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|Hey iTrust! 27 May 2012|
This coming Sunday is the The Day of Pentecost (27 May 2012).
Pentecost, an ancient Greek word meaning “the Fiftieth [day]”, is a festival in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, after the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus. The feast is also called Whit Sunday, Whitsun, or Whit, especially in the United Kingdom, where the following Monday was traditionally a holiday. Pentecost is celebrated seven weeks (50 days) after Easter Sunday, hence its name. Because Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and other followers of Jesus as described in Acts 2:1 –31, it is sometimes described as the “Birthday of the Church.”
Pentecost was already a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel, though they called it Shavuot (literally, “Weeks”). It commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah (Law) to the entire Israelite nation assembled at Mount Sinai.
In the Bible, Shavuot is called the Festival of Weeks (Exodus 34:22 , Deuteronomy 16:10 ); the Festival of Reaping (Exodus 23:16 ), and Day of the First Fruits (Numbers 28:26 ). Since Shavuot occurs 50 days after Passover, Hellenistic Jews gave it the name Pentecost.
Besides its significance as the day on which the Torah was revealed by God to the Jewish nation at Mount Sinai, Shavuot is also connected to the season of the grain harvest in Israel. In ancient times, the grain harvest lasted seven weeks and was a season of gladness (Jer. 5:24 , Deut. 16:9 –11, Isa. 9:2 ). It began with the harvesting of the barley during Passover and ended with the harvesting of the wheat at Shavuot. Shavuot was thus the concluding festival of the grain harvest.
Can you see how that connects with the harvest metaphor that Jesus often uses? He, of course, is the complete, ultimate Harvester!
We’re still watching Chariots of Fire, and will be for at least one more week.
Once again, after Chariots we’ll watch a video series called “Is the Bible Reliable? – Building the Historical Case.” Get your questions ready!
That will be followed by a series called “Does God Exist? – Building the Scientific Case.”
Dr. Dale Brant will join us for these two, adding commentary along the way. When we complete our look at support for God’s existence from the scientific data, Dr. Brant will spend a few additional weeks reviewing the other classical arguments for the existence of God, with particular attention to the objections raised by the so-called “New Atheists” (i.e., Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, etc.).
Here are the Scripture readings (lectionary) for this coming week, plus the summary note of how they tie together. We always encourage you to read the weekly Scriptures before you get to church. We think you’ll find that valuable!
First Lesson – Ezekiel 37:1 –14
The Valley of Dry Bones
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”
Second Lesson – Acts 2:1 –21
The Coming of the Holy Spirit
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost
But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:”
“And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
The Work of the Holy Spirit
But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
The Holy Spirit Brings the Dead to Life by the Righteousness of Christ
In returning to His Father by way of the Cross and Resurrection, Christ Jesus sends “the Helper” to His Church, that is, “the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father.” The Spirit testifies of Christ and glorifies Him, by taking what is His and declaring it to the world in the preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (John 15:26 ; 16:7, 14). He convicts the world of sin by the word of the Law; He forgives sins and justifies sinners by the Word of the Gospel; and He bestows the faith which says “Amen” to this righteousness of God (John 16:8 –11). Therefore, the Lord pours out His Spirit on the Apostles, that by their preaching, the Spirit should be given to His entire church. As the multitudes are gathered from all the nations by “this sound,” that is, by the preaching of “the mighty works of God” in Christ Jesus, so does God the Father pour out the Spirit of His Son “on all flesh” (Acts 2:6 , 11, 16). The Lord God breathes upon the slain, and so shall they live; for so the Lord has spoken, and He shall do it (Ezek. 37:5 –14).
See you in iTrust!