“When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech. There were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. When this sound occurred, the multitude came together and was confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.” Acts 2:1-6 (HCSB)
What is known in the Christian world as “Pentecost” is actually a Jewish festival called Shavuot. (Exodus 34:22, Deuteronomy 16:9-10) The Lord commanded this harvest festival's “first fruits” to be 50 days after Passover. (Leviticus 23:16) When the Bible was translated into Greek, the translators named the festival “pentekostes,” which means “fifty.”
Shavuot was one of the Shalosh Regalim, the three times each Jewish man was to make a pilgrimage on foot to Jerusalem each year. This is why Jews from every nation were gathered in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit was given. It is a command of God.
While it was initially a harvest festival, Shavuot has become synonymous with the giving of the Torah (Heb: Teaching/first five books of the Old Testament) in Moses’ day. This is because the Torah was given 50 days after the Passover in Egypt.
The similarities/contrasts between the giving of the Torah and the giving of the Holy Spirit are definitely worth noting.
Here are a few: Moses ascended Mt Sinai to meet with God, and Jesus ascended to the Father. The children of Israel were commanded to wait until the Torah (Teaching) was given. The disciples were commanded to wait until the Holy Spirit (the Teacher) was given.
On the day the Torah was given, 3000 men died. (Exodus 32:28-29) On the day the Spirit was given, 3000 men were saved and baptized. (Acts 2:41-42) The Torah was written on tablets of stone, whereas the Spirit writes God’s Word on our hearts of flesh. (Jeremiah 31:33-34)
At the Tower of Babel, God sent languages to confuse evil mankind, keeping them from working together. At Shavuot (Pentecost), God used languages to unite devout men for His purposes.
Also worth mentioning: King David is said to have died on Shavuot, whereas Jesus, the “Son of David,” is alive! (Acts 2:25-32)
It makes me wonder why the Church-at-large doesn’t acknowledge Shavuot every year.
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