May 19, 2013
READ: Leviticus 23:5,9-16
Keep counting until the day after the seventh Sabbath, fifty days later. Then present an offering of new grain to the Lord (v.16).
Christians observe Pentecost Sunday as the day the Holy Spirit was given to the church. Some celebrate it as the church’s birthday. Contrary to popular belief the Day of Pentecost didn’t begin with the church. Pentecost is a very important ancient Jewish festival—the fourth of seven major Levitical feasts to be observed by every Jew at the temple in Jerusalem (Leviticus 23:16-17; Exodus 23:14-17).
The Passover commemorates the event when the blood of the lamb saved the Jews from judgement and death (Leviticus 23:5; Exodus 12:11-14). Thousands of years later Jesus died on the day of the Passover (Mark 15:42-45; John 19:31-33,42). Paul declares, “[Christ], our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
The Celebration of First Harvest or Firstfruits (Leviticus 23:9-11) is celebrated 3 days later, “the day after the Sabbath”. Barley, the first crop to be harvested (March to April), is presented to God in thanksgiving (v.10) and in anticipation of a much bigger wheat harvest to follow. Applying this to the resurrection, Paul proclaims, “Christ is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. . . . Then all who belong to Christ will be raised when He comes back” (1 Corinthians 15:20,23).
The Jews were to “count off 7 full weeks . . . until the day after the seventh Sabbath, 50 days later” to celebrate the Festival of Harvest (Leviticus 23:15-16), known also as Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (from the Greek word meaning “50th”). By that time (May to June), the wheat crop was ready to be fully harvested (Exodus 34:22).
Pentecost is a thanksgiving celebration honouring God for a bountiful harvest (Deuteronomy 16:9-12). It’s on this specific day that God gave His church the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4, 41) and a bountiful harvest of 3,000 souls.—K.T. Sim
Read the following verses to see what Jesus said about the harvest (Matthew 9:36-38; John 4:35).
Pentecost is a festival commemorating the harvest. What are you doing to participate in this harvest? What “new grain” will you bring to God? (Leviticus 23:16).