Do you know why the Holy Spirit was given at the Feast of Pentecost ten days after Jesus returned to heaven?
There is an Old Testament story that helps us understand. It is told through the ceremonies and rituals of the sanctuary that God asked the Israelites to build in the Sinai Desert. The book of Hebrews tells us this sanctuary was a “figure” of the heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 9:9 KJV). The Greek word used here for “figure” is “parabole.” It is where we get the English word “parable.” That means that the sanctuary ceremonies were a “ritual parable” or an acted-out story.
The sanctuary parable foretold the coming of our Savior, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. It foretold His death, burial, and resurrection. It also gives us insight into what happened when Jesus was inaugurated` in Heaven and the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost. Join me as we follow the Lamb’s story.
You Shall Receive Power
Moments before His ascension, Jesus promised his disciples, “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” (Acts 1:8).
Ten days later, this promise was fulfilled at the Feast of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit descended upon the waiting disciples as flames of fire (Acts 2:3). On that very day two loaves “baked with leaven” (Leviticus 23:17) were presented at the temple. The leaven represented the power of the Holy Spirit which was given to grow the Kingdom of God (Matthew 13:33).
As the Spirit was poured out, the disciples began to miraculously speak the many languages of the people who had gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover. Peter attributed this display of power to Jesus, saying “being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33).
What was the result of this outpouring of the Holy Spirit? “That day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41).
This great outpouring was made possible by a special event in heaven that same day.
Our High Priest
Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection were symbolized by the altar of sacrifice and the laver in the court of the earthly sanctuary. This was a “copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5). To understand what happened next, we simply follow the “ritual parable.”
When a lamb was offered as a sacrifice for sin, the priest would take the blood into the tabernacle. The blood was the vital component. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22 NIV).
“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things having come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made by hands, that is, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all time, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:11-12 NASB).
Christ was “exalted to the right hand of God” when He entered the holy place in the heavenly sanctuary. Imagine Christ’s exaltation in heaven with me:
Christ, along with angels and resurrected saints, journey to heaven amidst songs of praise. They sweep through the city gates and Christ heads straight for the Father’s throne. He will not allow the inhabitants of heaven to worship Him or celebrate His victory. He must speak to His Father first.
In the Father’s presence, He displays the marks of His mission. He points to His wounded head, pierced side, and marred feet. He raises His nail-scarred hands. Is His sacrifice accepted?
Yes! Father embraces Son, and the command is given, “Let all the angels of God worship Him” (Hebrews 1:6).
Christ is then inaugurated King of Kings and anointed as High Priest of the heavenly sanctuary. The hosts of heaven bow before their King. Praising Him, they sing:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12).
Like fire from heaven, the Holy Spirit descends to the waiting disciples. It is the visible manifestation on earth of Christ’s heavenly inauguration.
“He ascended on high… and gave gifts to men” (Ephesians 4:8).
When the priestly ministry began on earth, God sent fire to ignite the altar (Leviticus 9:24). Likewise, when Christ was inaugurated as High Priest in heaven, He sent “fire” igniting His newborn church. “Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them” (Acts 2:3).
This “fire” was to burn continually, bringing unity and power to the church. We don’t all have the gift of tongues, but the Holy Spirit is promised to all believers. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you” (1 Corinthians 3:16)?
Unity and Power
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments” (Psalm 133:1-2).
As the disciples gathered together in one accord and prayed for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, Jesus officially began His role as High Priest. Like the anointing oil that fell from the beard of Aaron to his garment and then the earth, the oil of the Spirit fell from Christ to His New Testament church.
“And Pentecost brought them the presence of the Comforter, of whom Christ had said, He ‘shall be in you.’ And He had further said, ‘It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.’ John 14:17; 16:7. Henceforth through the Spirit, Christ was to abide continually in the hearts of His children. Their union with Him was closer than when He was personally with them. The light, and love, and power of the indwelling Christ shone out through them, so that men, beholding, ‘marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus’ Acts 4:13.” (Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 75).
“I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter” (John 14:16 KJV). Our High Priest could not have asked for a more precious gift. As Christians, the Holy Spirit is essential to our success. It enables us to preach the gospel with power and stirs the hearts of men that they may take notice of the story of Jesus.
May we live by the Spirit’s power today!
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