Event(s): The Holy Spirit Comes; The Crowd’s Response
Today’s Text: Acts 2:1-13
Tomorrow’s Text: Acts 2:14-41
The disciples had done all they could to prepare themselves to receive the Promise. Now, they waited for God to do what only He could do. The appointed day had fully come, indicating there was not just a predetermined day. There was also a predetermined time.
Acts 2:1 “When the day of Pentecost had fully come” Pentecost was one of the major feasts observed by the Jewish people. In the Old Testament, it was referred to as the “Feast of Weeks” as it was positioned 7 weeks and one day (or 50 days) after Passover. But in the New Testament, which was written primarily in Greek, the feast is called Pentecost, which comes from the Greek word “pentēkostē, meaning the fiftieth day.
Pentecost was a festival of celebration, in which the Jews brought to God an offering of their firstfruits (or first portion) of their wheat harvest. (We can find the full instructions for this feast and its offerings in Leviticus 23:15-22.) Pentecost was also traditionally known as the anniversary of the giving of the Mosaic Law (Exodus 19:1). But now, in the New Testament, ushering in a new era, this celebration would take on an entirely new meaning. Marked by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it was to be the birth of The Church.
Previously, God had been encountered externally, and His ways had been written on two tablets of stone. But now God’s presence would indwell us, and His ways would be inscribed on the tablets of our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33).
Acts 2:2 “there came a sound from heaven” Notice this wasn’t an actual wind, but it was like the sound of wind. A rushing mighty wind, in fact, which indicates power, and speaks to the forcible but unseen nature of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had also previously used wind to illustrate the movement of the Spirit of God. (John 3:8).
Acts 2:3 “divided tongues of fire” In addition to wind, fire was also known as a symbol of God’s presence. Again here on Pentecost, this was not actual fire as we know it, but it was like fire.
One of the best examples we have of fire symbolizing the presence of God was during the Exodus, when God led the children of Israel out of Egypt. As they traveled through the hot desert sun, the Bible says He “went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light…” (Exodus 13:21) Then, the Presence was manifested in one big flame. But in the Upper Room, the fire separated, and came to rest upon each person. This makes it very clear that God’s intent is for each of us to receive His presence, personally.
Acts 2:4a “and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” First they heard. Then they saw. Now they experienced. God’s presence up to this point had been encountered externally. Now, He dwelled within, and the experience was filling. All the prophets of old and the fathers of our faith looked forward to this day (1Peter 1:10), though they couldn’t fully comprehend what it would mean. God’s Presence, abiding within each of us…amazing…marvelous…wonder-full.
Acts 2:4b “and began to speak with other tongues” Tongues is translated to mean languages, or dialects. One of the byproducts of being filled with the Holy Spirit is the breaking down of barriers. Barriers that previously existed between us and God. Barriers that existed between the Jew and the Greek. Barriers that placed limitations on what men and women could experience in God. The list could go on.
But here, in this case, on the day of Pentecost, a barrier that had to immediately be dealt with was that of communication. The “tongues of fire” that had rested upon each of them released their tongues to communicate in new ways – both with God and with man. Their words were of worship, prayer and praise – directed towards God before they even knew that they were speaking in the native tongues of the people. But the result was that even the “devout men” from “every nation under heaven” (vs 5) were able to “hear the wonderful works of God” (vs 11) in their own language.
When we ask Jesus to be Lord of our lives, the Holy Spirit comes and dwells on the inside of us. The Bible calls this being born again. But this spiritual baptism, this overflowing work, that is spoken about in Acts is a greater release of His power. It’s a supernatural release that quickens and accelerates the work of the Holy Spirit to where it becomes more immediately active in our lives.
There is not a specific formula or exclusive method we must follow to experience this. Notice, today’s passage says at first the disciples were “sitting” in the upper room (vs 2). Praying and worshipping. Waiting on Him when He came. As we will read later in Acts (19:2), when Paul encountered some new believers and asked if they had been baptized in the Spirit, and they said no, they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of his hands. Same Spirit. Different method.
Have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit? Have you experienced His filling? This is not an encounter that we need to reduce to specific steps or methods. The Holy Spirit is a Person to be embraced. If you’re hungry to experience Him in this way, act on it and ask Him. Either in a time of prayer and worship alone with God, or ask other Spirit-filled believers to join you in prayer for this wonderful gift.