Day of Pentecost: The Epistle Passage – The Meaning of the Day

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” (Acts 2:1- 4)

I want you to note, beloved reader, there are two aspects of the Spirit happening here – first that each of the disciples receives the Spirit of the Lord, and that they started to talk in different languages. As Paul asserts in his epistles, speaking of tongues is not a test of whether or not you have the Spirit of the Lord. And most times such speaking is for a specific purpose and not just as a “merit badge” for the Spirit of the Lord.

“Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs–in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” (Verses 5 – 11)

Two things I take from these verses; first that Jews from all over the known world were gathered in Jerusalem. This was probably one of the only handful of times that so many devout Jews would be in one concentrated area. This was a jump start to making disciples all over the known world. What better way to get their attention then to have local people suddenly start speaking in the native tongue of these Jews. Second, the sound of this must have been more deafening than we could imagine for it to have spilled out into the streets and draw the attention of a large crowd. I am not quite sure what the audio dynamics of that would have been. In any case . . .

“All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” (Verses 12 – 13)

When the Spirit of the Lord comes and intervenes in usual life, there will invariably be those who seek and find reasons to explain it away. And as humanity becomes more aware of the natural world and the ways science can explain it, the easier it is to find a non-Spiritual reason and rationale for such events. Maybe that is way miracles seem to happen less often; I don’t think miracles happen any less. What I do think is that we find ways to understand the underpinnings of the events; or, we are more accepting of Divine intervention and events that we do not observe astonished and aghast. I would like to think that we are more accepting and accommodating of the Spirit of the Lord intervening in our lives. That we accept that daily walks with the Lord will be accompanied by the Lord acting in our lives.

“But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” (Verses 14 – 18)

A lot has been made about the phrase “in the last days” and a lot of assumptions have been been made about the “last days” before or of what. In fact, it seems pretty opinion interpretation. Each person who tries to explain or interpret it, does it within his/her own time period which might negate the explanation of the person before them. Let me parse that out for you, giving you some hypothetical explains.

The prophet Joel might have meant when the Lord restores the fortunes of the people of Israel. (Joel 2:28) Peter might have meant the last days or the days just following the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth; he might have meant the last days before the Christ returns. More modern commentators might have meant when the Spirit of the Lord has dominion over the earth and the peace of the Lord is known, but not necessarily the return of the Lord. Some more “fiery” ones might mean the last days before the Day of Judgment.You see, each person interprets it to be compatible to the time they are living in. So when you, beloved reader, hear of prophesies that spell out when the last days are to come, remember each previous person who made such a prediction was incorrect.

“And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.” (Verses 19 – 20)

I wrote, beloved reader, my cautionary before we came to to more calamitous verses so that you would not take them as signs to be on the look out for. In Peter’s time such things would have had not explanation. They were mysterious and frightening. We, with our science and understanding, know what events these are and realize it is most probably nature and not the return of the Divine.

“Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ “ (Verse 21)

THIS is the important part of Peter’s message – that when in the midst of problems or situations that seem terrifying or “end of days”-ish, call on the Lord! Whether it is one of a string of problems or the first of its kind – call on the Lord! The overwhelming message and meaning of Pentecost is that the Spirit of the Lord dwells with us and in us, in ways that are mystifying and wondrous. That in times of trouble, when it seems like nothing is natural or understandable; or in times of calm, when our days spread out before us – call on the Lord to be with you. And that the Lord God will do many things to get our attention, specific to ourselves and our life situations.

The celebration of the Day of Pentecost comes but once a year; the Lord, however, is with us all ways. Look for the Divine tongues of the Lord’s fire in your life. Heed them! Call upon the Lord and let the Divine rest upon your life. Selah!