Pentecost Sounds: # 1

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Even though asleep or deep in thought, the ring of a phone like an alarm clock will wake us up. It might be our personal cell phone that is telling us that someone is calling us. We answer because we are sure that there's a message intended for us. We are generally disappointed if it is a telemarketer, a spam call, or a wrong number. We may be very annoyed.

There's a series of phone calls from heaven recorded in the New Testament. The first important one for us and the building of Christ's church is the phone call that was sounded on that momentous day of Pentecost fifty days after the resurrection of our Lord Jesus (Leviticus 23:15-16; Acts 2:1ff).

Just before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He commanded His twelve apostles to tarry in Jerusalem until they received power from Heaven. It was after the appointment of Judas' replacement; the twelve were together with one accord, possibly worshiping God in the Temple. Luke records that they "were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God" (Luke 24:53).

Jews from every nation under heaven were in Jerusalem for this Law of Moses' special feast day of harvest. Acts 2:1 specifically uses the Greek verb "sumpleroustai" which means that the feast "was being fulfilled." The celebration was in progress, and the expression may indicate it was the morning hours. It seems to have been a regular and quiet morning; at any rate, it was routine and things were going along as everyone would expect.

Then it happened. All of a sudden the celebration was interrupted by a phone call from Heaven. "Now when this was noised abroad (Greek: phoneG5456))" (verse 6).   Have you ever wondered what that call sounded like? What ringtone would get the attention of thousands of busy worshipers? It wasn't our common modern shrill ring or musical rendition.

"And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind ( ὡσηερ φερομἑνης ηνοἡς βιαὶας )" (verse 2a). I've been in a couple small tornadoes. The Reader's Digest had a feature article about the survival of my cousin in West Tennesse. Now that was a big and mighty tornado that sucked her out of her house. Was the sound heard by the multitude like that?

Vincent's Word Studies describes the Jerusalem's phone sound of God as "a blowing, a blast." It was a blast!   Darby in his translation notes thinks the connotation of "blast" is too sudden for the Greek word; he also points out that it is not "wind", but "blowing, as of hard breathing."   Was it a sound like the one at the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia on July 27 during the 1996 Summer Olympics that got everyone's attention? Was it a sound like an earthquake similar to the one before that game of the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics when fans were thrown from their seats at Candlestick Park as the Loma Prieta earthquake collapsed the Baby Bridge and burst the Marina into flames and shook the earth for fifteen seconds?

Whatever sound it was, it definitely got people's attention and curiosity. The resulting throng (plethos) poured together (sugcheo) in confusion. That is, instead of an organized assemblying, it was chaotic and disordered like a mob. It appears to be like someone crying "Fire" in a crowded building; however, instead of trying to disperse in all directions, they were heading to the site to see what it was. This was an opposite type of reaction. There's no indication that anyone was injured.

What makes people head toward unusual happenings like the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD? At that time some like Pliny the Elder headed to Pompeii from a scientific curiosity. Pliny had never seen such a marvel as a volcano blow before and he wanted to see it up close. Unfortunately he did not return.

The apostles had this opportunity given by God to speak to these thousands of people. They spoke to them in their individual native speech. It was such a novelty to the hearers that they were amazed and marvelled not only at the apostles' speech but at the message as well. It was a phone call for them and it was from God. Indirectly it's a phone call for us as well.

There are at least three Greek words for sounds given in Acts 2 that help us to appreciate God's message from this phone call. I'll consider them in the next three lessons. They are important because the words help us to understand the miracle of the Pentecost.

Application. The next major phone call from Heaven will be for us individually. Jesus is returning and shall descend from Heaven with the exciting cry of His phone of the archangel (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Even those of us who pass on will not miss this phone call. It will be for everyone living and dead.

For, "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His "phone call," And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation" (John 5:28,29).

- Gaylon West

revised 2/20/2014

Throw Out the Lifeline

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Throw Out the Lifeline