Day of Pentecost, Sunday, June 5
Reader: “On the day of Pentecost”
Response: “all the believers were meeting together in one place.”
Scripture: Acts 2:1-13
On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.
They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!”
They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other.
But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!”
You’ll recall that the Feast of Pentecost was one of three pilgrimage festivals which required every Jewish male to journey to the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the feast. That explains why there were Jews present from all over the known world. (In the absence of today’s media, what better way to spread the gospel. In fact, people-to-people communication is still the most effective way on earth!)
For the past ten days the disciples and a large group of believers had remained in Jerusalem praying together daily in accordance with Jesus’ directive at his ascension. They were to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, who would come to dwell in them in Jesus’ absence. The ascension of Christ was essential for it marked the beginning of the powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit through the church as the gospel spread throughout the known world.
The believers were gathered when a violent supernatural wind from heaven came blowing through the room with tongues of fire settling on each of those gathered. Wind and fire in Scripture often depict the presence of the Spirit of God. The wind hovered over the waters at creation. God breathed the breath of life into man at creation and he became a living soul and again into the dry bones of Ezekiel’s day. The wind split the Red Sea. A pillar of fire led the Israelites in the desert. Elijah went to heaven in a whirlwind of fire. Fire from heaven burned up Elijah’s sacrifice in the confrontation with the prophets of Baal. Fire came down on Mt. Sinai when God spoke with Moses. In talking with Nicodemus, Jesus referred to the Spirit as wind blowing where it will. Fire and wind appear together again in this passage. This coming of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of John the Baptist’s words that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Whereas the presence of the Holy Spirit was given in measured degrees in the First Testament among various prophets, as we have mentioned previously, this was the first time it was given in full measure to all believers. For example, with the gift of the Holy Spirit, came power for the simple Galilean fishermen to speak in languages they had never learned.
As has often been pointed out, this event is a kind of reversal of the events of the Tower of Babel. With the Tower the language was the unifying factor resulting in the people’s great pride in themselves and their rejection of God. So he confused the languages, ending their ability to communicate, resulting in the people being scattered over the face of the earth, thus destroying their prideful, man-centered unity. At Pentecost, people from many countries several thousand years later heard the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ in their own language. He is the unifier of all peoples. If only our world grasped this truth today. It follows that the Book of Jesus, the Scriptures, is the single book able to unite all peoples. (This is one of the reasons it is so important to study the First Testament as well as the New Testament.) The areas mentioned at Pentecost would be the modern day regions of the Kurds, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Arab regions south and east of Israel, Egypt, Libya, islands in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and Rome. Can you imagine if all of these countries were Christian today?
What a fitting way to conclude these past fifty days of time in God’s word. The ability to lead a Christian life in our own strength, determination, and self-reliance is not possible. Perfection is God’s standard, hence, we are doomed. God provided his Son to take our place on the perfection side of things as he accepted Jesus’ death in our condemned place as evidenced by the torn curtain. One of the central themes of the feast of Pentecost historically has been repentance. So it is no surprise that Peter’s sermon which follows this passage is on repentance, with the result being thousands of people became believers! At Jesus’ departure he gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to indwell all believers to enable them to have the power to live the life to which they’ve been called. And that same Holy Spirit continues to convert thousands of people in our day. Let us pray to that end.
Music: “Cum Sancto Spiritu” Vivaldi National Chamber Choir of Armenia
With the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Almighty, deathless God, whose will it was that the mystery of Easter should be fulfilled in that of Pentecost, grant through heaven’s grace that the nations torn asunder by difference, may be made one in the avowal of your holy name. Amen.
Thank you so much for subscribing and sharing these daily moments with the Lord these past several months. I realize you may have missed a few days, but there are several of you who have opened every one! Thank you all for your support and occasional notes of encouragement. They mean a great deal. Preparing these devotionals has fed my soul. My hope is that you have also grown in your love for the Lord and have been drawn closer to him and at the same time gained in your knowledge of the Scriptures. I also hope you’ve been introduced to some new music or familiar music in new settings. In a few months I’ll most likely be working on next year’s Advent series beginning Sunday, November 27, 2022. Until then . . .
The Lord be with you,
PS Also, thank you for spreading the word and link. I greatly appreciate it.
©Daniel Sharp 2022