Jun 5 2022 Pentecost and what it means for us today

Today is Pentecost – we think of what it means to us as Christians, but as a Jewish day – Jews would come into Jerusalem to offer sacrifices and celebrate these festivals together. This festival was 50 days after Passover – and that is why it is 50 days after Easter.

John will be going over these passages and I will ask him some questions. I know that some of these passages bring up a lot of questions – and I’ll have one for you – how do we apply these events today in our church and our lives.

John: What is Pentecost all about? What does it mean – and what should we do about it? The Bible says very little about it – but it says quite a bit about how we should respond.

Acts 2: When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

There are three things being emphasized – Fire, rushing wind – other languages – utterances that the Holy Spirit gave.

They would have been familiar with the words of the prophets and psalms that talk about these things.

Fire – the Jews present would have known Exodus 3:2 2 The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.

This would have been one thing that came to mind.

When the Jews were fleeing Pharaoh, there was a pillar of fire that led them at night.

When the Jews were at Mt. Sinai – like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Again, the Jews would have had this perception – this paradigm that the fire represented the Lord.

Exodus 13:21 The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.

Daniel 7


MM: Explain the significance of the fire and what it represents – and how, in the Old Testament verses that you read and what is going on in Acts and how those connect.

JF: Fire is representative of purity, cleansing, and in some cases, judgment. They were afraid to go on the mountain and saw it as God’s judgment.

Cleansing – as you go into the presence of the Lord – Moses was commanded to take off his sandals – because of the purity there.

In the temple, the Holy of Holies was considered to be in God’s presence. There was always a fire on the altar there and sacrifices were offered before going into the Holy of Holies where God’s presence was.

MM: In Acts – how is the Spirit coming a cleansing to them?

JF: I think the cleansing had already taken place – when Jesus died on the cross – that was what was needed – and now they were like the High Priests, or like Moses – being cleansed – they were now the temple where God’s presence resided.

MM: Anything you might see as significant – one bush, one pillar – but tongues of fire were distributed.

JF: In the Old Testament – only one person was permitted to be the High Priest – and this is indicative that we are all high priests. Jesus was the ONE – and distributed to the many.

MM: as we were putting this together – I was surprised how this all ties together – not just these separate elements that happened, but critical that each one occurred – and to me, this shows the importance of every single member of the church.

Rushing wind –

JF: The sound like a rushing wind.

Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,

Jeremiah 23:19 "Behold, the storm of the LORD has gone forth in wrath, Even a whirling tempest; It will swirl down on the head of the wicked. (Jeremiah 23:19)

John 3, Jesus speaking to Nicodemus

8 "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

So, the presence of the Lord is represented by the rushing wind. This represents God’s voice to me – His command – His speaking is symbolized by the sound of rushing wind.

I think it also represents God’s guidance – even going back to the pillar of cloud/fire – I imagine it being like a tornado – being violent! They are sitting there, not far away -but it was probably terrifying – and I think the sound the disciples heard was probably a deafening roar.

What was being said probably brings us to the third point.

MM: Curveball – we don’t have Acts 2:5 - 5 Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.

This was a festival – a pilgrimage – some say, up to a million people (from a normal 200K) – from the diaspora – 700 years earlier, they had been scattered throughout the world. These families would have been from this area – and they would have known the languages where they lived now – and they heard them speak in their own dialect.

JF: The third emphasis from Acts – the languages/tongues. Another detail that would have been on their mind – in world history, everyone spoke the same language – Genesis 11

Now the whole earth used the same language and the same word

6 The LORD said, "Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. 7 "Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another's speech." 8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city.

The Lord started off with his interaction with the world – with one language – and then scattered – and different languages, and now, giving the Spirit, He makes it possible to reach the world – and it is not like, I speak German and everyone hears it in their language. The new language is LOVE. I’ve experienced that with other believers – when I visited Hong Kong – I worshiped with those who only spoke Chinese – but we experienced the love of one another.

MM: In John, 2 times Jesus talks about he ruler of this world (Satan) – and Paul talks about the god of this world (Satan) Ephesians – the prince of the power of the air – 1 John -greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.

Pentecost – in the Ascension – John mentioned that everyone spoke the same language – and then the Tower of Babel – and they were scattered – and at some point, the nations were turned over the gods of this world – but chose Israel as His people. Most of history is that – the gods of this world working together against God and His people. Now there is a new people of God, the Church – and we know that Jesus reigns, but even so, it is not quite yet.

JF: When He showed up at Pentecost in the flame and rushing wind and languages – there is a list of places where people were divided to – in Genesis 11. Almost identically, there is a list of those who were there at Pentecost! This was a regathering – a reversal of Babel – when the nations were divided up according to the number of the sons of God – and now they were brought back in – to be under Jesus. The whole known world was represented at Pentecost and it was like Babel was reversed.

Now the church’s job is to finish that – we were given the Holy Spirit shown by the tongues of fire – and Jesus is saying – the earth is now mine and it is the church’s job to finish that.

Acts 2:5 5 Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.

Everyone spoke Greek – but God chose to speak to them in their mother-tongue, rather than Greek.

The gospel makes room for every culture it engages – and transforms parts of those cultures at the same time.

In the early missionary movement, it was understood – you had to civilize a people (colonize, manipulate) before they come to Jesus. BUT NO! The gospel makes ROOM. Of course there are things that need to change in each of our lives when we come to Christ – but the Church is the bringing of all these cultures together into one new nation that can glorify God.

Joel – and it shall be, in the last days, that I will pour forth my Spirit upon all mankind. Pentecost is the beginning of the Last Days. We have always been in the last days – whether Jesus comes 20 or 200 years from now.

The Holy Spirit had no desire to homogenize the people of the world into one uniform Christian culture.

…and your sons and daughters shall prophesy – that would be boys and girls – Your young men shall see visions and old men shall dream dreams – (Young, old) – even upon my bondslaves I will pour forth my spirit (the lowest class, both men and women).

These things – the Holy Spirit being sent is EQUALIZING – and these things that are mentioned would be a radical transformation for both Jewish and Roman culture. To equalize these people – we can’t imagine the change required.

The final question – what does Pentecost – what do we do with these events, how do they relate to us?

Kay brought up a great thought – We are no longer just doing things in our own power. Prior to having the Spirit, we didn’t have access to His power – and now we can work through His power, knowing that we have His power and His authority.

We have access to Him, because we are priests, cleansed by the fire to enter His presence. We now have the presence and authority of God in our lives.

Even what we are doing right now is also representative of what has been accomplished – Mike and I are sharing things – each of you is hearing what we are saying – but I suspect that each of you is getting something different – and even sharing one phrase – We are empowered by His authority – someone might be reminded that they are empowered – while another might think about the church being empowered –

MM: That was not planned – good thought! Any questions?

We talked about the end of Peter’s speech – a mirror of Joel’s speech – and Peter strengthened it – in the possible alternate translation – the prophecy is about slaves – and most translations – had a personal pronoun – “MY” bondslaves – both men and women –

God takes the lowest people in the world – and they are Mine – He is saying – the last shall be first –

What is interesting – He still has turned the world – well, it is still under the power of the evil one – and there is only one nation that is under God – the Church – people pulled out of every nation so we could be in this brand-new nation.

One of the things that comes to my mind -the confidence that we have that in talking to each other, we can hear God speak. In listening to someone, you can pray that God would use His voice to speak His word.

We think of every culture – there are a lot of cultures that are not connected to a particular nation, rather, belief systems and lifestyles – and it was challenging to me – to realize it is not just a country – but other cultures that may seem foreign to us, and I need to be better at seeing people – there is room for everyone. God has taken all of us out of not being part of His culture – and it was thought-provoking and eye-opening.

MM: Even in the church – “One Christian Culture” – that was not my quote – but God never intended us to think and look alike – that each of us hears God in our uniqueness.

CM: This is world-over – but here in America, we are quick to make sure people understand our viewpoint. We need to learn to listen – we are so divided into our tribes and teams – and …

MM: YOU think about all the things that Jesus or Paul could have talked about and they didn’t! So may things they could have emphasized – but there are so many things that are so much more important – it is the source…

JF: We are all carriers of the Image of God – yet we are all so different – carrying His name takes on a new meaning.

KF: One of the things I found fun – I am amazed how intertwined the Old and New Testaments are – how the men teaching in this time would take verses that everyone would have understood – and I am amazed at the depth of the gospel.

MM: I will close us with this –

John – One thing I have appreciated about John – I think there are people in the body of Christ who are Bible scholars – and not everyone can read Bible scholars – but John has taken the time to do that. They have a role in the Church – and it is critical that we understand that. We listen to preachers that preach on the radio – and they have a role, we learn from them – but many of those are pastors, not Bible scholars – but these unique gifts – like the Bible Project and others that make it accessible – I gave John some of my books -and he returned some and said – I didn’t get it… I tell people – I am not a Bible Scholar -

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