LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION COLUMN FOR
May 11, 2013 by William H. Scarle, Jr.
Shavuot (weeks), better known as Pentecost, falls on this coming Wednesday, May 15, on the Jewish calendar and will be celebrated by Christians on Sunday, May 19. Pentecost is shrouded in an atmosphere of newness. For Israel it celebrates the giving of the Torah and the establishment of the Covenant. The fresh air of God’s truth in contrast to the stifling smog of Egyptian idolatry was exhilarating, but it did not come easy. Israel had to work through the incident of the “golden calf” and the near erasure of the covenant people before they even got started in the fulfillment of God’s intentions for “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
For the Church Pentecost marks a launch of the “good news” to the end of the earth. Of course the christening of the ship of the Gospel took place at Jerusalem. The Apostle to Israel was given the privilege, and at the conclusion of his message 3000 Jewish believers were immersed in the fifty plus mikvahs which surrounded the Temple, including the Pool of Siloam, in profession of their faith in Yeshua as Messiah and Lord. These believers returned to their homes across the Empire with a message of a Messianic Savior who had died for their sins as the perfect Passover Lamb and rose from the dead as a victor over death and hell. They heard it from those who saw and touched the Lord. Seventy years later one third of the world’s population were believers in this Savior.
The newness of these events could have maintained a permanent presence. The Spirit of God had initiated them and continued to be with the flock of God. Sadly the story is less than ideal. There are periods of falling away and then there are great revivals and sometimes not. But the possibility of newness is always there and at least some of us long to see it revived.
In contemplating Pentecost my mind fixed on the Great Seal of the United States of America. It was created by Benson J. Lossing for Harper’s Magazine in 1856. This would indicate to me that the ideals expressed in the seal still resonated throughout the land eighty years after its founding. The design of the obverse is a pyramid of thirteen courses which represent the original 13 colonies. The date of the founding of the nation marks the base of the pyramid. The structure is capped with the eye of God representing the providence of the Almighty which overlooks this new experiment in nation building. Two mottos surround the central image. At the top are the Latin words “Annuit Coeptis” which indicate God is pleased with our undertaking. At the bottom are the words “Novus Ordo Seclorum.” The words are quoted from Virgil’s Eclogue IV and are translated “a New Order of the Age.” There was awareness in the land that something new had been created, a nation under the providence of God, but not under the rule of an earthly king.
There has been considerable slippage since 1856. We do not look so new anymore. We are deep in debt, not only economically, but morally and spiritually. Let me close these Pentecostal musings with the words an old hymn. “Lord, as of old at Pentecost Thou didst thy power display, With cleansing, purifying flame, Descend on us today. Lord, send the old time power, the Pentecostal power! Thy floodgates of blessing on us throw open wide! That sinners be converted and thy name glorified!
(Bill Scarle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org). END-whs