13 God-Breathed, Birthing, Life-Changing, Power - Leon Bent

posted May 17, 2018, 8:47 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 17, 2018, 8:47 AM ]
Ezekiel wrote: "A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you, and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances." (Ezek. 36:24-28)

The Lord would not simply give to Israel His Law, but, in the New Exodus, His Spirit, which would enable them to keep the Law. (cf. Jer. 31:33; Ezek. 36:26-28, 37:14)

As we shall see, the opening passage from Ezekiel is crucial to understand what is happening in Acts 2.

A Divine Phenomenon: Pentecost

On the day of Pentecost, according to Acts 2:1-13, God poured out the Holy Spirit on the assembled believers, accompanied by several supernatural signs, including the sound of a violent wind, tongues of fire, and speaking in tongues. Scripture Scholar, Scott Hahn, declares, "These three experiences seemed like natural phenomena (wind, fire and speech); yet, they were supernatural, both in origin and character. The noise was not wind, but sounded like it; the sight was not fire, but resembled it; and the speech was in languages which were not ordinary, but in some mysterious way, 'other'."

Charles W. Carter and Ralph Earle's The Wesleyan Bible Commentary suggests that the tongues of fire symbolise purity, because fire is a purifying agent. The in-filling of the Spirit symbolises possession, because those filled with the Spirit had given themselves over to God. And the speaking in unknown languages symbolises proclamation, because the disciples would use the languages to proclaim the Good News about Jesus.

The fiftieth day after Passover, also known as the 'Feast of Weeks' (or Shavuot) was one of the Jewish Harvest Pilgrimage Festivals, for which all Jews travelled to Jerusalem from far and wide; fifty days after the Passover, Jesus' disciples too probably travelled from Galilee, where they had returned to their fishing nets. The author of Acts uses this feast as the occasion for the renewal of the people of Israel and their Covenant.

The Renewal of the Covenant

The episode that followed, as described by the author, is very reminiscent of the Sinai experience. Noise is almost unbearable, and tongues of fire symbolised something divine was happening; in this case, the outpouring of the Spirit upon them, the gift promised by their dear Lord before His death.