WHITSUNTIDE (Pentecost) has been observed as a religious festival by Christians for centuries. It is held in remembrance of Pentecost and the baptism of the disciples by the Holy Spirit. The word Pentecost is derived from a Greek word meaning the fiftieth day. The time was measured from the 16th of Nisan, which was the day of the waving of the sheaf of grain, the firstfruits of the harvest.

The principal feature of the feast of Pentecost was the waving of the two loaves before the Lord. These loaves were made from the first of the grain harvest. The children of Israel were not permitted to partake of the produce of the new harvest, nor could any other firstfruits be offered, until the pentecostal loaves were presented to the Lord.

Exact instructions were given concerning the preparation of the loaves, and one of the requirements was that they were to be leavened. This was in contrast to the offering of the sheaf of the firstfruits which was waved before the Lord at the beginning of the fifty days of harvest, or the 16th of Nisan. The grain of the sheaf was unleavened and uncontaminated.

The instructions regarding the waving of the sheaf and the feast of Pentecost are recorded in Leviticus 23:10,11,14,15-17: “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat [meal] offering unto the Lord. Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord.”

We are, of course, aware of the marvelous fulfillment of this type. Jesus, as the antitypical Passover Lamb, died on the cross about 3:00 p.m. on the 14th of Nisan. He was placed in the tomb before sundown on the 14th. He was in the tomb all the next day, the sabbath. Then, early in the morning on the 16th of Nisan Jesus was resurrected. (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1,2; Luke 23:52-56; 24:1. Jesus was the antitypical firstfruits of them that slept. (I Cor. 15:20) We believe that it is entirely possible that at the very moment the priest was waving the sheaf of grain in the temple the reality of the type (the resurrection of Jesus) was actually taking place.

Since Pentecost is a celebration of the firstfruits of the harvest, the first of the firstfruits (Jesus) should be considered a part of the harvest. This we find to be true, because the days of counting till Pentecost began from the day they brought the sheaf of wave offering to the priest. And in reality, the fifty days until Pentecost was measured from the resurrection of Jesus.

During the antitypical harvest of the Gospel Age, the Heavenly Father has been seeking those from every nation, kindred, and tongue who will faithfully walk in the footsteps of Jesus and thereby be accounted as part of the firstfruits unto God. The two wave loaves in the type pictured all the consecrated spirit-begotten footstep followers of the Lord down through the Gospel Age. The two loaves were to be from flour made from the grain of the new crop. And so the spirit-begotten of the Gospel Age are the firstfruits of the Spirit and the first to be recovered from the condition of death. The two loaves were to be baked with leaven, which pictured that the prospective members of the church were to be selected from the world while under adamic condemnation. They became acceptable as an offering to the Lord because the sheaf of grain (in the antitype, our Lord) was offered at the beginning of the harvest.

The wave offering was composed of two loaves, to illustrate the two classes that will be developed from the spirit-begotten during the Gospel Age—the little flock and the great company. This same illustration is given to us in the type of the tabernacle. There were three animals that were offered on the Day of Atonement: the bullock, which represented Jesus; and two goats, which together represented all the spirit-begotten down through the Gospel Age. After the bullock was offered, the two goats were dealt with. The priest cast lots, and the goat on which the lot fell became the Lord’s goat and was offered for the sins of the people. This goat pictured the little flock of the Gospel Age. The other goat became the scapegoat, picturing the great company. And so with the loaves, we believe that one represented the little flock and the other represented the great company, but both together they comprised the firstfruits of the Gospel Age.

In Acts 1:1-3 we read that Jesus had been with the apostles forty days after his resurrection, having been seen of them on various occasions. “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence.” (vss. 4,5; John 1:33) And so the eleven retired to the upper room, there to wait ten days until the fiftieth day after our Lord’s resurrection, or Pentecost. Then in Acts 2:1 we read: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues (languages), as the Spirit gave them utterance.” This was the evidence of the gift promised by the Father—the Holy Spirit.

There was a multitude of people gathered from different parts of the country, many of them speaking various languages; and when they realized that the apostles were addressing them each in his own language, they were amazed. Some of them, realizing that the apostles were not learned men but fishermen and the like, accused them of being drunk with wine. “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted his voice and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: for these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But [instead,] this is [the beginning of] what was spoken through the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass in the last days, God declares, that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy—telling forth the divine counsels—and your young men shall see visions; and your old men shall dream dreams. Yes and on My menservants also and on My maidservants in those days I will pour out of My Spirit, and they shall prophesy—telling forth the divine counsels and predicting future events pertaining especially to God’s kingdom.”—Acts 2:14-18 (See Amplified Bible.)

This part of Joel’s prophecy related to the church of the Gospel Age. Peter’s hearers knew nothing about the operation of the Holy Spirit as it was to affect the lives of the footstep followers of Jesus during the Gospel Age. The only experience that they had was with the prophets and seers. God dealt with them, in conveying his message or instructions, by visions and dreams. And therefore that is how the Lord instructed Joel to describe his dealings with the spirit-begotten during the Gospel Age. This, as Peter brings out, is just the beginning of the fulfillment of this wonderful prophecy. It will be completely fulfilled in the kingdom, when God’s spirit will be poured out upon all flesh.

The marvelous enlightening effect of the Holy Spirit upon the mind was immediately evident in the Apostle Peter. He was one of those who ten days before had indicated by the question to Jesus concerning the establishment of the kingdom that he believed it should be established then in power and glory. The Holy Spirit had now enabled him to understand that there was a great work to be done before the establishment of the kingdom. This new insight was revealed in his interpretation of the prophecy by Joel and also by the balance of his wonderful sermon recorded in the rest of the 2nd chapter and all of the 3rd chapter of Acts.

In John 14:26 we read: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” An apostle had to be one who had been with the Lord, hearing his words and observing his every action. It was because of this promise concerning the Holy Spirit that the Gospels could be written; otherwise much would have been lost.

In the last few hours of his life Jesus desired to comfort his followers before his departure, and so in a very general way he told them something of the Holy Spirit. In John 14:16,17 he stated that if he went away he would ask the Father to send them a comforter (the Holy Spirit), that it would be a power that would not be discernible by the world, but they would know that they had it because it would dwell with them and would dwell in them. Then in verse 26 he stated that the Holy Spirit would teach them all things. During the time the disciples were with Jesus he told them many things; but because their minds were not enlightened, there were things he could not tell them. (John 16:12) The thought was that after the Holy Spirit came upon them they could receive a complete knowledge of the truth, with understanding.

Then in John 15:15 Jesus stated that because of their enlightenment by the Holy Spirit he would be able to relate to them everything he had heard from the Father and that this would mean a change had taken place in their status. They would no longer be slaves, or servants, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but rather they would be friends, or associates. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption [sonship], whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”—Rom. 8:14-16

As sons, those so baptized of the Holy Spirit are prospective heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that they suffer with him. In John, the 16th chapter, verses 1-3, Jesus indicates that because of this relationship they will receive persecutions even as he received them.

John the Baptist, in identifying Jesus, stated, “But He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Spirit.” (John 1:33) Jesus was the first to receive this baptism of the Holy Spirit; and “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.”—Acts 2:32,33

We are aware of the change that came upon Jesus after he was baptized with the Holy Spirit. In Matthew 3:16 we read: “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and e saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.” The thought seems to be that all the hidden things of God’s Word were then revealed to him. Obviously, Jesus, with his perfect mind, knew the Scriptures. But there were many hidden things in the prophecies and types and shadows that were not to be revealed until the proper time. The 40th Psalm is a prophecy about Jesus at this time in his life. The 6th verse reads as follows: “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering has thou not required.” The key thought in the text is that his ears were opened. In other words, he was able to hear and. understand things that were not understood by him before. This information included God’s plan for the redemption and reconciliation of the world of mankind and our Lord’s part in it. We also believe that he understood that there would be associates with him who would share in his sufferings and his glory. The first of these were his disciples, to whom he promised to send the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit had an enlightening effect upon the disciples, as well as upon all the church down through the Gospel Age. The Apostle Paul describes the Holy Spirit as the earnest of our inheritance. The knowledge enables us to know and appreciate our relationship to the Heavenly Father. It also enables us to know the responsibilities and privileges of sonship. The Apostle Paul stated, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” (I Cor. 2:12) It is a knowledge of these things that enables us to walk more nearly in the footsteps of Jesus.

From the standpoint of the day of Pentecost being a day to be remembered, the following points should be considered. The work that was started that day marked the beginning of a new age. From this point the Holy Spirit was to be engaged in creating something that had never been created before—a being that was to have the potential of being like God himself. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”—II Cor. 5:17

We recognize, from the standpoint of the covenants, that the Abraham Covenant lay dormant for some 1500 years. During this time the Law Covenant filled up the time until the Seed should come. “Wherefore then serveth the Law’? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.” (Gal. 3:19) In verse 16 of this same text we read: “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy Seed, which is Christ.” And so the resurrection of Christ activated the Abrahamic Covenant and brought to an end the Law Covenant to everyone that believeth. Then continuing to the last verses of this chapter we learn that Christ is to be composed of many members, that all the true footstep followers of Jesus “are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”—Gal. 3:26,27

Finally, Pentecost marked the beginning of the development of the heavenly phase of the kingdom. The Holy Spirit cannot be poured out on the rest of mankind until the work of completing the church is ended. Then will come that glorious time when the kingdom will be established and God’s laws will be obeyed in earth as they are in heaven.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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