From the Seminar, Walking in the Light of Pentecost
“Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me. You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread [called Passover] for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before me empty-handed. You shall keep the Feast of Harvest [called Pentecost], of the firstfruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the Feast of Ingathering [called Tabernacles] at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor. Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord GOD." (Exodus 23:17)
Pentecost is the second pilgrim festival (see Leviticus 23:15-21 for additional detail) and it occurs seven weeks (seven Sabbaths) after the first, Passover.
I want to talk about how to walk in the light of Pentecost, in the light of God's Torah. I have dealt with the subject many times, yet I never cease to be amazed at how much more there is. The reason I do this is not just as a theoretical exercise, but to challenge you to lay hold of biblical truth to the extent that it will change your life. I want you to be more conformed to the will of God in the image of Christ in your attitudes, your conduct, and your actions.
One essential lesson—which is typically not taught to disciples of Jesus—is that the purpose of Passover was fulfilled in the reality of Pentecost.
There is a spiritual dynamic, an inseparable and essential biblical connection between the Exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Law (Torah) at Sinai. The sages of Israel called Pentecost (Shavu'ot) the end or completion (atzeret) of Passover (Pesach). From this ancient point of view, Passover doesn't actually end until the fiftieth day when Pentecost occurs.
Pentecost is the crown, the completion, the fulfillment of Passover.
In fact, so strong is this line of thinking in the Jewish thought of Jesus and his world, that the Exodus was seen as the means, and Sinai was seen as the end of God's purpose. Said another way, the LORD brought his people out of Egypt in order to bring them to himself at Mt. Sinai.
Fifty days after the Exodus from Egypt, Yahweh gave his Word to Israel on Mt. Sinai just as fifty days after the Exodus of the Passover lamb (Jesus), Yahweh gave the church his Spirit on Mt. Zion. The Torah, written by the finger of God, was a reflection of his Spirit which is a Spirit of truth. It was that same Spirit—on the day of Pentecost—that he poured out in abundance upon the church that Jesus founded.
At that Pentecost, the Torah was being written not on tablets of stone but on the tablets of our hearts. Now we are to inculcate the wisdom and will of God reflected in the Torah into our very lives, as witnessed to and pioneered by the author of our salvation, Jesus.
God gave his Word, God gave his Spirit. That makes Pentecost the spiritual birthday of both Israel and the Church!
Israel became a holy nation at Mt. Sinai. Yes, it had been liberated and redeemed, but it wasn't until that moment, at that place, according to the plan and purposes of God, that the former slaves were forged into the royal priesthood that he intended. In the same way, the Church was liberated and redeemed by the shed blood of our Passover lamb (1 Cor. 5:7), but only became the spiritual force he intended them to be on the day of Pentecost.
This inseparable relationship is a connection between redemption and revelation; it is a connection between God's grace and God's law. This connection is made very explicit in Jewish culture because God talks about counting the days between the feasts (Lev 23:15-16). Beginning on the day after Passover you begin counting the omer, which is just a sheaf of wheat. You count each and every day—day one, day two, day three. I believe the disciples of Jesus were doing exactly that, counting the days from Passover to Pentecost in obedience to Jesus command,
"He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father ..." (Acts 1:3-4)