VIDEO Pentecost: The Descent of the Holy Spirit

In the Old Testament Pentecost was the feast which occurred fifty days after Passover. As the passover feast celebrated the exodus of the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt, so Pentecost celebrated God’s gift of the ten commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai.

In the new covenant of the Messiah, the passover event takes on its new meaning as the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection, the “exodus” of men from this sinful world to the Kingdom of God. And in the New Testament as well, the pentecostal feast is fulfilled and made new by the coming of the “new law,” the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ.

When the day of Pentecost had come they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed as resting upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit . . . (Acts 2.1–4).

The Holy Spirit that Christ had promised to his disciples came on the day of Pentecost (Jn 14.26, 15.26; Lk 24.49; Acts 1.5). The apostles received “the power from on high,” and they began to preach and bear witness to Jesus as the risen Christ, the King and the Lord. This moment has traditionally been called the birthday of the Church.

In the liturgical services of the feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit is celebrated together with the full revelation of the divine Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The fullness of the Godhead is manifested with the Spirit’s coming to man, and the Church hymns celebrate this manifestation as the final act of God’s self-disclosure and self-donation to the world of His creation. For this reason Pentecost Sunday is also called Trinity Day in the Orthodox tradition. Often on this day the icon of the Holy Trinity—particularly that of the three angelic figures who appeared to Abraham, the forefather of the Christian faith—is placed in the center of the church. This icon is used with the traditional pentecostal icon which shows the tongues of fire hovering over Mary and the Twelve Apostles, the original prototype of the Church, who are themselves sitting in unity surrounding a symbolic image of “cosmos,” the world.

On Pentecost we have the final fulfillment of the mission of Jesus Christ and the first beginning of the messianic age of the Kingdom of God mystically present in this world in the Church of the Messiah. For this reason the fiftieth day stands as the beginning of the era which is beyond the limitations of this world, fifty being that number which stands for eternal and heavenly fulfillment in Jewish and Christian mystical piety: seven times seven, plus one.

Thus, Pentecost is called an apocalyptic day, which means the day of final revelation. It is also called an eschatological day, which means the day of the final and perfect end (in Greek eschaton means the end). For when the Messiah comes and the Lord’s Day is at hand, the “last days” are inaugurated in which “God declares: . . . I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.”; This is the ancient prophecy to which the Apostle Peter refers in the first sermon of the Christian Church which was preached on the first Sunday of Pentecost (Acts 2: 1 7; Joel 2: 28–32).

Once again it must be noted that the feast of Pentecost is not simply the celebration of an event which took place centuries ago. It is the celebration of what must happen and does happen to us in the Church today. We all have died and risen with the Messiah-King, and we all have received his Most Holy Spirit. We are the “temples of the Holy Spirit.” God’s Spirit dwells in us (Rom 8; 1 Cor 2–3, 12; 2 Cor 3; Gal 5; Eph 2–3). We, by our own membership in the Church, have received “the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit” in the sacrament of chrismation. Pentecost has happened to us.

The Divine Liturgy of Pentecost recalls our baptism into Christ with the verse from Galatians again replacing the Thrice-Holy Hymn. Special verses from the psalms also replace the usual antiphonal psalms of the liturgy. The epistle and gospel readings tell of the Spirit’s coming to men. The kontakion sings of the reversal of Babel as God unites the nations into the unity of his Spirit. The troparion proclaims the gathering of the whole universe into God’s net through the work of the inspired apostles. The hymns “O Heavenly King” and “We have seen the True Light” are sung for the first time since Easter, calling the Holy Spirit to “come and abide in us,” and proclaiming that “we have received the heavenly Spirit.” The church building is decorated with flowers and the green leaves of the summer to show that God’s divine Breath comes to renew all creation as the “life-creating Spirit.” In Hebrew the word for Spirit, breath and wind is the same word, ruah.

Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God, who hast revealed the fishermen as most wise by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit: through them Thou didst draw the world into Thy net. O Lover of Man, Glory to Thee (Troparion).

When the Most High came down and confused the tongues, he divided the nations. But when he distributed the tongues of fire, he called all to unity. Therefore, with one voice, we glorify the All-Holy Spirit!(Kontakion).

The Great Vespers of Pentecost evening features three long prayers at which the faithful kneel for the first time since Easter. The Monday after Pentecost is the feast of the Holy Spirit in the Orthodox Church, and the Sunday after Pentecost is the feast of All Saints. This is the logical liturgical sequence since the coming of the Holy Spirit is fulfilled in men by their becoming saints, and this is the very purpose of the creation and salvation of the world. “Thus says the Lord: Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I your God am holy” (Lev 11.44–45, 1 Pet 1.15–16).

https://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith/worship/the-church-year/pentecost-the-descent-of-the-holy-spirit


Holy Pentecost – Exploring the Feasts of the Orthodox Christian Church

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A New Community

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Acts 2:44

My friend Carrie’s five-year-old daughter, Maija, has an interesting approach to playtime. She loves mixing together dolls from different playsets to come up with a new community. In the world of her imagination, everything belongs together. These are her people. She believes they are happiest when they’re together, despite being different sizes and shapes.

Her creativity reminds me of God’s purpose for the church. On the day of Pentecost, Luke tells us, “Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). Though these people were from different cultures and spoke different languages, the Holy Spirit’s arrival made them a new community: the church. From then on, they would be considered one body, unified by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

As believers in Christ, we belong together.

The leaders of this new body were a group of men Jesus brought together during His time on earth—His disciples. If Jesus hadn’t united them, more than likely they would never have come together. And now more people—“about three thousand” (2:41)—had become Christ-followers. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, this once divided group “had everything in common” (v. 44). They were willing to share what they had with each other.

The Holy Spirit continues to bridge the gaps between people groups. We might not always get along, nor readily understand one another. But as believers in Christ, we belong together.

Jesus, thank You for dying for us and uniting us as one people in the church.

The Holy Spirit turns “us” and “them” into “we.”

By Linda Washington 

INSIGHT

The brand-new church God established in Acts 2 demonstrated a sense of unprecedented community across ethnic and national lines (vv. 5–11). This life included teaching by the apostles, fellowship with each other, sharing meals, and praying together (v. 42).

How do we live out the community life God calls us to?

Tim Gustafson

The Hidden Causes of Anxiety

Psalm 94:19-22

Experiences affect how people think about themselves and what they choose to believe. Sometimes negative events create a hurtful thought pattern that can play in someone’s brain in a continuous loop. When that gets switched on, it triggers anxiety in the person’s heart. Shutting it off permanently requires faith in the Lord.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Suppose that little Tina’s efforts to do well were often rejected by her parents. She heard, “You can do better than that” or “Your sister did much better at your age.” Tina rarely received praise for a job well done. Now an adult, she refuses to apply for a job promotion, even though her boss is encouraging her to do so. Why? Because she fears being found inadequate. Tina may not be able to name her fear, but it certainly holds her back. There are several other potential root causes of anxiety. An exhaustive list would not fit here, but a few of the more common ones are …

• The belief that one can’t reach a set standard. 
• Guilt over past sin.
• A faulty idea of God as a punisher. 
• Attitudes instilled during childhood.

When feeling anxious, ask yourself what produced the uneasiness. Knowing which incidents nurture fear can point you to the underlying cause. Let God help you reject the unhealthy thought pattern and replace it with assurance that those who listen to Him live free from the dread of evil (Prov. 1:33).

All the Heathen

“For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.” (Obadiah 1:15)

The book of Obadiah was possibly the earliest of the prophetic books of the Old Testament and is certainly the shortest, with its single chapter. Its theme is God’s coming judgment on the Edomite nation, not only because of their general wickedness but particularly because of their abusive treatment of their Israelite relatives (Jacob’s brother Esau was the father of the Edomites).

The prophecy of Obadiah contains (in our text) the first mention (chronologically) of the coming “day of the LORD.” Although it appears at first to focus especially on the Edomites, it is really looking far ahead to the end times, when the judgments of that day will be “upon all the heathen.” There have been many precursive and partial fulfillments of this prophecy, as nation after nation has been brought down throughout history under God’s judgmental hand. Edom, in particular, has long since vanished as a nation.

There is a great day coming, however (actually a period of time), called in the Bible “the day of the Lord” (also “that day,” “the great day of His wrath,” and other such terms), when all the heathen (that is, the “Gentile nations,” including the U.S.) will be judged by the God who created them, who died to redeem them, and who has been repudiated by them. “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: . . . and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 19:15). Our own heathen nation has been spared thus far because of our biblical foundations, our care for God’s people, Israel, and our missionary efforts, but these are fast disappearing, and our time, like that of Edom, will surely come. HMM

When ye stand praying, forgive

Matthew 17:22-27

Matthew 17:22, 23

He often spoke to them upon this point, and as they gradually comprehended his meaning their sorrow increased. He kept his death always before his mind’s eye, and frequently reminded his followers of it before it was accomplished; and now that his suffering work is finished, he would have it always present to the hearts of his people.

Matthew 17:24, 25

But, as usual, he spake too quickly. He ought not to have committed his Master to the payment of a doubtful exaction.

Matthew 17:24, 25

prevented or anticipated

Matthew 17:26

This tribute had not the divine sanction. The services of the temple, and the maintenance of the priests were otherwise provided for by the Mosaic law, and no annual poll tax had ever been instituted by God. Eastern kings in our Lord’s day levied tribute only upon the natives of conquered lands, and did not exact from their own people. It could not be supposed that the King of Grace would tax his own family.

Matthew 17:27

He paid the demand, but in such a way as to prove his own sovereign status. He paid as only God could do.

Matthew 18:21-35

Matthew 18:23, 24

If of silver, these talents were worth between three and four millions sterling; if of gold, sixty millions.

Matthew 18:25-28

hundred pence: or about three pounds:

Matthew 18:25-28

This debt at the most was the millionth part of the former one.

Matthew 18:29

The attitude and words which had drawn compassion from his master were addressed to him in vain.

Matthew 18:30-35

God will deal with each of us upon the principle which sways our own life, and if we adopt a stern and severe mode of action, we must expect the same rule to be carried out in our case.

 

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

This Jesus… being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:32-33)

The miraculous events wrought in Jerusalem by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost indicated to the disciples that Jesus Christ, the Messiah-Savior, had indeed taken His place at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

With Jewish critics all around, Peter lifted his voice and said that all who were in Jerusalem on that day were seeing the fulfillment of prophecy—he words of Jesus that He would send the Holy Spirit after His death and resurrection and exaltation.

“Therefore,” Peter cried, “let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

Many, many have failed to note Peter’s Pentecostal emphasis: the important thing in God’s plan was the fact that Jesus had been exalted in heaven, and that His glorification there had been the signal for the coming of the promised Holy Spirit. What a lesson! The Spirit does not have to be begged—He comes when the Savior is honored and exalted!

 

We Dare Not Doubt

I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron. Isa. 45:2

This was for Cyrus; but it is evermore the heritage of all the Lord’s own spiritual servants. Only let us go forward by faith, and our way will be cleared for us. Crooks and turns of human craft and Satanic subtlety shall be straightened for us; we shall not need to track their devious windings. The gates of brass shall be broken, and the iron bars which fastened them shall be cut asunder. We shall not need the battering ram nor the crowbar: the Lord Himself will do the impossible for us, and the unexpected shall be a fact.

Let us not sit down in coward fear. Let us press onward in the path of duty; for the Lord hath said it, “I will go before thee.” Ours not to reason why; ours but to dare and dash forward. It is the Lord’s work, and He will enable us to do it: all impediments must yield before Him. Hath He not said, “I will break in pieces the gates of brass?” What can hinder His purpose or balk His decrees? Those who serve God have infinite resources. The way is clear to faith though barred to human strength. When Jehovah says, “I will,” as He does twice in this promise, we dare not doubt.

 

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