Pentecost: Baptized and Fruitful
Pentecost: Baptized and Fruitful
by Lonnie Lane
Happy holiday. It’s that time of year when Israel was required to travel up to
Jerusalem for the Feast of Shavuot, one of the three feasts in which God
required Israel to gather to Him. With that commandment God made sure when the
time came, that there would be people from everywhere when He unleashed the
power of His Spirit upon His followers, so they could take the message back to
wherever they came from. This is known to the church as Pentecost. The two –
Shavuot and the events that took place at Pentecost, are inextricably linked.
It is indeed a “happy holiday” (read, holy day), with much to be thankful for and
rejoice about. Let’s see why.
We read of the thousands of Jewish people who were gathered
into Jerusalem and were in attendance in the Temple for the occasion of Shavuot
in Acts 2. We, of course, know
what took place, but apart from the believers, they had no idea what was about
to come upon them. Do I mean that the believers had some inkling that something
was about to happen? Keep reading. The visitors to Jerusalem came from near and
far to celebrate the second “First Fruit” harvest. This takes place
fifty days (therefore “pent” as in Pentecost, meaning five) after the first
“First Fruit” harvest celebration. I know, this sounds a bit confusing, but
stay with me.
There are actually three major feasts during which Israel
was to come up to Jerusalem: Passover and Shavuot which take place in the
Spring, and the third, Sukkot (Tabernacles), which takes place during the Fall
harvest. All three are celebrations of harvests. They remind us that all we
have is from God, that He is our provider and that He blesses, protects and
provides for His people. They are each times of great joy and thanksgiving to
God for His goodness to them. He meant for them (us) to be joyful. That’s why
He gave them the feasts – to be joyful in Him. God loves celebrations,
especially when they are celebrating and enjoying Him! Ultimately, He’s what we
note: I have often wondered why when God gave Israel seven feasts, the
church celebrates none of them, at least since Constantine in the 4th
century, but does celebrate basically two, Christmas and Easter, both of which
are divorced from the Feasts God gave to Israel and are pagan in origin. Could
satan have had something to do with cutting off the thankfulness to God and
those ways of remembering His goodness to us in the Feasts? I’m just saying.
First fruits refers to the first harvested growth of the
crops. The initial Bikkurim (First Fruits) celebration involves the harvest of the
crops God promised with the promise of giving them “a land of… barley, grapes, fig trees, and pomegranates, a land of olive
oil and date honey” (Deut. 8:8). The initial or first of the First Fruits
celebrations follows immediately after Passover. It indicates the beginning of
the harvest. That is the exact day when Yeshua rose from the dead. Only God
could have orchestrated such timing. Yeshua was the First Fruit of the Kingdom
and life eternal for all men, having faced down death in order that He “might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrews 2:15). Thank you, Lord!!!
God loves celebrations, especially when they are celebrating and enjoying Him!
Wheat was also included in that list above but wheat takes
longer to grow, and so that celebration of the first of the wheat harvest takes
place seven weeks plus one day (7 x 7 = 49 +1= 50 days) following the first of
the First Fruit offerings. This holiday, Shavuot, is also called the Feasts of
Weeks because of “counting the omer”
or counting the weeks till the fiftieth day. No one eats anything made of the
wheat that has been harvested until it is waved before the Lord in thanksgiving
in the form of two loaves of (leavened) bread. Like the tithe (only this is not part of the tithe), God
gets the first part, the first recognition of the harvest, in thanksgiving.
These people’s lives, including their relationship with God
and how their society functioned, were largely about growing food and harvesting
and the celebrations of the harvests unto God. Yeshua often mentioned a
harvest, generally related to souls for the Kingdom. You can see that this
would have been more meaningful to those hearing Him than it is to most of us
city-folk today. They understood how absolutely imperative a harvest is to
survival, and therefore they would celebrate the harvests with great joy. Every
family would have had members if not all of the family participating in some
way in producing food through hard work. Most of us take our food for granted
today, giving little or no thought to the many people involved in providing
what we take off the shelves in the market, let alone that it all comes through
God’s goodness to us. We give a perfunctory prayer perhaps at the dinner table
with little awareness of what it has taken and the people involved for our food
to become ours. (Selah.)
The level of our thanksgiving – for anything – will always reflect
our level of gratitude and humble awareness of the privilege of having whatever
it is. You want a faith booster? Start being thankful to God for what you may
have taken for granted. You want to be a blessing to people? Start thanking
them for even the little things they have done to make your life more pleasant.
You want to know God’s power? Don’t wait for it to come to you – it comes as
you step out in faith that God has given us His Holy Spirit to be His
witnesses. As “He went about doing good
and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38), so can we!
Case in point. Last night after an erev-Shavuot Holy Spirit
download at our church we were hungry. We headed for IHOP for pancakes. Talking
with our waitress, taking the time to find out her name is Wanda, we thanked
her for being there to serve us. One of us noted that she looked heavy hearted,
so we asked her if she was alright. She wound up telling us that she has
cancer. So we prayed for her right
there in the restaurant. Five of us gathered around her and laid hands on her,
not caring who would see. Blessed! We were blessed – her, us. Probably God too.
You wanna be blessed? Start blessing others and being aware of their needs.
That’s what Pentecost has empowered us to do. Wanda was already a believer or
she might have been “harvested” right there in IHOP.
Israel knew that a harvest can only be provided by God, but
that they had to do the work. The same applies to a spiritual Kingdom harvest.
Yeshua made two points clear: “No one can
come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…Therefore beseech the Lord
of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (John
6:44; Matthew 9:38). The Father may be drawing people to Himself, but they
won’t come unless someone does the work of “harvesting” them. No workers in the barley and wheat
fields leads to no harvest of food which leads to famine. To apply it to the
spiritual harvest, no Kingdom workers leads to no sharing of the Lord which
leads to spiritual famine. Spiritual famine leads to multitudes locked into eternal
outer darkness with no way out, far from the Light of the world who is Yeshua.
Having no sin of His own, death had no authority to hold Him
so He was resurrected from the dead. Hallelujah! Yeshua interacted as the Risen
Lord among the disciples and hundreds of other people. “To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many
convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking
of the things concerning the kingdom of God” (1:3). He spent special
times just with His disciples. If you were one of the disciples, wouldn’t you want
to ask Him a bunch of questions, like: What does it feel like to die? And to be
dead? What is it like to be
without a body but fully aware? Where exactly were You for three days? Was
satan and every demon in hell terrified by Your presence? How did you come back
into Your Body? Did it happen slowly and You ‘woke up’ or was there a great
cataclysmic explosion of power and light that cracked open the Kingdom when you
‘re-entered’ Your body? (If the shroud is real, then a great light burst, enough
to take His picture occurred.) What did You experience, Lord, when You stepped
out of the tomb? I always picture
Him with an overcoming, victorious and glorious explosive roar of praise to His
Father: “WE DID IT!!” There’s so much more of Him to know.
Start blessing others and being aware of their needs. That’s what Pentecost has empowered us to do.
At the end of forty days, “He was lifted up while
they were looking on, and a cloud
received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). What do you imagine that was
like? We’ve all seen portrayals of Him lifting up into the sky? I think I would
have wanted to say, “Wait, don’t go. Stay with us!” He disappeared – into the
sky? As if things weren’t supernatural enough already.
Now, it’s ten days after He’s ascended into the sky and His disappearance
into a cloud. It’s Shavuot, the day of the (second) Feast of First Fruits. On
the first First Fruits day, He rose from the dead. Would something take place
today on this important Feast day? Everything that had already taken place was till
so very fresh in their minds. Plus they would no doubt have been in great anticipation
because while He was still with them, “gathering
them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what
the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from
Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit
not many days from now…. (And) you
will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My
witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest
part of the earth” (Acts 1:7-9).
Receive power? They knew His
power. They’d watched it enough times. He raised people from the dead, He was
fearless against all odds, He had the power to change lives, to speak wisdom,
to heal the sick, even cleanse lepers. What power would He give them that would
enable them to be witnesses that He is alive?!
He had already given them some measure of the Holy Spirit when He first came
to them after He was alive again when “He
showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they
saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ’Shalom Alechem! (Peace be unto
you!) As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this,
He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’”(John
20:20-22). So if they had already received
the Holy Spirit, what did He mean when He said they would be “baptized with the
Holy Spirit not many days from now”?
Side Note: This lets us know that the Spirit that
we receive at salvation is not the fullness of the Spirit but that there is a greater
power to be His witnesses and to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers and raise
the dead, as well as to forgive and release people from their sins, that comes
with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This includes speaking in tongues which
edifies our spirits so we can tap into that fullness of the Spirit. (See 1
Corinthians 12 and 14).
It is, then, with great expectation that they must have gone to the Temple
on Shavuot. I know many people believe they were in the Upper Room when the
Spirit descended upon them but that’s not likely. For one thing, houses and
streets were too small and narrow to accommodate all those people. For another,
on such a holiday, all Jews were in the Temple, so they would have been also. Besides,
God intended for them to be as visible as possible for all to see when the
Spirit came upon them. The mention of “house” can mean the House of God, the
Temple. So that’s where they were. Evidently all the believers were in one area
of the Temple known as Solomon’s porch, because what took place indicates they were together.
Allow me to back up a minute to tell you, if you don’t already know, that
Shavuot is also the celebration of God giving the Torah to Israel. Supposedly
it was on the same day. It was through the giving of the Word of God to Israel that
they became a nation of priests, a nation unto God, not just a family. The Word
is first of all, revelation of God and of an awareness of His righteousness and
His sovereign holiness, and secondly, what He expected of them if they were to
remain the people of God and represent Him to the world. The Word told Israel
how God would care for them, protect them, and provide for them as long as they
looked to Him and obeyed His word to them. They were given the Torah, the Word
of God, when Almighty God had descended upon the mountain in Israel’s full
view of the fire and smoke and a terrifying presence that shook the mountain to
reveal that He is (as in ‘I am’!). Holy indeed!
Later God said that He would give to Israel a “new covenant” (Jeremiah
31:31) in which He would write His requirements of righteousness (the
commandments) on their hearts. He did that through Yeshua who is “the Word (who) became flesh” (See John
1:14). When we are born again of His Spirit, our hearts are changed to respond
to God. We become newly aware of His holiness and His sovereign claim to our
lives. He implants within us a desire to do His will, to be like Yeshua and empowers
us by the same Holy Spirit that anointed Him, to be His witnesses by
manifesting what Yeshua did when He walked the earth. Just as Israel was entirely
changed by receiving the words through Moses, now they would receive the power
of the Spirit of God indwelling them, just as Yeshua had.
Now, armed with this information, let’s go to the Temple on
Shavuot. It’s fifty days after Yeshua rose from the dead on the day of the
first First Fruit celebration. We know what happened. “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one
place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind,
and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to
them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of
them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with
other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance…. And when this
sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one
of them was hearing them speak in his own language” (Acts 1:1-6).
We have the same Holy Spirit available to us that the disciples did.
What Yeshua had said to them about being His witnesses to
the world was beginning to happen. This was the initiation of Yeshua telling
them, “You will receive power when the
Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part
of the earth” (Acts 1:8). From this time on, they were changed people. We see that the
same Peter who denied the Lord in fear now took center stage to declare the
truth of Who Yeshua is. This is the kind of change that the baptism of the Holy
Spirit brought about in Peter and in the others who changed the world with
their message. That’s the kind of change God wants to bring to His people today,
to set us on fire with the power of the Holy Spirit to reach our own worlds, to
impact those within arm’s reach of us. How many hundreds or thousands of people
do you pass by in a week and not speak to one of them? WWJD? What would Jesus
do? What does He want to do
through us? Through you? It’s time. If not now, when? If not you, who?
We have the same Holy Spirit available to us that the disciples did. The
command is the same. If you are not baptized in the Holy Spirit and speaking in
tongues, ask the Lord to baptize you. It’s your right as a believer and don’t
let any church doctrine that has “invalidated
the word of God for the sake of…tradition”
(Matthew 15:6) tell you it’s not for today. Yes it is. If ever we needed
the power of the Holy Spirit, it’s in the days we live in, especially if we are
truly in the last days. I know many are expecting to be raptured away from a
time of tribulation, but should that not be the case and we are still here for
any of it, we MUST have the power of the Spirit. And we MUST bring the message
of salvation to others. We are the only hope in chaos! We MUST become workers
to bring in the harvest! The
following “go” sentence does not mean necessarily leave home and go elsewhere,
it means as you go throughout your day, your life. Missions should not be just a
career choice for certain people but a lifestyle for all who count themselves
as His disciples.
“And He said to them, “Go into all the
world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been
baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These
signs will accompany those who have believed: In My name they will cast out
demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if
they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the
sick, and they will recover.” So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to
them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And
they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and
confirmed the word by the signs that followed” (Mark 16:15-20).
To sum this up, here’s a “one new man” nugget for you. Just as Passover ties
the deliverance and salvation of Israel to the crucifixion of Yeshua, and His
resurrection to the First Fruits following Passover (unleavened bread), the
Immersion (baptism) of the Holy Spirit is tied to the First Fruits of Shavuot.
Yeshua told the men on the road to Emmaus after He rose from the dead, “All things which are written about Me in the
Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be
fulfilled” (Luke 24:44), meaning the Feasts of Israel are about Him too.
The Feasts are the moedim
(rehearsals) of His coming; then we see their fulfillment through Yeshua and
all we have in Him. Now we celebrate them, not as predictions, but in the joy
of their fulfillment in Yeshua. We celebrate Him!
Sid’s shows are proof that if we will do the “work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:12), the Lord will work with us,
confirming His Word by signs that will follow. We are the only workers He has
to get the job done. There is no other way. There are people who need to be
saved or they will perish. It’s that simple. Please read this as a joyful
encouragement of what is not only possible for us but what is the task God has
put in our hands.
Who will be the first fruit of your ministry today?
And tomorrow? And the next day? What great joy there is when we bring someone
to the Lord. “ I tell you, there is joy
in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Want to be in the
presence of angels? Want to feel God’s joy? Be God’s instrument to bring
someone to repentance. May you be
Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2010.
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.