THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ATTESTED BY SIGN MIRACLES IMPACTS THE WHOLE WORLD WITH THE SUPERNATURAL PROCLAMATION OF GOD’S MIGHTY DEEDS
As we continue this week to reflect on the miracle of Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit in great power – I want to focus on the greatness of our God. Often we are so self-absorbed with our own set of problems and what we want God to do for us in our situation that we lose sight of the greatness of God and what He wants to accomplish on a grand scale. His purposes are not limited to my personal needs. His purposes are not limited to Solid Rock Community Church and its struggles. His purposes are not limited to the United States of America and its moral deficiencies. His purposes are not limited to any one race of people. The Great Commission reflects God’s worldwide scope of kingdom expansion. If we are going to be in tune with the heart of God we must have a heart for worldwide missions.
How Great is God in your thinking? Are you overwhelmed with a sense of awe and amazement at His providential workings as He carries out His grand scheme in history? Does your heart overflow with a good theme – with worship and praise to your God? Are we filled with the Holy Spirit today in the sense of Ephes 5:19 “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.”
Last week – Part 1: (:1-4)
(:1) THE SETTING
I. (:2-4) THE EXPERIENCE OF THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN POWER
A. The Experience Was Startling
B. The Experience Was Impressive and Powerful – 2 Key Symbols: Wind / Tongues of Fire
C. The Experience Was Personally and Profoundly Life Changing
D. The Experience Was Impactful on Others
God in His greatness is doing something huge at Pentecost
This week – Part 2: (:5-13)
II. (:5-13) THE EXPLANATION BY THE ASSEMBLED CROWD OF FOREIGN JEWS
[Next week – God’s own explanation through His spokesman Peter]
Simple outline – Who, What, Where, Why , When, How (not necessarily in that order) – but dissect this spectacular event like an investigative reporter – Imagine that you are at the scene, circulating among the crowd, interviewing people, Asking the basic questions – First:
A. Who Heard This Phenomenon of Speaking in Tongues?
1. Speaking in Tongues was Directed to a Jewish Audience
“Now there were Jews” — talked about the Feast context last week
City was filled to overflowing; no vacancies; tents and temporary dwellings set up everywhere; people entertaining out of town visitors; hustle and bustle of a lot of activity; Jerusalem was a happening place
Sign of judgment to unbelieving Israel – 1 Cor. 14:21,22 – God is switching gears in His kingdom focus and now bringing this kingdom message to the world instead of working exclusively through the Jewish nation. Represents a huge transition.
MacArthur: Upon hearing the apostles speaking in known foreign languages the Jews should have known that the judgment prophesied and historically fulfilled first by the Assyrians and then by the Babylonian captivity was about to fall on them again for their rejection of Christ, including the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70) as it had happened in 586 B.C. under Babylonian power. . . The blessing of that sign was that God would build a new nation of Jews and Gentiles to be His people (Gal. 3:28) to make Israel jealous and someday repent (see Ro 11:11, 12, 25-27).
2. Living in Jerusalem – at least staying there for the important annual feast
“living in Jerusalem,”
Stedman: Josephus, the Jewish historian who lived at this time, tells us that oftentimes the city of Jerusalem (which normally had a population of 150,000) would be swollen in numbers to well over a million. The city was packed and the suburbs were filled, and out on the hillsides were many camps of pilgrims.
3. Devout in their Devotion to God – faithful Israelites – not yet believers in Christ
many of them trapped in a sense of self righteousness like the Pharisees of Christ’s time; but very religious
4. Representatives of Every Nation
“from every nation under heaven.”
This sign miracle could be viewed as a reversal of the judgment that took place at the Tower of Babel. Remember the Lord’s worldwide charge to Noah after the flood: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Instead the people in pride determined to make a great name for themselves and resist being scattered over the face of the earth. The multiplication of languages facilitated God’s worldwide mission.
Wiersbe: Pentecost was a reversal of the judgment at the Tower of Babel when God confused man’s language (Gen. 11:1-9). God’s judgment at Babel scattered the people, but God’s blessings at Pentecost united the believers in the Spirit. At Babel, the people were unable to understand each other, but at Pentecost, men heard God’s praises and understood what was said. The Tower of Babel was a scheme designed to praise men and make a name for men, but Pentecost brought praise to God. The building of Babel was an act of rebellion, but Pentecost was a ministry of humble submission to God. What a contrast!
B. Where and Why Did They Happen to Hear?
“And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together,”
God got their attention; stimulated their curiosity; gathered them together;
This was a big-time event; Set the stage for initial sermon by Peter
Does God have your attention? He uses a variety of means to get our attention:
– Trials, difficulties, hardships, pressures
– Humbling us in a variety of ways so we need to seek His face
Sometimes it is a lot less painful to just pay attention to God rather than force Him to go to extra lengths to get our attention
C. What Did They Hear? A Message from God about His Greatness in their Native Language
(not some unintelligible language of angels or ecstatic utterances)
Message that was relevant to them and accessible to them
1. The Communication Via Known Foreign Languages
“because they were each one hearing them speak in his own language.”
“saying, ‘Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—”
“we hear them speaking in our own tongues’”
Word from which we get “dialect” in the English
MacArthur: Galileans – inhabitants of the mostly rural area of northern Israel around the Sea of Galilee. Galilean Jews spoke with a distinct regional accent and were considered to be unsophisticated and uneducated by the southern Judean Jews. When Galileans were seen to be speaking so many different languages, the Judean Jews were astonished. . . The listing of specific countries and ethnic groups proves again that these utterances were known human languages.
2. The Content of the Speaking in Tongues? Very important!
“of the mighty deeds of God.”
Nothing small about our God – But does this mighty God intervene in our lives here on earth?
You bet He does!
Reflect on the Mighty Deeds of God:
– Mighty deeds of Creation – the heavens declare the glory of God … 7 Wonders of the ancient world pale in comparison to God’s mighty deeds
Great Pyramid of Giza
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus
Colossus of Rhodes
Lighthouse of Alexandria
– Mighty deeds of Forming me in all of my uniqueness – I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well. – Ps. 139:14
– Mighty deeds of His New Creation – 2 Cor 5:17 “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
– Mighty deeds of Judgment – Tower of Babel and Noah’s Flood
– Mighty deeds of His dealings with His covenant People – Nation of Israel
– Mighty deeds of the Giving of His Law – revelation to guide His people
– Mighty deeds of the coming of the promised Messiah – His incarnation by virgin birth
– Mighty deeds of Christ accomplished during His earthly ministry
– Mighty deeds of His death and resurrection and ascension
– Mighty deeds continuing now by the Holy Spirit as recorded in this Book of Acts
Reflect on the Greatness of our Lord Jesus Christ:
– As a Great Light to the nations who were in darkness – Matt. 4:16
o Are you walking in light or in darkness?
– As the Great Shepherd (Heb 13:20) who loves and tenderly cares for His sheep
o Are you trusting Him as your Shepherd?
– As the Great Physician (Mark 2:17)who heals all of our spiritual diseases
o Do you turn to Him for healing and restoration?
– As a Great Prophet (Luke 7:16) – come down from heaven to communicate the message of God
o Are you listening to the Word of God and obeying it?
– As our Great High Priest (Heb. 10:21)who sympathizes with our weaknesses and represents us to God; our Advocate; our Mediator; the one who is our Propitiation – satisfying God by paying the penalty for our sins as the Great Lamb of God
o Are you drawing near to God through the great high priest who sits at the right hand of God the Father?
– As our Great King (Matt. 5:35) who will come again to rule in majesty and dominion over all the earth and the people of every nation
o Is your life submitted to this great king?
– As our Great God and blessed hope – Titus 2:13 “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus”
o Are you living in holiness in anticipation and expectation of the return of Jesus Christ?
What is our response:
Psalm 71:19 “For Thy righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens, Thou who hast done great things; O God, who is like Thee? “
Psalm 145:3 “God is great and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable”
Psalm 150:2 “Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. “
Mary’s song of praise – Luke 1:46-55 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me”
Is this our testimony??
Song of Moses – repeated at the end of the age – Rev 15:3-4
“And they sang the song of Moses the bond-servant of God and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and marvelous are Thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the nations. Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; For all the nations will come and worship before Thee, For Thy righteous acts have been revealed.’”
D. How Did They React?
1. Emotionally? How did it make them feel?
“and were bewildered,”
“And they were amazed and marveled”
“And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity,”
Stedman: Notice the reaction Dr. Luke records of this crowd. There are, first, two words he uses for astonishment — they were amazed and bewildered. Twice he indicates that they were amazed. The word in Greek is a word that means literally, “to push out of their senses.” It is exactly what we say when we use the modern phrase, “they blew their minds.” That is exactly what he said. It blew their minds as they heard this phenomenon occurring. And linked with that, Luke says, they were bewildered. Now the word is not quite accurately translated here. It is really a word which means they were “hit hard, stunned.” They were staggered by this amazing thing. They heard these Galilean peasants speaking these languages and they were staggered by it, especially since they easily recognized the languages they were speaking.
Then we have two more words that indicate puzzlement: They wondered, and they were perplexed. Those are suggestive words. “Wondered” means they sought for a solution. They began to ask themselves, what is behind all this. They began to think through, why does this occur? The second word means literally, “thoughts running through their minds.” They were perplexed, they had various thoughts running through their minds. That in turn gave way to two expressions that are recorded of this crowd which are very interesting to note. They indicate the two divisions that always occur when something is suddenly sprung on people. When the human mind is confronted with the new thing it reacts in one of two ways, as in this case.
First, they said to one another, “What does this mean?” i.e., they began to inquire, What is behind this? What is the purpose of it? Why does this occur? That represents the group of open minds that are always ready to investigate further before coming to a conclusion. But there was another group who immediately dismissed the phenomenon with the infantile reaction of mockery, ridicule. They looked at the disciples and said, “Yes, they’re drunk! That explains it. They’ve been getting into the new wine.” Thus they dismissed it with ridicule. All this sets the stage for Peter’s explanation, and, in the next few verses, we have a wonderful message delivered by the apostle on this occasion. . .
2. Intellectually? How Did They Interpret the Phenomena?
a. Confusion / Ignorance / Searching / Inquiring – No reasonable explanation
“saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’”
b. Mocking / Dismissing – Trying to dismiss what they could not explain
“But others were mocking and saying, ‘They are full of sweet wine.’”
Lenski: The great bulk of the hearers were sensible; they stopped with their question, gave no hasty answer, were willing to wait for the true and satisfactory answer. They were in the presence of a great miracle that transcended all reason and all experience and deeply felt the effect of it.
It was a vision of the Greatness of God that awoke the great Princeton theologian Jonathan Edwards from spiritual lethargy:
Jonathan Edwards was suddenly converted, as by a flash of light, in the moment of reading a single verse of the New Testament. He was at home in his father’s house: some hindrances kept him from going to church one Sunday with the family. A couple of hours with nothing to do sent him listlessly into the library: the sight of a dull volume with no title on the leather back of it piqued curiosity as to what it could be: he opened it at random and found it to be a Bible: and then his eye caught this verse: “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever, Amen!”
He tells us in his journal that the immediate effect of it was awakening and alarming to his soul: for it brought him a most novel and most extensive thought of the vastness and majesty of the true Sovereign of the universe. Out of this grew the pain of guilt for having resisted such as a Monarch so long, and for having served Him so poorly. And whereas he had hitherto had slight notions of his own wickedness and very little poignancy of acute remorse, now he felt the deepest contrition. – C. H. Robinson
Next week we will see that Peter’s sermon had this same effect on multitudes of the Jews – piercing their hearts and confronting them with their lost condition – opening the door for him to testify to the grace gift of salvation from this perverse generation through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s never lose sight of the greatness of our God.