For ten long days, the disciples sat in the Upper Room waiting on a promise from the LORD. “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” They did not know what it would look like, how it would sound or even when it would come, only that it would! So, they waited, they trusted, they prayed, united in a promise from their beloved Saviour. Waiting. Not something I do well. Waiting and trusting that the Holy Spirit would come.
Acts 2:1 says; “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” Pentecost was a day of great celebration for the Jewish nation – a day when the firstfruits of the wheat harvest were offered up to God, it was the Feast of Shavuot. The holy city of Jerusalem was jam-packed to the brim with God’s chosen people. In the middle of all the hustle and bustle, a group prayed, a group waited – trusting in Jesus for the gift of the Holy Spirit.
What happened next was absolutely revolutionary, changing the world as they knew it forever. It was incredible, unprecedented and something totally brand new; “and suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.” This was a gift given to them straight from The Great I Am himself! I have so many questions about that day. How loud was the wind? What did it feel like to have tongues of fire settling upon you? Were they all afraid? Did they remain standing in the presence of the Holy Spirit or did they drop to their knees in worship? Was it totally weird to speak in a language you had never known before?
Acts goes on to tell us; “those who gladly received his word were baptized, and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” Three thousand souls! That’s a lot of people!
Did I say earlier that this was unprecedented? Well, mostly unprecedented! God was indeed doing something new and totally miraculous! But, way back in the book of Exodus, we see the shadow of something else quite revolutionary.
Another Pentecost day. The Jewish nation had fled from Egypt and after forty days they reached the base of Mount Sanai. The Great I Am descended upon the mountain in fire and smoke and the whole mountain quaked greatly! There was a blast of a trumpet that grew louder and louder and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain. Moses spent many days upon the mountain with the LORD, coming down about 10 days later – on the day of Pentecost!
How terrifying and absolutely thrilling it must have been, thunderings, lightning flashes, trumpets, and smoke! During the time Moses was on the mountain God gave His covenant to him, written by the very finger of God on tablets of stone! But here, way back in the time of the exodus, the people of God did not wait for the promise of God. Their impatience caused them to sin and when Moses came down the mountain with the Covenant of God in his hands the Israelites had already turned to idolatry!
Exodus 32:28 tells us; “so the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day.” Three thousand men fell that day!
How fascinating the parallels! At Pentecost in the time of Exodus, God gave His law to the newly free Israelites. His commandments, engraved in stone, a gift to His chosen ones. Amidst thunder, trumpets, smoke and lightning, the covenant of God was given to God’s people. Ironically, three thousand people died that day. At Pentecost in the time of Acts, the people of God waited for the promise of God. Amidst fire and the sound of a rushing wind, the Holy Spirit was given to the newly free people of God. So great was the infilling of the Holy Spirit that about three thousand souls were added to them that day! The day our Father gave His new covenant to His chosen people!
St. Augustine said this, “Here is a great and wondrous mystery, brethren: if you observe closely, on the day of Pentecost the Jews received the law written by the finger of God and on the same day of Pentecost the Spirit came.” The Holy Spirit is the sign of the New Covenant given to us from the heart of God.
You see, it is all in the waiting, back in the time of the exodus, back in the Upper Room, and it is still in the waiting even now. Waiting for the promise! Waiting to receive power from on high! Waiting! Will we wait on God during these days leading to Pentecost or will be consumed by all the many distractions. All the idols that beckon to us, Netflix, TV, new projects, more work, another Zoom call? Join us in the virtual Upper Room as we wait on the Lord, as we cry out for healing across the nations, as we believe for an unprecedented harvest? Then when Pentecost comes, we can mount up with the wings of eagles, run and not grow weary, walk and not faint. What a wonder it is to realise that God had everything planned from the very beginning of time! So many tiny details went into Almighty God’s strategy, this plan to be in a beautiful covenant with the people God chose and the people God loves! A covenant to see you set free, restored, and empowered! What an incredible God we serve, a God with intricate plans for your life!