This article is specially for Bee Lian because she popped a question in our preparation for bible lesson for the kids in our home group 2 weeks ago and her question has been on my mind ever since. It was the Friday before Pentecost Sunday (23 May 2010) and we wanted to introduce the Holy Spirit to our children whom so far have only heard of Father God and Jesus. We decided we would tell the story as set out in the scripture in Acts 2:1-38. I had prepared a painting of “…what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each…” of the disciples in Acts 2:3.
But she asked a very observant question- “What is Pentecost?” I thought it was the day when the Holy Spirit came down on the disciples as Jesus promised that the Comforter (Holy Spirit) would come after He leaves us to heaven. But in Acts 2:1 it clearly showed that the disciples had already gathered to celebrate Pentecost BEFORE the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on them.
So I dug today and discovered that in Greek language, the Feast of Weeks was known as Pentecost (which literally means fiftieth). It was celebrated 50 days from the Feast of firstfruits. The Feast of firstfruits" marked the beginning of the spring barley harvest. It is written in Exodus 24:22 “Celebrate the Feast of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest”.
In Bible days, the Feast of Weeks was one of seven God-appointed feasts given to Israel. Three were solemn feasts in which Israelite men were to appear before the Lord at the place He chose (Deuteronomy 16:16).
Feast of Unleavened Bread
Feast of Weeks
Feast of Tabernacles
In Jesus’ time, the Feast of Weeks was a holy day, a day of rest (Leviticus 23:21; Numbers 28:26) and no work was permitted.
Since 150 B.C. the Feast of Weeks was associated with the covenant and its law made at Mount Sinai. It was a festival of covenant making and covenant renewal. Previously, God spoke through His prophets to send His word, His law to His people but today as in Acts 2 it is the disciples who proclaim the message as empowered by the Holy Spirit and sent by Christ.
Bee Lian and I had a “fun” (i.e. quite difficult) time describing to the kids the loud wind and the tongues of fire that came upon the people. They asked "Is that light?" "Is it a bird?". We huffed and we puffed in booming sounds. We spoke in different languages. That was a tough one since the languages I speak are so limited!
The end message?
That same Jesus whom we nailed on the cross, He was raised from the dead and He is alive today. He is at the right hand of God today. Jesus is God and He promised us the Holy Spirit. The people asked “Brothers, what shall we do?” and Peter replied “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Then Bee Lian prayed with the children that we are sorry and asked God to forgive our sins and asked for the Holy Spirit to guide us, teach us and to help us when we are sad. It’s been a great learning experience for both the kids and for me as well.
Thanks Bee Lian for the question because now I know a little more about Pentecost. :)