A Forgotten Memorial Day: The Feast of Pentecost
Monday is Memorial Day in the U.S. But there is another memorial day next weekend that commemorates one of the most momentous days in all of history.
On Monday, May 30, most schools, federal offices and some businesses in the United States closed to observe Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a U.S. holiday remembering the Americans who died in all the wars fought throughout American history.
But there is another memorial day approaching this coming weekend. Sunday, 5 June 2022, is a day even more important than Memorial Day— the biblical Feast of Pentecost (or Feast of Weeks).
The unique feast of counting
In Leviticus 23 God gave Israel a list of special observances that He declared “the feasts of the LORD” (verse 2). These festivals were to be observed by God’s people as “holy convocations” (verse 2). This meant that God expected His people to assemble together on these days to worship and learn about Him.
The third festival in this list was unique. Instead of having a fixed date, the date of its observance is based on counting: “You shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath [during the Days of Unleavened Bread], from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath” (verses 15-16).
Counting 50 days from “the day after the Sabbath” (Sunday) during the Days of Unleavened Bread always brings you to the Sunday that falls seven weeks later.
In fact, the name Pentecost is simply the Greek term for “fiftieth.”
Pentecost in the New Testament
Many, unfortunately, make the mistake of thinking that this day was just an Old Testament Jewish observance.
But the Bible paints a very different picture!
Every year when Christians gather to celebrate this day, they remember the events of the Pentecost that began the New Testament Church. This special day is featured prominently in the New Testament. In fact, one of the most important events in the history of Christianity took place on this day. And that is no coincidence. Acts 2 tells the story of the beginning of the New Testament Church. You may have heard about some of the events of that day—tongues of fire, speaking in different languages, Peter’s powerful sermon, baptisms, etc. But have you paid close attention to why all these people were together in the first place?
Notice Acts 2:1: “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.”
Yes, the first Christians were assembled to observe Pentecost! What happened on this day would change history forever. On that day, God began the Church of God—a group of people called out of the world and together to be “His own special people” (1 Peter 2:9). No longer would God work only with the nation of Israel. Through the Church, He would now begin calling people of all ethnicities, races and nationalities into a relationship with Him (Romans 9:24; 11:11; Galatians 3:14).
The Bible shows that the Church continued to observe the Feast of Pentecost after this day (Acts 20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:8).
Pentecost as a memorial day
In a way, it is interesting that Pentecost and Memorial Day fall around the same time. The word memorial means “serving to preserve remembrance.”
The Feast of Pentecost is also a memorial day.
Every year when Christians gather to celebrate this day, they remember the events of the Pentecost that began the New Testament Church (recorded in Acts 2). But it is a different kind of remembering. Instead of just remembering the past, the events of that Pentecost continue to live as a reality today. On Pentecost, Christians will memorialize:
1. The giving of the Holy Spirit.
One of the most significant “firsts” of that Pentecost was when those assembled “were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4). Before this, the Holy Spirit was “with” Christ’s disciples; but now they were filled with it—it was now in them (John 14:17).
It is not a coincidence that the Holy Spirit was given on the same day the Church began. In one sense, it couldn’t have been any other way. The giving of the Holy Spirit—the very power of God—to a human being is what makes the person a member of the Church (Romans 8:14; 1 Corinthians 12:13).
To learn more about the Holy Spirit, read “What Is the Holy Spirit?”
2. Peter’s powerful Pentecost sermon.
In one way, Peter’s powerful preaching recorded in Acts 2 could be considered the inaugural address for the Church of God. It not only identified the incredible prophetic significance of that day, but it declared who Jesus Christ was, where He now was, what He was doing—and how those truths tied together to affect the life of every individual hearing the message.
Peter concluded that sermon with one of the most powerful calls to action ever spoken: “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” (verse 38).
This isn’t just a memorial message, though, because the message and work that Peter’s sermon described are still being proclaimed by God’s people today.
To learn more about the content of Peter’s amazing Pentecost sermon, read “The Sermon That Launched the Church.”
3. The growth of the New Testament Church.
Acts 2 records that 3,000 people were baptized and added to the Church on that miraculous day. The early Church was described as continuing “steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (verse 42).
The rest of the New Testament records the progression of that Church—how it went forward and grew beyond the confines of Jerusalem through the work of men like Peter, Stephen, James, John, Paul, Timothy and many others. But when we come to the later books of the New Testament, we find a Church regressing—being attacked on many fronts, with many losing the doctrinal purity and spirit of the Pentecost of Acts 2 (Galatians 1:6; 2 Peter 2:1; Jude 1:3-4).
When God’s people review what the Church was like on that very special Feast of Pentecost, they recommit themselves to try to recapture the same zeal, purity, unity and power today.
The Feast of Pentecost is a memorial that Jesus Christ did build a Church, just as He said He would (Matthew 16:18). That Church exists today; and this weekend it will celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, just as it did exactly 1,991 years ago.”
To learn more about the biblical festivals the early Church observed, download our free booklet From Holidays to Holy Days: God’s Plan for You.
(1) Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil.
(2) Do not be rash with your mouth,
And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God.
For God is in heaven, and you on earth;
Therefore let your words be few.
(3) For a dream comes through much activity,
And a fool's voice is known by his many words.
(4) When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it;
For He has no pleasure in fools.
Pay what you have vowed—
(5) Better not to vow than to vow and not pay. (6) Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands? (7) For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God. New King James Version
Notice what God says about speaking:
Proverbs 17:27: “He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.”
James 1:19: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”
James 3:2: “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.”
So many verses give similar counsel about speech that one cannot help but understand the importance that God places on being careful about what we allow to leave our mouths. Matthew 12:35-37 drives this point home:
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
Speaking is a major aspect of character, providing a clear window into our hearts. A quotation often mistakenly attributed to Abraham Lincoln is apropos to the passage in Ecclesiastes 5:1-7: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” What sets Solomon's counsel apart from other verses on speaking is that the others are good advice for relationships in general. Solomon's verses, however, are focused directly on a person's relationship with God.” More at: https://www.theberean.org/index.cfm/main/default/id/9037/ver/NKJV/ecclesiastes-5-1-7.htm
How to Boost FGF21 with Diet for Longevity
“Fasting and exercise can boost the longevity hormone FGF21, but what can we eat—or avoid eating—to get similar effects”
Transcript of YouTube: https://youtu.be/bXfzgOH_fx8
Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.
“Over a century ago, fasting was hailed not only as a means of combating “cerebral lassitude,” but also for the prolongation of healthy longevity. If that turns out to be true, FGF21 might be a missing link. FGF21 is characterized as a systemic enhancer of longevity. It can be boosted through prolonged fasting, but thankfully there are other, less drastic measures, such as more carbs or less protein.
Give people lots of starchy foods, and you can shoot up FGF21 levels. The healthiest sources would likely be whole grains and beans, since butyrate appears to boost FGF21, too, and we get that from fiber. That’s one of the things our good gut bugs make from fiber-rich foods.
Circulating FGF21 levels are also increased dramatically when you eat a lower protein diet. Over 150% increase within four weeks. And when I say protein restriction, it can just be restricting protein intake, down from the typical excess that most Americans get, down to the recommended amount.
The recommended daily allowance of protein for most men is 56 grams of protein a day, though most American men are getting over 100. So, if you take men getting the typical excess of about 112 grams a day and reduce them down to 64, which again is still more than the recommended 56—so the protein “restricted” group was still getting more than enough protein—you can essentially double FGF21 levels in the blood. That may help explain why despite them getting significantly more calories, they lost more body fat. How can you eat 300 more calories a day and still lose two more pounds of straight body fat? By just bringing your protein levels down to normal levels. Who hasn’t fantasized about a diet that allows ingestion of excess calories that are burned off effortlessly by ramping up fat burning? So, maybe we should play down protein to play up metabolism, thanks to FGF21.
Even just a quite modest protein restriction regimen down to recommended levels may have significant clinical benefits. Now, this was after a month and a half. A similar study found that even less protein restriction, taking men down to just 73 grams a day, resulted in a six-fold increase in FGF21 within a single week, accompanied by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity. They conclude that “dietary protein dilution” promotes metabolic health in humans.
Evidence suggesting that a lower protein intake is positively associated with increased health, survival, and insulin sensitivity has continued to mount, but we weren’t sure exactly how. Maybe FGF21 provides an explanation. Interestingly, the studies were feeding people nine percent of calories from protein, which is what the Okinawans were getting when they were one of the healthiest, longest-living populations in the world.
You may remember my videos on methionine restriction to both fight cancer and as a life-extension strategy. Methionine is an amino acid found predominantly in animal proteins, and so one could achieve methionine restriction by cutting down on animal foods. That may actually be an FGF21 effect. Methionine restriction boosts levels so much so, it’s been called the most important mediator of the metabolic reprogramming in methionine restriction. So, some proteins may be more important to restrict than others. The highest methionine levels are in meat. Legumes (which are beans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils) have about three times less methionine than meat.
FGF21 has been proposed as a potential mediator of the protection from cancer, autoimmune diseases, obesity, and diabetes afforded by strictly plant-based diets. Maybe that’s one of the reasons whole food plant-based diets have been shown to have such extraordinary results. Take Dr. Esselstyn’s work, for example, showing that the number one killer of men and women can be largely halted or reversed, and risk of heart attack almost eliminated, with the help of a whole food, low-fat vegan diet. This benefit cannot be attributed solely to cholesterol reduction, as we have these new powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs now that can force cholesterol levels as low as healthy eaters but appear to have less effect. So, the marked benefits reported by Esselstyn evidently reflect a variety of protective mechanisms associated with whole food plant-based diets, and FGF21 may be one of those mechanisms. So, it’s not just the fat and cholesterol, but the quantity and quality of protein may also be playing a role. But there’s never been a study to see whether vegans do indeed have higher levels of FGF21…until now.
I’m glad I didn’t just pass on this study based on the title. In addition to studying New Zealand obese mice, they investigated the circulating FGF21 levels among those eating plant-based, and then put it to the test by removing meat from other people’s diets to see if FGF21 would go up. And…FGF21 levels were markedly higher in vegan humans compared with omnivores, and they went up when the omnivores were switched to vegetarian diets after just four days. And not just a little. FGF21 levels increased by 232 percent after just four days free of meat.
The bottom line is that “the various fasting approaches are likely to have limited efficacy, particularly on aging and conditions other than obesity, unless combined with high-nourishment diets such as the moderate calorie intake and mostly plant-based Mediterranean or Okinawa low-protein diets,” by which they mean the recommended amount of protein.” From: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-to-boost-fgf21-with-diet-for-longevity/?