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Week 3 June 2024, Devotion Part 1

These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also…      Acts 17:6

Make no mistake, the “light bulb” that came on at Pentecost was an incendiary device. The tongues of fire resting on each disciple sparked the unrest of an uncontainable global wildfire. That is why the church cannot be an inflated body of light, ceremoniously suspended above secular life like a Goodyear blimp, advertising an air of institutional self-importance.

On Pentecost God set fire to our couch of homey comfort on which we grandly reclined and popped platitudes in our mouth, spitting tiny seeds of truth to the random world at our window. The Holy Spirit galvanizes intellect into action and fires the will of the weak-but-willing to move as one formidable Christ into those very places where we step on toes and topple our image as a gleaming monument to the past.  (Part 1 of 2)

Comment: The word Pentecost is of Greek origin and means “fiftieth.”  The Jewish feast of “Shavuot” predates our celebration – fifty days after Easter – by some 3,500 years according to Leviticus 23:15-16 and Exodus 19:12-25.  Israel’s feast of Pentecost was also known as the “Feast of Weeks.”  At first it was primarily a harvest festival of thanksgiving, dedicating to Yahweh the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, but later became associated also with the giving of the Law by God to Moses on Mount Sinai.  The feast of Shavuot required Jewish men to celebrate it in Jerusalem, and good spring weather must have been another incentive for such an arduous pilgrimage from even the far reaches of the then known world.

I had always liked to think of Pentecost as a harvest festival, what with Jesus, the Bread of Life broken for us (John 6:35), bringing forth the firstfruits of His people redeemed from the curse of sin and death.  Paul alluded to our factual resurrection when he wrote in Romans 8:23, “We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”  An exultant Apostle wrote in Ephesians 1:13-14 that at the very moment of our salvation we are sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit, “who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”

Paradoxically, I’m beginning to be truly awestruck by the Pentecost connection revealed in Exodus.  Moses knows that God will speak through him to Israel, descending on Mount Sinai with fire so intense that the whole mountain will tremble violently.  He warns his charges of blundering even into the vicinity of it before the appointed day.  Purification and consecration will safeguard them against death by stoning or piercing arrows.  “No hand could be laid on them” (Exodus 19:12-25). Fast forward to the Pentecost ten days after Jesus’ ascension, and be blown away by God’s condescension in sending tongues of fire on the disciples. Their tongues would ignite a powerful Grace Revolution across the globe, and safely attract seekers to Calvary, the mountain of God in Jerusalem.  If that historic “violent wind” shakes us out of our lackluster comfort zone, so be it.


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