Days of Remembrance and Celebration

Days of Remembrance and Celebration

“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump,
since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover,
was sacrificed for us.”
1 Corinthians 5:7

“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with
one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from,
as of a rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they
were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of
fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with
the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 2:1-3

Naturally there is a dynamic connection between Passover and Pentecost in the Bible. These two great pilgrim festivals essentially remind us that the pathway or door to the Kingdom of God is via the spilt blood of a Lamb. Paul writes that Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed and thus we are delivered from sin, the wrath of God, the devil and reconciled to God. On the other hand, Pentecost reminds us of the power of the kingdom of God. This power is expressed in God’s word and in the infilling of His Spirit. We are to feed on the Word of God and be clothed with the Spirit of God (Matthew 4:4; Luke24: 49; Acts1:4-5).

Al this means four things:
1. A coming day of consummation

That is, there must be a second appearing of the Messiah to respond to humankind’s response to His death, burial and resurrection. This is what Paul stated as he preached in Athens in that, as he put it…” God will judge the world by the man Christ Jesus” who has been raised from the dead (Acts17: 30-31; Hebrews 9:28). In short, the world is now without excuse and will have to “square up” to the claims of Jesus of Nazareth. These claims will be verified by His second coming. The world will be humbled because, “every eye will see Him even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7)

2. A present day of victory

That God in Christ died for His world means that sin in us can and should be overcome by the power of God that works within us (2Peter1: 2-3). This power is greater than anything in the world and can overcome our unrighteousness (1John 4:4). Paul wrote that sin, of any kind, should not have dominion over us (Romans 6:14)! However, the life of Jesus has to be appropriated! This means that we do not wait for God in Christ to work within us but rather count on the Holy Spirit to do the work as we set out to obey God’s word. Obedience is the doorway to unleashing the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives (Romans 6:16). For this reason, Paul says that we should put off the old man and put on Christ (Ephesians4: 20-24). Victory over sin is not “rubbed off” us by praying etc. but by acting on God’s word. James reminds us of this when he exhorts us to be doers of the word of God and not simply hearers (James 1:21).

3. A day to encourage one another

Christians must and should belong to a local church; not a perfect church but a local one! It is in this context that the fullness of Christ’s life and presence is experienced. The Bible clearly teaches that to follow Christ begins with a personal decision, but this personal decision is followed through with a commitment to regularly associate with God’s people. Paul affirms that “by one Spirit we have all been baptized into one body….and made to drink of the one Spirit” (1Corinthians 12:13). The early church enjoyed “a together life” that included prayer, Bible study, fellowship and breaking of bread (Acts 2:42). Christians that isolate themselves from the local expression of Jesus’ people place themselves in serious spiritual danger! We should not and must not neglect the gathering together of the saints (Hebrews 10:25).

4. A day of kindness and appreciation

The great pilgrim Feasts of the Bible are given to Israel in their original context. They belong to Israel or, as Paul states in Romans 15:27, we share in Israel’s “spiritual things!” God has shown us mercy (Romans15:9) and brought us into His banqueting house of love through the nation of Israel and her glorious Messiah (Romans 9:1-5). Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles, all rich in describing God’s redemptive acts, have become ours as well. We rejoice in God’s saving love and also recognize that we are indebted to Israel and the Jewish people (Romans15:27). Indebtedness means that you have an obligation to the one that has blessed and enriched your life. We should be careful to discharge this obligation for God will bless those who love and care for His ancient people. This is truly the abiding lesson that we learn from Cornelius and the Roman Centurion. Both were touched by the hand of God because they were kind and gracious to the Jewish people (Acts 10:22,31; Luke 7:1-5). Sadly, the wider Church in the world has not well learned this lesson.

May your celebration of Passover and Pentecost be filled with God’s love, joy and peace.

Malcolm Hedding.