The start of the church in Acts 2 was a fulfillment of a promise God had made to the nation of Isreal. Since God created man He has always desired to dwell with them. We find that in Genesis chapter 3 God came to the garden in the cool of the day to have fellowship with Adam. When He came to the Garden of Eden He found Adam hiding from Him. The relationship Adam had with God was tarnished. God being merciful and gracious allowed Adam and Eve to live and He banished them from the Garden of Eden. He had killed two animals and covered up their sin but God could no longer have the fellowship and dwell with His creation in the same way again. The tabernacle and the temple were both earthly construction for God’s glory to dwell with His people but because the sin of the people was so great His glory once again left the earth. God did, however, promise to transform the hearts and minds of His people and He did promise to bring them together once again. In Acts 2 we find God uniting His people and at the same time opening the door for a greater unity of all mankind back to Him.
We saw this last week in the opening of Acts 2 when God had released His Spirit on mankind in a powerful new way. In the Spirits release we also saw His purifying power and His enabling those who He came upon to be able to praise God with real true praise. This morning we will see how the unifying power of the Spirit is going to draw people to God and authenticate God’s bestowment of His Unifying power on all mankind beginning with Isreal and moving out to all nations.
We will see this in Acts 2:5-13
Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”
As we look at this text I want us to keep in mind one very important characteristic of life, nothing happens by accident. God has planned out everything perfectly. Even from creation to calling Noah, Abraham and Moses. To His plan of placing the nation of Isreal in Egypt for 400 years to the giving of the Law and the festivals the Israelites are to celebrate. We learned last week the day of Pentecost has arrived. This day is in actuality a harvest festival commemorating God’s provision of the first fruits. It is also traditionally the day Moses presented the Law to the Nation on Mount Sinai. This is one of three festivals the Israelites were to celebrate the first being the Passover which lasted about a week. Then the day of Pentecost and the last was the festival of booths or tabernacles. This was an important festival as they all are and are prescribed by God for the purpose of reminding them of His Grace power and majesty and how He called the nation out of Egypt and sustained them until they entered the promised land.
It is no accident the day the Holy Spirit was released from Heaven to enable the apostles and disciples occured on this day. It is the day the Law is no longer just written on tablets of stone but is now written on the hearts of mankind. God has fulfilled His promise and as we continue to look this morning we will see His promise involves unifying His people once again in a powerful way.
Luke tells us in verse 5, “Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.” These men who are very religious and have been scattered across the known world have returned to Jerusalem. Luke describes these men as being devout, they are God fearing men. In essence they are religious. They follow the Law of God and they know God is powerful and works miracles. They are not strangers to God’s power and might and they are not strangers to God’s Word and His works throughout history. The way Luke writes this it seems as though these men have come back to the Holy City to live and to die there. They have come to be close to were God has placed His temple and so they can be close to where God would reside. I want you to see something here that is important, I don’t want you to miss this. In verse 5 Luke tells us these “men are from every nation under heaven.” They are not just from down the street, they didn’t just grow up in the area of Isreal where they would have spoken Aramaic or Greek. They came from all different regions and they spoke the languages of those regions as well as their own language. They were for the most part bi or trilingual.
It is not clear if these people have gone back to die there or if they have gone back and because the distance to their homes is so great they pitched their tents so to speak for the fifty days from Passover to Pentecost but the fact remains many nationalities are being represented here. This event here of all these men coming back and being in Jerusalem was a part of the prompting of the Holy Spirit because as these men are in the Holy City and are celebrating God’s power and majesty and commemorating God’s deliverance and sustaining of the nation of Israel out of Egypt and the provision of the first fruits and the law we see the Spirit prompt these people even more.
Look with me at verse 6, “And when this sound occured, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language.” The sound that occured was the sound we find in verse 2. In verse 2 we read, “And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind.” This noise was not localized to the point only those in the house heard it. In fact it seems as though this noise echoed through out the city of Jerusalem. It was also unique enough of a noise to call the peoples attention. Again not by accident. This was the power of the Spirit prompting the people in the area to come and see and hear what was happening. This is described as a noise that sounds like a rushing wind and we explored last week how the wind is synonomous with the Spirit. He is doing something amazing here and He doesn’t hide it.
When the Spirit is prompting people as He does here it is a call by God to come and see and come and hear. God is the One who does the calling and the calling is done by the power of the Spirit. In Exodus God is the One who called Moses to be the one who He used to deliver the nation of Isreal from Egypt. It is by the Spirit’s power people are called and it is by His prompting we are all called by God. When we feel a desire to hear God’s Word or a pull to learn about what God is doing or who God is or what our purpose is it is the Spirit prompting us to do so. Listen God for the most part is not causing a loud rushing wind to blow but He is still prompting us in some way by calling us to Himself.
The Spirit prompts us to Himself and when He brings us to Himself He also does so with Clarity.
At the end of verse 6 we find those who were prompted to find out what was going on also were amazed or bewildered. They were in a state of confusion because of the amazing event that was occuring. These witnesses who were called were hearing these Galileans, those men and women who are from a northern province of Israel speaking in their own languages. It is further elaborated in verses 7-9 on what is happening. We read here in verses 7-9, “They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the district of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs-we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”
The phenomenon that was going on here was the Israelites from all around the known area those who were born in these different countries who spoke the languages of these different countries were hearing these local Galileans men and women speaking their native languages. This is the first and true instance of speaking in tongues. These people are all Israelites who were born in these differing countries and spoke the language of these differing countries. There is a separating which happened because of the sin of mankind in Genesis 11. Last week we looked at this passage and we should look at it again. In Genesis 11, God told the people to spread out. Now just to tie what is going on in Acts if you read Genesis 10 you find that in Genesis 10 God provides for us the different nations that came from Noah family. A tie to the different nations here in Acts 2. When we come to Genesis 11 we find this.
Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. The Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city.
So there were many people on the earth and all descendents of one man Noah so they all spoke the same language. Now because they had one language they were able to work together and they worked together to build a tower. They wanted to be like God but God had other plans for them and He confused their languages. This stopped their building project in its tracks. Have you ever tried working with someone who you can’t understand. Its not easy. So instead of having clarity and order there was confusion and chaos which was a result.
For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), “I am the Lord, and there is none else. “I have not spoken in secret, In some dark land; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek Me in a waste place’; I, the Lord, speak righteousness, Declaring things that are upright. “Gather yourselves and come; Draw near together, you fugitives of the nations; They have no knowledge, Who carry about their wooden idol And pray to a god who cannot save. “Declare and set forth your case; Indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the Lord? And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me. “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. “I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. “They will say of Me, ‘Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength.’ Men will come to Him, And all who were angry at Him will be put to shame. “In the Lord all the offspring of Israel Will be justified and will glory.”
Then In John’s gospel Jesus says this to His disciples concerning the Holy Spirit’s Clarifying power.
“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.