The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
The miraculous sign in Acts 2:1-4 was certainly unforgettable. We don’t know exactly where the disciples were in Jerusalem. The fairly large number and the reactions of others suggests maybe the weren’t in the upper room where they had been assembling. The Scripture also places the Christians in the temple at times. It seems they were in some sort of a building, rather than outside.
A sound of a mighty wind arrived. But there is no mention of the sensation of wind. Tongues like fire were sitting on them. There is no mention of burning. It is an appearance, not fire. But certainly the idea of a wind blowing away chaff into a fire to do away with impurities is front and center here.
The disciples were all filled iwth the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues. This is the kind of sign which many will seek. It has gained in popularity and attention in the past hundred years or so. Christians wish to have some sort of sign that the Holy Spirit is working in them and making them holy. So they will seek after a filling of the Holy Spirit, especially with an evidence such as speaking in tongues.
We read about such a filling with the Holy Spirit relatively rarely in Scripture. There are some instances of the Holy Spirit being given and a mention of a sign, but no indication of what the sign was. There are some instances when the Holy Sirit comes upon people and they speak in tongues. Yet the whole idea of ecstatic speaking in different languages is a difficult one. In practice, many congregations attempt to engage in ecstatic speech but it is not a recognizable language. As we find when we read on from this passage, the things the disciples say are understood by the people around them, who come from different language groups.
What could be at the center of this passage? God is showing his presence. He is doing something to get the attention of his disciples and then of others around them. He makes a loud noise and lets the people see a sign which would be easily associated with holiness. Then the people start speaking in a way which is understood by those around them. When we read on we see that they are proclaiming God’s glories. This is the content of our evangelism.
The God of the Bible is active in this world. He wishes people to know him and see that he is the great, mighty, and glorious redeemer. In our evangelistic efforts we strive to proclaim this truth.
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