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- Have you ever traveled where you did not speak the language?
- What happened?
Encounter the Word
Read Acts 2:1-13.
- Why do you think that God waited until Pentecost, a Jewish harvest festival (Deuteronomy 16:9-10) to give the gift of the Holy Spirit?
- How far have these pilgrims come?
Find a map of the places listed and note where they are. Remember that these travelers are all Jewish worshippers who have walked 20 miles a day (at the most) to get to Jerusalem.
Back to that opening question — last summer my husband and I had the opportunity to take a Mediterranean cruise which meant, among other things, that we landed in many countries where we could neither understand the people nor communicate with them. Now, when I actually wanted to purchase something, they made sure that I could do that, but in other circumstances, we relied on poorly written signs and guidebooks and Google Translate when I had phone service (that’s another story).
There is a kind of romance or excitement in being in a strange place and hearing strange sounds (think the Grand Canyon during tourist season), but what if you really needed to know or understand something? Or, in Peter’s case, if you really wanted to communicate something?
- Would you respond more like the people in verse 12 or verse 13? Why?
What we see and hear often depends upon our point of view. Some of Jesus’ early critics charged that he was a glutton and a drunkard who partied with sinners, and other undesirables (read Luke 7:34). Their bias made them confuse holy joy for public drunkenness. Those same charges were leveled against Jesus’ disciples in this passage from Acts 2.
Connect with God’s Story
Read John 7:37-39. Every day during this festival of the Feast of Tabernacles, water would be poured out with a prayer for God to send rain in the late autumn, and as a symbol of thanks for God’s provision. The final day, called “the great day” was the climax of the festival, when the ceremony was repeated seven times. Water was poured over the altar as Levites sang Isaiah 12:3 (read Zechariah 14:8).
- What do you think that Jesus is talking about in this passage?
*For an extra connection, read Ezekiel 47:1-11 and think about how this vision was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost.*
Engage with the Kingdom
This passage in Acts where God sends the blessing of communication through the miracle of foreign languages is a wonderful “answer” to the chaos and confusion of Genesis 11, where we read the story of Babel. It is a powerful story of opposites.
Let’s compare those two passages:
- Whole world had one language
- Moving eastward (progress?)
- “Let us build ourselves . . .”
- “. . . make a name for ourselves . . .”
- Lord came down to see the city and the tower
- God: these people are trouble — let’s confuse them
- They were scattered
- They stopped building
Jerusalem at Pentecost
Read each of the descriptions from the “Babel” list and write down what happened in Acts 2:1-21:
- What was the end result of the story of the Tower of Babel?
- What was the end result of the story in Acts 2:1-21?
What resulted after Babel was worldwide competition and hatred and violence. What God desires to be the result of the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is a complete reversal of all that.
So . . . you knew I was going to ask this . . . what will YOU do about this passage? How does God’s personal, dramatic invitation to a holy burning impact you? What in your life needs to be burned up to make room for God making something new? If it had not been for Pentecost, is it likely that we would ever have heard the Good News of God?
The fire of Pentecost was a symbol of holiness that burns up the things in our lives that need to make room for more of . . .
List 3 things that you can “leave behind” in order to make room for time for God…