It was on the day of this feast that the Holy Spirit descended as tongues “as of fire” on the disciples’ heads (Acts 2.3-4). Peter then gave a message imploring many of the same people who were responsible for having Jesus crucified, to now put their trust in Him, And they did! In Acts 2.41, we are told that 3000 souls were added to their number on that day. But why 3000? Well, the Bible has an answer, and it is found in Exodus.
Many people know that there are 10 Commandments, whatever they might be. Most of these people probably know of the incident with the Israelites making a golden calf. This calf was formed while Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Law from God and was made because the people did not know what had happened to Moses and therefore did not know if he was coming back. When Moses (and Joshua) came down they heard the camp and then saw the golden calf.
After confronting Aaron, Moses called for all who were on the side of the Lord (Exodus 32.26). He then instructed these men to kill his brother, his neighbor, and his companion. The number that was killed was about 3000 men. What is also important to note is that Jewish tradition says this happened during the time which would become Shavuot.
Now, if we also understand that Shavuot was one of the three feasts where every able-bodied Jewish male was to go to Jerusalem (see the church’s blog), then on the day of Pentecost most of the people gathered there would have been Jews. (The term Jew is derived from the name of the tribe of Judah, and became common after the captivity in Babylon. Judah was one of the 12 tribes of Israel, so the Jews were direct descendants from the Israelite tribe of Judah (and Benjamin)).
So, at the time the Law was given, 3000 Israelites lives were removed from the community. But on the day the Spirit came, 3000 Jewish souls were added to God’s Kingdom!
But why should we consider these souls as wheat? This has to do with further understanding the Jewish Feasts as given by God in Leviticus 23. Shavuot is named because it begins 50 days after the Feast of Firstfruits. While Shavuot takes place in the late Spring, Firstfruits takes place at the time of the early Spring harvest – a harvest which consisted of barley. According to 1 Corinthians 15.20-21, Jesus was THE firstfruit (the first to be resurrected).
Next comes the Feast of Shavuot during the late Spring and consists of wheat. The 3000 souls were a part of this harvest, as a result of the presence of the Holy Spirit as are all believers since until the great harvest to come in the future at the Feast of the Tabernacles (see Zechariah 12.10). This becomes clear when we see what was said about Jesus regarding the types of baptism He would bring – Spirit and fire. In Matthew 3.11-12 and Luke 3.16-17, this comment is made by John the Baptizer about Jesus. John then says that Jesus will separate the wheat from the chaff with the wheat being preserved (because of the Spirit) and the chaff being burned (by the fire). So, what, or, more correctly, who does the wheat represent? Souls that have been saved. We must recall that John’s father was a priest so John was well accustomed with the Jewish feasts, though he likely did not realize how prophetic these words would be.
Let me boil it down succinctly adding in Passover.
- On Passover, Jesus was the Passover Lamb which was slain.
- At the Feast of Firstfruits, Jesus was resurrected representing the first born from the dead.
- At the Feast of Shavuot, after the wheat harvest, 3000 souls were saved.
- The 3000 saved souls replaced the 3000 individuals killed according to Exodus 32.28.
- The souls, from the harvest of wheat, match the statement made by John the Baptizer about Jesus winnowing the wheat after they were baptized by the Spirit.
So, what is the point? The Holy Spirit is still at work in the world today continuing to harvest the “wheat” until the Lord returns again. And for those who call themselves Christians, it is not enough to be harvested. We are to follow Jesus and thus we are not only be a part of that harvest, but we are to harvest as well. For Jesus said, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9.37-38).
The question is, how will we respond?