May 28, 2009

Pentecost and the Rapture of the Church

By Jack Kelley

Pentecost comes in the early summer (May-June). This year it’s May 31. It’s the only Holy Day between the 3 Spring Feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits) and the 3 in the fall (Rosh Hashanna, Yom Kippur, and Tabernacles). Its Hebrew name is Shavuot. Pentecost is a Greek word and translates “50 days” since it comes 50 days after the Feast of First Fruits, the day we should know as Resurrection Morning . The Feast of First Fruits is celebrated on the day following the first Sabbath after Passover and Pentecost on the day after the Sabbath seven weeks later, (Lev. 23:15-16) giving rise to its nickname “Feast of Weeks”. Since the Jewish Sabbath is Saturday, both these Holy days are Sundays.

What’s a Pentecost?

Jews celebrate Pentecost (I’ll just use its Greek name to avoid any more confusion than necessary) as the day Moses received the Law on Mt. Sinai in the wilderness and the nation Israel was born. (Exodus 19-20) Christians celebrate it as the day the Holy Spirit fell on the Disciples in Jerusalem and the Church was born (Acts 2).  If you agree with my view that the parables of Matthew 13 describe the church on Earth and that the parable of the yeast predicts there will be sin in the church, you’ll be interested in the fact that unlike all the other Jewish Feasts that call for unleavened bread, Pentecost requires bread baked with yeast (Lev. 23:17). Pentecost also began the annual wheat harvest, perhaps pointing to another of Matthew’s Kingdom parables, the Wheat and the Tares.

The Pentecost ceremonies reveal a subtle link to the coming church. In synagogues, the Book of Ruth is read on Pentecost. The story of Ruth has been called “The Romance of Redemption” wherein Naomi, a Jewish woman from Bethlehem loses land and position and is forced into exile in a foreign country where her husband soon passes away leaving her penniless and alone. She decides to return to Bethlehem and is accompanied by Ruth, a gentile woman who has sworn never to leave her. Ruth was a Moabite who had married one of Naomi’s sons (who also died) making her Naomi’s daughter-in-law and, like her, a destitute widow. Back in Bethlehem Naomi’s relative, a prominent Jewish man named Boaz falls in love with Ruth and marries her, in the process redeeming Naomi’s land and position according to the law. (Lev 25:25 & Deut. 25:5-6). The modeling here is dramatic, with Naomi in the role of Israel, destitute and alone; Ruth as the Church, the gentile bride; Boaz as the Kinsman Redeemer (Messiah) and the story a prediction of the relationship between them. On His way to redeeming Israel, the Kinsman Redeemer takes a gentile bride, saving both from destitution and restoring Israel’s land. The identification of the Church with Pentecost began in the prophecies of Ruth. To learn more about these incredible prophecies, and enjoy one of the world’s classic love stories, read Ruth’s Story.

By the way, Boaz was the son of Rahab, the harlot from the Book of Joshua (read “The Gospel in Joshua … The Story of Rahab” ), and 3 generations later his great-grandson David became King of Israel. Rahab and Ruth both show up in the Genealogy of the Lord Jesus (Matt. 1:5), and one of the pillars at the entrance to the Temple was named after Boaz.

When’s Your Birthday?

By tradition Enoch, one of the patriarchs from Genesis 5, was born on the day later to be known as Pentecost. Enoch’s name means “teaching”, a primary function of the Church. For this reason many scholars see him as a “type” of the church as well. Genesis 5:21-23 indicates that Enoch was very close to God and was actually taken alive (raptured) into Heaven before the Great Flood. Pre-Trib scholars see this event as hinting of a yet future disappearance of the Church before the Great Tribulation. These same traditions also hold that Enoch disappeared from Earth on his birthday. So here’s a model in Genesis 5 of a man identified with the church being born and raptured on the day that would become Pentecost, the day the church was born.

All this of course is merely an accumulation of circumstantial evidence. The Rapture is a secret event, and as such its exact timing is known only to God. But we are admonished to learn from Israel’s history (Rom. 15:4) and be aware of the times and seasons so that we should not be caught by surprise as events marking the end of the age unfold (1 Thes. 5:4).
For we will not all sleep (die) but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (1 Cor. 15:51-52)
Soon And Very Soon

One day soon now, all who are in Christ, having heard and believed the Word of Truth, the Gospel of our salvation, thereby receiving the mark of the promised Holy Spirit, will suddenly disappear from the face of the Earth along with all children and those mentally incapable of making informed choices. In one instant we will have been going about our daily routines on Earth and in the next we’ll be standing in the presence of our Redeemer, our sins forgiven and forgotten, and all our imperfections gone. Among us will be all the faithful dead of the Church Age, reunited with their perfected bodies and restored to eternal physical life. Together we will begin the most incredible journey of exploration and realization ever dreamed of.

Neither we, nor the unbelieving world, will have received any advance warning of the timing for this event; it will have come totally by surprise. Maybe it will happen on Pentecost, maybe not. But one thing is certain, when it does happen, none us will care one whit whether we had predicted its timing accurately. We will only express in unimaginable joy our gratitude for being there.
For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephe. 2:8-9)
As it is written:
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him – but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit. (1 Cor. 2:9-10)
You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.

Related Posts

 Boaz And Ruth
 The Parents Of Boaz, Follow-Up
 Why Did The Lord Linger On Earth, Follow Up
 Spring Rapture?
 Between The Ascension And Pentecost