Acts Chapter 2
The Second Chapter of Acts is one of the most exciting chapters in all of scripture. Aside from the Resurrection itself it surely records one of the most awesome events of history. For Pentecost was not just the events of that day, but it is the indwelling Spirit of God made personally available to the believer. It is a fundamental change in the way God relates to humankind, and it marked a new generation of God's people in whom his Spirit and his law were incarnate. At Jesus birth we see the incarnation of the first born and only begotten Son of God. But at Pentecost we experienced the incarnation of the Holy Spirit. God inhabiting our flesh and blood ! "We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves. (2 Corinthians 4:7 NASB)"
This is the day to which the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:33 looked... "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts..." And this was the day that the people of Israel had celebrated "in advance" under God's direction for centuries. There were 3 great Jewish feasts. The Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Associated with Passover was the feast of unleavened bread. Passover was to be celebrated on the 14th day of the first month and Unleavened bread was to be celebrated on the 15th day of the same month. At this time they also celebrated the Season of First fruits. 50 days or 7 Sabbaths thereafter was the celebration of Pentecost also know as the feast of weeks (because of the 7 weeks). It is important that we see the prophetic picture that God was painting by these feasts.
It is easy to see that Christ was the perfect and unblemished lamb to which Passover pointed. But perhaps we have not so readily seen that Christ was "raised from the dead, the First fruits of those who have fallen asleep" (I Corinthians 15:20). Christ was the one to which the Season of First fruits pointed. And after the 50 days there is the celebration of the grain harvest, which marked the beginning of the harvest season. It seems to me that this beginning of the harvest is the beginning of the church era. He is the first fruit, but we are the first harvest. The Church is made up of the one's whom he has gathered and instructed to bear much fruit. So then Pentecost always was a celebration of the Church... even before there was a church. What is recorded in Acts Chapter 2 was the day on which Pentecost had "fully come" - This was the day when that to which Pentecost pointed, was fulfilled!
Since we have come this far in looking at the Jewish feasts, we should complete the picture. The Feast of Tabernacles is also preceded by two other feast days. On the first day of the 7th month The Feast of Trumpets is to be observed, followed on the 10th day of that month by the Day of Atonement and Finally the feast of Tabernacles on the 15th day. This has also been called the feast of booths or the festival of ingathering. It comes at the end of the harvest, and after the day of atonement. It is a time of giving thanks for the blessings of the prophets and for the harvest, and for the rest from wandering in the wilderness at the end of their journey. These three feasts celebrate and point to events which are yet to come. The Feast of trumpets would seem to be a celebration of the call and return of Israel at the end of the church age. The day of atonement would seem to point to Judgment at the end of the age, and the festival of ingathering or Tabernacles would point to the Millennial reign of Christ which is promised at the end of the age.
God's instruction to Moses regarding each of these feasts is found in the 23rd chapter of Leviticus, a book which is extremely difficult to endure unless we begin to see some of the rich pictures of Christ which can be found therein.
But let us look at what transpired once the day of Pentecost had fully come! It was truly a multi-media experience for those 120 believers who were filled, as well as for those who came as curious on-lookers. There were evidences for the eye, and for the ear, for the spirit, the tongue, and the mind.
People who observed the phenomenon thought they were drunk, but as Peter pointed out it was only 9AM. There was a wide diversity of people in the city, because it was during the feast and people from everywhere had gathered.
Peter stood up to speak to the crowd which quickly gathered to witness the cause of the commotion.
First he explained that this was the fulfillment of prophecy. "This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel. 'I will pour out my spirit on all people...'" He quotes from Joel 2:28-32, saying that the Spirit will be poured out before the end time... that is, before the "day of the Lord." The prophecy details four gifts that will be evident in that period between Pentecost and the day of the Lord.
Next Peter explained who Jesus was. He used four simple points to sum up the place of Jesus Christ in the divine plan. He was:
Peter clarifies his third point about the resurrection with two evidences.
The first is a scriptural evidence from Psalm 16:8-11 "I saw the Lord always before me... You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay."Today we still fall into those two categories. Those who explain the truth about Jesus, and those who attempt to explain it away. But the transformed lives of men like Peter and Paul are a third witness to the power of the resurrected Christ. And he is still transforming lives 2000 years later!
Finally Peter concludes with an appeal: "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified both Lord and Christ."
The People who heard were "pricked in the heart"(KJV) or "cut to the heart"(NIV) and they asked what they must do to be saved. The answer on that day was the same as it is today. "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."
Three points need to be made about this answer. First: Repentance and baptism are the experience and evidence of our submission to the Lord. Second: The Result is the forgiveness of sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit. We have always been taught that forgiveness is the gift of God to the repentant believer, But we have not always been faithfully taught that the Holy Spirit is the gift of God at baptism. Sometimes Christians have behaved as if the Holy Spirit was a gift that had to be attained separate from salvation and forgiveness. This passage would seem contrary to such a notion. Thirdly: The promise was not just for that day or for that generation but for every generation to come. The Spirit gave Peter to know in that moment that there would be many more generations of believers.
Three Thousand people responded to the call of the Holy Spirit that day and were baptized. The believers "devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." "They were all together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions they gave to anyone as he had need."
In this experience of the Early church in Jerusalem the believers clung to one another, shared with one another, taught one another, prayed together, stayed together and ate together. Their resources were the resources of the community, and they grew in favor with everyone. People joined them every day. It must have been a very charismatic commune in which the presence of God was alive. They certainly needed this sense of community to survive at all in the hostile world which they encountered in the missionary years. The stronger this band of believers became, the more intense was the Jewish resolve to eliminate them.
In Chapter 3 we will begin to see the effects of that persecution and hostility. We will launch into that tomorrow. Thanks be to God for His wonderful word!
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© 1998 Susan Kliebenstein