Wasn’t last week awesome? I have been asking for more of the Spirit. This coming Sunday (May 19) we will celebrate Pentecost. I hope you have been praying for a refreshment of the Pentecost miracle in your own lives and in the life of our church!
Reading Acts 1 and 2, it has often been assumed that Pentecost took place in the “Upper Room” which is clearly mentioned in Acts Chapter 1. It is where the group of 120 met for prayer. Notice the number 120 is highly meaningful – a quorum of 10 was required for synagogue worship – so think of Jesus planting a worship gathering in each Tribe. It is still a very important number in Israel – the Knesset has 120 seats!
However, looking at the text of Chapter 2 more closely opens up another possibility for the location of Pentecost that is very exciting. Pentecost was the Feast that marked the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai, fifty days after the Passover. On that first Pentecost, the people worshipped the golden calf and there were 3000 people killed that day.
This time, there were thousands of people in Jerusalem. It was one of the three feasts that required a pilgrimage to the Temple. The Temple and sometimes the Temple Mount complex were both known to Jews as “The House”. At the feast, since the daily sacrifices would be offered at 9 am and 3 pm, everyone would be at “the house”.
When Peter mentions that the miracle of the tongues was not due to alcohol, he says that it is only “nine o’clock in the morning”. Every devout Jew would be at the Temple at this time!! Also, there were hundreds of ceremonial baths (Mikveh) in the Temple area because everyone ascending into “The House” had to first be ritually clean.
So imagine the scene, on the Temple Mount, when God released the Holy Spirit. Thousands witnessed the event as the 120 are filled with the Spirit and tongues of fire come to rest on their heads. Think Burning Bush on your head! The gift of tongues reversed the curse of confusion at the Tower of Babel, and the Gospel was made clear instantly to the whole Roman world.
It was an amazing moment in the Story, when God changed his address – moving from the Holy of Holies inside the Temple into human “jars of clay” – the bodies of sinners like you and me! (See 2 Corinthians 3&4)
By doing this in broad daylight on the Temple’s huge outer courts, God would have a ready-made audience for Peter to stand up and give his first sermon. Much less likely from inside a crowded Upper Room in a residential area of the city.
Unlike the giving of the Law, which brought death to 3000, the giving of the Spirit brought eternal life for 3000. (See 2 Corinthians 3:6) And of course, with hundreds of Mikveh’s nearby, it would be easy to baptise 3000 people in a short period of time.
I share this not to give you lots of historical detail, but to help you see the beauty and awesome spectacle of this event, so that you would recognize that this was not just a limited outbreak for a chosen few (well the tongues of fire were pretty awesome – they do not seem to have been repeated for everyone…)
But the Holy Spirit will be given freely and lavishly to all who ask, seek and knock (Luke 11:1-13). Will you stop and ask now for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in your life? Will you also join in prayer for the same outpouring over us when we meet Sunday?
Living and Loving in Jesus with you,