Remembering Shavuot, or Pentecost

The people of Israel observe the Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot. It has the dual significance of marking the wheat harvest in the land of Israel and commemorating the giving of the Torah on Sinai. The “Weeks” has to do with counting the seven weeks after Passover. It is sometimes described as the eighth day of Passover.

The New Testament refers to Shavuot as Pentecost. It is the fiftieth day after Passover, which makes it 10 days after Jesus’ Ascension.

Acts 2 describes the events of the day of first Pentecost after Jesus’ death and resurrection. They were “all with one accord in one place.” Being a celebration day, that “one place” would likely have been the temple. The expansive steps at the southern entrance were used as a gathering place, and a teaching place. It would make sense that this was the location of Peter’s Pentecostal sermon.

Rabbis would teach their disciples on the steps outside the temple.

The many mikvahs (ritual baths) around the temple could have provided water for baptizing 3,000 new believers.

Inside a mikvah. Steps on one side for entering, before cleansing, and the other side for exiting after being purified in the water.

Just as the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai finalized Israel’s redemption from Egypt, so the giving of the Holy Spirit on Mount Zion inaugurated the New Covenant. The wind and the fire are symbolic of God’s presence, just as the pillar of smoke and the pillar of fire showed God’s presence in the wilderness.

Meditating on the significance of what happened here.

I’m thankful, this Pentecost, for the Comforter, the indwelling presence of God’s Spirit.

Standing barefoot on an original southern step, imagining Jesus walking here.

The Ascension

After the resurrection, Jesus visited with His disciples a number of times. On one of those occasions, they were in Galilee in a mountain that Jesus had appointed for them. That’s a subject for another post. Acts 1:3 says He appeared to them during forty days…speaking about the kingdom of God. On the last day He was with them, Jesus said, “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Then He led them out of Jerusalem, as far as Bethany, a village on the Mount of Olives.

Here we’re walking through the Kidron Valley, with Jerusalem in back of us, looking up toward the Mount of Olives.

Jesus told them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Outside the Eastern Gate, looking toward the Mount of Olives.

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. Two men in white robes appeared, and told them, “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”