The festival most Christians know as Pentecost is called Shavu'ot in Hebrew. Because of the narrative of Acts 2, much of the Christian church is still somewhat familiar with Pentecost. Christians recall the story of the mighty wind, the tongues of fire, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the speaking in different languages. However, most are unaware of the background behind the story. Shavu'ot is actually one of YHVH's designated holy days, filled with a wealth of meaning and symbolism.
In the Tanakh, Shavu'ot is known by several names. These include Chag HaQatzir ("Feast of Harvest") in Exodus 23:16, Yom HaBikurim ("Day of the Firstfruits") in Numbers 28:26, and the most common name, Chag Shavu?ot ("Feast of Weeks") in Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10, 16; and II Chronicles 8:13.
The annual journey to Shavu'ot begins with a countdown. In Leviticus 23, we find the command to count the days to arrive at Shavu'ot:
LEVITICUS 23:9 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 10 Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving to you and you reap its harvest, you shall bring the first sheaf of your harvest to the priest. 11 He shall elevate the sheaf before the LORD for acceptance in your behalf; the priest shall elevate it on the day after the Sabbath. 12 On the day that you elevate the sheaf, you shall offer as a burnt offering to the LORD a lamb of the first year without blemish. 13 The meal offering with it shall be two-tenths of a measure of choice flour with oil mixed in, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the LORD; and the libation with it shall be of wine, a quarter of a hin. 14 Until that very day, until you have brought the offering of your God, you shall eat no bread or parched grain or fresh ears; it is a law for all time throughout the ages in all your settlements. 15 And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering — the day after the Sabbath — you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete: 16 you must count until the day after the seventh week — fifty days; then you shall bring an offering of new grain to the LORD. (JPS Tanakh)
The 1st-century Jewish historian Josephus plainly states that the countdown to Shavu'ot began on Nisan 16 (Antiquities of the Jews, 3.10.5), the day after the first high Sabbath of the year (Lev. 23:6-7). Nisan 16 was the day on which the firstfruits of the barley crop were harvested and offered up in the Temple. To determine the date for Shavu'ot, we are commanded to count 49 days starting on Nisan 16; after 49 days are counted, the 50th day is the appointed time of the Feast of Weeks.
Both the English and Hebrew names for the festival reflect the counting. The English name Pentecost is a transliteration of the Greek pentekostes, which literally means "50th." The Hebrew name for the festival, Shavu'ot, means "weeks," and the feast is so named because of the seven complete weeks (49 days) of the counting. The commanded count is a chain that links Pentecost to the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In this sense, Pentecost concludes the festival season begun with Passover.
The Jews consider Shavu'ot to be the conclusion of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, just as the Eighth Assembly (Heb. Shemini Atzeret) after the Feast of Tabernacles is considered to be the conclusion of that festival (Lev. 23:34-36). In this view, Shavu'ot is a sort of eighth-day festival, concluding the seven days of Unleavened Bread. Between the First Day of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15, the first annual Sabbath of the year) and Pentecost (Sivan 6, the third annual Sabbath of the year), there are exactly 49 days (7 x 7 days, or 7 complete weeks).
This arrangement shows us a pattern that God has established which relates to the number three. The Scriptures tell us several times that there are three yearly festivals that required the attendance of all males (Exo. 23:14-17; 34:18-24; Deu. 16:1-16):
DEUTERONOMY 16:16 "Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed." (NKJV)
Since Shavu'ot (the Feast of Weeks) is really the conclusion of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (also known as the Feast of Passover-Eze. 45:21), we see that the THREE festival seasons of God are really TWO (Unleavened Bread-Pentecost & Trumpets-Atonement-Tabernacles-Eighth Assembly). This is a pattern for the Godhead also, which most of the world considers to be three (the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit), but is really two (the Father & the Son).
We are told that the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai on the first day of the third month (Sivan 1):
EXODUS 19:1 In the third month after their departure from the land of Egypt, on its first day, the Israelites came to the desert of Sinai. (NAB)
By counting the days revealed in Exodus 19, the Jewish sages have determined that Shavu'ot was the day on which the Law was given to Israel from Mount Sinai. For this reason, the Torah reading for Shavu'ot is Exodus 19-20, which describes the Israelites arrival at Mount Sinai and the subsequent giving of the Law.
In conjunction with this passage, the Haftorah reading for Shavu'ot is the first chapter of the book of Ezekiel. Introduced in the final verse of Ezekiel 1 is an entity called "the glory of the LORD":
EZEKIEL 1:26 And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. 27 Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. 28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH]. So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking. (NKJV)
Here Ezekiel gives us a vivid description of the entity known as "the glory of YHVH. This is the same divine being that gave the Law to Israel from Mount Sinai (Exo. 24:16-17; Acts 7:38). This entity is VERY important to the meaning of Pentecost. In the book of Hebrews, we are told who this divine spirit being is:
HEBREWS 1:3 He [Yeshua] is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (NRSV)
The author of Hebrews clearly identifies Yeshua as "the reflection of God's glory." John provides a second witness (Deu. 19:15; Matt. 18:16; II Cor. 13:1) to this identity in the prophetic book of Revelation:
REVELATION 21:23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. (NKJV)
John tells us that in the New Jerusalem, the lamp that lights the city will be "the Lamb" also known as "the glory of God." The Lamb of God is symbolic of Yeshua the Messiah numerous places in Revelation, as well as elsewhere in the New Testament (John 1:29, 36; I Pet. 1:19).
In the Scriptures, a wide variety of names are applied to the divine being that interacted with Israel on behalf of God the Father. For more information on appearances of the Messiah before his coming as the man Yeshua, please refer to my article "Christ in the Old Testament."
We first see the preincarnate Messiah identified as "the glory of YHVH" in Exodus 16. He appeared to the people of Israel as they came out of Egypt:
EXODUS 16:7 "And in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH]; for He hears your complaints against the LORD. But what are we, that you complain against us?" 8 Also Moses said, "This shall be seen when the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to the full; for the LORD hears your complaints which you make against Him. And what are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the LORD." 9 Then Moses spoke to Aaron, "Say to all the congregation of the children of Israel, 'Come near before the LORD, for He has heard your complaints.' " 10 Now it came to pass, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] appeared in the cloud. (NKJV)
As the Israelites came out of Egypt, they were accompanied by the Messiah. He went before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exo. 13:21-22). However, it seems that he was generally not seen by the entire congregation unless he chose to manifest himself. This manifestation was known as "the glory of YHVH."
It was as "the glory of YHVH" that the Messiah visibly rested on top of Mount Sinai in the appearance of a "consuming fire." Afterward, he called Moses up to meet with him for 40 days and 40 nights:
EXODUS 24:16 Now the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17 The sight of the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. 18 So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights. (NKJV)
Through the Messiah, God led the Israelites by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. However, once the Israelites set up the tabernacle Moses had been instructed to make (Exo. 25-27), "the glory of YHVH" filled the tabernacle:
EXODUS 40:33 And he raised up the court all around the tabernacle and the altar, and hung up the screen of the court gate. So Moses finished the work. 34 Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] filled the tabernacle. (NKJV)
Afterward, whenever God chose to speak to Moses and others, He would do so through the Messiah at the tabernacle of meeting:
NUMBERS 14:10 And all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Now the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] appeared in the tabernacle of meeting before all the children of Israel. 11 Then the LORD said to Moses: "How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?" (NKJV)
NUMBERS 16:19 And Korah gathered all the congregation against them at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] appeared to all the congregation. (NKJV)
NUMBERS 16:41 On the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, saying, "You have killed the people of the LORD." 42 Now it happened, when the congregation had gathered against Moses and Aaron, that they turned toward the tabernacle of meeting; and suddenly the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] appeared. (NKJV)
NUMBERS 20:2 Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and Aaron. 3 And the people contended with Moses and spoke, saying: "If only we had died when our brethren died before the LORD! 4 Why have you brought up the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here? 5 And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink." 6 So Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and they fell on their faces. And the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] appeared to them. 7 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 8 "Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals." (NKJV)
Later on, after the tabernacle was replaced by the temple King Solomon built for God in Jerusalem, we see that the Messiah also appeared in Solomon's temple:
I KINGS 8:1 Now Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel, to King Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the City of David, which is Zion. 2 Therefore all the men of Israel assembled with King Solomon at the feast in the month of Ethanim, which is the seventh month. 3 So all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark. 4 Then they brought up the ark of the LORD, the tabernacle of meeting, and all the holy furnishings that were in the tabernacle. The priests and the Levites brought them up. 5 Also King Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel who were assembled with him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen that could not be counted or numbered for multitude. 6 Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the temple, to the Most Holy Place, under the wings of the cherubim. 7 For the cherubim spread their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its poles. 8 The poles extended so that the ends of the poles could be seen from the holy place, in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside. And they are there to this day. 9 Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. 10 And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] filled the house of the LORD. (NKJV)
II CHRONICLES 5:11 And it came to pass when the priests came out of the Most Holy Place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without keeping to their divisions), 12 and the Levites who were the singers, all those of Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, stood at the east end of the altar, clothed in white linen, having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets — 13 indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying: "For He is good, for His mercy endures forever," that the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] filled the house of God. 6:1 Then Solomon spoke: "The LORD said He would dwell in the dark cloud. 2 I have surely built You an exalted house, and a place for You to dwell in forever." (NKJV)
II CHRONICLES 7:1 When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] filled the temple. 2 And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] had filled the LORD's house. 3 When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the LORD, saying: "For He is good, for His mercy endures forever." (NKJV)
Like he appeared to the Israelites that left Egypt, we see that the Messiah also appeared to Israel at the dedication of the temple of YHVH. We are told that "the glory of YHVH" filled the temple that God had allowed Solomon to build for Him.
Just as the Father sat on His throne in the Holy of Holies in the heavenly Temple, His Son sat on the mercy seat in the earthly temple. The temple became the sanctuary of the Messiah, God's messenger and mediator to Israel. But as Judah drifted further and further away from God's ways, Solomon's temple became polluted by the sins of the people. As Ezekiel shows us, the transgressions of Israel caused it to become unclean, eventually forcing "the glory of YHVH" to depart:
EZEKIEL 8:1 And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house with the elders of Judah sitting before me, that the hand of the Lord GOD fell upon me there. 2 Then I looked, and there was a likeness, like the appearance of fire — from the appearance of His waist and downward, fire; and from His waist and upward, like the appearance of brightness, like the color of amber. 3 He stretched out the form of a hand, and took me by a lock of my hair; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven, and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the image of jealousy was, which provokes to jealousy. 4 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel [kevod 'elohey Yisra'el] was there, like the vision that I saw in the plain. 5 Then He said to me, "Son of man, lift your eyes now toward the north." So I lifted my eyes toward the north, and there, north of the altar gate, was this image of jealousy in the entrance. 6 Furthermore He said to me, "Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel commits here, to make Me go far away from My sanctuary? Now turn again, you will see greater abominations." (NKJV)
The sins of Israel eventually caused judgment to be poured out upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah. In a vision, Ezekiel sees this judgment being decreed by "the glory of YHVH" (also called "the glory of the God of Israel"):
EZEKIEL 9:1 Then He called out in my hearing with a loud voice, saying, "Let those who have charge over the city draw near, each with a deadly weapon in his hand." 2 And suddenly six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his battle-ax in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen and had a writer's inkhorn at his side. They went in and stood beside the bronze altar. 3 Now the glory of the God of Israel [kevod 'elohey Yisra'el] had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer's inkhorn at his side; 4 and the LORD [YHVH] said to him, "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it." 5 To the others He said in my hearing, "Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. 6 Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary." So they began with the elders who were before the temple. 7 Then He said to them, "Defile the temple, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!" And they went out and killed in the city. 8 So it was, that while they were killing them, I was left alone; and I fell on my face and cried out, and said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Will You destroy all the remnant of Israel in pouring out Your fury on Jerusalem?" 9 Then He said to me, "The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great, and the land is full of bloodshed, and the city full of perversity; for they say, 'The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see!' 10 And as for Me also, My eye will neither spare, nor will I have pity, but I will recompense their deeds on their own head." 11 Just then, the man clothed with linen, who had the inkhorn at his side, reported back and said, "I have done as You commanded me." (NKJV)
In this vision, Ezekiel sees "the glory of YHVH" depart from between the cherubim on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies (Exo. 25:17-22) and go to the doorway of the temple. While standing in the doorway, six angelic beings appeared, carrying axes. The Messiah told one of them to mark the foreheads of God's people, and then he told the others to slay those who did not have the mark.
After seeing the visionary slaughter of those in Jerusalem, Ezekiel then witnesses a vision of the exodus of the Messiah from the doomed temple:
EZEKIEL 10:1 Then I looked, and behold, in the expanse that was over the heads of the cherubim something like a sapphire stone, in appearance resembling a throne, appeared above them. 2 And He spoke to the man clothed in linen and said, "Enter between the whirling wheels under the cherubim and fill your hands with coals of fire from between the cherubim and scatter them over the city." And he entered in my sight. 3 Now the cherubim were standing on the right side of the temple when the man entered, and the cloud filled the inner court. 4 Then the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] went up from the cherub to the threshold of the temple, and the temple was filled with the cloud and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH]. (NASU)
EZEKIEL 10:18 Then the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim. 19 And the cherubim lifted their wings and mounted up from the earth in my sight. When they went out, the wheels were beside them; and they stood at the door of the east gate of the LORD's house, and the glory of the God of Israel [kevod 'elohey Yisra'el] was above them. (NKJV)
EZEKIEL 11:14 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 15 "Son of man, your brethren, your relatives, your countrymen, and all the house of Israel in its entirety, are those about whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, 'Get far away from the LORD; this land has been given to us as a possession.' 16 Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Although I have cast them far off among the Gentiles, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone." ' 17 Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel." ' 18 And they will go there, and they will take away all its detestable things and all its abominations from there. 19 Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose hearts follow the desire for their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their deeds on their own heads," says the Lord GOD. 22 So the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel [kevod 'elohey Yisra'el] was high above them. 23 And the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain [Olivet], which is on the east side of the city. 24 Then the Spirit took me up and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to those in captivity. And the vision that I had seen went up from me. 25 So I spoke to those in captivity of all the things the LORD had shown me. (NKJV)
Because of the sins of the people, the preincarnate Messiah left the temple and settled on the Mount of Olives, which was to the east of Jerusalem. From there, he ascended back to heaven (cf. Acts 1:4-12). Solomon's temple was soon thereafter destroyed by the Babylonians (in 586 BCE).
In 520 BCE, Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, was inspired by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to rebuild the temple of God (Hag. 1:1-11; Zec. 4:6-9). As the Scriptures show, this second temple did not compare to Solomon's temple (Ezra 3:8-13; Hag. 2:3). However, Haggai prophesied about the glory of the second temple :
HAGGAI 2:9 "'The glory [kevod] of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,' says the LORD of hosts. 'And in this place I will give peace,' says the LORD of hosts." (NKJV)
"The glory of YHVH" was never seen in the second temple in the same way it appeared in the tabernacle and in Solomon's temple. However, the prophet Haggai prophesied that the second temple's "glory" would be greater than that of Solomon's temple.
This glory appeared some 500 years later when the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6; Acts 10:36), Yeshua the Messiah, came to this world in human form. During his earthly ministry, Yeshua spent a lot of time during God's festivals (Lev. 23) teaching in the second temple:
JOHN 7:14 Now about the middle of the feast [of Tabernacles] Jesus went up into the temple and taught. 15 And the Jews marveled, saying, "How does this man know letters, having never studied?" 16 Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine is not mine, but His who sent me. 17 If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on my own authority. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of the One who sent him is true, and no unrighteousness is in him." (NKJV)
MATTHEW 21:23 Now when he came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?" (NKJV)
MATTHEW 26:55 In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, "Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize me." (NKJV)
JOHN 18:19 The high priest then asked Jesus about his disciples and his doctrine. 20 Jesus answered him, "I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. (NKJV)
Yeshua, who taught in the second temple, was greater in his role as the Messiah than as "the glory of YHVH" that appeared in Solomon's temple. Yeshua taught the words of God to Israel (John 7:16; 8:28, 38; 14:24; 15:15), and gave repentance to them, as well as forgiveness for their sins by his sacrificial death (Acts 5:31).
By now you may be saying to yourself, "OK, this is all very interesting, but what does it have to do with Pentecost?" The relationship between "the glory of YHVH" and the Shavu'ot will become more evident as we examine the words of Messiah just before his crucifixion. These words, recorded in the Gospel of John, have long been misunderstood:
JOHN 14:1 "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms [monai]. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going." (ESV)
Yeshua speaks of his "Father's house" in verse 2. In this verse, the plural monai (translated "rooms" or "mansions") comes from the Greek root word mone. Variations of this word appear only twice in the New Testament. According to Friberg's Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testatment (ALGNT), mone means "dwelling place, abode, home."
Many have just assumed that Yeshua's reference in verse 2 is to God's heavenly temple, and that he is promising here to bring his disciples to heaven, that they may dwell there forever. However, there is another house of the Father spoken of in the New Testament, and this holy temple is NOT located in heaven:
EPHESIANS 2:19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (NKJV)
Yeshua knew that the temple of God in Jerusalem would be destroyed soon after his ascension to heaven (Matt. 24:1-2; Mark 13:1-2; Luke 21:5-6). But he also knew that God would replace the temple in Jerusalem with another temple composed of the assembly of believers. Within this new house of God would be many dwelling places. The physical bodies of believers would become individual rooms or abodes within the Father's temple.
The bodies of these believers would be dwelling places for the Spirit of God, as the apostle Paul revealed to the Corinthians:
I CORINTHIANS 3:16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (NKJV)
I CORINTHIANS 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; (RSV)
II CORINTHIANS 6:16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people." (NKJV)
As we will see, it is this collective temple of the Father that Yeshua was speaking of in John 14:2. In verse 3, when Yeshua promised to come again to his disciples, he was speaking of coming to dwell within them, just as he had earlier dwelt as the "glory of YHVH" within the tabernacle and Solomon's temple. This will become more clear as we continue.
JOHN 14:5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" (ESV)
Thomas misunderstood what Yeshua meant. He thought that the disciples would have to follow Yeshua to a physical place. Since they did not know where he was going, how could they know how to get there? But Yeshua was referring to a spiritual path, not a physical one. "The way" that Yeshua spoke of was the same "way" he had shown the disciples throughout his time with them. That "way" was one of complete obedience to God. They would only be able to come to the Father through faith in the Messiah's sacrifice and emulation of his obedient life. Not coincidentally, the teachings of Yeshua, and those who followed them, later came to be called "the Way" (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 24:14, 22).
JOHN 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him." 8 Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." 9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" (ESV)
Yeshua's words here have long been confusing to many, yet his meaning is understandable when viewed in light of other related Scriptures. Yeshua is the mediator between God and His chosen people (I Tim. 2:5; Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). He is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), the exact imprint of His nature (Heb. 1:3). Because he was endowed with the very character of God, the Son of God was (and always had been) the visible representation of the invisible Father. This is why Yeshua was able to truthfully tell Thomas and Philip that those who knew him also knew God the Father.
JOHN 14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does the works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me, or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves." (NKJV)
The two primary questions arising from this passage are:
(1) How did the Father dwell in Yeshua?
(2) How was Yeshua in the Father?
The answer to the first question is that God was in Yeshua the same way He is now in us: through the indwelling of His Spirit (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32; 3:34). But just what is the Spirit of God?
As Paul tells us in I Corinthians 2:9-16, the Spirit of God is actually the Mind of God:
I CORINTHIANS 2:9 But it is as Scripture says: What no eye has seen and no ear has heard, what the mind of man [kardian anthropou] cannot visualise; all that God has prepared for those who love Him; (NJB)
In Greek literature, kardia (generally translated as "heart") frequently refers to the seat of physical, spiritual and mental life. Therefore, the heart (the place where thought and understanding were assumed to take place), is synonymous with the mind. In I Corinthians 2:9, Paul is saying that "mankind" (Gr. anthropou) does not understand what God has planned for the human race.
I CORINTHIANS 2:10 But God has revealed it to us by His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. (NIV)
Here Paul qualifies his statement in verse 9. There are some people who do comprehend what God has prepared for mankind, because He has revealed it to those who have His Spirit.
I CORINTHIANS 2:11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so [houtos kai] the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. (NASU)
In verse 11, Paul draws an analogy between the spirit of man (also known as the "heart" or "mind") and the Spirit of God. The connecting phrase "even so" (houtos kai) shows that he is comparing the human spirit or mind in the first part of this verse with God's Spirit or Mind in the final part. Paul begins by stating that only the spirit ("mind") within a man knows the thoughts of that man. He then goes on to say that, in like manner, only the Spirit ("Mind") of God knows the thoughts of God. Paul explains this concept more fully in the next few verses:
I CORINTHIANS 2:12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. 13 And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. 14 Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else's scrutiny. 16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. (NRSV)
How do we have the mind of Messiah? Through the indwelling of God's mind, the Holy Spirit.
Our human minds were created with a critical component missing. That missing piece is God's Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is not present, people search for other things to fill that void. This is why the apostle John warned believers to "test the spirits" to verify the "Spirit of God" (I John 4:1-2). Lying spirits have led many people astray and have caused the proliferation of false religions in the world. Because of this natural mental deficiency, man is susceptible to manipulation by evil spiritual forces.
But when the Spirit of God combines with our human spirit, we begin to comprehend the spiritual things of God. The presence of God's Spirit helps us to start understanding His plan for mankind. We are then able to consider things from God's view point, not just our previously limited physical perspective.
While Yeshua was here on earth, he overcame his human nature through the power of God's Spirit and remained totally obedient to the Father's will because he had the mind of God:
JOHN 5:30 "I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (NKJV)
JOHN 6:38 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me." (NKJV)
LUKE 22:42 Saying, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done." (NASU)
In answer to the second question I raised earlier, Yeshua was "in the Father" because he ALWAYS did God's will, not his own. He did not succumb to the temptations common to mankind (Heb. 2:18; 4:15) and therefore remained sinless. Because of this, Yeshua was one with God in purpose (John 10:30).
JOHN 14:12 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to my Father. 13 And whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in my name, I will do it." (NKJV)
Yeshua told the disciples that those who believed in him would do the works that he did. But Yeshua also stated that they would do greater works than he had done because he was returning to the heavenly Father. This statement is one of the keys to understanding Yeshua's words in this chapter. His return to heaven would be pivotal in allowing his disciples to do the prophesied mighty works.
We also see that Yeshua promised to do what the disciples asked "in his name." The important thing to note here is that Yeshua himself promised to accomplish their requests so that the Father would be glorified.
JOHN 14:15 "If you love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Helper [parakleton], that he may abide with you forever [eis ton aiona, lit. "to the age"] — 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; but you know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19 A little while longer and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you." (NKJV)
Yeshua's plain words in verse 15 are hard to misinterpret. He did not come to abolish the Law (Matt. 5:17). Those who love him will show that love by keeping his commandments (I John 5:2). These commandments did not originate with Yeshua, but are the heavenly Father's (John 7:16; 14:24). Contrary to what most teach today, these commandments are not burdensome (I John 5:3).
In verse 16, we are first introduced to the "Helper" (Gr. parakletos). ALGNT states that parakletos is a "legal technical term . . . one who appears in another's behalf advocate, defender, intercessor."
Our "advocate" is clearly identified in John's first epistle:
I JOHN 2:1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate [parakleton] with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (NKJV)
John plainly tells us that Yeshua the Messiah is our "Advocate" (parakletos). Yeshua stated that the coming "Helper" could not be received by the world because it didn't see or know him. But he stated that the disciples did know this "Spirit of truth" because he dwelt with them and would be in them. Yeshua had dwelt with them for three and a half years during the time of his earthly ministry. After his resurrection and ascension, he would dwell within them, through the agency of God's Spirit.
In John 14:6, Yeshua clearly stated that he was "the truth." He knew that after his resurrection, he would once again be a glorified spirit being, just as he had been before his birth as a human (John 17:5; Phi. 2:6-8). Since his disciples could not then comprehend this revelation, he spoke figuratively of his return to obscure what he was saying (John 16:25). But Yeshua clearly stated that he would come back to them (John 14:3, 18). The return he spoke of wasn't his coming at the end of the age to install the Kingdom of God here on earth, but rather his spiritual appearance in just over 50 days, on Shavu'ot.
Yeshua told the disciples that in a little while, the world would not see him any longer, but that they would see him. He said that he was "the life" (John 14:6), and told them that because he was going to live, they would live also (John 14:19). In that day, he proclaimed, they would know that he was "in" them (v. 20).
JOHN 14:21 "He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?" 23 Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home [monen] with him. 24 He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me." (NKJV)
Once again, Yeshua plainly states that he would only manifest himself to those who are obedient and demonstrate their love by observing the Father's commandments (vv. 21, 24). Judas, the son of James (Luke 6:16), asked a very pertinent question at this point: HOW would Yeshua manifest himself to them and NOT to the world?
Yeshua's answer is enlightening when understood properly. He stated that those who were obedient would have him and his Father come and make their home with them. Here we see the second usage of the Greek root word mone in the New Testament. This shows concisely that the "rooms" or "mansions" Yeshua spoke of in John 14:2 are indeed the physical bodies of believers. Yeshua was saying that the bodies of obedient servants of God would soon become dwelling places for the risen Son of God, by means of the Holy Spirit of the Father. So both the Father and the Son would spiritually dwell within believers.
JOHN 14:25 "These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper [parakletos], the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." (NKJV)
In verse 26, Yeshua refers to "the Holy Spirit" as the parakletos, which is the same title that John uses for Yeshua in 1 John 2:1. The explanation for this is that BOTH Yeshua and God (though His Holy Spirit) are our "Helpers." Yeshua was to be the "advocate" for believers, and the Holy Spirit would be the means by which Yeshua would dwell within them and perform that function.
JOHN 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 28 You have heard me say to you, 'I am going away and coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice because I said, 'I am going to the Father,' for my Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe." (NKJV)
In verse 28, Yeshua reiterates that the Father would send him back to them after his death, resurrection, and ascension. The means by which Yeshua would come back would be God's Spirit. This is the reason Yeshua told them they should rejoice that he was returning to the Father, and the reason that he proclaimed that "my Father is greater than I." It would only be through the Father's Spirit that Yeshua could return to dwell within them and do greater works through them than those he had performed during his ministry.
Now let's go to the next chapter of John's Gospel and examine the third mention of the "Helper":
JOHN 15:26 "When the Advocate [parakletos] comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds [ekporeuetai] from the Father, he will testify to me." (NAB)
It's very interesting to note that the Holy Spirit is said to "proceed from the Father." The Greek word translated "proceed" here comes from the verb ekporeuomai. One meaning of this Greek word refers to water flowing out or streaming forth. Just as water flows down from the mountains eventually to the ocean, God's Spirit would flow through Yeshua in heaven to believers on earth. In fact, the Holy Spirit was compared to water by Yeshua himself:
JOHN 7:37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (NKJV)
Yeshua the Messiah, our Advocate and Mediator, is the conduit through which this "living water" flows to us from the Father. This is why Yeshua told his disciples that it was necessary that he return to heaven for them to do mightier works than he had done (John 14:12). Only after his enthronement at the right hand of the Father would they have the very mind and power of God dwelling in them.
Now let's go to the fourth mention of the "Helper" by John:
JOHN 16:4 "But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I go away to Him who sent me, and none of you asks me, 'Where are You going?' 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper [parakletos] will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send him to you." (NKJV)
Here, Yeshua clearly states that he was returning to the Father in heaven (John 16:5). He goes on to tell his disciples that it was for their benefit that he was going back to heaven. If he didn't, the Helper could not come to them. Remember, Yeshua promised to return to his disciples and manifest himself to them (John 14:21). The Messiah understood that he could only return and dwell in them through God's Spirit.
JOHN 16:12 "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak; and he will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take of what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are mine. Therefore I said that he will take of mine and declare it to you. 16 A little while, and you will not see me; and again a little while, and you will see me, because I go to the Father." (NKJV)
Once again, Yeshua speaks of what the Spirit of truth will do for the disciples. In verse 16, Yeshua tells them that in a little while, they would not see him any longer, but that after he went to the Father, they would see him again. While many attribute the fulfillment of this prophecy to the 40-day period Yeshua appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, the more complete fulfillment of it took place in Jerusalem on Shavu'ot:
ACTS 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs — we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God." 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?" (NKJV)
Just as the "glory of YHVH" appeared at Mount Sinai on Shavu'ot and then wrote the commandments of God on tablets of stone for the Israelites, the glorified Messiah appeared on Pentecost and wrote God's Law on the hearts of His people (Jer. 31:33; Heb. 8:10). Just as the "glory of YHVH" dwelt within the tabernacle, and later Solomon's temple, the glorified Messiah came to dwell within the many-roomed temple of God, the church. He is able to do this through the Holy Spirit of his Father.
Paul had much to say about the indwelling of the Messiah. It was central to his faith and understanding of God's plan:
ROMANS 8:9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (NKJV)
GALATIANS 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (NKJV)
II CORINTHIANS 13:4 For indeed he was crucified out of weakness, but he lives by the power of God. So also we are weak in him, but toward you we shall live with him by the power of God. 5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless, of course, you fail the test. (NAB)
Yeshua himself told his disciples that they would live because he lived (John 14:19). Paul confirms the words of the Messiah, stating that believers have Yeshua dwelling within them through the Spirit of God. The same power of God that raised Yeshua to life after his crucifixion also allowed him to live in them (and us).
In ancient times, the sins of the Jews drove the "glory of YHVH" from the temple and caused its destruction, as well as the desolation of all of Judah by the Babylonians (Eze. 9-11). In like manner, we also can cause the Messiah to remove himself from within us if we continue to live a life of sin after receiving the Holy Spirit.
In I Thessalonians 5:19, Paul warns believers not to "quench the Spirit." Remember, Yeshua clearly stated that obedience was a prerequisite for having him and the Father continue to dwell within us after our conversion (John 14:15-16, 21). Those who sin willfully have the same fate awaiting them that the lawless inhabitants of ancient Jerusalem experienced:
HEBREWS 10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The LORD will judge His people." 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (NKJV)
As the prophets show, a time is soon coming when Yeshua will once again be manifested to the entire world:
ISAIAH 40:1 "Comfort, yes, comfort My people!" says your God. 2 "Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins." 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; 5 the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken." (NKJV)
While this prophecy was clearly applied to John the Baptist in relation to the Messiah's first appearance (Matt. 3:3; 11:10; Mark 1:2-3; Luke 3:3-6; 7:27), it ultimately speaks of the return of Yeshua to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth. Isaiah tells us that once again, the "glory of YHVH" will be visible to mortal man. This time, the entire world will see him as he administers mercy and justice from his headquarters in the millennial temple in Jerusalem (Eze. 40-42).
The prophet Ezekiel shows us that during the millennium, the Messiah will once again dwell within a physical temple which will be built in Jerusalem:
EZEKIEL 43:1 Afterward he brought me to the gate, the gate that faces toward the east. 2 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel [kevod 'elohey Yisra'el] came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters [cf. Rev. 1:15]; and the earth shone with His glory. 3 It was like the appearance of the vision which I saw — like the vision which I saw when I came to destroy the city. The visions were like the vision which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face. 4 And the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] came into the temple by way of the gate which faces toward the east. 5 The Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] filled the temple. 6 Then I heard Him speaking to me from the temple, while a man stood beside me. 7 And He said to me, "Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever. No more shall the house of Israel defile My holy name, they nor their kings, by their harlotry or with the carcasses of their kings on their high places." (NKJV)
During the millennium, the glorified Messiah will once again dwell in God's temple, much as he did in ancient Israel. This time he is there to stay (Eze. 43:7). As King Solomon said, that which has been is what will be once more; that which has been done is what will be done again (Ecc. 1:9).
EZEKIEL 44:1 Then He brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary which faces toward the east, but it was shut. 2 And the LORD said to me, "This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the LORD God of Israel [YHVH 'elohey Yisra'el] has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut. 3 As for the prince, because he is the prince, he may sit in it to eat bread before the LORD; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway, and go out the same way." 4 Also He brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple; so I looked, and behold, the glory of the LORD [kevod YHVH] filled the house of the LORD; and I fell on my face. (NKJV)
The eastern gate of the millenial temple will be sealed because it is the gate through which the Messiah will enter the temple. The "glory of YHVH" will light up the whole world from Jerusalem.
Just like the three festival seasons specified in the Tanakh are actually two, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three that are really two. The Holy Spirit is the mind of God the Father. Through His Spirit, the power of the heavenly Father sustains the entire universe. The coming of the Holy Spirit on Shavu'ot (Acts 2) signaled the next phase in the plan of God. God's Spirit became the means by which His Son Yeshua lives within the elect, just as he had centuries earlier dwelt within the Tabernacle and Solomon's Temple as the "glory of the LORD."
The Scriptures show that the day will come, after his second coming, when the Messiah shall once again also dwell within the rebuilt physical temple in Jerusalem. In that day, many people will seek the Messiah in the house of the God. He will teach them God's ways, and they will walk in His paths. God's Law will be taught from Zion, and the word of the Eternal Father will go forth from Jerusalem. Yeshua the Messiah will then judge between the nations and reprove many people. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. At that time, nations will not make war against each other anymore. The house of Jacob will then walk in the light of YHVH (Isa. 2:3-5).
Bryan T. Huie
November 8, 2003