Pentecost is the Greek name for the Feast of Weeks which was a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai (Leviticus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:9). The Greek word Pentecost means “fifty” and refers to the fifty days that have elapsed since the wave offering of Passover. The Feast of Weeks celebrated the end of the grain harvest and pilgrims would come to Jerusalem from all over the world to celebrate the event.
Today, Pentecost is celebrated fifty days after Easter Sunday and commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and early followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the Acts 2:1–31. For this reason, Pentecost is sometimes described by some Christians as the Birthday of the Church. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was prophesied in the Old Testament in Joel 2:8–32 and in the New Testament by Christ in His last words before His ascension into heaven (Acts 1:8; John 16:14).
The 12 apostles were gathered together praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit when a terrific wind came from heaven and filled the place. They saw ‘tongues of fire’ that came down on each of them. After they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they received the gift of speaking in other languages enabling them to give the message of the gospel to people from various language groups.
The apostles were empowered with boldness and the listeners were “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37) and were instructed to “repent, and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). “…and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:21,42).
The significance of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit lies in God’s promise to us, “Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for He hath given you the former rain moderately, and He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month” (Joel 2:23). As the “former rain” came at Pentecost to give power to the witness of the gospel, likewise, the end-time church will receive another outpouring in the form of the “latter rain.” This outpouring will come before the second coming of Christ to help evangelize the world. Therefore, like the early church, believers today need to be praying earnestly for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
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In His service,
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