Bible Society of South Africa

Pentecost with a difference - 17 May 2024

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

2Suddenly there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

This coming Sunday, believers all over the world will be celebrating Pentecost. It is also one of the main Jewish festivals. Leviticus 23:10-22 sets out how this festival should be held. It lasted for exactly 50 days and started on the first day of the week after the Sabbath of Passover. On this day, the first sheaf of the new grain harvest was taken to the priest who “shall present it as a special offering to the Lord”. On our calendar, this is the day that Jesus was raised from the tomb. On the first day of the week, exactly seven weeks later, was the day of Pentecost. This festival is known by different names: festival of weeks, harvest festival, festival of the first yield of the harvest, etc. The Greek word for Pentecost means 50th day. Although it was a holy day, it was also a day of celebration.

For the small group of believers who were together on that day, the commission given by Jesus at his ascension must have been a priority. They were to go into the world with the message of salvation. He promised them the power of the Spirit, but since then, ten days had gone by and nothing had happened. Then, while they were together to celebrate the festival of weeks with their fellow Jews, something extraordinary happened. Suddenly, they heard a sound like that of a very strong wind and saw something resembling tongues of fire that came from heaven.

The result of this was also extraordinary. After receiving the Holy Spirit, they started talking in all the known languages of their time. The meaning of Pentecost, as the festival of the first yield of the harvest, took on a completely new meaning. Right after Peter spoke to the crowd who gathered there, 3 000 people, the first of the new spiritual harvest, accepted Jesus as their Saviour.

The path for the gospel to reach out to the ends of the earth was cleared now. In the next few days, we will see how that first church and the church throughout the centuries have reached out to the world. This is also our commission today.

Prayer: Lord, we thank you that we can look forward to celebrating Pentecost this Sunday. Fill us with your Holy Spirit, so that we can bring the gospel to the world. Amen

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