Pentecost: Baptized and Fruitful

by Lonnie Lane 

Hahg Sam’ay-ach! Happy holiday. It’s that time of year when Israel was required to travel up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Shavuot, one of the three feasts in which God required Israel to gather to Him. With that commandment God made sure when the time came, that there would be people from everywhere when He unleashed the power of His Spirit upon His followers, so they could take the message back to wherever they came from. This is known to the church as Pentecost. The two – Shavuot and the events that took place at Pentecost, are inextricably linked. It is indeed a “happy holiday” (read, holy day), with much to be thankful for and rejoice about. Let’s see why.

We read of the thousands of Jewish people who were gathered into Jerusalem and were in attendance in the Temple for the occasion of Shavuot in Acts 2.  We, of course, know what took place, but apart from the believers, they had no idea what was about to come upon them. Do I mean that the believers had some inkling that something was about to happen? Keep reading. The visitors to Jerusalem came from near and far to celebrate the second “First Fruit” harvest. This takes place fifty days (therefore “pent” as in Pentecost, meaning five) after the first “First Fruit” harvest celebration. I know, this sounds a bit confusing, but stay with me.

There are actually three major feasts during which Israel was to come up to Jerusalem: Passover and Shavuot which take place in the Spring, and the third, Sukkot (Tabernacles), which takes place during the Fall harvest. All three are celebrations of harvests. They remind us that all we have is from God, that He is our provider and that He blesses, protects and provides for His people. They are each times of great joy and thanksgiving to God for His goodness to them. He meant for them (us) to be joyful. That’s why He gave them the feasts – to be joyful in Him. God loves celebrations, especially when they are celebrating and enjoying Him! Ultimately, He’s what we celebrate, right? 

Side note: I have often wondered why when God gave Israel seven feasts, the church celebrates none of them, at least since Constantine in the 4th century, but does celebrate basically two, Christmas and Easter, both of which are divorced from the Feasts God gave to Israel and are pagan in origin. Could satan have had something to do with cutting off the thankfulness to God and those ways of remembering His goodness to us in the Feasts?  I’m just saying.  

First fruits refers to the first harvested growth of the crops. The initial Bikkurim (First Fruits) celebration involves the harvest of the crops God promised with the promise of giving them “a land of… barley, grapes, fig trees, and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and date honey” (Deut. 8:8). The initial or first of the First Fruits celebrations follows immediately after Passover. It indicates the beginning of the harvest. That is the exact day when Yeshua rose from the dead. Only God could have orchestrated such timing. Yeshua was the First Fruit of the Kingdom and life eternal for all men, having faced down death in order that He “might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrews 2:15). Thank you, Lord!!!

God loves celebrations, especially when they are celebrating and enjoying Him!

Wheat was also included in that list above but wheat takes longer to grow, and so that celebration of the first of the wheat harvest takes place seven weeks plus one day (7 x 7 = 49 +1= 50 days) following the first of the First Fruit offerings. This holiday, Shavuot, is also called the Feasts of Weeks because of “counting the omer” or counting the weeks till the fiftieth day. No one eats anything made of the wheat that has been harvested until it is waved before the Lord in thanksgiving in the form of two loaves of (leavened) bread.  Like the tithe (only this is not part of the tithe), God gets the first part, the first recognition of the harvest, in thanksgiving.

These people’s lives, including their relationship with God and how their society functioned, were largely about growing food and harvesting and the celebrations of the harvests unto God. Yeshua often mentioned a harvest, generally related to souls for the Kingdom. You can see that this would have been more meaningful to those hearing Him than it is to most of us city-folk today. They understood how absolutely imperative a harvest is to survival, and therefore they would celebrate the harvests with great joy. Every family would have had members if not all of the family participating in some way in producing food through hard work. Most of us take our food for granted today, giving little or no thought to the many people involved in providing what we take off the shelves in the market, let alone that it all comes through God’s goodness to us. We give a perfunctory prayer perhaps at the dinner table with little awareness of what it has taken and the people involved for our food to become ours. (Selah.)

The level of our thanksgiving – for anything – will always reflect our level of gratitude and humble awareness of the privilege of having whatever it is. You want a faith booster? Start being thankful to God for what you may have taken for granted. You want to be a blessing to people? Start thanking them for even the little things they have done to make your life more pleasant. You want to know God’s power? Don’t wait for it to come to you – it comes as you step out in faith that God has given us His Holy Spirit to be His witnesses. As “He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38), so can we!

Case in point. Last night after an erev-Shavuot Holy Spirit download at our church we were hungry. We headed for IHOP for pancakes. Talking with our waitress, taking the time to find out her name is Wanda, we thanked her for being there to serve us. One of us noted that she looked heavy hearted, so we asked her if she was alright. She wound up telling us that she has cancer.  So we prayed for her right there in the restaurant. Five of us gathered around her and laid hands on her, not caring who would see. Blessed! We were blessed - her, us. Probably God too. You wanna be blessed? Start blessing others and being aware of their needs. That’s what Pentecost has empowered us to do. Wanda was already a believer or she might have been “harvested” right there in IHOP. 

Israel knew that a harvest can only be provided by God, but that they had to do the work. The same applies to a spiritual Kingdom harvest. Yeshua made two points clear: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest" (John 6:44; Matthew 9:38). The Father may be drawing people to Himself, but they won’t come unless someone does the work of “harvesting” them. No workers in the barley and wheat fields leads to no harvest of food which leads to famine. To apply it to the spiritual harvest, no Kingdom workers leads to no sharing of the Lord which leads to spiritual famine. Spiritual famine leads to multitudes locked into eternal outer darkness with no way out, far from the Light of the world who is Yeshua.   

Having no sin of His own, death had no authority to hold Him so He was resurrected from the dead. Hallelujah! Yeshua interacted as the Risen Lord among the disciples and hundreds of other people. “To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God” (1:3).  He spent special times just with His disciples. If you were one of the disciples, wouldn’t you want to ask Him a bunch of questions, like: What does it feel like to die? And to be dead?  What is it like to be without a body but fully aware? Where exactly were You for three days? Was satan and every demon in hell terrified by Your presence? How did you come back into Your Body? Did it happen slowly and You ‘woke up’ or was there a great cataclysmic explosion of power and light that cracked open the Kingdom when you ‘re-entered’ Your body? (If the shroud is real, then a great light burst, enough to take His picture occurred.) What did You experience, Lord, when You stepped out of the tomb?  I always picture Him with an overcoming, victorious and glorious explosive roar of praise to His Father: “WE DID IT!!” There’s so much more of Him to know. 

Start blessing others and being aware of their needs. That's what Pentecost has empowered us to do.

At the end of forty days, “He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). What do you imagine that was like? We’ve all seen portrayals of Him lifting up into the sky? I think I would have wanted to say, “Wait, don’t go. Stay with us!” He disappeared – into the sky? As if things weren’t supernatural enough already.

Now, it’s ten days after He's ascended into the sky and His disappearance into a cloud. It’s Shavuot, the day of the (second) Feast of First Fruits. On the first First Fruits day, He rose from the dead. Would something take place today on this important Feast day? Everything that had already taken place was till so very fresh in their minds. Plus they would no doubt have been in great anticipation because while He was still with them, “gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now…. (And) 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" (Acts 1:7-9).  Receive power? They knew His power. They’d watched it enough times. He raised people from the dead, He was fearless against all odds, He had the power to change lives, to speak wisdom, to heal the sick, even cleanse lepers. What power would He give them that would enable them to be witnesses that He is alive?!

He had already given them some measure of the Holy Spirit when He first came to them after He was alive again when “He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ’Shalom Alechem! (Peace be unto you!) As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’”(John 20:20-22). So if they had already received the Holy Spirit, what did He mean when He said they would be “baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”?

Side Note: This lets us know that the Spirit that we receive at salvation is not the fullness of the Spirit but that there is a greater power to be His witnesses and to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers and raise the dead, as well as to forgive and release people from their sins, that comes with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This includes speaking in tongues which edifies our spirits so we can tap into that fullness of the Spirit. (See 1 Corinthians 12 and 14). 

It is, then, with great expectation that they must have gone to the Temple on Shavuot. I know many people believe they were in the Upper Room when the Spirit descended upon them but that’s not likely. For one thing, houses and streets were too small and narrow to accommodate all those people. For another, on such a holiday, all Jews were in the Temple, so they would have been also. Besides, God intended for them to be as visible as possible for all to see when the Spirit came upon them. The mention of “house” can mean the House of God, the Temple. So that’s where they were. Evidently all the believers were in one area of the Temple known as Solomon’s porch, because what took place indicates they were together.

Allow me to back up a minute to tell you, if you don’t already know, that Shavuot is also the celebration of God giving the Torah to Israel. Supposedly it was on the same day. It was through the giving of the Word of God to Israel that they became a nation of priests, a nation unto God, not just a family. The Word is first of all, revelation of God and of an awareness of His righteousness and His sovereign holiness, and secondly, what He expected of them if they were to remain the people of God and represent Him to the world. The Word told Israel how God would care for them, protect them, and provide for them as long as they looked to Him and obeyed His word to them. They were given the Torah, the Word of God, when Almighty God had descended upon the mountain in Israel’s full view of the fire and smoke and a terrifying presence that shook the mountain to reveal that He is (as in 'I am'!). Holy indeed!  

Later God said that He would give to Israel a “new covenant” (Jeremiah 31:31) in which He would write His requirements of righteousness (the commandments) on their hearts. He did that through Yeshua who is “the Word (who) became flesh” (See John 1:14). When we are born again of His Spirit, our hearts are changed to respond to God. We become newly aware of His holiness and His sovereign claim to our lives. He implants within us a desire to do His will, to be like Yeshua and empowers us by the same Holy Spirit that anointed Him, to be His witnesses by manifesting what Yeshua did when He walked the earth. Just as Israel was entirely changed by receiving the words through Moses, now they would receive the power of the Spirit of God indwelling them, just as Yeshua had.  

Now, armed with this information, let’s go to the Temple on Shavuot. It’s fifty days after Yeshua rose from the dead on the day of the first First Fruit celebration. We know what happened. “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance…. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language” (Acts 1:1-6).

We have the same Holy Spirit available to us that the disciples did.

What Yeshua had said to them about being His witnesses to the world was beginning to happen. This was the initiation of Yeshua telling them, “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" (Acts 1:8).  From this time on, they were changed people. We see that the same Peter who denied the Lord in fear now took center stage to declare the truth of Who Yeshua is. This is the kind of change that the baptism of the Holy Spirit brought about in Peter and in the others who changed the world with their message. That’s the kind of change God wants to bring to His people today, to set us on fire with the power of the Holy Spirit to reach our own worlds, to impact those within arm's reach of us. How many hundreds or thousands of people do you pass by in a week and not speak to one of them? WWJD? What would Jesus do?  What does He want to do through us? Through you? It’s time. If not now, when?  If not you, who?

We have the same Holy Spirit available to us that the disciples did. The command is the same. If you are not baptized in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, ask the Lord to baptize you. It’s your right as a believer and don’t let any church doctrine that has “invalidated the word of God for the sake of…tradition” (Matthew 15:6) tell you it’s not for today. Yes it is. If ever we needed the power of the Holy Spirit, it’s in the days we live in, especially if we are truly in the last days. I know many are expecting to be raptured away from a time of tribulation, but should that not be the case and we are still here for any of it, we MUST have the power of the Spirit. And we MUST bring the message of salvation to others. We are the only hope in chaos! We MUST become workers to bring in the harvest!  The following “go” sentence does not mean necessarily leave home and go elsewhere, it means as you go throughout your day, your life. Missions should not be just a career choice for certain people but a lifestyle for all who count themselves as His disciples.

And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: In My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed” (Mark 16:15-20).

To sum this up, here’s a “one new man” nugget for you. Just as Passover ties the deliverance and salvation of Israel to the crucifixion of Yeshua, and His resurrection to the First Fruits following Passover (unleavened bread), the Immersion (baptism) of the Holy Spirit is tied to the First Fruits of Shavuot. Yeshua told the men on the road to Emmaus after He rose from the dead, “All things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44), meaning the Feasts of Israel are about Him too. The Feasts are the moedim (rehearsals) of His coming; then we see their fulfillment through Yeshua and all we have in Him. Now we celebrate them, not as predictions, but in the joy of their fulfillment in Yeshua. We celebrate Him!   

Sid’s shows are proof that if we will do the “work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:12), the Lord will work with us, confirming His Word by signs that will follow. We are the only workers He has to get the job done. There is no other way. There are people who need to be saved or they will perish. It’s that simple. Please read this as a joyful encouragement of what is not only possible for us but what is the task God has put in our hands.  

Who will be the first fruit of your ministry today? And tomorrow? And the next day? What great joy there is when we bring someone to the Lord. “ I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Want to be in the presence of angels? Want to feel God’s joy? Be God’s instrument to bring someone to repentance.  May you be mightily fruitful!

 Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2010. 

 
  

 

Lonnie Lane

For Lonnie's other articles, check out our Exclusive Articles and Resources, especially the section on One New Man.

Lonnie Lane comes from a family of four generations of Jewish believers, being the first one saved in 1975. Lonnie has been in church leadership for many years, and has planted two “one new man” house fellowships, one in Philadelphia suburbs and the other in Jacksonville, Florida, where she now lives near 6 of her 8 grandchildren. Lonnie is the author of “Because They Never Asked” and numerous articles on this website. She has been the Producer of Messianic Vision's radio and TV shows and the International Prayer Co-Coordinator for Messianic Vision's intercessors. Click Here to order Lonnie's book, "Because They Never Asked."

Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif.  All rights reserved. Used by permission.

 

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