AD33 was a phenomenal year, unequalled by any other year in history. In the first few months of that year((citing the Gregorian calendar here – if viewed by the Jewish Calendar it is even more breathtaking!!)) astonishing miracles happened;
- Ten men with the dreaded disease of the day are healed of leprosy,
- Lazarus is raised from the dead after four days in the tomb,
- Bartimaeus receives his sight, having been born blind – something never heard of in Israel’s history and receives the ubiquitous nickname of Blind Bartimaeus,
- with mere words, Jesus of Nazareth speaks to a fig tree, and it withers almost instantly,
- the servant of the High Priest has his ear cut off and is healed immediately. It was a remarkable year. And then to top it all,
- God died, was buried and then was resurrected from the dead.
That is what you call an astonishing start to a year. What more could you ask for?
But the events of that year continued to amaze everyone. Jesus had talked about a day that lay ahead of the disciples when He would leave, but the Father would send the Holy Spirit, and He would abide in and with them forever.
Fifty days later
Fifty days after He was raised from the dead an earthquake shook Jerusalem and the thick curtain of the Holiest place was torn in two – almost impossibly from top to bottom – showing an act of God (not to mention countless dead being raised to life and walking the streets of Jerusalem), another event happens.
Spielberg, Scorsese, Hitchcock, Tarantino, Scott and Coen could never come up with such a real-life drama.
When you think nothing more can happen, the sound of a mighty rushing wind is heard in Jerusalem, and what appears to be tongues of fire rest on a group of disciples who are doing nothing other than obeying what they were told to do; Wait in Jerusalem until the promise was given – don’t start planning, scheming, strategising – just wait. Wait on God. ((The three hardest words for the Christian today after the two-word encouragement, ‘Trust God’.))
And it happened. When people saw what was happening when Jesus poured out the Spirit in phenomenal power, 3,000 people from every walk in life were simultaneously saved from the kingdom of darkness and brought into the kingdom of God. Imagine the joy in heaven!
Not just tongues
It is easy to make Pentecost about tongues, fire, power and all the other elements of the charismatic movement in the heart and life of the Church, and it is all those things, but at the core of it all is the central truth, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Mission is back on the agenda!
There is a reason for the infilling of the Holy Spirit and it is ‘mission’; the promise of this extraordinary power to sustain and carry forth the work is still valid. In our day crucial breakthrough for the gospel has come because of periodic extraordinary outpourings of the Spirit. Revival results in many turning to Christ because the Church gets caught up in the delight of what God is doing, and are moved to be witnesses everywhere,and to everyone! God has often moved in extraordinary ways in the history of the Christian Church. He has poured out his Spirit in fresh, new, uncustomary, dramatic ways. It is our duty to pray for fresh seasons of the extraordinary outpouring of God’s Spirit—to awaken and empower the church and to penetrate the last frontiers of world evangelisation.
The Holy Spirit is free and sovereign and not bound to anyone’s timing or technique for how to get his power, but we cannot make the Spirit come. When he comes, he comes suddenly. He will never become anyone’s servant. He loves, and he serves. But he keeps his own hours. He knows what is best for us.
Pentecost reminds us of what God started!
Why he does this in some places geographically and not others, and at some times and not other times is part of his sovereign wisdom. He is not fire. He is not wind. He is not a dove. He is not a warm glow. So he will not use these manifestations in a way that allows us to confuse him with them. He is free. But when he pleases, there may be fire and there may be sound.
What God gave to the Church at the time of the outpouring in the days of the early Church was sufficient to the task at hand and changed the world – we are hungry for renewing, refreshing and to be reminded just how wonderful, powerful and gracious He really is. Pentecost calls for us to stop and consider our ways.
Here’s some good news. What happened at Pentecost is sufficient for you – but you also are encouraged to encounter the presence and power of Spirit on a regular basis in your daily walk with God. We look back to Pentecost knowing that was just the beginning of what God is still doing, and for our part we can cooperate with him by being mindful of the things grieve or quench what the Holy Spirit is doing and avoid it. God’s glory and power come from that manifestation of His presence – the exact thing that happened at Pentecost.
We are not very good at taking the Bible literally or taking God at His Word. Revival draws us deeply into a renewed sense of intimacy with Him that everything in our lives changes.
Pentecost 2022 is a memorial day for us that reminds us what is available, and that the promise of God still stands, that God is still pouring out the vast ocean of His Spirit on everyone who will come before Him with faith, expectation and obedience. The Lord is doing something remarkable in this nation the air is saturated with the anticipation of revival.
If you are thirsty, come and drink.