Loving God, Equipping People, Mentoring Leaders, Reaching Nations
Acts 2:1-4 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
The day of Pentecost was part of the HARVEST FESTIVAL (Leviticus 23:16) also known as the Festival of Weeks (Exodus 34:22-23). It is celebrated 50 days after the Passover. On the Passover Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples giving the Passover Meal from their days in Egypt new meaning under what was to become known as the New Covenant. Jesus then is crucified (Good Friday) and raised from the dead physically (Easter Sunday) and appears a number of times to a number of people for 40 days. Then He ascends into Heaven and 10 days later we are at the Day of Pentecost – 50 days after Passover.
It is significant that Pentecost was part of the annual celebration of the HARVEST FESTIVAL. Jesus said that His disciples would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them – and He does just that in this passage from Acts, Chapter 2. The purpose of the power was that the disciples could become witnesses to the resurrected Jesus. Power to witness means souls being saved in the Name of Jesus and thus a new harvest being celebrated here on this special day. The Holy Spirit comes upon them and the harvest of souls for the Kingdom begins.
The disciples are effective and efficient in soul winning right from the start. Wow! And remember, Jesus said: “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men”. So, here is the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise made three years earlier.
They are still gathering together in the Upper Room where they had first met the resurrected Jesus and where the last Supper had been celebrated. They are “staying in Jerusalem” until they receive the “promise of My Father”. They are holding a prayer meeting which is now in its tenth day. The Church was birthed out of a prayer meeting.
Heaven opens and the Holy Spirit is sent. He comes into the Upper Room first like the sound of a rushing mighty wind. Wind had long been a symbol of the Holy Spirit and a way, inadequate as it may be, to understand the Spirit (Ezekiel 37:9-10; John 3:8). The whole house (not just the Upper Room) heard the wind and felt the effects of the wind. You can always tell when God is in the house. Then tongues of fire fall on each one. These are not literal tongues of fire – but, again, a representation of the Holy Spirit’s presence. This second supernatural indicator touched each person (rested on their heads) to let them know that the Holy Spirit had been sent to every believers – not just an anointing for the prophet, priest, or king as it was in the Old Testament.
Fire also represented, in the Old Testament, the presence of God. We see this in Exodus 3:2-6 for example.
The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
There are a number of other symbols or representations of the Holy Spirit – the dove (as when Jesus was baptized by John in the River Jordan) and oil, just to mention two others.
Everyone in the Upper Room was touched by the fire and empowered as He came upon them. This is known as the baptism in the Holy Spirit – a second encounter with God after your initial encounter of salvation. The Holy Spirit comes to live “in you” when you are born again; the Holy Spirit comes “upon you” when you are empowered through the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. This should be the norm for all believers. Sadly it is not!
The disciples also prayed for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit daily. We see this in places such as Acts 4:8; Acts 4:31; Acts 6:5; and Acts 7:55. Paul talks about this a number of years later:
Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit…
The disciples – now empowered – spoke boldly of the resurrection of Jesus and the Kingdom of God and the need to repent and turn to the Lord. And the harvest began – 3,000 souls were added to the Church that day. But, we get ahead of ourselves and the verses we are looking at.
They all spoke in tongues. A supernatural utterance in a language they had never learned and did not know. In this case it was known languages. I suspect Peter spoke in his native language of Aramaic and as it reached the ears of the men listening that day the Holy Spirit’s power translated into each person’s own local language. This is what we refer to as proclamation tongues – where you are proclaiming the resurrection and Lordship of Jesus and a language other than your own is spoken and/or heard.
There is also the gift of “public tongues” as listed in 1 Corinthians 12 which is used and heard in worship services – always followed by an interpretation. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 14:1-7 that this tongue needs to be interpreted (also a gift of the Holy Spirit). When a tongue with an interpretation is spoken you have heard God’s heart for the people assembled – just as you would if someone stood up and prophesied in the language of that group. Tongues and interpreation of tongues is equivalent to prophecy.
There is a third “tongue” and this is your own personal, private prayer language. Paul comments – pray in the Spirit, pray with my mind – and so we can allow the Holy Spirit in us to pray through our spirit to God who is Spirit (John 4) and thus pray according to the will of God without interference. Every believer who is baptized in the Holy Spirit receives the gift of a private prayer language. This can be a known language or a heavenly language – Paul writes: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels” (1 Corinthians 13:1).
It is interesting to note that the Church was praying when it was birthed or brought into existence. Prayer must be the foundation of everything the Church does and is… Prayer must surround all our activities and our work for the Lord.
And, Jesus has now empowered His followers to “go fishing”. He said, right at the start of His ministry, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men”. Here He is empowering them for just that. I once read, in a book by Bill Hull (a Nazarene pastor) this statement: “If you are not fishing, you are not following!” I believe that with all my heart.
Christian – you need to find a Church that will train and disciple you in the skills needed to witness to the lost. You need to learn how to give your testimony in a relevant and practical way. You need to learn well the Gospel – so well, that it flows naturally from your heart in every opportunity you are given. You need to be about your Father’s business of “seeking and saving the lost” (Luke 19:10). No more excuses for you follow Him who was and still is THE Fisher of men and wills that all men, everywhere, be saved!
There are two things you can do on earth that you cannot do in Heaven when you get there. Two things – sin and win the lost. Guess which one the Lord would have you do while still here on the face of planet Earth?