Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
New Understanding On Observing the Correct Day of PENTECOST!
There is much more to the observance of Shavuot -- or Pentecost -- than meets the eye at first glance! How should this most mysterious of all the annual Holy Days be observed? Why is it the only holy day whose date appears to be ambiguous in the Scriptures? What does the wheat harvest have to do with this important feast day?
by HOIM Staff
The festival of Shavuot -- or Pentecost, which means "fiftieth day" -- is the most mysterious of all YEHOVAH God's annual holy days. It is cloaked in mystery -- and even the date of its observance is highly controversial!
Why is there more argument over this holy day than any other -- with the possible exception of Passover?
The ancient Sadducees -- who claimed this holy day always fell on the first day of the week -- counted fifty days from the weekly Sabbath falling within the seven-day festival of Unleavened Bread. The Pharisees, however, claimed it fell on the fiftieth day after the Passover holy day -- the first day of Unleavened Bread! Modern end-time remnants of YEHOVAH's Church get all mixed up on how to count, how much to count and when to count from -- so most of them wind up observing this day on a Sunday every year -- the very day the Roman Catholic Church observes "Whitsunday," their Pentecost, counting fifty days from Easter Sunday!
To summarize the evidence that is actual fact, consider the following:
Proof as to the Date of Pentecost
The modern day proponents of both theories totally overlook the fact that the apostle John reveals that there were TWO SABBATHS ON ONE DAY -- the weekly Sabbath AND the first high day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread!
That the day after Yeshua's death was a weekly Sabbath can be clearly demonstrated by Luke 23:56, which reads: "On SHABBAT the women rested, IN OBEDIENCE TO THE COMMANDMENT." What "commandment" is this? The FOURTH COMMANDMENT of course! In reference to this verse the Jewish New Testament Commentary makes this clarifying statement: "It is sometimes claimed that the New Testament says nothing about keeping the fourth commandment. This verse contradicts that claim, so it is important for a Jewish understanding of the New Testament. ON SHABBAT THE WOMEN RESTED, IN OBEDIENCE TO THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT (Exodus 20:8-11, Deuteronomy 5:12-15; also Exodus 16). Of course they did! They observed Shabbat EVERY WEEK" (David H. Stern, p. 150). Obviously the WEEKLY SABBATH is the focus of verses 54 and 56 of Luke 23.
Now, having established the weekly Sabbath is the focus of these verses, let's go to John 19:31 in the Jewish New Testament and read what the apostle John has to say: "It was the Preparation Day, and the Judeans did not want the bodies to remain on the stake on SHABBAT, since it was an especially important Shabbat." The New King James Version makes it clearer: "Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the [weekly] Sabbath (FOR THAT [WEEKLY] SABBATH WAS A HIGH DAY)." What "high day" was this? My Bible references it to Exodus 12:16 -- the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread! Now consider this -- if that day had been a regular week day, John would have said "FOR THAT DAY WAS A HIGH DAY." But he says "for that SABBATH was a high day"!
The fact that the weekly Sabbath day here mentioned was also the first high Holy Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, is understood by numerous researchers. Writes Samuele Bacchiocchi, "Rabbinical sources...indicate that the weekly Sabbath was called a "high day" when it COINCIDED WITH PASSOVER, because, as well stated by Charles C. Torrey, 'its inherent solemnity was greatly heightened by the celebration of the foremost feast of the year.'" (The Time of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, chapter 3). "This information," continues Bacchiocchi, "is important because it disproves the claim that the weekly Sabbath was never called or referred to as a 'high day.'"
H. L. Strack and P. Billerbec, in their book Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrash (Munich, 1922-1928) state that in later Rabbinic literature the seventh-day Sabbath is regarded as a "high day" if it falls on Nisan 15, and they show numerous examples in support of this.
Bo Reicke, author of The New Testament Era: The World of the Bible From 500 B.C. to A.D. 100 understood this when he wrote --
"Since a holy day was approaching (Mark 15:42), the Jews asked the procurator to have the bodies taken away (John 19:31-37). Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy member of the Council, saw to Jesus' burial in a tomb that belonged to him...Immediately after the subsequent Sabbath came the morning of the Day of First Fruits, which had to be observed by the presentation of a sheaf (Hebrew, omer) in the Temple (Lev. 23:11) and which was also the day [Nisan 16] from which the Feast of Weeks, celebrated fifty days later [according to the Jews], was calculated. On this morning some women sought to show their respect to the Lord by bringing spices and perfumes, but found that he was no longer in the tomb (Matt. 28:6; John 20:2)." -- Fortress Press, Philadelphia. 1981, pp. 187-188.
Samuele Bacchiocchi, in his series God's Festivals in Scripture and History (Part 1) expands upon his previous statement that the weekly Sabbath AND the first Holy Day of Unleavened Bread coincided in the year of the Messiah's death -- notice!
"It is interesting to note that in the particular year of Christ's death and resurrection, the two different methods of reckoning [i.e., the Sadducean and Pharisaic] concurred on the date of Pentecost. This is because, according to the Johannine chronology of the passion...Passover (Nisan 15) fell on a [weekly] Sabbath, and the offering of the wave sheaf on Sunday (Nisan 16). This fulfilled the Pharisaic interpretation of Leviticus 23:15, which counted the fifty days from the day after Passover (Nisan 16). Amazingly, it also fulfilled the Sadducean interpretation, which counted the fifty days from the first Sunday [actually, the First Day of the Week -- the term 'Sunday' was unknown at this time] after Passover" (page 170).
The Bible dictionary, Insight On the Scriptures (article, Passover), noted the same fact --
"This word [pa-ra-skeu-e' -- 'preparation'] seems to mark, not the day preceding Nisan 15, but the day preceding the weekly Sabbath, which, in this instance [year of the Messiah's death], was 'a great one,' namely, not only a Sabbath by virtue of being Nisan 15, the first day of the actual Festival of Unfermented Cakes, but also a weekly Sabbath."
A plural form of the word "Sabbath" is found in Matthew 28:1: "After the sabbath, when it was growing light on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to view the grave" (The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures). If correctly translated this verse should read -- "After the sabbaths [plural], when it was growing light on the first day of the week..." Also, the phrase "when it was growing light on the first day of the week" is translated from the original Greek, which literally says "to the [day] lighting up into one [first] of sabbaths" -- notice the plural form once again.
The phrase "into one [first] of sabbaths" is a reference to the first day from which the count to Pentecost begins -- which count is made up of seven Sabbaths or weeks followed by 50 days. This count always begins on the day of the Wave Sheaf Offering, which falls on Nisan 16.
The exact same thing is found in Mark 16:2 where the Greek literally says: "And exceedingly early to the one [first] [day] of the sabbaths they are coming upon the memorial tomb..." which in English usage reads "And very early on the first day of the week they came to the memorial tomb..." (The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures).
The word "sabbath" is also in the PLURAL in Luke 24:1 and John 20:1, showing that this particular weekly Sabbath was also a high day.
Now that we have established the fact that a weekly Sabbath and the first holy day of Unleavened Bread both fall on the same day -- Nisan 15 -- how do we determine the date of Pentecost? As we have already noted, according to traditional Sabbatarian "Pentecost" keeping it falls in the THIRD Hebrew month called Sivan -- roughly in the early days of Sivan. For "Saturday Sabbath" keepers it falls on the SUNDAY, fifty days after the first Saturday during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. However, if we keep YEHOVAH's true weekly Sabbath according to His lunisolar calendar, but are as of yet unaware of the clear MISTRANSLATION of Leviticus 23:15-16, Pentecost will always fall on the morrow after the seventh Sabbath complete. This means that it falls on Sivan 9 because the weekly Sabbaths in YEHOVAH's calendar ALWAYS fall on the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th days of every month.
There are, however, TWO inherent and insurmountable problems caused by YEHOVAH's monthly Sabbath arrangement and the "count fifty" Pentecost:
1) Without an understanding of the correct translation of Leviticus 23:15-16 Pentecost will ALWAYS fall on Sivan 9. This being the case, there is no need to count seven weeks or to number fifty days -- it is UNALTERABLY FIXED. This fails to fit the sense of counting to determine WHEN "Pentecost" is "fully come" (Acts 2:1).
2) In YEHOVAH's true calendar the "morrow after the seventh Sabbath" from the Wave Sheaf is NOT the fiftieth day! Why? Because of the uncounted days of the month that are NOT part of YEHOVAH's seven-day weeks. According to this scenario the "morrow" after counting seven Sabbaths complete is 52-53 days after the Wave Sheaf (Yom Omer), so it CANNOT, therefore, be the "morrow" after "seven complete Sabbaths" (weeks) AND the fiftieth day as well!
So how do we resolve these problems? Let us now examine the seminal passage in Leviticus 23:15-16 to discern the pronounced difference between the ancient feast of Shavuot and the relatively MODERN and PROBLEMATIC "Pentecost."
Before we start tackling Leviticus 23:15-16 we need to examine TWO important Hebrew words -- the words "MIN" and "AD" found in these verses:
1) The Hebrew word "min" is a preposition that, when combined with other words, means "FROM."
2) The Hebrew word "ad" is a preposition, adverb or conjugation that has many uses for describing TIME, SPACE or DEGREE.
Now notice the BEGINNING of Leviticus 23:16 --
"EVEN UNTO the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall you number fifty days...."
Here the first Hebrew word "AD" is translated into the English "EVEN UNTO." There is, however, a problem with this! The phrase "EVEN UNTO" deals with SPACE while all of the measurements in verse 16 -- "the morrow," "the seventh Sabbath," and "fifty days" all deal with TIME, not SPACE! Therefore, the English translation for "AD" as "EVEN UNTO" is in error and CANNOT be correct since it deals with "SPACE" and not "TIME."
But what if the Hebrew word for "FROM" was at the beginning of verse 16? If this was the case it would be the STARTING POINT for the fifty-day count rather than the misrepresented ending point. So, in fact, is the Hebrew word for "FROM" here at the beginning of verse 16? Yes, it is -- in the very beginning of verse 16! The Hebrew phrase is AD-MIN-MOCHORATH -- which is most accurately translated as "FROM the morrow"! Even though the word "MIN" is in the original Hebrew, it has purposely been omitted from every English translation except the Ferrar Fenton version! This, of course, makes a HUGE difference in determining the date of Pentecost!
Ferrar Fenton, who was a noted ancient Sanskrit, Greek, Hebrew and Latin scholar, translated Leviticus 23:15-17 as follows:
"You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath that you bring the Wave-sheaf, seven Sabbaths. They must be complete. Then AFTER [MIN -- FROM] the seventh Sabbath, you shall count fifty days, when you shall present a new offering to the EVER-LIVING. You shall bring from your dwellings two wave cakes of two tenths of fine [WHEAT] flour. They shall be fermented, -- baked in an oven for the EVER-LIVING."
The original Hebrew scriptures, therefore, clearly show that AFTER counting seven Sabbaths (weeks) from the Wave Sheaf Offering on Nisan 16 there is a SECOND NUMBERING of FIFTY DAYS up unto the actual Feast of Shavuot. That second count of fifty days does NOT conclude, but rather COMMENCES on the morrow after the seventh Sabbath. This CORRECTLY places Shavuot/Pentecost -- the feast of the WHEAT HARVEST -- at the very end of the FOURTH month of Tammuz -- right where it belongs -- in the middle of the SUMMER wheat harvest and at the beginning of the grape harvest, MIDWAY between the SPRING and FALL harvest seasons.
Observing Pentecost -- a New Look
But Pentecost is not only observed on the wrong day, by most Messianic Jewish believers, as well as most Christian groups, which claim to observe YEHOVAH's Holy Days, its vital message is also not generally understood, and its observance is done with little or no understanding!
What is the real meaning of this Holy Day? What is its vital significance in YEHOVAH's Plan?
In the Scriptures it is called Shavuot, which means "Weeks" (Deuteronomy 16:10). That is, it takes its name as "Feast of Weeks" because it includes the counting of the weeks that lead up to it! (Deuteronomy 16:9-10).
But how many believers and "Christians," or even Sabbath-keeping Christians, do you know who faithfully "count the omer" every year, between Passover and leading up to Pentecost? How many? Or, should I say, how few?
Indeed, as Yeshua the Messiah himself said: "Enter ye in at the strait [narrow] gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).
One major reason so many Christians are ignorant of these things, and the Biblical commands to "count the omer," and to observe Shavuot/Pentecost, is because of much latent and deeply hidden feelings of anti-Semitism -- hostility toward anything and everything "Jewish" in nature! Yet, Yeshua the Messiah declared, unequivocally, "Salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22) -- and he himself was a Jew!
Shavuot or Pentecost is also called, in the Scriptures, "the day of First-fruits" (Numbers 28:26), as well as "the feast of harvest, of the first-fruits of thy labours" (Exodus 23:16), and "the feast of weeks, of the first-fruits of WHEAT harvest" (Exodus 34:22). Why the emphasis on "first-fruits"?
At the time of the Messiah there were THREE physical harvests in Palestine annually. The first was the BARLEY HARVEST, which ripened earlier than the other grains and was ready for harvesting on the day of the Wave Sheaf Offering -- see Exodus 9:31; II Samuel 21:9; Ruth 1:22 and II Kings 4:42. The second harvest was that of wheat -- maturing some four months later in the summer at the time of Pentecost -- see John 4:35. Agricultural information resources indicate that wheat crops historically take 100-plus days to harvest, causing both a winter or spring sowing to be harvested in the summer months. The correlation between Pentecost (Feast of Weeks) and the wheat harvest is found in Exodus 34:22; Ruth 2:23 and Exodus 9:32. States Exodus 34:22: "And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of [the] WHEAT HARVEST." The third physical harvest was that of ingathering at the year's end, coinciding with the Feast of Tabernacles. At this time the fruits of the land were harvested -- see Leviticus 23:39.
These three harvests were spread across the year -- in the SPRING, SUMMER and FALL and correspond to YEHOVAH's pattern of Feasts in the Spring, Summer and Fall. As Leviticus 23:4 confirms: "These are the FEASTS of YEHOVAH, even set-apart gatherings, which you shall proclaim IN THEIR SEASONS." There are NO annual feasts during the cold, dead WINTERS, rather the solemn feasts -- based on HARVESTS of new life -- occur "THREE TIMES in the year."
There are three fulfillments of the meaning of "firstfruits." The wave-sheaf of BARLEY is the FIRST firstfruits in the spring. The two wave loaves are the SECOND firstfruits in the summer, and the grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and honey, which begin getting harvested after Pentecost, are the THIRD firstfruits in the fall. The Jews called Pentecost "atzeret" or the "closing day" of the Passover season. This is because it is the LAST DAY of the grain harvest. Pentecost is the day that divides the grain harvest from the fruit harvest.
The "weeks of the harvest" mentioned in Jeremiah 5:24-25 are the WEEKS from the day of the Wave Sheaf Offering to the day of Pentecost. It is a type of the harvest of ISRAELITES out of "Egypt" and into YEHOVAH's barn or way of life which has a second fulfillment and gathering which may occur on Pentecost again (Ezekiel 20:40-41). Jeremiah 2:3 says, "'Israel was holiness to the LORD, the FIRSTFRUITS of His increase. All that devour him will offend; disaster will come upon them,' says the LORD." Also, Psalm 126:6: "He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his SHEAVES with him."
The BARLEY HARVEST was the comparatively small SPRING HARVEST that came after the "former rain" moderately watered the grain fields in the Spring as a type of the holy spirit. Then, in the FALL came the THIRD or FRUIT HARVEST which ended on the Last Great Day (Shemini Atzeret) just like Pentecost ended the BARLEY HARVEST. Grapes, olives, figs and pomegranates were gathered in (Exodus 23:16) after the heavy "latter rain" of the Fall. Both come in the first month (Joel 2:23) -- one in Tishri and one in Nisan. As YEHOVAH God's holy spirit is poured out in abundance, the whole world will be saved (Joel 2:28-29). The small Spring harvest -- the "little flock" (Luke 12:32) -- which began on the day of the Wave Sheaf Offering and ended on the Feast of Pentecost, typified the 2,000 years between the Messiah's first appearance and his second.
The harvest typifies salvation at "the end of the world (age)" (Matthew 13:39). The two WAVE LOAVES offered on Pentecost represent the CHURCH -- which is "built upon the foundation of the APOSTLES (New Testament saints) and PROPHETS (Old Testament saints) (Ephesians 2:20). The Church will be harvested at the Messiah's return, notice!
"Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the [good wheat] harvest of the earth is fully ripe" (Revelation 14:15, RSV).
"Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn" (Matthew 13:30, RSV).
But just as these loaves contain LEAVEN (Leviticus 23:17), so the Church is NOT PERFECT (I John 1:8; Romans 3:23). Only Yeshua the Messiah was perfect (Hebrews 4:15; 5:9; 7:26; 9:28)! The leaven may also illustrate the presence of "TARES" (weeds) (Matthew 13:38) -- false Christians living among both the Old and New Testament saints. During the 100-plus-day period from the Wave Sheaf Offering to Pentecost, the wheat must grow and mature until it is ready for harvest. Similarly, Christians must grow and mature during their lives in preparation for salvation. If the heads of wheat were not entirely ripe, they could be dried with FIRE or parched -- a type of refinement (Malachi 3:1-7; I Corinthians 3:13-15; Revelation 3:18), just like immature Christians must suffer trials and tribulations during their lives.
Few indeed understand it, but Pentecost or Shavuot pictures, in a sublime and amazing way, the Christian's journey through life, leading up to the second appearance of the Messiah! Passover pictures our repentance, and forgiveness of sin, and acceptance of the Messiah as our "sacrificial lamb" -- the Lamb of YEHOVAH God which takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). The Messiah is our "Passover," sacrificed for us (I Corinthians 5:7). The Israelites' journey out of Egypt -- a type of "sin" and bondage to sinful human nature -- pictures the Christian or Messianic believer's journey as a believer in the Messiah, coming out of sin, and wickedness, and journeying forward through the desert -- a type of this world's tangles, troubles, trials, and temptations.
Finally, the Israelite's standing before Mount Sinai, as YEHOVAH God came down to the mountain-top, and revealed Himself to them, and entered into a binding covenant with them as His people, was also a type -- a type of the return of YEHOVAH God's Shekinah Glory in an awesome blaze of glory, to gather Israel and to punish the evil and rebellious nations of the world!
The Coming in Glory at Mount Sinai
Among the Jewish people, the festival of Pentecost, or Shavuot, celebrates as well the time of the giving of the Law, the Torah, by YEHOVAH God to Israel at Mount Sinai. Israel left Egypt on the 15th of Nisan, at the full moon at the middle of the month (Numbers 33:2).
On the third month, which is Sivan, they came to the "wilderness of Sinai" on the 15th day -- exactly two months after leaving bondage in Egypt (Exodus 19:1). Moses went up to YEHOVAH God on the mount, and YEHOVAH offered to make Israel His special covenant people (v. 3-6), and the people agreed (v. 7-8). The next day Moses returned the people's words to the LORD, and YEHOVAH told Moses, "Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes, and be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai" (v. 9-11).
YEHOVAH God came down, in glory, and met with the people, and gave them His inexpressible, glorious Covenant, summarized in the Ten Commandments -- and they became His official "bride," entering a marriage covenant with them (Jeremiah 3:14). Therefore, the time of Pentecost is connected in the Scriptures with ancient Israel receiving the Law, and becoming YEHOVAH God's "bride," and the LORD Himself descending from heaven with great glory!
Moses recorded of this spectacular event: "And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in FIRE: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder...And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount" (Exodus 19:18-20).
We tend to read over these Scriptures and fail to register their awesome portent!
This awesome event was a very type of the return of YEHOVAH God's Shekinah Glory to Jerusalem at the end of the age!
Notice! YEHOVAH God came down to earth -- to the top of a mountain! At this time, He made His people Israel His "bride." They entered a unique, special covenant! But later, Israel broke that covenant, and transgressed YEHOVAH's commandments. In fact, within forty days they turned to idolatry, and commanded Aaron to fashion them a golden calf to worship, thinking Moses had disappeared, and perhaps been eaten by a wild animal upon mount Sinai, or had fallen into a crevasse and perished. So much for their commitment to their recent "betrothal" to YEHOVAH God! Pressured by the people, Aaron complied with their wishes, but he clearly told them -- "Tomorrow is a FEAST to YEHOVAH" (Exodus 32:5). This feast day was Shavuot or Pentecost!
Because of this wickedness, when Moses returned from communing with YEHOVAH God on the top of mount Sinai, he broke the tablets containing the Ten "Devarim" or Ten Words of YEHOVAH God -- commonly called the "Ten commandments." If he had delivered the tablets to Israel, in their naked, exposed, wicked state, they would have been guilty of adultery. Moses knew they were not worthy of such a wedding gift. So when he returned to the mountain top, for another forty days, he again communed with YEHOVAH, and YEHOVAH gave him another set of tablets -- two stones containing the Ten commandments. This time, Israel was faithful.
What does this have to do with Christians, and believers in the Messiah?
Pentecost and the Bride and Redemption
The Feast of Pentecost is a Type of Redemption! The counting of the weeks and the fifty days from Passover to Pentecost is a type of the life of overcoming and enduring to the end. For the Jewish people, observant Jews, this period of time has always represented a period of maturing relationship between Israel and YEHOVAH God Himself. It represents a time of spiritual growth and maturation to spiritual adulthood. It also represents a period of romance and spiritual courtship. YEHOVAH in essence "rescues" His bride-to-be from slavery, brings her through the wilderness with many miracles, and cleans and purifies her, removing all blemishes and spots and wrinkles, preparing her for the ultimate "marriage" covenant at Sinai. This was all a TYPE! YEHOVAH says, "And I will betroth thee to me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD" (Hosea 2:19-20).
This is also a type of our acceptance of the Messiah and our "betrothal" to him, as part of his bride-to-be, spiritually. The Church, in Scripture, is referred to as the "bride of Christ." Paul says to the Corinthians, "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (II Corinthians 11:2).
The Messiah is going to present a wife to himself, "in her virginity" (Leviticus 21:13). As Paul wrote, Yeshua the Messiah "loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 4:25-27).
Therefore, when the Messiah descends from heaven, he will take the saints -- the true believers in him, who follow and obey him -- as his bride forever! At his coming, John tells us in the book of Revelation, he will take his bride to himself. "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb and his wife is come, and his wife hath made herself READY. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God" (Revelation 19:6-9).
This same bride, the "first-fruits" to YEHOVAH God and to the Lamb, are pictured also in Revelation 14, where we read: "And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with him an hundred and forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads [the name YEHOVAH -- YHVH]....And they sung as it were a new song before the throne...and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which are not defiled with women; and they are [spiritual] virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were REDEEMED from among men, BEING THE FIRSTFRUITS UNTO GOD, and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God" (Revelation 14:1-5).
This is the picture of the true BRIDE OF THE MESSIAH, ready to meet him when he comes! Will you be among them? Are you becoming purified -- made white? Are you being clothed with righteousness -- which is keeping the commandments of YEHOVAH God (Psalm 119:172)? Are you a spiritual "virgin," uncontaminated by the pagan teachings and falsehoods of this world, and its Babylonian whorish religious "traditions"? Are you also "without guile"? Think about it!
These are the "first-fruits"!
These are the ones pictured by the harvest festival of Pentecost -- the feast of Weeks!
Parable of the Ten Virgins
When the Messiah comes for his bride, pictured by Pentecost, we read:
"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
"While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out [or, "going out"]. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that buy and sell, and buy for yourselves.
"And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were READY went with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
"Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 25:1-13).
Let us examine this parable. Again, the church is compared to a BRIDE -- ten virgins, who are awaiting their Lord's return. The wise ones are prepared and ready -- they have "oil" in their lamps. The oil is a type of YEHOVAH God's holy spirit, that flows through the candelabra -- the seven pipes of the menorah, a type of YEHOVAH's Church (Zechariah 4:2-6; Revelation 1:20).
When the bridegroom returns, a "cry" is made. "The bridegroom cometh!" What will that coming be like?
The Appearance of YEHOVAH God and the Messiah
Let us notice what happens when YEHOVAH God Himself returns to this earth. A few key Scriptures tell us the story:
"For the LORD [YEHOVAH] Himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the LORD [YEHOVAH] in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (I Thessalonians 4:14-17).
"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be CHANGED, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, AT THE LAST TRUMPET: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed, for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (I Corinthians 15:51-52).
So, what of the appearance of Yeshua? Do the Scriptures record the future event of the Messiah's coming to this earth? They surely do -- in Revelation 10:1-7. Notice!
"Then I saw another mighty angel [alt. messenger] coming down from heaven. HE WAS DRESSED IN A CLOUD, with a RAINBOW over his head; his face was LIKE THE SUN, his legs like columns of fire; and he had a little scroll lying open in his hand. He planted his right foot ON THE SEA and his left foot ON THE LAND, and shouted in a voice as loud as THE ROAR OF A LION; and when he shouted, seven thunderclaps sounded with voices that spoke. When the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say,
"Seal up the things the seven thunders said, do not write them down!"
"Then the angel [alt. messenger] I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted his right hand toward heaven and swore by the One who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it: THERE WILL BE NO MORE DELAY; on the contrary, in the days of the sound from the seventh angel when he sounds his shofar [trumpet], THE HIDDEN PLAN OF [YEHOVAH] GOD WILL BE BROUGHT TO COMPLETION, the Good News as he proclaimed it to his servants the prophets."
This passage pictures the return of the Messiah. The book of Acts in the New Testament verifies this, if we care to read it carefully:
"And after he [the Messiah] said these things, while they [the apostles] were looking on, he was lifted up and A CLOUD CAUGHT HIM UP FROM THEIR VISION. And as they were gazing into the sky while he was on his way, also, look! two men in white garments stood alongside them, and they said: "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus who was received up from you into the sky WILL COME THUS IN THE SAME MANNER AS YOU HAVE BEHELD HIM GOING INTO THE SKY" (The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures).
Now HOW did the Messiah go up into the sky? Was he on a white horse? No! Did he have the armies of heaven with him? No! Was his robe soaked in blood and was he wearing MANY crowns? No! The simple truth is that "a cloud caught him up from their [the Apostles] vision" as he was lifted up into the sky, and Revelation 10:1-7 shows him RETURNING THE EXACT SAME WAY with one difference -- this time he is wearing the crown of rulership!
This mighty angel is a symbolic representation of Yeshua the Messiah himself. For everything that is said to characterize this angel could only pertain to Yeshua. Not only that, but the very actions of the angel belong only to Yeshua. Notes Dr. Hengstenberg: "The planting of the right foot on the sea, and the other on the earth, as certainly belongs to Christ alone, as it is to Him and not to any angel that God has put in subjection the world to come (Hebrews 2:5)."
Author Vitringa asks: "Does the hope of God's people rest on the oath of a created angel? Is it the part of a created angel to swear that the words of prophecy and promise shall be fulfilled? Surely if their hope is to stand unmoved, it can be sustained only by the faithfulness and oath of that very person [Yeshua] to whose nature failure is not an incident."
The appearance of this angel, the stand that he takes -- and particularly the words of the oath that he swears -- testify greatly to the surpassing importance of what is to happen in the days of the voice of the seventh angel.
In his hand was a "little scroll lying open." These words suggest a comparison with the relatively great scroll of Revelation 5:1 -- which was completely sealed. This leads to the conclusion that the "little scroll" contains some special part of the counsel of YEHOVAH, which Yeshua, the one who is invested with supreme authority, is responsible to carry into effect.
The first item of description of this mighty angel is that he is "dressed in a cloud." "He is," records the book Then is Finished the Mystery of God, "here described as being 'arrayed with a cloud,' wrapped in a cloud. Cloud is a feature associated with the glorified Jesus Christ, as in Revelation 1:7, where John writes of him, saying: 'Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, and those who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief because of him. Yes, Amen.' (Compare Daniel 7:13; Matthew 24:30, 31; 1 Thessalonians 4:17)" (1969, p. 249).
The very next descriptive item in the vision is such as to remove all fear from those who are truly his. For we read he had "a rainbow over his head." Notes Then is Finished the Mystery of God -- "The rainbow that was 'upon his head' suggests that he is a special representative of Jehovah, 'the God of peace,' for the apostle John had seen in his earlier vision of the enthroned Jehovah God that 'round about the throne there is a rainbow like an emerald in appearance.' (Revelation 4:3; compare Ezekiel 1:28). After the...flood of the prophet Noah's day the rainbow that Jehovah God caused to appear in the cloud betokened peace after storm and that His covenant toward mankind is peaceful, barring another inundation of the...earth with water. (Genesis 9:8-17; Isaiah 54:9) How appropriate, then, for a rainbow to be upon the head of the 'strong angel' who pictures Yeshua the Messiah, inasmuch as he was foretold to become 'Prince of Peace.' -- Isaiah 9:6, 7" (1969, pp. 249-250).
Also, this rainbow on Yeshua's head represents the faithful witness of covenant mercy and protection to his own -- the saints -- in the business he is about to undertake. That business, clearly defined in Revelation 11, is that of the separation of those who are really his own from the great mass of professing disciples.
Continues Then is Finished the Mystery of God --
"As regards this "strong angel," the fact that "his face was as the sun" corresponds with what the apostle John says concerning his earlier vision of Jesus Christ at the divine temple, that "his countenance was as the sun when it shines in its power." (Revelation 1:16) This may have reminded John of when he saw Jesus transfigured on a "lofty mountain" in the Middle East, that "his face shone as the sun, and his outer garments became brilliant as the light." (Matthew 17:1, 2)....Here in this vision of the "strong angel" we see a happy combination of cloud, sun and rainbow" (1969, p. 250).
The planting of the feet, which are likened to pillars of fire, one on the sea (the masses of people and nations in general), and one on the earth, signifies the worldwide scope of his work -- and also the immovable steadfastness of his purpose to accomplish it. We find, in Then is Finished the Mystery of God, the following --
"So John could say of the "strong angel" that "his feet were as fiery pillars." The angel's feet were glorious as well as his head, just as in the vision of Revelation 1:14, 15. What ever would come under his power, control and authority would come, as it were, under glorious feet, sturdy like pillars, no more to be tampered with than fire is. If the "sea" upon which he set his right foot was the Aegean Sea in which the Isle of Patmos lay, and the "earth" upon which he set his left foot was the nearby land of Asia Minor, then the "strong angel" was facing southward. Or, if the sea and earth were, so to speak, the Mediterranean Sea and ancient Palestine, he would still be facing south. This would picture how the whole earth, its seas and dry land, have now been put under the feet of the glorified Jesus Christ, that is to say, have been put in subjection to him by the Almighty God Jehovah. The fish of the sea and the living creatures on the dry land, including the birds who roost at the earth, are now all subject to the resurrected, glorified heavenly Jesus Christ" (Hebrews 2:5-9; Psalm 8:4-8) (1969, pp. 250-251).
It is further said of the angel that he "shouted in a voice as loud as the roar of a lion;" and that "when he shouted, seven thunderclaps sounded with voices that spoke." This recalls the fact that Yeshua was called "the lion that is of the tribe of Judah" (Revelation 5:5) -- the glorified Messiah now clothed with kingly power in the heavens, awaiting his return to this earth.
In verses 5 through 7 Yeshua the Messiah swears by his Father YEHOVAH God, and thereby assuring the apostle John and all fellow Christian down till our time today, that there will be no further delay on YEHOVAH's part.
The original word here translated "delay" is the Greek word khronos, which simply means "time" in an indefinite sense, so that the Authorized or King James Version Bible of 1611 rendered the phrase: "There should be time no longer." This does not, of course, mean that time, which figures as a "fourth dimension" in Albert Einstein's relativity theory, would be no more. Rather, it means that there should be no further grant of time, in other words -- no more "delay" regarding the matter involved.
Why did this reference to "delay" come up for comment by the Messiah in this vision? It was in answer to the question, raised by the martyred Christian souls after the Lamb (Yeshua) opened the fifth seal of YEHOVAH's scroll: "They cried out in a loud voice, 'Sovereign Ruler, HaKadosh, the True One, how long will it be before you judge the people living on earth and avenge our blood?'" (Revelation 6:9, 10).
Without a doubt the apostle John saw the likeness in many respects between this vision and that of the prophet Daniel of the sixth century B.C., who wrote: "Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him [YEHOVAH God] who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished" (Daniel 12:7).
The features as noted about this "angel" in the vision of Revelation 10 combine to clearly indicate that he represents or stands for the glorified Yeshua the Messiah returning to this earth to take up the reins of government over Israel and to prepare the way for the return of his Father YEHOVAH God -- as recorded by John in Revelation 19.
Let us notice carefully, now! Pentecost pictures both the first coming of YEHOVAH God, to mount Sinai, in glory and splendor, with earthquakes and fire, and the long blasting sound of a piercing trumpet (Exodus 19:18-20) and it also pictures the great FUTURE coming of YEHOVAH God, in glory and splendor, to judge and reward his saints, who will be gathered to meet Him in the air, from around the world, as He returns to rule the world with "a rod of iron" (Revelation 19:15).
With the loud clarion call of a trumpet YEHOVAH God descended upon Mount Sinai. When YEHOVAH God returns to this earth (as pictured in Revelation 19) the armies of heaven will follow Him and He will stand upon the Mount of Olives -- see Zechariah 14:4. When He appeared on Mount Sinai the people SAW Him coming (Exodus 19:11). When He returns we will SEE "heaven opened, and behold a white horse. And He [YEHOVAH God] who sat on him was called Faithful and True" (Revelation 19:11).
Will the Messiah Appear in a Secret "Rapture"?
Now, before going further, notice seven things about the future coming of the Messiah. Many people today believe that when he comes, he will secretly "spirit away" all the true Christians to heaven in a massive "rapture" attack. That is, Christians around the world will suddenly disappear, no matter where they are or what they are doing. Christian pilots will disappear from airplanes, Christian motorists will suddenly disappear from behind the steering wheel of automobiles, or even "big rigs," causing devastating auto accidents. Christian surgeons will suddenly disappear, while performing open heart surgery -- and Christian nurses, and so forth. You get the idea. Pretty bizarre!
Writes Ralph Woodrow --
"Christians who hold what is called the "dispensational" interpretation of prophecy, teach that the second coming of Christ will be in two stages: first, the RAPTURE (his coming for the saints), and then later the REVELATION (his coming with the saints). The interval between these two events, the great tribulation period, is commonly regarded as seven years. Verses like Revelation 1:7, "Behold, he cometh with clouds: and every eye shall see him," are applied to the REVELATION -- his coming in power and glory. The RAPTURE, on the other hand, is presented as a quiet, invisible, and secret coming" (Great Prophecies of the Bible, page 2).
But is this idea true?
The lessons of Pentecost prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that these modern day "Christian" stories and ideas are nothing but fables and myths! The Scriptures do not allow for any "secret rapture" of the saints at the end-time! Let's study and review the actual Biblical evidence on this matter!
Seven Proofs the Secret Rapture is Ridiculous
Here are seven powerful proofs that the commonly held and virtually idolized "rapture theory" is totally untrue:
1) There is no mention in Acts 1 that the Messiah will come twice! Notice what the angels said to the apostles when the Messiah ascended into heaven: "This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will SO COME IN LIKE MANNER as you saw him go into heaven" (verse 11). This was not a two-stage event! When the Messiah appears on this earth, he is coming ONCE -- NOT TWICE!
2) The apostle Paul said that believers would witness certain events first: the falling away, the man of sin would be revealed, and then the gathering together to meet the Messiah at his coming. But if the falling away meant the rapture (as many believe) -- an exodus of believers from out of this world -- they would not be able to witness the events that followed. Why? Because they would not be here! Therefore, Paul's statement would have absolutely no bearing on the point he was making!
3) If the rapture is a separate "stage" from the coming of the Messiah in power and glory, one must ask how each "stage" could possibly be the second coming? If they are separate and quite distinct events, separated by a number of years, a coming that follows the second coming would have to be a third! Unfortunately for those who believe in the rapture, the Bible never speaks of a third coming, or of "comings" (plural), and the term "two second comings" is self-contradictory.
4) Also, when the Messiah appears he will then -- at that time -- have his angels gather together his elect "from the four winds" This means that the saints (the elect) are on the earth, when he comes -- they are NOT up in heaven!
5) Yeshua the Messiah said: "Occupy till I COME" (Luke 19:13). Now how could YEHOVAH's Church occupy until he comes if the Church will be raptured away seven years before his coming? Yeshua plainly said: "I will COME again, and receive you unto myself" (John 14:3). Clearly it is when the Messiah comes that he receives his followers unto himself. The receiving is not seven years before his coming! Comments Woodrow --
"In perfect harmony with these teachings of Jesus, the apostles admonished: 'Be patient then, brethren, unto the COMING of the Lord...for yet a little while, and he that shall COME will COME, and will not tarry' (James 5:7; Hebrews 10:36, 37). Again, why exhort the brethren to be patient unto the COMING of the Lord, if their real hope was a rapture before his coming?" (ibid., page 16).
6) In the New Testament book of Acts, the gospel writer Luke tells us of the ascension of the Messiah into heaven, in full view of the disciples:
"And when he [the Messiah] had spoken all these things, WHILE THEY BEHELD, HE WAS TAKEN UP; and a CLOUD received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, SHALL SO COME IN LIKE MANNER AS YE HAVE SEEN HIM GO INTO HEAVEN" (Acts 1:9-11).
Now let's get this, and get it good! Was Yeshua secretly "raptured" out of their sight, invisibly? NO! Not at all! He was taken up into heaven IN A CLOUD, and they SAW Him ascending, as they WATCHED with their eyes gazing steadfastly on him, as he disappeared into the remote heavens! And take careful note! The two angels told them that when he returns, it will be in the VERY SAME MANNER as they SAW him go into heaven!
Clearly, then, Yeshua will NOT come in some clandestine, secret, invisible manner in which nobody will notice or see him. Rather, the WHOLE WORLD WILL SEE HIM -- AND WILL SHAKE WITH HORROR AND FEAR!
7) Finally, there is one respect in which the Messiah's coming will be "like a thief in the night" (Revelation16:15). That is, in regard to the TIME of his coming! Although most thieves who come at night, seek to hide their activity from prying eyes, when Yeshua the Messiah returns he will not "hide" himself at all. But his coming will be "like a thief" in the respect that no one will know PRECISELY WHEN HE IS GOING TO COME!
Yeshua himself said, "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also READY: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24:42-44).
Pentecost, the only Festival of YEHOVAH God which has a "movable date," is the perfect picture and type of the return of YEHOVAH God and the "second coming of the Messiah," because -- like Pentecost, in the ancient Jewish calendar -- the return of YEHOVAH God and the second coming of the Messiah could occur on a number of different dates, and we do not know for certain exactly when they will return!
Thus, even in this respect, Pentecost, or "Shavuot," the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of heightening expectation and anticipation, as we count down the days and weeks before it comes, is a unique symbol of the beginning of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God!
The Early and Latter Rains
The early church observed the Feast of Pentecost. The apostle Paul bode his friends farewell at Ephesus, in Asia Minor, saying, "I must by all means keep this Feast [Pentecost] that cometh in Jerusalem" (Acts 18:21). We read later, that Paul "hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost" (Acts 20:16). Why the urgency? Why Pentecost? Obviously, because Paul desired to observe this Holy Day in Jerusalem, at the Temple!
Interestingly, the early church actually began on the Holy Day of Pentecost. We read in Acts, chapter 1, that Yeshua the Messiah told the disciples before he parted, and was taken up into heaven, that they should "NOT depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence" (Acts 1:4-5).
A review of the dates involved shows that this statement was probably made in the summer, in the month of Tammuz. It was at the end of an extended period of time wherein the Messiah appeared to his disciples on forty different occasions. Whether the risen Messiah was seen on forty different occasions or on forty different days, the Scriptural evidence indicates that they were spread out over an extended time-period rather on consecutive days. In John, chapter 20, we read:
"Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week...Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, 'Peace be with you'....But Thomas, called Didymus, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came....And after EIGHT DAYS his disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, 'Peace to you!'" [2nd time] (verses 19, 24 and 26).
Then, in John 21, we find --
"After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way he showed himself....This is now the THIRD TIME Jesus showed himself to his disciples after he was raised from the dead" (verse 1 and 14).
In the unlikely event that the apostles went fishing at the Sea of Tiberius on the day following when the Messiah appeared to the disciples (including Thomas), that would have been THREE appearances over the first TEN days!
Regarding the expression "infallible proofs" found in Acts 1:3, we find explained in Strong's Greek Dictionary the following:
"G5039. tekmerion tek-may'-ree-on neuter of a presumed derivative of tekmar (a goal or fixed limit); a token (as defining a fact), i.e. criterion [or/decisive factor/reason/standard] of certainty:- infallible proof. The TOKEN or defining a fact was Him [the Messiah] being seen a NUMBER of [yamim] or TIMES by the apostles whom He had chosen, NOT A SPACE OF TIME. Infallible proofs must meet certain criteria i.e. a criterion i.e. case of certainty which equals a decisive factor of him [the Messiah] being seen ALIVE after the crucifixion/passion 40 [yamim] or TIMES by the apostles."
Was Yeshua telling his disciples, in effect, to wait until Pentecost? In Acts, chapter 2, we find a most remarkable occurrence, fulfilling the promise and prophecy of the Messiah. Notice!
"And when the day of Pentecost was FULLY COME, they were all with one accord in one place [together]. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were ALL FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, and began to speak with other tongues [languages], as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in his own tongue, wherein we were born?....And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?" (Acts 2:1-12).
In the days leading up to the first Pentecost, in Moses' day, when YEHOVAH God came down on top of mount Sinai, and delivered the Decalogue to mankind, His appearance was accompanied with "fire" (Exodus 19:18). And on this first Pentecost following the ascension of Yeshua the Messiah into heaven, there was again a mighty display of power from heaven -- tongues which appeared as "like as of fire," and a rushing mighty wind, like a tornado (Acts 2:2-3).
In his sermon on that day, Peter explained the phenomenon which had just occurred to the assembled multitude, saying, "This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass, in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of MY SPIRIT upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapours of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:16-18).
What Peter quoted was a prophecy by the prophet Joel, about 800 years before that time, which foretold that time in great detail. YEHOVAH God inspired Peter to draw from that prophecy to explain the miraculous events of that Pentecost! YEHOVAH's spirit was poured out on His people then, even as it will be poured out once more during our end-time generation, before the coming of the dreadful and awesome "Day of the LORD"!
That event was the "early rain" of YEHOVAH's spirit. But soon, now, we are going to see and witness and experience the fulfillment of the "LATTER RAIN" of YEHOVAH's holy spirit! The prophet Hosea foretold:
"Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After TWO DAYS will he revive us: in the THIRD DAY he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall COME unto us, as the RAIN, as the LATTER and FORMER RAIN unto the earth" (Hosea 6:1-3).
What is this talking about? A "day" with YEHOVAH God is as a thousand years (II Peter 3:8-10). The Jewish nation was smitten when it rejected the Messiah in 31 A.D., and he was crucified to fulfill Biblical prophecy (Daniel 9:24-26). Two days is 2,000 years. This is a prophecy that after about two millennia, or 2,000 years, from the time YEHOVAH God began punishing His people for their rebellion and rejection of the Messiah, they would begin to return to Him, and confess their sins, and at that time He would begin to intervene, to heal their wounds, and to bind them up! This is speaking of OUR AGE, TODAY! This speaks of the second appearance of the Messiah and the return of YEHOVAH God Himself!
Note that the prophecy goes on to point out that this is discussing the "going forth of the LORD" (YEHOVAH God the Father) -- that is, of His coming to earth from heaven! And notice, it says He shall "come to us" TWICE -- "as the rain, as the latter and former rain UNTO THE EARTH" (Hosea 6:33).
YEHOVAH God sent the "former rain" in 31 A.D. After the Messiah's ascension into heaven, and on the following Festival of Pentecost, YEHOVAH sent the former rain -- His holy spirit -- upon the disciples of the Messiah!
YEHOVAH God the Father is coming once again -- this time as the "latter rain." And prior to His coming, He will once again send forth the "rain" of His holy spirit upon those He has called! He will once again send His holy spirit with POWER upon His Church!
Luke records that before the Messiah departed to heaven, he told his disciples:
"Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be ENDUED WITH POWER FROM ON HIGH" (Luke 24:46-49).
Luke shows that they waited, and on Pentecost the holy spirit came upon the disciples with enormous power and miraculous energy!
But Yeshua gave the disciples final instructions, which also apply to us, of this generation. He declared: "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive POWER, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: And ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:7-8).
The time of the "latter rain" is almost upon us!
The Real Meaning of Pentecost
According to Jewish tradition, Pentecost is the day the fruit of trees is judged in heaven. Thus it pictures the judgment of the "first-fruits." True believers and followers of the Messiah are the "first-fruits" to YEHOVAH God of all the people of the world (see James 1:18; Romans 16:5; Romans 8:9-10, 23). We are to be "bearing fruit" (John 15:16). We will be judged according to our fruitfulness!
In principle we see that this Feast must occur at the end of barley harvest, when the "first-fruits" of the harvest, known as the "omer," have been completed -- and it cannot occur until the first of the wheat harvest is ready some four months after the Passover season (John 4:35), so that the two loaves of the "first-fruits" of wheat may be offered. This period of 100-plus days allows for the full maturation of the wheat harvest, ready to be reaped.
What lesson can we learn from this? Yeshua the Messiah and YEHOVAH God the Father cannot return to this earth until the first-fruits of the spiritual crop are ready! That is, his return, which is symbolized by the Feast of Pentecost, cannot occur UNTIL THE BRIDE HAS MADE HERSELF READY! (Revelation 19:7)!
When the harvest is ready, in the eyes of the Father, the Messiah will return -- with shouts of acclamation and joy!
Hayyim Schauss, in The Jewish Festivals: History and Observance, states:
"It appears that as far back as the days of the second Temple, Shavuos was a twofold festival. It was the festival of the wheat harvest, when a sacrifice was offered from the new wheat crop; it was also considered the observance of the pact entered into between God and mankind....The festival is celebrated, according to [the book of Jubilees], as a symbol of the pact God made with Noah, in which he promised no future general flood, is renewed each year" (p. 89).
Does the observance of Pentecost go back to the covenant YEHOVAH God made with Noah never again to flood the land with a Deluge, in punishment for sins? It is a fact that the observance of the day became closely interlinked with the giving of the Torah, because the Law of YEHOVAH God was brought down from mount Sinai by Moses upon that very day and the marriage covenant YEHOVAH God entered into with Israel at that time.
Pentecost and the Book of Jubilees
However, the Book of Jubilees does claim that originally the observance of this Holy Day does go back to Noah's time -- and even before! From the time of Creation itself, YEHOVAH God said that He established the sun, moon and stars in the heavens to be "for signs, and for seasons (Hebrew moadim, meaning also "fixed times" or "festivals"), and for days, and years" (Genesis 1:14). We read in the Book of Jubilees:
"And he gave to Noah and his sons a sign that there should not again be a deluge over the earth; he placed his bow in the clouds as a sign of the eternal covenant that no water of the deluge should again come over the earth to destroy it all the days of the earth.
"On this account it is also ordained and written on the tablets of heaven that the celebration of the festival of weeks should be in this month, once a year, for a renewed covenant in each year and year. And during the time this festival was being celebrated in heaven, from the days of creation to the days of Noah...and Noah and his sons observed it...until the time when Noah died. But his children violated it until the days of Abraham, and they ate blood. But Abraham alone observed it, and Isaac and Jacob observed it, for these are his children....and in thy [Moses'] day the children of Israel forgot it until I renewed it for them on this mountain. And thou command the children of Israel that they should observe this festival in all their generations as a commandment for them one day in the year, in this month, they shall celebrate this festival. For it is the festival of weeks and is a festival of first-fruits; for this festival is of a double nature and double kind, as it is written and engraved concerning its celebration" (Jubilees 6:14-19).
The Book of Jubilees was written about a century before the time of the Messiah, and seems to reflect a great deal of oral history and ancient Jewish beliefs handed down from generation to generation. It provides an astonishing glimpse into the hidden history of YEHOVAH's Holy Days.
Notice that the Book of Jubilees emphasizes the "covenantal' aspect of the feast of Shavuot, or Pentecost! This covenantal concept is the real grist -- the true inner depth -- of this awesome Holy Day!
Pentecost -- the Day of the Covenant
As the Israelites witnessed YEHOVAH God's own Presence at mount Sinai, and heard the living God speak to them directly, from the mountain, we can only faintly imagine their emotions, their feelings, their transformation in the presence of the Almighty. Says Joel Ziff in Mirrors in Time, "The Israelites fully and directly experienced God's Essence and Presence at Mount Sinai. In this respect, as we hear the Word of God, our old understanding dies, creating a possibility for new learning" (p. 111).
"This change in consciousness is symbolically noted in the description of how the Israelites 'heard' the lightning and 'saw' the thunder at Sinai, as it says in the Torah: 'All the people saw the sounds' (Exodus 20:13). They now can see and hear what was previously unknown, hidden, and heard only from a distance" (p. 111).
How is it that the people "saw the thunderings," and "the noise of the trumpets" (Exodus 10:18)? Can we really ever "see" a "sound"? Actually, the answer is yes -- when in a higher state of consciousness, attuned to the presence of YEHOVAH God, and His spirit, a combined form of seeing and hearing can occur -- a deeper awareness of sight and sound. The senses can become integrated in a unique way, leading to greater awareness and perceptivity. Writes Avraham Yaakov Finkel in The Essence of the Holy Days,
"It occurs in an individual who is capable of rising above the limitations of the senses. Such a person can see sound and hear a vision. A prophet can do this. When receiving divine prophecy, the prophet divests himself of his corporeality, and his sense of hearing and vision blend into one. At Mount Sinai, after undergoing fifty days of spiritual refinement, the children of Israel attained the level of prophecy. They 'saw the sounds,' and thereby the belief in God was anchored in their hearts" (p. 188).
Pentecost and Transcendental Change
The children of Israel were so attuned to YEHOVAH God, at that moment, that when YEHOVAH asked them if they would obey His covenant, they replied in unison, together, "Naaseh venishma!" That is, "We will do and we will hear" (Exodus 24:7). Consider this! They were so close to YEHOVAH God, at that moment, that there was no hesitancy or doubt in their minds. They not only agreed to "do" YEHOVAH's Law, and keep His commandments, but they agreed to DO it even before HEARING it! They said "we will do it," and then said, afterward, "we will hear it"! This exemplified real faith and commitment!
The "Pentecost experience" had already begun to change them, and their entire outlook on life. One may ask, How can you do something before you even hear it? Avraham Finkel states:
"Look at it this way. For example, if you want to open a door, you certainly don't have to tell your hand, 'Turn the knob.' Your head and your mind encompass all your limbs, and if your mind wants to take a certain action, your hand instinctively senses this without being told specifically.
"At the Giving of the Torah, there existed a perfect union between the Holy One, blessed is He, and the people of Israel. God was the Head of the nation. Consequently, when God wanted Israel to accept the Torah, the entire nation sensed what was asked of them. There was no need to teach them the specific details of the Torah" (p. 196).
In this state of close union with YEHOVAH God, they accepted His Torah in faith -- in complete submission and commitment to do His will. They did not have to have it all spelled out first!
Says Joel Ziff on the Sinai experience:
"The experience at Mount Sinai is described using the image of a wedding in which God is the groom standing under the marriage canopy -- the chuppah -- with the Israelites as the bride. God and Israel make an eternal commitment to one another. God gives the Torah, and the Israelites pledge to adhere to its precepts. A wedding represents the BEGINNING of a relationship. Although vows are made, the young couple must still struggle to translate those vows into reality, overcoming differences and difficulties. In the same way, the commitment made at Sinai also represents a beginning of relationship. There are many difficulties to overcome: shortly after Moses ascends Mount Sinai, the Israelites make the golden calf, losing trust and violating their commitment.
"This beginning is also symbolized by the offering of the first ripe fruits that begins at this time....For this reason, Shavuot is also known as Yom HaBikkurim, the day of the first fruits. We not only harvest the agricultural produce; we also begin to nourish ourselves with the fruits of our learning.
"This same quality of commitment is reflected in the story of Ruth, which is read during the Shavuot service. Ruth, the ancestor of King David, is respected because of her commitment and devotion in caring for her mother-in-law Naomi....
"The images of Shavuot allow us to receive a personal revelation that transforms our understanding, help us clarify a vision of our future, and motivate us to make a commitment to manifest that vision" (Ziff, Mirrors in Time, p.113).
Pentecost, then, represents a "peak experience." It is or should be a true epiphany -- a time of tremendous closeness to YEHOVAH God and His revelation. It ought to be a transforming experience -- involving commitment, rededication, renewal of spiritual vows to YEHOVAH, devotion, worship, and reverence. It should be a profound experience, causing us to reach deep down inside ourselves, and truly humbling ourselves before our Mighty God and Everlasting Father, and our Saviour and Messiah.
After working on ourselves and stripping off the impurities of "Egypt" and the sinful inclinations, and the yetzer hara, the tendencies and impulses to sin and do evil, we stand before YEHOVAH God -- ready for a transforming experience -- ready to receive a renewal and an infusion of His holy spirit, that will transform us spiritually.
Writes Joel Ziff of this principle:
"On the fiftieth day [after counting seven weeks -- Pentecost], an integration occurs that incorporates and transcends the previous learning. We surrender what we think we know to a higher understanding. We link the spiritual Essence to the material level of existence. At this time, all the parts are integrated, subsumed into a larger oneness. An integration occurs in which the whole is larger than the sum of its parts" (p. 115).
Obviously, there is far more to Pentecost than most of us have remotely imagined!
As we observe this Holy Day of YEHOVAH God, we should reflect on our own covenantal relationship with YEHOVAH, and Yeshua our Messiah. We should also reflect on the other covenantal relationships in our lives -- husband and wife, parents and children. We should look upon Pentecost as a special day of commitment and covenant renewal, every year.
Pentecost holds the promise of being a key to the transformation process in our lives -- from carnal, earthly, to spiritual, divine. It represents the high peak of revelation and religious experience, contact with YEHOVAH God on a person level, in a higher plane.
The apostle Paul says, accordingly, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be ye not conformed to this world, but BE YE TRANSFORMED by the RENEWING of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12:1-2).
The story of Ruth is especially appropriate for Pentecost for many reasons. It was at Pentecost that Boaz "married" Ruth. It was the beginning of wheat harvest, and Ruth went out into the fields to glean from the harvest of Boaz, her next-of-kinsman. She proposed to him the eve of Pentecost, and he accepted, according to Jewish tradition. The Scriptures clearly reveal it was the beginning of barley harvest when Ruth began gleaning (Ruth 1:22). She continued reaping until the end of barley harvest (Ruth 2:21), which puts the story at the point of Pentecost! Therefore, the connection is obvious (Ruth 2:6-11). The story of Ruth pictures the marriage of the Church, typified by Ruth, the Gentile convert, and Yeshua the Messiah, typified by Boaz, of the tribe of Judah.
According to Jewish legend, Pentecost also pictures the day of the dragon's conflict, when the Messiah will destroy Leviathan, the crooked serpent (see Isaiah 27:1). On Pentecost, the words of Akdomus, a beautiful Aramaic ode composed by the Chazan of Worms in the eleventh century, are chanted in the synagogue, presenting a vivid picture of the day when the coming Messiah will have arrived, ushering in a time of eternal peace and bliss on earth.
Says Hayyim Schauss, as the ode Akdomus is chanted, the children see "the golden thrones, approached by seven stairs; seated on the thrones are the saints, gleaming and shining like the stars of heaven. Above them are spread canopies of light, and below ripple streams of fragrant balsam. There is no end to the joy and happiness of the saints. They dance in Paradise, arm-in-arm with God himself. He entertains them with a mammoth spectacle, arranged especially for them, the combat between the Leviathan and the Behemoth" (p. 91-92).
Schauss goes on:
"The teacher tells of the feast which God will prepare after the coming of the Messiah....He pictures the saints seated around a table made of precious stones, eating the flesh of the Leviathan and the Behemoth" (p. 92).
How interesting! In the book of Revelation we read of a similar "feast," which will be given after the coming of the Messiah. The apostle John records:
"Blessed are they which are called unto the MARRIAGE SUPPER of the Lamb" (Revelation 19:9).
"And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and the flesh of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great" (Revelation 19:17-18).
What a Feast that is going to be!
The All-Night Vigil on Pentecost Eve
The fact that Yeshua the Messiah told the disciples to "wait" in Jerusalem, and to "tarry" there, until they were to be empowered by YEHOVAH God from on high, by receiving the holy spirit -- the spirit of "power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (II Timothy 1:6-7) -- is highly significant, because the Jews have an age-old tradition about staying up all night, on the eve of Pentecost, to study the Laws of YEHOVAH God, to get in "final preparation" for the "Revelation" of YEHOVAH -- and meeting with YEHOVAH -- which symbolically is to occur on "Pentecost."
The disciples were waiting, no doubt in much anticipation -- both for the coming of Pentecost and for the expectation of the coming "Promise from on high" -- the holy spirit! Was their vigil also connected with the Jewish practice of the intensifying preparation for Pentecost, as the Holy Day approached?
Especially the evening before the great day of the Feast, this preparation among YEHOVAH's people intensifies, as the anticipation builds to a climax. Says Rabbi Irving Greenburg:
"There is a custom to stay awake the entire night of Shavuot in preparation for the Revelation. The kabbalists saw this as time to prepare the bride's (Israel's) trousseau for the wedding (with God) in the morning. What is the preparation during this long night? It is the study of Torah, preparing a Jew for what he or she is about to receive....
"Many congregations today carry on the tradition of all-night study by scheduling various classes and study groups to make the learning more meaningful. Good all-night sessions are an exciting, if tiring, off-beat learning experience. Those who stay up all night pray the morning service immediately at daybreak -- carrying through the symbolic acting out of 'eagerness' and anticipation to receive the Revelation. The service, which is full of joy and celebration, includes the chanting of the entire Hallel as on Passover" (The Jewish Way, p. 82-83).
In The Three Festivals, by Rabbi Yosef Stern, we discover:
"Throughout the world Jews observe the centuries-old custom of conducting an all-night vigil dedicated to Torah learning on the first night of Shavuos....One explanation for this tradition is that it compensates for a tragic error committed by the Jewish nation as they were about to receive the Torah at Sinai: On the very morning Hashem came to give the Torah, they overslept! Hashem had to arouse them and remind them that it was time to receive the Ten Commandments. To atone for this blunder, Jews have accepted upon themselves the custom of remaining awake all night."
One of the reasons for the all-nighter, according to Rabbi Stern, is that it is believed that "the study of the Mosaic books during the night will hasten the arrival of the Messiah." According to Stern, the time from Passover to Pentecost represent a time of "spiritual purification (taharah) that grows in intensity during the seven weeks of sephirah" until it reaches a climax on the night of Pentecost, or Shavuot (p. 203). During the last forty-nine days of the count, we eliminate and get rid of the forty-nine levels or degrees of spiritual contamination and degradation we have accumulated. Thus these are forty-nine days representing forty-nine levels of spiritual purity. Each day we jettison another piece of impurity, another contaminant, another vice, until, after the last forty-nine days -- seven times seven -- we reach true purity, maturity, and perfection!
Says Rabbi Stern:
"During these days and weeks, our personal efforts to cleanse ourselves of spiritual impurities are critical. However, if we make sincere efforts during sefirah, we can be assured that Hashem [YEHOVAH God] will shower us with an outpouring of taharah on the night of Shavuos, as the Sages said (Shabbos 104a) someone who comes to purify himself will receive [Divine] help" (p. 204).
This "Divine help" is described as an out-pouring of taharah -- divine purification. This help comes to us through the holy spirit of YEHOVAH God! Yeshua the Messiah declared:
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26).
"Howbeit when it, the Spirit of truth, is come, it will guide you into all truth: for it shall not speak of itself; but whatsoever it shall hear, that shall it speak; and it will shew you things to come" (John 16:13).
Rabbi Stern says that this taharah that descends and comes upon us, as we study Torah and the truths of YEHOVAH's Word, is exceedingly fragile. In his words:
"The Zohar also reminds us that the taharah that descends on those who immerse themselves in Torah study on this night is a fragile thing. Unless we take active steps to preserve it throughout the year we cannot be assured that it will remain with us....Through our efforts during the seven weeks of sefirah we merit the creation of a 'pure heart' for ourselves. However, it takes the all-night vigilance of Shavuos to give it permanence and to turn it into a 'steadfast spirit' that will endure throughout the year" (Stern, The Three Festivals, p. 204).
Although the Scriptures do not tell us that we must stay up all night, on the eve of Pentecost, to observe this day, this custom seems to go back to earliest times. And Yeshua the Messiah did tell us, "The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do" (Matthew 23:2-3). The staying up all night practice is not a commandment for YEHOVAH's people. Nevertheless, it certainly would not be wrong to do it, as a final "preparation" for the Day of "Revelation" -- Pentecost!
After counting the days to Pentecost faithfully, it seems fitting that this "spiritual odyssey," or journey, should be capped off with a special celebration -- a special night of "final preparation" for FINAL EXAMS, as it were -- a night devoted to Bible study, prayer, and meditation, drawing closer to YEHOVAH God in preparation for the ULTIMATE PENTECOST PERSPECTIVE -- the soon arrival of YEHOVAH God and our Messianic King and Husband -- Yeshua Notzri -- Yeshua the Messiah!
In college, or at the university, students often "cram" for finals during the weeks immediately before final exams are to occur. They study extra hard, burn the midnight oil, and sometimes pull an "all-nighter" in order to get that final "term paper" prepared and written and presented on time. They review their class notes, assignments, and previous tests, so that they can be as prepared as possible for "finals."
So it should be with Pentecost. Have we ever looked at it that way before?
Pentecost, in typology, is the time of Final Exams -- the day we will be "judged," and evaluated, by our Creator and Teacher, YEHOVAH God!
Do you want to flunk the test?
When YEHOVAH God returns at the seventh and final trumpet (Revelation 11:15), he will judge the saints! John writes, "And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be JUDGED, and that thou shouldest give REWARD unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, both small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth" (Revelation 11:18).
The apostle Paul wrote:
"According to the grace of God, which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have LAID THE FOUNDATION, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed HOW he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that [which] is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
"Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire" (I Corinthians 3:10-15).
Paul also wrote, saying, "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, As I live, saith the LORD, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way" (Romans 14:9-13).
It is not our purpose, in this article, to condemn those who do not see the full story behind Pentecost -- or the full light YEHOVAH God has shed upon this wonderful Feast day. But for those of us who do understand, let's observe this Festival with new joy, new meaning, new zeal, renewed dedication and commitment, and new vigilance!
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
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