Numbers 11:24–30; Joel 2:27–29; Acts 2:1–21 (read online ⧉)
Just in case you didn’t know, today is Pentecost. Some call it the “true” birth of the Church for the Holy Spirit fell upon the people of God, and has not left us yet. It is also called Whitsunday, of which part that is white (for purity) and the other is whit (Old English for wit, or wisdom).
It is not the case that Jesus left us bare. It is the case that Jesus left us with fire. The tongues of flame (whether in Numbers or Acts) were representative of the Holy Spirit and God’s word/speech being active. It is not coincidental that the tongues of flame seen on Pentecost were previously seen in Moses’ time.
Think of Moses’ words to Joshua in response to Joshua’s complaint that 2 elders who dishonored God and Moses spoke via the Holy Spirit, “If only all the LORD’s people were prophets and the LORD would place his Spirit on them!” This also goes hand-in-hand with Joel’s words, “I will pour out my Spirit on all humanity.”
In all likelihood, you have not seen some with tongues of fire over their heads. You may have witnessed—or been part of a tradition—where people spoke “in tongues”. Neither is required as evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a gift of God, and is God. Through the guidance (wisdom) of the Holy Spirit, we see the Scriptures for what they are…the Word of God.
This is not to say that the Holy Spirit was never present before, quite the contrary. What this means is that the presence of the Holy Spirit in the church is distinctly different than what is and was present outside of the church. Theologians still try to discern the whys and wherefores of the difference.
One of the biggest differences is that while the Holy Spirit was generally present (just as today), the Holy Spirit as expressed through prophets was unique to the calling of the prophets. The Pentecostal gift of the Holy Spirit was that all received the Holy Spirit expressly, not generally.
This does not mean that all are gifted with foretelling (often called prophesy) or Truth-telling (also called prophesy, or preaching). The Holy Spirit works in and through each person differently. Your gifting may be quite different than another’s, that does not invalidate either.
※ Prayer ※
Holy Spirit, we thank you for your ongoing gift of yourself to us. Help us to honor you, God the Father, and Jesus the Son, as we are the church, the bride of Christ, to the world. Amen.
※ Questions ※
1)How would you evaluate/discern whether someone was gifted by the Holy Spirit or by the natural talents they had? What is the difference?
2) Why is Moses’ story so important in the context of Pentecost? What about Joshua’s response?
3) Why do you think people thought the disciples of Jesus were drunk? What might their rationale be for how a drunk person would speak as if a native speaker of their own tongue(s)?