<<important OT celebration>>
In OT times a major, one day feast (also called the Feast of Weeks or Feast of Harvest) was held 50 days after the Passover (Lev 23:15-22). For the Jews this time of celebration is known as Shavuot and occurs in late May or early June in celebration of the wheat harvest. Pentecost is sometimes called Whit Sunday or Whitsun.
These annual events took on a whole new meaning in the NT. Jesus was crucified at the Passover and 40 days later He ascended to heaven. His parting message to the assembled followers was, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses...to the ends of the earth” (Act 1:8). Jesus knew His followers could only fulfill this mission with the help and power of the Holy Spirit, so He had instructed them to wait in Jerusalem until they were given the Spirit (Lk 24:49). Just as the Spirit had empowered Jesus for ministry, so the Spirit would now empower Jesus’ people for ministry (Lk 4:1). Ten days after Jesus returned to heaven about 120 of His followers were gathered in prayer in an upper room of Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit came on them in such a powerful that they were never the same again (Act 2:1-40). The NT Church was birthed, with many people becoming believers and being instructed in the faith; miracles took place, and there was great rejoicing in God. Jesus had sent the Holy Spirit, as promised, to live in and empower His followers for ministry (Jn 14:16,17; 1 Cor 6:19).
In the OT, God's work had mostly centred on the the people of Israel, but at Pentecost His Kingdom was expanded to include "every nation under heaven" (Act 2:5, 10:35; Rev 7:9). Peter told the crowds in Jerusalem that the Spirit was being poured out on all people so that “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Act 2:21).
Pentecost – God empowering people to reach people for Him
that He desires to bring to our lives. Although taking up residence in us at salvation we largely determine the level of influence and activity that He is able to manifest through us. Just like with salvation, God will not override our freewill so if we are not co-operative He will not force Himself on us. Endeavour to be continually sensitive and responsive to His gentle voice within so you can live a life pleasing to God, displaying the fruit of His nature (Gal 5:22,23). It is vital to have the ongoing empowering (filling) of the Holy Spirit to minister effectively.
Pentecostal or Charismatic churches give emphasis to the baptism in the Holy Spirit, along with speaking in tongues and the spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:1-14:40). In our earnestness to experience more of God, we must be careful not to let emotionalism and religious fervor cause us to go beyond what is supported by Scripture, and develop new beliefs/doctrines to explain the sometimes questionable experiences and emotions. Fervent experience, even when accompanied by miracles is not the test of true faith (Mt 7:22,23).
See also: baptism (in the Holy Spirit), feasts, fruit (of the Spirit), Holy Spirit, Passover, spiritual gifts, tongues.