What is Pentecost?

By C. Eldon McNabb

The modern Pentecostal movement in America began in Cherokee Count­y, North Carolina, in 1896.  An evangelistic group from Monroe County, Tennessee came for a revival.  And what a notable revival it was!  As they preached, the Holy Spirit moved mightily, and a “new” phenomenon occurred.  Several were baptized with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues.  It wasn’t long until about one hundred and thirty people had received that glorious experience.  From there it spread across the nation and around the world, and, somewhere along the line, began to be known as the Pentecostal movement.  To this day, when we think of the baptism with the Holy Ghost, we think of Pentecost.

But of what is God really prophesying by Pentecost?  In the year of the death of our Savior, the day of Pentecost occurred about fifty-three days after His crucifixion.  Passover was on the fourth day of that week, and Jesus was placed in the tomb just before sundown.  The following day, the fifth day of the week, was a Jewish High Sabbath: The 15th day of the Hebrew month Abib, which was the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.   Jesus had to spend three days and three nights – from the evening of the 4th day to the evening of the 7th day of the week – in the tomb.  According to Lev. 23:11, the following day, our Sunday, the High Priest was commanded to wave a wave sheaf of the first fruits of the harvest before the Lord.  That same day Jesus also waved His wave sheaf which consisted of those who were resurrected after He was.  (See Matt. 27:52,53)

The Feast of Weeks began that first day of the first calendar week following Passover.  As it is written, “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 unto the Lord.  Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord.” (Lev. 23:15-17)  That Old Testament shadow, which the New Testament calls Pentecost, was not a shadow of the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, although that baptism occurred on that Feast.  The manifestation of the Holy Spirit on that day is foreshadowed in 2 Chron. 5:11-14.

The Apostle Paul told us in 1 Cor. 15:46, “That was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.”  The natural barley harvest officially lasted seven weeks, followed by the ritual of the fiftieth day mentioned above, and in 2 Kings 4:42, barley is declared to be the firstfruits.  The “spiritual” fulfillment of that shadow will be the emergence of two spiritual wave loaves.

What are these two wave loaves in their spiritual fulfillment?  As we see from Lev. 23, “they are the firstfruits unto the Lord.”  The firstfruits of everything was sort of like a tithe in the O. T., but was more perfectly expressed in the firstborn of the people of God.  The shadow of that is given to us in Num. 3:5-51.  God sanctified unto Himself the whole tribe of Levi instead of the firstborn of all of the tribes.  But that is only one part of the whole revelation of the firstfruits unto the Lord at Pentecost.  As God said in Isaiah, it is precept upon precept.  However, if we concentrate on the “firstfruits,” we can readily see what the Lord was prophesying of with the use of the allegory of those two loaves.

James, the Lord’s brother, revealed a very important bit of the revelation of the firstfruits.  In chapter 1, verse 1, James addressed his epistle “To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.”  Then in verse eighteen he wrote, “Of His own will begat us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”  He said “a kind,” because there are, in fact, two kinds; two loaves – early and latter.

Who are these members of the twelve tribes of Israel?  They are shown to us in the seventh chapter of The Revelation of Jesus Christ.  As it is written, “I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels –  Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And – there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.”  Twelve thousand out of each of the twelve tribes.  It was these who made up the elect of the Church in the days of the early apostles.

The other “kind of firstfruits” is revealed to us just seven chapters later, in chapter fourteen.  Whereas the 144,000 in chapter seven were all Jewish, this group is Gentiles!  They are redeemed at the end of the sixth millennium from Adam.

John wrote, “I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. – Which were redeemed from the earth. – These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.”  When God revealed the second loaf, in this passage. He showed that they finished the allegory, “being the firstfruits unto God.”  This second, and last, of those two wave loaves is to be completed during the last seven years at the end of this age of redemption and grace in Christ Jesus.

In Revelation chapter 21, those two groups are combined to reveal “The Bride, The Lamb’s Wife,” in the city foursquare.  When that second group has been sealed and the first group has been resurrected they will be presented together unto “the second Adam,” as the second Eve, for the marriage of the Lamb will have come.  What a jubilee that will be!  The dead raised and the living changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye!

Yes, the day of Pentecost and the year of Jubilee foreshadow the same great event.  It is the last year of the six-thousand years which God has allotted carnal man before Jesus the Christ returns in power.  We will spend a year rejoicing with our Lord and King before he shall “march through the land in indignation,” treading the grapes of His wrath.  The barley will have been gathered, the wheat harvest finished, the Summer over and gone.

Between now and then, there will be those who will not believe what is happening, before the door is shut, and they will suffer the wrath of God with the unbelievers.  Jesus will return as scheduled, and the seventh millennium will be His.  Praise the Lord!