Virtually all the lessons of the Jewish Shavuot are present in the Christian Pentecost. Shavuot is the Feast of Harvest or the day of the first fruits (Exodus 23:14-19; Leviticus 23:9-22).
Likewise, the Christian Pentecost celebrates the first conversions, the first fruits of the Christian proclamation. Pentecost realizes God's dream for Israel: "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God" (Revelation 5:10; c£ 1:6; and Exodus 19:6).
The Christian Pentecost celebrates the first mass dispensation of the Spirit.1 The Apocalypse alludes to it by mentioning the "seven spirits of God" (Revelation 4:5; 5:6). But Pentecost is especially connected to the resurrection of Yeshua and to His glorious enthronement in heaven. The Apocalypse identifies the Lamb with the "Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David" (Revelation 5:5), thus fulfilling the ancient promise of an eternal Davidic dynasty.2 The ritual enacted by the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God inaugurates Him as the eternal Davidic King to the praise of the heavenly hosts.
Joyous in praise, the voices of the heavenly host now answer the question of" Who is worthy? They sing the worthiness of the Lamb. The liturgy revolves around this theme in a four-part crescendo.
- The first voices are those of the four beings and of the 24 elders who sing, "You are worthy ... because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation" (verse 9). A harp accompanies the song. Music mingles with incense, which is linked to the prayers of those who hope (verse 8). Truly a "new song" (verse 9), never before sung, it is a new poem with new emotions and a new melody. The Psalms often use this expression to express a radical change of heart from darkness to light, from death to life. Usually the expression appears in the context of creation.3
- The next voices that we hear are a chorus of angels: "Worthy is the Lamb ... to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise" (verse 12). The seven attributes echo the seven horns, symbols of power.
- The whole universe now breaks into song with "every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is them" (verse 13) joining their voices with the immense chorus of angels, echoing their last words, but in reverse order. The angels had sung: "strength and honor and glory and praise" (verse 12). the creatures of the earth now answer: "praise and honor and glory and power" (verse 13), in harmony with the preceding chorus.
- Finally, the four beings conclude with a powerful ''Amen!" (verse 14). The elders fall down and worship, and the service concludes with silence. Words are not enough. Only silence may express the inexpressible.
This article is adapted from Jacques B. Doukhan, Secrets of Revelation: The Apocalypse Through Hebrew Eyes (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2002), 56-58.
1 Acts 1:8; 2:38, 39; Ephesians 5:18.
2 Genesis 49:10; 2 Samuel7; 1Chronicles 17; Daniel 9:24-27; Luke 1:32, 33.
3 Psalms 33:3-9; 96:1, 4-6; 98:1-9; 149:1,2, etc.