GETTING THE MESSAGE/Acts 2:1-13
This passage is about Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit. You cannot overstate how important this event is in the history of the church. Pentecost means 50; it was a festival that came 7 weeks or 50 days after Passover. The Lord commanded the Jews to observe it in order to give thanks for the first fruits of their harvest, which pointed to the fuller harvest to come.
This pointed to the coming of the Holy Spirit and the fruit he would give. We see 3000 souls converted in verse 41 following Peter’s sermon. These souls who entered into Christ’s kingdom were the first fruits of souls who will enter from all over the earth, making up the full harvest of the Lord.
In verses 2-4 we see three phenomena connected to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. First, there is the sound of a mighty wind. If you have heard a tornado, or the wind form a Hurricane, even a severe thunderstorm, you know the fearsome power connected to it. A strong wind is often connected to the judgment of God in the Scripture (Psalm 11, Ezekiel 13).
The sound of wind here, however, does not portend judgment, but the power of God coming to assist his church. The church has the supernatural power of God to facilitate her growth and spread. If you belong to Christ, this power is what converted you and still resides in you. No wind or storms in your life will be greater than the Spirit living in the Christian.
The next phenomenon is fire. Tongues of fire appear and rest upon the disciples. Fire also is often a symbol of God’s judgment in Scripture. God is a consuming fire, that is, he is holy and there is no sin that is allowed in his presence. The apostle’s, however, are not consumed because Christ has taken away their sin on the cross. So this is a beneficial fire, a purifying fire.
The fire points to what they will bear witness to. They will proclaim Christ, and in doing so they will be proclaiming words of life and death. Fire, (symbolically), will be coming out of their mouth; God’s consuming or purifying fire. They are baptized with this fire from heaven, and so will follow Christ in proclaiming the truth as well as suffering for it.
The last phenomenon is speaking in tongues. In Genesis 11, when men had one language, they were unified in their desire to ascend to heaven and displace God as ruler. At the Tower of Babel, God came down to confuse the language of men and scatter them, to restrain the evil they were capable of in unity. So men were scattered all over the earth with separate languages.
The tongues or languages spoken by the apostles in Acts 2 represent a reversal of the judgment at the Tower of Babel. The apostles are proclaiming the “mighty works of God (verse 11).” Jews from all over the known world are in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost. Each can hear the apostles speaking to them in their own native languages. The “mighty” works of God mean the promise of redemption.
The disciples had never known or learned these languages. Their ability to proclaim the mighty works of God in different languages was a supernatural gift. This work of the Spirit pointed to the spread of the gospel throughout the earth, where every nation will hear the gospel in their native language. Also, it means all who believe will be united over the truth of Christ, and glorify God.
In verses 12 and 13 we see different responses to what is heard. Some wonder what this means while other jeered, “They are filled with new wine,” meaning they are drunk. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, will explain what it means and correct that assertion, beginning in verse 14.
But the reaction of men will always vary. Not all men dismiss the claims of the gospel of Christ as insane or the ramblings of drunk-like men. Some dismiss him in less cynical ways. Conversely, some will answer the question, “what can this mean?” with contrition and faith.
The response of wisdom is to say I trust in the Lord Jesus as Savior whom God has given. I believe in him, and rest on him, I accept him to be my all in all. We have heard the gospel in our own language by God’s grace. We should thank the Lord for his wondrous works that lead us to Christ.