Preparing For Pentecost: A Review of Exodus 19
The fifty days from Passover until Pentecost are known as the days of counting of the Omer. It is a time of preparation for the harvest. For the church, it was the days after Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension leading up to the actual day of Pentecost, or Shavuot. We know what happened on that first Pentecost? But what preparation was made by the disciples and is there an Old Testament pattern?
Just before Jesus ascended back to heaven He told His disciples in Acts 1. “Tarry in Jerusalem until you are given or receive power from the Holy Spirit.” Since the disciples had spent that passover night with Jesus and then He was taken from them and died the sacrificial death for the sins of mankind, they had spent time with the Resurrected Lord. Now He was promising to send the Holy Spirit. Later, we find in Peter’s sermon that this was, at least partially, fulfillment of Joel 2:28, where the Promise of the Holy Spirit being poured out on all flesh is recorded.
The disciples tarried, or waited for the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem as Jesus had commanded them and their patience was paid off when The Holy Spirit was poured out on 3,000 souls and they spake in other languages and tongues, as of fire, appeared on their heads. The Church was essentially born there and spread quickly from Jerusalem to Samaria and eventually to the uttermost part of the world. But, this Pentecost and it’s association with the end-time Harvest followed a pattern laid out in the Old Testament.
In Exodus 19 we find that the Children of Israel, led by Moses have just come out of Egypt and now God is telling them what they must do to be His peculiar people. He tells them to obey His voice so that they will be His people. As the chapter progresses we find the Lord telling Moses what to do in order to meet with Him on Sinai. There were certain things that Moses, Joshua and the Children of Israel had to do in order to meet with God and encounter Him. There was a waiting period that required that they be holy, and have their hearts postured towards the events soon to take place.
Ultimately, only Moses was allowed up and Joshua stood at the foot of the mountain. God told the people to remain set apart and away from the mountain. God is holy and demands a holy people. He was about to come down and hand out the law that would prescribe how they were to live and how they were to approach God. The law was their guide in all of life’s matters. It was simple, and yet they compounded it and made it a burdensome thing. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit gave the church power to be witnesses in all of the earth and gifts were given to the various members to help the church function as it was intended to.
God came down in full measure on Sinia, with thunder, lightning, and smoke. The people all saw it and were terrified. Ultimately God gave the law to Moses but while they were waiting the people became impatient and built themselves a god made of precious metal. Many are waiting on a major outpouring of the Holy Spirit in these last days, since the Joel 2:28 passage has only partially been fulfilled. Many expect everyone to speak in unknown tongues or to perform miracles or prophesy as is part of what occurs when the Holy Spirit is poured out.
Jesus told them in Luke 24:49 that the Holy Spirit would be given to give them power. The ultimate purpose of this power was that they would be powerful witnesses which encompasses all of the things we mentioned previously: gifts, fruit, miracles, signs and wonders, faith, healing prophecy etc. It’s a package and one can’t just pick and choose which parts you like. Tongues come with it, just as when God came down at Sinai there was lightning, and all sorts of stuff going on.
The power of God had been previously seen in Egypt as God defeated the gods of the Egyptians and delivered the Children of Israel. Likewise, Jesus demonstrated His power while He walked the earth and through His death and resurrection He delivered and saved us all.Like the Israelites we have seen and known His power and like them we often forget what He has done and we act like they did in grumbling and complaining. How can this be since we no longer have to wait for moments of the Spirit to come upon us, because we have Him abiding in us.
As we approach Pentecost this week let us do as God commanded them before Sinai and as Jesus told His disciples, wait, and posture to receive a fresh outpouring from above. The Children of Israelites were preparing to go into the promised land and ‘take it.’ Likewise the church was sent to take the whole world. It was vital that the people prepare for an encounter and then meet with God, so that they would be ready when they entered the promised land, and faced giants and everything else that would come their way.
As we get closer to the end of the age the church must be prepared to fully engage the world and gather the harvest. We need to take the time now and prepare to be used for Him in whatever way He sees fit. Spiritual giants will fall, the harvest is plentiful and workers are being raised up. What about you? Are you a worker in the harvest that is taking the time to be overtaken by the Holy Spiritand be used in power to gather the harvest and then see Jesus return for His bride,His church?