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 The Feast of Pentecost

John Hoole June 1, 2008

Acts 2:1-5 NKJV

1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
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.
3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.


The question is not, "What is a Pentecostal," but, "What is Pentecost." These words introduce the wonderful account of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Behind that day, was a Jewish institution rooted in the Old Testament. It is mentioned in these verses as the "Day of Pentecost."

To fully understand the term, Pentecost, we need to go to the Old Testament. A good place to start is Leviticus 23. In this chapter we find God's instruction to Moses concerning the 7 annual Jewish feasts. The great plan of redemption is beautifully portrayed in the 23rd chapter of Leviticus. The words of this chapter are a record of God's dealing with man in grace, from the death of Christ to His millennial kingdom.


o Passover (Pesach)
o Unleavened Bread (Hag HaMotzi)
o Firstfruits (Bikkurim)
o Pentecost (Shavu'ot)
o Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah)
o Atonement (Yom Kippur)
o Tabernacles (Sukkot)

Three of the feasts take place in the Spring time. Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits. In the Summer, you would observe the Feast of Pentecost. In the Fall there were three feasts - Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles


o Feast of Weeks

o Feast of the Harvest (It celebrates the end of the harvest)

The first four are tied together calendar-wise. Passover always occurs on the 14th of the first month, Nisan. The 7-day Feast of Unleavened Bread begins the day following Passover. The Feast of Firstfruits always occurred on the Sunday after the first Sabbath after Passover. The Feast of Pentecost is always 50 days, starting with the Feast of the Firstfruits. And because of that calculation, it will always occur on a Sunday. That puts this feast in the third month of the Jewish calendar - Sivan. So those four holy days are tied together in how to calculate the precise day they occur.

The three Feasts of the Fall time are all in the seventh month of the Jewish calendar - Tishri. The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) is on the first day of that month. The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) is on the 10th of Tishri. And the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) begins on the 15th of Tishri, and lasts for 7 days.

Earlier we read in Acts 2 that many people from all over the world were in Jerusalem at this time.


According to Deuteronomy 16:16, all Israelite males were required to go to Jerusalem to commemorate three annual feasts - Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Five of the seven feasts were one-day events. The other two - Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles - were 7-day events.

We learn in Hebrews 10:1 that the Old Testament feasts and sacrifices were a shadow of things to come.

Hebrews 10:1 NIV

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming - not the realities themselves. Everything that God instituted in the Old Testament was to point to Christ. The Law itself was a testimony of Christ.

Galatians 3:24 NIV

24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.

Let's look very briefly at the first four annual feasts.

The Passover

According to Leviticus 23, the Passover was to always be celebrated on the 14th day of the first month. That means, depending on the year, it could fall on any day of the week. The Passover finds its ultimate fulfillment in the death of Christ.

1 Corinthians 5:7 teaches us:

"For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us."

Revelation 13:8 tells us that Christ was…

"...the Lamb slain from the foundations of the world."

Christ was literally crucified on the Jewish holy day of Passover. In Matthew 26:2 (NIV), Jesus verifies this fact.

2 "As you know, the Passover is two days away - and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified."

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

This feast always started the day after Passover and lasted for 7 days. This would be from the 15th to the 21st of the first calendar month. The Passover was a one-day feast, and the slaying of the lamb was a single act. This feast points forward to the burial of Christ. It is closely attached to the Passover and is the death a burial of Christ.

Notice the fact that it is bread without leaven. Throughout Scripture, leaven is a type of sin. Christ is the only One who lived his entire life without any sin. And because of that, He is the only One who could truly be the sacrificed Lamb of God.

Speaking of unleavened bread, Christ is said to be the "bread of life" (John 6:35, 48). He was born in Bethlehem, which means "House of Bread."

In the Lord's Supper, the bread speaks of the body of Christ. Notice a couple characteristics of Matzah, the unleavened bread. First, it is striped: Isaiah 55:3 says, "By His stripes we are healed." Second, it is pierced: John 19:37 says, "They look on Him whom they had pierced." There are other analogies that could be made here, but let us go on to the third feast.

The Feast of Firstfruits

Unlike the first two feast which always fell on a particular day of the first month, this feast was not. No matter what day of the week the first two feast occurred, this feast occurred on the day after the Sabbath following the Passover. That means it always occurred on a Sunday - the first day of the week.

Whereas, the Passover and Unleavened Bread find their fulfillment in the death and burial of Christ, the Feast of Firstfruits is fulfilled in the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection of Christ literally happened on the day of this Jewish feast.

It is a beautiful thing to see how the seven feasts in Leviticus 23 show how God laid the foundation for all that was to follow. It is no happenstance or freakish coincidence that Christ is the fulfillment of these holy days.

As Jesus hung on the cross in death, Satan, the Romans, the Pharisees, and those who called for his death, and even his followers looked at Him and saw only defeat and death. Yet it was Jesus, Himself, who said in John 12:24,...

24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit."

It was essential for Jesus to die in order to triumph over death, sin and Satan.

Then we read, concerning this Feast of Firstfruits, in 1 Corinthians 15:20,

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

Jesus celebrated this feast by first conquering death Himself, becoming the first of all future resurrection. But in His resurrection, He is the firstfruit of only those that know Him.

1 Corinthians 15:22-23 NKJV

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.

The resurrection of Christ is the guarantee of our resurrection.

The Feast of Pentecost

This now brings us to the middle of the seven annual feasts of Israel. As I mentioned earlier, the timing of this feast is tied to the previous three. Leviticus 23:15-21 tells us how to calculate the day of its celebration. You begin counting on the day after the Sabbath following the Passover. As we learned earlier, that Sunday is when Christ came out of the grave. You count, starting on that Sunday (resurrection day) for seven weeks plus one day. That also puts it on a Sunday. Pentecost was always on a Sunday. In 2008, it falls on Sunday June 8th.

Sometimes this feast is called the Feast of Weeks. Our word Pentecost comes from the Greek "PENTECOSTOS," which means 50th. This feast is only called Pentecost in the New Testament, and is mentioned as such three times. As mentioned earlier, the most common name is SHAVU'OT. Shavu'ot means "WEEKS"

This feast is also called "The Feast of the Harvest" in Exodus 23:16. It was so called because this feast celebrated the end of the harvest of grain. According to Acts 1:3, Christ stayed on earth for 40 days following His resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15:6 tells us he was seen alive by more than 500 people during those 40 days. These more than 500 people become positive witnesses of the resurrection of Christ.

On the fortieth day following His resurrection, Christ instructs His disciples to do something. Let's read about it in the first chapter of the Book of Acts.

Acts 1:3-9 NIV

3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.
5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

Jesus ascends to Heaven from the Mount of Olives. As instructed by Christ, they go back across the Kidron Valley, into Jerusalem, where 120 of them wait for the promise of the Father. One thing we need to keep in mind here is that the disciples, and others, had been with Jesus for more than three years, almost daily. But, in effect, Jesus is telling them that was not sufficient for the tasks they will face. They needed the promise of the Father - the Holy Spirit. So they wait in Jerusalem - and what happened truly revolutionized their lives.


They waited for 10 days. Christ left them on the 40th day after His resurrection. Pentecost occurs on the 50th Day. They obediently stayed in Jerusalem and continued in one accord and prayer (Acts 1:14). And Acts 2 relates what happened on the Day of Pentecost. Let's again read the first four verses.

Acts 2:1-4 NKJV

1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord* in one place.
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.
3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Before we get into the importance of this day for the Church, there is one more parallel from the Old Testament as it relates to 50 days.


The 10 Commandments were given by God to the Israelites on the 50th day after the Sabbath following the very first Passover in Egypt. Even before God actually established the Feast of Pentecost with Moses, He was already establishing the pattern.

Notice some comparisons between what happened at Mt. Sinai and the Day of Pentecost in Acts.

At Sinai, the Commandments of God written on stone - Exodus 24:12. In the New Covenant, the commandments of God written on our hearts - Jeremiah 31:33, Hebrews 8:10.

At Sinai, the commandments were written by finger of God - Exodus 31:18. At Pentecost, they were written by the Spirit of God - 2 Corinthians 3:3, Hebrews 8:10.

At Sinan, 3,000 slain because of disobedience - Exodus 32:1-8, 26-28. On the Day of Pentecost, 3,000 saved by being obedient - Acts 2:38, 41.

Each occurred on a mountain. Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:11). Mount Zion (1 Peter 2:6).

At Sinai God did what He had never done before. He entered into a new relationship with an entire nation. In Exodus 19:6, God says about the Israelites, "You shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." The only other time God uses the term, "Holy Nation," is in 1 Peter 2:9 concerning the Church. "You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation..."

In both cases, God came down to His people in power and great glory. Also, in each there were spectacular supernatural manifestations.

Additionally, in Deuteronomy 16, the Israelites were told that in celebrating the Feast of Weeks, they were to remember they had been slaves in Egypt. It was 50 days after they left the bondage of Egypt that they arrived at Sinai and had the 10 Commandments given to them by Jehovah. It is also 50 days after Jesus left the grave, ensuring we would not have to be in bondage to sin that the celebration of Day of Pentecost occurred in Acts 2.

Here is one more possible parallel between the giving of the Law to Moses and the time between the Resurrection and the Day of Pentecost. If you went through the Book of Exodus, you will find Moses climbed Mount Sinai 7 times. On the very last time, as recorded in Exodus 34, God is reiterating the celebration of the Feast of Weeks. And in verse 28, we are specifically told that Moses was with the Lord for 40 days & night. In the New Testament, the disciples and followers were with Christ 40 days before He left.

Some have also seen a parallel between the fire and wind on Mount Sinai when God came down and gave the Ten Commandments to the rushing mighty wind and tongues of tire that sat all each person in the Upper Room. In each case the wind and fire were simply signs calling attention to what was happening there. At each place, the event marked a great change in the plan and purpose of God. A new dispensation was born.

Let's return to the Feast of Pentecost. I think we will find several more things that would speak to the Church today. In God's instructions concerning the observance of this feast, we find at least five things.

1. They were to do no work.

2. Two loaves of bread made from fine wheat from the new harvest presented as a wave offering.

3. Sacrifices of animals were to be made.

4. When they harvested the grain, they were not to harvest the corners, but leave for the poor and stranger.

5. The feast was to be marked with joy.

In the time we have left, I want to talk about #2 and #4 from our list.

The Two Loaves

As mentioned earlier, the Feast of Pentecost celebrated the ending of the harvest. They were to take grain (wheat) from that harvest and grind it very fine. From the fine grain, they were to bake two loaves for a wave offering. But the bread was to leaven in it, which is like no other offering. During the days of the first 3 feast, the Jews were not to even have leaven in their homes.

The number two in the Bible is the number of witness or testimony. For example, two witnesses were necessary to establish a truth (Matthew 18:19-20). The Ten Commandments were written on two tablets of stone (Exodus 31:18). Jesus summarized all the commandments of the law into two commandments (Matthew 22:34-40).

What do the two loaves represent??

Most Bible scholars believe they represent the Jewish and Gentile believers, and how they will make up the one body of Christ.

Galatians 3:28 NKJV

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Why, in this case, was leaven used? The body of Christ - both Jew and Gentile - consist of individuals who are leaven. We still sin. There is not one of us who have not sinned since becoming a believer in Christ.

After the two loaves with leaven have risen, they are thrust into the fire and burned before they are offered as a wave-offering to the Lord. I am told that fire arrests, or stops the effect of the leaven. Jesus promises his followers they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Peter speaks of the fire of suffering, the purpose of which is to prepare a Church that is without spot or blemish.

Back in Leviticus 23, even though the two loaves have leaven in them, God would accept the sacrifice as "holy before the LORD" because of the priest. Jesus is our High Priest, and because of Him, and Him alone, we are accepted of the Father. Whether Jew or gentile, we can have the leaven (sin) arrested by the fire of God. And both Jew and Gentile become one body in Christ.

Ephesians 2:14-18 NKJV

14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,
15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,
16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.
17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.
18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

Do not harvest the corners or your fields

One of the beautiful features of the Feast of Pentecost is that it made provision for the poor and the stranger. They were not to harvest the grain in the corners of the fields. They were to be left so the poor and stranger could glean grain for bread.

There is a custom among the Jews today in celebrating this holy day. It was not part of what God required, but I find it interesting. During the Feast of Pentecost, they read the Book of Ruth.


It points to the entrance of Gentile believers. Ruth was a gentile. Do you remember the story? The book of Ruth begins with the story of Naomi and her husband Elimelech. They lived in Bethlehem, and during a famine, they went to Moab with their two sons. While there, Elimelech dies, and Naomi is left with her two sons. In time, the two sons marry young ladies of Moab - named Ruth and Orpah. They are there another ten years, and during that time, both sons die. Naomi hears that the famine is over back in Bethlehem, so she suggests to her two daughters-in-law return to their families. Orpah does that, but Ruth desires to stay with Naomi.

They arrive in Bethlehem at the beginning of the Barley harvest. Ruth decides to glean in the fields of a man related to Naomi's late husband. The man is Boaz, and he tells his servant to let Ruth have some of the cut grain. Boaz was obeying the commandment of the Lord with regard to harvesting, leaving the corners uncut for the stranger and the poor.

Ruth eventually marries Boaz, and you will find them in the lineage of Christ in both Matthew and Luke. Boaz is the great grandfather of King David.

The grain represents Christ, and in Him there is enough to spare. The obvious lesson from the Feast of Pentecost is that we are to share our blessings with the poor and the stranger. The message of Pentecost is one of outreach - taking the gospel to everyone.

God so loved the world - the poor and the outcast and the have-nots - the spiritually impoverished. The very outworking of the Book of Acts indicates the Holy Spirit's vital interest in missions. Christ said the Holy Spirit would be outpoured to give members of His church power to witness - starting in Jerusalem, Judea, then the uttermost parts of the earth. The Book of Acts begins in Jerusalem and ends in Rome.

By and through the power of the Holy Spirit, the story of the Acts of the Apostles continues to this very day. A truly Pentecostal movement is by its very nature a truly missionary movement. It ever reaches out, flowing like a river with the life and blessing of God.

When the Assemblies of God was formed in 1914, it was primarily because the group of 300 churches then could be more effective in sending missionaries than if they all tried to do it separately. Among church movements, the Pentecostals are aggressively evangelistic and missionary minded.

What we have learned so far is that God established seven annual feasts, the first four of which have found their ultimate fulfillment in Christ. And they occurred on precisely the same days as established in the Old Testament. My question: Would we be so foolish not to think the other three feasts will not also find their complete fulfillment in the future?

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