Today is the Shavuot holiday or much more commonly known as Pentecost. Most Christian people have a vague understanding of Pentecost - this is the day mentioned in Acts chapter 2 where the promise of the giving of The Holy Spirit was fulfilled in Jerusalem. Signs of rushing wind, violent blasting, tongues of fire and different languages were seen and heard. Some people claimed that this was the result of drunken behavior but those that welcomed the message of God that day were about 3,000 people and were added to His kingdom. It was quite the event and is still celebrated over 2,000 years later all over the world!
The story really begins though after the children of Israel were delivered from bondage and slavery in Egypt. They had been in the wilderness for a little while and God was about to show them a display of His power and wonder with clouds, fire, blasting, smoke, thunder and lightenings. This event marked the giving of the Commandments and Torah. Torah means instructions or teaching and is today considered the first five books of the Bible, Genesis to Deuteronomy.
Exodus 19:16-18 and chapter 20:18-2 gives these descriptions, “The third morning there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people from the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, for the Lord descended upon it in fire; its smoke ascended like that of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. Now all the people perceived the thunderings and the lightnings and the noise of the trumpet and the smoking mountain, and as they looked they trembled with fear and fell back and stood afar off. And they said to Moses, You speak to us and we will listen, but let not God speak to us, lest we die. And Moses said to the people, Fear not; for God has come to prove you, so that the reverential fear of Him may be before you, that you may not sin.”
We should be familiar with the specific commands that were spoken that day, but the passage is worth repeating and you’ll see where I am going with all of this because it all ties in to this exciting holiday. Exodus 20:1-17, “Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, Who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before or besides Me. You shall not make yourself any graven image to worship it or any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; You shall not bow down yourself to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing mercy and steadfast love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments. You shall not use or repeat the name of the Lord your God in vain, lightly or frivolously, in false affirmations or profanely; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. Earnestly remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, withdrawn from common employment and dedicated to God. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to The Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, your daughter, your manservant, your maidservant, your domestic animals, or the sojourner within your gates. For in six days The Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it, [set it apart for His purposes]. Regard and treat with honor, obedience, and courtesy your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land the Lord your God gives you. You shall not commit murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not witness falsely against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Some of these signs were being repeated during the Pentecost event in Acts. The reason that Jews from all over the world were in Jerusalem then was for the Shavuot celebration. It was a time when they not only celebrated the giving of God’s laws and commands, but it also coincided with the wheat harvest, the second harvest of the year! God was certainly getting the attention of the Israelites on Mount Sinai and He was certainly getting the attention of all those gathered in Jerusalem for the Shavuot celebration.
However, God was doing a new thing in Acts! Some people chose not to receive the message, but those that did were filled and baptized with The Holy Spirit. It is only by God’s Spirit that we can follow God’s commands. There is no other way. We can’t will ourselves to “do better” because all that does is rely on our own limited strength and we end up failing. We are all guilty of breaking the commandments of God, big or little. Scripture tells us that if we have broken one commandment, then we have broken them all and that there is none righteous of their own accord; All have fallen short of the glory of God. Are the Ten Commandments still relevant today though? Absolutely. In the United States there has been a giant push to get rid of them from schools to courtrooms in recent years. Why? So man doesn’t have to answer to anyone but himself. Every one is “following their own truth.” That phrase is garbage. Let me tell you something readers, TRUTH doesn’t exist outside of The Giver of the Truth. You’ll never find it without Him! Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Life. There is no other Name under heaven by which you can be saved. You can call that being narrow-minded but The Bible calls it assurance! You can be sure you are on your way to Heaven to be with Jesus. When He ascended to The Father after His death, burial and resurrection, He promised to send The Holy Spirit to His disciples. He told them to wait and expect this. Acts 1:2-5 says, “Until the day when Jesus ascended - To them also He showed Himself alive after His passion - His suffering in the garden and on the cross - by many convincing demonstrations, unquestionable evidences and infallible proofs, appearing to them during forty days and talking to them about the things of the kingdom of God. And while being in their company and eating with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised, of which they had heard Him speak. For John baptized with water, but not many days from now you shall be baptized with The Holy Spirit.”
It’s interesting to note that we get the word Pentecost from the Greek word meaning fifty while Shavuot is the Hebrew word for weeks. Essentially, what happened was 10 days after Jesus ascended to Heaven, they received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We start “counting the omer” (a word for measurement) from the time of Passover to Shavuot for 50 days. Jesus stayed with them for 40 of them! So, it’s recorded that His disciples stayed in Jerusalem during the extra ten days waiting for the promise of The Holy Spirit, which was poured out on the Feast of Shavuot! And not only was it a wheat harvest celebration, the second crop of the year, but there was a harvest of souls into God’s kingdom as well - about 3,000 and daily afterward that number was increased. Amazing!!
Here is God’s message for us today concerning these things – I think the main thing He wants to convey is that we need His Holy Spirit. We need Him to help us be obedient to The Father’s will. This is something we cannot do on our own! We need Him to demonstrate power in our lives! Who wants a powerless faith with dead works?!? That’s called RELIGION. What happened at Pentecost was real! People can still receive The Holy Spirit today! The signs of tongues, healing and deliverance was NOT done away with, which is a popular view point taught in many churches. It wasn’t just for those times. It’s for these times that we are living in. Healing, deliverance and expectation in God’s promises are for NOW in our lives! The book of Hebrews says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. James 1:17 states “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from The Father of Lights, with Whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” You can receive the gift of The Holy Spirit. You can have a new covenant with God – He clearly stated in many passages that "This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says The LORD: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds."
As Moses said to the people, “Fear not; for God has come to prove you, so that the reverential fear of Him may be before you, that you may not sin.” God says in Romans 2:4,13-16, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in His sight. Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know His law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.”
It isn’t obeying the commandments that gives us our salvation, that only comes through faith in Jesus Christ, but obedience does show that we belong to Him and God wants to write His words on our hearts through His Spirit today. Won’t you call upon the Name of The Lord Jesus and be saved? Ask His Holy Spirit to guide you and fill you and manifest His presence and power in your life! He is willing to answer you! Happy Shavuot & Pentecost!