This past Sunday, Christians around the world celebrated Pentecost Sunday. And as I heard various messages on this Holy day, what I did not hear was the story of the original Pentecost. Nor did I hear how the two play together. One was a foreshadowing of the other. So here, the reader will be given a quick tour of Pentecost. And to show how three different remembrances and celebrations blend together for a beautiful understanding of this day.
Christians know that the book of Acts is about the birth of the church in its mission to spread the Gospel of Christ to the world. But for those who may not know it, a quick catchup.
In the Gospels, Jesus had been taken prisoner by the Pharisees (the religious leaders of the Jewish people) on the night of Passover. ‘While Yeshua was still speaking, here came Judah, one of the Twelve, and with him a big crowd with swords and clubs, from the ruling kohanim and elders of the people. Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The One I kiss, He’s the One—seize Him!’And immediately Judah drew near[k] to Yeshua and said, “Shalom, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.“Friend,” Yeshua said to him, “do what you’ve come to do.” Then they came up and threw their hands on Yeshua and seized Him.And suddenly, one of those with Yeshua stretched out his hand and drew his sword, and he struck the kohen gadol’s servant and cut off his ear.Then Yeshua said to him, “Put your sword back in its place! For all who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.Or do you suppose that I cannot call on My Father, and at once He will place at My side twelve legions[m] of angels?How then would the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”At that hour Yeshua said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs, to capture Me as you would a revolutionary?[n] Every day I sat teaching in the Temple, and you didn’t seize Me.But all this has happened so that the writings of the prophets would be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples fled, abandoning Him.Now those who had seized Yeshua led Him away to Caiaphas, the kohen gadol, where the Torah scholars and elders had gathered.’ (Matthew 16:47-57, TLV)
This was in remembrance of the Israelites being freed from bondage in Egypt by God through the various plagues, including the last one…death of all firstborn.‘Then came the day of matzah when the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.Now Yeshua sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, so we may eat.”Then they said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare?”And He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters.And say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’And with that, he will show you a large upper room, fully furnished. Make preparations there.”So they left and found just what Yeshua had told them, and they prepared the Passover.When the hour came, Yeshua reclined at table, and the emissaries with Him.And He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.For I tell you, I will never eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”And when He had taken a cup and offered the bracha, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves.For I tell you that I will never drink of the fruit of the vine from now on, until the kingdom of God comes.”And when He had taken matzah and offered the bracha, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body, given for you. Do this in memory of Me.”In the same way, He took the cup after the meal, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you.’ (Luke 22:7-20, TLV)
That first meal was eaten ready for flight as everyone stayed in their homes, protected by the markings of blood on the doorway. The angel of death would see the blood and ‘Pass Over’ the house, leaving all inside alive. God then made this meal (the Passover Seder) an annual remembrance for the children of Israel. ‘The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt,“This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb[a] for his family, one for each household.If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat.The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast.Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs.Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it.This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.
“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord.The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel.On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do.
“Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day.For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And anyone, whether foreigner or native-born, who eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel.Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.”Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb.Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning.When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.
“Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants.When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony.And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” Then the people bowed down and worshiped.The Israelites did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron.At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well.Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.
During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested.Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!”So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing.The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing.The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children.Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds.With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years.At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt.Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the Lord for the generations to come.
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the regulations for the Passover meal: “No foreigner may eat it.Any slave you have bought may eat it after you have circumcised him,but a temporary resident or a hired worker may not eat it.“It must be eaten inside the house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones.The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.“A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it.The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.”All the Israelites did just what the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron.And on that very day the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.(Exodus 12, TLV)
The reader may wonder why I brought up the Passover meal instead of the trial, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. The reason is fairly simple, The Jewish nation counts days from the Passover to Pentecost. Fifty days from Passover is Pentecost. For the Jewish faith, it is the Feast of Weeks. Originally, this feast was known as the Festival of Harvest (Feast of Firs Fruits). I will bring this point into the story later.
The gathering of the faithful in that room was at the command of Jesus. They knew something was going to occur because Christ said so.‘But the Helper, the Ruach ha-Kodesh whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you everything and remind you of everything that I said to you.’ (John 14:26, TLV). Ruach ha-Kodesh translates as this – the divine force, quality, and influence of God over the universe or over God’s creatures. And something great happened. We will break it down point by point. Linking things to the Old Testament.
‘When the day of Shavuot had come, they were all together in one place.Suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.And tongues like fire spreading out appeared to them and settled on each one of them.They were all filled with the Ruach ha-Kodesh and began to speak in other tongues as the Ruach enabled them to speak out.’ (Acts 2:1-4, TLV)
I highlighted 3 parts of this set of verses. I’ll break each down in order. When the day of Shavuot had come, they were all together in one place, I’ve already mentioned that they were together because of the God set festival. Some will say that they were huddled and scared but scripture shows, that as Jewish believers, they were to celebrate this festival.
Mighty rushing wind can be viewed as the Holy Spirit that gave life in the beginning. ‘Then Adonai Elohim formed the man out of the dust from the ground and He breathed into his nostrils a breath of life—so the man became a living being.’ (Genesis 2:7, TLV) The might rushing wind and the breath of life are indicative of the Holy Spirit creating life. First into man as a being and then into the church as the bride.
Tongues like fire. Fire has been used in various forms in scripture. In that room it was the indication of God’s presence, like it was with Moses, ‘Now Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. So he led the flock to the farthest end of the wilderness, coming to the mountain of God, Horeb.Then the angel of Adonai appeared to him in a flame of fire from within a bush. So he looked and saw the bush burning with fire, yet it was not consumed.’ (Genesis 3:1-2, TLV)
As it was the Festival of First Fruits- we can see this act of God through the Holy Spirit as the first fruits of the church.
After the Temple was demolished in 70 AD and sacrifices could no longer be made, the Jewish people also understood that the giving of the Torah to Moses was done on this festival day. So they spend the night studying the Torah. That brings another point to the Pentecostal Day message.
‘Then I will give them one heart. I will put a new Spirit within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh…’ (Ezekiel 11:19, TLV)
‘For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Adonai. I will put My Torah into their mind, and upon their hearts I will write it. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ (Hebrews 8:10, TLV)
As one can see, The Christian Day of Pentecost was more than just the Christian view we have today. It was grounded in the Old Testament. Every aspect of it was foreshadowed and came into play for those that believed in Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ) on that day.
To understand the life of a Christian, we must look at the Jewish Covenant. Everything then came to fullness in Christ. We tend to forget that Jesus and the Apostles and writers of the New Testament (except Luke) were Jewish. They kept the Old Testament in their hearts and actions. We need to start seeing the importance of the Old in the New. I have started to learn and love the Jewish roots of our faith in Christ. Because their faith gave us our faith.