Monday, June 09, 2008

Book Interview: Christ in the Feast of Pentecost

Rich Robinson, co-author of Christ in the Feast of Pentecost, graciously took some interview questions. He just emailed them back to me. Considering today is Shavuot/Pentecost, let's post it.


1) What is the feast of Pentecost and what should we know about it?
3) How is Christ in the Feast of Pentecost?
4) How does Pentecost relate to the historical event in the early church that most Christians are familiar with? How does knowing about the biblical festival increase our understanding of the 1st century event?

Rich Robinson:Pentecost means "fiftieth" and refers to the holiday that goes by the name Shavuot in Judaism. Shavuot means "weeks" and falls 50 days after Passover or about seven weeks later. What Christians should understand about Pentecost is that when we read the account in Acts chapter 2, we are really reading about a Jewish holiday. By the time of Jesus and the apostles, the day had become the celebration of the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, complete with fire and thunder. Essentially, what we have in Acts 2 is another giving of God's word, with similar sounds and tongues of fire. It was another Mount Sinai experience. There also was a legend among the Jewish people that God had spoken his Law to all the nations of the world, each in their own language, before offering it to Israel, so on the day of Pentecost in Acts, God's word through the apostles is heard by many nations, each in their own language.

2) What are the differences and similarities in how it is celebrated today as compared with Jesus' time or earlier?

Rich Robinson: From the days of Moses to the time of Jesus, Shavuot was an agricultural holiday of first fruits. God gave the land, he blessed the crops, and so you brought the first of the produce to Him. By also before the days of Jesus, there developed the association that God had given the Law on Shavuot. When the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., it ceased being an agricultural holiday and became a historical one entirely, commemorating Mt. Sinai.

Lots of traditions have accumulated over the years, and chief among them are eating dairy foods on Shavuot, decorating the synagogue with greenery, and if you're religious, you'll stay up all night studying the Torah.

5) Is there any future fulfillment of the Feast of Pentecost?

Rich Robinson: The first fulfillments had to do with firstfruits. Just as the first of crops were brought, the New Testament also tells us that Jesus was the firstfruits of those who will rise from the dead. Paul also uses the firstfruits idea to refer to the first people in any area who came to faith in Jesus.

The firstfruits of a crop were essentially a guarantee or promise that the rest of the crop would follow. Jesus' resurrection guarantees our own, and the first to come to faith in an area suggests more will follow. And in Romans, Paul remarks that we have the "firstfruits of the Spirit."

The ultimate fulfillment will be our resurrection when we receive the fulness of what God has for us. Till then, our Christian experience is only a "firstfruits."

6) Is there anything else you we should know about your book?

Rich Robinson: I think it's a book worth having, but as the co-author I am hopelessly biased!

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