren as those "who have the firstfruits of the Spirit" (verse 23). He alluded to several first-century Christians as the firstfruits of God's calling (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:15).

The significance of the Bible writers calling these people of God firstfruits becomes evident when we consider John 14:6. Here Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

How many, throughout the centuries, have really accepted and practiced the way of life Jesus taught? Even today many people have simply never heard much, if anything, about Jesus Christ. How will God offer them salvation?

Few people understand that God follows a systematic plan, symbolized by His Holy Days, to save all humanity by offering all people eternal life in His Kingdom. In this world we are simply at the beginning of the harvest for the Kingdom of God.

The apostle Paul understood this: "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep ... For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming" (1 Corinthians 15:20, 22-23). Anyone who is now called and chosen by God is included with Christ as God's firstfruits (James 1:18).

The Bible teaches us that God must call people (John 6:44; 6:63). Our Creator, therefore, controls the timing of His harvest. When God founded His Church by imparting His Spirit to certain believers on the Day of Pentecost in A.D. 31, He was expanding His spiritual harvest. It was the beginning of what Joel prophesied, that God will ultimately pour out His Spirit on "all flesh" (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:14-17).

The Holy Spirit at work
The coming of the Holy Spirit dramatically changed the lives of these early Christians. The book of Acts is filled with accounts of the early Church's remarkable spiritual impact on the surrounding society. A transformation was so evident that nonbelievers accused the Christians of "turning the world upside down" (Acts 17:6). Such was the dynamic, miraculous power of the Holy Spirit.

To fully grasp how God's Spirit can work with us, we must comprehend what the Holy Spirit is. It is not a person who, along with God the Father and Christ the Son, forms a "Holy Trinity." In Scripture the Holy Spirit is described as the power of God at work in our lives (Acts 1:8; Romans 15:13, 19), the same power that was at work in the ministry of Jesus Christ (Luke 4:14; Acts 10:38).

This divine power allows us to be "led by the Spirit of God" (Romans 8:14). It was this same power that transformed the lives of the early Christians and is the power working in the Church today. Paul told Timothy that God's Spirit is a "spirit of ... power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).

Pentecost serves as an annual reminder that our Creator still works miracles, granting His Spirit to the firstfruits of His spiritual harvest, empowering them to carry out His work in this world.


 

We are the LORD`S spriritual harvest and it is hoped this page has brought you to a new understanding of the importance of Pentecost.

Peace in Christ:

The Director:

 


 


 

 

 

I HAVE COME NOT TO ABOLISH THE LAW BUT TO FULFILL IT.
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