Summary: a simple and basic outline of what happened on Pentecost
Acts 2 verses 1-13
Everyone loves to celebrate Christmas. Even the most pagan of people in this community celebrates Christmas. They may not know the true meaning, or even care about it. When Easter comes the world recognises it as important, at least for Christians. However today is Pentecost and most people have no idea what today signifies or means. Even within the church there is genuine ignorance concerning Pentecost and what actually occurred on that day in history. So this morning I thought it would be appropriate for us to look at Acts 2 and the historical recording of Pentecost.
As ever I am going to set this passage in its context. The author of the Acts of the Apostles is Luke, we read that in 1.1 and he is writing to Theophilus. Luke has recorded in his gospel the life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus and in chapter 1 of Acts he records the ascension into heaven of Christ and the choosing of Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot, who had hung himself after betraying Christ. Now in chapter 2 we read of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Pentecost, this is significant as we shall see. The disciples (from chapter 1) had been instructed by Christ Jesus to wait in Jerusalem until power from on high had descended upon them and then they were to take the message of Christ to Jerusalem, Samaria and the ends of the earth.
PENTECOST.- VERSE 1.
Pentecost was a Jewish festival and was celebrated 50 days after the Passover. Originally it was the celebration of the first fruits of the wheat harvest but by the time of Christ it had come to celebrate the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. So for the Jew it was the celebration of the Law and the renewal of the Mosaic covenant. It was no accident of history that this was the day that God chose to send the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, and subsequently His church. The contrast between the Law and the OT covenant and Christ (who is the fulfilment of the Law) and the NT covenant is sharply focused on the day of Pentecost. Under the old covenant the day signified the coming of the Law but under the new covenant it signified the coming of the Holy Spirit.
SIGNS OF PENTECOST – VERSES 2-4.
The coming of the Holy Spirit in the bible is often accompanied by physical signs and on the day of Pentecost it was no different. In each of the three verses there is an accompanying sign or manifestation of the presence of God.
VERSE 2 – ‘SOUND LIKE THE BLOWING OF A MIGHTY WIND.’ In both the Hebrew and the Greek the word of ‘wind’ and ‘spirit’ are the same – ‘ruah’ in Hebrew and ‘pneuma’ in Greek. This enables John for example to use ‘pneuma’ to speak of the blowing of the wind and the movement of the Spirit in John 3. It also enables Paul in his second letter to Timothy to speak of Scripture being ‘God-breathed’ (pneumatikon). However I think the significant passage in connection with the ‘wind’ of verse 2 is to be found in Ezekiel 37 verses 9-14 READ. Ezekiel here prophesies that the wind as the breath of God will breathe new life into dead (dry) bones in the valley of dry bones. Ezekiel envisioned a day when the Spirit of God would come through the Messiah to breathe life into that which was dead. Isn’t that the purpose of the Holy Spirit? How did you or I become Christians? The Holy Spirit breathed the life of God into our dead souls. Does not the Word of God tell us that we ‘were dead in our sins?’ Where you able to make yourself alive spiritually? Of course you weren’t, you need the Holy Spirit to come and breathe life into dead spiritually dry bones.
But look closely at what Luke writes in verse 2. It was a violent wind from heaven and it filled the whole house. It came from God and it engulfed the whole place, like in the Tabernacle when the presence of God came. The people in the wilderness knew God’s presence because the earth shook and the place was filled with His presence. The disciples knew this wind was from God because it came with power from heaven and filled the entire house. Think about it for a moment. When God comes in power He fills the place with His presence and no one is left in any doubt that He is present. He does not share the house with anyone else or anything else – He fills it with His presence. There is a simple lesson there for our lives and the life of this fellowship. God comes in power to fill us (completely) and to fill this place (completely) with His presence and He has not come to share the glory with any one or anything else. The Holy Spirit came in power on Pentecost and He came to empower at Pentecost as we shall see.