That fourth feast of the Lord, called Pentecost and the Feast of Weeks, was fifty days after the Feast of First Fruits and included that Sunday of the Resurrection of Christ. There were 49 sabbaths plus one day to start a totally new era of God’s plan for the ages.
There were four major beginnings, or launchings, of events at that feast time. The first was the power from on high the disciples were promised in Acts 1:8a: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you….” It was the fulfillment of Joel’s promise that God would give them a new heart like never before, in Joel 2. That promise is echoed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:17, saying, “He who belongs to the Lord has become one spirit with Him.” And, in verses 19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
A second event within this one is the beginning of the church age, when Peter identified Christ as “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16), and Jesus said, “Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you but My Father who is in heaven, …and on this rock I will build My church.” (On Peter’s confession, not on Peter, the man, as the Roman Catholics have claimed.)
Also in Acts 1:8b is the launching of the Great Commission, to take the gospel of Christ, the good news of His salvation, to the ends of the earth: “…and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The Old Testament accounts of the Jewish people did not have such a direct command to take the knowledge of God to all people, but the psalmist wrote, in Psalm 107:2, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.” From Abraham to Christ was a time of revealing the likeness of God to all people of the world, by the moral dictates of the law, yet the Jewish people constantly rebelled, refusing to obey the Lord and profaning His name. Yet God did not fail in His commitment and promises to them, for His own name’s sake. The Spirit-filled body of Christ, His church, was the ultimate promise fulfilled.
That gospel message was identified by Paul, specifically in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4: “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures….” (Those Scriptures would have been Old Testament Scriptures, of which Isaiah 53 would have been prominent in his thinking.)
Paul wraps this up in Romans 3:23-24: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
Matthew’s account of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 emphasizes His authority over all things:
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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.”
What about that final promise—”And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”? What happens after that? And when does the age end?
Knowing the end from the beginning, even in this situation, we can be assured that now, He is with us, and at the end of the age, we will be with Him. Hidden, then, in this Great Commission command is the truth that there will be a “taking out” of believers from this world. The Rapture, then, is again identified in the plan of God.
Another event initiated at that first Pentecost was the setting aside of Israel in favor of taking the gospel to the Gentiles, as declared in Romans 11:25:
“For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”
At the Jerusalem Conference recorded in Acts 15 by Luke, we learn from James’ summation thus: “And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, ‘Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name.'”
The end of the age of the church and the Great Commission to the church happens when Jesus returns for His body of believers. John 14:1-3 tells what will happen then: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
Then God’s attention is turned back to the Jews again for that final 70th year of Daniel’s prophecy, which was stopped at the end of the 69th year (Daniel 9:1-2 and 24-26). It turns out to be weeks of years. That is, instead of seven days in the week, it is one year as a day and seven years for a week. Thus, a week of seven years. The only time another “week” of seven years is mentioned is in Daniel 9:27 when the coming “prince,” the Antichrist, “confirms a covenant with many for seven years.”
Those seven years of tribulation foretold in Revelation 6 to 19 are a time when the Jews are brought to realize that Jesus Christ is their true Messiah and they accept Him, yet through hard suffering.
The church is not mentioned in those chapters of Revelation 5-18 until the marriage supper of the Lamb in chapter 19. The Great Commission to the church is no longer in effect then, for God anoints 144,000 young Jewish men to take the gospel of the kingdom to all tongues, tribes and nations. Their results are reported in Revelation 7 as multitudes.
Where are we now in God’s timetable? The worldwide embracing of sexual immorality as an acceptable equal to morality compares to the time of Lot and his departure from Sodom. Luke 17:28-30 tells the story: “Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”
The “falling away” from the faith and lawfulness is rampant, but the Scripture says the One who restrains that evil will be taken out of the way for the Antichrist to have his time for judgment. The coming together of these things will come “as a thief in the night,” and those signs are looming on the horizon.
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