Current Notes: Trinity, Part 8 - Some Background Regarding Pentecost
What actually happened at Pentecost?
Pentecost was one of seven Jewish feasts:
The Last Supper was Jesus' celebration of the Passover with his disciples. At this meal, Jesus
did several things:
- Passover - the 14th of Nisan (roughly our April) - celebrated the
events leading up to the miraculous deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt,
notably the slaying of all of the firstborn of Egypt who were not protected by the blood
of a lamb on the doorposts of their houses. God's people had followed His directive to sacrifice
a lamb and smear its blood on the doorposts and the lintel, and so the Angel of Death passed
over those homes and did not kill the firstborn.
- Pentecost - The 6th of Sivan (roughly our June) - Celebrates the completion
of the wheat harvest. "Pente-" means fifty. Pentecost is fifty days (seven weeks) after
the Passover. It was a feast of international significance that would attract devout Jews
from many other countries, to Jerusalem for the event.
- The Feast of Trumpets - The First day of Tishri (October), the Jewish New
- The Day of Atonement - The 10th of Tishri (October), more of a fast
than a feast, in remembrance and rejoicing for the forgiveness of their sins.
- The Feast of Tabernacles - The 15th of Tishri (October), commemorating
the end of the autumn harvest, and the completion of their historic wandering in the desert.
- The Feast of Lights - The 25th of Kislev (December), celebrating
the dedication of the new re-built Temple after being released from Babylonian captivity.
- Purim - The 14th & 15th of Adar (March), celebration of the rescuing of the
Jews from Haman's genocide plot, as told in the book of Esther.
After the Lord's Supper and the Lord's arrest and crucifixion, there were no more spectacular
miracles, except for:
- He showed them by example how they should behave toward each other: humbly. He washed their
feet. John 13.
- He announced that Judas would betray him. "Get it over with," Jesus told him, in effect, as Judas
- He predicted that Peter would deny him.
- He offered comfort to his disciples, who were confused about why he was leaving and where he
was going. He promised them that he was going to prepare a place for them, "And if I go to
prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me, that you also may be where
- He foretold the coming of the Holy Spirit "not many days from now",
who would be their counselor and comforter during
his physical absence, and who would lead them in all truth.
- As they left the Upper Room and walked to the Garden (at the end of John 14), Jesus continued
his discourse about the Vine and the Branches (the relationship between Jesus and his followers),
for bearing fruit. He told them about the world's rejection of them, and reiterated his promise
of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter who would soon come.
Seven weeks went by, with no more big miracles, and no promised Counselor.
- The Resurrection
- Jesus' appearance to the two men on their way to Emmaus, after his resurrection
- Jesus' appearance in the Upper Room, through locked doors, to the frightened disciples cowering from
- Jesus' appearance to Peter, John and the rest on Lake Galilee who had been fishing all night
with no success. He spoke the word and they caught 153 of them. And he fixed breakfast for them
on the shore: fish and bread.
- Jesus' appearance to 500 other believers, between the time of his Resurrection, and his
being taken up into heaven.
Then in Acts 2:1, when devout Jews had come to Jerusalem from all over the Middle East
to attend the Feast of Pentecost (the completion of the wheat harvest), a sudden sound
like a mighty wind (probably not an actual wind) was heard where they were assembled. Something
like tongues of fire rested on each person there, and "All of them were filled with
the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." Acts 2:4.
So, what is "tongues"? We could spend many months on this controvertial topic alone. But this
discussion is focussed on what happened at Pentecost. The foreigners heard Jesus' followers
in their own language.
So what's the big deal about Pentecost, if the Holy Spirit (see previous lessons) has been here
on Earth since B'reshith, since the Beginning -- and throughout the Old Testament?
And there are many other Old Testament manifestations of the Holy Spirit.
- Pharaoh selected Joseph, Genesis 41:38, because he recognized that the Holy
Spirit was with him.
- Bezalel was filled with the Holy Spirit, enabling him to do exquisite work on the artifacts
of the Tabernacle, worthy of a Holy God Exodus 31:1-11, 35:30-30.
- When the people were complaining of being tired of eating Manna, God directed Moses to
select 70 elders to help administer the people. Numbers 11:17. "I will take the Spirit that is
on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that
you will not have to carry it alone."
- Balaam, Numbers 22 thru 25, whom Balak king of Moab hired to curse God's people. The Spirit
of God caused him to bless them instead of curse them. On the way, we have the incedent with the
donkey speaking! (Read Numbers 22:21-35).
- Joshua, Numbers 27:18, "...a man in whom is the Spirit".
- Othniel, Judges 3:10, "The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, so that he became Israel's
judge and went to war."
- Gideon, Judges 6:34, after Gideon destroyed an altar to Baal, "...the
Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon and he blew a trumpet", leading to the
defeat of the Midianites.
- Jephthah, Judges 11:29, destroyed 20 towns when the Spirit of the Lord came upon
- Samson, Judges 13:25; 14:6,19. The Spirit of God came upon him in power, so that he
tore a lion apart with his bare hands, and defeated more enemies.
- King David, 1 Chronicles 28:11,12, Gave his son Solomon the plans for the Temple,
"...that the Spirit had put in his mind".
- The Prophet Azariah, 2 Chronicles 15:1: "The Spirit of God came upon Azariah ..."
- Zechariah, 2 Chronicles 24:20: "The Spirit of God came upon Zechariah ... "
- Ezekiel, Ezekiel 8:3; 11:1,5,24: "The Spirit lifted me up ... the Spirit of the Lord came
upon me ..." etc.
- Daniel, Daniel 4:8, in Nebuchadnezzar's own words, "...and the spirit of the holy
gods is in him."
Next week: some New Testament manifestations of the Holy Spirit before Pentecost.