Tongues of flame
In 2007, a British supermarket firm advertised its Easter eggs under the slogan 'celebrate the birth of Jesus'. If that sort of thing can happen, one has to wonder what they would make of Pentecost!
Before Jesus died, he promised his disciples that he would not leave them to face future challenges alone, but that he would send them 'another comforter'. Both of these words are significant: 'another' means one exactly like the first, and a 'comforter' is someone who is called alongside you to help you.
For the preceding three years, the disciples had Jesus with them to teach them, to set an example, and to encourage them. When he promised them another comforter, therefore, he meant that someone just like him would come to take his place. They would not be able to see this person, becomes he comes in the spirit and not the flesh, but he would come to everyone who puts their faith in Jesus.
Hundreds of years earlier, Joel (one of the Hebrew prophets) wrote of a time when God would pour out his Spirit on all people. Joel used very vivid language to describe an event which would be very special. And fifty days after Jesus' resurrection, that event took place. The disciples had done what Jesus asked them to do: to spend time waiting upon God in prayer and expectation. Suddenly, they heard a sound like a strong wind, and they saw tongues like fire alighting on each of the believers.
Then they began to speak in foreign languages that they had never learned! Something as special as Joel had foretold wasdefinitely taking place. They went out to the crowds of pilgrims visiting the city, and although these pilgrims came from foreign parts, each of them heard the disciples (who were speaking their own language, probably Aramaic) in their own tongues! So everyone was able to hear and understand the good news about Jesus. That very day, 3,000 people put their faith in God.
In the OT, we find that one of the important festivals the people were to observe was the feast of Pentecost, which occurred fifty days after another of their feasts, Passover (which, that year, happened to be the day on which Jesus shared the Last Supper, and was therefore the night before he died). Pentecost celebrated the gathering-in of the grain harvest, so it was very appropriate that a great 'harvest' of people should be gathered to faith that day.
We should realise that God wants us all to receive the Holy Spirit. Remember, the prophet Joel said that God would pour out his Spirit on all people, and that includes each of us who puts out faith in Jesus.
So how do we receive the Holy Spirit? We need to turn away from all that is wrong in our lives, to believe that Jesus died on the cross for our forgiveness, and to ask him into our lives. When he comes in, the Holy Spirit comes with him.
Look up Pentecost in Wikipedia
Look up the Pentecost Bible passage in Acts (NT)
Look up Joel's prophesy (OT)
Read more about Pentecost
Read the book You Will Receive Power: Cultivating a Spirit-Filled Life by Rob Jones
Read the book Azusa Street: Roots of Modern Day Pentecost by Frank Bartleman
Read the book
The Full Blessing of Pentecost: Your Greatest Need - The Spirit's Unlimited Supply by Andrew Murray
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