Celebrating Pentecost

Acts 1:8, 2:1

The Feast of Pentecost marked the summer harvest, the second of the year. It concluded the growing season that had ceremoniously commenced seven weeks earlier on the Feast of Firstfruits.

While Pentecost was initially a joyful celebration of Israel’s grain harvest, the festival also commemorated the giving of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai.

Passover falls in late March to mid-April, and Pentecost comes 50 days later in late May or early June. As many people attended the Feast of Pentecost as Passover. This accounts for the extraordinary list of countries represented at the Feast of Pentecost recorded in the second chapter of Acts.

For Christians, the most celebrated Pentecost in history was the one following the resurrection and ascension of Christ, when the Holy Spirit descended on 120 believers gathered in an upper room. During this extraordinary Pentecost, the Holy Spirit breathed transforming life into the followers of Jesus. At that distinct, divine moment, the church was born!

The fledgling church experienced staggering growth during and immediately following this festival of harvest. The Feast of Pentecost was truly a time of exceptional spiritual harvest. Within the first four chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, the church increased from the 120 gathered in the Upper Room to 5,000 throughout Jerusalem—an astonishing growth rate.

God’s revelation to Moses on Mount Sinai was certainly in the minds of the disciples, when “suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2). This time, the turbulent elements were not heralding the Law, but the long awaited Lawyer—the Paraclete—the One who would serve as every believer’s Advocate (1 John 2:1). The divine Advocate poured out at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit Himself, bestowed strength, comfort and victory to those who have been “set free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).

The experience of Pentecost continues to be the great need of the church today. With prophetic discernment, Billy Graham laments: “The church today is powerless. We have no power because we do not have the Spirit of God in power and in fullness, in our lives.”

Pentecost is a feast and an experience, a reminder of the past and an annual summons to fulfill the Great Commission: “Wait for the gift My Father promised. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be My witnesses to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

William Francis, Celebrate the Feasts of the Lord

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