Pentecost is Sunday, May 23, 2010

Jesus taught, “narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14),. Pentecost pictures that only a few will find the way in this age–but implies that others will later.

Striaght Path in  Tobago
A “straight and narrow way” in Tobago


Saturday night, beginning after sunset, until sunset Sunday May 23, 2010 is the Holy Day known as Pentecost.  1,979 years ago, the disciples of Jesus were meeting together to observe this day (Acts 2).  On that day the Holy Spirit was given and the New Testament Church began.

What many have not considered is that if the disciples of Jesus did not think that they should still be observing this so-called Jewish holiday, then they would not have been present together for the Holy Spirit to come.

This is a very significant point. Notice what the Bible teaches:

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place (Acts 2:1).

Notice that the emphasis is on the fact that the Day of Pentecost had fully come. The Bible is making it clear that the events that follow were directly related to the fact that the Day of Pentecost had fully come. And, it happened to the disciples because they were all observing it together.

The Living Church of God believes that the New Testament church began on Pentecost in 31 A.D. and that its observance in the Book of Acts shows that the early disciples clearly did believe that they were to continue to observe practices (Sabbaths, Holy Days, etc.) that the Jews did.

The Old Testament

Since the Holy Spirit was given on the Day of Pentecost, based upon the date and practices that God gave the children of Israel in the Old Testament, it is logical to conclude that the Old Testament can give us some insight into its meaning.

First of all the term Pentecost is a Greek term meaning 50th. That term is derived from the following Hebrew description of calculating the date:

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. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath (Leviticus 23:15-16).

The Day of Pentecost has several names, and because of that, some have been confused about it. Its other names in the Bible include, the Feast of Harvest, the Feast of Weeks and the day of firstfruits:

… the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors (Exodus 23:16).

And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits (Exodus 34:22).

Also on the day of the firstfruits, when you bring a new grain offering to the LORD at your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation (Numbers 28:26).

While some Protestant commentators (e.g. Radmacher E.D. ed. The Nelson Study Bible. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1997, p213) refer to the wave sheaf offering as the feast of firstfruits, this is a misnomer. While “a sheaf of firstfruits” was offered then (Leviticus 23:10), as shown above, the Bible refers to the Feast of Weeks as the time of firstfruits (not simply one sheaf). And, as shown below, it refers to the time of counting fifty as being associated with firstfruits:

Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD. 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 (Leviticus 23:16-17).

Does the term firstfruits help us understand this day?

The New Testament Helps Explain the Old Testament

The New Testament does discuss some concepts associated with firstfruits.

Paul also wrote the following:

Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit (Romans 8:23).

Recall that it was the Holy Spirit that was first given on the Day of Pentecost. And that was a type of the firstfruits of the Spirit.

Who are the firstfruits?

These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb (Revelation 14:4-5).

In the Old Testament, God said:

“I found Israel Like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers As the firstfruits on the fig tree in its first season. But they went to Baal Peor…” (Hosea 9:10).

So originally, physical Israel was like the firstfruits on the branches of a fig tree, but they were unfaithful. In the New Testament, Paul alludes to this and Christians when he wrote:

For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either (Romans 11:16-21).

So while physical Israel was intended to be firstfruits, it was replaced by Christians as the firstfruits. And those firstfruits began on Pentecost.

But what about Jesus? Wasn’t He a type of firstfruits?

Yes, He certainly was. Paul notes:

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

Christ is the fulfillment of the wave sheaf offering in Leviticus 23:10. He is the sheaf of firstfruits. He also fulfilled that role when He ascended into heaven on the Sunday (the wave sheaf offering was on a Sunday) after He was resurrected (John 20:1,17). But neither He nor His true followers observed what is now called Easter.

Also, James notes that Jesus brought us forth to also be a type of firstfruit:

Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures (James 1:18).

So while Jesus was the original firstfruit to represent the wave sheaf offering, true Christians are a kind of firstfruits, represented by the Day of Pentecost. “Firstfruits” mean that only a few will make it in this age–but they also imply that there will be a greater harvest–a time where all who never had an opportunity for salvation will later have an opportunity (for more scriptural references, please read the article Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis).

(More of the wave-sheaf offering is included in the article What Happened in the Crucifixion Week?)

Pentecost pictures that the Christian elect are being called now as a type of firstfruits.  Pentecost, however, is simply one step in God’s plan of salvation.  The greater harvest, where all who have never truly understood God’s plan of salvation will be happen later.  And that is pictured by the Fall Holy Day known as “the last great day” or sometimes simply called “the eighth day of the feast”.

Although some who profess Christ seem to believe otherwise, we in the Living Church of God believe:

20 Our God is the God of salvation (Psalms 68:20).

Some are called to it now, and others in the “age to come” (Matthew 12:31-32).

6 “all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:6).

Salvation will be offered to all who ever lived, a few in this age, and everyone else in the age to come (Matthew 12:31-32).  The Bible shows that there is a time in the future that all flesh will come to God:

1 Praise is awaiting You, O God, in Zion; And to You the vow shall be performed. 2 O You who hear prayer, To You all flesh will come. (Psalm 65:1-2)

Does your church really understand that ALL FLESH will come to God?

To learn more about God’s Holy Days and God’s plan of salvation, please consider studying the following articles:

Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2? Many “Christians” somewhat observe Pentecost. Do they know what it means? It is also called the Feast of Harvest, the Feast of Weeks, and the day of firstfruits.
Pentecost Quiz This is a Pentecost quiz based upon the Old and New Testaments in the Bible.
Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis Do you believe what the Bible actually teaches on this? Will all good things be restored? Will God call everyone? Will everyone have an opportunity for salvation? Does God’s plan of salvation take rebellion and spiritual blindness into account?
Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory? Is there a place called purgatory? Does God have a plan to help those who did not become saints in this life?
What is Limbo? Is There Such a Place as Limbo? What Happens to Babies When They Die? When did Limbo start being taught? What is the truth about dead babies?
Hope of Salvation: How the Living Church of God differ from most Protestants How the Living Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background.
The History of Early Christianity
Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible?
This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.

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