Christians think of Pentecost as the birthday of the Church, but it is much more. Pentecost, or Shavuot in Hebrew, is one of three feasts when all Hebrew men were to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem. Jewish tradition has it that the Lord gave the Ten Commandments to the Children of Israel at Mount Sinai on Pentecost. Scripture does not give the specific date, but the Children of Israel arrived at Mount Sinai on the first day of the third month of the Hebrew religious calendar,(1) or Sivan. Pentecost occurs early in the month of Sivan, which is usually early June. Sunday, May 31st is Pentecost this year (2009).
Pentecost, which is the fiftieth day from the Sunday following Passover, is a picture of the Sabbatical Years and the Jubilee Year as given in the Law.(2) The land was to rest every seven years and after seven Sabbaticals (forty-nine years) there would be a Jubilee (the fiftieth year). On the Jubilee Year, land that had been sold reverted back to the original owners. Jubilee is about redemption. Pentecost is about redemption; our redemption.
Jewish websites provide the ceremony and scriptures to be read at Shavuot, or Pentecost. Many synagogues meet Saturday evening before Pentecost Sunday. They read scriptures and pray all night. The scriptures read give us a fascinating picture. I invite you to read them yourselves. (See Endnotes for references.)
First they read the account of the giving of the law at Mount Sinai, at Pentecost.(3) Next, the instructions for the feast of Pentecost (4) are read. Here is where it gets interesting. They next read the first chapter of Ezekiel (5) which describes the four living creatures that surround the Throne of God, and the Glory of God. It gets even better. They read the scripture describing how Ezekiel was lifted up (6) by the Holy Spirit. This is a picture of the Rapture!
Finally, they read the entire Book of Ruth. This is the story of the kinsman redeemer, Boaz, and the Gentile bride, Ruth. Boaz is a type of our Redeemer, Jesus, and Ruth is a type of the Church, the Bride of Christ. Boaz claims Ruth as his bride, and according to the rabbis, it all happens on Pentecost!
Certain Hebrew translations refer to this day as Home Bringing, because of the redemptive nature of Pentecost. The historian Josephus describes several unusual events that occurred shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.(7) One of these supernatural events occurred on Pentecost. After sundown, which marked the beginning of the new day, the priests went into the Temple to celebrate Pentecost. There was a great earthquake and they heard a great multitude saying, Let us leave this place.
Some day, possibly on Pentecost because this day is about redemption, the Lord will call the Church home (Home Bringing) and we will say, Let us leave this place!
Quoting the Apostle John: Even so, Lord. Come quickly.
1 Exodus 19:1
2 - Leviticus 25:1-17
3 Exodus 19:1 20:23
4 Number 28:26-31
5 Ezekiel 1:1-28
6 Ezekiel 3:12
7 Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, chapter 5, paragraph 3