September 20, 2021

The Coming of the Holy Spirit 23-05-2021

23rd May 2021 The Day of Pentecost
Title: The Coming of the Holy Spirit
(Scripture Readings: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Acts 2: 1-21)
By Heeyoung Lim

We know God’s Spirit is at work; it is for the world, the church, and all people. From the very beginning, Christ calls individuals into community as the church, and the Holy Spirit comes to us in different ways. Pentecost is the festival day marking the birth of the church; it is a good time to reaffirm congregants’ participation as disciples in the body of Christ. God is speaking to individuals who do not feel that belonging to the body of Christ, those who feel discouraged or excluded by the church. He is also giving us the renewal of creation, the liberation from oppression, and the recovery of the torn and broken things. I hope we can discern where and how God is active in the past, present, and the future through the Holy Spirit.
In Ezekiel’s vision, God led the prophet back and forth among scattered dry bones. His vision of the dry bones shows the power of God’s Spirit to bring life from death. (Ezekiel 37:1-14) God will revive and unite His people and will defeat those who seek to destroy them. When Ezekiel prophesied as God commanded him, the bones came together. He looked at those bones that were attached, but they did not breathe. God commanded Ezekiel to prophesy a second time, this time to the breath. When the very dried bones are everywhere God restored them. As a result, the bones came to life and stood up on their feet. This message was about resurrection, restoration, and revival of very dried bones which means Israel, but it was not after death. They will be renewed spiritually when God places His Spirit within them in keeping with the new covenant.
There are tough times when we are physically struggling, emotionally being exhausted, and spiritually stagnant like scattered dry bones. However, God can do the impossible when our bones are dried up and our hope is gone. God restores us when we live here on earth as God’s restoration was not after death in the text. We know that God is the LORD in our all circumstances. Its emphasis is placed on the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit that can give life to dry bones is giving us strength to live lives of faithful obedience pleasing to the Lord. (11)
Regarding Acts 2, this is not the first time that the Holy Spirit appeared in the New Testament. Luke introduced him (Luke 1:15) as a witness to the coming of Christ at the incarnation. He also recorded the role of the Holy Spirit in the virgin birth (1:35) and the descending of the Spirit upon Jesus at the time of his baptism (3:22). At the end of chapter 1 the believers gathered in silence and prayer. Obediently, they awaited the promise of the Holy Spirit’s coming and the Lord’s command for them to do nothing until that event occurred.
They heard a sound like the blowing of a violent wind. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire. (3) The fire started as one and then separately came upon them. Wind or fire is associated with the presence of God in the Bible. Symbols of the Spirit’s coming were sound of wind and appearance of flame. On the Day of Pentecost, God sent the Holy Spirit upon 120 believers in Jerusalem, and they began to proclaim the gospel in different languages. They did not need to translate because everyone understood in their own language.
The experience on the Day of Pentecost was the use of different languages; it seems to happen once without repetition, but other experiences of the Holy Spirit occur with frequency as believers allow God’s Spirit to work through them. (4) Sometimes Pentecost is seen as the reversal of the impacts of the tower of Babel, when the languages of the world were confused, and people were scattered. The Holy Spirit enabled communication possible in Acts 2, but human pride made the communication impossible in the Genesis 11 in which the people of Babel were building a tower and thinking arrogantly. God showed His response to the human arrogance by confusing their languages so that they cannot understand one another and cannot work together in their lives.
Genesis 12, God said to Abraham, “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you”. The blessing and promise given to Abraham came directly after the Babel tower story which represents confusion, curse, and arrogance. God led His people and fulfilled His promise; He continued His work in and through Jesus and the Holy Spirit even though they were sinners. Luke is implying that the curse of confusion and miscommunication are overturned with the coming of the Holy Spirit. That is a special gift and blessing from God.
Everyone’s second language was Greek at that time. Many have seen ‘the gift of tongues’ as the gift of a heavenly sound. 3,000 people trusted Christ through Peter’s preaching and the first church was born. God acted by His Spirit in a new way when Peter connected his preaching directly with the promise of Joel that God would pour out His Spirit among His people. God’s spirit has been poured out upon many people at once and the crowds have witnessed. There are no discriminations and barriers between genders, ages, and social classes. There is no division in God’s salvation, it is just focused on all who call on the name of the Lord. (21) The Lord which in Luke indicates Jesus; all who call on the Lord’s name will be saved. Being saved does not just mean going to heaven when people die, it also means God’s rescuing power revealed in Jesus is in our present lives. The salvation has already begun for everyone who calls on the Lord and believes in Jesus. I hope we can discover how it can happen.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians can proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and people will believe and become a part of His body, the church. The presence of the Holy Spirit is the church’s guide to living as faithful servants of God in the world and faithful witnesses to Jesus Christ. God can do whatever God wants to do through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. God empowers His church for His work through the coming of the Holy Spirit. God will revive and unite us through the power of the Holy Spirit, He will lead and transform us from the dried and scattered status. Especially God will give us words of power, words of comfort, and words of life. Luke recorded the togetherness the early Christians enjoyed.
After a voice from heaven spoken down at them on the day of Pentecost, Jesus’ followers were inspired to speak. Jesus sent down the gift of the Holy Spirit and they prayed to Him. They preached the Good News about Jesus Christ crucified and risen, and testified what God was doing among them. The first actions done on the first birthday of the church were listening and speaking. The Holy Spirit enabled the both-sided communication. We are surrounded with lots of words, sounds, and signs, but we sometimes do not hear the voice of God in our daily lives. I hope the two-way communication with God and others would be one of our priorities in the power of the Holy Spirit.
God’s desire for redemption, new creation, and salvation are continued regardless of any barriers we create. Do we really listen to God’s words whenever God is speaking to us through the power of the Holy Spirit? Are we spreading the gospel and living out Spirit-driven life? I pray that we will be filled with the creative, regenerative, and transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

Thanks be to God. Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)