page 3 A Christian Pentecost continued from page 1 . . .
Passover. The day Jesus firstappeared to his disciples after hisresurrection, as the firstfruits fromthe dead, was the day thecountdown to Pentecost began,and so it has remained.
A Harvest Festival
Pentecost is a feast with threenames. Pentecost is a Greek wordthat means fiftieth. The Feast of Weeks is an obvious namebecause of the seven week countdown. The Old Testamentname is Feast of Firstfruits. “ButChrist has indeed been raisedfrom the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. Forsince death came through a man,the resurrection of the dead comesalso through a man. For as inAdam all die, so in Christ all willbe made alive. But each in hisown turn: Christ, the firstfruits;then, when he comes, those whobelong to him” (1 Corinthians15:20-23 NIV).“What would the first Christianshave made of all this? Seven weeksafter Jesus rose from the dead asthe firstfruits, yet another offering ismade that is also called firstfruits.How would they have understoodit? We know how Jamesunderstood it because he states itoutright in his letter.“‘Every good and perfect giftis from above, coming down fromthe Father of heavenly lights, whodoes not change like shiftingshadows. He chose to give usbirth through the word of truth,that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created’ (James1:17-18 NIV).“Make no mistake about it.James, like all of the apostles,was well versed in the Scriptures,and this comparison to the Feastof Firstfruits is deliberate. Notonly is Christ the firstfruits, so arewe . . .” (
The Thread, God’s Appointments with History
, byRonald L. Dart).So why is there a Christianconnection? To understand that,we have to cast our minds back tothe Passover when Christ died—more specifically, to the day whenhe first appeared to his disciples,alive from the dead.The Resurrection of Jesus isthe pivotal event in the history of God’s dealing with man. Oddly, itwas a matter of controversy in theearly church. In addressing thecontroversy, Paul says somethingvery important and oftenoverlooked. “Now if Christ bepreached that he rose from thedead, how say some among youthat there is no resurrection of thedead? But if there be noresurrection of the dead, then isChrist not risen: And if Christ benot risen, then is our preachingvain, and your faith is also vain.Yea, and we are found falsewitnesses of God; because wehave testified of God that heraised up Christ: whom he raisednot up, if so be that the dead risenot. For if the dead rise not, thenis not Christ raised: And if Christbe not raised, your faith is vain; yeare yet in your sins. Then they alsowhich are fallen asleep in Christare perished. If in this life only wehave hope in Christ, we are of allmen most miserable. But now isChrist risen from the dead, andbecome the firstfruits of them thatslept” (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).The first day of the Passoverseason (the first day of Unleavened Bread) always fallson the 15
day of the first month,and it is a Sabbath. This could fallon any day of the week, and not onthe seventh day Sabbath, but thereis something interesting to notehere. The Bible speaks of all holydays as Sabbaths or “high days,”when no ordinary work is to bedone, so in the sense that it is aholy day, the first day of Unleavened Bread is a Sabbath.But there was anothertradition, and it arises from whatfollows. “And ye shall count untoyou from the morrow after thesabbath, from the day that yebrought the sheaf of the waveoffering; seven sabbaths shall becomplete: Even unto the morrowafter the seventh sabbath
shall yenumber fifty days; and ye shalloffer a new meat offering unto theL
. Ye shall bring out of yourhabitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken withleaven; they are the firstfruits untothe L
. And ye shall proclaimon the selfsame day, that it may bean holy convocation unto you: yeshall do no servile work therein:it shall be a statute for ever in allyour dwellings throughout yourgenerations” (Leviticus 23:15-17,21).But did you notice that thefestival of Pentecost falls on theday after the seventh Sabbath? It isfor this reason that some Jews andChristians will observe Pentecoston Sunday, 50 days from the dayafter the Sabbath following
continued on page 4. . .