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Thoughts on Shavuot/Pentecost

Posted Jun 14, 2016 by Frank Klin in Statutes and Judgements
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Wanted to share some thoughts on Pentecost, the feast of Weeks, or Shavuot as it is called in the Hebrew. This special day marks the 50th day after the first Shabbat, or seventh-day Sabbath in the feast of unleavened bread. It is the only annual appointed time that is not designated by a specific date. It is determined only by the counting of seven complete cycles of seventh-day Sabbaths. When we look back at the Jewish economy before the Son of God came as our Redeemer did anything of significance happen on this day? What really happened on the day of Pentecost ten days after our Saviour’s ascension? Is there any meaning or importance in Shavuot today? Will there be in the future? With these thoughts I pray each of us will discover the answers to these questions and have a better understanding of the relevance of this day.

Scripture to Ponder:  John 17:1-5

“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” - (John 17:1-5)

When you study the festivals of Passover, Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles in Scripture you learn they are all about Jesus, the Son of God. So what significant thing happened on Pentecost during the Jewish economy before the Messiah came? If you follow the travels of the children of Israel in their exodus from Egypt you will discover the law was given at Mount Sinai on Shavuot. How does the giving of the law relate to our Saviour?  Sister White comments:

”As speech is to thought, so is Christ to the invisible God. He is the manifestation of the Father, and is called the Word of God. God sent His Son into the world, His divinity clothed with humanity, to make known in His life and character the attributes of the Father, that men might bear the image of the invisible God. He was the embodiment of the law of God, which is the transcript of His character.”  {ST, November 15, 1899 par. 2}

The word “Christ” means anointed. Scripture tells us when Jesus was anointed for His ministry on earth.

“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” - (Matthew 3:16-17)

Because of this anointing the Son of God could say:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” - (Luke 4:18-19)

As Christ received the anointing of the Spirit from His Father at His baptism, so the Father through Christ was to give that same gift of anointing to His disciples. The following verses give us a clue as to when.

“In the last day, that great day of the feast [of Tabernacles], Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” - (John 7:37-39)

Let’s look again at the beginning of John chapter 17.

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” - (John 17:3-5)

Pay close attention to the words, “O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”  Underline “glorify thou me with thine own self” because this prayer will literally be answered on the day of Pentecost.  Notice what Dr. Luke tells us in the first chapter of Acts:

“And, [Jesus] being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence…[Y]e shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” - (Acts 1:4-5, 8)

Upon Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension our focus moved from the ministration of priests in the earthly sanctuary to Jesus’ ministry as our high priest in the heavenly sanctuary. The first earthly sanctuary was established at Mt Sinai and its services incorporated blood sacrifices on every day of the week, including the seventh day Sabbath and other appointed times. Jesus’ ministration takes place in the literal sanctuary in heaven on Mt. Zion in the sides of the North, where the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world officiates as our high priest, intercessor and mediator. Paul writes about this in Hebrews 12:

“For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (for they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: and so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. - (Hebrews 12:18-24)

There are some beautiful Scripture verses concerning mount Zion:

“Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King”. - (Psalm 48:2)

“Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.” - (Psalm 50:2)

“For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.” - (Psalm 132:13)

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” - (Isaiah 2:2-3)

“Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” - (Isaiah 51:11)

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.” - (Isaiah 52:7-8)

“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.” - (Joel 2:32)

“And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” - (Micah 4:2)

“And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever.” - (Micah 4:7)

Sister White gives a beautifully descriptive account of Jesus triumphal entry into the heavenly Jerusalem after his ascension ten days before Pentecost.

“The work of the Saviour on earth was finished. The time had come for Him to return to His heavenly home. "And he led them [the disciples] out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven" (Luke 24:50, 51).  {1SM 306.1}  

As Christ ascends while in the act of blessing His disciples, an army of angels encircle Him as a cloud. Christ takes with Him the multitude of captives. He will Himself bring to the Father the first fruits of them that slept, as an evidence that He is conqueror of death and the grave. At the portals of the city of God, an innumerable company of angels await His coming. As they approach, the escorting angels address the company at the gate in triumphant tones:--

          "Lift up your heads, O ye gates;

           And be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors;

           And the King of glory shall come in."

    "Who is this King of glory?" the waiting angels inquire.

          "The Lord strong and mighty,

           The Lord mighty in battle.

           Lift up your heads, O ye gates;

           Even lift them up, ye everlasting doors;

           And the King of glory shall come in."  {1SM 306.2} 

Again the waiting angels ask, "Who is this King of glory?" and the escorting angels reply, in melodious strains, "The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory" (Psalm 24:7-10). Then the portals of the city of God are opened wide, and the angelic throng sweep through.  {1SM 306.3}

There is the throne, and around it the rainbow of promise. There are seraphim and cherubim. The angels circle round Him, but Christ waves them back. He enters into the presence of His Father. He points to His triumph in this antitype of Himself--the wave sheaf--those raised with Him, the representatives of the captive dead who shall come forth from their graves when the trump shall sound. He approaches the Father, and if there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repents, if the Father rejoices over one with singing, let the imagination take in this scene. Christ says: Father, it is finished. I have done Thy will, O My God. I have completed the work of redemption. If Thy justice is satisfied, "I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am" (John 17:24). And the voice of God is heard; justice is satisfied; Satan is vanquished. "Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Psalm 85:10). The arms of the Father encircle the Son, and His voice is heard, saying, "Let all the angels of God worship him”” (Hebrews 1:6).  {1SM 306.4}

Jesus and those He brought with Him at his ascension had to go through several days of preparation for His anointing as high priest on mount Zion.

Back on earth, just as the children of Israel had to go through several days of preparation and cleansing to meet God at Mt. Sinai, so the disciples prepared for Pentecost in Jerusalem as their Master had commanded. 

“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” - (Acts 1:14)

“LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.” - (Psalm 15:1-5)

Now when the day of Pentecost had fully come in heaven picture the gathered throng in the sanctuary waiting for the Father to begin the consecration of His Son for the renewed office of high priest. The typical service is described in Exodus chapter 29 and Leviticus 8. Type will meet anti-type as Moses represents the Father, Aaron represents the Son. In the heavenly anointing ceremony who would represent the sons of Aaron?

“As Christ ascends while in the act of blessing His disciples, an army of angels encircles Him as a cloud. Christ takes with Him the multitude of captives as His trophy. He will Himself bring to the Father the firstfruits of them that slept, to present [them] to God as an assurance that He is conqueror over death and the grave.”—Manuscript 115, 1897. {CTr 286.6}

Let’s read the instructions God gave to Moses concerning the consecration of Aaron and his sons for the priesthood.

“And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water. And thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron the coat, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the curious girdle of the ephod: And thou shalt put the mitre upon his head, and put the holy crown upon the mitre. Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him. And thou shalt bring his sons, and put coats upon them. And thou shalt gird them with girdles, Aaron and his sons, and put the bonnets on them: and the priest's office shall be theirs for a perpetual statute: and thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons.” - (Exodus 29:4-9)

On the literal day of Pentecost 10 days after the ascension of Jesus, His Father consecrated and anointed Him as high priest, glorifying Him with His own self or Spirit with the glory and esteem He had given Him before the world was.

What happened to the 120 believers in the upper room at the very same time the ceremony progressed in heaven?

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” - (Acts 2:1-4)

Remember the day of the giving of the law at Sinai how the mountain quaked, smoked and burned? The scene in the upper room was similar with the sound of a mighty rushing wind and cloven tongues like as of fire.   

Did you know that the upper room was on the literal mount Zion on the sides of the north? What was literally happening on mount Zion in heaven overflowed to those gathered in the upper room on earth.

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” - (Acts 2:1; Psalm 133:1-3)

“Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” - (Psalm 45:7)

“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” - (Acts 2:32-33)

Because on the day of Pentecost the Son of God once again became our High Priest and received the glory He had with His Father before the world was Jesus is nearer to us now than when He was here physically in human form. He is everywhere present with all believers the world over by His Father’s own Spirit that He poured out without measure upon Him. What an awesome realization! The Spirit of His Father within Him will “reprove”, “guide”, “shew”, “bring to remembrance”, “glorify”, “receive”, because it is a part of Him. That is why Jesus could say to His disciples, “A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me, because I go to the Father.” - (John 16:16)

This is the beauty of Pentecost today, to remind us that Jesus is with us always, even unto the end of the world.

“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)” - (Ephesians 4:7-10)

Jesus wants to fill us with all things. He speaks to us of heavenly things in a language so simple that we cannot fail to understand, and He will bring eternity within our view if we will let Him.

“It is on these, His own appointments, that He meets with and energizes His people by His personal presence… All who…keep in view the true tabernacle and service, which the Lord pitched and not man, will never fail to derive benefit from every discourse given, and spiritual strength from every communion.” {Advent Review & Sabbath Herald, May 31, 1898 par. 12}

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams…” - (Acts 2:17)

“As Christ was glorified on the day of Pentecost, so will he again be glorified in the closing work of the gospel, when he shall prepare a people to stand the final test, in the closing conflict of the great controversy.” (RH Nov. 29, 1892)

I end these thoughts with the words to one of my favourite songs:

“Oh, let the Son of God enfold you

with his Spirit and his love;

Let him fill your heart and satisfy your soul.

Oh, let him have the things that hold you,

and his Spirit, like a dove,

Will descend upon your life and make you whole.


Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs.

Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs.