Free Bible Study Guides

Series 4 - God's Plan for You and the Entire World: Unlocking the Secrets of God's Festivals

Hi, friends! Welcome to this lesson exploring the next harvest festival in the plan of God. The Day of Pentecost played a pivotal role in the beginning of the New Testament Church of God, and it unlocks additional secrets about God's plan of salvation for all humanity.

We hope these lessons bring you additional understanding and inspiration. We would love to hear from you and serve you in any way we can.

Lesson 5: Feast of Pentecost: "Firstfruits" Called Now

The third step in God's plan highlights the giving of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the Church of God. What is the role of the Church in the plan of salvation? Who is God calling now, and why?

Feast of Pentecost: "Firstfruits" Called NowThe following excerpt from the chapter "The Feast of Pentecost: The Firstfruits of God's Harvest" in our booklet God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind provides some insight.

"God chose the first Pentecost after Jesus Christ's resurrection to pour out His Holy Spirit on 120 believers (Acts 1:15). 'Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues [languages], as the Spirit gave them utterance' (Acts 2:1-4).

"The speaking in various languages occurred as a crowd of people gathered in Jerusalem, with each visitor hearing the speech of the disciples in his own native tongue (verses 6-11). These astounding events demonstrated the presence of the Holy Spirit.

"At first the people of Jerusalem who witnessed this miraculous phenomenon were astonished, with some attributing the actions of the Christians to drunkenness (Acts 2:12-13). The apostle Peter, now filled with the Holy Spirit, boldly explained the event to the crowd as a fulfillment of Joel's prophecy: 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh' (Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28).

"Peter explained how his listeners could also receive this Spirit: 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call' (Acts 2:38-39).

"God used these miracles and Peter's preaching to add 3,000 people to His Church in one day. These converts were all baptized and received the Holy Spirit (verses 40-41). From this pivotal point, God's Spirit has been available to all who truly repent and are properly baptized. The Day or Feast of Pentecost is an annual reminder that God poured out His Spirit to establish His Church, the group of believers who are led by His Spirit."

Share Your Story


The Firstfruits: Christ and the Church

What are some of the names the third festival of the Lord has been known by?

Exodus 23:16
"And the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field..."

Exodus 34:22
"And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest..."

Numbers 28:26
"Also on the day of the firstfruits, when you bring a new grain offering to the Lord at your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work."

1 Corinthians 16:8
But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost.

"Feast of Harvest" was a name that reflected the fact that this day marked the end of the spring grain harvests in the Holy Land. Though this was the end of the barley and wheat harvests, farmers still looked ahead to the large fall harvests. It is in that sense that several of these passages highlight the connection of "firstfruits" to this festival.

The other two names mentioned here are related to how this festival was counted. Instead of being on a fixed day on the Hebrew calendar each year as the other festivals are, it is counted starting with the Sunday during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Seven weeks were counted to the 50th day, another Sunday. This explains the names "Feast of Weeks" and "Pentecost" (from a Greek word for 50th).

Who was the first of the firstfruits?

1 Corinthians 15:20
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

During the Feast of Unleavened Bread the first ripe grain was offered to God before the harvest could begin (Leviticus 23:10-16). This wave-sheaf offering was the beginning point for counting the seven weeks and 50 days from which the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost got its name.

That wave-sheaf offering represented Jesus Christ, which is why He is called the firstfruits. He was the pioneer, the first to be resurrected to eternal life.

Who else are called firstfruits?

James 1:18
Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

Luke 12:32
"Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

The followers of Jesus Christ are called firstfruits, just the beginning of the spiritual harvest. Christ also called His Church a little flock. But why isn't the Church bigger now?

Is God calling everyone into His Church now?

John 6:65-66
And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father."
From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.

Jesus Christ clearly states that people can't of themselves decide to become part of the Church of God. It takes a special calling from God (John 6:44; Acts 2:39). And the Bible shows few received and responded to that calling during Jesus' lifetime, and comparatively few afterward as well.

In a world where less than a third of all people claim any association with Christianity, it is clear God is not calling everyone now either. The majority are now spiritually blinded, cut off by Adam and Eve's choice from access to the tree of life, symbolic of the Holy Spirit. But we know God desires all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). How will His desire be fulfilled?

The Church of God began on the Feast of Pentecost at the end of the spring harvest season. But, as we will see, the symbolism of the harvests is not complete at Pentecost, since the fall harvest festivals are still to be fulfilled. We will explore the mystery of how God will fulfill His plan in lessons 8 and 9 in this series.


Pentecost and the Holy Spirit

How did God mark the beginning of the Church of God?

Acts 2:1-4
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:36-38, 41
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit..."
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

The disciples were celebrating the Day of Pentecost when God sent the Holy Spirit, with several miraculous signs, to mark this special occasion of the founding of His Church. After Peter's powerful, Spirit-inspired sermon, about 3,000 people repented and were baptized! The Church grew 25 times larger in one day!

Why do we need the Holy Spirit?

Acts 1:8
"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

Hebrews 8:8-10
Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord.
"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."

God's Holy Spirit gives us the power we need to do the work of preaching His good news to the world. It also makes it possible for us to live the Christian life under the New Covenant, providing guidance, help and conviction (John 14:16-17, 26). After all, the "fault" of the Old Covenant was not with the law, but with "them," human beings. Human beings are not able to obey God without His Spirit, so the New Covenant provides the solution. God's laws can be written on our minds and hearts, and the Holy Spirit gives us the spiritual help to repent and obey. Additionally, allowing ourselves to be led by God's Spirit identifies us as God's children (Romans 8:14-17).

What is the essence of God's laws that will be written on a Christian's heart by the Holy Spirit?

Matthew 22:37-40
Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
"This is the first and great commandment.
"And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
"On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

Romans 13:8-10
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

1 John 5:2-3
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

Love is the essence of all God's laws and commandments. Said another way, the commandments were given to show us how to love.

Jewish tradition connects the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai with Shavuot, or Pentecost. The giving of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost in Acts 2 then shows how that law can be written on our hearts. Under the New Covenant, we can keep the commandments in their full spiritual intent.

What did Jesus Christ say would be the hallmark of His Church?

John 13:34-35
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

The "new" part of the new commandment was Jesus Christ's incredible example, which takes the meaning of love to a new level of selflessness and service. The fact that this overarching summary commandment is to now be written on our hearts is also new. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the Church of God is expected to rise to a new level of love that fulfills both the letter and the spirit of God's perfect law.

What is the job of the Church of God?

Matthew 24:14
"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."

Matthew 28:19-20
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

God has called people into the Church of God now to fulfill a dual mission. The Church's job is to preach the good news of the Kingdom of God around the world. Then, the Church is to teach and care for all those people God calls into the Church now, preparing them to teach others and help Jesus Christ after His return to establish the Kingdom of God.

Our next lesson will explore the momentous events leading up to Jesus Christ's second coming.


Apply Now

God gives the greatest gifts! Two of His wonderful gifts are associated with the Feast of Pentecost—the Holy Spirit and the Church of God.

The night before His crucifixion, Jesus Christ explained to His followers some of the great benefits they would receive through God's Spirit. Read John 14:15-27 and write down several of these benefits.

The Bible also lists many blessings that come through God's Church. Here are just a few: truth, being part of the household of God, a strong foundation, Christ's love and cleansing, belonging and caring for each other, encouragement, accountability and spiritual nourishment (1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 2:19-20; 5:25-27; 1 Corinthians 12:26; Hebrews 10:24-25).

Take time today to thank God for these blessings or to seek them.

To learn more about how to receive the Holy Spirit, see "How Can You Receive the Transforming Power of God's Spirit?" And to learn more about the Church, see "How can I find the true Church of God?"

Next Lesson: Feast of Trumpets: War and Rescue

Questions about this lesson? Feedback about this lesson?

Related Resources:

The Feast of Pentecost: The Firstfruits of God's Harvest from the booklet God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind

Why should Christians celebrate the Feast of Pentecost?

The Lesson of the Feast of Firstfruits

The Annual Festivals of God

How should a Christian today celebrate the annual festivals observed by Jesus Christ and the apostles?

The Holy Spirit: God's Transforming Power from the booklet Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion

Does the New Covenant Abolish the Commandments? from the booklet The Ten Commandments

God's Law of Love: Making Life Work

A Pentecost Message: It's Your Church Too!

The Wave Sheaf Offering: A Ceremony Foreshadowing Salvation