A TRANSFORMING FIRE
“Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me! Break me, melt me, mould me, fill me! Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me” (Daniel Iverson, 1890–1977).
Read ACTS 2:1–13
The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost
2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
What would you have thought if you were a visitor to Jerusalem that fateful day? Would you have believed, silently doubted, openly mocked or tried to forget it all?
Fire in Scripture has several meanings and significances. It is used most commonly to describe the coming of judgment or punishment. We saw in Jeremiah 5:14 the prophet acting as a destructive fire. It is also used to signify cleansing and purification but more importantly as a symbol of the presence of God—as in the pillar of fire in the wilderness or the vision of the likeness of God’s glory.
On the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the church, tongues of fire descend and “came to rest on each of them” (3). It is likely that, as on many other occasions, the group is larger than the
twelve, although it is clearly they who take the lead when they approach the crowd outside. This fire signifies both anointing, that is, the setting apart of God’s people for a special task, and transforming, as in the changing of lives made possible by the coming and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. After this day, nothing will be the same for the disciples or the world!
The mostly Jewish crowd from every corner of the known world speaks a vast range of languages. Each one hears the message in his or her own language. This curious phenomenon convinces them that something special is happening but also provides a potent symbol of God’s sovereignty over, and concern for, all present at the feast. It is noteworthy that the disciples’ immediate response to the Spirit’s coming is to stop sitting in the house and go outside and speak to the people. Pentecost challenges us to remember not only that God understands our culture and speaks our language, but also that he calls us to speak out to those of other cultures and languages.
How clearly can you hear the Holy Spirit speak to you in your own language?
Lord, give me a deeper appreciation of the work of Your Holy Spirit. “Fall fresh on me.”