From a calendar perspective, Pentecost is an odd duck. It stands a good distance away from the hustle and bustle of the initial spring Holy day season. Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread are preceded by a flurry of intensive cleaning and meaningful introspection—but as the Last Day of Unleavened Bread ends, it’s easy for all that momentum to peter out. For a while, there’s nothing right around the corner, no urgent feeling of “What’s next?” to keep us focused on the next key element of God’s plan.
And then, after Pentecost, it’s easy for that feeling to intensify. The next Holy Day is a small eternity away—with the exception of the weekly Sabbaths, Pentecost is the last commanded assembly we’ll see for a while.
After Pentecost, the Holy Days become a waiting game.
We’re still waiting for Trumpets to be fulfilled. We’re still waiting for the events pictured by Atonement and Tabernacles and the Last Great Day to unfold. The big events of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost have already come and gone. Christ died on the cross, gave us a way to put sin out and replace it with righteousness, and then gave us the tool we need to make it all happen. Now there’s nothing left to do but wait.
Except that’s the worst possible approach we can take to God’s Holy Day plan—especially Pentecost.
From an agricultural perspective, Pentecost makes perfect sense. It’s the Feast of the Firstfruits—and firstfruits take time. They have to be planted, they need to be cared for, they have to be watered and nurtured. They need time to grow and come to fruition.
The time between the Last Day of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Pentecost is a reminder that we need to be growing—not waiting. You’re not where you need to be yet, and neither am I. We need to be taking every opportunity to grow in grace and knowledge, to cast aside the sin which so easily ensnares us, and to develop into the spiritual firstfruits God would have us become.
Pentecost itself, though—I think Pentecost is a reminder of something else:
We have work to do.
It’s so easy to turn the cycle of personal growth into a way to hide. Self-examination means we’re confronted with our own flaws again and again—the reasons we’re not good enough, the ways we’re falling short of where we should be, the reasons God can’t use us…
And then we’re Moses, standing in front of the burning bush and explaining to God why His plan won’t work because, hey, let’s be honest, we’re just not the right person for the job. We’re so far from where we need to be; we have so much more growing to do before we’re ready to—
And then God tells us to quit making excuses and to go do the work. When Moses told God he wasn’t a good public speaker, God replied, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say” (Exodus 4:11-12).
When Jeremiah told God, “I cannot speak, for I am a youth,” God replied, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you” (Jeremiah 1:6-8).
God knows who you are. He knows your weaknesses and your limitations—and He has a job for you to do. When we tell God all the reasons we can’t, He tells us all the reasons He can. Then He tells us to get to work.
We don’t get excuses with God. He made us; He formed us; He knows exactly what we’re capable of—and, more importantly, He knows exactly what He’s capable of.
Christianity is, in many ways, intensely personal. It’s about self-examination and how you’re growing as an individual. But Christianity isn’t compartmentalized, either. It’s not a matter of me growing quietly over here while my neighbor grows quietly over there, and we’ll just exchange pleasantries when our paths happen to cross.
God gave the Church work to do—and the Church is you. It’s me. It’s the entire assembly of God’s called-out ones, not just a handful of people working at a headquarters or home office. We all have different roles to play, for “there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).
We have work to do, you and I—and Pentecost reminds us to get to it. Trumpets—the return of Christ—is still off in the distance. For all we know, that day is a lifetime away. Right now, in this empty space between now and then, we must do the work.
When Peter gave his sermon on that fateful Pentecost in AD 31, he got a response. His audience was “cut to the heart” and determined to find out the answer to an important question:
“Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).
Peter gave them the initial steps: repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Spirit. But it doesn’t stop there. Any veteran of the Church knows that receiving the Holy Spirit is only the beginning of the work; only the first step into a much grander and much bigger world.
Skip down a few verses, and you’ll find that “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). Why do you think that was? Was it only Peter’s ability to deliver sermons that stirred people to action? Or did it have anything to do with the Church members who “ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people” (Acts 2:46-47)?
Which had the greater impact—one extremely effective speaker, or 3,000 lives all setting an example of Godly living for their friends and families and even enemies to see?
I think God used both those avenues to accomplish some incredible things, and I think it’s a powerful reminder that as members of the Body of Christ, the work we must do extends so far beyond just showing up for services once a week.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).
Light. Good works. We can’t stay forever in a loop of self-examination. Eventually, we have to stop navel-gazing and start doing, being “diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Our internal growth must result in action.
No more excuses. No more delaying. No more hiding.
Do the work.
Until next time,