Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Morning

Piety, Study, Action

This morning we look at the 2nd Chapter of Acts.

At the time this narrative takes place, there were many Jews gathered in Jerusalem for the festival of Pentecost - the Feast of Weeks or the Feast of Harvest, celebrated on the 50th day after Passover - the primary harvest celebration of the ancient Israelites.  On the day of the feast, there came the sound of a strong, driving wind that all could hear. There appeared tongues of fire which came to rest on every person there, and, in verse 4, 'All were filled with the Holy Spirit.' Folks began speaking in languages not their own about 'the marvels God has accomplished' (v. 11).
Many asked one another what this could possibly mean, wondering if these folks were drunk!

This was Saint Peter's cue. He stood up, along with the Eleven, raised his voice, and addressed the crowd. He begins by quoting the prophet Joel's prediction of this time, when God will pour out His spirit on mankind, with wonders and marvelous signs. He said that Jesus the Nazorean was the Man God sent with miracles, signs, and wonders, working in the midst of the Jews. He continued that this Jesus was delivered 'by the set purpose and plan of God' (v. 23), using pagans to crucify Him. But God emancipated Him from death; death could not hold the Son of God. Next Peter quotes Psalm 16 where David, who knew one of his descendents would rule Israel, predicted His resurrection.
Next Peter describes this Jesus as 'Exalted at God's right hand' (v. 33), Who 'received the promised Holy Spirit from the Father, then poured this Spirit out on us.' (v. 33). Then Peter again quotes ancient Scripture, this time the Messianic Psalm 110:
The LORD said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.
Saint Peter concluded his discourse in verse 36: 'Therefore let the whole house of Israel know beyond any doubt that God has made both Lord and Messiah this Jesus whom you crucified. (To which, to-day, in my kitchen, I add a hearty Amen!)

The people at this point were 'deeply shaken' (v.37). Many translations render this 'cut to the heart'. They wanted to know what to do! Peter instructed each one of them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, that your sins may be forgiven.

That your sins may be forgiven

[This is huge for us, sitting comfortably in our warm homes with ESPN mindlessly droning in the background. But for God's people 2000 years ago, who didn't have the Bible, who didn't have 35,000 denominations advertising and soliciting, and who did not have centuries of church history tainting the person and mission of Christ Jesus, this was revolutionary!]

The text says Peter kept urging the people to repent. At the end of the day, 3000 of the gathered were baptized. Now flash back to the beginnings of  Hebrew History. Recently led out of slavery in Egypt by God and His Main Man Moses, the people were camped at Mt. Sinai, which Moses had climbed to talk to God.God tells Moses that there's no-good going on in the camp; Moses descends to find the people making rather merry and worshiping a gold idol they just made (which is what all the cool nations were doing at the time). Moses cried out, 'Whoever is for the LORD, come to me!!'. Those who chose God's side, we're told in Exodus 32, were then instructed to cut down with the sword those who did not. And 3000 people fell that day.

So much of our Old Testament reveals a great deal about what is to come in the New; the Jewish Feast of Pentecost is indeed a foreshadow of the coming of the Spirit, and the resulting harvest.

Come, Holy Spirit, and fill the hearts of the faithful
And kindle in us the fire of Your love
Send forth Your Spirit, and we shall be created,
And You shall renew the face of the earth.
Oh God, Who by the light of the Holy Spirit, instructs the hearts of the faithful,
Grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise
And ever rejoice in His consolations.
Through Christ our Lord,


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