Redemption on the Day of Pentecost


There are steps in Jerusalem that used to lead to the Temple at the top of Mt. Zion. Thirty-one of them are still there. A wall blocks the remainder. You can visit them today. In Jesus’ day, the steps led all the way up to the main level of the Temple Mount. Everyone walked up these steps. Likely Jesus did. Often.

Many believe on these very steps, the Church was born. It is where the New Testament church received its power.

Continue reading Redemption on the Day of Pentecost

Pentecost. A Jewish and Christian Holiday that Points to the Voice of God.


You may listen to today’s audio devotional message here.

I haven’t always understood how Pentecost was a holiday for both Jews and Christians. It took me five trips to the Southern Steps in Israel for it to really sink in. The most recent visit to Jerusalem was just a few months ago.

Christians celebrate Pentecost seven weeks after Resurrection Sunday. Jews celebrate it seven weeks, or 50 days, after Passover. It doesn’t always work out this way because the Jews operate on a lunar calendar, but this year it falls on the same weekend. This weekend.

God asked the children of Israel to come up to Jerusalem three times each year. Passover is one of those times. It celebrates the Exodus and how God delivered His children through the Red Sea and the oppressive Pharaoh of Egypt. A second time is at the end of the summer. Sukkot celebrates the fall harvest and how God provided for the children of Israel as they wandered through the desert, living in tents. We sometimes call this the Feast of Tabernacles. Many Jewish people today still set up small sukkahs, or huts, in their backyard to commemorate the holiday.

The third celebration is called Shavuot, meaning “weeks,” for it was exactly seven weeks after the Exodus when the people of God found themselves at the base of Mt. Sinai. This special time is a celebration of the giving of the Law, the Torah, to Moses (beginning in Exodus 19). Then (Moses) read aloud the Lord’s commands and promises, and the people shouted, “We will obey the Lord and do everything he has commanded!” (Exodus 24:7, CEV).

Now, fast-forward 1200 years. The children of Israel have returned to Jerusalem to celebrate this Feast of Weeks, Shavuot. They bring offerings of grain to honor God for these first fruits of the new harvest season. This year is different, however. At Passover just two months prior, Jesus was crucified, buried, and rose again. He visited with the disciples for 40 days before He ascended into Heaven.

While he was still with them, Jesus said: Don’t leave Jerusalem yet. Wait here for the Father to give you the Holy Spirit, just as I told you he has promised to do. (Acts 1:4, CEV).

The disciples had been waiting days for the Holy Spirit. While they waited, they watched as the city population tripled, when the children of God arrived from the Judean countryside, and even from foreign countries, to celebrate the Feast. And then, just as Jesus promised, on the very morning the Jews were to celebrate the Law, God showed up in Spirit and in power! As the believers met together that day, suddenly there was a sound like the roaring of a mighty windstorm in the skies above them and it filled the house where they were meeting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on their heads. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in languages they didn’t know, for the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. (Acts 2:2-4, TLB).

Here’s where it gets amazing! The Good News was being proclaimed to people from at least 15 different lands by strangers who didn’t speak those languages. And everyone heard, and understood, the voice of God in their native tongue.

The Law brings death. But the Spirit brings life.

It was into this cacophony of noise that Peter stood up to address the crowd. It was likely near the top of the Southern Steps that lead up to the Temple –the same steps that I visited just a few months ago. At that time, there was an open plaza where a large crowd of people from 15 different nations might gather. You remember Peter… the fearful yet rambunctious disciple. When he tried to walk on the water, he sank. When he was confronted by a young girl if he knew Jesus, the fisherman issued a strong denial. Yet now, filled with the Holy Spirit, he spoke with boldness and with power! This was his first public sermon and the message cut to the hearts of all the listeners.

Peter pressed his case with many other arguments and kept pleading with them, “Save yourselves from this perverse generation!” So those who accepted what he said were immersed, and there were added to the group that day about three thousand people. (Acts 2:40-41, CJB).

Three thousand people were baptized in water that day, taking a step of faith to follow the Messiah. There is something amazing about that number.

Let’s go back to the first Shavuot. Do you recall what happened when Moses came down from the Mountain with the tablets of the Law? His brother Aaron had formed a golden calf and the children of God were worshipping it. Yes, these were the same people who shouted “We will obey the Lord and do everything he has commanded!” (Exodus 24:7, CEV). And they were disobeying the very first command! As a result, God released His wrath.

Then the men of the Levi tribe gathered around Moses, and he said to them, “The LORD God of Israel commands you to strap on your swords and go through the camp, killing your relatives, your friends, and your neighbors.” The men of the Levi tribe followed his orders, and that day they killed about three thousand men. (Exodus 32:26-28, CEV).

Would you look at that? The Lord was so angry that He had 3,000 people slaughtered on the original day of Pentecost, the first Shavuot, the giving of the Law. Disobeying the Law leads to death. Now, on the day of Pentecost celebrated here in Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit comes and gives life, and 3,000 people were baptized on that day! God symbolically redeemed those caught in His judgment 1200 years earlier, on this Day of Pentecost when He gave the Holy Spirit!

The Apostle Paul says it this way: The Law brings death. But the Spirit brings life. (2 Corinthians 3:6, CEV).

God calls out to us through the Holy Spirit, which we celebrate today. Do you hear His voice, His Good News? It is life!

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 66. Walking With God.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 66.

The last chapter, the final word from this great prophet, is about worship, how we act and His promises to His children who will worship Him once again in Jerusalem.

“The LORD said, “Heaven is my throne. The earth is my footstool.” (v1, CEV). The image is that of a great and mighty king, right?

The Psalmist says, “The LORD says to my lord: sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”  (Psalm 110:1, NIV).

So, how are we to worship Him? “The people I treasure most are the humble— they depend only on me and tremble when I speak.” (v2, CEV). The Message says “a person simple and plain, reverently responsive to what I say.” We worship God not with brash arrogance nor pride that we are called His children. But rather, with our hands and heart open to receive and a posture turned toward honoring our great King.

Listen to the similar words of another prophet: “The LORD has told us what is right and what He demands: see that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern and humbly obey God.” (Micah 6:8, CEV). The NIV says we “are to walk humbly with your God.” I like the picture of walking with God, don’t you?

God promises that the people of Israel will always have a special place in His heart. “As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain, so will you always be my people, with a name that will never disappear,” says the LORD. (v 22, NLT). What great comfort for the Jewish people, and all of us who have been grafted into this wonderful community because of the resurrection of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach, Jesus, the Messiah!

What is the prophet’s final words, the last verse? “My people will go out and look at the dead bodies of those who turned against me. The worms there never die, the fire never stops burning, and the sight of those bodies will be disgusting to everyone.” (v24, CEV).

This is an image of hell, the true image of not walking with God.

But, as for me and my house, I will choose verse 2 over verse 24. Like Joshua rallied the people of God, I, too, will choose the LORD. How about you?


Thanks for reading Isaiah with me these past 66 days! I have loved this journey. I trust along the way you have learned a thing or two about God, and His special love for the people of Israel.  I have.


If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 60. Zion, a Source of Joy for Every Generation.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 60.

It’s happening! Soon! This is when exciting things begin to happen. Isaiah is describing the New Jerusalem. It’s such a rich chapter full of hope and a future when all God’s children will return to Jerusalem to worship Him! The glory of God is shining on His people.

“Get out of bed, Jerusalem! Wake up. Put your face in the sunlight. God’s bright glory has risen for you. The whole earth is wrapped in darkness, all people sunk in deep darkness. But God rises on you, his sunrise glory breaks over you… Open your eyes! Look around! Crowds are coming… When you see them coming you’ll smile—big smiles! Your heart will swell and, yes, burst!” (v1-2,4-5, MSG).

God rises on His people! Isaiah is prophesying that everyone will return back to Jerusalem. Do you know that this is happening even today? The Jewish Virtual Library reports that:

“As of December 2019, Israel’s population stood at 9,136,000.  This is a more than 10-fold increase compared to when Israel was founded in 1948.  And the Jewish population makes up 6,772,000 (74.1%).” (Source: That’s roughly the same number who live in the United States today.

All that to say that Jews are returning to their homeland! Personally, I believe that is great news for Jews and Gentiles alike.

What great joy!

How about this: “Although once you were rejected and despised, undesirable for anyone to pass through you, I will make you majestic forever, a source of joy for every generation.” (v15, TPT). Zion will be a source of joy! It is a source of joy.

Finally, Isaiah shares a common vision with John, in Revelation: “Your sun will never set or your moon go down. I, the Lord, will be your everlasting light.” (v19, CEV).

“And the city did not need the sun or the moon. The glory of God was shining on it, and the Lamb was its light.” (Revelation 21:23, CEV). The Lamb is Jesus, the Passover Lamb: “The next day, John (the Baptizer) saw Jesus coming toward him and said: ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'” (John 1:29, CEV).

Isn’t it so amazing how many dots are connected here in this passage?

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 49. Our Light. Our Hope in the Darkness.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah. Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 49.

We often played games with our children that involved flashlights in the dark. We hunted for wild (stuffed) animals hidden in the recesses of the Family Room furniture. We played flashlight tag. They performed skits using flashlights for stage lights.

It is always amazing to me the way a tiny beam of light, or the flicker of a candle, radically changes a dark place. The darkness can never overtake even the smallest of lights. When light breaks into the darkness it often evokes feelings of great joy and relief.

God has a specific calling for His people. “I have placed you here as a light for other nations; you must take my saving power to everyone on earth.” (v6, CEV). The Jewish people will be that luminescence. Sometimes it is just a glowing ember. Other times it will be a beacon that shines so bright it causes us to squint. Either way, the light of God illuminates our path so we can walk in safety.

I believe Isaiah is foretelling the coming of the Messiah. Look at this:

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”” (John 8:12, NIV).

Jesus is the One who is the light for the Gentiles and the Jews! He alone provides a light in the darkest night. He alone is our salvation. He alone is our hope.

Again, Isaiah shares a direct thought from God. The Lord will send His son, who will save us all:

“Israel, I am the holy Lord God, the one who rescues you… You can trust me! I am your Lord, the holy God of Israel, and you are my chosen ones. This is what the Lord says: I will answer your prayers because I have set a time when I will help by coming to save you. I have chosen you to take my promise of hope to other nations.” (V7‭-‬8, CEV).

Jesus is our promise of hope! The light from Jerusalem will shine throughout the four corners of the world! The brightness from the tomb on the morning of Jesus’ resurrection still shines in every dark corner of the world!

You may be going through a challenging time. You may feel surrounded by the darkness. Take courage. God knows our seasons of suffering. You can trust Him. The LORD asks the prophet: “Could a mother forget a child who nurses at her breast? Could she fail to love an infant who came from her own body? Even if a mother could forget, I will never forget you.” (v 15, CEV).

God will never forget you or your situation. Jesus is our hope! Let His light shine in the dark places of your life to bring comfort, safety, and joy.

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.