The Pouring Out of the Spirit

One hundred and twenty disciples, men and women, were gathered in a room waiting for the promised Holy Spirit who would empower them to bear witness to the ends of the earth to the reign of God’s Messiah. Finally, their waiting came to end. God poured out the Spirit upon them, and they were each filled with the Spirit. It was Pentecost, the 50th day after the Passover. It was the first day of the week.

The significance of this moment is difficult to overestimate. Whatever we say about it is less than what it fully means. It is a surprising work of God that explodes all expectations, anticipations, and limitations. On the day of Pentecost, Peter announced that this descent of the Spirit from the heavens was what the prophet Joel had foretold centuries earlier.

Joel said (2:28), “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh, your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit.”

What Joel envisioned was the veritable shaking of the cosmos to its core; it is as if the universe had reversed its course. The light of the sun has been darkened, and the light of the moon became blood red. Heaven and earth were on fire!

What ignited the cosmos? At Pentecost, God poured out the Holy Spirit upon Israel! And with this God shatters the limitations of the old creation, with all its brokenness and divisions, and pours into it the dynamics of the new creation that flow from the reign of Messiah at the right hand of God. The world has changed!

Throughout its history with God, Israel knew the empowering presence of the Spirit. In the wilderness, God took “some of the spirit that was on [Moses] and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied” (Numbers 11:25). At that time, Moses prayed that God would put the Spirit upon all the Lord’s people.

Now that day had come. We call it Pentecost. God poured out the Spirit upon all Israel, but not only Israel. Now “all flesh” will receive the Spirit of God which is the inclusion of Gentiles, the inclusion of all races, among God’s people. Moreover, not only elders in Israel but the youth of Jews and Gentiles would see visions. Even more, it would not only be the recently liberated elders of Israel but enslaved Jews and Gentiles would also prophesy. And further, it would not only be men who would prophesy and dream dreams but women would also be empowered by God to see visions and prophesy.

We might think about it this way. Before Pentecost, typically though not exclusively, free Jewish males led the people of God. But Pentecost changed this. The pouring of the Spirit in Acts 2, in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, enlarged the community of gifted leadership from free Jewish men to enslaved Gentile women.

The gifts that the ascended Messiah gave to the Lord’s people were not restricted to Jews, but included all races; they were not restricted to free peoples but included slaves; and they were not restricted to men but included women.

Pentecost shifted the dynamics. Those once excluded were now included, and those once unchosen were now chosen. All races, slaves, and women were now empowered and gifted for participation in the mission of God.

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