May 7th, 2023: The Day of Pentecost- Acts 2: 1-8, 14-24, 37-39
Pentecost is a Jewish and Christian Holiday. The name comes from the Greek word for fifty, and rightly so, it is fifty days after Passover. It also means weeks, and in Deuteronomy, it is a feast of weeks commemorating harvest and the second of two offerings of first fruits. Interestingly at Pentecost, the offering is of wheat as well as the sacrifice of animals. And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord. Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord. (Leviticus 23:15-17). Two loaves of leavened bread. Could it be that what is about to happen in our lesson had been demonstrated in a required ritual of offerings and praise since the beginning of the Jewish nation? God has one family- and it includes both Israel (Jew) and Gentiles.
Today when we think of the harvest of first fruits, we think of offering the first of everything grown or born to God. But for a Jewish family, the celebration of first fruits was much more than that. It was a time to enjoy friends and family, share their history, and remind each other where they came from and how God had directed their individual lives and their nation. By Jesus’ day, the fifty days after Passover had also become a time of celebrating the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Interestingly then, at the time of this lesson, Jerusalem would have been bustling full of Jewish families from all over, celebrating the giving of the law, or as they would soon recognize, the fulfilling of the Law!
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly, there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The lesson covers a large portion of Chapter 2. Jesus has been gone from them (ascended back to heaven) for about ten days. He had told them to wait for power from God, a comforter, the Spirit of Truth. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:16-18) They were not unfamiliar with the Holy Spirit, Jesus had laid hands on them and possessed the Spirit without measure. Jesus had also said to wait that He would be coming in just a few days. And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. (Acts 1:4-5).
Imagine, if you will, the 120 men and women gathered in the room and the sound of a mighty wind. The noise that it makes can be exhilarating and terrifying. They heard the noise. They saw the cloven tongues of fire. Our God is a consuming Fire. (Hebrews 12:29). They felt the indwelling or the filling up of the Holy Spirit. They immediately began to follow the Spirit’s direction and speak as He gave them utterances. I love to imagine this scene. I remember a similar moment in my life when I accepted the gift of salvation and received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The feeling of rebirth, newness, love, at peace, and right with God. God help us to never take for granted such an amazing presence as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?
Notice that the excitement and utterances of the 120 gathered in the room was heard by people on the street. Those around gathered in close to see what was going on. It still works that way today. The Scripture goes an extra step to dispel confusion, all the different nationalities and languages present heard the disciples speaking in their individual languages. How could unlearned fishermen from Galilee speak all these languages? A miracle, absolutely. An amazing show of the power of God -exactly. A sign to draw men to the light - one of many yet to come. Not really a big deal for God, right? He confounded the language at the tower of Babel to get humanity to spread out and cover the earth. He is uniting them here in the language of Jesus and the Holy Spirit ushering in a new dispensation of Grace and the Church. The message is the same for everyone - all need to hear. Jesus is the ultimate sinless sacrifice. He fulfilled the law. No one comes to God the Father except through him. Imagine the power, the surprise, the joy, and the wonder of being part of this event!
Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
There will always be those who mock. Even when it is so amazing that you would think no one could possibly find any way to discredit/dismiss God -they do. It is a spiritual warfare. It is always a spiritual war. This time, however, without fear, Peter stands up and boldly explains. He quotes the Old Testament book of Joel. The devout in the crowd knows what he is referencing. This is early in the morning- no one is drunk! Notice the words; I will pour out my spirit on all flesh (men and women, Jew and Gentile, all nationalities). Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy (utter by divine inspiration), and the men, young and old, will be shown divinely inspired revelations.
And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Even here, on this first new day of Pentecost, there is a warning of a future day to come. Just as Jesus had told them in Matthew 24 and the prophet Joel had stated years before that, there is a day to come that is dreadful. The way out of this notable day of the Lord is Jesus.
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
Peter isn’t backing down now. He is preaching the same message preached today. The message hasn’t changed. Jesus approved of God, lived, showed many signs, and was crucified, all in accordance with the plan of salvation devised from the foundation of the world. But though He was treated wickedly, God has raised him up, conquering death. He had the power to lay his life down and the power to take it back up again. The perfect obedient lamb.
For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Peter used the very scriptures that Jesus used to confound the Pharisees. Peter understands it now. The Holy Spirit changes how we think and reveals Jesus to us. Without any doubts, Peter now understands that Jesus is who He said and so much more. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. (John 16:13-14).
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
Conviction. That uncomfortable pricking of our hearts when you realize your relationship with the Creator of the universe. When you compare all your good, it is nothing compared to His goodness. God already knows we are but dust, but sometimes we forget and think much more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. What can they do? The same thing we do and the same thing every man, woman, and child can do; repent. Turn away from where you are and turn toward God. Confess and recognize your sins and your current relationship with Him. He’s not just a good thing or something only weak people need. He is the sustainer of all things. The giver of every good and perfect gift. The Father whose pleasure is to give us His Kingdom. Then be baptized as an outward show of an internal change, a representation of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The same Holy Spirit that filled these 120 men and women will come and abide in you, leading you in the path of righteousness. Teaching you of Jesus. Showing how the Old Testament is a schoolmaster to the New Testament. Peter has opened the door to the new age of the Church. The abundant Grace of God is available. The promise is made. He is not willing that any should perish. Where are you?
Thank you for studying with us! God bless!