Pentecost happened. Praise God! On the southern steps of the Temple, God’s presence was revealed in the rushing wind and the ball of fire. That ball of fire exploded into tongues of flame that appeared over the heads of the disciples. It must have been quite an amazing sight.
But even in the pyrotechnics of the moment, there were skeptics. Some claimed the disciples were drunk. Three thousand were baptized on the spot, but tens of thousands were gathering for Shavuot, so not everyone believed immediately.
Pentecost is rightly considered the birthday of the Christian church. So, what is the church born to do and to be? Three thoughts.
First, on Pentecost morning, the words of the prophet Jeremiah in chapter 31 came to be. In verse 33 God spoke through the prophet, “’This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.’” God literally changed his address! He left the Holy Place of the Temple. The veil had been ripped at the crucifixion. It was no longer needed. God left the place in the symbols that he had given to the people throughout the Old Testament. His new address was within the hearts of each believer. What a beautiful Pentecost takeaway. God has chosen to live within you. To paraphrase Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:19, “Your body is now his temple.” Take heart and be encouraged.
Second, these were God’s instructions for the harvest time: “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:9-10). Believers must be generous, caring for each other and for the poor. How big are the corners of your fields? In other words, how generous are you with the business of the kingdom? God does not ask for your entire field, but only that you are generous by leaving large corners.
Third, Ezekiel 47 paints a marvelous Pentecost picture. After Pentecost, the disciples followed Jesus’ command and went to the ends of the earth with the good news. From the Temple steps the good news spread throughout Judea and Galilee. From there it spread to Syria, Lebanon, Arabia, and the Fertile Crescent. It spread to Asia, Rome, Africa, and India. Eventually it reached Europe and China, the Americas and Australia.
Ezekiel’s vision in chapter 47 describes it this way. A trickle of water appeared from under the threshold near the Holy Place (toward the east, God’s direction). The trickle ran down the southern stairs (the people’s place where Pentecost happened).
The trickle flowed to the east. There it entered the Kidron Valley. As it flowed, it expanded. The trickle became a stream, and the stream grew from ankle-deep to knee-deep to waist-deep in a short time. Soon it was a torrential river that no one dared cross. It became a wadi flood that would sweep you away!
The Kidron empties near EnGedi in the Rift Valley. There the typical wadi flood washes into the deadest of seas. The Dead Sea’s salinity is about 30 percent. It cannot sustain life. But in Ezekiel’s vision the water of this flood does a miraculous thing. It turns the Dead Sea to fresh water. The newly freshened sea sustains fruit-bearing trees on its shore and all kinds of fish live in it.
That is the “so what” of Pentecost. The trickle of water is the good news of the kingdom of God. As kingdom-advancing disciples spread the good news, the kingdom advances as unstoppably as the river in the Kidron. When the good news is believed, even the most sin-sick lives and places in this broken world become alive with the hope of the gospel.
Our world today can feel like a very hopeless place. Serving God in the brokenness can be discouraging at times. The powers and principalities of this dark world seem to be attacking with force lately.
Do not be discouraged. If a trickle of fresh water from God can turn the deadest of seas to a fresh water lake, so can every believer be a difference-maker too. Those who have been called to be disciples and to be kingdom advancing leaders are like cups of refreshing water in the river of life.
May those who are dead in sin find the refreshing hope of new life. May we be God’s hope-bringers. May we be the Pentecost church.
Devotionals are written by Jeff Blamer, Vice President of Member Services