I’ve been reading David Stern’s Jewish New Testament Commentary and listening to Dwight A. Pryor on the subject of Acts 2 and Pentecost. WOW.
Texts: Acts 2, John 14, Exodus 20-32
The parallels between what the Jews celebrated and taught from the traditions about Pentecost and what happened on Pentecost 50 days after the Last Passover are too crazy to be made up.
Pentecost was celebrated as the time when God gave the Torah to His people through Moses at Sinai. At that time, the people begged to not have God talk to them, but for just Moses to do all of the talking. At the New Pentecost, many many people wanted God to talk to them–and He did.
Rabbinical tradition taught that God’s voice was immediately split into the 70 languages of the nations whenever He spoke from Heaven. They said that happened at the top of Zion, so that the Hebrews and all of the aliens with them would understand what God said. VERY appropriate that on the New Pentecost, God would split His voice up for the nations through men. The Holy Spirit is no longer external, it’s within mankind, so the various languages will not come out of the sky but out of God’s people–His body.
There was fire at the top of Mount Sinai, and with His own finger God wrote out and signed the Covenant.Â 50 days earlier, at the Last Passover, God signed the Covenant in His Son’s blood, and sent the fire into His people on Pentecost.
Some of these events are sort of a parallel reversal. At Mt. Sinai, the people became tired of waiting and committed idolatry while Moses was on the Mountain that they wanted to flee from. The Levites executed 3,000 of them and so became God’s priestly tribe. From then on it would be Levites only serving before God in the Tabernacle and the Temple.
At the New Pentecost, there were thousands of people around that wanted to draw near to God during the feast of the Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks. Every adult male in ISRAEL had to come to this feast! Just like today, in the midst of any religion, there are hidden people that are genuinely seeking God with all of their might–whether they know of God sending Jesus to seek them out or not. That hidden remnant of genuine God-seekers were cut to the quick on that day, and 3,000 people were added to the Church. Those 3,000 were from all over the world, and they carried The Good News back to all of the nations in the world. They became the priests to the nations as God enlarged His tent (Take a look at Isaiah 54 to see why I’m crying at the Donut Bank as I write this).
Finally, at Mt. Sinai, God gave His people a way to live. The Torah was a way of life, not just rules, that when lived out, would make God’s people stand out in the world. The Torah would show off to the other nations of the world that God was the one true God, and people like the Queen of Sheba and others would come and see that the God of Israel was really the one true God of the Universe.
The Torah, however wonderful a guideline or framework for life that it was, could not change people from the inside out. God new that from before the beginning. Jesus said in His final talk with His disciples:
John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever
John 14:17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
John 14:26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
On Pentecost that came to be, and The Great Internal Reminder/Teacher took up residence in His people. He is now living inside His Church to teach, guide, help, correct, cheer, rebuke, heal, and LIVE LIFE in the people.
In light of all of this, we can see how absolutely absurd it is to teach people to live by any method or steps, to teach people a “Christian Ethic” or a “Christian Worldview” or to force a political or philosophical agenda on people. Let us RUN to the Spirit. Let us CRY OUT to God to send His Holy Spirit into us with thunder and fire and move out into the nations to change them from the inside out. Let us THROW DOWN and THROW UP any teaching that depends on man’s desire, effort, self-discipline or “conviction” and be filled with the Holy Spirit that changes people irrevocably. The 3,000 that were added that day didn’t added to have strong marriages or have financial success. They came because they knew what Peter said was true:
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off “for all whom the Lord our God will call.”