Summary: Pentecost is a mysterious, relatively unknown feast to Christians. It was given by God to the Hebrews in Leviticus 23 and plays an important role in the history of God's church in in Acts 2.
1. Joy in serious times
A famous motivational speaker was once asked about his most difficult speech. He answered, "Well, it was when I was asked to speak at a national convention of undertakers. My topic was to explain to them how to look sad during a $20,000 funeral." You see, when there is joy inside, it’s awfully hard to keep it from showing.
2. God gave his people special days like Shabbat and 7 special feasts – most of these represent JOY in the lives and hearts of the people.
3. “Pentecost” (50 Days in Greek); “Shavuot” (Weeks in Hebrew) is one such Feast
4. Acts 2.1-4
5. Question – How much do you know about “Pentecost”? –
a. My early bible study time – I had no idea
b. “Jewish Holiday”
c. “Birthday of the church”
d. NOT a Christian Holiday
I. A Feast of Thanksgiving
In a recent experiment, psychologists asked undergraduates to complete a survey that included a happiness scale and measures of gratitude and thankfulness. Then over the next six weeks, the participants wrote down, once a week, five things for which they were grateful. It had a dramatic effect on their happiness score, and all rated themselves higher in happiness after the six weeks than before. God’s system has built into it reminders of gratitude – it is good for us.
A. Gratitude for the Harvest (Thanksgiving Feast)
1. First Fruits – Barley Harvest; Poor man’s bread
2. Shavuot – Wheat – a better bread; bread of abundance
B. Use of Wheat
1. First Fruits was an illustration of the Resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus)
a. Yeshua (Jesus) – Poor man –
4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2.4-8
b. Yeshua is “First Fruits of those who slept” (1 Corinthians 15.20)
c. Approximately 50 days before
2. Shavuot/Pentecost was a GREAT Harvest Time (Book of Ruth)
A city boy visited his cousin who lived on a farm in the country for the first time. The city boy had never seen wheat growing in a field. It was an impressive sight for him, the wheat golden brown and ready for harvesting. He noticed that some of the wheat stood tall in the field, whereas some of it was bent low, touching the ground. The city boy said to his cousin, "I bet the ones standing tall are the best ones, aren’t they?" His cousin smiled knowingly and reached over and plucked the head of one of the tall-standing wheat stalks and one that was bent to the ground. He rubbed each of them and the city boy saw that the tall one was almost empty of seeds. But the one bent to the ground was full of the promise of a rich harvest.
a. Wheat is Central – 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12.23-24
b. Wheat – beaten and refined as flour – Isaiah 52.14
As many were astonished at him — his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the sons of men—
Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Isaiah 53.1-6
c. Presentation of two leavened loaves of wheat in the temple
1) Waved together before God
2) Different yet the same
3) Jews and Gentiles – together in a Great harvest
II. A Feast of Traditions
[Remember, not all traditions are bad – Washing hands vs. Traditions of Apostles; whatever you bind
It is said that during a service at an old synagogue in Eastern Europe, when the Shema prayer was said, half the congregants stood up and half remained sitting.