To my Jewish friends, “חג השבועות שמח” To my Christian friends, “Happy Pentecost!” Sundown this evening marks the beginning of the festival of Shavuot in Jewish tradition. Given that, I want to tie this Jewish feast and Christian observance together with several things we’ve touched on recently, so stick with me!
In our study, Looking for the Blessed Hope, we’ve learned that God has a plan for the Jews and a plan for the Gentiles. Thus, Jews and Gentile Christians view things differently because Jews relate festivals and feasts to the greatest time in their history (Moses leading the people out of Egypt, back to the Promised Land), while Christians relate everything to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. The Jews did not recognize Jesus as Messiah, thus are still awaiting the first appearance of their Messiah. Christians, meanwhile, are awaiting the Second Coming of Christ. Thus, though we share one Creator God and Father, the belief in Jesus as Messiah causes us to view spiritual things different.
So, Jews and Christians will celebrate this sacred time differently. For Jews, it is a time to reflect on the aftermath of God’s redemption of His people from Egyptian bondage. After the escape from Egypt, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Early on, during that time, God “met them” at Mt Sinai, where you recall Moses went up the mountain to talk with God, and came down with 10 Commandments written in stone. Some would say this was the birth of Judaism, as God gave the Torah. (Interested in more detail about Shavuot? Click here.)
The Christian observance of Pentecost, however, is taken from Acts 2. Recall that Jesus spent considerable time (John 14-16) teaching the disciples that a Helper (the Holy Spirit) would come after He was ascended into heaven.
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
The disciples didn’t understand this at the time because they could not fathom Jesus’s death, burial, resurrection and ascension into heaven. Following those events, though, the disciples were present when the Holy Spirit came upon the crowd gathered in Jerusalem. Pentecost was the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon believers, and it marked the birth of the church. (This started the Church Age, which is described in Roadmap of End Times.)
So, the Jews celebrate Shavuot as the birth of Judaism, while Christians celebrate Pentecost as the birth of the church! Different, yet so much the same in some ways!
But let’s turn our focus to Pentecost and its significance. Indeed, God poured out the Holy Spirit, giving believers throughout history the ability to “deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12). Dear believers, that is our call! That is our responsibility! That is our gift from God, to be used for His glory! But what keeps us from living that out?
As believers, we need a fresh pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon us. We need a Great Awakening individually, in our churches, and in our nation. We, as God’s people, have strayed off course, just like the Israelites did at times. We need power from on high. We need to cry out to God in repentance and plead His mercy before it is too late. Our nation is in trouble and Washington can’t fix it. God never intended them to! If the Lord Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, then He must rule and reign in and through you and me…His people!
If you were not part of Anne Graham Lotz’s “Mayday! Mayday!” prayer initiative, it is not too late to go back and jump in on your own. Please go to the Mayday Prayer Initiative and work your way through the 9-day prayer series. It is powerful, and my prayer is that it opens up the hearts and minds of believers once more to be filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. What better time than at Pentecost!
On this blog, we are in the middle of a study called Looking for the Blessed Hope. (I invite you to follow along.) I mentioned the Holy Spirit’s power that empowers us to live as we should, but let me tie all the pieces together with the full passage from Titus 2:11-14:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, let’s ask Almighty God to spark a Great Awakening in our nation…and let it start with those of us empowered by His Spirit to live in such a way that we stand pure as we look for the Blessed Hope!