Pentecost and the outpouring of Holy Spirit, that occurred during the Feast of the Harvest, is a subject I am continually seeking to understand. God’s Word holds a rich reservoir of significance and truth worth searching out and discovering.
Jesus “gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.” (Acts 1:3)
“… he appeared to Cephas,
and then to the Twelve.
After that, he appeared to more than
five hundred of the brothers and sisters
at the same time…”
1 Corinthians 15:5-6
Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus visited His disciples for the last time. He instructed them to wait for “the gift” from the Father.
“… Do not leave Jerusalem,
but wait for the gift my Father promised,
which you have heard me speak about.
For John baptized with water,
but in a few days you will be baptized
with the Holy Spirit.”
I’ve never been good at waiting, especially when I know something good is about to happen. Waiting creates room for God.
The disciples waited. They returned to Jerusalem together, “to the room where they were staying.” (Acts 1:13) “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” Anticipation grew as they waited together in unity.
“When the day of Pentecost came,
they were all together in one place.
Suddenly a sound like the blowing
of a violent wind came from heaven
and filled the whole house
where they were sitting.
They saw what seemed to be
tongues of fire that separated
and came to rest on each of them.
All of them were filled
with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in other tongues
as the Spirit enabled them.”
The Feast of Weeks, or the Feast of Harvest, was rooted in Moses’ receiving the Law. Many similarities mark the Presence of God both here in Jerusalem and on Mt. Sinai.
- God appeared with fire, smoke and thunder on Mt. Sinai. Wind, fire and the loud noise of speaking in other tongues confirmed God’s presence at Pentecost.
- The Law taught the people how to live. Holy Spirit now became the Teacher and Counselor.
- While Moses was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments, the people were worshipping the golden calf. As a result, 3,000 people died. At Pentecost 3,000 people received new life by believing in Jesus.
“… for the letter kills,
but the Spirit gives life.”
2 Corinthians 3:6
God’s presence covered Mt. Sinai. His presence filled the Tabernacle of Moses, and then later Solomon’s temple. With the outpouring of Holy Spirit, God came to dwell “in” His people with power.
At Pentecost, people were “amazed and perplexed” to hear their own language spoken by foreigners. They were convinced something significant was occurring. Others laughed and mocked, calling them drunk!
“In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
… old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.”
Every Jew recognized these words as a small portion of a much larger text. The preceding verses in Joel speak of abundant harvest — relevant to both the Feast of Harvest and Pentecost.
“Be glad, people of Zion,
rejoice in the LORD your God,
for he has given you
the autumn rains of righteousness.
He sends you abundant showers
both autumn and spring rains, as before.”
“The autumn rains in righteousness“ can also be translated “teacher of righteousness.” The religious sect of Qumran, which produced most of the Dead Sea Scrolls, claimed that its most revered teacher of the law … the “Teacher of Righteousness” was the fulfillment of this prophecy.”
Jesus Christ, Teacher of Righteousness, fulfilled all He promised, including the outpouring of Holy Spirit.
As important as timely rains are, one shower never produces a bumper crop. Joel declares the evidence of the outpouring of Holy Spirit is overflowing harvest,
“The threshing floor
will be filled with grain;
the vats will overflow
with new wine and oil.”
Twice Joel repeats,
“never again will my people be shamed.”
Peter, who once bore the shame of denying Jesus, stood strong, now filled with Holy Spirit. “Never again” would shame make his life! “Never again” would lack fill his soul. The harvest would “never again” fail. From this moment on, the new wine and oil of Holy Spirit poured through his life in overflowing measure.
Christ may have left, but the outpouring of Holy Spirit had come!
Peter used the historical record of Israel to prove Christ’s validity. Without mincing words, he boldly talked about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, to explain this visible work of Father, Son and Holy Spirit evidenced among them.
“Exalted to the right hand of God,
he (Jesus) has received from the Father
the promised Holy Spirit
and has poured out what you now see and hear.”
Joel spoke of God dwelling in the midst of His people.
“Then you will know that I am in Israel,
that I am the LORD your God,
and that there is no other;
never again will my people be shamed.”
That little phrase “I am in” means “in the midst, present in the center or middle.” Though Joel may not have comprehended the meaning of his words, the imagery of the outpouring of Holy Spirit living “in the center” of believers is clear.
God, not wine, made the people stagger with His Presence. He came to live “in the center” of their beings. “Never again” would shame (disappointment, delay, or the pale of death) oppress them.
Peter challenged his listeners to respond to the outpouring of Holy Spirit,
“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized,
every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ
for the forgiveness of your sins.
And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The only prerequisite to receiving the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is repentance. Repenting means confessing and turning from sin, accepting Jesus’ death as the all-sufficient sacrifice as payment before God. Then believing Jesus destroyed death through His resurrection and confessing Him as Lord.
Peter calls them to publicly demonstrate their death to sin and life in Christ through baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.
“Those who accepted his message were baptized,
and about three thousand were added
to their number that day.”
What joy in the harvest of souls!
The outpouring of Holy Spirit began at Pentecost, but it didn’t end there. A few days later, we see it continued.
“After they prayed,
the place where they were meeting was shaken.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and spoke the word of God boldly.”
Paul told believers to “not get drunk on wine…instead be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph 5:18) He encourages them to “keep being filled, to cram in more, to level up the supply.”
God intends the outpouring of Holy Spirit to be a continuous action in every Christian.
Just like an oil lamp needs a constant supply of oil to produce light, believers require constant filling of Holy Spirit to bring light to the world. Pentecost was the initiation into an unending supply available to all!
Joel said, “In the last days“, making it clear he wasn’t referring to a single one-time activity. In Acts, they “all” received. Even now, Holy Spirit continues to be poured out on those hungry and ready to welcome Him.
Perhaps, today will be the beginning of your personal Pentecost, as you receive Holy Spirit.