The Coming Of The Spirit On Shavuot Accompanied By The Sound Of A Violent Wind, Flames Of Fire And The Ability To Speak In Unlearned Languages; The Reactions Of Those In Jerusalem; Peter’s First Great Sermon; A Tremendous Response
Something is very seriously wrong with humanity. The evidence is overwhelming and is in us and is all around us. Because of our rebellion against God, and our trespasses and sins, we are far from our Creator and life and blessing and hope. We are not just a little sick, but we are spiritually dead! And, we are too sinful, too weak, too dead to overcome the very real and utterly ruinous forces of Satan, sin and death on our own. We have the greatest need for a great God-sent Savior! In his first book, Luke taught us that that great Savior has come!
Luke continues this greatest story of redemption with his second book, the book of Acts. For 40 days after He rose from the dead, the Resurrected One was still on Earth with His disciples. Presenting many proofs, He totally convinced them that He had overcome death, and had a new and eternal body, and if they remained faithful to Him, they too would overcome death and receive a body that will live forever! During that period between Passover and Shavuot, the Risen Rabbi taught them many things about the Kingdom of God – how God rules over the universe and over the world and over Israel and over Messiah’s chosen ones.
Messiah knew that He would leave them very soon, and they would carry on His great mission. Yeshua Himself would no longer be physically present on Earth, but they would. They were His body! They were His mouth! They were His hands. They were His feet! They had seen His miracles. They knew His teachings. They saw Him die, and then they saw Him do what no other human being had ever done – rise from the dead, overcoming our greatest enemies – Satan, sin and death! They were His witnesses! They were His representatives and emissaries to the world! They had the only message that could rescue mankind from our terrible condition!
For this great supernatural task, they would need great supernatural help – the Holy Spirit, which they were about to receive in a new and greater way!
Finally, the Son of God’s ministry to His specially chosen emissaries was accomplished! It was time for Him to leave them and return to Heaven, to the right hand of God, where He would continue watching over them and protecting them and helping them and directing them and empowering them – and many others who would experience salvation because of their witness.
From the Mount of Olives, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Two messengers from Heaven appeared and let them know that when the time is right, the Very Same Person will return to that very same spot in the very same way!
They returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, where the 11 representatives, and other significant people joined them, and all of them were united and were praying continually.
It was good that there were 11 great Messianic Jewish Emissaries, but just as there were 12 tribes that made up the fullness of the nation of Israel, there needed to be 12 apostles to lead the Israel of God, and they prayed, and cast lots, and Matthias was added to the eleven apostles to replace the traitor, Judas. Now the foundational leaders of Messiah’s Holy Community were at their proper number. They were in Jerusalem as they had been instructed. Everything was ready for the next major outworking of the saving plans of God, which was connected to the next Jewish holiday – Shavuot – the holiday of the seven weeks.
Just as the other Spring holidays had to be fulfilled on their day, so did the holiday of Weeks. The harvest of the chosen ones of humanity into the Kingdom of God had to be extended to others – to the special Messianic Jewish firstfruits – the very first of the harvest of humanity; the first human beings to be gathered into the Kingdom of God! To these Jews the Holy Spirit came first!
The precious Spirit of God, who is so close to us, and does so much for us – connecting us to the Father and to the Son and to one another forever and ever; transforming us and empowering us and enlightening us and teaching us and guiding us; the Spirit, who will be with us forever, needed to come to us in a new and greater way. When the day of Shavuot had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from Heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. The coming of the Spirit was accompanied by a noise from Heaven like a violent, rushing wind because earlier in Israel’s history, the coming of God had been accompanied with storms and powerful winds. This Spirit is from Heaven, from God, from the Father and from the Son. This Spirit has a heavenly origin. And, if we are ever to be properly connected to Heaven, and have a heavenly future, we need to receive this Heavenly Spirit. And, His coming was noisy, like a very strong wind, showing His great power. He intends to carry us along us in the right direction, and break and scatter and blow away those who resist Him.
The coming of the Holy Spirit was also accompanied by another unusual phenomenon – tongues as of fire distributing themselves, resting on each one of them. In Israel’s history, the coming and presence of the Infinitely Holy and Almighty God was often associated with fire. Fire is a symbol for holiness. This Heavenly Spirit is holy – absolutely free from anything impure in the slightest degree. His purpose is to come into us and remove all the impurities in us that oppose God, and transform us into the image of the Holy God and the Righteous Messiah. Is He doing that in you?
Under the right conditions, a fire can quickly spread and affect a huge area. This Spirit that came and rested on them would be given to many others. Starting from this small group, this Fiery Holy Spirit would spread His influence like a wind-blown fire among dry wood! These men were the beginning of a heavenly movement that would radiate the fire of God, the light and warmth of Heaven, truth and victory and salvation to a dark and cold and impure world – to the Jewish people first, but also to many from the other nations of the world!
When the Holy Spirit came, the first thing He did was supernaturally empower them to communicate. He enabled these men to speak in languages that they had never learned. And, when we are full of the Spirit, we will have a desire, a passion to communicate the Good News about the Messiah to a lost and dying world. Do you have that passion? If you don’t, that indicates, almost for certain, that you are not filled with the Spirit.
This is the beginning of the restoration of fractured humanity. This is the beginning of the one new man, a new and united humanity made from many nations, coming together, able to understand one another and work with God – not against God.
Something very special was going on. Something radically new had happened to Rabbi Yeshua’s followers. This was another powerful evidence that Yeshua was indeed the Messiah! He wasn’t dead! He was alive had poured out His Spirit from Heaven on His disciples! The rest of Israel needed to know this! This had to be made known to everyone! And, the Spirit moved these men in just that direction!
In Jerusalem that Shavuot were men who were serious about God and their Faith and the Scriptures. They had returned from their exile among the nations. Many of these devout and religious men suddenly heard a loud noise, followed by a group of mostly Galilean men speaking their native languages and declaring the mighty things that God had done. They were amazed and astonished and wanted to know the significance of this unusual activity.
But there was a second group who were not interested in knowing more, and made fun of Messiah’s followers, concluding that this unusual phenomenon of Galileans speaking in many languages could best be explained by the over-consumption of alcohol. How sad that one of the most significant events in history was taking place, and these Jewish men were too far from God, too insensitive to spiritual things to investigate something so significant! And sadly, so much of humanity is in this second category. But, there are some in the first category, who will be curious, and listen and learn, and come to saving faith! We must endure the mocking of the second group to reach the first.
And Simon Peter was ready and equipped to do just that. The one who only a short time earlier had denied the Messiah three times, was now a different man. He knew that Yeshua was the Victorious Lord and Risen Savior.
Peter was now very well taught in the Scriptures, and he was empowered and filled and directed by the Holy Spirit. He was bold, courageous and fearless. Peter became the spokesman for the Israel of God and gave a great message about the coming of the Messiah, and His rejection, and His vindication, and the giving of His Spirit, and how that is what true Judaism is all about. From Peter’s first great sermon on this special Shavuot, we can learn how to speak to those Jewish people who are knowledgeable about the Scriptures.
But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day. The objection that they were drunk didn’t make sense. It was 9:00 in the morning – too early to be drunk.
Peter gave the real reason why the people of Jerusalem had been hearing Galileans speaking in many languages about God. What was happening was something so momentous that God had revealed to our prophets that this would happen! But this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall be in the last days’, God says, ‘that I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on My servants, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit and they shall prophesy. And I will grant wonders in the sky above and signs on the Earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.
The Lord had told the prophet Joel that humanity would enter into a new period of salvation history that would be characterized by the pouring out of the Spirit of God upon many. A new age had begun! They were now in the Ah-cha-reet Ha-Ya-meem – the Last Days! Maybe not the last part of the Last days, but the beginning of the Last Days. Messiah had come! Immanuel had been among them! Yeshua had made ultimate salvation possible. Yeshua, the Risen Messiah and God the Father had begun pouring out from Heaven the Dwelling Presence of God, the Holy Spirit, on receptive human beings. That is the reason why these Galileans were speaking in languages they never learned. They were full of the Spirit of God, who had just been poured out on them – followers of the Risen Messiah!
And, the people of Jerusalem needed understand these realities and believe. Quoting again from the prophet Joel, Peter challenged them: And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’. To be saved from the forces of Satan, sin and death, they needed to know that the Man, MessiahYeshua, is Adonai – the eternal Lord. He is fully God and fully human.
They needed to believe in Him, and call out to Him with apologies and with welcome and acceptance if they wanted to be saved – saved with a salvation that the blood of bulls and goats and lambs and rams and pigeons couldn’t provide; saved with the great and only salvation that God had planned from the beginning of the world.
Peter continued with his message, focusing on the vindication of Yeshua and their need to get right with Him. Men of Israel, listen to these words: Yeshua the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know – this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. Yeshua was and is Adonai – the eternal Lord. He was also and is a man. He is fully God and fully man. And He was a prophet. He was very close to God. The miracles that the Father and the Spirit empowered Him to do, clearly demonstrated this.
And, Yeshua’s death didn’t surprise God. In fact, it was an essential part of God’s plan that He had worked out long ago to save human beings. But, the majority of Israel made a terrible terrible mistake, and rejected Adonai Messiah, and caused Him to be put to death. The majority were responsible for this great, great sin! But the Father overruled their decision, and raised Yeshua from the dead. Death couldn’t keep hold of Messiah, because death only has authority over those who have sinned, and Yeshua was sinless, completely righteous and innocent.
They knew all this is true, because God, speaking through another prophet – King David, told us 1000 years ahead of time that this is exactly what would happen. For David says of Him (in Psalm 16), ‘I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope; because You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, nor allow Your holy one to undergo decay. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with Your presence’. If you want to be close to God, and have God close to you, saving you and protecting you; if you want genuine happiness and a sure hope of being raised from the dead and living forever with the Lord – you must recognize God’s Holy One, the Messiah, when He comes. He will die, but He come back from the dead in short order, and His dead body will not undergo physical decay. This is the way of life – the only way to experience life – life with God, real life, lasting life, meaningful life, everlasting life. This is the way to experience the presence of a welcoming God, and eternal happiness.
Having been taught for several years by Rabbi Yeshua, then for 40 days by the Risen Lord Himself, Peter understood this Psalm and knew that it could not be referring to David. It’s fulfillment was connected to the coming and death and resurrection of the Messiah! Brothers, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. David’s body experienced physical decay and was never raised from the dead. So, this Psalm can’t be referring to David, but to Someone Greater Than David. And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that He was neither abandoned to Sheol, nor did His flesh suffer decay. It had been revealed to David one of his descendants would come, and die, but Messiah’s soul would be released from Sheol, the holding place of the dead, before the Son of David’s body experienced decay. And, that is exactly what had taken place 1000 years after David was given this prediction. The Messiah’s death and resurrection had happened in the past 50 days – staring with Passover and extending to Shavuot!
What David had predicted, had come to pass. Peter continued: This Yeshua God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. To establish a fact in Jewish law, only two or three witnesses are needed. Right there, there were dozens and dozens of witnesses who had seen Yeshua overcome death! The evidence for the resurrection of Yeshua was overwhelming!
Peter continued: not only had Yeshua overcome death, He had ascended back to the place of greatest honor in the universe, and from that exalted place of power and honor, Messiah had sent the Spirit of God to His disciples! Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.
Since Yeshua is the Messiah, and He overcame death, and ascended to Heaven, and the God of Israel welcomed Him, and greatly honored Him, and put Messiah in the place of greatest prominence, the people of Israel must welcome and honor Messiah Yeshua too! Then they too will receive the precious Holy Spirit who will unite them to God and save them!
Just as the Messiah’s resurrection had been revealed to the prophets, the Messiah’s ascension had also been prophetically revealed in the Divinely Inspired Writings, specifically in Psalm 110 – also written by David. For it was not David who ascended into Heaven, but he himself says: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet”‘. David was made aware of a declaration made by Adonai – the eternal Lord – God the Father, to David’s Adon – David’s Lord, who is Yeshua the Messiah, that the Messiah would be opposed by human beings, but God would overrule them, and Messiah would be exalted and seated at the place of highest honor – at the right hand of God.
There, in Heaven, the Lord Messiah would remain, until God the Father completely defeated all the people who dared to oppose His Messiah. The implications of all of this were crystal clear. It was deadly dangerous to be one of Messiah’s enemies! The person who opposes the Lord Messiah has the Almighty God working against him to defeat and destroy him!
Yeshua’s great representative concluded: Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Messiah – this Yeshua whom you crucified”. God the Father has made Yeshua Lord. Yeshua is divine, fully God as to His nature, and God the Father has made Yeshua the long awaited Messiah, the ultimate Prophet, Priest and King and Savior. But they, the people of Jerusalem, and the majority of the Chosen People, were the enemies of the Lord Messiah. They were in large part responsible for Him dying a horrible, painful and humiliating death! They were opposing God the Father and the Lord Messiah. They were in very serious, serious trouble with God Himself!
This powerful, true, Holy Spirit-inspired message impacted them. It reached the very core of their beings. Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the emissaries, “Brothers (a term indicating a desire for unity and acceptance and affection), what shall we do”?
Peter said to them, “Repent (turn from your sins and your erroneous thinking, and turn to God and the right ways of thinking), and each of you be baptized in the name of Messiah Yeshua (be immersed in water acknowledging that Yeshua is the Messiah and that you are committing yourselves to obey Him) for the forgiveness of your sins. If they turned to God, and were immersed as followers of the Yeshua the Messiah, their sins, which were very serious, would be forgiven. God would not hold a grudge against them or punish them even though they had taken part in the death of His beloved Son.
And, the Lord would graciously do even more! Not just forgive them, but share Himself, His Spirit, with them! And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And not just the people of Jerusalem: For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself”. This promise of the forgiveness for even the greatest of our sins, along with the coming of the Holy Spirit, would be given to the children of these Jewish people no matter where they were – close by or far away, in distance or in time, provided they too were part of the sovereign choosing of God, and they turned to God and to the Messiah when they heard the message.
There was more to Peter’s great message that Shavuot, but this is what Luke, directed by the Holy Spirit, wanted us to focus on. And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation”! The majority of that generation was twisted and corrupt.
Coming to God on His terms – which means acceptance of Yeshua, was the only way to be rescued from the judgment that would come to all of the people of that perverse generation. And, that is still the only way to be rescued from any generation of humanity – which is still corrupt, twisted and perverse – including ours!
Until day that, the followers of Messiah in Jerusalem may have not numbered more than 120. Suddenly, the community had vastly increased! So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 3000 Jewish people who rebelled against God were punished and killed when the Law was given. 3000 Jewish people ended their rebellion against God and were saved when the Holy Spirit was given! What a powerful illustration of the principle that Rabbi Paul gave: the letter (of the Law) kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6).
The 120 along with these approximate 3,000 Messianic Jews, became a loving and supportive worshiping and witnessing community. From this great community, the message of Good News would go forth to the rest of Israel and the other nations of the world! And, may the Lord make us more and more like that model community – well taught, close, loving, supportive, prayerful, true worshipers and God’s witnesses to the only truth that alone can save human beings!