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What is the feast of Pentecost about?

Several times the Old Testament talks about the so-called “ascents” – Easter, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles – also referred to as “pilgrim celebrations”. The description and order of the annual celebration of these three biblical high days is clearly commanded to the people of Israel in the Law of Moses (Exodus 23:14-19; Leviticus 23; Deuteronomy 16:16). The two spring festivals, Pesach (Easter) and the “Feast of Weeks” (Pentecost) are feasts, both of which have received a New Testament fulfillment.

The prophetic foreshadowing of the sacrificial lamb offered with Pesach was gloriously fulfilled when God’s Son sacrificed himself as the “Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29; cf. Exodus 12:7, 13, 21-23). When He exclaimed, “It is finished!” (John 19:30), He fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies that spoke of the vicarious sacrifice required to reconcile man to God. After his victory over death and satan and his resurrection from the dead (Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:6; John 20:1-18; Acts 4:10) as the ‘Prince of life’ (Acts 2:24; 3:15), He showed himself with a lot of unmistakable evidence for 40 days (Acts 1:3).

Ten days after his ascension (Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:4-14) the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) was to take place …

The promise of the Father

The risen Savior appeared to His disciples several times with signs and evidence of His glorious victory and resurrection from the dead. He taught that the Messiah had to suffer and thus enter into his glory (Luke 24:26). After all, even before his death on the cross, He had taught them that everything that was written about Him had to be fulfilled (Luke 24:44). He also told His followers that the Father’s promise would be fulfilled, ordering Him to wait in Jerusalem “until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).

While He was with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, “but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, He said, you heard from Me” (Acts 1:4). The Father’s promise concerned the coming of the Holy Spirit. In this way the Lord Jesus made it clear that the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit as the Helper would be fulfilled. These are the comforting words that the Lord Jesus spoke to His disciples before He died on the cross: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever” (John 14:16-17). He repeatedly tells the disciples that this Helper would be bestowed by the Father in his name: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you in all things …” (John 14:26).

Shortly before His ascension, the Savior repeats the promise: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8).

The promise has been fulfilled

During Pentecost, the first followers of the Lord Jesus were united together, when the house in which they were was filled with a sudden violent gust of wind, symbolizing the unstoppable Holy Spirit of God who filled all those present: “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place […] And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…” (Acts 2: 1-4). The promise was fulfilled as John the Baptist had already foretold about the Lord Jesus “… this is He Who baptizes with the Holy Spirit” (John 1:33) and “… but He Who is coming after Me […] He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11).

The Holy Spirit

The coming of the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of the Father’s promise is the glorious gift of God that is bestowed upon each one through faith in the sacrifice of the cross of God’s Son. God’s promises are ‘yes and amen’ in Him. It is God who confirms and anoints us in Christ. He seals us and gives us the Holy Spirit by faith as a guarantee in our hearts (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). “But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge” (1 John 2:20). “… In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit …” (Ephesians 1:13-14). Our gift of God is the guarantee of our inheritance, to the praise of his glory!

Thanks to GospelImages for the painting.

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Also read: Why is Pentecost important?

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Dr. Annechiena Sneller-Vrolijk

© Copyright dr. Annechiena Sneller-Vrolijk
Dr. Annechiena Sneller-Vrolijk studied Semitic languages and Cultures in Leiden and Judaism and archaeology in Jerusalem. Her specialism is Hebrew and the Old Testament. She worked for many years as a teacher in various theological colleges and co-authored the (Dutch) Study Bible of the CvB
and the HSV bible translation. She works as a teacher, author and speaker.

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