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
Were those waiting expecting what happened?
I am sure they were not. They had no precedent to give them a hint as to what would happen. Except of course the fact that God often responded, spoke or answered by wind, earthquake and fire. See what happened to Moses and Joshua on Mount Sinai or read what happened to Elijah when he took off to Mount Sinai to hear God speak (1 Kings 19). Isn’t that how He speaks? It seems like it, but don’t put God in a box. He will almost certainly break out of the box you put Him in. Because this was an entirely new way of God speaking to His people, there was no precedent set. All we know is that He would put His Spirit within them. We also know He would pour out His Spirit on all flesh. He would take out from them the heart of stone and place within them a heart of flesh. All would know Him from the greatest to least and old or young, it made no difference. Up until that point there had been no pattern which could have given them an indication as to what to expect at Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This was definitely a new thing.
Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.Isaiah 43:18-19
Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me. ‘Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; Yes, let him recount it to Me in order, From the time that I established the ancient nation. And let them declare to them the things that are coming And the events that are going to take place. Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.’”Isaiah 44:6-8
You have heard; look at all this. And you, will you not declare it? I proclaim to you new things from this time, Even hidden things which you have not known. They are created now and not long ago; And before today you have not heard them, So that you will not say, ‘Behold, I knew them.’Isaiah 48:6-7
It is very clear what is happening. This was all according to the writings of the prophets. And don’t miss the link to the idea of witness and proclamation. Mmm, that should give you a hint as to why tongues.
But the very nature of the New Thing should have confirmed to them it was God at work. Note that Luke describes it as a violent rushing wind coming from heaven. They and the readers of Acts were to be in no doubt as to where this came from. It came from God. It was what He had predicted through the prophets and through His Son whom He sent to reveal Himself. In their own Scriptures they had learned to equate the Spirit with wind. Spirit, wind and breath are all associated together. This was indeed the coming of the Holy Spirit that Jesus and the prophets had predicted. But oh, how mightily He came. He came in ways they didn’t expect. Note too, there was no earthquake in this case. But there is fire. So two of the elements associated with Elijah and with Moses on Mount Sinai are present. Why not the third? I feel it is simply because both fire and wind are associated symbols of the Holy Spirit but an earthquake is not. We might say today, but the Spirit is the one who shakes that which cannot be shaken. Yes, true, but in terms of particular symbols of the spirit, an earthquake is not associated in that way in Scripture. Thus two symbols of the involvement of the Spirit are present. They were to be in no doubt as to what was happening.
Note also, the unique nature of this all happening in a house. Yes, just an ordinary house. It happened in the upper room where they had met with Jesus and likely as not, where they had been staying. But what is interesting here is not so much where it was but rather where it wasn’t. It wasn’t in the Temple or the Tabernacle or the Tent of Meeting. Normally any visitation of the Spirit or the Glory of God was reserved for the Place set aside for the Presence. In this case God breaks all protocol and visits them on “unholy ground”. Oh, we will revisit this theme later through the book of Acts. Hold on to that thought. It is significant. The main point here is that all of this is happening outside the temple and in an ordinary place. Also God’s Spirit normally came upon the Priests, the Prophets or the king on occasions. Not in this case. The text is very clear that the Spirit came as tongues of fire. But the resting is singular, in other words a tongue of fire came upon each one of them. It rested or alighted on each of them. The imagery is very clear. The coming of the Holy Spirit to fill them as Jesus had predicted was for each one of them. It happened for every person who was gathered in that room. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit. These included men and women who were not the disciples, they were also not prophets and priests and those who had been set apart for the purposes of God. They were ordinary people.
This Gems has already grown beyond what I first thought and I have not addressed the matter of the fact, “they began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance”. So I will stop at this point and address the matter of tongues in the next Gem. Take time to think through what I have told you above. It is all highly significant. Some of you write and tell me the long Gems are hard for you to read carefully in one sitting. Especially so if they have been clipped from E-Sword or a commentary with difficult English. So I will leave it here and continue the coverage of this in the next Gem. As I have said before, I think the Book of Acts is going to take longer than the Book of Luke to cover in Gems.
Tongues, [glossalalia] “speaking in other languages as the Spirit gave them utterance” in the next Gem or at least I will begin examining this phenomena. For those of you who are really keen to find out, you will be able to go to Bible Gems 438 and 439 when I posted the Corinthian Gems.
Being a pastor who satisfies congregations is one of the easiest jobs in the world. If we are content to satisfy congregations.Eugene Peterson
When God waters you, you don’t fit in the space they allotted for you, you are swelling up, you’ve outgrown your environment.T D Jakes
You can’t get the seed to transform, unless it bursts. It hurts to grow and increase.T D Jakes
If ignorance is bliss why aren’t there more happy people in the world?Stephen Fry
It’s a poor student that stays where the teacher left them.Anon
Epitaph for a Dead Christian: Always challenged but never changed.Ian Vail