(June 1, 2022) Ed. Note: Honouring the late George Forbes, highly respected former missionary statesman, we rerun one of his special messages on Pentecost …
This weekend many churches and indeed countless Christians around the world will be celebrating Pentecost Sunday!
The Feast of Pentecost (also known as the Feast of Harvest or the Feast of Weeks) was observed by Israel over many centuries. It was an important time each year to celebrate the beginning of the early weeks of harvest with thanksgiving to God. Also a time to celebrate God’s deliverance of His people from Egypt.
After His resurrection from the grave, Jesus had given His followers a command to not depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Father. He told them: ‘John truly baptised with water; but you shall be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’ (See Acts 1:4-5).
Luke, writing the Acts of the Apostles, begins the second chapter with the words, ‘And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.’ Then, verse 2ff, the Holy Spirit fell!
Christian Pentecost began that day when the Holy Spirit came on the apostles and other disciples of Jesus gathered in the upper room in an unusual, supernatural way.
The focus of the feast
The Day of Pentecost was a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel. Devout Jews were used to celebrating the feast of Pentecost – but on the Acts 2 Day of Pentecost, the focus of the feast was changed for the followers of Jesus Christ!
That day the Day of Pentecost feast celebrated by Jesus’ followers that day was different to any previous celebrations! Acts 2:1-31 dramatically tells us what happened that particular year.
The descent of the Holy Spirit occurred while Jesus followers were celebrating the Jewish Feast of Weeks, and that Day of Pentecost feast was a feast day that never ended! It continues today!
Visitors to Jerusalem that day asked – ‘What does this mean?’ Why the rushing mighty wind, the tongues of fire, the unknown tongues?
Luke’s recordings in the book of Acts reveal the answer…
- The wind represented the Holy Spirit of God
- The fire that fell also represented Him
- The unknown tongues spoken by all the believers that day was a miraculous sign of the Spirit revealing that He was present.
Previously Pentecost spoke of harvest, deliverance and covenant. This time – Pentecost celebrated the beginning of a great new harvest of the salvation of people from every nation by Gods’ power in a world impacting harvest.
- The Old Covenant had been between God and Israel.
- The New Covenant was between Christ and His own from every nation.
- This occasion of the Feast of Pentecost was a birthday – the birthday of the church of Jesus Christ.
The host of the feast
Feasts do not just happen, they are planned! The bigger the feast the greater the planning and preparation required. I ask here, ‘Who was the honoured person of the Day of Pentecost?’
Of course it was none other than Jesus of Nazareth. Peter announced the host’s name in Acts 2: 22‑24,‘Men of Israel listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs.’
What kind of Lord was this host? He was and is –
- Lord of the harvest
Like a seed Jesus died – was buried – then rose in newness of life. Jesus is called the ‘first‑fruit’ of salvation. His right to this title is confirmed by His resurrection.
- Lord of deliverance
Though crucified ‑ death could not hold Him. ‘O death… where is your victory?’ (1 Corinthians 15:26).
- Lord of the New Covenant
The host of the great feast not only gathers and delivers His guests ‑ He makes a promise to them. God in Christ promises to send the Holy Spirit (v33). The Holy Spirit is given in great measure.
Verse 36 tells us one last thing about the host of this feast… this great host is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. Jesus was anointed with God’s Holy Spirit and He then anointed His followers that day! (‘Christians’ means ‘anointed ones.’)
The guests at the feast
Notice the invitation in verses 37‑47. Who received an invitation to the feast? Men and women everywhere!
People from all over the ancient world gathered at Pentecost. They heard Peter preach. They were invited to the new harvest celebration (v 39). All are invited to experience the deliverance of the cross of Christ and to celebrate! The invitation is for all people!
Receiving the invitation and acting on it means sharing in a feast of life. Pentecost is not over – the Holy Spirit has not departed. The feast has never ended!
Gods’ presence and power are here in the church today! It all has to do with harvest. This Sunday let us celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the miracle of the church of Jesus Christ. The presence of God – in His world!
The results of the feast
Filled with the Spirit and boldly enabled, the church immediately began evangelising.
Salvations were many and the church immediately grew! Verse 41 tells us that ‘Those who believed what Peter said were baptised and added to the church that day – about 3,000 in all.’
And more – there was …
- Dedication to learning from Bible teachers (v42a)
- Fellowship, sharing communion and prayer (v42b)
- Demonstrations of God’s power and presence (v43)
- Great generosity (v44-45)
- Continued devotion (v46-47a)
- Daily harvesting of souls! (v47b).
May we all readily follow the example of those early disciples who knew how to celebrate and share the good news of their experience in fellowship and evangelism.
The heart of the feast of Pentecost continues today!
The late Dr George Forbes was director World Missions, AoG Australia was widely known for his heart for the lost of the nations, he had a wealth of missionary knowledge, and a unique ability to communicate the global picture. Links: Pentecost Sunday – Shavuot / ‘Upper Room’ Gatherings