Whole Life Whole Bible Day 40
Acts 2:1-5 (NASB)
1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
5 Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.
Acts 2:7-8 (NASB)
7 They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?
Acts 2:11 (NASB)
11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”
39: A new world order?
Pentecost was a harvest festival, an opportunity for thankful worshipers to offer to God the first fruits of their crops. Celebrated 50 days after Passover, coinciding with the anniversary of the giving of the law, it also became associated with the covenant made between the Lord and his people at Sinai. The nation that was constituted at Sinai, gathering together in Jerusalem to renew their relationship with God, is now, so many years later, reborn — the first fruits of a new harvest, as God pours out his Spirit to ratify the new covenant.
Certainly, Peter is aware that something momentous has happened. His subsequent explanation makes this clear as he ties together the ministry, death, resurrection and exaltation of Jesus with several passages from scripture, notably God’s promise through Joel that ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people’ (Joel 2:28). Previously the Spirit was given only to special people, such as kings and prophets, or only for specific tasks; now all of God’s people receive the Spirit — men and women, old and young — as part of God’s end-time renewal of all things. Pentecost marks the beginning of that era, not with Moses giving the law, but with Jesus giving the Spirit to ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord’ (Acts 2:21).
In fact, this is nothing less than the inauguration of a new world. It may remind us of the story of Babel (Genesis 11:1–9), but it is not necessarily a reversal of Babel — where the scattering reaffirmed God’s original purpose for men and women to fill the whole earth. The basis of the unity of humankind is found not in the recovery of a single language but in a people indwelt by the Spirit of God. If there is a reversal, it is that, at Babel, people wanted to make a name for themselves (v. 4), whereas at Pentecost they proclaim ‘the wonders of God’. Many languages are spoken, and all are appropriate for giving praise to God.
This fits with the international perspective of Acts. Jerusalem is full of Jews from every part of the known world, each with their own language and dialect. They hear the great deeds of God spoken of in the vernacular tongues of their pagan neighbors — showing that what starts in Jerusalem will become a worldwide mission enabled by the Holy Spirit, which will result in the worship of God to ‘the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8).
For further reflection and action
Read the whole of Acts 2, reflecting on Peter’s explanation of the event (vv. 14–41) and its immediate impact on the early followers of Christ (vv. 42–47).
Many Christians belong to a Pentecostal denomination, but in what sense — and with what significance — are all God’s people ‘Pentecostals’?
We might be used to the notion of the priesthood of all believers, but Acts 2 suggests there is also a prophethood of all believers (vv. 17–21). Previously the Holy Spirit had enabled mainly prophets to speak God’s words (see Numbers 11:29); now, speaking the word of God — prophesying — is a task given to all of God’s people (Acts 4:31; 5:32; 6:10; 13:4–5). How should this encourage us? And how should it challenge us?
Visit LICC to find out more or get an overview of the Biblical narrative and the ways it can shape us by reading the Introduction to Whole Life, Whole Bible from the Whole Life, Whole Bible book.