The Fiftieth Day
Robert Wurtz II
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)
Pentecost Sunday is known in Christian circles as the birth of the Church (Ecclesia). Pentecost is the Greek rendering of the Jewish festival known as Shavuot. It is a Hebrew word meaning “weeks”. In one sense it was the celebration of the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai. It is said that from Passover to the giving of the Law was 7 weeks so that on the Fiftieth Day a celebration was to take place. Shavuot is also connected to the grain harvest in Israel. In ancient times, the grain harvest lasted seven weeks and was a season of gladness (Jer. 5:24, Deut. 16:9-11, Isa. 9:2). It began with the harvesting of the barley during Passover and ended with the harvesting of the wheat at Shavuot. For the disciples, they had experienced the reality of what Passover intended to convey in the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross. From now on, Christ would be our Passover (1 Cor. 5:7). At first the Disciples did not understand what was going on and were in a terrible confusion. But Jesus met with them and explained to them all passages of the Old Testament the things pertaining to Himself. He then concludes with these words:
Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. (Luke 24:47-49)
Up to this point the Disciples had not only misunderstood the mission of Christ, but they were in no wise of the right spirit to minister the Gospel. James and John had desired to call fire from Heaven on the Samaritans and Peter had cursed and swore with a loud oath when confronted about Jesus. They were trying, but they just were not there. Human effort simply cannot make a man or a woman into a child of God. It would take regeneration. Not a simple infusion of grace to believe, but a total transformation of the person in which they pass from death unto life and from the power of Satan unto the power of God. We have a truncated pattern here in Luke 24:
1. repentance and remission of sins must be preached
2. believers must be endued with power from on high
The Holy Spirit in relation to the Temple
It is important to take a moment and explain the significance of the Holy Spirit coming at Pentecost. We can use Solomon’s Temple as our Template. Solomon built a Temple for the Lord. Up until the time the Temple was dedicated it knew only a general sense of the presence of the Lord. God manifests Himself where He is welcome, but He is present at all places and at all times. This is a theological proposition we sometimes call omnipresence or immanence. He is in the pubs, gambling dens, sin houses and even hell itself (Psalm 139:8); but He is not there in the way that He wants to be. During construction of the Temple, we could argue that God was made more welcome than He was in Egypt, for example. God has determined the bounds of our habitation that we might feel after Him, for He is not far from any one of us. That is the experience of the careless sinner. However, Israel was a God-fearing nation and people of the covenant. God was certainly more at work in their midst than He was in Egypt. Yet, the Holy Spirit wasn’t any more present at the Temple site than He was down the road until the day when the Temple was dedicated, the altar was filled, and the Fire of God fell. The glory of God filled the House until the priests were not able to stand to minister. In time the Holy Spirit departed from the Temple and it was destroyed. Yet, the artifacts in the Temple remained the possession of Jehovah (YHWH). We know this because of how Belshazzar was judged when he took the sacred dishes into his party (Daniel 5).
The Holy Spirit in relation to men
When a person is in a careless state, even as the idolators of Athens, God is not far from them (Acts 17:27). The Disciples left their careers and followed Christ coming under His Lordship. In this condition, prior to His death, resurrection and ascension, we have this saying from our Lord, If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (John 14:15-17) Here the Holy Spirit is said to be “among” the Disciples and that they “knew” Him; yet He was not yet “in” them as the Holy Spirit had not been given because Christ had not yet been glorified (John 7:39). The glorification of Christ took place in the death, burial and resurrection. So we see a contrast between the careless sinner and the follower of Christ. Yet there is another level still. We read of this hope, reform ye (repent), therefore, and turn back (be converted), for your sins being blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19 YLT comments added). The Disciples had had their Pentecost and now they are preaching the full Gospel.
Temples of the Holy Spirit
As soon as we turn our lives to Christ we are bought with a price, becoming the sole possession of God. Our bodies and our spirits are God’s possession and we are to glorify Him with them (1 Cor. 6:19-20). We are temples of the Holy Spirit, not because He dwells in us, but because we have been purchased of God with the blood of Christ in order to be made dwelling places of God. When a person turns to Christ in repentance and conversion, they have the promise of the times of refreshing coming by the presence of the Lord. They are the purchase of God. Receiving the Holy Spirit comes as a result of our submission to Him as He deals with us convincing and convicting of sin. We must respond rightly to the Holy Spirit by ceasing to resist Him. One cannot resist and receive at the same time. Many rebellious people have made a profession of Christ and believe they have the Holy Spirit, but we are not known by a simple prayer or a profession, but by the fruit we bare. I am sorry it has to be that way, but this is the clear teaching of scripture. Receiving the Spirit is something that takes place consciously and is not a process that takes place by logical deductions. A person has the Holy Spirit dwelling in them when it can be seen that the fruit of the Spirit is evident in their life.
Baptized into One Body
At Pentecost the Body of Christ was formed through the one great baptism that Paul spoke of in Ephesians. At that moment everyone that the Spirit fell upon was baptized into His Body and became partakers of all that He had accomplished upon the cross. They had lived for 3 years among Christ, dwelling with Christ, but now they are “In Christ” as new creatures. The mean spirit that wanted to call fire from Heaven was dispelled and the Holy Spirit poured out the love of God into their hearts (Romans 5:5). Their propensity to Sin was replaced with God working in them to will and to do His good pleasure. They were dead to Sin and dead and crucified with Christ. Before this great baptism none of them could say that. They were made sons of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is more than a profession and more than self-help. It is a new creature. They were enabled at that moment to function as a body through the gifts that had been given to men after He ascended on high. These gifts are essential to the edification and increase of the Body of Christ. Each person fitly framed and joined together in love.