God commanded Moses in Egypt, that he and all the people of Israel should offer, for every household, a lamb of one year to God, and mark with the blood the sign of the cross on their door-posts and lintels, as on that night God’s angel went and slew in every house of the Egyptian folk the firstborn child and the dearest.
And the people of Israel went on the same night from the nation, and God led them over the Red sea with dry feet.
Pharaoh then hastened after them with a great army. When he came into the middle of the sea, the people of God were gone up, and God then sank Pharaoh and all his host.
God then commanded Moses and the people that they should keep that tide with great reverence in the circuit of every year. The tide was then appointed to the people for Easter-tide, because God had saved them from their foes, and destroyed their persecutors.
Then fifty days after this God appointed a law for the people, and the glory of God was seen on a hill which is called Sinai. There came a great light, and an awful sound, and blowing trumpets. Then God called Moses to him, and he was with God forty days, and wrote down the old law by God’s direction. Then was the day called Pentecost in the Old Testament.
The offered lamb betokened the slaying of Christ, who innocent was offered to his Father for our redemption. Now is his passion and his resurrection our Easter-tide, because he redeemed us from the thraldom of the devil, and our persecutors are sunk by the holy baptism, as Pharaoh was with his people in the Red sea.
These fifty days from the day of Easter are all hallowed to one celebration, and this present day is our Pentecost, that is, the fiftieth day from Easter-day.
On the old Pentecost God appointed a law to the people of Israel, and on this day the Holy Ghost came in semblance of fire to God’s company; for as the lamb betokened the passion of Christ, so also the old law betokened the preaching of the gospel under the grace of God.
There are three periods in this world: one is that which was without law; the second is that which was under the law; the third is now after the advent of Christ. This period is called ‘under God’s grace.’
We are not without law, nor may we hold bodily the law of Moses, but God’s grace directs us to his will, if we be mindful of Christ’s commandments and of the precepts of the apostles.
Ælfric of Eynsham (c. 955 – c. 1010): Homily 22 (for the Holy Day of Pentecost), trans. Benjamin Thorpe; icon of All Saints of Britain and Ireland.