The Pentecost Day
Pentecost Day was originally the day of the Jewish feast of first fruits (Num. 28:26) and was the completion of the waved sheaf of the Passover (Lev. 23:15-21; Num. 28:26-31; Deut. 16:9-12). Pentecost is a transliteration of the Greek word pentecoste, which literally means fifty and in this case indicates the time of the feast – it held on the fiftieth day after the Passover at the month of Sivan. It was also known as the Feast of Weeks because the counting in weeks amounted to a “week of weeks” (7 weeks i.e. 7days x 7). The feast also commemorated the giving of Torah on Mount Sinai.Pentecost was one of the three Pilgrimage Feasts, when the Jews in dispersion and proselytes had to come to Jerusalem.
The Pentecost Day And The Church
The Pentecost day became Church’s event, when it happened that it was on that day, that the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples. Thus, the church marks it, not necessarily as Jewish feast, but as the anniversary of the coming of the Holy Spirit and His empowerment.
The day is also known as Whitsunday within church circle. Whitsunday is a shortened White Sunday and reflects many people wearing white on that day as a result of baptism.
The Anticipation Of The Holy Spirit
The Old Testament looked forward to an era of the Spirit in which the Spirit of God would come and indwell those who believe in Him (Isaiah 32:15a; 44:3b; Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26, 27; 37:14; Joel 2:28 -29). There was also an anticipation of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. Before His death, Jesus promised that when He returned to His Father, He and His Father together would send the Spirit to indwell those who believe in Christ, and be with them forever (John 14-16). And before His ascension, He directed His disciples: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5).
The Choice Of The Pentecost For The Coming Of The Holy Spirit
The Pentecost Day, chosen by God to fulfil His promise of the Holy Spirit, is very suitable for some reasons:
• The pilgrimage nature of the feast provided a global forum and universal spread of the Event.
• The Torah, which was commemorated on the day, represented the guidance of God, which the Holy Spirit also functions as. In fact, the Holy Spirit replaced the Law as our Guide not by the letters but also in spirit and from within.
• The First Fruit Celebration of the time indicates the meaning of the Event:
• The Holy Spirit indwelling the believer is understood as God’s guarantee of complete and eternal blessedness (cf. Rom. 8:22-25).
• The harvest of Pentecost is the first fruits of a full harvest to come (cf. James 1:18). The great worldwide mission of harvesting souls for the Lord had begun in earnest with power on that day.
• The Pentecost Event is a fulfilment of Divine promise and prophecy. God fulfils His promise in His time. We must learn to wait on Him.
• For effective performance and accomplishment of divine assignments, the Holy Spirit is a sine qua non.
• The event on the Pentecost day was also the reversing of the curse of Babel. The Spirit of God brought diverse peoples together as one family and one “kin-group.” The Spirit forged the Church as a new humanity reunited as a down payment and sign of God’s eschatological purposes to bring all peoples to unity before God.
• The Pentecost Event marked the birth/inauguration of the church. As the ministry of Jesus in the Book of Luke was the outflow of His birth (the Incarnation), His ministry through the Church in the Book of Acts is the outflow of the descent of the Spirit.
• The church is Pentecostal as she operates with the Holy Spirit, which was poured out on the Pentecost day. Being Pentecostal does not mean belonging to the church denominations called the “Pentecostals.”
Ven. Dr Princewill O. Ireoba is the Rector,
Ibru International Ecumenical Centre,
Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.
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