6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: Graduation day for the New Testament Church.


Acts 2:1-21

There is a time and a place for everything - or so the old folks used to say. There was a time for Christmas, and a time for Easter. There was a time for Ascension - and now, a time for Pentecost. The Greek reads, “in the filling-in of the Day of Pentecost” they were all with one accord in one place (Acts 2:1).

We must not forget that the Day of Pentecost was already in existence in the Jewish calendar. It took place annually “seven sabbaths plus a day” after the celebration of the Passover. On this day, two “wave loaves” were to be offered from out of the grain harvest, as first-fruits to the LORD (Leviticus 23:16-17). It was also known as the Feast of Weeks (cf. Numbers 28:26).

In Jewish tradition and practice, Pentecost (Greek: ‘fiftieth day’) came to represent the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai. This took place on the fiftieth day after the first Passover (and the exodus out of Egypt).

Later, the LORD promised a new covenant, in which He would write His law upon the hearts of His people (Jeremiah 31:33). This is associated with the putting of the Holy Spirit ‘within you’ (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

It seems perfectly apt that, whereas Jesus died for our sins at Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7), the Holy Spirit came as “the first-fruits” of our salvation at Pentecost (Romans 8:23).

The ‘happening’ of the New Testament Pentecost occurred in a place of gathering for united prayer (cf. Acts 1:14) - a place of unity, where “with one accord” (Acts 2:1) people might glorify God (cf. Romans 15:6).

“Suddenly…” (Acts 2:2-4)

i. there came a sound, “as of a rushing mighty wind” which filled the whole house where they were sitting;

ii. there appeared to them cloven tongues “like as of fire” which sat upon each of them;

iii. and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues.

We are reminded immediately of the phenomena at Mount Sinai, described elsewhere as ‘kindled with fire, and a thick cloud, and darkness, and tempest, and a trumpet sound, and a voice of words’ (Hebrews 12:18-19).

Jesus had told His disciples to ‘tarry in the city of Jerusalem, until you are endued with power from on high’ (Luke 24:49); and, ‘You shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit has come upon you’ (Acts 1:8).

That power was for worldwide witness: which was why those first hearers “heard the wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11), each in their own language (Acts 2:8). Babel was being reversed, God’s purposes restored.

There will always be some people who mock what they don’t understand (Acts 2:13; cf. 2 Peter 3:3). To address this, Peter’s sermon began as an explanation of what was going on: “These men are not drunk as you suppose, for it is only 9a.m. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel…” (Acts 2:15-16).

Peter applies Joel 2:28-32 to the “last times” (Acts 2:17). This is the dawn of the age of the Spirit, when both men and women, young and old, and people from all walks of life are empowered to catch the vision, and to dream big dreams for God, and to speak forth God’s word (prophecy) (Acts 2:17-18).

The last days are already begun, but will not be fully fulfilled until the return of Jesus (cf. 1 Peter 1:5). Meantime, we have signs and wonders: some in the days of the Apostles, but some reserved for ‘the end of all things’ (1 Peter 4:7). “Blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: the sun turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord comes” (Acts 2:19-20).

As always, the Holy Spirit points us back to Jesus. ‘Whoever calls on the name of YHWH shall be delivered’ (Joel 2:32) becomes “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord (Jesus) shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

‘The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering towards us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance’ (2 Peter 3:9).

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