On May 31st we will celebrate Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit came to the apostles in the form of tongues of fire resting on their heads. The apostles were given a full understanding of all things concerning Christ, and also the gift of speaking in tongues. Because of this they were able to proclaim what the Holy Spirit had revealed to them to the masses. As Christian’s, we associate Pentecost with this event. But the day the Holy Spirit visited the apostles was assuredly not the first Pentecost.
Early Christians referred to Easter as Pasch, from the Hebrew word for Passover. The name Pentecost comes from the Greek word for fifty, since Israelites and Christians celebrated what was called ‘The Feast of Weeks’ fifty days after the Passover. Knowing this, we’re able to understand why there were so many Jewish people from different lands, speaking different languages, all in Jerusalem on one day. They were there for the ‘Feast of Weeks’.
The ‘Feast of Weeks’ is discussed in Leviticus 23:15-21. In the sacrifices commanded of the Israelites on that day, God reminds them He is the source of their salvation. It was God who preserved their lives during the Passover and then freed them from bondage in Egypt. But there are also blessings for people who are not of the Nation of Israel, regarding how God instructed the Israelites to serve Him through serving others during the ‘Feast of Weeks’.
Leviticus 23:22 says ‘And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.’
While the Israelites are God’s chosen people, God also shows He cares for all people He has created. This love God has for all mankind is further displayed on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit visited the apostles. Jesus had called fishermen and tax collectors to be His apostles. They weren’t the leaders of the synagogue, they weren’t priests or scribes, they were ordinary men.
By the power of God almighty, the Holy Spirit revealed to these ordinary men what they could never comprehend on their own. The Holy Spirit then gave them the ability to proclaim what they now understood to people in languages they’d never studied. They were now able to preach the Word of God in languages they’d never understood before.
The same Holy Spirit who accomplished these miracles on that day of Pentecost continues to speak to us today. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Scriptures passed down to us from the Apostles. God has continued to give men the ability to learn languages so His Word has been translated into hundreds of languages.
This was all done for us because just as God cared for the poor and sojourners in the days of Leviticus, God continues to care for us today. This is why He has given His Son to die and rise again for us, and also why the Holy Spirit has been sent to give us the gift of faith. The hymn of the month for May is ‘Holy Spirit, Light Divine’ on page 496 of the Lutheran Service Book.
Look at that hymn; pay attention to the words we’re singing, and read the Scripture passages the hymn is based upon (John 16:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 1 Corinthians 6:19; and 2 Timothy 1:7). While you may be enduring isolation during this time, remember the Holy Spirit has never and will never abandon you. Even while we remain in this broken world, we also remain firmly in the hand of God.
I’m looking with joy to the day we can celebrate the gifts of God together in person. While we wait for that day, I’ll be keeping you in my prayers.
Pastor Kyle McBee