Thursday, May 29, 2014

Feast of the LORD #4 - Pentecost - Required Attendance
When Moses was given and then passed along the instructions for the seven Feasts of the Lord, the Israelites were told that their men were required to attend three of them. After the Temple was built in King Solomon's day, this meant all the Israelite men were required to travel to Jerusalem to attend these three Feasts of the LORD:
  • the Feast of Unleavened Bread, 
  • the Feast of Weeks (which is Pentecost), 
  • and the Feast of Tabernacles.

Deuteronomy 16:16 (ESV) says this:

"Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed."

Fast-forward to the time of Jesus. He had just been crucified. On the third day after his crucifixion, which was the Feast of Firstfruits, people began to see him. Alive! For the next forty days people talked to him and ate with him. And this was happening with more people than just his eleven remaining disciples. He had been spotted all over the place by more than 500 people! (See 1 Corinthians 15:6.)

Then Luke records this: Acts 1:4-5:

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, "you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

We already know, according to Deuteronomy 16:16 above, that the Jewish men were required to be in Jerusalem for the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Tweet that!), which began the day after Passover and lasted for seven days. This is why Jerusalem was so crazy-busy, so full of people when Jesus was crucified. (Tweet that!

One week down, six to go.

For many men, especially those who lived a long distance away, it probably didn't make sense for them to go home and then return six weeks later. So a large number of men (and many with their families) stayed.

That means it wouldn't have been that unusual for these eleven disciples to stay in Jerusalem until Pentecost. They probably would have stayed anyway. (Tweet that!

I would like to point out one variation, however. At some point the eleven disciples must have left Jerusalem and gone to Galilee. In Matthew 26:32 and Mark 14:28 Jesus instructed them, "But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee." And in Matthew 28:16-20 we are told the eleven disciples did indeed go into Galilee and saw Jesus, alive, and worshiped him. Jesus prophesied before his death that they would meet him in Galilee, and his prophecy was fulfilled after he had risen from the dead. (For more, see chapter 52, "Meet Me in Galilee," in the book Prophecies Fulfilled in the Death & Resurrection of Jesus.)

So the Eleven must have returned to Jerusalem, and then Jesus told them, "Do not leave Jerusalem." Wait here, he said. And so they did.

Jesus ascended on the fortieth day after the Feast of Firstfruits (Acts 1:3). And then the Holy Spirit came upon the followers of Jesus in the Pentecost that is familiar to Christians, in Acts 2.

But they were in Jerusalem in obedience not only to Jesus' instructions, but also in obedience to the Law that required them to attend the Feast of Weeks, which is Pentecost, in Jerusalem. (Tweet that!

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