Pentecost is the Greek word for 50. It comes 50 days after Easter but it has its roots in a much older Jewish Festival called Shavuot, a Jewish Festival - Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks. In the book of Leviticus, there are two first fruit festivals - one for barley, harvested on the day after the first sabbath after passover - i.e. the day Jesus rose again at Easter. And one festival to the first fruits of wheat 50 days later
Paul said in Colossians 2:16-17 that the Jewish feasts and celebrations were a shadow of the things to come through Jesus Christ. As Easter fulfils Passover so Pentecost fulfills Shavuot. It's exciting to delve deep into these ancient traditions and see how Jesus fulfilled all the promise of the old covenant and continues to do so in our lives today.
The Glory of the Lord is seen in the Old Testament as manifest in fire. God shows himself to Moses in the burning bush, A pillar of fire leads the people of Israel through the wilderness, God is present in fire on Mt Sinai at the giving of the Law and the glory of the Lord fills the temple with smoke in Isaiah… but there is no mention of this glory in the second temple - the promise given in Haggai that the glory of the second house will be greater than the first is only fulfilled at Pentecost.
Shavuot was originally a festival for expressing thankfulness to the Lord for the blessing of the harvest. It was at the beginning of the wheat harvest and the harvest of fruits - when the first bit was like a guarantee of what was to comeAnd because it occurred at the conclusion of the Passover, it acquired the name "Latter Firstfruits." How appropriate that on this day when the first fruits of the harvest were brought to the temple, the first fruits of a spiritual harvest were also seen in 3000 people being baptised Christians.
GIVING OF THE TORAH
The celebration is also tied to the giving of the Ten Commandments and thus bears the name Matin Torah or "giving of the Law." Jews believe that it was exactly at this time that God gave the Torah to the people through Moses on Mount Sinai. Jews customarily eat dairy foods such as cheesecakes and cheese blitzes on Shavuot is that the Law was compared to "milk and honey" in the Bible.
Once again we see the Old Testament revealing a shadow of the things to come through Christ! After Moses went up to Mount Sinai, the Word of God was given to the Israelites On Tablets of stone. But with the coming of the Spirit and Pentecost, the Torah is no longer on tablets of stone, but written on our hearts. . When the Jews accepted the Torah, they entered into a covenant, they became God’s people Israel. When the disciples received the gift, they became the people of the new covenant - the Church was born.
Throughout Jewish history, it has been customary to engage in all-night study of the Torah on the first evening of Shavuot. Children were encouraged to memorize Scripture and rewarded with treats. The book of Ruth was traditionally read during Shavuot. We had great fun retelling this story at our "Catching the Fire" celebration.And this foreshadows what happened at Pentecost for Ruth is not an Israelite - she is a Moabite - a foreigner who receives God’s law in her heart and becomes one of God’s people - and at Pentecost God’s Word is given in many languages and is carried from that day on all over the world.
The wonder of Pentecost is that God’s Spirit is no longer reserved for a few exceptional individuals - but comes to dwell in each person who seeks to follow Jesus