04 – Pentecost, OT & NT

On the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2 tells us that the Holy Spirit came down and was poured out on ‘all flesh’ in fulfillment of Joel 2, and began a new era in God’s redemptive plan. While Western churches don’t make much of this event, for Eastern Orthodox churches, this three-day feast is one of the most important religious celebrations, second only to Easter.

In the Jewish calendar of religious holidays, Pentecost (aka, “Feast of Weeks” Num 28:26) is directly linked to Moses receiving the Law at Mt. Sinai. It takes place 50 days after the Feast of Firstfruits. The Jews of Jesus’ day called it ‘Pentecost’, meaning ‘fiftieth day’. It occurred at the end of the grain harvest, and was considered the closing event of the spring Passover season. The Pentecost celebration is one of 3 feasts that required every male Jew to travel to Jerusalem. (This explains why so many foreigners were in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost)

During the existence of the Temple in Jerusalem, the Feast of Weeks was a lengthy affair and a national celebration. The required offering would consist of at least 2 loaves of bread made from the first harvest. Farmers began weeks earlier (on Passover day) by marking or binding the first budding of their crop. When the specially marked crops were ripe, they would be gathered, placed in decorated baskets on decorated oxen, and led in a grand procession to Jerusalem. Along the way, villagers would greet the procession with music, parades and all manner of excitement. At the Temple, each farmer would present his “Bikkurim” in accordance with Deut 26:1-10, and would recount the story of Jacob’s oppression by Laban, all the way through to the Egyptian oppression, God’s deliverance in the Exodus, His giving of the Law, and how God sustained them and brought them to the Promised Land.

One wonders why the Holy Spirit was sent on Pentecost, the day that the Jews celebrated the Law coming down from God. Perhaps this chart will illustrate the significance of this day.


Old Testament New Testament

Holiday #1

Date 1 Nisan 14, 1446 BC Nisan 14, 30 AD
Name Passover Passover
Event Death of Passover lamb and Children of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt Beginning of death of Christ and salvation of God’s people from sin
Significance God’s people freed from the Egypt/World God’s people freed from sin/death

Holiday #2: 1 Day Later

Name: Unleavened Bread Unleavened Bread
Event: Week-long removal of leaven from home Week-long avoidance of touching by human hands
Significance: Symbolism of sin removed Believers made righteous before God

Holiday #3: 3 Days Later

Name: FirstFruits Resurrection / Easter
Event: Brought up out of sea and touched Rock on other side of Red Sea 2 Israelites are secured on that rock. The Rock of Ages raised from the dead as the firstfruits of our resurrection (1 Cor 15:20). The church is built on this Rock.
Significance: Egypt conquered Death conquered

Holiday #4: 50 Days Later. Sivan 6

Name: Sivan 6, 1446BC Feast of Weeks / Pentecost / Shavuot Sivan 6, 30AD Pentecost
Event: Law comes down from God to Mt. Sinai Holy Spirit comes down from God to Mt. Zion
Significance: God’s people are given a specific Law that contains both blessing and curse from God (Josh 8:34; Neh 10:29). If they love the Lord and keep His law, they will be blessed and live. If they don’t, they will be cursed and killed (Deut 30:15-20). Because they are unable to keep it, the Law is actually a curse (Dan 9:11; Gal 3:10).In short, this is the day of the Law; the day of the Curse. The ministry of death.

The congregation is guided by fire hovering over the tabernacle.

3,000 killed following Aaron’s worship

God’s people are given the Holy Spirit – a new ‘law’ written on their hearts, by the Spirit who gives life (John 6:63; 2 Cor 3:1-8; Rom 8:2). They are now able to keep God’s law and live (Jer 31:31-34; Ezek 36:25-27; Titus 3:3-6; Heb 8:10).In short, this is the day of Grace; the day of Blessing. The ministry of a new covenant of life.

The congregation is guided by fire hovering over the individual.

3,000 saved following Peter’s preaching

1: The years may be off by a few, give or take, but the day, Nisan 14, is the same. It’s the 14th day of the first month of the Jewish calendar (Nisan).

2: We’re not told how long it took for the Children of Israel to reach the other side of the Red Sea, but if the RS crossing was indeed the Bitter Lakes (north-most tip of west fork of the Red Sea), then 3 days is certainly appropriate (Num 33). This calendar date also has interesting ties to Noah’s ark coming to rest on the rock of Ararat, Joshua and the Israelites eating fruit of the Promised Land for the first time (although scholars differ on this point), and the resurrection of Christ. All 3 events have similar typological significance, and all (except possibly the Joshua item) happen on the exact same day of the Jewish calendar.