Don’t Forfeit the Spirit: The Forgotten Holiday of Pentecost


What is Pentecost?

Did you know that today is Pentecost? Well, it is. Pentecost is the Christian holiday (or holy day) that most Christ followers around the world celebrate the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit. The story is found in the New Testament in the Book of Acts. The unfortunate truth is that many Christians either don’t know about Pentecost or have completely forgotten it and its significance as a holiday.
According to Wikipedia, the historical origin of the word “holiday” is from the Old English word hāligdæg (hālig “holy” + dæg “day”) and refers to a sacred religious day. So, holy day transformed into the word holiday. Also, Pentecost derives from the Old English pentecosten, which is translated from the Greek word pentēkostē meaning ‘fiftieth (day)’, since the day was 50 days from the second day of Passover.
In the Old Testament, God presented the Israelites with His Holy Days, which were designed to be festivals or celebrations. Three of the festivals required God’s people to come together in Jerusalem. This meant that if they did not live there, then they had to travel to Jerusalem for the event. Pentecost was one of these pilgrimage festivals, except it wasn’t called Pentecost. It was a Jewish festival called Shavuot and it was a celebration of thanksgiving.
So, fifty days after the first Passover in Egypt (the day after seven days times seven weeks), God appeared in His power and glory and on Mount Siani and Moses received the Ten Commandments. After this watershed event, the Israelites were expected to commemorate the giving of the Law with a festival. Following their arrival in the land of Israel, this festival coincided with the spring wheat harvest, so it became a thanksgiving for the firstfruits of that harvest.
When we fast forward a few thousand years to the time of Jesus, we see God’s festivals come to fulfillment, including Shavuot/ Pentacost. After Jesus’ resurrection, He spends 40 days with the apostles. At the end of those 40 days, he tells them in Acts 1 the following: “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” After He says this, Jesus ascends into the clouds right before the eyes of the apostles.
Ten days later, it was the festival of Shavuot. The apostles and other Israelites were gathered together to celebrate the giving of the Law. Then, something unexpected and spectacular happens. Jesus’ words come true. God’s Holy Spirit descends on the apostles and other disciples of Jesus. The event is described as sounding like a very strong wind, and it looked like tongues of fire. Many who were there found themselves speaking in foreign languages, inspired by the Holy Spirit. The power of the Spirit is received and things begin to change. On this holy day, God gave His Law and the outpouring of His Spirit. It’s the new covenant. It fulfilled the scriptures of Isaiah, Ezekiel and Joel, where God declares that He will pour out His Spirit on His people.
So, what does all this mean for Christians living in the 21st century? Well, actually it means everything. Pentecost is about change. It’s about newness. It’s about transformation and sanctification. It’s about receiving God. It’s about living in the Spirit and the power that comes with it. It’s about having a real connection to God. It’s a fulfillment, beginning with the days of Passover. So from death to life through the resurrection, from life to ascension into heaven, and from ascension to living more abundantly by being filled with God’s Spirit, this day represents the day of the kingdom. Pentecost completes all that we have been laboring for and struggling with in our Christian lives.
Pentecost is a prompt. It’s a reminder. When we look at the apostles in Acts 2, we notice that they continue to follow Christ as well as God’s commandments. After Christ ascended, they continued to celebrate Shavuot. They gathered together in one place. They had unity. They gave thanks. And they dedicated themselves to serving God for ever, and to making the world a better and holier place by following the will and commandments of God while spreading the Gospel. And God pour His Spirit upon them.
Deuteronomy 6:4 tells us that blessings come to those who follow the Lord with all their heart, all their soul, and all their might. So live in anticipation of receiving His blessings. Let’s have unity among ourselves and other Christians. Let’s pray daily and give thanks. Let’s continue to meet in the Spirit, spread the Gospel, and bring about real change to the whole world. Let’s know Him and then make Him known. Let’s truly follow the Lord so that He may pour His Spirit upon your heart.