The Law, The Spirit, and The Faith

by Jack M. Lane

A message delivered on the Day of Pentecost, 2004


Let’s begin our study in Leviticus 23, where the holy days are outlined.

15 “‘From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks.
16 Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD.
17 From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the LORD.
(Leviticus 23:15-17, NIV throughout)


Those loaves represent the saints who are raised up at the last day. They are leavened loaves because we are leavened lumps (1 Corinthians 5:6-7).


18 Present with this bread seven male lambs, each a year old and without defect, one young bull and two rams. They will be a burnt offering to the LORD, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings – an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.
19 Then sacrifice one male goat for a sin offering and two lambs, each a year old, for a fellowship offering.
20 The priest is to wave the two lambs before the LORD as a wave offering, together with the bread of the firstfruits. They are a sacred offering to the LORD for the priest.
21 On that same day you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.
22 “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.’“
(Leviticus 23:18-22)

Moses was not told what the two loaves of bread represented. As far as anyone could tell, this is a harvest festival after the crops were brought in. In fact, it is. However, God had a different kind of harvest in mind.



The Torah Given

What significance is there to this day? Did anything really great happen on the day of Pentecost? Tradition has it that God gave the law (Hebrew torah) to Moses and
Israel on Pentecost. Let’s look at that in Exodus chapter 19:

1 In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt – on the very day – they came to the Desert of Sinai.
2 After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.
3 Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel:
4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.
5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine,
6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
7 So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the LORD had commanded him to speak.
8 The people all responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the LORD.
9 The LORD said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.” Then Moses told the LORD what the people had said.
10 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes
11 and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.

Skipping to verse 16:

16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled.
17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.
18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently,
19 and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.
20 The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up ...

Then in chapter 20:1: “And God spoke all these words ...” This is when God spoke the Ten Commandments, thundered to the entire nation of Israel. When He was through:

18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance
19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
(Exodus 20:18-21)

The Spirit Given

Because of all this drama and display of power, the Day of Pentecost has been observed as the day the law was given to
Israel. And of course, we know the New Testament event that makes Pentecost even more set apart for New Covenant Christians, in Acts chapter 2:

1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.
6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?
8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?
9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome
11(both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs – we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.
15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!
16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel ...
(Acts 2:1-16)

And Peter goes on to preach a powerful message demonstrating that Yeshua was indeed the Messiah, and that everyone should repent and be baptized both for the forgiveness of sin and to receive the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God is a down payment of eternal life, and is also the empowering strength that gives converted people the power to overcome and endure to the end.

By the way, we can see here that the miracle of tongues on this occasion was in both the speaking and the hearing. It says they spoke in tongues, and it also says the people heard them in their native languages. So it was both. There is often a question about this. It looks to me as if it was a miracle both of speaking and of hearing. At the very least, it seems to have been a miracle of speaking. But the way it’s worded, it suggests that the hearers also experienced a miracle.



Parallels

There are some really interesting parallels between the giving of the law on
Mount Sinai, as recorded in Exodus, and the giving of the Spirit in Jerusalem, as recorded in Acts:

1. God descended in a fire on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:18). The Holy Spirit came upon the Church in the form of tongues of fire (Acts 2:3).

2. The commandments were written by the finger of God (Exodus 31:18). In the New Covenant, they are written by the Spirit of God (Hebrews
8:10).

3. In the Old Testament, the law is given on
Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:11). In the New Testament, God begins the ekklesia, also called Mt. Zion (Hebrews 12:18-24).

4. In the Old Testament, the law was written on stone (Exodus 24:12). In the New Testament, the law is written on our hearts (Hebrews 8:6-13, Ezekiel
11:17-21, 36:24-31, Jeremiah 31:31-34).

5. In Exodus, 3,000 Israelites were killed because of their sin (Exodus 32:1-8, 26-28). In the New Testament, 3,000 Israelites and God-fearers were saved, and received the gift of eternal life (Acts
2:38-41). 


3,000 died, 3,000 saved

This last point was something I had forgotten. Last week, when Bill mentioned how 3,000 people had to die at
Mt. Sinai, I sat bolt upright in my chair, because I remembered how 3,000 people were saved in Acts chapter 2. Even though I was having trouble reading that day, I needed to find that episode and read it again. Let’s look at that, in Exodus chapter 32:

1 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.”
3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron.
4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.”
6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
7 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt.
8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’
(Exodus 32:1-8)


It’s funny how you just can’t get anything past God. He sees it all. Skipping to verse 15:


15 Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back.
16 The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.
17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, “There is the sound of war in the camp.”
18 Moses [listening to the noise from up on the mountain] replied: “It is not the sound of victory, it is not the sound of defeat; it is the sound of singing that I hear.”
19 When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain.
(Exodus 32:15-19)

In so doing, Moses became the first man in history to break all ten commandments at the same time.

20 And he took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.
21 He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”
22 “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil.
23 They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’
24 So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
25 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies.
26 So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him.
27 Then he said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’“
28 The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died.
29 Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the LORD today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”
30 The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”
(Exodus 32:20-30)

What a remarkable story. Right at the foot of Mount Sinai, right after hearing the voice of God thundering that they were not to make images and bow down to other gods, 3,000 of them had to lose their lives because of their disobedience. But to help offset that tremendous loss, 3,000 people were baptized on the first New Testament Pentecost, in Acts chapter 2.

Have you ever wondered, “Three thousand baptized in one day? Is it possible for 3,000 people to be baptized in one day? Why 3,000? Is there any significance to the number 3,000?” Yes, it is possible. Yes, 3,000 is a significant figure. In God’s way of doing things, 3,000 ancient Israelites who sinned and died were replaced by 3,000 Israelites and God-fearers who believed and died to their old way of life. I don’t know why, but it was a good thing for those 3,000 in
Jerusalem!

Let’s continue reading that story in Acts 2. The Spirit came on Pentecost with the sound of wind and the visual manifestation of fire. I’m sure it was only a small reminder of God’s presence on
Mount Sinai, on another Pentecost, and the giving of the law. This, however, was going to be the giving of the Spirit.


Peter’s testimony

The disciples in the upper room ran outside and encountered Jewish pilgrims who had come to
Jerusalem for Pentecost.

12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.
15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!
16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
22 Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.
23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.
24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
25 David said about him: ‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
29 Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day.
30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.
31 Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.
32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.
33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.
34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”‘
36 Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
(Acts 2:12-36)


Where Does David Figure In?

What’s all this talk about David? What’s Peter talking about? I don’t know for sure, but let me offer my guess, based on what Peter is saying here. Peter quotes from Psalm 16. Let’s turn there and read it.


1 Keep me safe, O God [El], for in you I take refuge.
2 I said to the LORD [YHVH], “You are my Lord [Adonai]; apart from you I have no good thing.”
3 As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.
4 The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods. I will not pour out their libations of blood or take up their names on my lips.
5 LORD [YHVH], you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
7 I will praise the LORD [YHVH], who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the LORD [YHVH] always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
(Psalm 16:1-11)

Let’s compare a couple verses. Peter said, in Acts 2:25, “David said about him [about Yeshua]: ‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” But in Psalm 16:8, David is saying, “I have set the LORD [Yahweh] always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

Peter said David was talking about Yeshua, the Messiah. But David was talking about Yahweh. This kind of thing comes up a lot in the Greek scriptures. Verses from the Hebrew that talk about Yahweh are applied to Yeshua. I don’t have any really good explanation for it. But it happens a lot.


Look at Psalm 16:9-10: “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you [he’s talking to El] will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One [referring to Adonai, the Messiah] see decay.”


This is an obvious reference to Christ being resurrected out of the grave before his body had time to deteriorate. Peter even said so. This is one reason why it was important that Christ’s blood was poured out for us. Yes, it was the atoning sacrifice for our sins, but there’s more.

Blood begins to break down and deteriorate very quickly in a dead body. That’s why it’s important to drain the blood out of an animal quickly when we hunt deer, or slaughter animals to eat. If the blood drains out of the body, the rest of the body can remain unspoiled for a longer time.
When our Savior was hanging on the crucifixion stake, His blood drained out for us, so we could be forgiven of our sins. But then, his bloodless body would lie in state for three days and three nights, in a rock tomb that acted like a cooler, without deteriorating. When He was resurrected, His body had not seen corruption and decay.

Now, let’s return from this secondary digression back to our first digression. We were wondering about the references to David in Acts 2.

David said El would not abandon him to the grave. Remember that, in the days of Yeshua, the religion called Judah-ism was based largely on some beliefs and traditions the Jews had picked up during their captivity in Babylon. Judah-ism taught many things that were not biblical. One of those things was the immortality of the soul.

Notice how it says in Psalm 16:10, “because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” Many of us are aware that in Hebrew poetic form, there is a couplet form that’s used quite a bit. That is, there will be a statement, then either a similar statement or a related statement is given as a response. I believe there was an idea among the Jews that, since this is listed as a psalm of David, and David used the poetic couplet quite a bit, they thought David was making both of these statements about himself – both that he would not be abandoned to the grave, and that the Holy One (and the Jews would probably think this refers to King David himself) would not see corruption.


I believe that the Jews may have thought that righteous King David, a wonderful person and a man after God’s own heart, was alive and living somewhere, probably in heaven as an immortal soul. I get this idea from what Peter said: “I can tell you confidently that David is dead and buried.” There must be some reason Peter would say that, out of nowhere.


Peter then goes on to set the record straight. He says that Yeshua had also been dead and buried, but there was a difference this time. Yeshua was raised from the dead, and Peter and all the others were witnesses to it. And the Jews standing there listening had heard the stories.


This was the big news item of the day! These Jews from all over the Empire were gathered in
Jerusalem for Pentecost. They had heard the stories that Yeshua had come to life again. They might even have gone to the tomb and looked at the big stone rolled away. They may have gone inside and looked at the very spot. There may have been a big tourist trade. “Come, see the place. Guided tours on the hour and half-hour.” This was big news!

These Jews had heard all about Yeshua’s life and death, and His resurrection. It would have been hard to believe. They might even have talked to two or three people who had seen Yeshua alive after His resurrection. Now Peter and the others were telling them what they had seen, and whatever else the Spirit told them to say.


In verses 32-34, Peter says: “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven …”

You see? David, a prophet and a righteous king, did not ascend to heaven. But Yeshua did! And not only that, but He was exalted, and sits at the right hand of God. The right hand position is that of trusted advisor, confidant, counselor, and even co-ruler.

Continuing: “For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said [Peter is now quoting Psalm 110:1], ‘The Lord said to my Lord [Yahweh said to my Adon]: “Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”‘ (verses 34-35).

It gets a little tricky here, but this may be another verse that caused the Jews to think that David was alive in heaven, if they had thought that David was “Adon,” or the Lord. It can get really tricky for us, because the name “Yahweh” is used for both the Father and the Son at times. Here, in Psalm 110, it refers to the Father. The Father said to His Son, not to David, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies – those who refuse to bow down to you – come and bow down to you. You’ll be able to put your feet on them, because they will come and prostrate themselves before you.” That’s what it means when it says, “Your enemies will become your footstool.” (This may be a prophecy of the Ottoman Empire.)

Continuing in Acts 2:36: “Therefore [this is Peter’s conclusion and main point] let all
Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified [who is now seated at the exalted position of the Father’s right hand], both Lord and Christ.” El, the Father, has made this Yeshua, both Adonai AND Messiah! The Jews who heard this knew what that meant.
Continuing in verse 37:

37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.
44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.
45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,
47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:37-47)

And so began the new wine, the new ekklesia, the new Way of life God was beginning, the new phase of God’s plan. A few thousand years later, we are grafted into the body, to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before, those who endured tremendous hardships, persecutions, martyrdom, being chased from country to country, hounded, tortured, watching their property seized and their families slain, all for the sake of the gospel, and the hope that was set before them.

Whatever we might go through as followers of the almighty God, whatever the persecutions or hardships – we need to keep it in perspective. A lot of people have suffered tremendously to give us this Book, and this faith. This faith is very important to us. Let’s turn to Hebrews chapter 11 and read about it.



Faith of our fathers

7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.
10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
(Hebrews 10:7-10)

Skipping to verse 13:

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.
15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.
16 Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
(Hebrews 10:13-16)

Skipping to verse 24:

24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.
26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.
27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.
(Hebrews 10:24-27)

Skipping to verse 32:

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets,
33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,
34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.
35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.
36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison.
37 They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated –
38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.
40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
(Hebrews 10:32-40)

What is the author talking about? Why, the very hope of Christians, and the event pictured by the Day of Pentecost: our resurrection to glory at Messiah’s return! Continuing in chapter 12:

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?
8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.
11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.
(Hebrews 12:1-12)

Remember the experience of Israel at Mount Sinai. Remember the smoke and fire, the trembling mountain, the thick cloud, the trumpet blast that got louder and louder, the ear-shattering voice. Remember the experience of the disciples in the upper room in Jerusalem. Remember the mighty sound of a powerful wind. Remember the vision of fire splitting apart and landing on everyone’s head. Remember how the people could speak languages from far-away places, to foreshadow how this brand-new message of the gospel would go out to all people.
Yeshua foretold this just before He ascended to heaven:

Acts 1:7-8: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Continuing in Hebrews chapter 12:


18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm;
19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them,
20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.”
21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”
22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly,
23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect,
24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
(Hebrews 12:18)

What’s going on there in verses 18-24? Let’s look at that list again. We can see some important differences between our experience and Israel’s experience.

We have not come to a mountain.

We have not come to darkness, gloom, and storm.
We have not come to a trumpet blast.
We have not come to a voice speaking words.

Instead, we have come to
Mount Zion.
We have come to the heavenly Jerusalem.
We have come to uncountable legions of angels.
We have come to the assembly of the firstborn.
We have come to God.
We have come to the spirits of righteous men.
We have come to Yeshua.
We have come to the blood.

25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. [Who’s that? God, of course. He spoke at Mount Sinai.]
If they [ancient Israel] did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we [escape], if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?
26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”
27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken – that is, created things – so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,
29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”
(Hebrews 12:25-29)

There’s a lot packed into these verses. The book of Hebrews goes to great lengths to show that the sacrificial system under the Levitical priests had no real power to forgive sin. God forgives sin. Hebrews goes on to describe the Melchizedek priesthood, and a change in both the priesthood and the law. Hebrews chapter 7 goes into this rather thoroughly.

But the point being made is rather clear: We don’t sacrifice animals today, or elevate loaves of bread on Pentecost. The Levitical priesthood was needed to do those functions, and the priesthood as it was then is no longer.


We don’t come to
Mount Sinai, covered with smoke and fire. We come to Mount Zion – we ARE Mount Zion, the assembly of the firstborn, the spirits of righteous people, and WE ought to be on fire! We tend to show a lot of wind, but precious little fire.

We don’t come to darkness, gloom, and storm. We come to the heavenly
Jerusalem. We come to God. We come to Yeshua. And we come to His blood. We must never forget that.

On this day of Pentecost, we have looked at three things: the law, the Spirit, and the faith. We need all three. We can’t come to God, or to Yeshua, or to His blood, or to
Mount Zion, the assembly of the firstborn, the souls of just men made perfect, without the law, the Spirit, and the faith.

That is one of the many lessons to be learned on the Feast of Pentecost.



 

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