Waiting Witnesses

Redemptive Significance

Here we are! Fifty days after Firstfruits. Pentecost is the final of the four spring feasts. If you need a recap on the historical and agricultural significance of Pentecost, you can read the earlier post by clicking here. Today we’re going to talk about the redemptive significance and the way that Jesus has fulfilled this feast.

We saw that Jesus ascended into heaven forty days after His resurrection (which was forty days after the feast of Firstfruits). When He did, He told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promised Spirit that would come:

“And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” (Acts 1:4-5)

So they waited. For ten days. Huddled together as they had been after His crucifixion but strengthened too. They had seen their resurrected Savior. They had been assured that His power was real. Death had been defeated. Their King still reigned. But what were they to do with the waiting that remained?

They were also waiting for the restoration of their nation and for the fulfillment of all that their Messiah had promised. They were waiting for the day when everything would be made right. The prophets had spoken of things that they still had not seen. It’s what had made some of them doubt that Jesus really was the Messiah: He didn’t come in the kind of power they had expected. However, as His followers watched Him triumph over death, they believed Him to be the Son of God and the Risen Savior.

But they needed to know what to make of the time in-between. Because they were still waiting for the fulfillment of the future promises. In the next verses of Acts 1, they asked Jesus: “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)

And Jesus, seeing their faith but hearing their question, reassured them. he told them He would be with them while they waited, would equip them while they waited, would use them while they waited. He transformed a passive wait into an active witness:

“It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)

I cannot tell you how long you must wait. But I will empower you to wait faithfully. I will send my Spirit so that you can watch for My return, so that you can point others to Me.

And so, ten days later, on the day of Pentecost, He poured His Spirit out on His followers.  Many Jewish people had travelled from other nations to Jerusalem to observe the feast of Pentecost. They gathered to remember the giving of the Law and to celebrate the beginning of the wheat harvest. They found a group of Christ’s followers speaking in other tongues—tongues the foreigners recognized as their own languages. They heard a Spirit-filled Peter preach a gospel message that saved thousands.

They had come to remember their God. They found that He had remembered them.

[You can read the whole account in Acts 2-3.]

The Holy Spirit may not be as visible as the Man of Christ. But He’s just as real. He’s just as powerful. He’s just as present.

Let’s spend this day, this Pentecost nearly 2000 years later, asking Jesus to pour His Spirit out fresh in our hearts. All believers are sealed with the Spirit at the time of our salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14), and that Spirit will remain in us. But there seems to be a further filling that is available—not that we would receive “more of the Spirit” but that we would allow Him to fill more of us. It seems to be more a matter of our surrendering to His will and His ways and His activity. We let Him lead; we ask Him to show up.

We rely on His power instead of our own.

We look back to these first followers of Christ, and we see the power that fell on them. We remember that that power is still available to us. And we ask Him to fill us up, to overshadow us, to overwhelm us with His goodness and His glory and His grace.

On Passover, when the veil in the Temple tore in two at Jesus’ death, He opened the way for all who believe to enter into the Presence of God. On Pentecost, our Great God went a step further. We aren’t only welcomed into His Presence, He also poured His Presence out in the hearts of all who believe.

To make our flawed flesh into holy temples of the Living God.

Remember that at Pentecost the Israelites looked back and remembered the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. The Lord’s presence had dwelt among His people in the tabernacle and then in the temple. During that time, the Lord used the Law to sanctify Israel—to set them apart and made them look different than the nations that surrounded them. The Law instructed them about how to live with a holy God in their midst. But it was His presence that really made them holy.

And now that Presence dwells not within the walls of a Tabernacle or a Temple but within the very human hearts of all who call on Christ as Lord.

We no longer walk by a law written on stone—a law weakened by the weakness of the men who tried to keep it. Now we walk filled by His Spirit. We walk empowered by His power!

His early followers were waiting for the fulfillment of all of God’s promises, and so are we.

We are still waiting for the New Heaven and the New Earth (Revelation 21-22). We are still waiting for the day when God will set all things right, when the death that He’s defeated will finally be destroyed.

But because of the Spirit that was poured out on the day of Pentecost, we wait with renewed hope and assurance. That Holy Spirit with whom are sealed “is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:14). His Presence has always made all the difference. The Holy Spirit assures us that the future promises are still true.

For ten days, they waited for His power. Now, we wait in His power.

Pentecost is the final of the four Spring Feasts. It is also the last of the feasts that Jesus fulfilled in His first coming. The fulfillment of the Fall Feasts is still future. They will be fulfilled in His second coming.

We are still waiting for the return of our King.

This all ends very well for us. But in the power of the Spirit of Christ, we are well even as we wait. And we're not just waiting, but we're witnesses too--witnesses to a broken and hopeless world of the One True God who has come to save.

FILLING IN THE CHART

If you’re following along with the study by filling in the chart about the feasts, here are your first two points for the feast of Pentecost:

  1. Agricultural Significance: Beginning of the wheat harvest.
  2. Historical Significance: The Israelites made offerings to the Lord, including a wave offering of two loaves of leavened bread. It came to remember the giving of the Law by the Lord on Mount Sinai.
  3. Redemptive Significance: The Holy Spirit was poured out on all believers after Jesus' ascension into heaven. (Acts 2-3)