More and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.
The Old Testament celebration of Pentecost (also called the Feast of Weeks) was one of three pilgrimage festivals prescribed by the Law of Moses. Pentecost was an inclusive celebration with men, women, slaves, and foreigners all invited to participate (Deut. 16:11). Other names for Pentecost were the Feast of Ingathering and the Day of First Fruits, making this festival a celebration of the harvest (Ex. 23:16; Num. 28:26).
In view of this, it is appropriate that Pentecost is regarded by many to be the church’s birthday. On that day the church received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the gift promised by the Father through the prophet Joel (v. 16). Jesus had commanded His disciples to remain in Jerusalem and wait for this. This helps us to understand much about the nature of the church. The church is a community of the Spirit. It is made up of people from every culture who are united to Christ by faith and are empowered by the Holy Spirit. The church is also a community with a message. Its mission is to proclaim Jesus Christ.
The church is both sent into the culture and separated from the culture. Peter assured those who had gathered to listen on the day of Pentecost: “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (v. 39). This distance is not only one of time, alluding to Joel’s ancient prophecy, but also of location. The mission of the church is to offer the hope of the gospel to all those who are near and far. At the same time, Peter warned those who heard: “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation” (v. 40). Thousands believed and were baptized as a result of Peter’s message. Their faith marked the first fruits of the church’s great harvest.
Apply the Word
One way you can share in the harvest is by supporting your church’s outreach to those who are far off. In addition to providing financial support to your church’s missionaries, you can also support them through prayer and encouragement. Why not write a brief note to a missionary today to tell them that you are praying for their ministry?