A Pledge of What Is to Come

Why did HaShem choose Shavu’ot to give the Spirit?


ShavuotMay 21, 2020

ShavuotMay 21, 2020


Dove at the Western Wall, Jerusalem (Image: © First Fruits of Zion)

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One of the most important aspects of being disciples of Yeshua is living proleptically now for the kingdom of heaven.

Many factors define this lifestyle, such as the Torah being written on our hearts and the forgiveness of sins we received through Yeshua’s sacrifice. These concepts are important and deserve further study, but for now, let’s explore the Holy Spirit and its function in our lives as believers.

The term “Spirit” or “Holy Spirit” is the equivalent of the common biblical Hebrew term “Spirit of the LORD” or “Spirit of God.” God’s Spirit moved on the waters of creation, and through his Spirit, he interfaced with humanity. All the prophets spoke only by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The psalmists wrote by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of HaShem filled the builders of the Tabernacle with wisdom, insight, and discernment, and the Spirit rushed upon the kings of Israel at the time of their anointing. Even in the New Testament, Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Mary all prophesied in the Holy Spirit prior to the birth of the Master.

Moreover, the Spirit of HaShem filled his holy Tabernacle and Temple. The Greek language has no equivalent for the Hebrew Shechinah ( שכינה ); the New Testament writers used the term Holy Spirit to describe the Dwelling Presence of God.

When the Gospel of John says that the Spirit had not yet been given, it does not mean that the Spirit of God had not yet been active in Israel. Instead, it refers to two eschatological promises that we find in the Prophets:

  1. The return of the Shechinah
  2. The outpouring of the Spirit on all flesh

With this in mind, we can see that disciples of Yeshua would have understood the giving of the Holy Spirit in light of its messianic fulfillment.

Ten days after Yeshua’s ascension, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples as they gathered for the Festival of Shavu’ot. The evidence in the book of Acts suggests that they gathered in the Temple, in Solomon’s Colonnade, and the Spirit came upon them in that place. Solomon’s Colonnade thereafter became their regular place of assembly on the Temple Mount. This is significant because Solomon’s Colonnade was accessed by the gate facing east, that is, the gate that faced the Mount of Olives.

The Prophet Ezekiel foresaw the Divine Presence of God entering the Temple from the east:

As the glory of the LORD entered the temple by the gate facing east, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the [house]. (Ezekiel 43:4-5)

Notice that this prophecy from Ezekiel 43:5 corresponds exactly with Acts 2:2. As the Holy Spirit rushed upon the believers who congregated inside “the gate facing toward the east,” the sound of rushing wind “filled the whole house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2), just as Ezekiel predicted, “The glory of the LORD filled the house.”

In the words of the apostles, the disciples of Yeshua collectively became “a temple of the Holy Spirit,” “a holy temple in the Lord … a dwelling of God in the Spirit,” “a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God.”

Once the Spirit is given, Peter immediately begins to explain the relevance of the gift in terms of the prophecy of Joel:

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.’” (Acts 2:14-17)

God gives the believer the Holy Spirit as a down payment on the fullness of the spiritual endowment and revelation of the coming Messianic Era. In Hebrew, this is called a mashkon. The gift of the Spirit is a guarantee and a down payment against that era when he will put his Spirit in us and create within us a new heart, and when he will pour out his Spirit on all flesh. In other words, we have not yet reached the Messianic Era, but we have received a pledge against it; a down payment guaranteeing that the rest is yet to come, including all the rest of the promises about the coming kingdom. The Holy Spirit is our mashkon, our promise of what is to come.

We have not yet reached the kingdom, but the kingdom is at hand. To prove how close it is, God has given us a mashkon on the fullness of it. He has given us a portion of his Spirit as a down payment, a guarantee, and a pledge on what is yet to come.

When understood from this perspective, the significance of the Holy Spirit is not signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts. The significance of the Holy Spirit is that it betokens the kingdom of heaven. The miracles and gifts are not the main things. The miracles indicate the presence of the Spirit, and the Spirit indicates the presence of the kingdom. The Holy Spirit in the lives of the disciples of Yeshua testifies to the message of the good news—namely, that the kingdom is near, and Yeshua is the Messiah who will bring it about.

Yeshua says that the Holy Spirit “dwells with you and will be in you.” This is a promise of the Master for every disciple. Paul says that we are a Temple of the Holy Spirit. Learning to walk in that truth, submit ourselves to the Spirit, and let the Spirit work through us and use us for the kingdom is another matter, but the fact remains that all disciples of Yeshua have already been sealed (to use Paul’s language). We have already been sealed by the Spirit, which is given to us as a guarantee of the fullness of spiritual revelation and endowment that is coming in the Messianic Era.

In this age, we have only a measure of the Spirit, but in the age to come, we will have the Spirit in its fullness. This is the partial. It is not the whole. “For now, we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away” (1 Corinthians 13:9-10).

The above article is an excerpt from the FFOZ book Gifts of the Spirit. Order your copy here!

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About the Author: D. Thomas Lancaster is Director of Education at First Fruits of Zion, the author of the Torah Club programs and several books and study programs. He is also the pastor of Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship in Hudson, WI. More articles by D. Thomas Lancaster