Pentecost: The Day of Difference

Why Pentecost is Different

Pentecost goes by several different names. At the first recorded Pentecost, the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai, the day is not even given a name. Exodus 19:1-11 plus the overall Bible time sequence, as well as Jewish tradition indicates that the Commandments were given on Pentecost. It was a time when God came down in the sight of all the people and spoke His great law with a voice like a trumpet. The basic lesson that God was trying to impart is that we should fear Him, have no false gods, and sin not, Exodus 19-20. Contact with the Eternal is what Pentecost is all about. Israel became God's peculiar people because of the establishment of the Covenant, with the law of God as its focal point. They were different from others, Exodus 19:5-6. This made Pentecost the "day of difference."

Fifteen hundred years later at the Temple in Jerusalem, about 120 men and women were made different. After being filled with the Holy Spirit like tongues of fire, they spoke inspired messages as the Spirit gave them utterance, Acts 2. This difference made them noticeable to all gathered from around the world for the Feast day, each one hearing the messages in his own language.

Today, Pentecost can still be considered a "day of difference." Most who believe that this Holy Day should be observed, keep it on a day different from what we do. Most Jews don't need to count Pentecost because they have chosen Sivan 6, which is only 49 days from Nisan 15. Most believers in the Messiah who observe the Holy Days, keep Pentecost on Sunday. This often coincides with the Catholic-Protestant Whitsunday-Pentecost. A few like us, always observe Pentecost on Monday, counting 50 full days from the day after the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread as it states in Leviticus 23:15-16. This observance really is a "day of difference."

Pentecost Must Be Counted Each Year

Pentecost must be freshly counted each year. It is a unique Holy Day Feast. This counting symbolizes the continued necessity for constant renewing of the Holy Spirit, essential for us to continue to be Christians, II Corinthians 4:16, Philippians 1:19.

Most Jews are wrong in saying that "the Sabbath" of Leviticus 23:15 is the annual Holy Day Sabbath of the Feast (Nisan 15). They have a fixed day on the calendar for Pentecost (Sivan 6 and 7) and do not have to count Pentecost each year. Catholics, Protestants and most Holy Day believers are likewise wrong. They only count 49 days (seven times seven weeks), when the Scripture says to count fifty days, then keep Pentecost.

The original Hebrew, the King James Version, and all modern translations show that Leviticus 23:15-16 says to count fifty days (beginning on Wavesheaf Sunday, the morrow after the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread), then keep Pentecost, an annual Holy Day Sabbath and Feast. Jews are honest in admitting that they count only 49 days. Just to be "safe," however, they keep both Sivan 6 (after 49 days) and also Sivan 7 (after 50 days).

Others violate plain English (and Hebrew and Greek) to "prove" that Pentecost is on Sunday. The resulting day they arrive at takes away the difference of the day, making them no different from the Catholics and Protestants. For technical proof of a Monday Pentecost and how Sunday Pentecost proponents twist their own sources, I refer you to an article I wrote (revised by Bryce Clark), "The Plain Truth About Pentecost," 60 pages, published by Church of God, The Eternal, Eugene, Oregon. Unfortunately, this paper is out of print.

Only one Holy Day can ever fall on a Sunday (see Exodus 12:16), the first Holy Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Nisan 15, which happens only rarely. See our articles, "Calendar Controversy," and "How Does God's Calendar Work?"

Pentecost is a Pilgrimage Feast

Leviticus 23 does not give a name for the Feast of Pentecost. But in Exodus 23:14-17, the festival is called "the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labors, which thou hast sown in the field," verse 16. Here again, this passage points out another reason why Pentecost is a "day of difference." Verse 14tells us that there are three times in a year that we are to keep a feast unto the Eternal. The word "times" in the Hebrew means "feet." There are three pilgrimage feasts during which we are told to move our feet and keep a feast unto the Eternal. These times are Unleavened Bread, Pentecost and Tabernacles.

Almost no Jews believe and practice this today. Even among Messianic believers who observe the Holy Days, few believe and follow this simple command either. Only at the Feast of Tabernacles time do they move their feet to keep a pilgrimage feast. Very few keep an eight day Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread, meeting with others of God's people instead of pursuing their normal business.

Fewer still keep the full Feast of Pentecost, which since the holy day falls on Monday, logically must include at least a three day weekend of Sabbath, Sunday and Monday. If you think I'm adding to God's Word, read Exodus 19, especially verses 10-11 which show a three day sanctification period leading up to Pentecost. Leviticus 23distinctly mentions "the seventh Sabbath" and "the morrow" after it (Sunday). These days leading up to Pentecost are important.

For further proofs of three pilgrimage feasts, read the article "Pilgrimage Feasts" in the Encyclopedia Judaica. The Hebrew word for "times" in Exodus 23:14is Strong's #7272, regel, on page 1155 of Englishman's Hebrew Concordance. The word for times in Exodus 23:17, Deuteronomy 16:16 is Strong's #6471, pa'am, Englishman's pages 1038-39, and means "to beat regularly, strike in a beat, footstep in order." Will our footsteps follow God's beat?

Pentecost is more than just a Holy Day. It is a pilgrimage feast. Keeping it this way certainly makes it a "day of difference."

Pentecost Changers in Danger of Losing Holy Spirit

By sincerely following the Bible, we sometimes find ourselves different from the world. From the late 1930's to 1973, the Worldwide Church of God kept Pentecost on Monday. I learned to keep the Holy Days from the church and have kept them ever since my baptism in 1969. In 1974, the Worldwide Church of God changed to a Sunday Pentecost. Like many, I had not proven every doctrine of the church of which I was a member. However, this change led me to do an exhaustive study on the subject of Pentecost. From dusty volumes in research libraries to heartfelt prayer, at one time all night, I came to the proof that Pentecost is after all on a Monday.

Few in the Worldwide Church of God seriously questioned this 1974 doctrinal change. Fewer still questioned a subsequent change a couple of months later when the Worldwide Church changed its teaching on Divorce and Remarriage. This latter change should have been a jolt to the entire membership, when the sanctity of marriage as it was once taught, was reduced to the cesspool of church-sanctioned adultery and fornication. The Divorce and Remarriage change is another great proof that Pentecost is on Monday, because it shows what happens when truth is discarded. Spiritually, as one minister stated, it was as if the lights were turned out.

Faithfulness in marriage is a foundational teaching of the Bible. Those who changed Pentecost from Monday to Sunday, cannot seem to understand the vital truth that marriage is for life. Switching from Monday to Sunday Pentecost created a spiritual blindness.

Over the years I have met many scattered individuals who have left the Worldwide Church of God for reasons other than I did (doctrinal issues of Pentecost and Divorce and Remarriage were the reasons why I left). When I mention that I still observe a Monday Pentecost and believe in the life-long permanence of marriage as once taught by the Worldwide Church of God, there is usually a total lack of interest. There is little discussion or interest as to why I still hold to these beliefs. It is almost as if the lights are turned out spiritually. It seems to make no difference to them that I have made a serious prayerful investigation of every "Pentecost paper" or article that I have ever come across. I have yet to see any real proof for a Sunday Pentecost. I'd certainly be willing to change, if I can see any proof of their position. Almost every person I've met so far who has changed from Monday to Sunday Pentecost just isn't all that interested in the issue. It makes you wonder if they took the time to study the doctrine as thoroughly as myself and others have before they changed? Is Pentecost really as important as I think it is?

Does It Make a Difference Which Day We Keep?

Some will try to tell you that Pentecost doesn't make any difference, that it doesn't matter which day one keeps, as long as he "keeps" (??) Pentecost. Somehow, it does make a difference regarding which day is the Sabbath, but it doesn't make any difference which day we keep Pentecost. The logic of this argument escapes me.

Suppose the disciples held this view. Would they have been "all with one accord in one place" on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:1, and all have received the Holy Spirit? No, only the ones keeping the right day would have received the Eternal's Spirit. Our Maker is a particular God. It does make a difference with Him how, where, when and why we worship Him, John 4:9-24.

Yes, Pentecost is a day of difference. Numbers 28:26, calls it "the day of the firstfruits." In Deuteronomy 16:10 (as well as Exodus 34:22 and II Chronicles 8:13) Pentecost is called "the feast of weeks." Different names are given to this feast with a difference. Here in Deuteronomy some have stumbled over the statement that we are to number seven weeks, while in Leviticus 23:15-16 we are told to number fifty days. In order to reconcile these seemingly diverse instructions, some have given preference to Deuteronomy 16 and only count seven weeks (seven times seven equals 49 days), and observe Sivan 6 or Sunday. For them, Pentecost isn't Pentecost (fiftieth count) at all, but just the Feast of Weeks (seven weeks).

Deuteronomy 16 and Pentecost

Deuteronomy 16 doesn't give me any problem with Pentecost on Monday. Examining it carefully, keeping in mind that it was written after Leviticus 23, is the key to avoid the seeming confusion over the instruction to count 49 or 50.

(1) Notice all of Deuteronomy 16, the whole chapter. It doesn't tell when Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are specifically to be kept, other than in the month Abib, verses 1-8. Neither does Deuteronomy 16 state when the seven day Feast of Tabernacles is kept, verses 13-15. Deuteronomy 16 is not specific about when to observe the three pilgrimage feasts. Leviticus 23, on the other hand, is veryspecific about when to observe them. Deuteronomy 16is, however, quite specific about where to keep these feasts: "in the place which the LORD shall choose to place His name there," verse 2, also verses 5-7, 11, 15-16. Deuteronomy means "the second law," and it was written forty years after Israel had left Egypt to prepare them for finally entering the Promised Land, Deuteronomy 1:1-3.

So, Deuteronomy 16 is not intended to be the sole authority in telling us how to keep Pentecost. It merely generalizes the more detailed instructions given in Leviticus 23:15, without stating the complete counting instructions of Leviticus 23:16. God's Word is often like this, here a little, there a little, Isaiah 28:9-11. Notice the Savior's complete instructions relative to divorce and remarriage in Matthew 5:32, 19:9. In Luke 16:18 the "exception clause" is missing. Just because "except for fornication" is missing in Luke, do we then make it have precedence over Matthew which has this exception clause? Nonsense! So then, why give precedence to Deuteronomy 16(number seven weeks) over Leviticus 23 (unto the morrow after seven Sabbaths number fifty days)? Notice also that Deuteronomy 16 only mentions the last day of Unleavened Bread as an annual Sabbath on which no work is to be done. It ignores the fact that the first day of Unleavened Bread is a Holy Day and that Pentecost and the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles are Holy Days.

Deuteronomy 16 is inspired scripture, but it doesn't tell the whens that Leviticus 23 does. It emphasizes the wheres, and also the family aspect of the pilgrimage feasts, verses 11, 14, and the offerings required, verse 16-17.Leviticus 23 is silent on these topics. Put the whole Bible together and it makes sense.

(2) The Hebrew word for weeks in Deuteronomy 16 is shavuoth (Strong's #7620). This is not the same as the Hebrew word for Sabbaths in Leviticus 23:15, shabbath (Strong's #7676). Shavuoth can mean any period of seven days, and not necessarily a Sunday-Saturday week, Genesis 29:27-28, Leviticus 12:5, Jeremiah 5:24, Daniel 10:2-3.

(3)Deuteronomy 16:9 refers to the day of putting the sickle to the corn. This phrase indicates harvesting for oneself (see Deuteronomy 23:24-25), not offering a wavesheaf to the Eternal. One could not harvest for oneself without first offering the wavesheaf, Leviticus 23:10-14. So there is a day devoted to the offering of the wavesheaf, "wavesheaf Sunday" as we refer to it. The next day is the day when the harvest is for oneself, and this could be what is referred to in Deuteronomy 16:9.

(4) Jews admit they don't count fifty days, as Leviticus 23commands. They count only 49 days, then keep the next day as Pentecost. Encyclopedia Judaica, article "Commandments, The 613," page 767, says "Starting from the day of the first sheaf (16th of Nisan) you shall count 49 days. You must rest on Savuot." The scriptural reference is Leviticus 23:15. At least they know how to count, although they have forgotten how many days to count.

The Assemblies of Yahweh "Statement of Doctrine" article 16 says that Pentecost "is to be observed seven weeks after Passover, beginning our count with the day following the weekly Sabbath falling on Passover or during the week of Unleavened Bread . . . . always observed on the first day of the week."

Like the Jews, they are correct as to how to count: you count "x" number of days and then the following day you observe the Holy Day. However they are totally wrong in the number of days to count. Leviticus 23:15-16 says to count or number (same Hebrew word shaphar, Strong's #5608) fifty days, not 49 days. Let's follow the Bible!

Leviticus 23 does say to number fifty days (it does not say to count seven Sabbaths, it merely mentions that seven weekly Sabbaths pass along the way to the following Sunday, the last day of the count). Following the correct counting method with the correct number of days to count -- fifty -- brings us through to the end of Sunday, and the next day, Monday, is Pentecost. Deuteronomy 16 and Leviticus 23do not contradict. Deuteronomy 16 apparently was not intended to give specific counting instructions about Pentecost. If it does, items (2) and (3) above, explain how the two passages can be reconciled.

One thing is clear: if you are going to finish counting on the same day, and are going to count fifty days according to one instruction, and supposedly seven times seven = forty-nine days according to a second instruction, you cannot start counting on the same day! How people have tried to count differently with fifty days and forty-nine days, starting and ending on the same days in both cases! I wonder if they failed in mathematics! It can't be done, unless in one case you use a different rule of counting. We understand that Deuteronomy 16does not give specific counting instructions but that Leviticus 23 does. This clears up all these problems at once.

True Pentecost Dispels Sunday "Proof"

Pentecost is a day different from the world. A time when true believers can be together with one accord.

Many Sabbath-keepers are aware that the Messiah was not resurrected on Easter Sunday morning. They go to great pains to disprove this false concept by showing that Christ was exactly three days and three nights, 72 hours, in the grave. He was crucified on a Wednesday, placed in the grave just before sunset, and was resurrected just before sunset on Saturday. As Matthew 12:40shows, He was precisely three days and three nights in the grave.

How many Sabbath-keepers are aware of the other major "proof" for Sunday worship? Sunday-keepers keep Sunday rather than the Sabbath because of their belief that (1) Christ rose from the dead on Sunday, AND (2) that the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples on Sunday. In fact, these two concepts were instrumental in the change from Sabbath to Sunday.

Peter Geirmann in the Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, page 50, tells us:

Q. Which is the Sabbath day?
A. Saturday is the Sabbath day.

Q. Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
A. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.

Q. Why did the Catholic Church substitute Sunday for Saturday?
A. The Church substituted Sunday for Saturday because Christ rose from the dead on a Sunday, and the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles on a Sunday.

Q. By what authority did the Church substitute Sunday for Saturday?
A. The Church substituted Sunday for Saturday by the plentitude of that divine power which Jesus Christ bestowed upon her.

As we know, Daniel 7:25 shows the power of the "little horn" which thinks to change times and laws. We must obey the Eternal and not man.

Both Easter Sunday and Pentecost (Whit)Sunday are false pagan holidays, counterfeits of the true Holy Days. The Catholic Church twisted the truth. Both Easter and Whitsunday are non-scriptural. Both major pillars of Sunday worship are FALSE!

The Savior meant exactly what He said when He predicted He would be three days and three nights in the grave. Not parts of days, but 72 hours. God also is precise when He says to count fifty days -- not parts of days -- then keep Pentecost. It is hypocritical to rigorously prove three days and three nights so as to disprove Sunday worship, and then turn around and count parts of days in the count towards Pentecost.

Keeping the true Sabbath and true Pentecost sets us apart from other professed believers. They are indeed "days of difference."

Pentecost and Jubilee

Some commentators state that Pentecost is a type of the Jubilee Year. They say since we are to count 49 years, then keep Jubilee, that Pentecost is counted in the same way.

Leviticus 25:8-11 shows we are to number seven times seven years (49 years), then keep the fiftieth year as Jubilee. Leviticus 23:15-16 shows to number fifty days, then keep Pentecost. The same word for "number," the Hebrew shaphar, Strong's #5608, is used in both passages. We are to shaphar forty-nine years toward Jubilee, and shaphar fifty days toward Pentecost. Pentecost and Jubilee are counted exactly the same, but there are different numbers to count! The way Jubilee is counted is a major proof that Pentecost is on Monday.

Is Pentecost a type of the Jubilee Year? Peter's Pentecost sermon in Acts 2 does not compare Pentecost to Jubilee. Peter links Pentecost with Joel 2 and the Day of Trumpets and Day of Atonement. Some, in an apparent attempt to stretch the truth, have concluded that the Greek word sabbaton, "sabbaths," Strong's #4521, means "Pentecost." In Luke 4:16-21, the Savior gave a sermon in Nazareth on the Sabbath day (sabbaton), saying that that day fulfilled Isaiah 61:1-2, "to set at liberty[Jubilee means liberty] them that are bruised." The "sabbaton theory" advocates say this was the Day of Pentecost. We haven't seen any proof of this assertion. Actually, Luke 4:31 disproves the sabbaton theory. This verse says that Jesus went on to Capernaum, and taught them on the Sabbath days (sabbaton). The Greek word sabbaton does not mean Pentecost. The Greek word pentecoste means Pentecost.

There is, however, scriptural support for a tie between Jubilee and the Day of Atonement. Jubilee began on the Day of Atonement, Leviticus 25:9. I have found no direct scriptural basis for stating that Pentecost is a type of Jubilee.

J. Franklin Snook in his book To Heal The Nation (Salem, Oregon, 1977), presents another theory about Pentecost and Jubilee. It is true that after the Jubilee Year, the Sabbatical cycle begins all over again. The Jubilee is followed by six years of farming, then a Sabbatical Year. After the Seventh Sabbatical Year (forty-ninth year) is the Jubilee (fiftieth year). Then another fifty year Jubilee cycle begins. Snook takes the fifty year Jubilee cycle and applies it to the weekly cycle in the matter of Pentecost. He says (pages 46-47) that after Pentecost, the weekly cycle begins over again, so that the seventh day Sabbath we have today is not the same as that observed by Israel. This argument is prevalent among Anglo-Israel Identity people, and has no scriptural basis.

Where Is Evidence of Holy Spirit?

People who keep a Sunday Pentecost might well say: "If the proper day for Pentecost is as important as you say it is and your Monday Pentecost is the right day, why doesn't your life evidence the power of the Holy Spirit like the disciples on that great Pentecost day in 31 A.D.?" I could just as well ask the same question of them, and of the Jews that keep Sivan 6 and 7. I'm sure that Sunday-keepers could ask a similar question of us relative to the Sabbath. Why doesn't God make it plain who His people are? Because if He did, there would be no small stir about that way, Acts 19:23. It isn't God's time to draw a dividing line between His true firstfruits, James 1:18, Revelation 14:1-4, and the world. That time will come. One of the lessons of Pentecost is that we must wait until the fulfillment of Pentecost to be endued with power from on high, Luke 24:49.

It is not surprising that almost all Sunday Pentecost believers cannot understand foundational Bible truths, such as the sanctity and life-long permanence of marriage. The flow of the Holy Spirit has been cut off! Some Monday Pentecost believers understand and practice Biblical Law relative to marriage. But even they await greater spiritual power to spread the gospel with great power, signs and miracles, to the world.

The Fruits of Sunday Pentecost

Let's look at some of the fruits of Sunday Pentecost.

What happened to those who pushed for the 1974 Worldwide Church of God doctrinal changes in Pentecost and Divorce and Remarriage?

The most vociferous Sunday Pentecost supporter was Dr. Ernest L. Martin, a respected pastor and scholar. In 1961, Martin wrote a pro-Sunday Pentecost paper which finally led to the doctrinal change in 1974. Martin and other supporters had privately kept a Sunday Pentecost for years before 1974. Martin's many doctrinal questions and disagreements precipitated a mass exodus from the church of thousands of members and scores of ministers. Dr. Martin's teachings devolved into liberal Protestantism, as he rejected the Sabbath, Holy Days, Tithing, and trusting God for healing. Instead of growing in grace and knowledge, Dr. Martin's Sunday Pentecost teaching led to gross apostasy. The great rebellion led by Martin strongly influenced the church to change Pentecost and its teachings on marriage, in order to stem the tide of membership loss.

Raymond F. McNair, who brought the Sunday Pentecost issue to Herbert W. Armstrong's attention, faced great personal tragedy and public embarrassment. When McNair's wife followed Martin in leaving the church, McNair claimed she had deserted him and divorced her, later remarrying. A jury unanimously decided against McNair and the Worldwide Church, agreeing that she had been libeled and falsely slandered by McNair and Roderick C. Meredith. An out of court settlement gave Mrs. McNair $750,000 of church funds as compensation.

It may be just a coincidence that the instigators of the Pentecost change met such unsavory fates. One day we may know for sure.

Were the overwhelming majority of the Worldwide Church of God doctrinal changes of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s good or bad? See the article, "90 Doctrinal Changes of the Worldwide Church of God," by Lloyd Cary, as well as our book, Biblical Doctrine. You decide for yourself.

Were the 1974 Pentecost and Divorce & Remarriage changes the result of incontrovertible scriptural proof, or were they instead planned changes, whose timing were politically motivated to stem the loss of membership? The excellent article by Paul Royer, published by The Church of God, The Eternal, answers this important question.

What is Trinity Sunday?

Celebrated by the Catholic Church and some Protestents, Trinity Sunday is the Sunday after Pentecost. It is a celebration in honor of the Trinity, and was declared part of the church calendar by Pope John XXII in 1334. Previously, it had been celebrated locally at various dates for hundreds of years. Corpus Christi, once the principal (main) Catholic feast, is the Thursday following Trinity Sunday. It celebrates the presence of the body (corpus) of Christ in the Eucharist.

Is there a connection between the Trinity and Sunday? In Catholic thought, the answer is yes, definitely. Eusebius of Alexandria (ca. A.D. 500) said,

The holy day of Sunday is the commemoration of the Lord. It is called the Lord's because it is the Lord of all days . . . . It was on this day that the Lord established the foundation of the creation of the world and on the same day He gave to the world the first-fruits of the resurrection . . . . This day is therefore for us the source of all benefits; the beginning of the creation of the world, the beginning of the resurrection, the beginning of the week. Since this day contains three beginnings, it prefigures the principle of the Trinity (De die Dominico, PA 86, 416).

Belief in a Sunday Pentecost, and/or a Sunday resurrection, leads to the Trinity doctrine.

The Eighth Day

Since the Sabbath was the seventh day of the Biblical week, some early professing Christians, such as Gregory of Nazianzus (A.D. 329-389), considered Sunday as "the first day with reference to those that followed and as the eighth day with regard to those that preceded" (Oratio 44 In novam Dominicam, PG 36, 612C-613A). Catholic literature in the first five centuries often dwelled on the numerical symblism of "the eighth day," Sunday. As Samuele Bacchiocchi, a native Italian, admits, "the irrationality of an eighth day in a seven-day week did not seem to bother the ancients" (From Sabbath to Sunday, page 278). Italians count inclusively, which may seem strange to modern Americans. Bacchiocchi (page 278) says, "an Italian will often set an appointment on a Sunday for the following Sunday not by saying, 'I will meet you a week from today,' but rather 'oggi otto-- eight days today' since both Sundays are counted. Catholics call this an octave.

By the same token, professing Christians, influenced by Rome, used the Roman Italian inclusive reckoning for time. Tertullian(ca. A.D. 160-ca. A.D. 225) said that Christians celebrated their Sunday festival "every eighth day," meaning every Sunday.

How did Sunday become associated with the eighth day? Some, such as W. Rordorf (Sunday, page 277), say that "Sunday came to be associated with the number eight because baptism was administered on Sunday and we know that baptism was early connected with the symbolism associated with the number eight." Circumcision was to be performed "the eighth day," and eight souls were saved from the waters of the flood. Justin Martyr (ca. A.D. 100-ca. 165) interprets the eight persons of the ark as "symbol of the eighth day, wherein Christ appeared when He rose from the dead, for ever the first in power" (Dialogue128). Origin (ca. A.D. 185-ca. 254) views the eighth day as symbol of the resurrection of Christ which provided global circumcision, baptismal purification of the world:

Before the arrival of the eighth day of the Lord Jesus Christ the whole world was impure and uncircumcised. But when the eighth day of the resurrection came, immediately we were cleansed, buried, and raised by the circumcision of Christ (Selecta in Psalmos, 118).

Origen added, "The resurrection of the Lord is celebrated not only once a year but constantly every eight days" (Homilia in Isaiam, 5, 2).

Finally, some built upon the Jewish understanding of seven millennial periods, followed by the eternal new age, which could be viewed as "the eighth day." Thus, Sunday worship could be instituted as a continuation of the Sabbath, and viewed as superior to the Sabbath, just as the eighth aeon (the Gnostic term is ogdoad, meaning eight ages, or eight gods) is superior to the preceding seven millenia. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 150-215) said, "The rest of the spiritual men takes place on the day of the Lord in the ogdoad which is called the day of the Lord" (Excerpta ex Theodoto 63). Since the New Heavens and New Earth follow seven thousand years, they are better and Sunday, the eight day, was thought to be a type of the never ending kingdom. Clement shows that in Ezekiel 44:27, the priests were purified for seven days and on the eighth day sacrifices are offered. Origen, Cyprian, and other Catholic fathers wrote of their belief that the eighth day is superior to the seventh day, and supercedes it. Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers (ca. A.D. 315-367) writes, "Although the name and the observance of the Sabbath had been established for the seventh day, we [professing Christians] celebrate the feast of the perfect Sabbath on the eighth day of the week, which is also the first" (Tractatus super Psalmos12).

Easter a Counterfeit Passover

Passover and the Sabbath symbolized to Old Testament believers the future Messianic deliverance. When Jesus associated himself as "Lord of the Sabbath," He was emphasizing His messiahship. As Bacchiocchi states, "as the Sabbath became for the Israelites the weekly extension of the annual Passover, so Sunday later became for many Christians the weekly commemoration of the annual Easter-Sunday" (From Sabbath to Sunday, pages 23-25 ). Eusebius states, "While the Jews faithful to Moses, sacrificed the Passover lamb once a year . . . we men of the New Covenant celebrate every Sunday our Passover" (De solemnitate paschali 7, 12). Even today, Italians still refer to Sunday as pasquetta, which means "little Easter."

Now why did professing Christians substitute Easter for Passover? They wanted to break away from Judaism. As J.B. Lightfoot records, Rome and Alexandria adopted Easter-Sunday to avoid "even the semblance of Judaism" (The Apostolic Fathers, 1885, page 88). Catholics even repudiated the Jewish calendar, making their own time calculations. Emperor Constantine, in the Nicene conciliar letter, wanted to establish a religion completely free of any Jewish influence:

It appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast [Easter] we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of sour . . . . Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd . . . . (Eusebius, Life of Constantine, 3, 18-19).

Easter and Pentecost are inextricably tied together. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon (from about A.D. 176), said that Catholics did not kneel from Easter to Pentecost, because both feasts are "a symbol of the resurrection" and that Pentecost "is of equal significance with the Lord's day" (Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus, 7).

Since Constantine, and others who changed sacred times, wanted to avoid Jewish reckoning of Holy Days, it would be entirely out of line for them to reject Passover for Easter, yet accept a Sunday Pentecost, if a Sunday Pentecost was a traditional Jewish holiday. Can you imagine the Council of Nicea rejecting a "Jewish" Passover, yet accepting a Jewish Sadduccean Pentecost? It does not make sense. Here is a strong indication that a Sunday Pentecost was never a major component of Jewish belief. If it had been, then Catholics would never have accepted a Sunday Pentecost.

To Catholic believers from the time of the "fathers," Easter-Sunday, Pentecost-Sunday, and weekly Sunday were regarded as one basic festival commemorating at different times the same event of the resurrection. Bacchiocchi concludes that Irenaeus was correct in designating Sixtus, Bishop of Rome (A.D. 115-125) as the first non-observer of the Quartodeciman Passover (From Sabbath to Sunday, pages 203, 273). Easter, the counterfeit Passover, and Sunday Pentecost, are branded with the mark of Rome.

Sunday "Events," if Sunday Pentecost is Correct

Do you realize that if Sunday Pentecost is correct, then you have a very significant list of important Sundays in the plan of God. Indeed, those who support a Sunday Pentecost believe in one or more of the following:

The Ten Commandments were given at Sinai on a Sunday.

Jesus began His public ministry and preached His inaugural sermon on a Sunday, Luke 4:16-21.

Jesus was resurrected on a Sunday.

The Holy Spirit was given to the disciples on a Sunday.

The Worldwide Church of God now believes in all four of the above! Do you believe the above events occurred on Sunday? The Lord of the Sabbath would hardly have placed His presence so strongly on Sunday, if He wanted us to always remember the Sabbath. Bacchiocchi says that since the Sabbath of the Old Testament pointed to the Messiah, "In light of this fact the claim that Christ made in His inaugural address to be the fulfillment of the redemptive function of the Sabbath, acquires added significance. By identifying Himself with the Sabbath [Luke 4:18-19], Christ was affirming His Messiahship" (From Sabbath to Sunday, page 25). For the Worldwide Church of God, Jesus did not affirm His messiahship in this way. They believe He began preaching on a Sunday Pentecost, that the Ten Commandments were given on a Sunday, that the resurrection was on Sunday, and that the Holy Spirit was given on a Sunday. Yet they still, for the time being, hold to the weekly Sabbath, in spite of the fact that these beliefs are major components of Sunday worship.

How Do You Change Your Doctrinal Beliefs?

Some people change doctrinal beliefs like they change an old pair of socks. The minister preaches something different, they accept this "new truth," and that is the end of discussion. For them, changing doctrines generates as much emotion as discarding a pair of worn out socks.

How should you change a doctrinal belief that you have formerly proved, believed, and practiced? You should make no changes unless there is absolute, overwhelming, incontrovertible Biblical proof. Marriage gives us a good example. Under what circumstances would you leave your wife and family and live separately? Only if there is absolute proof, from the Bible, that your union is in violation of God's laws of marriage. And if there were such proof, the decision to separate would be traumatic and emotional, and result only after a great deal of prayer, fasting, crying out to God.

In 1974, when some 90,000 people changed from observing Pentecost on Monday to Pentecost on Sunday, there was no such an emotional crying out to God in repentance. The "scholars" gave their findings, the church leaders made the pronouncement of the change, and the membership (except for a tiny few) followed in line. In similar fashion, doctrinal changes since then, both in the Worldwide Church of God and other groups, have been instituted without emotion.

There is, however, an example in the Bible of a godly people returning to the Eternal's ways after a long period of rebellion. The Jewish captives who returned from Babylon did not change their doctrinal beliefs like discarding an old pair of socks. They had lapsed into many errors, and had actually gone into captivity for breaking the Sabbaths of the Almighty. Now they were receptive to the Truth and the reading of the Law. Nehemiah 8:8-12 shows that the people wept when they heard the Law, because they knew they were guilty for breaking it. They rediscovered the Law concerning keeping the Feast of Tabernacles, and zealously with great joy kept it, verses 13-18. This was a highly emotional time in the history of Israel.

This is how we should react when we are convicted by the Truth and need to make adjustments in our lives to live according to Biblical doctrine. This is NOT how almost all people we know of have reacted to doctrinal changes. The "cold turkey" doctrinal changes most have made are a convincing proof to us that they merely followed the crowd. It does nobody any good to blindly follow someone else, be they right or wrong. We shall all stand individually before God.

Pentecost Is a Day of Difference

Will we be honest with the scriptures? Will we all study the issue thoroughly, with our nose in the Bible and our knees bowed in humble earnest prayer? Will we be ready for that final "day of difference"? "I will accept new views, provided they are proven to be true views." See I Thessalonians 5:21.

Many accepted one way without proving it to themselves, and then changed to another way also without proving it to themselves.

There are many different "days of Pentecost" kept by religious people. May the time soon come, and forever endure, when all mankind may see eye to eye, Isaiah 52:8, and there will be no more differences, when not only the firstfruits in God's plan are harvested, but the great fall harvest as well. Then God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh, Joel 2:28, which was fulfilled in a small way in Acts 2:1-4, 16:21.

Until then, Pentecost will be a "day of difference," since its professed observers cannot agree when to keep it. Every time I keep the true Pentecost, I am aware of the difference between clean and unclean, good and evil, Exodus 11:7, Leviticus 10:10, 11:47, especially Leviticus 20:22-26.

How do I know I am keeping the true Pentecost? Those who know God's will and do it have a proof which others do not comprehend. "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself," John 7:17. What a difference to know you are following the Eternal!

Additional Articles:

Pentecost: Its Message for Christians Today
24 Reasons Why I Believe in a Monday Pentecost
Why I Believe in a Monday Pentecost
Pentecost and the Second Century Calendar Adjustment
Let us "Tarry" for Pentecost
Pentecost is NOT on Sivan 6
When Does the Pentecost Count Begin?
Joshua Chapter Five and the Wavesheaf Day
Pentecost Quiz

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Written by: Richard C. Nickels
Giving & Sharing
PO Box 100
Neck City, MO 64849
United States of America

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