Know Your Bible: A Day of Smoke, Thunder and Lightning
The plain truth about the day of Pentecost

Why has God called out only a small number of people now as part of His one true Church? Why have only they been given His Holy Spirit, which remains inaccessible to the rest of mankind? Is God playing favorites? Is this the only day of salvation? The day of Pentecost gives us the answers to all of these questions.

God’s firstfruits should have a special view of the day of Pentecost because this holy day pictures them. More than any other day, this holy day—a day of smoke, thunder and lightning—shows their place in God’s Family plan. On this day, God gave His law and His Holy Spirit. On this day, God made it possible for you to be part of the Bride of Christ—a firstfruit in His Family.

While you are not yet a begotten member of that Family, your parents are, and as a teen in God’s Church, you have the potential to be. It is important for you to understand the truth about Pentecost too. So grab your Bible, some notebook paper and a pencil. Let’s understand the fantastic history of the day of Pentecost.

The Law and the Holy Spirit

1. How did God give the Ten Commandments to ancient Israel once they had reached Mt. Sinai? Exodus 19:16-18.

What an awesome display of power! Imagine the profound effect this must have had on the children of Israel. Having just been freed from their captors in Egypt, they must have been deeply moved.

The Israelites came out of Egypt during the Days of Unleavened Bread. By the time they reached Mt. Sinai and God gave them the law on this day of smoke and fire, it was actually the day of Pentecost! This was one of the significant gifts God gave His nation on the day of Pentecost anciently.

2. Did this generation of Israelites that came out of Egypt ever make it to the Promised Land?Numbers 14:28-30, 32; 26:62, 65.

The ancient Israelites did not obey God, even after He gave them such a dramatic display of His power. In reality, these people never even made it out of the wilderness. Their entire generation, except for two people, died in the wilderness, having broken God’s law again and again.

3. What happened only a few hundred years after the Israelites entered into the Promised Land? 2
Kings 17:5-7, 18, 22-23. Was the nation of Judah taken into captivity as well? 1 Chronicles 9:1.

Just a few hundred years after an entire generation of Israelites had died in the wilderness because of their disobedience, the entire nation of Israel—now the two separate nations of Israel and Judah—was enslaved again, having totally rejected the commandments God had given them. The identity of the 10 tribes of Israel was lost. The tribes that stayed with Judah were enslaved for 70 years in Babylon.

The Israelites had completely failed as a nation, having broken the law God gave them in such a dramatic display of power at their first Pentecost. The reason they failed has everything to do with the other gift that God gave to His people on the day of Pentecost in New Testament times.

4. In the New Testament, what did God send to His disciples on the day of Pentecost? Acts 2:1-12.

Like the delivery of the Ten Commandments to ancient Israel, there was an awesome display of power on this day of Pentecost: There was a rushing mighty wind, there were tongues of fire, and all that were gathered near heard the disciples speaking in their own languages. The Holy Spirit was sent to the disciples on this first day of the New Testament Church—the day of Pentecost in a.d. 31.

5. What is the Holy Spirit that God sent to His disciples on Pentecost? Luke 1:35.

Here, Luke calls the Holy Spirit, “the power of the Highest.” Contrary to popular belief, there is no biblical reference to the Holy Spirit as a third member of the Godhead. Rather, the Holy Spirit is God’s power—when you have the Holy Spirit in you, you have access to the very power of God!

This giving of the Spirit was not meant to replace the commandments that God had given the Israelites at Mt. Sinai. Far from it! The Holy Spirit is actually the power that enables us to keep the Ten Commandments.

The Israelites never had access to the Holy Spirit, and that is why they were never able to successfully obey God. They didn’t have a heart to obey (Deuteronomy 5:29).

But because of the gift that God gave the disciples during the first Pentecost of the New Testament Church, and because your parents are members in that Church, you have access to the power that will allow you to keep the law—and not merely the letter of the law that ancient Israel tried to keep. Because you have access to the Holy Spirit, you are able to understand the spirit of the law too. Jesus Christ magnified the Ten Commandments for us—and then He gave us access to His power to obey them!

6. What is one example of how Jesus Christ magnified the original Ten Commandments for those of us who have access to His Holy Spirit today? Matthew 5:21-22.

According to the spirit of the law, hating someone is just as bad as murdering them! Christ goes on to show that simply looking on a woman lustfully constitutes adultery. This was Christ magnifying the law for a people who could finally keep it (Isaiah 42:21; Matthew 5:17).

We have seen how God gave His law and His Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Now let’s fill in some details about what keeping the day of Pentecost actually symbolizes. It has everything to do with your future!

Completing the Spring Harvest

1. How do we know when to keep the day of Pentecost? Leviticus 23:10-11, 15-16.

God did not give the ancient Israelites a specific date to observe Pentecost on. Rather, He directly connected the observance of Pentecost to the spring harvest. The date for Pentecost was determined all the way back during the Days of Unleavened Bread—on the day of the wavesheaf offering.

The wavesheaf offering consisted of the firstfruits of the grain harvested at the beginning of the spring harvest. It was a spiritual type of Jesus Christ, who was also the first to be accepted by His Father. Without Him as the first human ever to be born into the God Family, no one else could follow. The wavesheaf was offered by the high priest to God every year until Jesus Christ came, fulfilling the event it pictured.

The wavesheaf offering happened on the Sunday during the Days of Unleavened Bread. Once the wavesheaf was accepted by God, it signified the beginning of the small spring harvest. It also signified the beginning of the 50-day count toward Pentecost. If the Israelites counted correctly, Pentecost would take place exactly 50 days after the Sunday during the Days of Unleavened Bread, meaning Pentecost would also always fall on a Sunday.

2. What was offered to God on Pentecost? Verses 17-18.

These two loaves represent God’s called-out ones—the firstfruits. One loaf represents those few called out prior to Jesus Christ’s first coming, while the other represents the New Testament Church.

3. Are these loaves baked with leaven? Verse 17.

Since these loaves represent physical people, they are filled with leaven—a symbol of sin! The members of God’s Church are not perfect as Jesus Christ is perfect. That is what God calls them out of the world to strive to become (Matthew 5:48). There is no doubt that God’s people have a tough job in making their garments clean and white as Jesus Christ’s Bride must be—but the Bride does make herself ready (Revelation 19:7-8). And it is for a very special purpose!

Today, the Church is being called to receive salvation and prepare to bring everyone else into God’s Family. Pentecost identifies God’s people as the firstfruits—the first of many brethren to come later (Romans 8:29).

A much larger harvest, pictured by the Last Great Day, is coming later, but the fantastic day of Pentecost pictures the time you live in and the role your parents play. In the May 1985 Good News, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote: “[Pentecost] teaches us that we of the true Church are the ‘firstfruits’ only—the first to receive salvation through Christ. It teaches us that all others are not yet called.”

The firstfruits who are called out today are being called now to help God with the greater fall harvest. The rest of the world will not be called until that time of the fall harvest. God is not trying to save mankind today, as much of modern “Christianity” thinks. If He were, every Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim would be eternally lost—condemned simply because they have never heard the Word of God! This alone should tell us that God is not trying to save the world at this time. He is focusing on completing the spring harvest first. Pentecost pictures that completion!

What It Means to Be a Firstfruit

1. What is the advantage of being called today? Revelation 19:7; 3:21.

God gives fantastic blessings to the firstfruits that will never be available to anyone else again. True, the risk is greater for the firstfruits, but the rewards are incalculable and will last forever! Only the firstfruits will marry Jesus Christ, as described in Revelation 19. Only the very elect firstfruits will share Jesus Christ’s throne with Him.

The risk is greater for those called out today because they do face Satan the devil, an evil society and their own carnal human nature. With these things comes an increased risk of failure.

Those in the fall harvest will face less risk because Satan will not be around (Revelation 20:1-3). But with our greater risk also comes a greater reward—God’s firstfruits have the opportunity to bring the entire world into God’s Family, as pictured by the marvelous day of Pentecost!

2. Is the entire world—and even the universe—waiting for this spring harvest? Romans 8:21-23.

This world is waiting for God’s elect to learn the lessons they need to learn so they can help every man, woman and child become a member of the God Family! The firstfruits—your parents, and eventually you, once God calls you—are the hope of the entire world.

This day of Pentecost puts the focus on the Bride’s role in God’s Family. On this day, God gave the law to the ancient Israelites and the Holy Spirit to His New Testament Church. On this day, God made it possible to bring you into His Family as one of the firstfruits of many brethren. What an amazing blessing is the day of Pentecost!