Pentecost: Law, Death, Spirit, Life & the Church

Fifty days after the Passover and First Fruits festivals there was to be another festival: the festival of Weeks (since there were 7 weeks between the festivals) or Pentecost (since it was also 50 days).

By tradition the Jews celebrate Pentecost as the day when Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai. We know from the book of Exodus that when Moses came down from the mount, the people were worshiping a golden calf. Moses commanded the Levites to go through the camp and kill all those who participated in this false worship “and that day about 3,000 men…fell.” (Exodus 32:28).

But notice what happened on the Pentecost following Christ’s resurrection in Acts chapter 2. The Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples of Jesus and they supernaturally begin to speak in existing languages that were previously unknown to them. They shared the good news of Jesus Christ with the multitudes gathered in Jerusalem for the festival of Pentecost and called them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Then we read the following: “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:41, ESV) Interesting isn’t it? The giving of the Law resulted in the death of about 3,000 people. The giving of the Spirit resulted in eternal life for about 3,000 people! The Apostle Paul wrote this to the Corinthians:

“For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor. 3:6b, ESV)

It is also significant that in Acts 10 the Holy Spirit was given to gentiles in the same was as it was to the Jews. This new church would be composed of both Jew and Gentile! As part of the celebration of Pentecost the Jews were to offer two loaves of bread baked with yeast (leaven). This singular offering would consist of two loaves that I believe represent the Jews and Gentiles both represented in the one church.

But now in Christ Jesus you [Gentiles] have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both [Jew & Gentile] one… that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God.” (Eph. 2:13–16a, ESV)

Pentecost pictures the giving of the indwelling Holy Spirit and with Him, the birth of the church. The giving of the Spirit is life and is available to all, both Jew and Gentile.

Anyone who believes the Gospel becomes part of the Church through the indwelling Holy Spirit. You should share the Gospel with everyone!

Further reading: Lev. 23; Acts 2; Acts 10; Ephesians 2:13–16

David Harris is the Senior Pastor at Faith Baptist Church. A former programmer, in his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife Kim and trying his hand at the illusive craft of smoking meat.