The weary travelers felt their hearts revive as they reached the Holy City. For a small-town villager, Jerusalem was an awesome sight. It was the day before the Feast of Weeks began, and the visitors were in a hurry to participate in the festivities. They sang the Psalms of Ascent as they climbed the mount with great joy. And when they entered the gates of the city, it seemed that all Jerusalem had come out to meet them!
The travelers tried to spruce up their firstfruits offerings — the first of their harvest — putting decorative leaves and grapes on their baskets. Early the next morning, they made their way to the temple, ready to offer their produce and sacrifices in accordance with God’s law for the Feast of Weeks (or Shavuot).
Climbing the many steps to reach the temple was a religious service of its own, but the first glimpse inside was truly awe-inspiring. After a long wait to recite the prayers, the pilgrims beamed as their turn arrived and they gave their offerings to the priest. The familiar ritual was a deep comfort. Once accomplished, they were satisfied.
As they left the temple and descended the steps into the streets of Jerusalem, they were quiet, thinking about what the sacrifices meant to them. On one of the streets they passed, they saw a crowd gathering. Some men were speaking boldly about prophecies being fulfilled. The travelers looked at each other quizzically. What is this?
They determined to investigate. There were whispers of a loud, rushing wind and fire floating above the heads of these speakers. Was this a sign from God? As they drew closer, they realized that these men were simple, rustic Galileans, yet each one spoke a different foreign language. How? The travelers listened closely and heard the men witnessing about someone named Jesus and His crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. They’d heard of Him. Wasn’t this the miracle worker?
“The Messiah has come and the promise of the Spirit!” the men announced. The sign of their foreign languages confirmed what the men spoke was true. The prophecy of Ezekiel came to mind:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (36:26, 27).
The pilgrims needed no more proof. The prophecy of Joel was indeed being fulfilled:
“And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy . . . And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days” (2:28, 29).
The travelers wondered if this Spirit was for them too. Yes! That very hour, they believed and became followers of Yeshua, the Christ, and were immersed in His name for the remission of sins.
It was the day we call Pentecost (Acts 2), that special day of the great outpouring of the Spirit of God upon His new covenant people. Why did God choose this day to send His Spirit? Was there a reason, or would any old day do?
God is a specific God, and He gives new meaning to His Word through Jesus Christ. He fulfills His prophecies and laws and makes all things new.
According to Jewish tradition, the Day of Pentecost was the day God spoke the law at Mount Sinai in seventy languages of the nations.1 This link between God’s giving of the law and gift of the Spirit is intriguing and biblically derived. Both events occurred at the beginning of the third month, after a great Passover of deliverance. Both were accompanied with supernatural signs of power in nature and a word from heaven (Exodus 19:1, 18). Just as God’s incredible power came down on Mount Sinai, so God’s magnificent presence now fell in a new and immediate way on Mount Zion in fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah 2:1-3).
This was earth-shattering, a new beginning for God’s people. The Lord had once again come in power on this day! But this time the people didn’t recoil from Him (Exodus 20:19); they gathered to Him for the gifted anointing of His Spirit. As the prophets foretold, the promise of the Spirit through Christ was given to everyone who believed so that the law of God, which Sinai could never impart to the heart, might be written there from Zion (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10).
For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:3, 4).
Today, we bear witness that God is still inviting pilgrims from far and wide to repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.