Post Title: A Vital Biblical Connection
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 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, of the first fruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the Feast of Ingathering 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 23-14-17
Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God that he has given you. - Deuteronomy 16:16-17
Pentecost (Shavu’ot)—the second of three pilgrim feasts given to the people of God— occurs seven weeks after Passover (Pesach). I have dealt with the subject many times, yet I never cease to be amazed at how much more gold there is to mine from Scripture and Jewish tradition. It is actually a frustrating topic to deal with because of how much there is to talk about!
First, I want to touch upon a few principles I have observed elsewhere. To go deeper on this subject, get my audio seminar The Power of Pentecost.
Second, I want to share with you some additional insights that I think are timely and very challenging for the church. A church with which I am familiar from my extended teaching travels. A church that, I think, is at a major crossroads of either service to the Lord or apostasy.
This is not a theoretical exercise for me. I really want you to lay hold of something that will change your life. That is my passion and desire as a teacher. I want you to be more and more conformed to the will of God—to the image of Christ—in your attitudes, your speech, and your actions.
The first lesson I want you to master is essential to biblical thinking yet is rarely grasped by most Christians. It is this, the reality of Pentecost fulfills the purpose of Passover. There is a crucial connection between these two Spring festivals.
There is a vital spiritual dynamic and an inseparable bond between the Exodus from Egypt and the giving of Torah at Mt. Sinai. The rabbis called Pentecost the end or completion (atzeret) of Passover. From the perspective of Israel’s sages, Pesach does not end until the fiftieth day when Shavu’ot occurs.
Pentecost completes Passover.
This idea is a dominant line of thinking in Jesus and the Jewish world of his day. Exodus was the means; Sinai was the end of God’s purpose. Why? Because fifty days after deliverance from Egypt, the LORD gave Israel his Word, the Torah. Just as fifty days after our Passover Lamb’s blood was spilled, God gave his church his Spirit on Mt. Zion.
God gave Israel the Torah, written by the finger of God. It was a reflection of his Spirit, which is a Spirit of truth. And it was that same Spirit that he poured out in abundance—at the festival of Pentecost—on the church that Jesus had founded. God’s Torah could now be rewritten, as the prophets foretold, on the tablets of our hearts rather than tablets of stone.
We are to inculcate the wisdom and will of God reflected in the Torah into our very lives, as witnessed to and pioneered by Jesus.
God gave his word , and he gave his Spirit. Is it any wonder Pentecost is the spiritual birthday of both Israel and the church? At Mt. Sinai, Israel became a holy nation. They had been liberated and redeemed from Egypt. Yet it was by revelation they were forged into the nation that God intended them to be. Likewise, the church was liberated and redeemed by the shed blood of Jesus, our Passover lamb. But watch this; it did not become the spiritual force it was intended to be until the day of Pentecost!
I want you to grasp this inseparable connection between redemption and revelation because it is an essential link between God’s grace and his law.
This relationship is made very explicit in Jewish culture because God teaches them to count the days. You shall count seven weeks. Begin to count the seven weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain. Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God [...]. - Deuteronomy 16: 9-10
Beginning on the day after Passover, the Jewish faithful start counting each day with a sheaf of wheat called the omer in Hebrew. Indeed the Greek word pentecost means fifty or fiftieth. After Passover, you count the days one at a time until the fiftieth day, Pentecost. And so the disciples of Jesus were doing precisely that, counting as they obediently waited.
Jesus 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
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. - Acts 2:1
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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.
Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.