3 Symbols of Pentecost - Acts 2:1-4 NIV
What does “Pentecost” mean?
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.” Acts 2:1 NIV
A. πεντηκοστῆς, pentēkostēs literally means ______________ .
Proper name for the 50th day. The 2nd of three great Jewish feasts.
(1) Passover in the spring;
(2) Pentecost, 50 days later - Feast of Unleavened Bread - first harvest
(3) Tabernacles (in the fall) harvest.
At Pentecost, Jews offered 1st fruits of the new grain.
We must view this day in the context of Jesus’ instructions from 1:4-8. “Baptized with HS.” “Power when the HS comes upon you.” “witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”
B. The meaning of Pentecost is God’s equipping His church with the power of His Spirit so that He will be glorified among the nations.We never think of Acts Chapter 2 without understanding it in context of ch. 1!
Symbol #1 - ______________________
“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.” Acts 2:2 NIV
Not just a wind that they heard inside the room, but from all around!
“When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment.” Acts 2:6a
This had two impacts - one immediate and one forever. The first and immediate impact was the attention it grabbed. Something big is happening! Right now! Don’t miss it. Not just for disciples but for all. It gathered a crowd. T
he 2nd impact is one we still recognize..
The sound of the wind was a picture of _____________
We can hear wind and see and feel it’s power, but it’s invisible to us.
“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8 NIV
Interestingly, the disciples heard the noise, but there was no indication that they felt the blowing. Rather it was a miraculous sound from Heaven loud enough to gather a crowd. Fascinating truth: the word for spirit and wind are the same in BOTH Hebrew and Greek!!! The Holy Spirit, like the wind, is a mighty power, but we cannot see Him. We can only see His effects.
Symbol #2 - _________________________
“They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” Acts 2:3 NIV
Important language - “what seemed to be…” they really couldn’t know what in fact it was. They could only describe what it looked like to them.
The appearance of fire symbolizes ________________ .
Throughout the Bible, fire symbolizes God’s Presences. Example -
“Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.” Exodus 3:2NIV
Later Israel was guided and protected by a pillar of fire. John the Baptist predicted that Jesus would baptize with HS and fire. Jesus himself…
“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” Luke 12:49
Hebrews 12:29 describes God as a consuming fire. Fire brings both heat and light. Heat of a fire consumes the dross, purifying. Or destroying those that have no gold inside them. Fire - zeal that Christians have (not luke-warm!) Also illumination that God brings to spiritual darkness.
These first two (sound of wind / appearance of fire) should govern how we understand the next. I’m calling these symbols. They really did happen, but not the example of what happens to every Christian who receives the Spirit today. The third is no different…
Symbol #3 - _________________________
“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (or languages) as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:4 NIV
The NIV gives us a footnote which explains that this word for tongues could also be translated languages. Indeed there were Jewish people there for passover who spoke many different languages. Suddenly, unexpectedly, unexplainably, the disciples could speak in their language and be understood. (More next week.) But important for now to note that this speaking in other tongues was not an ecstatic utterance or a God language. It literally was the miraculous ability to speak a foreign language that they had not studied that native speakers understood.
We combine the “appearance of tongues” with now the fact that the disciples began to speak in other tongues miraculously enabled by the HS. God’s Holy Power comes upon people through God’s Holy Word.
The other languages symbolize proclamation of ____________ .
These disciples / apostles were charged with spreading God’s Word. But how could they if they couldn’t speak the language. So God - through HS - provided a miracle to give them the ability to be understood. But not just for any message… specifically for God’s message, what we call gospel:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” Romans 1:16 NIV
Do you notice how closely the Apostle Paul’s verse in Romans 1:16 matches Jesus’ instruction in Acts 1? The gospel message begins with the Jews, but doesn’t remain there. It moves beyond the boundaries of Jerusalem, beyond the restrictions of the Hebrew faith. This is the story of much of the rest of Acts and the New Testament.
Combine the 3 symbols with Jesus’ Instructions.What do we have?
(1) Sound of the VIOLENT WIND -God’s invisible power. We cannot see the Holy Spirit, but we know He is with us because we can see His effects in our lives. We are not expected to accomplish God’s mission through our power, but rather through our weakness use God’s power!
(2) Tongues of Fire - God’s Presence in our lives. Just like the Israelites never proceeded without the Pillar of Fire, we are never expected to go and witness for God without God within us. He never leaves us. He never forsakes us, no matter what trials we may be going through.
(3) Speaking in Tongues - God’s Holy Word. We are not expected to be able to argue or become an expert in our rightness or anyone else’s wrongness. We should become fluent in God’s Holy Word. His Word is the language that translates into all languages and can be understood and accepted by all people!
Important to note - We may not experience the sound of violent wind, or see the appearance of tongues of fire or suddenly speak in another foreign language. But when the Holy Spirit is alive in us - as He is promised to every Christian - we will know His Power, experience His Presence, and speak His Word.
Pentecost still means God equipping His church with the power of His Spirit so that He will be glorified among the nations.
Are you on mission? Are you in His Spirit?