When we gathered on Pentecost Sunday I wanted to go over some of the threads of Scripture that come together in the Acts 2 account of Pentecost.
One thread that pertains to receiving the Holy Spirit comes from Jeremiah 31:31-34. Jeremiah predicts a time when God will form a new covenant with all of Israel and Judah (ending the division of the kingdom). This covenant would be different than the one that was entered into after God led the children of Israel out of Egypt in certain ways.
For one thing, rather than God writing his law on tablets of stone to be contained in a special box in the Tabernacle or Temple, the law would be “written on their hearts.” This “inward law” would make them God’s people, and the LORD would once again be their God.
A second characteristic of this “new covenant” would be that each individual would personally “know the LORD.” In other words each person would have, a personal relationship with the God of Israel.
A third different characteristic mentioned by Jeremiah about this covenant is that it would include forgiveness of sin, even to the point of God “forgetting” it. In the previous covenant, sin had to be “propitiated” or “atoned for” each time by a sacrifice. Forgiveness is different from propitiation.
We will see how these three apply in the Acts 2:1-21.
Another passage that bears on Pentecost is one that Peter quotes to justify their speaking in tongues: Joel 2:28-32. Peter notes that their speech is directly related to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit promised by Joel. We are told that there were about 120 believers in Acts 1. Presumably gathered on the day of Pentecost with the Apostles in Acts 2 there were also the women who are mentioned in various places in the Gospels. The women would also have been speaking in tongues with the rest. Just in case this is not convincing we note that Philip later has four daughters who are prophets (Acts 21:9), definitely fulfilling that prophecy.
Other characteristics of this time include blood, the sun going dark, and the moon becoming like blood, While we are not told about what the moon looked like on the day Jesus died, we do know that blood and darkness characterized Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice.
Another characteristic of Joel’s “Day of the Lord” prophecy is an offer of universal salvation. “All who call on the name of the LORD will be saved” is the This is exactly what Peter is offering in his Pentecost sermon, as you read in Acts 2:36-41.
Yet another thread involves a reversal of the Tower of Babel incident in Genesis 11:1-9. Many of the nations mentioned in the story are mentioned in Acts 2:9-11 as understanding the supernatural speech.
The gift of the Spirit is very important in the lives of the believers. The Apostle Paul will later write that the Spirit is what makes us children of God and heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14-17). No wonder Joel and Peter make such a big deal about the indwelling of God’s Spirit. How can you be a child of God and heir with Jesus if you don’t “know the Lord?”
Jesus tells his disciples that when he leaves he will send “another comforter” who will teach them “all things” (John 14:8-17, 25-27). “Knowing the Lord” would not be a problem for followers of Jesus.
The gospel of Jesus Christ fulfills the conditions of the new covenant as taught by Jeremiah. Repentance and belief in Jesus as Saviour and Lord, baptism in his name and receiving the Holy Spirit puts God’s law (teaching) directly into their minds, forgives sins and turns sinners into God’s people and therefore God becomes their God.