Pentecost: Meaning of the Day

God gave ancient Israel a set of Holy Days that outline the plan of salvation. Understanding the incredible meaning of this day begins to unlock mysteries that have remained hidden for millennia.

Today I’d like to talk about the meaning of the day of Pentecost, the day that we are observing today, a holy day of God. This is the second season of the holy days or three seasons that the Bible talks about and we are in the second season.  I think about it sometimes and I am concerned about speaking about the same exact thing or similar things each year. But I think there’s a necessity to do it because of our human nature and that it doesn’t take long for us to forget or to stray from the meanings of these days and what God would want us to do and have us to do.  We have an example of people actually leaving the “faith once been delivered” which is still quite fresh in a lot of our minds in terms of the fact that this can happen and does indeed happen.

So here we are today on the day of Pentecost nearly 2,000 years since the very first Pentecost — let’s begin by reading in Leviticus 23 so that we can tie a few things together as we go through the message today.

Leviticus 23:10  “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.
Leviticus  23:11  He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.

This is talking about the wave sheaf which happens in the midst of the holy days — the first holy days of the year, the Days of Unleavened bread. What I want you to take particular note of though is the fact that it is a sheaf of the first fruits. Until this sheaf was actually taken and waved and accepted the Israelites were not actually allowed to eat of that first harvest, which was typically a barley harvest.

Leviticus  23:15  ‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed.
Leviticus  23:16  Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.
Leviticus  23:17  You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the LORD.

The loaves were not to be unleavened like bread was during the Days of Unleavened bread and there is a reason for that, but note what it says about these two wave loaves, they are the firstfruits to the Lord. We’re starting to see a theme develop here about this day and this time of the year.

Leviticus  23:20  The priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the LORD for the priest.
Leviticus  23:21  And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
Leviticus  23:22  ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the LORD your God.’ “

Let’s look at some other names for this day and it will reveal something about the day as well:

Exodus 23:14  “Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year:
Exodus 23:15  You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty);
Exodus 23:16  and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.

What you’re seeing here as we go through is this emphasis on first fruits on the day of Pentecost

Exodus 34:22  “And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end.

Numbers 28:26  ‘Also on the day of the firstfruits, when you bring a new grain offering to the LORD at your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work.

What we’re seeing here then through the wave sheaf and the wave loaves is this emphasis on the firstfruits of the harvest, the first fruit of the first harvest.  Now here we are at the Pentecost the summer harvest and we have a little bigger harvest and a little bit in terms of the wheat and there are the firstfruits again that the emphasis is on. When you look at this when we first came into the church or if somebody else were to look at this, these things all seem a bit strange. It’s like “some Old Testament rituals that the Jews did aimlessly or blindly followed or whatever.”  People may think that, but the thing is that all these things have specific meanings that we are uncovering as we grow in the grace and the knowledge of God and what He would have us to know and what He reveals to us over time. What we know is that they’re not for just no reason, there is purpose and a meaning to these things that maybe even the people at the time didn’t know or didn’t fully realize that these things pointed to God’s plan of salvation. In particular the wave sheaf pointed to Christ the firstfruit — the first of the firstfruits — the One that was first to be risen and resurrected. So we’re going to begin to see why this focus on firstfruits.

1 Corinthians 15:20  But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Christ became the first one that was harvested as is depicted by the wave sheaf. It was the first of the barley harvest to be cut and it had to happen before anything else could go on and could happen. He was the first of the firstfruits. He is risen from the dead and here Paul is talking about the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  Christ was resurrected while those who had the Holy Spirit in the time of Paul or the handful that had it in the Old Testament times are still asleep still in the ground have not been resurrected. Because Christ came to earth and He accomplished all that He had set out to do; all that had been prophesied; all that He and the Father planned out;  this whole thing; because He did that He paved the way for others to be able to do the same — to become firstfruits and to give us the opportunities that we have.

Luke 24:46  Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,

Upon ascending to heaven and being accepted by God the Father he became the first of the firstfruits to have been resurrected and become a fully spirit being

Luke 24:47  and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Luke 24:48  And you are witnesses of these things.
Luke 24:49  Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

Having successfully made it through His time on earth, Christ, in living His 33 and a half years, He was now able to make the holy spirit available to mankind in a much more readily available fashion. If you recall, even during the days of Passover we read some of those scriptures in John 13 – 17 where it talks about the promise of the Holy Spirit coming. Now the risen Christ is telling them to wait in Jerusalem for the fulfillment of this. They had not received the Holy Spirit yet; not received this power from on high which was the Holy Spirit. The Apostles remain there in Jerusalem and we pick up the story from almost 2,000 years ago on this very day, the same exact day which is always interesting when you try to think about the fact that this is what they were doing almost 2,000 years ago — they were observing this day, the day of Pentecost. Let’s look at that in Acts 2 and we will probably end up reading most of the chapter. We’ll skip around a bit and go a few other places and come back so you may want to keep your finger or marker here.

Acts 2:1  When the Day of Pentecost [“Count 50” in the Greek] had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
Acts 2:2  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Acts 2:3  Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
Acts 2:4  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit….

But who were these people that had this opportunity?

Now this is specifically speaking about the Apostles here as you’ll see further down a little bit later. They were the ones that were filled and that began to be moved by it, but who were the apostles, they were for the most part Jews. I think they were all Jews I don’t think Luke was a Jew but he wasn’t one of these apostles that was mentioned here. The point is, that’s who even Christ said that he came to preach to speak to minister to.

Matthew 15:24  But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

That’s what His mission was at this time

Matthew 10:5  These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans.
Matthew 10:6  But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

The House of Israel were the ten nations that were “lost,” but then again they’re all lost spiritually as well, but the Jews were of the nation of Israel, but Jews were just one of the tribes of the nation of Israel. We see though that there was a change that happened. The change happens here and that is, it wasn’t just for the Jews the salvation. The receiving of the Holy Spirit, which was necessary for salvation, wasn’t just of the Jews.

Romans 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

That was the order of things. One more scripture on the subject as to what actually set off this chain of events that enabled the message to go to somebody other than the Israelites or the Jews

Acts 13:46  Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.

Paul was primarily the Apostle to the Gentiles. He wasn’t the only apostle who did this, in fact it was Peter who initiated this through Cornelius being the first Gentile convert. Paul’s main job, not his only job, because he also talks about him speaking to kings and the other Israelitish nations, but his main job was to the Gentiles.

Acts 13:48  Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

What we will begin to see here is that the Holy Spirit was not only going to be made available to the Jews or the Israelites, but to the rest of the world as well – though not at this point in time in a wholesale fashion to everybody and anybody, but to those that God was calling at that time.

Acts 2:3  Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
Acts 2:4  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues [glossa; glossary; literal tongue; or language; not jibberish], as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The word there is glossa – may sound familiar as in glossary. It literally means tongue, but it also means language and that’s what they were doing here. They’re not speaking some gibberish, they were speaking another language as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Why was that? Why were they speaking in different languages at this time? Why was that so important to happen right here on the day of Pentecost, the beginning of the church, the New Testament church!

The New Testament church, what we learned over in Romans 8, is those who have God’s Holy Spirit and comprise his church. It is not bounded by walls or organizations or buildings, it’s those who have God’s Holy Spirit. Here it is the beginning of the New Testament church and God saw fit to inspire them and to give them the ability to speak another language, other than the languages or language that they could speak. I imagine they spoke a couple of languages — Hebrew or Aramaic and maybe some of the other local languages I don’t know for sure. Now here they are speaking other languages, why? It was so that this word could go out — it could be a witness to other nations!

Acts 2:5  And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.
Acts 2:6  And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language [dialect].

I know that you can speak another dialect and not be understood even if you understand the language — so it’s a very specific witness to them.

Notice the list here…and how many are not Israelitish areas:

Acts 2:8  And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?
Acts 2:9  Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
Acts 2:10  Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
Acts 2:11  Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”

What a witness that was to everyone else — not just the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

Peter starts to give a sermon, as we recall he starts preaching here and one of the first things he does is quote the Prophet Joel:

Acts 2:16  But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

Not just the local ones that we’ve been hanging around, those people of our nationality, our kinsmen.  No, Peter saw fit to speak of a future time, not just right now but also in the future to say that this is going to happen to everybody, everywhere in the future.  Peter is still even at this point on the same course, the same vector that he’s speaking on and then he gives them some food for thought in:

Acts 2:22  “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—

I’m kind of reminded of when Christ reappeared to the two men walking along the road and Christ at that time asked, “what’s going on” and these guys “are you kidding, do you not know what’s been happening here.” They replay the whole story for Him, but the point is that people knew what was happening and the commotion that Christ had caused and all the things that He did. So, Christ was a witness to others as well:

Acts 2:23  Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;

You had a part in all this, you did it all illegally, even though He did nothing and He is now who He said He was. Because of Peter’s prophesying, they’re speaking in tongues and these guys are now believing.

Acts 2:32  This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.
Acts 2:33  Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

This is what happened on the day of Pentecost — people received the holy spirit in them for the first time. Before it was here and there in the Old Testament, but now it was different and this is part of what this day symbolizes.

Acts 2:37  Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart …

Can you imagine after verses 22-23 they’re going to say to themselves,  “Oh okay, let me take this in and think for a second that I saw all these things and I didn’t believe Him.” They might have even been one of the ones out there throwing rocks, were spitting on Him or taking jibes at Him — but now they were cut to the heart:

[continuing in :37] and [they] said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

Being moved:

Acts 2:38  Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

This could now happen since Christ had come and sacrificed Himself – you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit Peter says and here’s what you need to do to receive the Holy Spirit: you need to repent and you be baptized and you need to have hands laid upon you to have the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:39  For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

The promise is to those who He has been talking to now among others that were mentioned – the Jews there and all the others as well. This promise is to you and to your children and to all who are afar off as many as the Lord our God will call. Another integral part of this is that God has to call these people and then they have to be convicted and go through this and receive God’s Holy Spirit.

Christ and God the Father have been working up to this — this is the plan that they’ve been putting in motion that was started during the days of Passover and Unleavened Bread.  Now we come to the next step. Because Christ did what He did and if we do what we’re being asked to do, then we will receive the Holy Spirit, this power from on high. If that happens then what do we become if we receive God’s Holy Spirit now?

James 1:18  Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. [of his creation]

We have been called, we’ve been brought forth through and convicted by all the words that are sitting in front of us to be a firstfruit.  We are what is talked about here and in Leviticus 23 – we are one of the two loaves that was waved. First it was Christ the wave sheaf, then later during Pentecost there were two wave loaves that were waved as firstfruits during this day of firstfruits this week of weeks this week of harvest.

Romans 8:14  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Now at the day of Pentecost, upon receiving the Holy Spirit and those who would later repent and be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit, they became sons of God because they had the power of God living in them now.

Romans 8:15  For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba [a term of endearment almost like Daddy], Father.”
Romans 8:16  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
Romans 8:17  and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ [our elder brother the first of the firstfruits. He is a firstfruit like we are to be, we are joint heirs with Christ], if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
Romans 8:18  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Romans 8:19  For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
Romans 8:20  For the creation was subjected to futility [it’s not going to last], not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;
Romans 8:21  because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

We’re made temporal, short-term right now, but we have a greater potential because of the Spirit of God in us.

Romans 8:22  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
Romans 8:23  Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the sonship, the redemption of our body.
Romans 8:24  For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?
Romans 8:25  But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

Because we have this earnest of the spirit, because we are firstfruits, we have this hope that we don’t see because it is afar off, yet getting closer – that we need to wait for and to be patient for and persevere.

We find next that indeed the firstfruits are not just the Jews or those descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

Romans 11:12  Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!
Romans 11:13  For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry,
Romans 11:14  if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them.
Romans 11:15  For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

That is what their hope is as well!

Romans 11:16  For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

Now he starts talking about the branches and the fact that the Jews had an opportunity and some of them didn’t make the most of it, so now an opportunity is given to the Gentiles.

Romans 11:17  And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree,

He’s talking about the Gentiles being grafted into this and in particular the root being Christ himself, so they’re having this opportunity to be a partaker of Christ.

Romans 11:18  do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.

Keep perspective here!

Romans 11:19  You will say then [this is a gentle speaking], “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.”
Romans 11:20  Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear.

He is saying here don’t get the big head just because you’ve got this opportunity now.

Romans 11:21  For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.
Romans 11:22  Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.
Romans 11:23  And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

So there’s an opportunity to be a part of this!

Romans 11:24  For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
Romans 11:25  For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

And this indeed was the case. He’s going through here and saying you have a chance to be a part of this root, you have a chance to be a firstfruit and this indeed was the case as we see.

Romans 16:5  Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ.

1 Corinthians 16:15  I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints—

He calls out a couple of Gentiles by name and even calls them the firstfruits of the city that they were in.

This is true, this is a reality, this is what was happening and the point is that it was not only happening to the descendants of Abraham, but it was also being made available to the Gentiles. We can look at this now, two thousand years later, see it happening to others other than the descendants of Abraham and we’ve seen it happen to Gentile nations of course.

Put yourself in the Jews shoes of the day or the Jews of now who we can probably better relate to and say to them that we’re going to make this available to your archenemies across the border.  They’re on every border of Israel, but can you imagine these guys are going to be firstfruits with you – the Jews and the Pharisees and the scribes are as they say “Pharisaical” by name — can you imagine. I’m believing that could be part of the case that could be where he was heading with all this yet this is what the two wave loaves depict the firstfruits. We are being given that same opportunity to be a firstfruit with Him …  that’s what these wave loaves mean. It wasn’t just some haphazard type of ritual that the Jews were asked to do – it had meaning in terms of where we’re heading

Let’s go back there again to see that about the harvest here. Christ has already “harvested” and there’s an opportunity then for this next harvest: the feast of harvest, the feast of weeks, day of firstfruits that’s depicted by this day of Pentecost.

Why the focus on the firstfruits?

Where the firstfruits end up / it is the harvest of those that are being called now

1 Corinthians 15:20  But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

There are some that are dead and now even much more so almost 2,000 years later

1 Corinthians 15:21  For since by man [Adam] came death, by Man [Christ] also came the resurrection of the dead.

This opportunity for eternal life.

1 Corinthians 15:22  For as in Adam all die[so if you remain a man as Adam was and if you do not get God’s Holy Spirit then yes you’re going to die], even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

Through Christ and what he did we have this opportunity to have eternal life and to be made alive again.

1 Corinthians 15:23  But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.

This is crucial, this is the key to so much of the plan of God so much that the world does not understand, because they believe that this is the only day of salvation. This of course makes it difficult for them to reconcile many things, but verse 23 each one is going to have their opportunity in his own order, Christ then the firstfruits. He was the first one as depicted by the wave sheaf, He was resurrected and afterward those who are Christ’s at His second coming the firstfruits as well the ones who have fallen asleep.

Revelation 14:1  Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.

Revelation 14:4  These are the ones [144,000] who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins[they kept God’s Way the true way they didn’t go after false gods]. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.

Here it is this is who is going to be the firstfruits.  The firstfruits are those who are redeemed or bought back by the blood of Christ from among men so it’s not all men.  The firstfruits are the ones that God is calling specifically in this day and age and this time because he believes that they can make it right now now.  He believes that all these others will be able to make it in the millennium and at the end of the millennium when everything is going well and the Holy Spirit is being given out wholesale.  We will be there to help them and teach them and there’s not going to be war and so on as we come to understand in terms of what happens during the day that Feast of Tabernacles.  We have this calling, it’s a little bit more of a difficult walk to do at this time to live in this world the way it is but He says okay I’m going to pick you out from among all those that are on the earth and I give you this Helper and you’re going to be a firstfruit.

Revelation 14:5  And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.

Salvation could not come except through the power of the holy spirit!

They became this firstfruit and they continued to mature, to spiritually mature to become perfect and to ripen. They became the firstfruit that God wanted to pick — it was a part of the harvest that He says this is the time, this is what we’re going to get and this is what we’re going to keep. This can only happen by the power of the Holy Spirit that we’ve been given, that as this day depicts, that we become first fruits, that we have this opportunity to be in the first resurrection with Christ, our elder brother who was the first of the firstfruits.

Now back to the wave loaves, there were two of them and that is also a crucial part of what this day represents. It is a time not for just us, God’s not a respecter of persons — God wants all men saved. We see here what God’s plan is in the long run:

1 Timothy 2:3  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
1 Timothy 2:4  who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Whenever the wave sheaf was waved in front of God He found that acceptable and then the idea is to wave the loaves in front of God and He’s supposed to find that acceptable.

This is what He finds acceptable here: Christ first; then the firstfruits soon; then everyone later as He makes His power available as this day depicts.

Whenever we look at this day, we see that Pentecost wasn’t just about the descendants of Abraham, it’s about the Gentiles and ultimately it’s about everyone.  God resurrected Christ first then the firstfruits and then everyone later and He makes His power available to each in their own order so that He can save them in their time and that’s what this day depicts. He has an incredible plan and we have an incredible opportunity to partake in it.