Lectionary Reading: Pentecost

Acts 2:1-21

Tomorrow we celebrate the birth of the Church which took place in Jerusalem at the feast of Pentecost (which means “fifty”). As with the Passover and Christ’s Passion, this was another high and holy celebration for the Jews in which God intervened and did something wonderful. There were actually three great national festivals (Feast of the Tabernacles Pentecost which is also known as the Feast of Weeks, and New Year or Day of Atonement). I have clipped some information about the three festivals from BibleWorks below.

The key is to realize that the city of Jerusalem was teeming with devout Jews from all over the area. It is from this context (in the midst of the old festival) that God does a new work. Those devout people who travelled to Jerusalem without fail to be obedient to God were at the right place at the right time to be a part of God’s Kingdom being built. I would love to know more about their stories. Why did they come? Who were they? What hardships did they have to endure in order to be faithful? God calls on us to be faithful. That is all. God does the rest of the work. So let us celebrate tomorrow with great anticipation. Let us show up at our respective houses of worship and honor God with our obedience. And let us wait with great anticipation upon God.

BIBLE WORKS BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE FESTIVALS

The three pilgrimage festivals were known by that name because on them the
Israelites gathered at Jerusalem to give thanks for their doubly joyful
character. They were of agricultural significance as well as commemorative
of national events. Thus, the Passover is connected with the barley harvest;
at the same time it is the Heb: zeman cheruth, recalling the Exodus from
Egypt (Ex 12:6; Lev 23:5,8; Nu 28:16-25; Dt 16:1-8).

\Pentecost has an agricultural phase as Heb: chagh habikkurim,
the celebration of the wheat harvest; it has a religious phase as Heb: zeman
mattan Thorah in the Jewish liturgy, based on the rabbinical calculation
which makes it the day of the giving of the Law, and this religious side has
so completely overshadowed the agricultural that among modern Jews the
Pentecost has become “confirmation day” (Ex 34:26; Lev 23:10-14; Nu
28:26-31).

3386.40 \The Feast of Tabernacles is at once the general harvest festival,
Heb: chagh he-‘aciph, and the anniversary of the beginnings of the wanderings in
the wilderness (Ex 23:16; Lev 23:33 ff; Dt 16:13-15). The Eighth Day of Assembly
immediately following the last day of Tabernacles (Lev 23:36; Nu 29:35 ff; Jn
7:37) and closing the long cycle of Tishri festivals seems to have been merely a
final day of rejoicing before the pilgrims returned to their homes.

3386.41 \New Year (Lev 23:23-25; Nu 29:1-6) and the Day of Atonement (Lev
16:1 ff; 23:26-32; Nu 29:7-11) marked the turning of the year; primarily,
perhaps, in the natural phenomena of Palestine, but also in the inner life of
the nation and the individual. Hence, the religious significance of these days
as days of judgment, penitence and forgiveness soon overshadowed any other
significance they mayhave had. The temple ritual for these days, which is
minutely described in the Old Testament and in the Talmud, was the most
elaborate and impressive of the year. At the same time Atonement Day was
socially an important day of rejoicing.

Published by Todd Nelson

I'm one of the pastors at First United Methodist Church in Lexington, Kentucky where I've served for the past thirteen years. The sub-title of this blog is "Grace is no accident" which happens to be the defining reality of my life. God's grace (gift) is the reason we have breath in our lungs and hope in our hearts.

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