PENTECOST AND THE LAW GIVEN AT MOUNT SINAI
There is parallelism between the 50th day event at Mount Sinai and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles on the 50th day after the Passover sacrifice of Jesus.
1. Both the giving of the commandment on Mount Sinai and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the feast of Pentecost happened on the 50th day after Passover. The Israelites traveled around 40 days to reach from Egypt to Mount Sinai. They left Egypt on the 15th day of the first month and arrived at the foot of Mount Sinai on the first day of the third month (Ex 19:1). Moses went up to Mount Sinai on the 40th day to meet with God and God came down on the mountain to meet the Israelites and gave them Ten Commandments on the 50th day after Passover. Similarly, Jesus ascended to heaven on the 40th day to join with the Father, and the Holy Spirit came down on the apostles on the 50th day.
2. The extraordinary signs at Mount Sinai and Mount Zion (Jerusalem) at the time of Pentecost were similar. Both happened on holy mountains selected by God. At Mount Sinai there were thunder and lightning, heavy cloud, and loud blast of the shofar (Ex 19:16). “Now Mount Sinai was completely enveloped in smoke, because the LORD had come down upon it in fire. The smoke rose from it as though from a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled violently” (Ex 19:18). During the Pentecost after the ascension of Jesus, there was a sudden noise from the sky like a strong driving wind, tongues of fire that rested on the apostles, and gift of speaking in different languages (Acts 2: 2-4).
3. God gave the Torah on Mount Sinai as teachings for God’s chosen people. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came as the Teacher of believers. “The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (Jn 14:26).
4. God inscribed the laws given at Mount Sinai on two stone tablets. The Holy Spirit wrote the new law on the human hearts of Christians at the time of Pentecost. When people heard the preaching of Peter on the Pentecost day, “they were cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37).
5. At Mount Sinai, God came down to dwell among the people of Israel. He led them as column of cloud during day and column of fire at night (Ex 13:21-22). Later, God dwelt with them in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple of Jerusalem. God’s presence in the Temple disappeared before the Babylonian exile because of the sins of the Israelites. However, the Lord’s dwelling came back through Jesus when he was born in Bethlehem and later to the Christian hearts from the time of Pentecost. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16).
6. Both events led to the formation of a newly redeemed community of God’s chosen people. The Exodus gave birth to the Israelite nation while the Pentecost inaugurated the formation of the Christian community.
7. When God gave the Torah to Moses on the Mountain, the people were worshiping a golden calf. Because of this sin, 3,000 people were killed as punishment (Ex 32:25-28). On the day of Pentecost, 3,000 people received baptism at the preaching of Peter (Acts 2:41).
Jesus did not contradict the teachings of Moses. He corrected the misinterpretation of the false leaders of the Jews and introduced the genuine spirit behind the Law. When the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles, they got an excellent understanding of Christ’s teachings, and were bold to preach all over the world and face persecution and martyrdom. We also received the Holy Spirit during our baptism and confirmation. Let us be conscious of the presence of the Holy Spirit within us and keep the sanctity of our lives as the temple of the Holy Spirit.