The Holy Spirit - Acts 2:1-41
Series: THE BOOK OF ACTS
Are you guys ready to go to work? So much ground to cover. Here's the deal, during this Acts series, you may want to make sure that unless you're here for the full meal, that you don't come to third service because we don't have a backend on this service, so all the good stuff comes out.
Before we get there, real quick, I told you guys a few ago that we were going to be going back to two services on the 27th of February. Do you guys remember that? Yeah. So what we're going to do is we're going to make that date a little fuzzy. And here's why, with three services, we can manage the numbers and our crowd a little bit better, so that people that are concerned about being around too many people or whatever can be safe or feel safe.
And we are in the spike of COVID. So here's what I want to do, I just want to make sure that we're on the other side of the spike before we go back to two services. So it may be the 27th, it may be one or two or three weeks after that. The rate at which this is moving through the world, it may be a distant memory by that point, but I just want to hold it fuzzy. Does that make sense?
It doesn't change anything other than just, you can still have church and all that. But are you with me on that? So we'll make sure that we get to two services as soon as we feel safe. I just want to make sure that we're stewarding you guys well, that we appreciate you guys being here. So love you. And I want to take care of you as best as we can. I know, right? Okay.
41 versus to go through today, probably 41 of the most significant verses in the Bible, and we're not going to talk about probably the most significant reason why. Let me tell you about Acts 2. So last week Bullard preached on the back half of Acts 2, the last few verses of Acts 2. And he preached out order, so we're going to go back and pick up those verses.
If you've been paying attention, we should be in Acts 3 today. No, because we skipped this really amazing section of scripture and I'm going to go back and preach it. And here's why? I'm not going to give it to anyone else. So we're preaching it out of order. Last weekend, I was at a wedding with a girl that was an adopted daughter to us from back where we came from.
She was real important to us and she got married and she looked beautiful and we went to their wedding and we got the incredible privilege of being at a wedding. So we missed last week, but I'm going to pick it up this week. And we are going to move. Are you ready to go? Verse 1, let me tell you how this is going to work. We're going to read through all the verses and I'll make some passing comments along the way.
And then I want to pull out three lessons that I think are particularly important for us, and then will land the plane. Here we go. "When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place." Okay. We're going to have to wrestle with that. What is that place? "And suddenly there came from head, have a sound like a mighty rushing wind." It doesn't say that there was actually a wind there.
Pay attention to that. It says there was a sound like a rushing wind, whatever that sounds like. I don't know. This is bonus material. When I was a little kid, my dad used to tell the scary stories and he would always do the wind and the creaking of the trees. And he was always (Aaron making wind sound). He would do that. Maybe that's what it sounded like. Sound like a rushing wind.
Wasn't actually a rushing wind, nobody's hair fluffing. No one. No one. Nobody's comb over was standing up. No one. No rushing wind, just to sound like a rushing wind. "And it filled the entire house where they were sitting." Okay. So where are they? They're in a house of some kind, at least. Right? So what house? Where? Where? We got to know.
If you look at Acts 1, it looks like they're in an upper room, but you got to understand an upper room is like an 8 x 12 room. It's not big enough for what we're going to see happen here. It's just not plausible. "Filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them." Okay. So we're going to have to talk about that. Tongues of fire, what in the world is that?
"And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues." I wish they wouldn't have translated this tongues. Tongues is not a wrong translation, but we get the impression that what's happening here is that they're speaking gibberish, that they're just babbling. That's not what's happening. The Holy Spirit comes on them and they're all actually speaking other languages.
Other tongues, but it's languages. It's not gibberish. They're not just mumbling sounds. They're speaking in other languages. And here's what's interesting, and this is all I'm going to give you for tongues today. Is that there are 12 apostles who are speaking with the tongues of fire over them, speaking in other languages. There are 15 different nationalities of people mentioned in Acts 2.
And it says that all of them heard in their native language, which raises a question for me about the gift of tongues. Is it a gift of speaking or is it a gift of hearing? I'll leave you with that. "Began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in the Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven."
Jews from how many of the nations? All of them, right? So that's a few folks. And at this sound, the multitude came together. So the multitude comes together. The Greek word is the word plethoras. It's a massive amount of people. We know that it's more than 3000 people. We know that for sure. Okay. So you can't fit 3000 people in an upper room.
And what we think of is like, "Well, what if they're just all around the house and the apostles are up in the upper room, but everybody else is kind of around the house?" That is not how architecture works in the middle east. And for us, everybody's spread out and they got their road and then the sidewalk and then your setbacks and your yards and everything's all away from everything else. No, everything's built right on top of everything else.
It can't happen in a residential district. There's only one place where this many people can gather together. So we ought to be paying attention. Where is that place? Where is that place? Are we going to get any other clues? The answer to that is yes. "So the multitude came together, and they were very bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonish, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?"
Now here's why they're saying that, because Galilean aren't particularly educated. Now they're not particularly dumb either, but these are just average Joe's, there's no reason for them to know a bunch of different languages. They're just guys. These are regular, graduated from high school and went to work kind of guys. They're not people who chased higher academia. There's no reason for them to know all these other languages.
So this is weird that this group of guys like this knows all these different languages. "And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians. We hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God."
And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine." In other words, they're drunk. Now I know this is going to shock you, but I didn't always walk close to Jesus. Here's what I learned about being drunk. Being drunk does not help you in speaking your secondary language.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that being drunk does not help you in speak in your primary language. Right? It doesn't. I'm sober and I can't speak Mesopotamian, but I get dusted in here. "Hey, hey, look at me." That's not how being drunk works. So I think it's funny that they make that as is an accusation.
"But Peter, standing with the 11, lifted up his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk. As you suppose, since it's only the third hour of the day." That's 9:00 AM. So here's what he's saying. "It's not that we won't get there at some point, but we haven't had a chance yet. It's too early for us to be drunk." Are you with me on that?
Don't be you're saying the apostles got drunk. I'm not saying that. I'm just saying at 9:00 AM, they wouldn't have had a chance to you. Even if you're of the opinion that you can't drink all day, if you don't start in the morning, they can't. They haven't had time to get drunk. They haven't had time to lose their minds through alcohol. "These people are not drunk as you suppose. It's only 9:00 in the morning, but this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel."
"And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even on my male servants and my female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and vapor of smoke."
"The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day." Now remember, a couple of weeks ago, we were talking about two stage eschatological and three stage eschatological. Both of those come to a resolution with the day of the Lord, the great and magnificent of the Lord. So we're looking forward to that.
But he's saying, before that happens, all of this has to transpire. "And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Men of Israel, hear these words, Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God, with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know, this Jesus delivered up to us according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God."
"You crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, losing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him, I saw the Lord always before me for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken." Now let me say this, a Jewish teacher is never going to use an illustration that doesn't have a concrete thing that they can point to.
So what we're going to start seeing here from here forward is that Peter's going to keep referring to David. And the question is why? Why does he keep referring to David? And that's going to help clue us in perhaps to where they are. Okay. "Therefore, my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced, my flesh also dwell in hope for you will not abandon my soul to Hades or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life, you will make me full of gladness with your presence."
"Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried and his tomb is with us to this day." Okay. That's something you should pay attention to. Because again, he's not going to say something without having something to point to. So why does he bring up David's tomb? Probably because they're in proximity to it.
"Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up and of that, we are all witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit."
"He has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David, here we go again, David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, the Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a foot stool." So we have three pulls to David, and one of those is specifically to his tomb. "Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."
"Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter in the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Now let me say this, all of Peter's sermons, follow the same pattern. They all do. We're going to look at one another one next week. They all follow the same pattern. Here's the pattern, blah, blah, blah. Jesus was God, you killed him. That's Peter's plan.
That's his preaching strategy. So what he says here, "These people are drunk, because you suppose this is what was foretold in the prophecy and da, da, da. Oh, by the way, Jesus was God and you killed him." If I preached like that, you guys would either, you guys wouldn't come here or I would get fired. Either way, this relationship would not exist. He's literally one of the worst preachers in the history of preaching.
And that gives me hope because what happens here is that Holy Spirit takes the words that Peter speaks and does something with those words in the hearts of the listeners. And so it's not so much about my amazing content, even though you're going to be wowed. It's not so much about that. It's way in my more about what the Holy Spirit does in your heart through the words that are spoken.
Which is why it's really important for us to study the Bible and not anecdotes because God's words are the only ones that have the promise to not return void. And I had so many people say to me, "You use so much Bible. I'm not used to that." That's because I'm an idiot. The Bible's like this amazing content that has this promise of changing your life, and you want to hear my thoughts? No.
No, I don't help you at all by doing that. I don't help you at all by doing that. "When they heard this they were cut to the heart, and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Now here's the thing, they'll do anything. They just want to be right with God. Do you remember how simple it was when you first said yes to Jesus?
I don't care what I have to do. I just want to be right with God. That doesn't matter. It's the Christians who've been walking with Jesus way too long, disconnected from the mission. And those are the ones that make it complicated. Well, what about this? And what about that? I have to do this or don't have to do that. And I don't know. Maybe you should do this and that will work, but this is a act of grace, blah blah.
We're the ones. When a person says, "I just want to know Jesus, I don't care. I don't care what I have to do. I just want to be right with God." Now Peter could have said anything, and they would've done it. He could have said, listen, "What I want you to do is I want you to stand on your head. I want you to spin around three times. And I want you to speak Portuguese."
They've been, "Okay. I don't know Portuguese, but maybe I could learn it." David, it doesn't matter. I just want to be right with God. That's it. Whatever Peter says, they're going to do. And the great thing about it is Peter could say whatever he wants to say right now. Like that's some kind of, "I want you to pay me $100 a piece, weekly for 10 years." I love that plan. He could have done anything.
Here's what he says. "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you'll receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." That's what he says. That's what you should do. And there are so many people that want to debate. Are you trying to tell me baptism is the time and place that I get saved? No, what I'm saying is the Bible says be baptized, so be baptized.
What's the problem? It's a Christian conversation for who are long since convinced and have disconnected themselves from the heart of the father too far to be able to go, "Well, what about this with and the law, blah, blah, blah?" Bible says be baptized, so be baptized. I don't care what I have to do. I just want to be right with God.
I don't care. I don't care. So when the Bible says I should repent and be baptized, guess what I'm going to do? I'm very repent to be baptized. I'm going to do it. Why? Because the Bible says to do it. And by the way, this is, if you read The New Testament, the normal way in which people come to a relationship with Jesus, believe, repentance and baptism are inseparably connected throughout the entire New Testament.
And you can find anomalys here and there that are, "Well, what about the thief on the cross?" Well, first of all, the thief on the cross was under The Old covenant. So if Jesus could have told him to get down off the cross, which he didn't. Be baptized, you got to be baptized. Well, I'm hanging here. If he could have told him to get down off the cross, he was still under The Old covenant.
He wouldn't have told him to get baptized. He would've told him to go present himself at the temple and make sacrifices. Well, that's proof? No, it's an anomaly. And making one verse theologies is really dangerous. That's really dangerous. Well, I want to find the exception to the rule. No, what you want to do is use the synthesis principle of hermeneutics, which means that you take everything that the Bible says on a topic before you make a decision.
The weight of the evidence should dictate our decision. And the weight of the evidence says that belief, repentance and baptism are inseparably connected. They are, again and again and again and again and again, that believers are baptized. Are you baptized? What's the problem? By the way, I don't think you should ever be wrestling with how much can I get away with and still be a Christian?
I don't think that's a safe conversation. How much can I do to tell God that I love him? You want me to be baptized weekly? I'm in. To receive his grace? I'm in. The love and blessings of the Father that I've experienced in my life. Do you want me to be baptized in Montana, weekly? I'll drive. I don't care. I just want to be right with God.
I don't care what I have to do. It's amazing what happens when we just read the Bible and do what it says. It gets real simple. Then some people will say this, "Well, but that was for them in that place at that time." Okay. Let's keep reading. He says, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
"For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself." Who's everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself? That's you and me. So good news, promise is for us too. Promise is for us too. Awesome. "And with many other words, he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, "Save yourself from this crooked generation."
"So those who received his word were baptized and they were added that day about 3000 souls." Now a couple of things about that, I don't know if you've ever been at a baptism service where they've done 40, 50, 60, 70 baptisms. Let me tell you about the baptismal water. After just a few, it is McNasty. There is a logistical reality to 3000 baptisms. Right? You got to have a substantial amount of water.
A substantial amount of water to pull that off. The second thing that I would say is, come on, Holy Spirit, did you forget the number? About 3000. What was it, 2998? Was it 3005? What was it, 3100? What's about? Is there a range? Because here's why, because I want to know the number so that I can beat it and then I win. Right. What's the number? Or maybe there's something else going on there.
Put a pin in that and we'll come back to it. There are three kind of major thoughts that I want to pull out of this chapter. The first one that I want to wrestle with is where are they? Because this is going to matter to the rest of every everything else we're saying. Where are they? In Luke 24:53, Luke says, who also wrote the book of Acts.
He says, "That while Jesus had been buried and then risen from the dead, but he hadn't ascended yet. It says that the disciples stayed in the temple continually praising God." In Acts 2, which we read 6 to 12. It says, "That the multitude or a huge crowd, we talked about this, plethoras from every nation gathered to witness everything." In acts 2:15, it says that it was 9:00 AM. Why does that matter? Because 9:00 AM is the time of the morning sacrifices at the temple.
So `where is every good Jew at 9:00 AM? They're at morning worship. Every day, but 9:00 and 3:00. 3:00 is the time of the afternoon sacrifices. Acts 2:2, says that, "The sound of a violent wind filled the whole house." Right? And so we will now see they were in a house. Yes, they were in a house. But understand this, temple isn't a Hebrew word. It's a Greek word. The Jew don't call the temple a temple.
They call it God's house. Don't believe me? Glad. 2 Samuel 7:5. And I could give you a lot more examples of this, but I'm only going to give you a few. This is God talking to Samuel and God says to Samuel, "Go tell my servant David, thus says the Lord, would you build me a house to dwell in?" What is he talking about? He's talking about the temple.
In Acts 7, Luke even picks up on this when he says this, "Our fathers in turn brought in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers." So it was until the days of David who found favor in the sight of God, and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob, but it was Solomon who built a house for him. What did Solomon build? Temple.
Yet the most high does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says. Acts 2:29 seems to allude to the nearness of the tomb of David. Remember we kept referring to David and the tomb of David that's right near, where I believe, and I'll show you this in just a second. Acts 2:41 says that 3000 people were baptized in response to the apostles teaching. There's only one place in all of Jerusalem that has that much water. There's only one place. It's at the Temple Mount.
And here's why I say this. So far, they've excavated 153 mikvehs, ceremonial washing pools around the Temple Mount. 153. I know the out because, and this is how God loves me. I was in Israel one time. I met this guy who did his PhD on the mikvehs around the temple Mount. I was like, "That's literally the most boring topic in the history of topics. How do you have enough material to do an entire PhD around the mikvehs?"
And he's like, "Oh no."And he starts sharing and I'm like, "I love mikvehs around the Temple Mount." It was just fascinating listening to this guy talk about, from the depths of his soul, this is my life's work. Mikvehs. There's only one place with enough water in entire city of Jerusalem to handle baptizing 3000 people. Let me show you a picture. This is the Southern steps of the Temple Mount.
And this is a little bit difficult to picture, but where that dark smooth, darker area is, there would have been a gate there that's been gated over or bricked over in the centuries. And then this part that's sticking out here, that's Crusader, that was added a lot later. That wouldn't have been there.
And there would've been another big double door there. And this steps as you go up are, these are the Southern steps when you're going in the Southern entrance to the temple. And this is what it happened. I don't put a ton of stock in sacred places, but here's what I want to tell you. This is the birthplace of your faith. Here it is.
Standing there is a big deal. And the steps are interesting. None of them are the same length or height. None. They're all different. Why? That's terrible craftsmanship. Actually, no, it's very intentional because it makes it so that you can't run because how dare you run into the presence of God? How dare you not take the walk?
And so what you do is as you walk up the stairs, you quote the Psalms of the ascent, which there's 16 Psalms of the ascent and you quote each one. As you take a step, you quote a Psalm. As you take another step, you quote a Psalm. And there's 16. And after we're done with Acts this year, we're going to go through the Psalms of the ascent.
Because here's what I see in us as we come to church is that we blow in late because we had to get our coffee and the line was too long in the drive through, but we had to have it. And we come in late and we're, ahhhhh. And we blast in and we're, "Who got our kids checked in?" Move me Lord. And we're stunned that God doesn't do anything.
How arrogant of us to assume that we can rush into the presence of God like that? How dare we come to church unprepared? And so this is where they enter in. We're going to talk more about this next week. But for the record, this is also the place that I believe is the gate called Beautiful. But we'll talk about that next week. This is where the Holy Spirit falls.
Now what you have to imagine is that where that Brickton area is, when that door was there, it was a big arched doorway with a big corridor or big open areas that led up into the Temple Mount. And what you're looking at is, oh, well, then a sound of a rushing wind would echo through there really quite easily. It wouldn't have even been difficult to understand.
This is the only place that hits all the criteria of Acts 2. This is where it happened. That matters because of the next piece that we're going to talk about. Well, the piece after that too, but it matters because of these next pieces we're going to talk about. Second thing that I want to talk about is the tongues of fire. What the heck is that?
Tongues of fire, fire has always been symbolic of the presence of God. All the way through the scriptures, it is. And it's rooted in Leviticus 9:22-24. I'm sure all of are like, "Oh yeah, I was memorizing that this morning. You know, Leviticus. All the time we spent in Leviticus." But here's what it says, and I think it'll give us an insight into what's going on in Acts 2.
It says, "Then Aaron lifted up his hands towards the people and blessed them, and he came down from offering the sin offering and the burn offering and the peace offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting." What they mean is the tabernacle. The tabernacle is the mobile temple. It's the temple before the temple was a permanent structure.
The tabernacle was where the presence of God stayed as they were moving around the desert. Okay? So once they became located, once they move into the promised land and they're located, then they build a permanent structure. And you have to understand this. This is so important for us to grapple because we're so, God is everywhere. Yes. Yes. And they would even agree like God is everywhere, but God there. God is everywhere, but he's there. He's there.
And that's such like if you really want to experience the presence of God, you don't go out into the countryside and commune. If you really want to experience the presence of God, you go to the temple because that's where God is. So I drew something, it's called the Holy City. Because that's where the presence of God lives.
"And Moses and Aaron went into the tin of meeting and when they came out, they blessed the people and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar. And when the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces."
Fire always represents the presence. So I think about Abraham's vision of the fire pot and the torch going through the blood covenant together. Think about Isaiah in the throne room of God, as his lips are purified with a burning coal. Think about Jesus when he is restoring Peter, the disciples come in and it says that they see him cooking fish on a fire of burning coals. Why do I need to know that detail?
What else would you cook them on? Microwave. Of course, it was a fire burning coals. What else would you cook? Why do I need to know that detail? Why? Because there's something else going on there. Fire always represents the presence of God. So when we see the tongues of fire, this is the presence of God resting on them. We're like, "Right, not revolutionary."
Do you remember when Jesus died and it got dark and then the veil ripped that separated the whole place from the most holy place from top to bottom? Right. The veil ripped. We Westerners are so egocentric that we read that and go, "Look, we can get access to the presence of God now. We can get into where the presence of God is." Every Jew reads that and goes, "You Americans are so selfish. That's not about you getting in. That's God breaking out." He's like, "I can't stay away from my people anymore. I'm coming out."
Then he tore the veil and he came out to be with us. But here's the deal, God needs a house. So what did he do? Here's what Peter says, "You are living stones." [foreign language 00:34:10]. Standing stones. There are two kinds of tribute stones to the gods in the ancient world. One is a Stella. A Stella is a stone that's set up with an inscription on it. That stone will tell you why it was erected. A standing stone doesn't have an inscription. It demands a witness. Tell me why that stone got stood?
What did your God do here? You Demand a witness. But he goes on and he says, "You are living stones being built up into God's house. That's who you are." Now think about this, before all of that, when God's presence rested in the temple where there was this actual structure, what happens if one of those stones, somebody came and wrestled a stone out of the wall and they took it off the Temple Mount and they ran over and they set it on The Mount of Olives?
Is that still a part of the house of God? The answer to that is no. So here's the thing. You're not part of the house of God off by yourself. You're part of the house of God when you're part of the community of God. And that's so important for us to recognize. It's still a stone. "You're saying I'm not saved if I don't come to church." No, it's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is you'll never understand the presence of God in your life apart from community?
Why should you get in a live group? Because we want to control your tongue. Or because there's pieces of your relationship with the Lord that you can't experience another way. Here's the thing, it doesn't cease to be a stone, it just ceases to be part. And I love, our online campus has done so much for people that are unable to be in church for any myriad of reasons, they're traveling or they're distant or they're not feeling well or whatever.
I love that we have that and have that available for people. My fear with it is that some people will begin to use it as an excuse to disconnect from community. And that's a problem. Because I'll never know the presence of God alone. Not at the degree that... Why do we need corporate worship? Because there's something unique about what happens here. We experience the presence of God in a unique way. It's not like God isn't with me the rest of the time.
But when I come here and we worship together, there's something about it. And that's real. And I need it. I need that. Because there's every reason in the world to shrink back during the week. So I need to hear you shout it in my ear come on my soul. Don't you get shy on me. Lift up your song because you got to lion inside. I need to hear you shouting it because it strengthens my resolve.
God needs a house. He's chosen to make his presence rest amongst us. Not you singular, you plural, all y'all. And here's the third piece. And this piece gets me excited. That one didn't. This one. 3000 people get baptized, right? 3000 people get baptized about when the world is going on with that. What's going on with that? What holiday does this happen on? Pentecost.
Shavuot the festival of weeks at Pentecost. We remember and we celebrate the story of God's people at the base of Mount Sinai. And this story is amazing. God leads him out of Egypt through the Red Sea into Sinai. And Moses goes up on the mountain and he's in the presence of God and God gives him the 10 Commandments, right? What else is a part of that story? The golden calf.
Listen to me, God married his people at Sinai and the bride committed adultery at the wedding feast. You want to talk about, "Did something God can't forgive. And he's mad. He's not happy." You think you've messed up. They spit in the face of God. In chapter 32 of Exodus, here's what happens. It says, the Lord said to Moses, Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt."
Look at what God said, "Your people, who you brought up by land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They've turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They've made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt." And the Lord said to Moses, "I've seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people."
"Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation out of you." He's like listen, "I'm going to wipe all them out and start over with you Moses." He's mad. Now we can debate for the ages, is he really going to destroy them or is there some other lesson that he's trying to teach them? Right. Another sermon for another day.
But if you read on in the story, Moses comes down the mountain and here's what happens. It says that, "Moses had saw that the people had broken loose for Aaron had let them break loose." That's how they described Southeast. "Aaron let them break loose." No, don't ever let that be true. But here's what it says, "For Aaron had let them break loose to the derision of their enemies."
What in the world does that mean? Here's what it means. When people who say they follow God act like they don't follow God, you give tons of ammunition to the people that want to make fun of you. "Yeah, I'm a Christian. Yeah, I'm a Christian. I mean, I live like the devil, but I believe in God." Good news. You're still living just like the devil. So does he.
When we do that, we give people who want to make fun of the God that we say we love and serve all kinds of ammunition. Like, nobody should care about me. You should care about the reputation of God enough to live right. "Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, "Who's on the Lord's side? Come to me."
"And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. And said to them, "Thus says the Lord to God of Israel, put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor." And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day, about 3000 men of the people fell." Here's a question.
The Holy Spirit, forget the number, or is something else going on here? So here's my thought, In the Bible, we see these incredible stories of victory. And then we see these other stories of like ridiculous catastrophe, right? Stories where just everything falls apart and people do really dumb things. I love those stories because they are like, "Hey, that's me. That's me."
I don't connect to people who have it all figured out because I'm still on the journey. Why does that matter? Because when we see these stories in the Bible that, and I believe I can prove this to be true, we're there is a, "Man, we blew it." There's always going to be another story down the road where God redeems it. 3000 people get killed for spiritual adultery.
3000 people get saved and redeemed for their life being given to the father. Not exactly 3000, just about 3000. So why do we need to know in Acts 2 that it was about 3000, because it's not about the number. It's about the redemption of the story from Exodus. And why does that matter to you and me? Because that story is jacked up and so is yours, and so is mine. And God wants to redeem them all.
God wants to redeem every story, no matter how messed up, no matter how broken, no matter how off base, no matter how crazy, no matter how tragic, no matter how much trauma, no matter how much pain was caused to you or you cause to other people, God wants to redeem at all. And in order for us to do that, in order for us to be a part of his redemption process, we got to be willing to be the house of God acting like the house of God.
We got to understand God's presence, yes, it rests me, but God's presence more fully rests in us. We should be excited to bring people here, because here's the deal, there are no words that you can speak to change the heart of a broken person. But the Holy Spirit heals us in full. So do you want them to listen to you speak or do you want to put them in a place where God talks?
God talks in my quiet time. Yes. God talks more fully in corporate worship. Bring him here. Of about a billion implications, I'm only going to give you four because I'm hungry. Number one, when you're a follower of Jesus God's presence lives in you. He broke out to be with you. He doesn't stay contained off in a dark room somewhere.
He's like, "I got to get out to be with my people." Number two. Baptism, immersion, is what the word means, is the most consistently biblical next step after saying yes to Jesus. So if you haven't been immersed into Jesus, you should be. Why? Read the Bible, do what it says. Number three. When we break loose, when we take us as a stone out of the house and we go off by ourselves, we bring disgrace to the name of God
When we live consistent with the kingdom, which is a communal reality, it's a connected relational reality. We honor God's name. Number four. God wants to redeem every story, especially yours. Say, "Yeah. He can do that for other people, but not me." No, that's exactly the kind of story. And here's the deal, I don't know how he's going to make beauty from the ashes that we created. I don't know how he does that. I just know that he does.
And we're going to talk about this more next week. But the question that we have to wrestle with is why then do we hold onto our brokenness? Right. Why would we even consider holding on the brokenness if God takes ashes and makes beautiful things? Here's why, because sometimes the pain that you know is more comfortable than the freedom that you're promised and that you don't know.
We'll talk about it next week. You guys are like, "Well, then now I'm coming back." I'll see you here. Here's the thing. I think we need to wrestle with, like as we prepare our hearts for communion, what is the part of my story that I believe God can't redeem? Well, nothing. I think he can redeem at all, but I have this thing that I hold onto. Listen, that, pay attention to that.
Because that pain, that brokenness, that shame, that whatever that we hold onto, that's the space that God wants to redeem. That's the space that God wants to redeem. Where is it for you? Maybe spend some time talking to the Lord with what he would want you to do with that, as we get our hearts ready for communion.
On the night Jesus was betrayed, he took bread and he broke it, and he said, "This is my body, which is given for you. So whenever you ate the bread, do it in remembrance of me." And then after the dinner, he took a cup, and he said, "This cup's the blood of the covenant which is shed for you. So whenever you drink this cup, do it in remembrance of me."
Let's pray, God, thank you that you redeem every story. That the tragedy that has hit my life, the lives of many people in this room, that it doesn't get to have the final word. That your grace, your freedom, your healing, your wholeness, that wins the day. Lord help us to be able to rest in the fact that letting go of the pain we know is the only way to bring the freedom that we don't know. In Jesus name, Amen.
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