Pentecost is for... Renewal (Part 1 of 2)
Pentecost has a long history in Christianity and Judaism before. It was many things at different times. We remember it mostly because it was the day the Spirit was given in a new way, and the good news of the Resurrection began to spread like wildfire. Jesus spent 3 years pouring His life into His disciples. Now that He was gone, the Spirit would empower them to take that message far beyond what they could do in their own power.
Pentecost was originally an early harvest celebration. It was 7 weeks (rounded off) from Passover, which came at the time of first planting. It's Hebrew name means "weeks" but it is the Greek name (meaning "50 days") that we know it by best. In the time of Jesus, the feast had other meanings. The Pharisees celebrated the giving of the Torah at Sinai. In fact, the rabbis taught that all nations of the world were present at Sinai and heard God give the Law in their own language. God used that tradition on the first Christian Pentecost. Likewise, the Essenes viewed Pentecost as a time of renewal. God used that tradition as well.
Not only was God fulfilling the agricultural aspect with this day being the first harvest of the early church's preaching, but God hit the other understandings as well. It marks a renewal of belief and the day when men from many nations under heaven heard the Word of God in their own language. In one sermon, the Gospel spread from Jerusalem to the four corners of the earth (but that's for part 2).
The Disciples were gathered together in one place. It was normal for Jews to spend the night before Pentecost in prayer and fasting together with their friends. They would pray for a while and then someone would read or recite Scripture. They weren't just waiting around. They were pursuing God for something amazing to happen.
The Spirit comes with tongues of flame and the sound of rushing wind. These two items were known before this time. The rushing wind was a sign of God's power. The tongues of flame showed His approval. When Elijah took on the prophets of Ba'al, fire showed he was approved by God. In later writings, tongues of fire over a speaker's head showed God's approval on his message. It was known as the Shekinah-the glory of God.
The Spirit came to rest on all of them. It didn't stop with the Apostles. All 120 in the room were touched by the fire. If we look back to Acts 1:14, we see that this number includes people who were not believers in Jesus during His earthly life-His mother and brothers had joined the disciples.
Just as Moses shared his responsibilities with the elders in Numbers 11, Jesus was sharing His Spirit with the Disciples. All of them were filled because the power of God can come to anyone. God never plays favorites.
Also important, this happened to people who were already saved. There was no confession or repentance here. This is a time of renewal and refreshing in preparation for ministry. Right after this, they went out to preach the Kingdom.
Whether you are about to begin a new ministry or need refreshing in a current ministry, the Spirit of God can refresh you. All you have to do is ask God for what He wants to give. Pentecost isn't just in the past. It's for today and it's for you to be refreshed.