The Feast of Pentecost was a great day in the lives of the early Israelites. It was celebrated seven weeks from the 16th day of month of Nisan, which was the first month in the Jewish calendar. It was originally called the Feast of Weeks. (See Exodus 34:22 and Leviticus 23). On this feast day the new crops of food and barley were eaten, the first fruits of the annual crops. It was later called the Feast of Pentecost due to the establi9shment of the Greek language when Alexander the Great ruled the region. The word for “fifty” in Greek is Pentecost; thus we have the name Feast of Pentecost.
The month of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar is equivalent to our time for Easter, in March or April. It was during this annual Hebrew celebration that the Holy Spirit was poured out in Jerusalem upon the disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:1-4). It therefore represents the first fruits of the New Testament church on the Day of Pentecost.
Before Jesus died He promised His followers that He would not leave them “orphans” but would send them the Comforter or Holy Spirit. He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Holy Ghost. Following His death and resurrection, Jesus was see alive on earth for a period of forty days; after His departure, the disciples waited seven to ten days in the Temple and an upper room for the promise of the Holy Ghost, an event that happened on the Day of Pentecost. (See John 14:16; Acts 1:1-45)
With the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon the disciples in Jerusalem, the Feast of Pentecost marks the birthday of the church. It was on this day that Peter preached that the gift of the Holy Ghost was not for the 120 disciples alone, that the outpouring was not a one-time event; rather the gift of the Holy Ghost was for all people, both Jews and Gentiles, and for the duration of the church age: “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39).
By the fourth century, the Holy Ghost experience was being ignored by church leaders and Greek theologians who had come into the church, and they described the Holy Ghost as a third person in a trinity. This affected men’s desire to have this personal experience with God, and in the Middle Ages the baptism of the Holy Ghost was lost in the historic church. In the nineteenth century, however, people began to seek God for restoration of this wonderful gift with the result that the Pentecostal revival began on the first day of the twentieth century, January 1, 1901, in Topeka, Kansas, with an outpouring of the Holy Ghost with the sign of speaking in tongues. Many church groups today, however, refuse to embrace or accept this gift of God. When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost, People were astonished and asked, “What meaneth this?” because they witnessed people receiving the Holy Ghost by speaking foreign languages. It was the phenomenon of speaking in tongues that was the sign of Spirit reception and the personal confirmation of receiving this gift from God, the Holy Ghost.
In the Book of Acts, when people received the Holy Spirit they spoke in other tongues. Speaking in tongues should not be emphasized except as the accompanying sign in receiving the Holy Spirit. It serves as a confirmation to the individual that something has happened spiritually.
The apostle Paul later informed the Corinthian church on the use of spiritual gifts and included the gift of tongues. But here he was not writing about the sign of the Holy Spirit baptism, but about the gift of tongues used in public church services. (See 1 Corinthians 12-14) Some Christians receive the gift of tongues, but this gift is not a sign of receiving the Holy Ghost but a gift used to minister in the church. (See 1 Corinthians 14:18) In 1 Corinthians 14:21-23 Paul called attention to the statement in Isaiah about speaking in tongues (Isaiah 28:11-12). The Holy Spirit experience is called the earnest of our inheritance, which could also mean pledge (Ephesians 1:14). Jesus spoke of this salvation gift in Luke 11:11-13; John 7:37-39; John 3:3-5; Luke 24:29; Acts 1:5-8; and other places.
Should we as members of the body of Christ not desire this personal confirmation from God of our faith in Him and accept it as what God intended us to have? It is wonderful how God can take control of a person’s vocal organs and use them as a sign of the infilling of the Spirit. (See James 3:8)
Please consider these other verses of Scripture:
“Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise” (Matthew 21:16). It does not take long for a newborn child to let us know that he is alive.
We have “received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).
“These signs shall follow them that believe . . . they shall speak with new tongues” (Mark 16:17).
“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). (Compare this verse with Isaiah 23:11-12.)
“This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16; Joel 2:28).
“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord . . . until he receive the early and latter rain” (James 5:7).
We who have received this wonderful gift of the Holy Ghost can add our testimony: “how marvelous and amazing, how informative and ingenious, how gratifying and satisfying, how comforting and lasting.” Only God can perform this miracle of awakening the Human soul to a new life with a confirmation of His coming to dwell in us.