EDITOR’S NOTE: This groundbreaking series is being offered in celebration of a previously top-secret project and now unprecedented new 3-Volume book series (over 10-years in the making) from best-selling scholar Dr. Thomas Horn and acclaimed biblical history and theology majors Donna Howell and Allie Anderson: THE MYSTERY OF JESUS FROM GENESIS TO REVELATION—YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW
To sum up what we’ve looked at so far: The account of the thunder and “fire tongues” moment in Exodus detailed in the last entry never actually mentions thunder at all. The Israelites “saw a voice,” and it was the one and only powerful voice of God. How they “saw” a sound has yet to be addressed. Then, we stopped to reflect upon another fact: The lightning they witnessed was never lightning, but a bright, flashing light (baraq) that rapidly evolved into a flashing fire (lappiyd) sometime between God’s arrival at Sinai and His finalizing of the commandments. And, after viewing the context of the words baraq and lappiyd to how they’re used in other parts of the Bible and studying the way it was described, it’s fair to say this light/fire was probably moving around of its own (God’s) will.
At this point, it might look like we have more information about the lightnings that weren’t really lightnings than we do about the thunderings that weren’t thunderings. What was really going on with the qowl shouting from heaven?
Here’s the glue. Ready?
When we study the sentence structure of the description of the phenomenon in Exodus 19:16 in Hebrew, without all the modern English additions for flow, we arrive at: boqer qowl baraq. That’s it. That’s all the Hebrew says. In a literal, word-for-word, initially nonsensical reading, boqer qowl baraq means “morning voice light.” It is from these seemingly vague three Hebrew words that we were given the English, “In the morning there were thunderings and lightnings.” Similarly, Exodus 20:18: ’am ra’ah qowl lappiyd. Once again, the literal, word-for-word rendering is “people saw voice torch.” This was where we received, “All the people saw the thunderings and the lightnings.”
Don’t miss this.
The Hebrew never suggested “and” in the original formation of the sentence. The translators inserted the “and” (as well as other words) as they did in countless other passages to ensure the sentence made sense. It’s all a bit Tarzan-style—“morning voice light,” “people saw voice torch”—without the smoothing that occurs during the translation process. Unfortunately, unless the translators are correct, even the tiniest word like “and” can disjoint the original story.
We’re not reading about two separate phenomena. The Hebrew doesn’t say the baraq and lappiyd were “in addition to” the qowl, it says the baraq and lappiyd “were” the qowl. In English, the Israelites didn’t “see a voice” and then also “see lights/fires”; they “saw a voice appearing as lights/fires.” Go back to the bare-bones, Tarzan version, and imagine inserting not words but just the punctuation that didn’t exist back then. It might look like this: “Morning; voice-light.” “People saw voice-torch.”
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The voice manifested as fire!
All this time we’ve been confused about how a “voice” can be “seen” is finally explained, because we now have the physical manifestation of God’s voice as these flickering, bright flames appeared all over the mountainside.
Dr. Juergen Buehler, physicist, chemist, and president of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), painted what these authors believe to be a striking word picture of this moment The teachings of the rabbis on this area, Buehler explains, is that “every word God spoke that day was like the stroke of a hammer on an anvil. With each stroke on the anvil, which was Mount Sinai, sparks…of fire flew outward.”[i] How appropriate a web this weaves between the qowl, baraq, and lappiyd… God’s voice, like sparks, shooting out with every reverberating boom of the Law.
But this visual, especially for those who are learning about it for the first time, does raise a few questions: Why would God, Himself, appear as smoke and fire all over the mountain, while His voice—declaring the Ten Commandments for the first time—appeared as flickering, glinting flames that grew in intensity as He spoke, described in such a way as to travel about? Why were the little flame-lights so animated…if they even were? And what was the purpose of any of this?
Perhaps some of the earlier Torah commentary experts would be of help to us now.
The Midrash, the Jewish community’s most respected Scripture commentary, compiled by celebrated rabbis (sages) between AD 400 and AD 1200, is alive and well on the subject of the “thunderings” and the “lightnings.” These rabbis observed a great number of related verses in addition to the geographical spread of God’s appearance worldwide as outlined in the Word, and they came to a most interesting connection, starting at Mt. Sinai and spreading outward. Observe what the records say in Midrash, “Shemot Rabbah” (Hebrew, “Great Exodus”) 5:9, regarding the visible voice of God in Exodus 19:16 and 20:18:
This is that which is written (Job 37:5), “God thunders wonders with His voice”—what is it that He thunders? When the Holy One, blessed be He, gave the Torah at Sinai, He showed wonders of wonders to Israel. How is it? The Holy One, blessed be He, would speak and the voice would go out and travel the whole world: Israel would hear the voice coming to them from the South and they would run to the South to meet the voice; and from the South, it would switch for them to the North, and they would all run to the North; and from the North, it would switch to the East, and they would run to the East; and from the East, it would switch to the West, and they would run to the West; and from the West, it would switch [to be] from the heavens, and they would suspend their eyes [to the heavens], and it would switch [to be] in the earth, and they would stare at the earth, as it is stated (Deuteronomy 4:36), “From the Heavens did He make you hear His voice, to discipline you.” And Israel would say one to the other, “And wisdom, from where can it be found” (Job 28:12). And Israel would say, from where is the Holy One, blessed be He, coming, from the East or from the South? As it is stated (Deuteronomy 33:2), “The Lord came from Sinai, and shone from Seir (in the East) to them”; and it is written (Habakuk 3:3), “And God will come from Teiman (in the South).” And it is stated (Exodus 20:18), “And all the people saw the sounds (literally, voices)”…[ii]
Huh… So, according to this explanation, God’s voice “went out” to the north, south, east, and west, all over the world. There was not one area—from Sinai to the opposite point on our round planet—that anyone could go to escape His message.
Why the multiple light/fires, though? God, the Creator of the universe, whose voice can kill entire armies with one utterance, could have just talked really loud, right?
Uh-huh. He could have. But our creative Father chose this method for His tongues to reach everyone on the globe…and it wasn’t the only time He would do so.
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If these Jewish scholars whose commentary paved the way for Old Testament understanding for the last several thousand years are correct, and we can see that God’s voice manifested all over the globe, then we humbly seek a deeper understanding if we’re to believe there is a New-Testament, Christ-centered fulfillment of the Day of Pentecost (or Feast of Weeks).
See, it wasn’t just a spectacle of voice, lights, and fire. Rabbi Yochanan, a first-century sage, in his Midrash commentary on the Sinai account in Exodus, notes: “The voice would go out and divide into seventy voices for the seventy languages, so that all the nations would hear [and understand].”[iii] Maybe when Yochanan wrote this he was inspired by Psalm 29:7: “The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire”!
You caught that, right? It’s about being multilingual.
If the Midrash is correct: God’s voice came from the heavens over Mt. Sinai, manifested in bright flashes of fiery light and divided into all known languages of the world at that time. Then His voice traveled all over the globe so that all people might hear and understand His words…all on 6 Sivan, the very first Day of Pentecost, exactly fifty days from the first Passover in Egypt.
Remember, these rabbis are Jewish. Their consideration of what was occurring at that point in Exodus is naturally no respecter of any story in Acts 2 of the New Testament; that’s a “Testament” of the Messiah they don’t believe in. Far be it for any contributor to Midrash commentary to attempt to show through Jewish theology that the Old Testament Mt. Sinai tongues/languages event foreshadowed the New Testament Mt. Sinai tongues/languages event. A truly Jewish rabbi would likely be more interested in wanting to show the dissimilarities between Jehovah on the mountain and the Comforter Jesus promised to send!
Yet, as most Christians know, the book of Acts, chapter 2, tells: On the Day of Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus had sat at the Last Supper and instituted communion instead of Passover, the same day all the Jews were wrapping up the Counting of the Omer on the Hebrews’ 6 Sivan, the Holy Spirit descended on Christ’s followers. When He did, bright, flickering “tongues of flame” descended from heaven and hovered over the men and women there, who proceeded to file out into the streets, speaking in all the known languages of that day…so that all men might hear God’s words and understand.
This time, unlike the last time, the message wasn’t about the Law, but about Jesus Christ, the Messiah who came to fulfill the Law (Matthew 5:17–20).
…And this time, unlike the last time, God’s words would be directed and received by both Jews and Gentiles.
Before we get into that too far, let’s read what happened in Acts 2 directly from the Bible. Tragically (but not surprisingly), some of its potency is lost in translation:
And when the day [Feast] of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1–4)
To begin with, the “sound” mentioned in “there came a sound from heaven” was not just a noise. This is the Greek word echos, which appears in only a few places in the Word. In one of those occurrences, Luke 21:25, it’s translated to “roar”! In Hebrews 12:19, it’s used in conjunction with salpigx to refer to the very trumpet blast “which signals the Second Coming”![iv] Then, oddly, over in Luke 4:37, after Jesus cast a demon out of the man in Capernaum, echos is translated as “fame”: “And the fame [echos] of him went out into every place of the country round about.”
So far, from only within the Bible, it looks like this word could mean a roar, a blast-signal of God’s appearance, or the spreading recognition of God’s power. See what we mean? It’s so much more than just “a sound.”
And, you know, that’s quite interesting, considering the context of Acts 2:2 in comparison to the Sinai account. Could it be the “sound from heaven” that fell upon the great city of Jerusalem on that Feast of Pentecost day was a terrifically loud roar from the mouth of God; His own blast signaling the arrival of God in the Person of the Holy Spirit; the power of His voice going out from Him and ahead of Him, spreading the word of His imminent, soon-arriving, fame and glory?!
Man that’s beautiful!
Wouldn’t it be almost too good to be true if we could find a solid link showing the Greek echos was used in literature of this time directly and irrefutably to mean “voice”? Seriously… Wouldn’t that really nail down the first parallel between God’s qowl on Mt. Sinai and the sound here in Acts?
Actually, that is a definition of this word, and proof isn’t difficult to find. Not only is this Greek term and its variants used to mean “voice” by writers at the time of Christ—such as in the academic medicine textbook de Materia Medica (“On Medical Material”) by the Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides[v]—thanks to the scholarly authors and editors behind the Greek-English Lexicon by Oxford, we now know it referred specifically to the voice of God in the LXX (Septuagint) Bible translation[vi] (again, the LXX was the Greek Bible studied at the time of Christ!).
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Next on the list is “rushing,” which is from the Greek, phero.
Just as “thunder” wasn’t necessarily the worst word that could have been chosen from the Hebrew for qowl, “rushing” isn’t necessarily the worst choice for phero, as the immediate context does describe something happening rapidly (“And suddenly there came…”). Nevertheless, just as “thunder” wasn’t accurate there, “rushing” isn’t accurate here. As just about any lexicon or study tool will indicate, phero means “bring,” “carry,” or “bear.”[vii]
As just a few of countless examples, here are four verses—each from one of the four Gospels—that use phero:
- “He said, ‘Bring [phero] them hither to me’” (Matthew 14:18).
- “‘Shall we give, or shall we not give?’ But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, ‘Why tempt ye me? bring [phero] me a penny, that I may see it’” (Mark 12:15).
- “And bring [phero] hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry” (Luke 15:23).
- “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring [phero] forth more fruit” (John 15:2).
It’s quite a leap, from “bring” to “rushing.” Right? The latter of these terms is detached from any identifiable driving force and almost sounds random, chaotic, or even accidental. There’s nobody involved in it. The former, to “bring” or “carry” something, is personal, intentional…it almost rings from the page like a gift, no? Though either one can ultimately be interpreted to acknowledge the wind as God’s handiwork, considering the colossal significance of what was taking place in both physical and spiritual realms in that moment, saying God “brought” or “carried” the wind allows for intention and specificity directly from the Divine.
It probably goes without saying by this point, but we will say it anyway: A person has to try, hard, to see the distant, detached, impersonal word “rushing” in this place instead of what is more apparently meant here, which is the act of the Holy Spirit carrying something.
What, exactly, is He carrying, though?
Remember how the “thunder and lightning” at Mt. Sinai wasn’t really thunder and lightning, and how it wasn’t two phenomena but rather one, and its corresponding description? Recall how, in English, there likely wouldn’t have been any way of knowing that based on how our language bleeds off the page? Well, this moment is similar in that it will require readers to be open-minded in challenging some age-old concepts and imagery. It’s surprisingly dissimilar, however, in that even the English—when read carefully—by itself dispels the most common misinterpretation of this verse in all of Christendom.
If, in that reading, you came up with the Holy Spirit “bringing” or “carrying” anything other than a sound, you might want to go back and read it again. Let us explain.
The time-honored, and frankly gorgeous, visual of the powerful winds is all over the place in our church curriculum and charts, religious media, historical paintings, books, and even various Christian retail products. We hear about the “rushing mighty wind” from the pulpit with such excitement—how it came bursting through the windows and doors into the Upper Room, swirling around the followers of Christ, whipping about their robes and hair, alerting everyone that something big is coming… Sometimes the retelling even involves the apostles being lifted up from the floor!
As inspiring as it is, however, the “wind” idea we all have isn’t what the Greek originally described. If it were, then a few issues would have to be addressed. To name only one: The adjective translated into English as “mighty” here is the Greek word biaios, which surprisingly means “violent.”[viii] In other words, if this wind was a literal, physical, and purely natural element, then we are told here the gentle Comforter sent a “violent” wind to tear through the city on the day He arrived. But imagining the Holy Spirit sending danger to the disciples He’s about to bless is odd. For as many words in the Greek language as there are that would have conveyed both might (or power) and safety in the presence of the Lord, biaios kinda sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb here.
Why not just “mighty” by itself? Why “violent”? If Luke was only attempting to tell the readers the wind was “strong” or “mighty,” a number of more appropriate terms could have been used…and they were terms he already knew and used! Why wouldn’t Luke have chosen dynatos—the literal Greek word for “mighty” or “powerful”—here, like he did elsewhere (Luke 1:49; 14:31; 18:27; 24:19; Acts 2:24; 7:22; 11:17; 18:24; 20:16; 25:5)? Why did he suddenly break character in Acts 2:2 and depict God as the sender of perilous weather conditions?
Actually, scholarly opinions about this section of Scripture are fairly unanimous: Luke wrote “violent,” and “violent” is precisely what he meant, but he wasn’t describing a “wind,” he was describing a “sound.” Technically, the wind didn’t exist in any way other than as a basis for comparison. For many readers, this is a huge surprise. So long has the literal wind on the Day of Pentecost in the New Testament been ingrained in our concepts that it’s hard to let go of the whooshing, sweeping, dust-in-the-air ideas. But Thayer’s Greek Lexicon is the first of many sources we can point to fairly quickly that will dispel this. According to Thayer’s, the comparative Greek adverb hosper, translated “as” here in the cluster “a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind,” is a word meaning something that simply “stands in close relation to what precedes,” therefore representing a direct comparison in Acts 2:2, “i.e., just as a sound is made when a mighty wind blows.”[ix] Scotland’s finest New Testament scholar and former chairman of the Tyndale Fellowship for Biblical and Theological Research, Ian Howard Marshall, acknowledges this in Acts: An Introduction and Commentary, pointing out that the grammatical relationship between the Greek pnoe (“wind”) next to the aggressive biaios is “that of analogy—a sound like that of wind.”[x] Leading academic and Fellowship of the British Academy award-winning professor of divinity at England’s University of Durham, Charles Kingsley Barrett, states in A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles that “Luke is confining himself to a vivid natural analogy… There was a noise like that made by a powerful wind.”[xi]
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To recap so far: 1) The disciples of Christ were all together “in one accord”; 2) God personally ushered, carried, and delivered to them the sound of His voice—a roar so powerful and commanding that it sounded to those assembled like a howling, violent wind.
Next: Not only do the followers of Jesus hear the voice of God like a wind, they see the voice as it manifests as “cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.” But note that “cloven” here is a bit misleading in English because of our familiarity with phrases like “cloven hoof,” which refers to one object with a “split” shape in it. The “cloven” reference is from the Greek diamerizo (“divided”), which describes when God’s voice descended, split apart into many “tongues,” and then “each person present was touched with flame.”[xii] Again, this is the wonder being referred to in Psalm 29:7: “The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire.”
Then, of course, comes the question scholars have sometimes taken an unexpected turn on: whether “tongues” describes the shape of the flames in comparison to the bodily organ, or more simply, “languages.” Technically, the Greek glossa is used for both the body part as well as the speech it makes, so it could be either. However, despite the somewhat convincing argument for the former by some astute language experts (that Luke was saying the flames were “tongue-shaped”), it seems the more complicated conclusion to make. The context of the very next verse—“and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance”—is clearly in reference to spoken languages, and generally no one in academia argues with that. Since the context and application are therefore the same, it’s safe to agree with the vast majority of scholars on this one and stick to the following deduction: “Tongues,” both in verse 3 and in verse 4, in reference to “languages,” which renders what readers may have, before our reflection on Sinai, thought was awkward: “And there appeared unto them [divided languages] like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other [languages].”
A couple more quick thoughts on this area of Scripture before we wrap this up: First, the words “all with one accord” have caused speculation. What, exactly, were the disciples in harmony about? Most scholars and commentators link this to the close-proximity instance of “one accord” in Acts 1:14, where there is a direct description of what they were doing together: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” These authors particularly like the way Benson Commentary says it:
The word [Greek homothymadon], rendered with one accord, implies that they were united in their views, intentions, and affections, and that there was no discord or strife among them, as there sometimes had been while their Master was with them. Doubtless, they were also united in their desire and expectation of the baptism of the Holy Ghost, the power from on high, which Christ had promised them; and in praying earnestly and importunately for it whenever they met together, which it appears they were in the habit of doing daily.[xiii] (emphasis in original)
They were all praying together, but it’s likely they were praying specifically for the power from God to assist them in the Great Commission, since that is what the Holy Spirit does. Take note of this, because it is a crucial point in “The Church Age,” which is what the Feast of Pentecost represents. And don’t misunderstand this to be an argument for speaking in tongues, as these authors truly believe that matter is between the believer and God. We want to stress that, just as the Holy Spirit came to the disciples on 6 Sivan in what was likely the year AD 33 with languages of fire, He can come upon any and all believers with the gifts of the Spirit they’ve been equipped with for Great Commission work today, so long as every believer is praying in expectation for that.
Consider again Acts 2:1–4 in light of all we’ve reflected on. Based on the original languages and contexts and the consistency of God’s nature from the Old Testament, we will suggest a contemplative, dynamic wording of this passage:
And on 6 Sivan, during the Feast of Pentecost, the disciples of Christ were all gathered together in one place, supporting one another and agreeing with one another in prayer [probably for the “power from on high”]. And suddenly there came a voice, roaring from heaven like a violent wind, and the sound filled all the dwelling place where they were sitting. And the disciples saw the voice from heaven divide into many languages, looking like fire, and the fire sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1–4)
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Hey readers… Remember that time on Mt. Sinai when God’s voice physically manifested as a bright fire, then split up and went out to all the world so every man would know and understand His Law?
Yeah. He did that again.
The “fiftieth day” (Pentecost) from the deliverance of Egypt, when the Law (the Old Covenant) united the nation of Israel under the will of God while on Mt. Sinai, was a literal, moment-for-moment parallel of the “fiftieth day” (Pentecost) from the death of Christ and deliverance from the confines of sin, when Jesus fulfilled the Law down to the letter and united Jew and Gentile (the New Covenant) as a new people under the grace of God while on Mt. Zion.
Most folks who have little to no familiarity with the feasts aren’t aware of this connection, but once we see it, we can’t “unsee” it without extreme effort. The resemblance between the two events is no coincidence.
Barrett recognizes this comparison without hesitation: “Luke is accumulating features characteristic of theophanies…[like the] descriptions of the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai: Exod. 19:18.”[xiv] Marshall is likewise convinced: “A flame divided itself into several tongues, so that each rested upon one of the persons present.… And again we are reminded of Old Testament theophanies, especially of that at Sinai (Exod. 19:18).”[xv] Dr. Richard Booker of Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts notes this wonderful Old Testament/New Testament connection as well:
The English translation [of the Sinai event] says all the people witnessed the thunderings and the lightnings. Jewish scholars believe that the people actually “saw the voice of God” coming out of the mountain in tongues of fire.…
The first Pentecost was at Mount Sinai when God wrote His words on tablets of stone. Yet, the Lord promised there would be a time in the distant future when He would write His laws on the fleshly tablets of their hearts. (See Jeremiah 31:31–34.)…
In His own appointed time, God would come down on the people. Not on Mount Sinai in the desert, but on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.[xvi]
And let’s not leave out a very important rabbi, Southern Evangelical Seminary’s pride and Word of Messiah Ministries’ president, Dr. Sam Nadler, who also acknowledged in his book, Messiah in the Feasts of Israel:
Luke, who wrote the book of Acts, was trained by his mentor Paul to understand the work of God in Messiah from a Biblically Jewish frame of reference. Luke depicts the events of Acts 2 as a second “Mount Sinai experience.” When the Law was given, there was fire and noise as God descended on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:18–20). When the Spirit was given there was fire and noise as well (Acts 2:2–3). The rabbis comment in the Talmud that when the Torah was given at Mount Sinai, “Every single word that went forth from the Omnipotent was split up into seventy languages for the nations of the world.” When the Holy Spirit was given, men from every nation spoke in other languages as the Spirit enabled them.[xvii]
And many of the classic commentators, at the time of their writings (circa 1820–1850 on a lot of them), wrote as if God’s manifestation in both the Old Testament and New Testament Pentecost was a foreshadowing followed by fulfillment. As one example from Benson: “It is computed that the law was given just fifty days after their coming out of Egypt, in remembrance of which the feast of pentecost was observed the fiftieth day after the passover, and in compliance with which the Spirit was poured out upon the apostles, at the feast of pentecost, fifty days after the death of Christ.”[xviii]
It’s really no wonder scholars concluded that the Acts 2 episode was a direct fulfillment of what God started on Mt. Sinai. The parallels are seemingly endless, including many we haven’t even covered well enough to do great justice. Take a look at this list, which isn’t even close to exhaustive:
- Both demonstrations of God’s power involve tongues of fire and multiple languages so that all mankind will hear and understand the message of God.
- Both events took place on the Feast of Pentecost, and on 6 Sivan.
- Both events involved a theophany—that is, a visible manifestation of the Lord.
- Both events marked the delivery of a Divine Covenant: In Exodus, it was fifty days after the Israelites completed the threshold covenant with the lamb sacrifice; in Acts, it was fifty days after Jesus became the ultimate Lamb Sacrifice.
- In Exodus, Israel as a nation was established; in Acts, Christianity was established.
- Exodus 24:13 calls Mt. Sinai the “mountain of God.” Isaiah 2:3 calls Mt. Zion the “mountain of God.” Both the Old Testament (Old Covenant) tongues-of-fire event at Sinai and the New Testament (New Covenant) tongues-of-fire event at Zion took place on “the mountain of God,” though they are over three hundred miles apart.
- In Hebrew, the word towrah (“Torah”—the Law), as it derives from the root yarah, means “teach.” John 14:16 refers to the Holy Spirit as the “teacher.”
- In Exodus, we read about the inauguration of the Old Testament Church; in Acts, we read about the inauguration of the New Testament—and current—Church.
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Again, the list goes on. Studying these two occurrences side by side as we have done flags another hundred or so deeply theological parallels that blow the mind. If this book were just about the Jewish feasts, we would be tempted to devote another hundred pages on Pentecost alone. Alas, we don’t have space herein to accomplish that…but what do you readers say? One more for the road?
Woohoo! This next one is the best!
In Exodus 32, just after the Mt. Sinai Pentecost demonstration when the idolatry-forbidding Mosaic Law had been given to the Israelites, God’s chosen people had the audacity to create and worship a golden calf. Moses delegated the tribe of Levi, who had not turned their backs upon the Lord like the others, to carry out the unfortunate task of making an example out of the idolaters. “And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men” (Exodus 32:28). These authors wonder if this particular travesty was in Paul’s mind when he called the Law the “ministry of condemnation” (2 Corinthians 3:7–9).
Flip forward a heavy heap in the Word. Just after the Holy Spirit’s Pentecost demonstration, the disciples ran to the streets to preach that “God hath made the same Jesus, [who was] crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Here’s what happened next:
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
Then Peter said unto them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation.”
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:37–41)
What a glorious, gracious turnaround! At Sinai, three thousand people died under the Old Covenant. In the book of Acts, three thousand were saved because of the message of the New Covenant!
Folks, this is “the Church Age” that fulfills the old Feast of Pentecost. Jesus fulfilled it by sending the Spirit He promised to send, and now, with the Spirit’s gentle, personal, and patient help, we believers are empowered by the Holy Spirit to take God’s story to the ends of the earth in every language, just like the followers of Christ did in the book of Acts. What a privilege!
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[ii] Shemot Rabbah 5:9, Midrash, Sefaria Community Translation, last accessed March 15, 2022, from The Sefaria Library, https://www.sefaria.org/Shemot_Rabbah.5.9?ven=Sefaria_Community_Translation&lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en.
[iv] “Topic Guide” tool, found by searching “Blasting,” Logos Bible Software, accessed from personal commercial database on July 16, 2020.
[v] Dioscorides, Pedanius, de Materia Medica, 5.17; As noted in: Liddell, H. G., Scott, R., Jones, H. S., & McKenzie, R. A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford; Clarendon Press: 1996), 780.
[vi] As in, “When he uttereth his voice,” from LXX Jeremiah 28:16 (which would be Jeremiah 51:16 in modern Bibles). As noted in: Liddell, H. G., Scott, R., Jones, H. S., & McKenzie, R. A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford; Clarendon Press: 1996), 780.
[vii] “Bible Word Study” tool, found by searching “φέρω,” Logos Bible Software, accessed from personal commercial database on July 16, 2020. Please note that this source listed countless lexicons, Bible dictionaries, and other word-study sources that confirmed this most basic meaning.
[viii] Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor; Electronic Ed.: Logos Research Systems, Inc.: 1997), entry “1042 βίαιος.”
[ix] “ὥσπερ,” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, accessed online through Blue Letter Bible Online on March 15, 2022, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5618&t=KJV.
[x] Marshall, Ian Howard, Acts: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 5; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1980), 73.
[xi] Barrett, C. K., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (Edinburgh: T&T Clark; 2004), 113; emphasis added.
[xii] Ibid., 114.
[xiii] “Acts 2 Benson Commentary,” BibleHub, last accessed March 15, 2022, https://biblehub.com/commentaries/benson/acts/2.htm, “Acts 2:1.”
[xiv] Barrett, C. K., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary… 113.
[xv] Marshall, Ian Howard, Acts… 73.
[xvi] Booker, Richard, Celebrating Jesus… 94–95.
[xvii] Sam Nadler, Messiah in the Feasts of Israel (Word of Messiah Ministries, Kindle ed., 2011), 83–84.