The Israelites had seen many miracles and wonders in those seven weeks - parting the Red Sea, escaping the Egyptians, water from a rock, manna & quail, and so forth. They agreed to follow all that the Lord commanded.
Exodus 19:9 says, "So the Lord said to Moses, 'I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.'" God set apart a time to meet with Moses and His people. He went on to give instructions of getting ready, cleaning up and setting the signal for gathering and setting the boundaries for approaching the Father on Mt Sinai.
The time came for this Holy meeting. So close your eyes and put yourself in this scene. You've cleaned up, you're in your very best duds all squeaky clean. You have no idea what really to expect other than going to this mountain, a cloud is going to appear and the voice of God will be heard. How can you even put that together in your mind? A mountain, a cloud, voice of God....hmmm. This wasn't commonplace like - "Oh yeah, everyone clean up, we're meeting God today." I don't think this is how this was going down.
Fortunately we are given more details on this side of the story.
Exodus 19:16-19 "On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him."
Now can you visualize a little better? Unfortunately we still cannot totally fathom or imagine this! Might we be thinking "Oh my word, I am going to die. The world has come to an end!"
Then in Exodus 20 God speaks the FIRST 10 commandments. "I am the Lord your God..." but He only gets through 10. After the 10th command the Israelites can't take anymore. They are scared to death! Make it stop!
"When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, 'Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.'" They retreat and Moses approaches the cloud where the God is.
The next 11 chapters are rest of the commands given to Moses that the people couldn't handle hearing for themselves. Wow! A holy meeting where God has come to meet His people! Unfortunately He doesn't get to finish with them and has to work through Moses exclusively. The fear of the people will shortly thereafter lead them to sin with the idol Golden Calf and about 3,000 people are killed. Stay tuned though, because there is a little twist that will come many years later. Hold on to that number of about 3,000.
This point in time was a marker and point in time of remembrance that the Israelites would call Shavuot.
So let's fast forward to the time of Christ after His resurrection and about the time of His ascension to heaven. Acts 1:4 Jesus gives the promise of the Holy Spirit, "On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: 'Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'" He goes on further to more pointedly and powerfully express in verse 7, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
So here we are at Acts 2 - the Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost. Pentecost is a Greek term "the fiftieth day". It is really a Greek word for Shavuot. If you are unfamiliar with the biblical feasts, Shavuot is one of three pilgrimages to Jerusalem. The men would travel to Jerusalem for these three events of which Shavuot was one.
So Jerusalem is jam-packed with Israelites, the Temple is all bustle and activity, remembering and celebrating the giving of the Torah. Offerings are being given again as commanded, folks are fellowshipping and so on. There is still a buzz around because not long before this man proclaiming to be God died, was raised to life, then rose into heaven. Whoa! What else could happen?
So Christ's followers of course are part of Shavuot giving their offerings, coming to Temple as commanded in Torah. But Jesus' followers also had this promise to sit tight in Jerusalem and wait for the Gift of the Holy Spirit. So I can see them hanging out at the Temple grounds probably still discussing the wonders of the past few months and maybe whispering amongst themselves about this Holy Spirit thing.
So let's pick up in Acts 2:1 "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." Let's stop here and offer a thought-provoking question - Is it possible this happened at the Temple? (A discussion for another time.)
The following verses mention the mix of languages and people all able to hear and understand in their native languages. Remember the Israelites have come from all over to Jerusalem as commanded. Also bear in mind that not all Israelites were in Israel by this time - they had been scattered with exiles, wars and so forth. Plus there were other nationalities coming to Jerusalem to do business and take advantage of the festival.
Another Holy Meeting with the Father!! In Exodus He gave us His Word / His Commands. In Acts He gave us His Spirit. But was this the first time the Holy Spirit made its appearance? No, there are many accounts in the Old Testament where the Holy Spirit settled on certain people, times and circumstances. This outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was the flood gates being opened and the Holy Spirit taking up permanent residence. The Holy Spirit wasn't disappearing or going anywhere! Christ had just walked the earth showing us in human body form how to live out the Commands perfectly. He was the perfect example. He was also the ultimate perfect final sacrifice. While Israel was the chosen People, Jesus opened the door through His life and sacrifice along with outpouring the Holy Spirit "to the ends of the earth". No holds barred, come on, let's have a Holy Meeting with the Father - everyone!
Peter addresses the crowd after this outpouring of the Holy Spirit since some were thinking they were drunk or enjoying the feast a little to heartily. He preaches about Jesus, the promises He gave, the way that was paved, spoke of the prophecies fulfilled.
Acts 2:37 "When the people heard this they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' Peter replied, '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.'" Verse 41 "Those who accepted his message were baptized and about three thousand were added to their numbers that day."
Remember back in Exodus where 3,000 were killed for their sin with the Golden Calf? Well, here we see 3,000 were added. Wow! See how God has the most intricate details worked out in His plan? He gave us written commands and He came in Spirit to dwell within us all on Shavuot. He took away, He gave.
I want to tie all of this together with a passage from the book of Joel. Joel 2. This whole chapter is so powerful. But I want to pick out several key verses:
24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain;
the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm—
my great army that I sent among you.
26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.
27 Then you will know that I am in Israel,
that I am the Lord your God,
and that there is no other;
never again will my people be shamed.
28 “And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
29 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
30 I will show wonders in the heavens
and on the earth,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
31 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
32 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
there will be deliverance,
as the Lord has said,
even among the survivors
whom the Lord calls.
Prophecy fulfilled. Holy Meetings with the God of this universe.
"Burning in My Soul" - Matt Maher
~ Kendra aka Lady Sterling
~ Kendra aka Lady Sterling