* Please Note: The Church changed the day of Pentecost from Monday to Sunday in the mid-70's, please follow the links at the bottom of this document for a detailed explanation.
Why are so few being converted today? And why were YOU chosen to be among those few? Here is the real meaning of God's third annual Holy Day Festival — and VITAL to your salvation!
THE churches of this world teach that this is the only day of salvation — that all who will ever be "saved" are being saved now. If this were really true, what a failure God's plan has been — since only a VERY FEW have been converted since the Holy Spirit was first given! Today, baptized members who make up the true Church of God are only an infinitesimal fraction of earth's nearly 3 1/2 billion inhabitants. We are only about one in every 100,000, or .00001% of earth's population! But why so few? Do you know why YOU are among these privileged few? The third annual festival of God's Master Plan of salvation for this world explains it.
The Wave Sheaf
In Leviticus 23, we find listed all of God's festivals, proclaimed to be holy convocations. First is the weekly convocation — the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week. Then, beginning in verse 4, we find a list of all the annual festivals — also commanded assemblies — which were to be proclaimed "in their seasons." The Passover is the first of these annual festivals. It is followed by the Days of Unleavened Bread with the two annual Sabbaths beginning and ending the festival. Beginning in verse 9, we find instructions for the wave-sheaf offering. Though this ceremony is no longer commanded to be observed today, it has vital meaning for the New Testament Church of God. The Israelites were not allowed to harvest their grain until the wave sheaf was offered. It was on the day following the weekly Sabbath which fell DURING the Days of Unleavened Bread, that the first sheaf of grain was cut and brought to the priest. He then solemnly waved it before the Eternal to be accepted for them. This ceremony actually pictured the resurrected Christ being accepted of the Father as the very first human being to be BORN of God — the "firstfruit" of those to be born into the Kingdom, or Family of God! (I Cor. 15:20, 23; Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:18.) (The full significance of the wave sheaf will be explained later.) By comparing John 20:17 with Matthew 28:9, we see that Christ presented Himself before the Father on the day AFTER His resurrection. This fulfillment of the wave-sheaf offering actually occurred on Sunday, the "morrow after the [weekly] Sabbath" during the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Counting Fifty Days
Next, comes the festival of Pentecost — the "Feast of Firstfruits," or "Feast of Weeks." The word "Pentecost" is a Greek word signifying fiftieth. Notice the properly translated plain instruction concerning Pentecost beginning in Leviticus 23:15-16: "And ye shall count unto you FROM the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths [WEEKS] shall be complete: even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath [WEEK] shall ye number fifty days...." That fiftieth day is PENTECOST! "And ye shall proclaim on the self-same day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a STATUTE FOREVER in all your dwellings throughout your generations" (verse 21). The Day of Pentecost is the only annual Sabbath which must be determined every year by COUNTING. However, it is really very simple to figure. Any child should be able to start numbering from a definite day and count fifty days. We have already seen that the wave sheaf was waved on the day after the weekly Sabbath which fell DURING the Days of Unleavened Bread. So we must always start counting from a Sunday — not a Saturday! The simple little word "from" means, according to Webster's Dictionary, "away out of." The day you count as number one day from Sunday is Monday — the very first day that is "away out of" Sunday. You cannot number Sunday as the first day from Sunday, because it is not away from it or out of it, but still in it. There are actually two ways to count Pentecost. First, seven full WEEKS (49 days) are counted from the Sunday following the weekly Sabbath of the Days of Unleavened Bread, which brings you to the seventh Sunday. Then we must count "even unto the morrow" after the seventh Sunday, which brings us to the fiftieth day — Monday, the Day of Pentecost. The other method of counting Pentecost is to merely count fifty days from the same Sunday during the Days of Unleavened Bread. The fiftieth day is Pentecost. It is really very simple! One day from Sunday is Monday. Two days from Sunday is Tuesday. And so on until you count fifty days from that Sunday. You'll find that Monday will always be the fiftieth day — the Day of Pentecost!
Pentecost in the New Testament
God commanded the Day of Pentecost to be observed forever. (Lev. 23:21). Jesus did not abolish Pentecost or any of the other annual Holy Days, as the churches of this world have us believe. Quite to the contrary, Jesus founded His New Testament Church on the annual Day of Pentecost! In Acts 1:4-5, we find that Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem so they could receive the Holy Spirit — the divine power of God which would put them into His Church (I Cor. 12:13). It was on the Feast of Firstfruits — Pentecost, June 18, 31 A.D. — that God first gave the Holy Spirit to mankind, and established His spiritual New Testament Church! "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they [the disciples) were all with one accord in one place" (Acts 2:1). Notice that the Day of Pentecost was already FULLY COME and the disciples were in one accord when they were filled with the Holy Spirit of God. If they had not been obediently assembled together keeping this day which was commanded by God, they would not have received the gift of — the Holy Spirit! Thousands of devout Jews from many lands were also assembled at Jerusalem to celebrate this annual festive Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:5-12). But these Jews did not come to receive the Holy Spirit. They were unconverted, but devout men, who did not as yet know the way of salvation. These Jews had to ask Peter, "What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37), after being convicted by his inspired sermon. About 3,000 people received the Holy Spirit on that memorable Day of Pentecost, after repentance and baptism. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, also understood that the annual festivals — including Pentecost — were still to be observed by God's New Testament Church. He "determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost" (Acts 20:16). Paul wanted to keep Pentecost in Jerusalem thirty years after the death of Christ! In I Corinthians 16:8 we find Paul, the teacher of the Gentiles, spending the Day of Pentecost in Ephesus, a Gentile city. Yes, Pentecost, together with the other annual festivals, continued to be observed by all those of the original true Church of God long after Christ's death! Now let's notice the special reason why God sent the Holy Spirit on that day, and the special meaning of the Day of Pentecost FOR us TODAY!
The Meaning of Pentecost
God intends His annual holy days to keep us constantly in the true understanding of His great Master Plan of salvation. He selected the yearly material harvest in Palestine to picture His spiritual harvest of human beings. As most of you already know, there are two annual harvest seasons in Palestine. First comes the smaller spring harvest, followed by the much greater main harvest in the fall of the year. And so God intended the "Feast of Firstfruits," which He ordained forever at the end of the spring harvest season, to picture to His Church annually that He is calling a special FEW during this age to become His Spirit-begotten children — that we are merely the "firstfruits "of His great spiritual harvest! (James 1:18; Rom. 8:23.) Throughout the New Testament, Christians are spoken of as having been called out of the world. It is only the "elect" or chosen few who are being called today. The rest of the world is blinded so that God could — IN THE FUTURE — have mercy upon ALL (Romans 11:7, 32). God began selecting the "firstfruits" of salvation on the DAY OF PENTECOST in 31 A.D. when He sent the Holy Spirit to beget His disciples. This feast pictures annually this great event in God's Master Plan of salvation.
Why Always on a Monday
The "harvesting" of the firstfruits of God's plan is pictured in Leviticus 23, beginning with verse 9. Here the material harvest of grain is a type of the harvest of God's spiritual firstfruits. As explained before, the Israelites were not permitted to harvest their grain until the wave sheaf was offered. This ritual, given to the Levitical Priesthood to perform and therefore not practiced today, pictured the resurrected Christ being accepted by the Father as the very first human being to be born of God. Notice that the wave sheaf did NOT picture the resurrection of Christ. It pictured the resurrected Christ being accepted of the Father on SUNDAY, the day after His resurrection. Since Christ is the first of the firstfruits of God's spiritual harvest (I Cor. 15:20, 23), and was accepted by the Father on the Sunday after his resurrection — portrayed by the wave sheaf offered on the first day of the week — then we who are second in order to be reaped — "afterward they that are Christ's at His coming" — are logically pictured by the Feast of Firstfruits (Pentecost) which falls on the SECOND DAY of the week, or Monday!
Most to Be Called Later
If the churches of this world had been keeping God's annual holy days which He commanded to be kept forever and which the New Testament Church kept faithfully, they would have understood God's wonderful plan of salvation. They would have understood that God is not desperately trying to save everyone now! Notice that the Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost fall at the beginning of the year. The great events these spring festivals picture occurred at the beginning of the New Testament era! But the group of holy days coming at the END of the year, in the fall, all symbolize tremendous events in God's plan of salvation yet to occur in the future! They all come in the SEVENTH MONTH — and their fulfillment will begin in the seventh thousand-year period since creation! Today, the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God is to be preached merely as a "witness unto all nations" (Matt. 24:14). Although millions have heard the gospel preached, only a FEW are actually chosen of God to become the firstfruits of salvation now. Only a FEW have been granted understanding. WE ARE THOSE FEW! We are the CHOSEN FEW — along with the firstfruits who died in Christ since the Holy Spirit was first given — who shall be made immortal at Christ's second coming, and shall REIGN with Him on earth for a thousand years! As God's firstfruits, we are being tried and tested now to qualify for positions as kings and priests in the Kingdom of God under Jesus Christ — when He shall set His hands to SAVE THE WHOLE WORLD!
Holy Spirit Prepares Firstfruits
What God is actually creating in Spirit-begotten humans is the supreme masterpiece of all His works of creation. He is in the process of creating Sons of God — children to be born into His own Family. And He is doing it by and through the power of His Holy Spirit! Each adult human being can be compared to an "egg" or ''ovum'' which has a very limited life span. This human "ovum" will live only an average of 70 years. But spiritual, divine, immortal life may be imparted to it by the entrance into it of the HOLY SPIRIT, which comes from the very Person or GOD the Father. Just as the physical male sperm finds its way to, and unites with the nucleus in the female ovum, so God's Spirit enters and combines with the human MIND! This is possible because there is a spirit essence IN man with which the Holy Spirit unites. After our begettal by the Spirit, we then have the presence of ETERNAL LIFE — God life — through God's Holy Spirit, but we are not yet immortal Spirit beings. We are merely spiritually begotten of God — not yet born! But IF God's Holy Spirit dwells in us until death, or until Christ comes if we remain alive, God will give us immortality at the resurrection BY His Spirit that "dwelleth in us" (Rom. 8:11; I Cor. 15:49-53). Our physical, mortal bodies will then be changed into glorious, spiritual IMMORTAL bodies! But as the physical fetus must grow large enough to be born physically, so the spirit-begotten Christian must grow in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ (II Peter 3:18) before he can be born spiritually. He must, with the help of God's Spirit, overcome human nature, and the sinful pulls of the world and the devil. He must grow and develop in spiritual CHARACTER during this lifetime, in order to be BORN into the Kingdom of GOD! The begotten Christian must gradually, continually, develop the divine, SPIRITUAL character of love, faith, patience, gentleness, humility, kindness, temperance — just as the physical fetus gradually develops one by one the physical organs, features and characteristics of a human being before it is finally born into the human family. Then, at Christ's coming, the Spirit-begotten child of God shall be instantaneously BORN of God as Jesus was! It is then that we, as the firstfruits of God, will have the opportunity of bringing the same salvation to all the world during the much greater fall spiritual harvest of God's Plan.
Our Part in Saving the World
A tremendous job lies ahead of us! As the born-again "firstfruits" of God, we will have the great privilege of directly assisting Christ in SAVING THIS ENTIRE WORLD — including those billions of people who have lived and died without saving knowledge. When we really understand it, salvation is education. We will be called upon to RE-EDUCATE the entire world! But you must first be EDUCATED yourself — before you can educate others. This is why you were called now. This is your day of salvation — the time you are acquiring your spiritual education. You are actually "attending class" every Sabbath and Holy Day service. You are also being educated through the broadcast, the telecast, and the various publications of Ambassador College, now — so you can help educate all the inhabitants of the earth in their day of salvation. If we are diligent to make this instruction a part of our very lives, and are zealous in personal Bible study and prayer — if we are DOERS of the Word and not hearers only — then we will pass our "final exam" by being born of God at the resurrection. We will then be QUALIFIED to become world rulers and EDUCATORS — to teach the entire world the way to peace, happiness and prosperity. How wonderful is God's Plan of salvation — when we understand the real meaning of His festivals! As the Day of Pentecost approaches, think about its meaning, and how you fit into God's great Master Plan for saving the whole world. Be thankful to God for His mercy in choosing you now to be one of His FIRSTFRUITS, and dedicate yourself to fulfilling His purpose in your life with greater zeal. The whole world is waiting for you!