Thursday night this week started the festival of Shavu’ot. It was originally a 1-day feast, which would have been celebrated from Thursday night to Friday night this week, but, later, an extra day was added (today) to encompass those of us who are far from Jerusalem. You can read more about this feast in Leviticus 23:15-21 and Deuteronomy 16:9-12.
Since we are celebrating Shavu’ot, I want to talk about a very special Shavu’ot in history. We will find this story in Acts 2.
Acts 2:1 The festival of Shavu‘ot arrived, and the believers all gathered together in one place.
So this was a day much like today. In this same festival. With believers gathered together.
Acts2:2 Suddenly there came a sound from the sky like the roar of a violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Have you ever heard a strong wind like that? A wind that was so powerful that it roared around your house?
Acts2:3 Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire, which separated and came to rest on each one of them. 4 They were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh and began to talk in different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak.
The Ruach HaKodesh is the Holy Spirit of God. His coming was part of the plan and had been foretold by prophets, as we will see as we read on.
Acts2:5 Now there were staying in Yerushalayim religious Jews from every nation under heaven.
Why were there religious Jews, from every nation under heaven, there in Jerusalem that day? Because it was Shavu’ot. There are three Feasts that required the people of Israel to travel to Jerusalem, and this is one of them. So, based on instructions given to Moshe (Moses) so many generations before, Jews from every nation were gathered in Jerusalem for this day when the Ruach HaKodesh was poured out.
Acts 2:6 When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered; they were confused, because each one heard the believers speaking in his own language. 7 Totally amazed, they asked, “How is this possible? Aren’t all these people who are speaking from the Galil? 8 How is it that we hear them speaking in our native languages? 9 We are Parthians, Medes, Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Y’hudah, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome; 11 Jews by birth and proselytes; Jews from Crete and from Arabia. . . ! How is it that we hear them speaking in our own languages about the great things God has done?” 12 Amazed and confused, they all went on asking each other, “What can this mean?” 13 But others made fun of them and said, “They’ve just had too much wine!”
That is amazing, isn’t it? A bunch of Galileans were glorifying G-d, telling of the great things He had done. The Ruach HaKodesh enabled them to talk in different languages, and it was heard in native languages from all these different places!
I have always loved the fact that, when the Ruach HaKodesh gave them the words to speak, those words were talking about the great things G-d has done. If you look in other places in Acts, you will see the sorts of things that Ruach HaKodesh gives us to speak – to glorify G-d, to give thanks well, to speak G-d’s message with boldness, to give wisdom/warning/instruction, to testify that Yeshua is Lord, and to pray well. No wonder Yeshua said that the Ruach HaKodesh was a good gift (Luke 11:11-13)!
And now, just as everyone is wondering why these Galileans are testifying in other tongues and what this means, Kefa (Simon Peter) stands up and explains:
Acts 2:14 Then Kefa stood up with the Eleven and raised his voice to address them: “You Judeans, and all of you staying here in Yerushalayim! Let me tell you what this means! Listen carefully to me!
15 “These people aren’t drunk, as you suppose — it’s only nine in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken about through the prophet Yo’el:
17 ‘Adonai says:
“In the Last Days,
I will pour out from my Spirit upon everyone.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my slaves, both men and women,
will I pour out from my Spirit in those days;
and they will prophesy.
19 I will perform miracles in the sky above
and signs on the earth below —
blood, fire and thick smoke.
20 The sun will become dark
and the moon blood
before the great and fearful Day of Adonai comes.
21 And then, whoever calls on the name of Adonai will be saved.”’[a]
22 “Men of Isra’el! Listen to this! Yeshua from Natzeret was a man demonstrated to you to have been from God by the powerful works, miracles and signs that God performed through him in your presence. You yourselves know this. 23 This man was arrested in accordance with God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge; and, through the agency of persons not bound by the Torah, you nailed him up on a stake and killed him!
24 “But God has raised him up and freed him from the suffering of death; it was impossible that death could keep its hold on him. 25 For David says this about him:
‘I saw Adonai always before me,
for he is at my right hand,
so that I will not be shaken.
26 For this reason, my heart was glad;
and my tongue rejoiced;
and now my body too will live on in the certain hope
27 that you will not abandon me to Sh’ol
or let your Holy One see decay.
28 You have made known to me the ways of life;
you will fill me with joy by your presence.’[b]
29 “Brothers, I know I can say to you frankly that the patriarch David died and was buried — his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him that one of his descendants would sit on his throne, 31 he was speaking in advance about the resurrection of the Messiah, that it was he who was not abandoned in Sh’ol and whose flesh did not see decay. 32 God raised up this Yeshua! And we are all witnesses of it!
33 “Moreover, he has been exalted to the right hand of God; has received from the Father what he promised, namely, the Ruach HaKodesh; and has poured out this gift, which you are both seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into heaven. But he says,
35 ‘Adonai said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’[c]
36 Therefore, let the whole house of Isra’el know beyond doubt that God has made him both Lord and Messiah — this Yeshua, whom you executed on a stake!”
On hearing this, the people had a chance to choose how to respond.
Acts2:37 On hearing this, they were stung in their hearts; and they said to Kefa and the other emissaries, “Brothers, what should we do?”
Would you respond like this? If you found that you had been wrong, that in your attempts to follow G-d (or in pursuit of your own goals), you had gotten yourself crosswise with G-d, would you seek wholeheartedly to make it right? Even if it meant changing your ways?
Acts 2:38 Kefa answered them, “Turn from sin, return to God, and each of you be immersed on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah into forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh! 39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for those far away — as many as Adonai our God may call!”
I love that last verse. The promise is for you. It is for future generations. It is for people who are far away. It is a promise. It is part of His plan. And it is for me.
Acts 2:40 He pressed his case with many other arguments and kept pleading with them, “Save yourselves from this perverse generation!”
41 So those who accepted what he said were immersed, and there were added to the group that day about three thousand people.
42 They continued faithfully in the teaching of the emissaries, in fellowship, in breaking bread and in the prayers. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many miracles and signs took place through the emissaries. 44 All those trusting in Yeshua stayed together and had everything in common; 45 in fact, they sold their property and possessions and distributed the proceeds to all who were in need. 46 Continuing faithfully and with singleness of purpose to meet in the Temple courts daily, and breaking bread in their several homes, they shared their food in joy and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having the respect of all the people. And day after day the Lord kept adding to them those who were being saved.
Somewhere along the way, I think we have slowed down and gotten complacent. I think we have forgotten to spread the Word to every person across the whole world, and we’ve traded the rushing, mighty wind for something as soft and tickling as a whisper.
But maybe I’m wrong. If you are walking with Him, doing things in His timing, not holding back when He tells you to move or to speak, and your life is bearing fruit like the Messiah and his disciples, then may you continue to prosper in everything you set your hands to. I am glad that you are here and that you are allowing Him to work through you. Thank you!
Maybe you are doing well, following the things that you know how to do, but scared to follow G-d into things that are new or strange to you. Fear is not from Him (2 Timothy 1:7), and the Spirit He gave us is here with the boldness we need. Timidity is not righteous. I encourage you to seek G-d and study His Word. See what is right. See the path that He puts before us. And follow Him. It doesn’t come from your own strength anyway – trust Him! He has good things for you!
And perhaps, you are not doing well. Perhaps you find yourself in opposition to G-d. You picked a path and you find yourself on the wrong side of the fence — with the G-d who made heavens and earth NOT on your side. What then? Don’t despair – we’ve all found ourselves on the wrong side at some point in our lives – maybe more than once. But we do just as Kefa told the others in this chapter to do. Turn from sin, return to G-d, be baptized on the authority of Yeshua into forgiveness of your sins, and receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh. For the promise is for you, too, if you will come and follow Him.
15 “‘From the day after the day of rest — that is, from the day you bring the sheaf for waving — you are to count seven full weeks, 16 until the day after the seventh week; you are to count fifty days; and then you are to present a new grain offering to Adonai. 17 You must bring bread from your homes for waving — two loaves made with one gallon of fine flour, baked with leaven — as firstfruits for Adonai. 18 Along with the bread, present seven lambs without defect one year old, one young bull and two rams; these will be a burnt offering for Adonai, with their grain and drink offerings, an offering made by fire as a fragrant aroma for Adonai. 19 Offer one male goat as a sin offering and two male lambs one year old as a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20 The cohen will wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before Adonai, with the two lambs; these will be holy for Adonai for the cohen. 21 On the same day, you are to call a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work; this is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live.
9 “You are to count seven weeks; you are to begin counting seven weeks from the time you first put your sickle to the standing grain. 10 You are to observe the festival of Shavu‘ot [weeks] for Adonai your God with a voluntary offering, which you are to give in accordance with the degree to which Adonai your God has prospered you. 11 You are to rejoice in the presence of Adonai your God — you, your sons and daughters, your male and female slaves, the L’vi’im living in your towns, and the foreigners, orphans and widows living among you — in the place where Adonai your God will choose to have his name live. 12 Remember that you were a slave in Egypt; then you will keep and obey these laws.