Inauguration of Christ’s Ministry in Revelation & Pentecost
By Samuele Bacchiocchi
Some scholars see the inauguration of Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary in the throne Pentecost in the New Testament 160 scenes of Revelation 4 and 5. The scenes in a sense are a celebration of Pentecost in heaven, which results in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on earth.9 Christ, the Lamb that “had been slain” (Rev 5:6), is welcomed back to heaven by four living creatures, twenty-four elders, and myriads of angels who praise Him, saying: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev 5:12). The immediate result of the Lamb’s sacrifice is intercession (Rev 5:8) and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit represented by the “seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth” (Rev 5:6).
In his book A Rebirth of Images: The Making of St. John’s Apocalypse, Austin Farrer sees in the vision of the throne (Rev 4-5) a description of the feast of Pentecost: “The Christian Pentecost which St. John describes took place in heaven, but had its effect on earth. The Lamb, by virtue of the sevenfold Spirit which is his seven horns of strength, his seven eyes of knowledge, opened all revelation, and when the day of Pentecost was fully come, he poured it on his servants in prophetic Spirit. The pentecostal gift is constantly renewed, as in this ‘apocalypse of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to shew his servants what must quickly be, and which he signified by the message of his angel to his servant John.’ Yet the first Pentecost is not cast into the shade by such renewals, but kept all the more lively in mind.”
This interpretation of the vision of God’s throne (Rev 4-5) as cast in the setting of the Feast of Pentecost suggests that at the time of John’s writing (about A. D. 90-100), the feast played a significant role in the liturgical life of the church, especially since the book of Revelation was used in the liturgy of the church. Farrer continues noting the connection between the imageries of Passover and Pentecost in the vision of the throne: “It is the Christ of the Passover, the paschal Lamb ‘standing as slaughtered,’ who by his sacrificial merit has attained to take the book and loose the seven seals thereof. And so while Pentecost provides the frame of Apocalypse 4-5, it is inlaid with the principal of all the paschal emblems.”
Today many Christians are wondering, What on earth is Jesus doing in Heaven? Some think that Jesus is on vacation in heaven, recovering from His exhaustive earthly mission. Pentecost reassures us that Jesus is not on vacation. He has not taken a leave of absence. He has not forgotten us. On the contrary, Pentecost teaches us that as soon as Jesus ascended to heaven, He was officially enthroned at the right hand of God (Acts 2:32; Rev 5:9-12) and began His intercessory ministry on behalf of believers on earth: “God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31).
Pentecost in the New Testament 161 The New Testament uses several human analogies to describe the heavenly ministry of Christ which began at Pentecost when He poured out the Holy Spirit upon His expectant disciples. He is described as “Priest” (Heb 7:15; 8:4), “High Priest” (Heb 2:17; 3:1), “Mediator” (1 Tim 2:5; Heb 8:6), “Intercessor” (Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25). This gives us reason to believe that Jesus is working hard to bring to completion at the day of His coming the good work that began on the day of Pentecost with the inauguration of His heavenly ministry.
If you wish to donate to the BICOG Please click here