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Pentecost is observed on Sunday, June 5 this year, and marks one of the most notable events in human history — the giving of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost in A.D. 31. Prior to this time, only a select few throughout the Old Testament were given God’s Spirit.
The record of human history has been awash with watershed moments.
They are referred to in this way because, just like in a watershed, rain that falls in the mountains can end up in one of two very different places. For example, rain that falls on the Rocky Mountains can result in drops of water that end up traveling eastward and south down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. Other drops of water travel westward into the Columbia and on to the Pacific Ocean. Those drops may have come out of the same storm, but because of the slope on which they landed, the end result was very different.
Watershed moments are moments in time from which the history of humankind changed course and would never be the same again. The invention of the steam engine, the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand, the invention of the printing press; all of these events would change human history in marked and measurable ways, taking it down a very different path than if that event had never occurred in the first place.
We can look at the record of history and see numerous places where humanity reached a fork in the road and ended up going down one fork, drastically changing the direction—sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
One event in human history that doesn't get much press truly represents one of the greatest watershed moments in human history—a time from which nothing would ever be the same again: the giving of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost in A.D. 31.
Without the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, we could not fully understand His plan for us, we could not make sense of our part in it, we could not overcome our sins, and we would not be able to grow in our love for our fellow man.
Prior to this time, a select few were given God’s Spirit. There are records of individuals throughout the Old Testament who received it, but by and large God dwelled with Israel in the tabernacle, or the temple—not within them.
When Christ spoke with His disciples on the eve of His crucifixion, He told them throughout John 14, 15, 16 and 17 that He had to go, and that the Father would send a helper, the Holy Spirit—the very essence of God. He told His disciples that He and the Father would make their home with them, would abide in them, describing the drastic change that would take place in those who were to become children of God.
The events proceed as Christ stated they would. He was betrayed, crucified, resurrected, and then appeared to His disciples throughout the weeks leading up to the Day of Pentecost. On His final appearance to them, He said, “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).
In Acts 2, we can read the account of the sending of God’s Spirit upon those gathered in Jerusalem for the Day of Pentecost in A.D. 31. We read of the Spirit of God descending like the sound of a mighty wind, as divided tongues of flame rested on each of them. Those who received that Spirit had the ability to speak in the languages of other people and understand one another regardless of their nationality. Some mocked, but others understood what was going on.
Peter, in his now-famous sermon, connected this event to the prophesied pouring out of God’s Spirit on mankind from Joel 2, and boldly stated that if those gathered would repent and be baptized, that they too would receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit.
God no longer only dwelled with His people, He dwelled in His people.
For the first time in human history, mankind as a whole, regardless of their nationality, had access to the mind of God, and the understanding of those spiritual things.
Without the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, we could not fully understand His plan for us, we could not make sense of our part in it, we could not overcome our sins, and we would not be able to grow in our love for our fellow man. The spirit of man is not capable of making these things happen: God’s Holy Spirit is necessary in order to enable us to do them.
Because of our belief, our subsequent repentance and baptism, and our receipt of His Spirit, we have an incredible opportunity to become first fruits of God, to have part in the first resurrection and rule alongside Jesus Christ, serving mankind in the Millennium as a part of the Kingdom of God.
These things are not achieved of our own accord—they are a gift of God and represent an opportunity that He gives to those He loves; an inheritance that He provides His children who allow themselves to be led by His Holy Spirit within them.
The giving of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost represents one of the greatest watershed moments in human history. On that day, the course of human history changed forever. God offered mankind the opportunity to be a part of His family; He offered mankind an opportunity to overcome their humanity and to become more like Him as time goes on. That level of change within us is impossible without the transformative power of God’s Spirit working in our lives, and changing us at our core as we yield ourselves to it.
Are we yielding ourselves to it? Do we see fruit of that Spirit at work in our lives?
Are we stirring it up appropriately?
As the Day of Pentecost approaches, let us consider the importance of this aspect of God’s plan and reflect on the work of His Spirit in our lives.
United News (May-June 2018)