When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.Acts 2:1-4
As the text tells us, the day of Pentecost had come. The way this section begins, makes it seem like this was a significant day indeed. What was so special about the Day of Pentecost that it should be marked as a special day? The Day of Pentecost is celebrated on the 50th day following the Passover and the Crucifixion of Jesus. Actually, it was exactly 49 days following the Passover and the Crucifixion. It also marked the fiftieth day following the first fruits of the barley harvest in the Jewish agricultural calendar. Oh yes, the fullness of harvest is coming. Don’t miss it. It is at the same time, looking back to something from the past and also looking forward to something in the future. Many times the Scripture pointed to a time when God would do a new thing. It relates to the promise of God removing the heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh, that we have already talked about. The Day was both looked forward to and looked back on. It was looked forward to prophetically and following this Day, the Jews, disciples and other interested parties looked back on what happened and tried to figure it out. As Peter reminds us, this relates to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh. Peter quotes from the Joel prophecy as we shall see in a future Gems. We are left with the assurance that what happened on the Day of Pentecost was foretold by God and the prophets that this day was coming. Why was it so important? Because it ushered in a new era of how God dealt with human beings. This was to be the day that God would pour out His Holy Spirit on everyone. All would have the potential to know and experience the Spirit of God.
So what was different about this event? Wasn’t the Spirit of God present before this Day? God’s Spirit had come on people before. It wasn’t unheard of for people to have an encounter with the Spirit of God. But such moments were few and far between. The Spirit would come upon people and then would depart from them after an impartation of the Spirit. Pentecost marked the beginning of a new phase in mankind’s relationship with God, after which the Holy Spirit would indwell His people. This is all part of the promise of His Tent (the tent of meeting being within her). This is the coming of the Spirit which from that point on, human beings would be indwell by His Holy Spirit. This was a significant shift in the way God dealt with human beings in order to save them. And what does that mean? Simply put, it marked a turning point in the process of God restoring relationship with mankind and making access to His Holy Spirit possible for “whosoever”.
Jesus referred to this day when He talked of the disciples waiting in Jerusalem for the gift that was promised. This indeed was the beginning of the Amazing Gift. Hence, Luke writes, “When the Day of Pentecost came.” He is writing in retrospect because he was not there at the time. But because it had been predicted by the prophets and by Jesus, it is reflective of a moment of time in human history when God’s Salvation Story would take a sharp turn, a significant change, in the way He dealt with people. This was the moment that the teachers of the Law, the pharisees, the prophets and all of history was pointing. The potential for this day was released the moment Jesus ascended to heaven. He had told the disciples already, as John recorded for us, that it was to our benefit that He go away because when He had returned to the Father, He would send The Comforter who would dwell within us. Not us collectively but within each individual.
“You will all know me from the least to greatest.”Jeremiah 31:34
Before we start to look at the text in detail, let’s take in some of the details relating to the Big Picture. Note that this occurs 50 days after the crucifixion, which made all this possible. 50 days reminds us of the Jubilee Year when every fifty years everything was restored to its owner. Land that had been held as collateral was returned. All debts were cancelled and things were restored to how they were, once again. It was like pushing the reset button on the computer. The default settings have been restored. That which had been missing for eons was now being restored. God had barred human beings from His presence because of sin. Now on this day His Spirit would again dwell with His creation once more. The historical books of the Bible tell what happened in the Kingdom of God as He had originally intended it. It was greatly impaired. It fell short of the Glory God intended. Now comes the moment when God would begin again to restore His glory through the abiding Presence. During the time of the Judges, every one did what was right in their own eyes and the Holy Spirit only made momentary appearances; coming upon individuals briefly to empower them and then departing again. During the Judges there was an absence of the Word of the Lord because the people were indifferent to the Word of the Lord. So God responded when they responded by calling out to Him and He provided them with a Judge to lead them. But when they abandoned Him, His Spirit or Presence abandoned them. During the time of the Kings, God warned them what would happen when they asked for a king, but they asked anyway. The king became a substitute for YHWH being their king and soon most kings led them astray. At the end of the time of Kings when they were taken off into exile again for 400 years, there was an absence of God’s Word and God’s presence. Do you know what is really scary about that? Most times we get so blasé about the things of the Lord that we don’t even notice when His Spirit has departed from us. Saul, the first king given to them after they asked for a king, had no clue that the Presence of God had left him. This is the background to the reason why God is not particularly interested in restoring “the glory days” of Israel. Simply because they were not notably glorious.
Yet, in all of Israel’s history, the prophets are pointing to a day when God’s Spirit would be poured out once more upon His people. Now that would be a remarkable day. That was a day to which all Israel were looking expectantly. WELL, THAT DAY HAS NOW ARRIVED. The restoration has begun. The Spirit is now being poured out on all flesh to convict them of sin and to signify (seal) the fact that they are His. Don’t miss what is going on here symbolically. What happens to mark this event as being from God? How did God speak in the past (on Mt Sinai for example)? In a wind, by an earthquake and by fire. Note how He seals what He did at Pentecost in a similar way. This was to assure them that it was from God. And He spoke in tongues. Oh, the message of what tongues is all about, will become an unfolding revelation through the book of Acts.
There are three other features of the text I would like to draw your attention to before we get into the details of the events.
1. Notice the word “all”. What does it mean? There are three uses of “all” in this passage and moving into the next. Verses 1, 4 and 7.
- When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. (Acts 2:1)
- And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. (Acts 2:4)
- Aren’t all those who are speaking Galileans? (Acts 2:7)
Why are there these three references to all? And how should we interpret them?
- All those of the 120?
- All of the Apostles?
- All those present, including bystanders as well?
2. Luke writes literally, “In the day of Pentecost being fulfilled”. What exactly does that mean?
Are we to interpret Luke to mean
- a) that it happened on a particular day with the time of Pentecost?
- b) that it happened at the approaching or the coming of Pentecost?
- c) that it happened at the fulfillment/fullness of Pentecost – that event marked the fullness of what was expected?
- d) that it marked the beginning of the events that would ensue from this moment? I.e. This was the beginning of the outpouring.
3. Notice again, the emphasis on the presence of unity. Acts 1:14 and 2:46 including the word homothymadon which carries the sense of “in one accord”. In 2:1 the word is homou which means “together” and then the notion of place is added. They were together in one place. These are the people who have stayed together in one place waiting for this outpouring to occur. Being faithful to the injunction Jesus gave them. They not only didn’t leave Jerusalem but they stayed together, assumedly in the upper room. Now that has to foster unity just by the mere fact that they stayed together. United or being driven mad. All through this segment is the refrain of oneness. Don’t miss it.
Dream big, work hard, stay focused, and surround yourself with good people!Anon
Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.Robert Brault
Success is the sum of small efforts – repeated – day in and day out.Robert Collier
The wise man is not he who gives the right answers; he is the one who asks the right questions.Anon
Start talking to God as soon as you wake up each morning. He is waiting to hear.Joyce Meyer
Prayer should be the key in the morning and the lock at night.David Kristianto