Feast of Weeks, Pentecost, Shevuot
The Old Testament commandment for Shevuot “And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering [meat = grain] unto the Lord. Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord” (Leviticus 23:15-17). “From the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering” was always the Sunday following the Passover (no matter which day of the week Passover day had occurred on). You would start numbering seven sabbaths, and finish your count on the next day, which is always a Sunday, which always numbers 50 days. That is why it is called the Feast of Weeks in Hebrew, or Pentecost in Greek, which means “count fifty.” Notice the offerings that each Hebrew family was to make, two loaves of bread, baked with leavening. That is significant, and will be explained a little later. For example, Passover day was on the 8th of April of this year (2009). That next Sunday was the very next day after the weekly sabbath when the Wave Sheaf offering was to be waved by the priests. You would start counting, numbering seven sabbaths starting from the very next sabbath after that Sunday, and you would number seven sabbaths of weeks. After numbering the “seventh sabbath of weeks”, you would add another day, Sunday. That following Sunday would be Pentecost, which for this year of 2009 occurs on May 31st, fifty days later.
I. Old Testament Meaning of Pentecost
II. First New Testament Pentecost: the start of a 2,000 year harvest of souls (early harvest)
III. The Differing Stages, Eras of the Pentecost Harvest
I. The Old Testament Meaning of Pentecost, Feast of Weeks
This one Holy Day, like its opposite number in the fall, the Feast of Tabernacles, is a harvest festival. That is, it is a festival centered around a particular harvest in Palestine. The harvest ending or wrapping up around Shevuot or Pentecost is the harvest of winter wheat or alternately known as the barley harvest in Palestine. The crop that would be planted in the late fall just before the fall-winter rains would be barley and winter wheat, and the resulting harvest would occur in late spring, the smaller of the two main harvests in Palestine. The larger of the two harvests in Palestine occurs in the fall, at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. The Jews, Messianic Jews and a very few Christian denominations know this fall festival, called the Feast of Tabernacles, symbolizes the great fall harvest of souls during the millennial reign of the Messiah. The spring harvest, known alternately as the Feast of Weeks, Shevuot or Pentecost, like its fall counterpart, represents a harvest of souls as well, but a much smaller harvest. To identify who is in this harvest we need turn no further than Acts 2:1-47. On the very day of Pentecost, Shevuot, the 12 apostles, along with 120 other disciples of Jesus, Yeshua were observing this day in or within the vicinity of the Temple, waiting in Jerusalem as Jesus had commanded them. A careful reading of Acts 2:1-47 will show plainly that the Church, the body of Christ was born on that very day. So Pentecost, the early spring harvest festival, by divine revelation, represents the early harvest of believers during the Church Age, spanning from Pentecost 31AD up until the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ. (God could have chosen any time on the yearly calendar to bestow the Holy Spirit on the 120 disciples of Jesus and then call 3,000 new believers, but he didn’t. He chose the day of Pentecost.) Right in Acts 1:6-13 Jesus gave the apostles and those who stood by, the early leaders of the Church, the Great Commission, to evangelize the world, and baptize into the body of Christ those who favorably responded to their message (cf. Acts 1:6-13; Matthew 28:18-20). For almost 2,000 years the various eras that have made up the body of Christ have been struggling to fulfill that job, that commission given to them by Jesus Christ, each within their own time spans of existence. As prophecied by Jesus in Matthew 24:14, we the body of Christ will successfully accomplish the job he gave us to do. Jesus prophecied this job would be successfully completed just before the end of this evil age of mankind, which also corresponds with the end of the Church Age, represented by Pentecost. Then when our job is finished to Jesus’ satisfaction, a famine of the Word will occur and almost simultaneously, the beginning of World War III, the tribulation. With such a crazy mixture of genuinely born-again denominations making up the body of Christ, how, one might ask, can this hodge-podge of believers possibly get the job of evangelizing the whole world accomplished? Good question. Keep that one in mind. The last link in this article will give you some clues as to how we can successfully go about doing that in a more unified manner, regardless of which denomination we may be a part of.
Shevuot, Pentecost only the first harvest
One other thing to consider, is that the meaning of the Pentecost harvest festival, the Feast of Weeks Holy Day, shows that this present Church dispensation is only the first, preliminary “harvest of souls.” This is something most Christian denominations don’t fully understand. Why? We’ll get into that near the end of this first part (I). So keep that question in mind as well. God’s purpose for giving the Israelites, what he termed “the Church in the Wilderness”, the Old Testament Holy Days, was to teach them a true understanding for God’s overall plan of salvation for mankind. The trouble was, most of those within the “Church in the Wilderness” were not born-again, and would never in their lifetimes fully understand the spiritual symbolism each Holy Day conveyed. The Jews do have a decent preliminary understanding of their symbolism though, so ignorance wasn’t total. As stated before, God’s Holy Days revolved around the harvest seasons of Palestine. And Palestine had two harvests, a smaller spring and a larger fall harvest. God built his Holy Days around these yearly physical harvest seasons of Palestine to picture and represent his harvest of souls in his great plan of salvation. Most believers think the Church age is it, if someone doesn’t make it then, too bad, you’re lost, in the overall sense of mankind. In the harvest cycle of Palestine, which is mirrored in the harvest festivals, the first one, produced by the early rain of the previous fall, was the “spring grain harvest.” The second or fall harvest, produced by the “latter rain”, was the main harvest of the Palestine growing season. This was a much larger harvest of all produce, not just of grain. The early spring harvest of Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks pictures the “firstfruits” of all the souls that God intends to harvest throughout his plan. It does not picture all that will be harvested. So Pentecost, the Feast of Weeks, Shevuot pictures the first part of God’s spiritual harvest---the calling out of the world those that would become the Church---Ekklisia---the “called-out-ones.” This is a dispensation where God is calling a people for his name (cf. Acts 15:14-17), to be a kingdom of kings and priests preparing to reign with Jesus Christ during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ (cf. Revelation 5:9-10).
The two leavened “wave loaves”
We saw in the opening Scriptures of this article on the 50th day in the Old Testament counting of Pentecost, two “wave loaves” were to be brought out of each Hebrew household and given to the priests, who then would “wave” these loaves toward heaven. A careful study of Galatians will show that the early Christian Church was made up of two distinct branches, a Jewish branch, and a Gentile branch, one under Peter’s administration, one under Paul’s. Each branch represented one of these loaves. You might say one loaf was Jewish rye and the other was a loaf of Italian Scali bread. These two loaves from each household, incidentally, were the only loaves of bread allowed into the Temple that were made with leavening. (I can imagine the Temple needed a complete sweep-down after the Feast of Weeks. Either that, or canvas tarps would be carefully placed on the Temple floors prior to bringing the leavened bread into the Temple. Something to ask the Jewish scholars about.) But just as the “Wave Sheaf” of grain was lifted up into the air and waved on the “first sabbath” after the Passover, symbolizing Christ’s trip to heaven and return (to have his sacrifice accepted by God the Father, cf. John 20:17), so these two Pentecost wave loaves offered by each Hebrew family were lifted up and waved by the priesthood, symbolizing that we believers shall, for a brief span of time, leave this planet when we ascend to meet the descending Jesus Christ in the air (cf. 1 Thess. 4:16-17), before we return with him to stand on the Mount of Olives as Jesus begins his millennial rule as King of the whole world (cf. Zechariah 14:3-4, 9). This is the dispensation, represented by this early spring harvest, when God is calling a people for his name to be co-ruling kings and priests, reigning with Christ in the Kingdom of God he will return to establish on earth. Man’s (and Satan’s hidden) rule on earth will be over with. Christ’s and our rule over the earth will be just starting. We who have been called as believers in Jesus Christ during this span of time from Pentecost 31AD up until the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ are only the firstfruits of all those God intends to call to salvation. That is the essential Old Testament harvest lesson which Pentecost, the Feast of Weeks teaches us. Both James in James 1:18 and Paul in Romans 8:23 calls believers the “firstfruits of God’s salvation.” They were both Jewish and understood the significance of the Biblical word “firstfruits”. This feast yearly pictures the small harvest of souls which has been taking place from 31AD to the present, and this harvest will end at Jesus’ 2nd coming. So Pentecost pictures the entire body of Christ for this time period, and it is also the “birthday” of the entire Church, body of Christ. The Bride of Christ has a birthday, and it is Pentecost, Shevuot, the Feast of Weeks.
The fall harvest season
The group of Holy Days which come in the fall of the year symbolize tremendous and awesome events in God’s Plan of Salvation---events yet to come, unrealized as of yet. This spring and fall harvest season symbolism picturing God’s overall plan of salvation is a vital Bible truth which has remained little understood by most Christian believers and denominations. The early Christian Church understood these truths, as do many Messianic Jewish believers today. Messianic Judaism is starting to restore these vital Biblical truths. But how were these vital truths lost which all the apostles clearly understood? To understand a truth so clearly it doesn’t need stating is often referred to by the saying “That goes without saying.” So when the central Headquarters of the Church moved out of Jerusalem and into Gentile territory, what “went without saying” was lost. But how? What happened? Judeo-Christianity continued up in Asia Minor for about 300 years, but then what? What follows is what a Messianic Jewish pastor/rabbi wrote on this subject.
The Demise of First Fruits
I receive many requests for information about how and why we no longer celebrate the Feasts of the L-rd. In the spring, I am asked about Resurrection Sunday and how it came to be celebrated as it is [as Easter Sunday]. It is an ugly thing and one that I try to avoid talking about, but “the truth shall set us free.”
In the days of Constantine’s rule, he conquered the world and gave each nation an option: become Christian or be killed! But, to make it easy for them, he incorporated some of the conquered nation’s religious customs into his new revised sort of faith [this “sort of faith” was the proto-Catholic church, which became the Catholic Church]. He hated the Jews and was working hard to eliminate all remembrance of Judaism from Christianity [thus he and his proto-Catholic church basically wiped out Judeo-Christian churches throughout Asia Minor and wherever they were in the Roman Empire].
When he conquered the Babylonians, who worshipped Ishtar, a fertility goddess, he offered them a way to incorporate their annual major celebration with their new faith. Since their focus was on new life, Constantine “merged” this with the celebration of the L-ord’s resurrection, the sign of new life. The Babylonian men offered bunny rabbits and chicks to the temple prostitutes as symbols of fertility. The day was marked with a huge orgy, the result of which, each year, would be three month old babies. So, the prostitutes would sacrifice these infants to their goddess and would die eggs in blood. The men would “hunt” for the eggs and receive favor from the prostitutes based on their find.
And so, the Feast of First Fruits, ordained by G-d to celebrate the resurrection of the Firstfruits of the resurrection was altered and named after this pagan goddess, incorporating most of the same practices and taught to our children as harmless fun.
[originally written by Marty Cohen in his “Grafted Branch online publication. Comments in brackets [ ] are my own. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch3.htm for more about Constantine]
Alexander Hislop in his work wrote this: “The festival, of which we read in Church history, under the name of Easter, in the third or fourth centuries [200s to 300s AD], was quite a different festival from that now observed in the Romish Church, and at that time was not known by any such name as Easter. It was called Pascha, or the Passover, and…was very early observed by many professing Christians….That festival agreed originally with the time of the Jewish Passover, when Christ was crucified….That festival was not idolatrous, and it was preceded by no Lent” (The Two Babylons, p. 104). With the introduction of these watered down pagan days in place of the original Holy Days the early Christian Church had been observing (in a strictly non-Torah observant manner for the most part), tremendous Biblical understanding which the early Christian Church understood was lost. Messianic Judaism, the recently restored Jewish branch of the body of Christ, is restoring some of that “lost knowledge” about God’s great Masterplan of Salvation. Now that you understand your place in that plan, let’s go on to section II and see what happened on the very first New Testament Pentecost.
II. FIRST NEW TESTAMENT PENTECOST: The start of a 2,000 year harvest of souls (early harvest)
“Acts 2:1-14, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 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 Ghost [the Holy Spirit], and began to speak with other tongues, 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 marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?---Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphilia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: for these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.’” “Acts chapter 2, the day of Pentecost, an interesting and important study for us, because on this day 3,000 people are saved. So it’s important for us to take note of what happened. Interesting contrast, by the way, to the day the Law was given [on the same day of Pentecost, Shevuot nearly 1,500 years before], that tells us when Moses descended from Sinai, when he broke the two tables of stone, on that day 3,000 died. On this day, when the Spirit descends upon the church, 3,000 are born eternally, saved. These 120 people sitting there had seen Christ, they had walked with Christ, they had many of them reaped the benefits of his ministry. When I think of the 120 that were there in the upper room, no doubt Lazarus was there. He received of the benefit of Christ’s ministry, being raised from the dead [John 11] I would say is receiving of the benefit of Christ’s ministry. Or Simon, who used to be a leper. No doubt he was among the disciples. Think of those that were there, that received the benefit of his ministry. And the 12 that were there had been taught by Jesus for the previous 40 days by the resurrected Jesus concerning the things of the kingdom. They were already believers---in John 20 he had breathed on them and said “Receive the Spirit”---and yet all of them were not yet ready to do the work that God had set before them [cf. Acts 1:6-9]…
when Pentecost “was fully come”
It’s interesting, it says “When the feast of Pentecost was fully come.” Now Pentecost was one of three mandatory feasts [Holy Day feast seasons, 1) Passover/Unleavened Bread, 2) Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, 3) Trumpets/Atonement/Feast of Tabernacles---those are the three feast seasons required of every Hebrew male to travel to Jerusalem and observe]. Pentecost was one of the most crowded. Passover, a mandatory feast, no doubt, many of these same people had been in Jerusalem on Passover when Christ was crucified. And they knew of that situation. When Jesus walks with the two on the Road to Emmaus [Luke 24] and they don’t recognize him, and he says “Why are you so sad?” and they say, “Oh, because of the things that have transpired here lately.” And he said, “What things?” And they said, “Are you the only guy in Jerusalem that doesn’t know what’s happened?” Paul, when he’s before Felix says “This thing was not done in a corner, certainly you know about it.” So as the multitudes from many nations had come and gathered there on Passover many of them had already come in contact with the crucifixion of Christ and the rumors of the resurrection. Now on Pentecost, which was 50 days later, June or July, the weather was warm, the lanes of shipping were open. It was often more difficult to get to Jerusalem for Passover because of how early it was in the season. The shipping lanes were completely open at this time of year and so Pentecost tended to be the feast that was more crowded. Tabernacles would be the other mandatory feast [Trumpets/Atonement/Tabernacles] in the fall. Paul tells us that they [the Holy Days of Leviticus 23] were a shadow of things to come, the feasts and the Holy Days, but that Christ himself was the body that cast that shadow into the Old Testament. And certainly in the Passover we see all the beauty of the types and shadows of Jesus, the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world, stepping into time and fulfilling those many Passovers that had been celebrated. Certainly in Tabernacles we’re looking forward to the coming of Christ and the setting up of the kingdom. But it says, “When the feast of Pentecost was fully come”, and it doesn’t mean that the day was fully there, it has the idea when the feast of Pentecost had finally come to express all that it was fully meant to express in the first place [much like that very Passover 50 days earlier when Jesus, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed for the sins of the world]. The idea is that there had been over 1500 Pentecost’s that had passed since Leviticus 23 legislated this mandatory feast. Over 1500 Pentecost’s had come and gone without seeing what Pentecost was meant to see [or represent]. And now, when it says, “When the feast of Pentecost was fully come they were all with one accord in one place”, on a Sunday, by the way…Sunday, “When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place, and suddenly there came a sound from heaven as a rushing mighty wind [do you know what tornadoes sound like?], and it filled all that house where they were sitting.” Now it doesn’t say there was a wind, that all of a sudden their hair was blowing in the breeze. They didn’t turn around and look at each other and see everybody’s hair flopping around. This was the sound of a mighty rushing wind, where they were gathered, suddenly, all of a sudden…It was the sound that came and settled, of a mighty rushing wind, no wind, but the sound coming upon the place where they were sitting. Notice that…They were sitting. All of a sudden this sound starts to fill the place where they were. “And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire and it sat on each of them.” Now it doesn’t say that little flames with a forked tongue sat on each of their heads. That’s a bad hair day. It doesn’t say that fire was on their heads, they’d have all got burned. It says, “cloven tongues like as of fire dividing”, it gives us the sense that there was one entrance and then a dividing into tongues of light that looked like fire….It was like fire dividing into tongues and sitting upon each of them, is the idea. And imagine, how they looked around at each other, 120 of ‘em looking around, everybody had that little light sitting on their head. Now, is it symbolic of the Shekinah glory of God---coming to fill us as temples? “There appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them…” Now notice, the manifestation is before the Holy Ghost, the manifestation is first, there’s the sound, audible, then there’s the visual, and then the Spirit. And these things are never repeated. They’re not repeated in chapter 4 when they’re filled with the Spirit [again]. They’re not repeated in chapter 10 when Paul’s filled with the Spirit. They’re not repeated in chapter 11 when Cornelius and the Gentiles are filled with the Spirit. Some things are not repeated. This was something that was done on the day of Pentecost [on this one Pentecost only] to bring home to those 120 believers that were there, that this was a Divine action, a sovereign move of God, and that they were filled---and it’s passive on their part. They didn’t make it happen, they didn’t grovel for it, it’s something that God did, he ignited the fire that would become the Church down through the ages, because he tells us in the first chapter, ‘You wait here until you’re endued with power [from] on high, that you may be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria unto the uttermost parts of the earth.’ And we’re gonna read of crowds that were gathered in Jerusalem from the uttermost parts of the earth that were infected with the Living Messiah who was now in their hearts in an overflowing capacity…On Pentecost, something happens in their lives. Men that already believed, men that already saw Christ, that were already taught by him before his ascension, now there’s a new dynamic in their lives. A dynamic of power, a dynamic of change, a dynamic of being infectious, not just being a container, but being a conduit…bursting forth rivers of Living Water as Jesus had said…
The Spirit continued to give them utterance. It says “There were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.”---the Mediterranean world---“Now when this was noised abroad”---and there’s a question, was it the sound of the mighty rushing wind, or was it, and it seems to be the noise of so many different languages speaking of the wondrous works of God at one time---“now when this was noised abroad the multitude came together, and they were confounded”---here’s why---“because that every man heard them speak in his own language”---his own dialect, it means language he had known from a child. And it’s confounding them because here they are, by and large Galileans, common men, we’re gonna read later, they took note that they were ignorant and unlearned men. But they had been with Jesus, and they’re not hearing these things in Hebrew and Aramaic alone, they’re hearing them in all of the languages of the world that they had come from. “And they were all amazed. And they marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans?”---these guys are hicks, look at the way they’re dressed. “And how hear we every man in our own tongue wherein we were born?” Kind of opposite of God confounding them at Babylon, to where no one understood what anyone was saying, now by the Holy Spirit speaking in all these different languages, and everybody understanding them. Listen, “Parthians and Medes”, you know, Medo-Persian Empire, into the area of Chechnya…Elamites, that is from Iran, Elam is Iran. Dwellers of Mesopotamia, that’s Chaldee, Iraq, that whole area, and in Judea, Cappadocia and Pontus and Pamphilia, all the way down to Egypt, and in the parts of Libya, Cyrene, North Africa, strangers from Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes from Cyprus, Arabians from Saudi Arabia, we do hear them speak in our dialects the wonderful works of God, and they were all amazed and were in doubt, saying one to another, what meaneth this? Others mocking, said, ‘These men are filled with new wine.’” Now take note, here they are from all over the known world, these Jews come back to Jerusalem to attend the Holy Day of Shevuot, Pentecost, and what they’re hearing is they’re not sermons, they’re not hearing a message, as it were to them. What they’re hearing is everyone speaking “the wondrous works of God.” They must have been hearing this wonderful, beautiful praise to the Living God and to his Son Jesus Christ, in every language they knew. And they look up and see a group of 120 Galileans. We’re not told if the light is still on their heads, I doubt it. Now obviously the sound of the mighty rushing wind is not there, they wouldn’t be able to hear them. What they’re hearing now is the Spirit continuing to give them utterance, as they’re speaking in languages that they’ve not known. I have known missionaries in continents through Asia and Africa, that tell me of converts being filled with the Spirit and praising God in English, and not knowing what they were saying…Jon Courson talks of a meeting where they were praying together, a small group, and one or two began to speak in tongues. There was no interpretation, no one could interpret it, so he said “That’s it, let’s hold that here.” And afterwards the janitor of the building, who was from Iran, came with tears in his eyes, and said “Who taught them that?” “They were talking about Jesus Christ and how wonderful God’s love is and praising him in my own tongue that I learned [Pharsi].”… Here were these men, touching all of these lives---and these then would be those who would go back to the known world. Peter when he writes his first Epistle talks to those that are “scattered abroad”, the Diaspora, those who have been sewn throughout the Mediterranean world like seed. Here they are on the day of Pentecost. It will tell us at the end of the chapter, 3,000 accept Christ, and as they go back to their native lands they take the Living Christ with them. The purpose of this whole circumstance is not for people to gather around and be amazed and hear people jabbering in tongues. The purpose of it, is it sets the floor, the stage for Peter to step forward, and he began to speak as the Spirit gave him utterance, but in Aramaic, their own language, or in Hebrew. No doubt the Spirit quickening his mind, because there’s no Scroll as he gives his sermon, and yet he’s quoting Scripture after Scripture after Scripture after Scripture after Scripture. And 3,000 turned to Christ. “What’s going on with these men? What is this?” they say [verse 12]. They were in doubt, saying one to another, ‘What meaneth this?’ Others, mocking, said, ‘These guys are drunk.’ And there will be those when you endeavor to do anything Spirit-led, who will mock. That comes with the territory. Man, step out in the Spirit, watch sparks fly. But it’s good. God allows it. Little bit of pressure, proves what we are, doesn’t it? Miles McPherson said, “You never really know what flavor a teabag is till you put it in hot water.”…Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, will stand up now, “Peter standing up,” notice, with the eleven, including Matthias, “lifted up his voice and said unto them, ‘Ye men of Judea and all ye that dwell in Jerusalem, be this known unto you and hearken to my words, these men are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour [9am] of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel…” Keep in mind, at the time that God started the Church via his Holy Spirit on this Pentecost, the believers at this time were all Sabbath-keeping, Holy Day observing, Torah-observant Jews, from all over the world. This will help you understand the historical studies in the next section coming up. And even as they grew in the grace and knowledge of the Lord as Christians, at this point in time over the next 20 years till the mid 50s AD, the believers were more like Messianic Jews than Baptist or Methodist or Church of the Nazarene Christians you may know as a neighbor. The next section will make plain what this early Church was like, and how it developed, and split into the various branches of Christianity we know of today. For the full sermon transcripts on Acts 2:1-47, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/index4.htm
III. The Differing Stages, Eras of the Pentecost Harvest
Early Church History
False concepts: Originally, Christian scholars thought of early Christianity as mainly an emerging Gentile institution which had quickly come out of Jewish roots, almost within five to six years after the founding of the Church in Jerusalem, with the conversion of Paul and his subsequent spreading of the gospel to the Gentiles. These scholars had ignored almost completely what the early Church of God in Jerusalem was like, as well as what the Judeo-Christian churches were like later on in Asia Minor. But following World War II, due to the exposure of the huge Nazi atrocities against the Jews in Europe, Christian leaders and historians began to refocus their attention on the early Christian church and specifically its Jewish roots. Also following World War II a tremendous revival of spiritual fundamentalism and a complimentary explosion of radio and televised evangelism occurred. Some labeled this the Sunday Morning Comedy Hour, but much of it was real nonetheless, and fundamental evangelical churches and denominations were springing up all over the place. A hunger developed for the early history of the Christian church, fueled by a sincere spiritual desire to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered” as Jude admonished. So people were asking, very sincerely, “What was that ‘Faith’ like?” Good question, what was it like? Honest church and religious history scholars, both secular and believing, delved deeper into the past to find answers. They sought to find out what the early Church of God in Jerusalem had been like, as well as what Judeo-Christianity had been like in Asia Minor. Coupled to this sincere historic research was a virtual knowledge explosion in Middle Eastern archaeology, especially as key Middle Eastern countries opened themselves up willingly to archeologists. Even Saddam Hussein welcomed foreign archaeological digs in ancient Babylon (Turkey, or ancient Asia Minor was not left out either). This all contributed to a far more accurate understanding of early Church history, focusing on the Holy Land and on into Asia Minor during the period between the first and second Jewish wars with Rome (70AD-135AD). What was the effect of all this new knowledge? Even in the mid to late 1960s it led to a huge paradigm crash for many Christians. Why? Early Christianity was nothing like what they’d been taught or assumed it had been like. It was Jewish. Many were stunned. Close examination of the history showed it was Jewish in Jerusalem, all of Judea, Samaria, Galilee, and then as it spread up into Asia Minor it continued to be Jewish and maintain Jewish days of worship. Even up into the 300s AD, Asia Minor held in excess of 3 million Judeo-Christians. Want to learn more? Log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/index3.htm . You have just read the introduction to the article attached to that link.
Various Christian Revivals Following the Early Church
There are three defining points, reasons, that major revivals start or have started within the body of Christ. Each revival, which can lead to the formation of a new denomination, has one or more of the following reasons for its beginning and existence. God is behind each and every one of these categories, empowering with his Holy Spirit, leading and inspiring key individuals and groups to step out in faith. I will list three reasons and list along with them some of the main revivals and/or denominations that sprang up as a result of this defining reason or point. As you will see, some revivals have come from a blend of the stated reasons below. What’s listed below are only a representative mention of the members of the body of Christ, and not even by far the total.
1. An individual Christian or group of Christians felt compelled to come out of an existing church or denomination because this church or denomination “allowed practicing sinners”---unrepentant sinners---to become “baptized members” of the church and it’s congregations. Examples:
a. The early Separatists in England during the 1600’s felt they had to “separate” themselves out of the Church of England. Merging with the Puritans, they became the Congregationalist churches now in America. (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/saga.htm)
b. John Wesley’s Methodists came out of the Church of England during the 1700s and 1800s, becoming the Methodist denomination. In the early 1900s a new group felt they must separate out of the Methodist denomination, the Church of the Nazarenes formed in order to maintain the original principles laid down by John Wesley. (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/wesley.htm)
2. A move of the Holy Spirit to bring the Gospel of Salvation into another ethnic/racial group, thus helping to bring to pass Jesus Christ’s imperative command found in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:6-8.
a. The gospel being brought to the Gentiles via Paul in the early Church age. First to Asia Minor where it was in a Judeo-Christian form, or the Quartodeciman churches. (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/index3.htm.)
b. The gospel being brought to the Gentiles in the Greco-Roman areas of the world, adopting to their specific cultures (by Paul again, in the beginning).
c. The gospel being brought to the various parts of the Gentile world, both past and present, by various missionary and evangelistic organizations. (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/samaritan_purse.htm, http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/whyjesus.htm,
d. And finally, the gospel of salvation re-adapting itself and going back into the Jewish ethnic/cultural group from which it originally came out of in 31-32AD, now going back into the Israeli nation and to all Jews worldwide. This is the Messianic Jewish revival or movement. (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/messianicmovement.htm and http://www.jewsforjesus.org )
3. A move of the Holy Spirit to create a church or denomination which adheres more closely to the Word of God as the sole authority to set Christian living standards and practices of belief. Examples:
a. the early Separatists in England, and then America.
b. John Wesley, starting the Methodists
c. Churches of Christ of the 1800s to present
d. Chuck Smith and the Calvary Chapels now spreading around the world. (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm )
4. There is a fourth category within the body of Christ which survived down through the ages in tiny groups, basically going through a number of tiny “revivals” of their own, while maintaining their own peculiar belief system---the Sabbatarians---known as the Sabbatarian Churches of God. During the first century the early Messianic Jewish Christians labeled by the Jews as “the sect of the Nazarenes”, migrated during the various persecutions (resulting from the Roman-Jewish wars) into Asia Minor (under first John, then Polycarp and then Policrates). The Church of God Sabbatarians believe their various revivals originated from these early Messianic Jews, with each revival bringing these Sabbatarians into a different but adjoining region of the world---from the land of Israel to Asia Minor, then from Asia Minor to the Balkans, then from the Balkans to Europe, then from Europe to England, and then from England to the United States. (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/revivals.htm for their own history of this.) (To view a history of the Sabbatarian Churches of God in America from the 1660s onward, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/historycog1.htm.)
5. Now here is very a weird twist of church history where I found the origin of one major sub-branch of the Gentile church. Where did the Baptists come from? (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/BaptistHistory.htm.)
The two “wave loaves” have to be present when Jesus returns
Originally, the body of Christ had two main branches, Jewish and Gentile. A careful reading of what Paul wrote in Galatians shows that Paul was assigned to lead the “Gentile branch of the body of Christ”, the Judeo-Christians in Asia Minor, mainly, during his lifetime, and those in Rome as well, while the apostle Peter was assigned to lead the Jewish branch of the body of Christ, “those of the circumcision”, in the land of Judea, Samaria and Galilee. The simple gospel of salvation being preached under each group was identical. Now, just after the recent revival of the Jewish branch of the body of Christ, the body of Christ yet again has the same two distinct branches, Jewish and Gentile. The two loaves have to be there, to be presented to Christ at his return. The Day of Pentecost is the whole body of Christ’s birthday. It represents the early spring harvest of souls God is harvesting into his barn. It is the smaller of the two main harvest seasons God has planned for mankind. The later fall harvest of souls starts right after Jesus’ 2nd coming. We have a job to do within this harvest season Jesus has called us into. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/missionstatement.htm to learn a little bit more about that, and how we might better be able to fulfill the Great Commission, no matter which denomination we hail from.