It’s a Birthday – Where’s the Cake ?
“ . . . and when the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place . . .”
This Sunday, June 8th, according to a Biblical reckoning of time, is that day, ‘The day of Pentecost’, or, according to Leviticus 23:16, Exodus 34:22 and Numbers 28:26, ‘The Feast of Weeks’ – Shavuot. ( literally, ‘Weeks’). The partial verse quoted in the opening is from The Acts of the Apostles chapter 2, starting with verse 1. It is the day crowned as the ‘Birth of the Church’. We concur, that the day in history known as Shavuot is the ‘Birthday of the Church’, but did you know it occurred long before the day recorded in Acts chapter 2 ? How do we know that factoid ? Before we answer that question, let’s ponder and examine a little.
Have you ever noticed how curious it is that we can read the Bible over and over and suddenly catch something ( or not ) that’s always been there ? For example, the day on which the crucifixion took place was the day on the eve of a Sabbath. Our traditional teaching is this was the day we call Friday since the Sabbath is obviously on the day we call Saturday, hence ‘good Friday’. But the Scripture is clear this was not the regular weekly Sabbath but a particularly High Sabbath ( John 19:31). That ‘high day’ ? Passover. And as a side note, for those of us that are not great at math, there is no possible way to start on Friday afternoon and conclude on Sunday morning and accumulate ‘three days and three nights’ ( Matthew 12:40).
So what’s the point ? The point is this – sometimes the answers are right there on the page but due to a multitude of possible reasons we unwittingly or unknowingly misinterpret what’s on the page.
So back to the ‘factoid’ referring to the Pentecost and the birthday of the ‘church’. Ah, but first, here’s a quick question that has always bugged me. If this was the first Pentecost, how did they know what to call it ? Obviously this was not the first one. The first ‘Pentecost’, for the purposes of our discussion, took place in Exodus 19, 20 and following, at the giving of the Ten Commandments.
So what does that have to do with the birthday of the ‘church’ ? The word ‘church’ in the Apostolic Writings is the greek word ‘ekklesia’ which defined is ‘a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into a public place for a common purpose, an assembly’. We see this group and their assemblies all through the Gospels and the rest of the Apostolic Writings. But they existed long before that. Acts 7:37-38 speaks of ‘that man Moses who was with the church in the wilderness’. Pentecost – Shavuot – is the birthday of the ekklesia – it is just older than you thought. Shalom – J & R