Summary: New Testament Pentecost – Its meaning and fulfilment of the Old Testament festival.
New Testament Pentecost – Its meaning and fulfilment of the Old Testament festival.
I would like to talk about the festival of Pentecost and its meaning seen from the Old Testament perspective. I have already pointed to you in the past, that everything that we find in the Old Testament is in some way a foreshadow of something in the New Testament. A few examples:
“From Egypt I have called my son“ – nation of Israel saved by Moses
- Joseph, Mary and Jesus came from Egypt after the death of Herod
All sacrifices of the Old Testament were pointing to the final sacrifice of the Lamf of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Jerusalem – city with the temple of God – new Jerusalem, new temple of God... etc.
Leviticus 23 describes the “appointed times“ of the Lord. Along with the weekly Sabbath, these periods in the Hebrew year were set appart as festivals or feasts. Notice, this religious festivals were appointed by the Lord! God instituted religious festivals (this is for those who say, that to celebrate our christian festivals is not such an important thing). Our Christian festivals are the fulfilment of the Old Testament festivals and those are God´s ordinances.
I believe that God has described and hidden in some way the whole history of salvation in this OT festivals as they follow in the Bible.
The feasts divide naturally into two groups.
In the first group, all related to Passover, are
1. Paschal sacrifice, (Pesah) - and the feast of Unleavened Bread, (Lev 23:4-8)
2. the feast of First Fruits, - the feast of harvest (Lev 23:9-14)
3. the Day of Pentecost or feast of weeks (Shavuot) (Lev 23:15-22)
In the second group, all observed during the month of Tishri, the sacred seventh month, we find:
1. the Feast of Trumpets, (Lev 23:23-25)
2. the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) (Lev 23:26-32)
3. the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) – the feast of ingathering (Lev 23:33-44)
This second group is called fall feasts, because these happen during the autumn – in the northern hemisphere.
The hebrew word for feast is hag, which comes from the root meaning “to dance or to be joyous“ and applies exclusively to the three so called “pilgrim“ festivals of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles, in which all males were to appear before the Lord in the sanctuary. These three festivals are marked by formal meals too. Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur were two solemn holy days of repentance and sorrow.
(joy – one of the first fruits of the Spirit mentioned in Gal 5:22)
No man may appear at the Teple empty-handed on the day of Pentecost (Deut 16:16). Each man must be generous according to his ability. So this festival includes both prayer and charity. Receiving and giving are part of the OT pentecost festival. We should be aware of this as we speak of receiving of the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit was given to us for this reason: that we could give to others the blessings poured upon us.
So the first group of festivals connected with Passover, begins with Passover. On the second evening of passover begins a period of seven weeks. We read this in Leviticus 23:9-14. On this day the priest brought the sheaf into the temple – the first sheaf of the harvest that has started.
Jesus is the first sheaf of the soul harvest; the first of the risen. The first sheaf was a symbol of all others that were to come. It was brought into the temple to be shown to God. Jesus entered the temple in heaven, He came to His Father and He is the first fruit – 1 Cor 15:20: “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep“.
Nowhere in the OT do we find explanation why are the festival of the first fruits and the festival of passover knitted tightly together. Only when we observe what happened on the passover when Jesus was crucified, we do understand the full connection of the redemption by the blood of a lamb and harvest that starts with Jesus as the firstfruits.
Now we come to the last of the passover festivals – pentecost itself.
After the end of the seven weeks, which is 7x7=49 the fiftieth day comes. (Deut 16:9-12) Number 7 symbolizes completion. And 7 x 7 is finished, completed, done, sealed!!!
In the OT this feast of weeks is called Shavuot. The word Pentecost that we use comes from the Greek word pentekoste hemera which means the fiftieth day. Festival of Pentecost is understood to commemorate the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Martin Luther explains that one reason might be that it took just about 50 days for Israelites to travel from Egypt to Mt Sinai – e.g. from Passover to giving of the law.