A Message for Pentecost
by Jack M. Lane
In this presentation given on the Feast of Pentecost, significant events of this day in both the Old Testament and the New Testament are examined, along with important lessons we can learn.
Let’s begin in Leviticus 23, where the holy days are outlined.
Leviticus 23:1 (NKJV):
1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
2 “Speak to the children of
, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. Israel
This is the reason we observe the holy days. We don’t find them to be Jewish feasts, or feasts of
. But rather, God identifies them as being His feasts, or His appointments with His people. We don’t find them given exclusively to Israel , nor do we find them being taken away when the New Testament church arose. These are God’s festivals, or as the Hebrew word suggests, these are God’s appointments. What’s the first appointment listed? The weekly Sabbath. Israel
3 ‘Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
Then we read about the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread (also described in Numbers 28:16-25). God begins with the same formula, identifying the days as His days.
4 ‘These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times.
5 On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover.
6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread.
The next verses give instructions for the offerings and sacrifices to be made by the priests on those days.
Later on, we come to the Feast of Weeks, which we also call Pentecost.
15 ‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed.
16 Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.
17 You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the LORD.
18 And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs of the first year, without blemish, one young bull, and two rams. They shall be as a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to the LORD.
19 Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats as a sin offering, and two male lambs of the first year as a sacrifice of a peace offering.
20 The priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the LORD for the priest.
The priests needed to note carefully the various animals and grains and liquids that went into the sacrifices. The priests had a lot of details to look at. Finally it says, in verse 21:
21 And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
The priest elevated, or raised up, two leavened loaves of bread as part of the ceremony on this day. We think those leavened loaves might represent the people of God, the saints who are raised up at Christ’s second coming (1 Corinthians 15:22-23). They are leavened loaves because we are leavened lumps (1 Corinthians 5:6-7). They are elevated because they are being offered to God as a sacrifice. We offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), and we have the hope of rising to meet the Lord in the air in the resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
We observe the holy days because God said they were His days, and not just something he established temporarily for the Israelites. But at the same time, we don’t have the Levitical priesthood, and we don’t do the prescribed offerings on the holy days. Why is that?
My answer is this: The holy days belong to God, and they are a statute forever, throughout our generations, and that they actually tell the gospel story and show the plan of God, and so they are just as applicable to Gentile Christians in all nations and in all ages.
However, the Levitical priesthood was not. The Levitical priesthood did seem to be established as a purely Israelite function. The priests served only in
Israel, and later in Judah, and still later in the rebuilt Judeaduring the time of Christ. And there is a movement afoot in the modern-day State of Israel to restore the priesthood and start sacrificing animals again. But the Levitical priesthood was not ever, from what I can tell, a part of the New Testament church.
The book of Hebrews, especially in chapters five through seven, goes into detail about how Jesus, as a Jew, was not eligible to be part of the Levitical priesthood, but is, instead, a Melchizedek priest, and serves as our high priest in heaven in the Melchizedek priesthood. And, if Jesus is our high priest, and if we are to be a nation of priests (1 Peter 2:4-5, 9; Revelation 1:4-6; 5:9-10; 20:6), it would not be in the Levitical priesthood, but rather more likely in the Melchizedek priesthood.
So we observe the holy days today, but we don’t do any of the Levitical sacrifices prescribed for those days. We do, however, note the Christology of the holy days, as described in other articles on this web site.
THE LAW CAME ON THE FEAST OF WEEKS
Tradition has it that God gave the law to Moses and
on the day of the Feast of Weeks. I can’t really prove that one way or the other. It’s difficult to pin it down for certain, but we’ll go with that tradition. Israel
Exodus chapter 19 (NIV): “In the third month after the Israelites left
Egypt– on the very day – they came to the .” Desertof Sinai
I don’t think this means “three months after they left
, on the three month anniversary date.” I don’t think that’s what this means. That would be twelve weeks, which would make it impossible for this to be the Feast of Weeks, since the Feast of Weeks is only about seven weeks after Passover. I think a better translation would need some punctuation, such as: “In the third month – comma – after the Israelites left Egypt …” If the Israelites left Egypt about halfway through the first month, on the 15th of the month, then we go forward in time seven weeks, that would place us in or about the ninth week of the year, which is in the third month of the year, and at about the right time to be assembled at Mount Sinai to receive the commandments. Egypt
Perhaps the old KJV has it best: “In the third month, when the children of
Israelwere gone forth out of the , the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.” If we’re looking for the time at landof Egypt Mount Sinaito be right around the time of the Feast of Weeks, this might be the better understanding of the time stamp given in this verse.
Continuing in verse two (NIV):
2 After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the
Desertof Sinai, and camped there in the desert in front of the mountain. Israel
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
4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to
, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Egypt
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.”
You see, it has always been God’s intention to make his people a kingdom of priests. He offered it to ancient
, but it says in First Peter and Revelation that He is succeeding in doing it with us! Israel
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 Sinaiin 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.
Mount Sinaiwas 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 Sinaiand called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up ...
Skipping ahead to Exodus 20:1: “And God spoke all these words ...” Then we read the Ten Commandments, as thundered by the voice of God to the entire nation of
. When He was through: Israel
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.
So here we have all this drama, and this great display of power, and by tradition this giving of the law took place on the day that would later be set apart as the Feast of Weeks.
THE NEW TESTAMENT PENTECOST AND MAKING THE MESSAGE PLAIN
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, Pontusand Asia,
10 Phrygia and
Pamphylia, Egyptand the parts of Libyanear 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!”
You know, you have to admit that at least two big miracles took place that day. First of all, the Spirit came in power, with manifestations, with inspired speaking, and with awe. But also, the message was, right from the start, being heard in people’s own local languages. It says the disciples spoke in other tongues, and it also says the people heard them—possibly all of them?—speaking in each one’s own local language! That was a sign that this message would be going out to far-flung corners of the world, and the best way to have the message go out to the world is to speak the languages of the world.
Well, these disciples probably couldn’t speak fluently in all the various languages from all over the world. But that’s all right. God took care of that. He made everyone hear what the disciples were saying in their own local languages! Pretty slick, isn’t it?
And I think this lesson is still important today. Most of us don’t read Hebrew and Greek. Whenever I look at a Greek New Testament, it doesn’t make sense at all. It’s all Greek to me!
And today, even the King James Version is a foreign language to young Bible students. Elizabethan English, Shakespeare, and King James English. These are all obsolete forms of English. I don’t like to teach Shakespeare to high school kids. It’s a foreign language! It’s all Greek to them! Once I taught Romeo and Juliet to a high school class using an edition that had modern English on one page and the original Shakespeare on the facing page. All that did was to point out more plainly that Shakespeare is not accessible to our young people because it’s not written in our language.
Neither is the King James Bible. I don’t use the King James Bible at all any more. It’s written in what has become a foreign language! Sometimes, when I look at the King James Bible, and I think of the young people trying to read it, or those for whom English is not their first language, I think, “It’s all Greek to them!” Using one or more of the modern translations helps to make the meaning clear.
There are times when I’ll be turning the radio dial, and I’ll land on a Spanish-speaking station. I don’t speak Spanish. But if I hear the person say ”Hesus Christos” or ”Dios,” I’ll say, “Okay, it’s religious programming.” But other than that, I’m not able to get anything out of it! All that talking is wasted on me, just like trying to read the Greek in a Greek New Testament doesn’t tell me anything! These are the words of eternal life, and I don’t get it!
I want to hear the message in my own language, in modern English. So, I want to tell the story in my own language among people who speak my language. I don’t want to say or do things that will stop God’s message from going in.
The lesson for us today might be that, if we throw up a roadblock or stumbling stone in someone’s understanding, it will impede their being able to hear the truth, and see the truth, and come to a quick understanding. I love to tell the story, as the old song says. But I want to be able to tell the story, and have people say, “Well, that makes all the sense in the world!”
But sometimes we religious folk tend to set up stumbling blocks for people. In order to be saved, you have to do this. In order to fellowship with us, you have to do that. If you want to be holy, like I’m holy, you have to say certain foreign words and phrases, dress a certain way, have certain ceremonies, and take on an assortment of customs and traditions. If we’re not careful, we can cause people to bog down, to make slower and slower progress, until they finally trudge to a complete stop in the tall mud!
I want to make it easy for people to see what the gospel message is. I want to speak simply, use simple words and phrases, paint mental pictures that excite people, and offer them a hand to help them out of their life that drags them down to the pit of despair. And I have found the best way to do that is to speak the language they speak, using analogies and terms they can relate to. I need to make the truth plain. I need to speak to people where they live.
That’s what Peter was doing in Acts chapter 2. And look what happened as a result:
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
, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. Jerusalem
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 ...
And Peter goes on to preach a powerful message demonstrating that Jesus 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.
COMPARING AND CONTRASTING THE OLD TESTAMENT FEAST OF WEEKS WITH THE NEW TESTAMENT PENTECOST
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
, as recorded in Acts. Jerusalem
1. God descended in a fire on
(Exodus 19:18). The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in the form of tongues of fire (Acts 2:3). Mt. Sinai
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, God begins the Assembly, the congregation of
Israel, by giving the law on (Exodus 19:11). In the New Testament, God begins the ekklesia, the New Covenant assembly, by giving His Spirit to the assembly, which is also called Mt. Zion (Hebrews 12:18-24). Mt. Sinai
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).
Mount Sinai, shortly after the Feast of Weeks, 3,000 Israelites were killed because of their sin. In the New Testament, on the Day of Pentecost, 3,000 Israelites and God-fearers were saved, and received the gift of eternal life (Acts 2:38-41).
Wait a minute. What’s that? Let’s look at that, in Exodus chapter 32.
THE GOLDEN CALF INCIDENT
Remember what was going on back at
Mount Sinai. The people heard God thunder the Ten Commandments, and it overloaded their stress limits. They said, “Look, you talk to us, okay? We can’t listen to God’s voice – it’s too powerful. You tell us what God says, and we’ll do that, okay?” Moses agreed, and God agreed. So God took Moses up to the mountain and started talking to him, without scaring the people to death. But after awhile, all the people saw was the mountain with smoke and fire, but no Moses.
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
, we don’t know what has happened to him.” Egypt
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
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.”
At least Aaron was trying to channel the people’s enthusiasm away from “these are your gods” to “we’ll have a festival to Yahweh.” But it didn’t work.
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
, have become corrupt. Egypt
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
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.
... thereby becoming 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
, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ Egypt
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.”
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!
BACK TO ACTS 2
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. In comparison, though, it was only a small reminder of God’s presence on
Mount Sinai, on that other Pentecost, and the giving of the law. This, however, was going to be the giving of the Spirit.
The disciples in the upper room ran outside and encountered Jewish pilgrims who had come to
for the Feast of Weeks. Let’s pick up the story again in Acts 2:16. Peter is saying: Jerusalem
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
be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Israel
Let’s stop there. What’s all this talk about David? What’s Peter talking about? What’s he getting at? Peter quotes from two different psalms of David. In verses 25-28 he quotes from Psalm 16. Let’s read that.
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.
Now comes the part Peter quoted:
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.
Peter is quoting David as saying, in Psalm 16:10: “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.”
We see these verses, from our perspective of being in the far-flung future, as being an obvious reference to Christ being resurrected out of the grave before his body had time to deteriorate. Peter even said so. He was talking about how Jesus had been resurrected from the dead.
Back in the psalms, David said that El would not abandon “him” to the grave. Abandon whom? David? Adonai? Sometimes it’s hard to tell who or what a pronoun refers to. If you were to read the psalm, you might think David was talking about himself: “because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.”
In the first century A.D., the religion of Judaism had a lot of beliefs and traditions the Jews had picked up during their captivity in
. Judaism taught many things that were not biblical. One of those things was the immortality of the soul. Was David still in the grave? Or had he gone to heaven? Babylon
I believe there was an idea among at least some of the Jews that, since this is listed as a psalm of David, 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. But in Acts chapter 2, Peter counters this idea by saying: “I can tell you confidently that David is dead and buried.” There must be some reason Peter would say that, seemingly out of nowhere. Haven’t you ever wondered about that?
Peter then goes on to set the record straight. He says that Jesus had also been dead and buried, but there was a difference this time. Jesus 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
for the Feast of Weeks! They had heard the stories that this Yeshua guy, the prophet and miracle worker, 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 where they laid the body. In my wild imagination, I can see a big tourist trade building up. “Come, see the place. Guided tours on the hour and half-hour.” This was big news! Jerusalem
These Jews had heard all about his life and death, and His resurrection. They might even have talked to two or three people who had seen him alive after His resurrection. Now Peter and the others were telling them what they had seen, plus whatever else the Spirit told them to say.
In Acts 2:32, Peter says,
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 …
You see? David, a prophet and a righteous king, did not ascend to heaven. But Jesus did! And not only that, but He was exalted, and now sits at the right hand of God. The right hand position is that of trusted advisor, confidant, counselor, and even co-ruler.
Continuing in Acts 2:34:
34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said [Peter is now going to quote Psalm 110:1], ‘The LORD said to my Lord [Yahweh said to my Adon]: “Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’
Let’s flip over to Psalm 110 and see what Peter is referring to here.
Psalm 110 (NIV):
1 The LORD [YHVH] says to my Lord [Adonai]: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”
2 The LORD [YHVH] will extend your [Adonai’s] mighty scepter from
; you will rule in the midst of your enemies. Zion
3 Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy majesty, from the womb of the dawn you will receive the dew of your youth.
4 The LORD [YHVH] has sworn and will not change his mind: “You [referring to Adonai] are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”
5 The Lord [Adonai] is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
6 He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
7 He will drink from a brook beside the way; therefore he will lift up his head.
Well, that sure sounds like it could mean King David. But Peter is saying that it was Jesus who was exalted to heaven, not King David. It was Jesus who was invited to sit at God’s right hand until God makes his enemies to be his footstool. It isn’t King David who would be the coming king. It isn’t King David who will be the Messiah, leading a victorious army against
’s enemies. It isn’t King David who is Adonai. It’s Jesus! Israel
Continuing in Acts 2:36: “Therefore [this is Peter’s conclusion and main point] let all
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.” Israel
We lose the power of this statement in English. What Peter was saying to these Jews was that El, the Father, had made this Yeshua person – not King David, but Jesus – both Adonai and Messiah!
The Jews who heard this knew what that meant. I tend to think it made the hair on the back of their necks stand up!
Continuing in Acts 2:37:
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.
And so began the new wine, 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.
We can read about the heroes of the Bible in Hebrews chapter 11.
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.
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.
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.
And after recounting so many of the sufferings God’s disciples and servants have had to endure through the ages at the hands of sinful men, it says in verse 39:
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.
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, and our being elevated into the air, along with the saints of all ages, to meet him in the skies!
Continuing into 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.
How do you like that ow do yoy sports analogy? You like sports? Here’s a really great word picture that gets the message across to all the jocks in the audience: Fix your eyes on the distant target as you run your race! Whatever hinders you, whatever entangles you around your feet, slows you down, gets in your way, takes you off course – get rid of it!
If you take your eyes off the goal for one minute, you’re off course! Run your race with perseverance, keeping your eyes fixed on the target, which is Jesus! If you have your eyes on anything else, you are running in the wrong direction!
It says “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” The race course is marked out for us. We each have our own race to run, over our own race course, dodging different obstacles to stay in the race, but we are all running toward the same Jesus! He endured horrible things because of the joy that was set before him, and as a result he is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Do you want to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus? That’s where he is—at the right hand of the throne of God! We’d better be looking to the throne so we can keep our eyes fixed on our target!
Remember the experience of
Israelat 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 also the experience of the disciples in the upper room in
. Remember the mighty sound of a powerful wind. Remember the vision of fire splitting apart and landing on everyone’s head. Remember how people from far-away places could hear the message in their own languages, to foreshadow how this brand-new message of the gospel would go out to all people. Jerusalem
Continuing in Hebrews 12:18:
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 , the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, Jerusalem
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.
We can see some important differences here between our experience and
’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. Israel
Instead, we have come to
. We have come to the heavenly Mount Zion . 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 Jesus. We have come to the blood. Jerusalem
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 ] 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? Israel
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.” [Haggai 2:6-7]
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.” [Deuteronomy 4:24; 9:3]
There’s a lot packed into the book of Hebrews. It goes to great lengths to show that the sacrificial system under the Levitical priests had no real power to forgive sin. God forgives sin. It goes on to describe the Melchizedek priesthood, and a change in both the priesthood and the law.
But the point being made is rather clear: We don’t sacrifice animals today, nor do we elevate loaves of bread on Pentecost. The Levitical priesthood was needed to do those functions in ancient
, and the priesthood as it was then is no longer. Israel
We don’t come to
Mount Sinai, covered with smoke and fire. We come to Mount Zion– we are , 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 at times, and lots of smoke, but precious little fire. Mount Zion
We don’t come to darkness, gloom, and storm. We come to the heavenly
. We come to God. We come to Jesus. And we come to His blood. We must never forget that. Jerusalem
On this day of Pentecost, when we are supposed to count, remember that there are some things we can always count on: primarily the love of God, and the blood of Christ.