The apostle Paul wanted to be at Jerusalem for Pentecost.
"For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost." (Acts 20:16)
Christians have the firstfruits of God's spirit within them, allowing them to be the first of many who will ultimately receive salvation. Believers follow in the path of Jesus, the first of the firstfruits in God's great plan.
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God . . . The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
"For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God . . . Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body." (Romans 8:14, 16-17, 20-21, 23)
"But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead . . . But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. " (1Corinthians 15:20, 21, 23)
The 144,000 people of the tribes of Israel, converted during the great tribulation, will also be firstfruits unto God.
"Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads . . . These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. " (Revelation 14:1, 4)
Just before Jesus ascended into heaven after his resurrection he gave a very important command to his disciples.
"Then He said to them, 'Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. "'Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.'" (Luke 24:46-49)
What does it mean to "tarry?" Some have the mistaken notion that "tarry" merely means "wait." It is much more than that. The Greek word is kathizo, and everywhere else it is translated "sit" or "sit down." Another aspect of this word is that of sitting in judgment (Matthew 19:28). The disciples were told to tarry, or sit, in Jerusalem until the power of God's Holy Spirit would be given to each of them. What an eternity those ten days must have been!
The disciples returned to Jerusalem, gathered together, and continued with one accord in prayer and supplication (Acts 1:12-14). The eleven had to sit in judgment, because a replacement for Judas had to be found. So, the lot of judgment fell upon Matthias, who was now to be numbered with the others who would sit upon the twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
They had to sit down, count the cost, sit down and pray, worship, have an intimate relationship with the Father and with one another in prayer, teaching and supplication. They were not yet ready to go out and be witnesses of Him to all the world, with great power and miracles. The place they were in was the temple. The temple had vast corridors or porches which served as regular meeting places. It was said that 210,000 people could gather there. Solomon's Porch, mentioned in Acts 3:8, 11, 5:12, John 10:23, had benches so that large crowds could be addressed. During the ten day waiting period from Christ's ascension to Pentecost, and afterwards, this porch was a regular meeting place for followers of the Messiah.
How many disciples were in the Temple on that day of Pentecost? It doesn't say. There were 120 present at the time Matthias was chosen. One hundred and twenty was the number of men that the Jews required to form a council in a city. They had tarried and counted the days. Now it was time for the Spirit to come. It came about 9:00 A.M. (third hour of the day). With the sound of mighty wind there appeared above their heads cloven tongues like fire, and it sat (kathizo, tarried) upon each of them. All the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke with other languages (Acts 2:1-4). Hundreds nearby, in other porches of the Temple compound, heard the noise and came, each hearing his own language spoken.
Peter, standing up with the eleven other apostles (witnesses of the resurrection), gave a positive clear direction to the seemingly chaotic situation. The powerful voice of the fisherman came booming out:
"But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, 'Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
"'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.
"And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days, and they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'' " (Acts 2:14-21, NKJV)
Why did Peter cite this end-time prophecy, which points to events just prior to the terrible "Day of the Lord"? Peter was not saying that the heavenly signs were happening, but that it was time for the pouring out of the Spirit. Peter then gets to the point about what the people did to Jesus, the Savior of the world.
"'Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know - Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. '" (Acts 2:22-24)
Pricked to the very core of their hearts, these devout men were ready. The time was ripe. They cried out, "What shall we do?" Peter gave them the answer:
"Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.'" (verses 38-39)
Mankind had tarried long enough. God was now ready to pour forth the promise of the Spirit. About three thousand responded, gladly receiving the word, being baptized the same day. The New Testament church had been born!
The lesson of Pentecost is TARRY. This critically important day is worth waiting for. Although the majority are too hurried on their way to destruction to tarry for this Holy Day, there are a few who are willing to wait patiently. In the near future, they will sit on thrones of judgment, because in this day they had the patience to listen to Peter's sermon. We need to wait patiently for the divine promise of Pentecost.