This Sunday we will celebrate the Day of Pentecost, an important day in the history of the church. We most commonly think of this as the day the Holy Spirit came upon all Christ followers and the church began. But the celebration of Pentecost was around long before that day recorded in Acts 2.
During Passover, ancient Israel also celebrated the Feast of Firstfruits. It marked thanksgiving to God for the firstfruits of the harvest — in this case, the grain and cereal harvested in the spring. At this festival, the Israelites offered the very first sheaf of the harvest and were not allowed to eat anything from the crop until they gave its initial portion to the Lord. This required a great deal of faith on the part of the Israelites, as they would be giving the offering of firstfruits at a time when not much was ready to be harvested. They had to trust God that He would indeed provide the fullness of grain that had yet to come forth, something that from a human perspective was far from certain given the people’s utter dependence on the right amount of rainfall and so forth to give the best crop.
Fifty days after the Feast of Firstfruits was the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost (from the Greek term pentekostos, or fiftieth), which was the grand celebration at the end of the grain harvest. On this occasion, the offerings of food and animals to the Lord were more lavish (Leviticus 23:15–22), an appropriate way to thank Him for the tremendous bounty He had provided.
While the celebrations are different for 21 st century Christians, the mindset should be the same. Are we, in faith, giving God our first and our best? When we tithe are we giving the first 10% or waiting to see what’s left over after the cellphone bill, cable bill, car payment… Are we giving Him the best of our time? Do we set aside a part of the day for our personal worship when we are awake and undistracted or are we waiting until bedtime and hoping we stay awake through our entire prayer?
And most importantly, is Christ first in your life…every part of your life…every moment of your life? Giving Him the first and the best is an act of faith and obedience. But there is no reason to do this in fear for God has promised to provide for our needs, to never leave us for forsake us, and to give an indescribable peace through it all.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Michael Nolt, Pastor