John 14:26 (GNT)
The Helper, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and make you remember all that I have told you.
What is Pentecost?
- When the Holy Spirit came
- An ancient Jewish harvest celebration
- Pente=five. Something about five?
All of the above.
Pentecost (“fiftieth day”) was the Greek name for the Jewish Festival of Weeks. 49 days—seven weeks—after the first day of Passover, the first fruits of the harvest were presented to God.
Deuteronomy 16:9-11 (NIV)
Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. Then celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the Lord your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the Lord your God has given you. And rejoice before the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name.
According to Jewish tradition, Pentecost also commemorates the giving of the Ten Commandments 49 days after the exodus.
Do you see the pattern? Passover: Jews were freed from slavery / Christ crucified, freeing us from sin. Pentecost: God gives directions for living / God gives the Spirit to direct our lives. At Pentecost, the Spirit rested on the “first fruits” of countless Spirit-filled believers. The Old Testament “foreshadows” the New.
“The Spirit came at Pentecost.” What does that mean? Where did he come from?
Genesis 1:1-2 (NIV)
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
The Holy Spirit which came at Pentecost was not a new thing. Long promised, yes, but not new.
Joel 2:28 (and Acts 2:17)
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
Before he died, Jesus gave his followers specific instructions about the Spirit.
He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
The “coming” of the Holy Spirit is akin to the “coming” of Jesus. The Old Testament points to it, but the reality didn’t turn out quite the way people expected. The signs are there, and after-the-fact, we understand. God often works that way, even in little things. His blessings sometimes surprise us.
Google “Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.” There’s a long list of Old Testament folks touched, filled, or come upon by the Spirit, including Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samson, Balaam, Saul, David, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel.
In the Old Testament, the Spirit wasn’t for everyone. A few folks were Spirit-filled for the long haul.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.
Creating beauty to grace the tabernacle; it was a Spirit-filled career.
The Spirit came upon others in a single event:
1 Samuel 19:19-21
Word came to Saul: “David is in Naioth at Ramah”; so he sent men to capture him. But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader, the Spirit of God came on Saul’s men, and they also prophesied. Saul was told about it, and he sent more men, and they prophesied too. Saul sent men a third time, and they also prophesied.
The Spirit intervened for a moment to make a statement and prevent disaster.
In King Saul’s case, the Spirit came and the Spirit left.
1 Samuel 16:14
Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.
Perhaps the Holy Spirit didn’t want to share space with Saul’s anger and jealousy.
Coming and going, the Old Testament Spirit was eternal and everywhere.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
The Spirit came in Old Testament times as God ordained to accomplish his purpose. Surely, the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost was also God-ordained:
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
There is a second “coming” of the Spirit in the book of Acts:
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
The Holy Spirit, like Christ, came not just for the Jews, but for all believers everywhere. This too, is the “New Testament”—the new promise, the new covenant.
The Holy Spirit came to fill me. To fill you. To fill all believers. For all time.
I am filled with the Holy Spirit. How does that work?
Look again at the verse that starts this lesson,
John 14:26 (NIV)
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
How does the Holy Spirit “teach me all things”? For example, consider these Bible lessons.
The Spirit doesn’t dictate each lesson, word by word. I study, I pray. I listen.
I make an effort to empty my head of my own thoughts and wait for the Spirit to fill that space. He doesn’t do it the same way every time. Sometimes, other Bible verses come to mind. Sometimes I sense the outline of an entire lesson. Sometimes it comes just one paragraph at a time. Sometimes it is just a word or two.
Sometimes I just start writing. As I see the words flow from my fingers, I sense God’s approval. Or disapproval. Then the process starts over.
I pray, What should go in this lesson, Lord?
The Spirit arranges a God-moment in my day: a few words from a hymn, a line from my daily devotion, a snippet of conversation that jumps in front of me. It declares, “I’m it! I’m exactly the thought you asked for.” And it is.
Or there is no sudden revelation. I read Scripture. I re-read it. I study the Hebrew or Greek meaning. I read what others have written about it. I fill my head with related thoughts. Some of those thoughts click together in a new idea, an idea not of my own making, but of the Spirit.
The Spirit may speak in a blaze of glory or a gentle whisper. It may come after much effort on my part or as an instant flash. He likes to surprise me.
The Holy Spirit cannot be contained in a neat box of my own expectations.
Years ago, someone shared this image of the Trinity with me: the Father is like your brain, the Son is like your heart, and the Spirit is like your lungs.
Brain / heart / lungs, you must have all three to survive. Lose a kidney, a leg or an ear—life goes on. But if your brain isn’t working with your heart to pump blood to your lungs to send oxygen to your heart and brain, you are dying.
Brain / heart /lungs. Without Father / Son / Spirit, you’re on spiritual life support.
The Apostles founded the Church in the name of the Father, the Son and the Spirit. Thus is the Church still being built.
“‘Baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’ The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: there are three distinct persons: in the Name, not names; there is one essence.”
Thomas Adams (1583-1652)
A Puritan Golden Treasury
Based on Matthew 28:19
Are you on spiritual life support? I pray that your life is built on the solid foundation of Father / Son / Spirit. May we labor together, building the Church as the Apostles did, in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit.