The Mystery of Pentecost

As the Church of God prepares to commemorate Pentecost Sunday, June 4, Michael Utterback, director of Ministry to Israel offers this unique perspective on the mystery of Pentecost and its Biblical roots.

“When the Day of Pentecost had 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 the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.”
Acts 2:1-5
There is a very special event on the Christian calendar, the annual celebration of Pentecost where the Holy Spirit, as promised by Jesus, was poured out on 120 believers in the city of Jerusalem. On this day there are sermons, celebrations, and much talk about the need to return to our Pentecostal roots by church leaders the world over and rightfully so. Much emphasis will be placed on the need to experience the marvelous spiritual baptism of the Holy Spirit. However, there is a deeper significance regarding the origin of the Day of Pentecost we need to understand.

After the crucifixion, Jesus appeared to the disciples many times in the forty days following. The last time He appeared to them was when he ascended into heaven just outside the town of Bethany on the Eastern side of the Mount of Olives. The last message of Jesus to His disciples was a command: “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:49

The book of Acts begins with the retelling of that conversation and reveals what happened after Jesus left them. The writer records that the eleven, with Mary the mother of Jesus and His brothers, returned to Jerusalem and entered an upper room. They spent time there in prayer, perhaps for many days, but they did not remain there (see Luke 24:53). As they waited for the Promise of the Father, the day of Pentecost, or as it is known in Hebrew, Shavuot (weeks) drew near.

Shavuot was the second of the three feasts the Jews were commanded to attend in Jerusalem. Therefore, the disciples of Jesus, being devout Jews, went to the Temple Mount and were somewhere in that 35-acre complex; approximately 120 of them were sitting together in prayer at the “house” of God.

The second chapter of Acts describes what happened that day, “When the day of Pentecost had fully come…” For understanding, the day of Pentecost, like all Jewish days, began at sundown the night before. Therefore, at nine that morning the celebration of Pentecost was well under way. Suddenly a powerful rushing wind and a loud noise filled the Temple area as the Holy Spirit fell on the 120 disciples. Thousands of Jews from all over the known world who had come from various countries to celebrate the feast of Pentecost, felt the rush of wind and heard the noise. They were drawn from all quarters of the Temple compound towards the sound and commotion. Imagine what it must have been like to see fire sitting on the heads of these people who were not burned, but in fact, were reeling with joy and laughter. Then, to their astonishment, they heard them speaking in their native language. As conviction flooded the area, three thousand Jews gave their hearts to the Lord and were baptized that day (probably in the many Jewish baptismal pools around the Temple Mount).

Obviously, the Lord planned all along to pour His Spirit out on Pentecost, but why that day?

Unknown to many, the day of Pentecost or Shavuot, was a feast the Jews had commemorated for a thousand years honoring the amazing experience with God at Mount Sinai. What happened there was astounding. On that very day the first Shavuot, which was exactly fifty days after they had killed the Passover lamb in Egypt, the newly freed children of Israel were standing together at the foot of Mount Sinai watching a mountain burn with fire before them. They heard voices and saw dark clouds ascending into the heavens, which brought terrifying conviction. That day, God gave the Jews His law. Moses described it this way, “from the day God created man on earth, was there ever a time God spoke to a whole nation at once?” Deuteronomy 4:32-36. That one event set Israel apart from the rest of the nations forever. At that moment, the world received God’s law through the Jews.

It didn’t end there. Not only did God choose the Jews to reveal Himself to the world and to make known His laws and commandments to the nations of the earth, but He also chose the Jews to introduce the Holy Spirit to the world. That is why exactly fifty days after the Passover, when Jesus was crucified as the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth,” the day of Pentecost came. On that very day recorded in the second chapter of Acts, the Holy Spirit was introduced to the world through the Jews!

On Mount Sinai, God gave the Jewish nation the Law. On Mount Zion, God gave the Jews His Holy Spirit. Why? So that they could be His witnesses to the nations! “Therefore, you are My witnesses, says the Lord, that I Am God!” Isaiah 43:12 He told the Jewish Apostles, “But you shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be My witnesses…” Acts 1:8 God has chosen to reveal Himself to the world through the Jews. It follows then, what God does now with Israel and their land and how he fulfills promises made to them and their forefathers, will testify to the modern world that He IS the God of Israel, not only in the past, but also in the coming days.

Does this mean that non-Jewish believers in Jesus are second class citizens in the kingdom of God? Certainly not! When you accepted Jesus, you were adopted into the “commonwealth of Israel.” Paul says, “for through Him we both (Jew and Gentile alike) have access by one Spirit to the Father.” Ephesians 2:18. God has called believers out of every tribe and nation to be grafted into Israel. But make no mistake, God is not finished with His natural Jewish children; their spiritual restoration and deliverance from every enemy is sure and will be a testimony to the world that He is God!
May the Holy Spirit that came down on Jerusalem fall mightily on you as you celebrate this wonderful gift of God to the world. May He give you boldness to be His witness in the corner of the world where you live.

(Ministry to Israel is a department in the Care Division of the Church of God established as a channel to bless God’s chosen people. To learn more, visit

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