Summary: A Whitsuntide Message pleading for God to work in power among His holy people.
“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
It was after the funeral of General Booth of the Salvation Army, after the great congregation had left the church that the sexton found one lone Methodist preacher on his knees at the altar. Moved with what God had wrought through the mighty life and work of William Booth, this solitary preacher was praying from the depth of his soul, “Lord, do it again! Lord, do it again!”
Whenever I read the account of the Day of Pentecost following Jesus’ ascension, I find myself crying out to God, “Lord, do it again! Lord, do it again!” I am convinced that Pentecost was meant to be a model of what God wants His people to be and to do. The events surrounding the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost were recorded in order to encourage the churches of our Lord throughout all time. What the disciples witnessed on that day should be a model for each church to create a desire to witness God’s Spirit at work even to this day. Join me in exploring the account of the descent of the Spirit as recorded by Doctor Luke in ACTS 2:1-4.
PRECURSORS TO PENTECOST — “You will receive power,” promised the Master as He prepared for His ascension, “when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” The promise was but an iteration of a promise made earlier as He prepared for His Passion. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” [JOHN 14:15-17].
Long before this promise, God had instituted a festive observance for His ancient people, Israel. Pentecost, known as the FEAST OF WEEKS [see EXODUS 34:22], or as the FEAST OF HARVEST [EXODUS 23:16], was essentially a harvest celebration. The celebration is also referred to as the DAY OF THE FIRSTFRUITS [NUMBERS 28:26]. The commemoration was observed for seven full weeks, or fifty days, after Passover. Hence, it received the name PENTECOST, referring to this period of fifty days.
For the purpose of this message, it is important that we remember Pentecost was a harvest festival. The grain was all gathered in by the time of the festival. Barley harvest began near the time of Passover, and wheat was harvested in the days immediately before Pentecost. Therefore, the celebration was a joyous feast marked by thanksgiving for the blessing of God’s rich provision. According to Jeremiah, the people were to acknowledge that God had richly given everything they enjoyed.
The people were responsible to say in their hearts,
“Let us fear the LORD our God,
who gives the rain in its season,
the autumn rain and the spring rain,
and keeps for us
the weeks appointed for the harvest.”
Thus, God was credited with giving rain and the fertility assuring a bountiful harvest.
Pentecost speaks of a harvest. Pentecost was a celebration of firstfruits, a bountiful harvest with the promise of yet more to come because of the goodness of the Lord God. Therefore, when the Risen Son of God prepared His disciples for what was coming, He spoke not solely of immediate blessing, but also of the necessity of labouring in anticipation of a continuing harvest. This is the meaning of His words in ACTS 1:8, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Whatever would happen when the Holy Spirit came upon those first disciples was but a harbinger of God’s intention to bless His people throughout this present dispensation. Moreover, those first disciples understood that when they had received the Holy Spirit in power, they were responsible to serve Christ as witnesses wherever man would be found. The Spirit of God was to be given specifically to empower the followers of the Lord Jesus for the service to which He had appointed them.
It is my contention that though Pentecost was indeed a unique event, the presence of the Spirit of God is promised to reside with the people of God for the duration of this Church Age. All who become Christians through faith in the Living Son of God receive the Holy Spirit. This was the promise Peter made under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as he responded to the inquiries prompted by the message he delivered at Pentecost.