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18 November 2018

Fulfillment of the Feast of Pentecost

SYNOPSIS:  The season of fulfillment arrived in Jesus. The time of shadows ceased with his resurrection and enthronement - Acts 2:1-4

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash
By Melissa Askew on Unsplash
The famous opening passage of the second chapter of the Book of Acts stresses the fulfillment of things foreshadowed in the Hebrew scriptures that occurred when the gift of the Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost. The passage informs the reader that the bestowal of the Spirit fulfilled what the Levitical feast symbolized.

The arrival of the gift of the Spirit among the disciples was the seminal event that marked the inauguration of the Church and set the stage for the spread of the new faith, a process documented in the book of Acts.

(Acts 2:1-4) - “And when the day of pentecost was filling up [the number of days], they were all together with one intent; — When there came suddenly out of heaven a sound, just as of a mighty rushing wind — and it filled all the house where they were sitting; And there appeared unto them — parting asunder — tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each one of them; And they were all filled with Holy Spirit and began to be speaking with other kinds of tongues, just as the Spirit was giving unto them to be sounding forth.” – (The Emphasized Bible).

Prior to his ascent, Jesus commanded the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until “you receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, even as far as the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:7-9).

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In the Book of Acts, the proclamation of the gospel begins in Jerusalem, the heart of the Jewish nation, and concludes with Paul preaching in Rome, the center of the world empire. Following his Death and Resurrection, the Messiah of Israel became the Lord of the nations who exercises his sovereignty by propagating his Gospel among the nations (Psalm 2:6-9Matthew 28:18-20, Revelation 1:4-6).

The outpouring of the Spirit was accompanied by manifestations of sight and sound that caused a commotion among the Jewish pilgrims in the city. This created an opportunity for Peter to proclaim the Gospel.  His sermon highlighted the theme of fulfillment in the new messianic age that had just dawned, the “last days,” signified by the Spirit's presence.

The feast of Pentecost was the first of two annual agricultural feasts. It celebrated the completion of the barley harvest. It occurred fifty days after Passover and, so, was known as the “feast of weeks,” as well as the “feast of harvest, the first-fruits of your labors” (Leviticus 23:11-16Deuteronomy 16:9-10).

Pentecost” is from a Greek word for “fiftieth.” A highlight of the festival was the offering to Yahweh of the first sheaf or the “first-fruits” of the grain harvest.  Every male in Israel who was able was required to appear in the Temple  during the feast (Exodus 34:22-23).

The outpouring of the Spirit on this feast day was not coincidental. Its theological significance is indicated by the Greek term sumpléroō used in verse 1 for “filled up.” The force of the verb is to “filled up completely,” to fill something to the very brim (Strong’s #4845). The verb is a present tense infinitive, signifying action in progress. In other words, the feast was in the process of being fulfilled fully as the Spirit was given.
What the feast previously symbolized was coming to fruition. On this day, God gave the actual “first-fruits” of the end-time harvest, the gift of the Holy Spirit (compare - Romans 8:23, Luke 24:49). 
All male Israelites were required to attend the feast. Likewise, in the Book of Acts, all the disciples were assembled in one place.  The “all” is repeated in Verse 4 to emphasize the point; “ALL were filled with the Holy Spirit.” The entire company of the new people of God was gathered in prayer before Him in His Temple.

In his sermon, Peter declared that what had occurred was the fulfillment of a well-known prophecy from the Book of Joel (Joel 2:28-32 - In the last days, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh”).  The promise was in the past; the fulfillment had arrived.

Peter exhorted his audience to “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins; and you will receive the free–gift of the Holy Spirit.”  This “free-gift” he identified to be “The promise of the Holy Spirit.” The long-awaited gift of the Spirit was now available to “you and to your children, and to all those who are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God will call” (Luke 24:45-49Acts 2:38-39).

The language reflects not only the prophecy from Joel but, also, the promised blessing of Abraham for all nations:

(Genesis 12:3) - “That I may bless them who bless thee, But him who maketh light of thee will I curse — So shall be blessed in thee all the families of the earth.
(Galatians 3:13-14) – “Christ hath redeemed us out of the curse of the law, having become in our behalf a curse; — because it is written — Cursed is every one that hangeth upon a tree; — In order that unto the nations the blessing of Abraham might come about in Jesus Christ — in order that the promise of the Spirit we might receive through means of the faith.

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The gift of the Spirit is the sign that the messianic age of fulfillment has dawned.  Paul described this gift as the “first-fruits of the Spirit,” language derived from the original feast of Pentecost. He also called it the “promise of the Father” and equated it with the “blessing of Abraham” (Romans 8:23Exodus 23:16Leviticus 23:10-14).

In Colossians 2:16-17, Paul wrote, “let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or Sabbath.” Such things were mere shadows of what was to come, but the substance is now found in Jesus; in him, all God’s promises find their “yea” and “amen,” including the feast of Pentecost (2 Corinthians 1:20, Galatians 4:3-10Hebrews 8:5).

The appointed feasts of Yahweh were types and shadows of the reality to come. The long-anticipated time of fulfillment arrived in Jesus; the time of the shadows and types ceased with his resurrection and enthronement at God’s right hand.  What the feasts pointed to had become reality in him.

Since the promise has arrived, to continue to observe the shadows of the Old Order is unnecessary and superfluous, for “in him, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13).

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