After his Resurrection that we know as Easter, Jesus ascended into heaven and then Pentecost occurred. Pentecost was exactly fifty days after Easter. It had another name: The Feast of Weeks (or Shavuot).
Shavuot was the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah to the entire nation of Israel assembled at Mount Sinai. We would know it as the story of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments. It’s really quite a parallel … Moses told the Israelites that the Angel of Death would kill all of the first born children, but if he saw the blood of a lamp on the door posts, then he would pass over that house and it’s first born children would be spared. This display of power over life and death that even Pharaoh could not equal was enough incentive to finally let them go. Fifty days later, Moses has spent a lot of time with God, receiving the law. Being in His presence made his face shine so brightly that he had to wear a veil. But to his frustration, he discovered that his brother Aaron hadn’t stopped the Israelites from falling into error with the whole Golden Calf episode. In his anger, Moses smashed the tablets of the law and dealt with his people.
We now know Jesus as our Passover lamb, his blood secures our pardon and spares us the dreaded death sentence. Fifty days later, the Holy Spirit arrives as a guarantee of the promises, a seal on our destiny, and writes on our hearts a new law.
When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them. – Acts 2:1-4
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” – Nelson Mandela
Let’s try to get an accurate idea of who ‘they’ are: In Acts 1, The last people to be with Jesus were the apostles at the Ascension . The apostles returned to the upper room:
“They agreed they were in this for good, completely together in prayer, the women included. Also Jesus’ mother, Mary, and his brothers … During this time, Peter stood up in the company—there were about 120 of them in the room at the time …”
Together they decide on a replacement for Judas. I know it doesn’t seem important to us, but we have to remember, the Old Testament featured twelve tribes of Israel, the New Testament featured twelve Apostles of Jesus. To not have a twelfth apostle would be like not having a twelfth tribe of Israel.
When Peter speaks up, he quotes From the second chapter of Joel:
And that’s just the beginning: After that—
“I will pour out my Spirit
on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy,
also your daughters.
Your old men will dream,
your young men will see visions.
I’ll even pour out my Spirit on the servants,
men and women both.
I’ll set wonders in the sky above
and signs on the earth below:
Blood and fire and billowing smoke,
the sun turning black and the moon blood-red,
Before the Judgment Day of God,
the Day tremendous and awesome.
Whoever calls, ‘Help, God!’
On Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
there will be a great rescue—just as God said.
Included in the survivors
are those that God calls.”
Sometimes we forget that the 120 believers were from each and every walk of life, wealthy, poor, well-known, unknown, women, men, old, and young. It’s difficult to imagine what it must have been likes to be walking the streets and hearing the gospel in dozens of languages that sound like drunken babbling, but in just one language where the story really sinks in.
That was truly the miracle that day, to place the story in the hearts of countless men and women, to prepare the way for the Holy Spirit to be received by anyone who was seeking something more. I don’t know about you, but I think for the first time I look forward and backward to Pentecost this year.