Greetings to you! We continue on our lockdown journey 4.0 close to seventy days since its inception. We are still asked to be at home and avoid going out as much as possible. Similarly, when Jesus ascended to the Father on the fortieth day after his resurrection, he asked the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they would receive the Holy Spirit.
Ten days later on the day of Pentecost, the 50th day after the resurrection of Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit was poured upon all the believers while they were all gathered in one place (Luke 24:53; Acts 2:46). Luke records for us that it was the day of Pentecost.
The feast of Pentecost was significant for two things; 1) It was an agricultural festival; 2) It was the called the feast of harvest because it was after the grain harvest, or feast of weeks or Pentecost because it took place fifty days after the Passover festival in remembrance of the Exodus and was also the time when the grain harvesting began. This morning I would like us to look at three specific points namely: 1) The Promise of the Holy Spirit; 2) The Coming of the Holy Spirit and 3) The Work of the Holy Spirit.
The Promise of the Holy Spirit: The prophet Joel who lived probably about seven hundred years before the coming of Christ prophesied, “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days”.
In the Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit was given to people for a period of time and only to certain people for leadership. The Spirit was not a resident Spirit. The Holy Spirit was with Moses and also with the seventy elders (Numbers 11:24-27). This was also true of the Judges on whom the Spirit of the Lord was given (Judges 11:29; Judges 15:12-14). Kings were also given the Spirit, like Saul and David (1 Samuel 10:6-10; Psalm 51:11).
In the Old Testament God made numerous covenants within the people of Israel which they kept breaking. So, he promised them a new covenant through the prophet Jeremiah. “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.
No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” In the new covenant the law will be internal, forgiveness will be complete and knowledge of God will be universal.
All this would be possible only through the coming of the Holy Spirit. Similarly, God says through the prophet Ezekiel, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws”. So, we notice that God had promised in the past that there would be a time when the Holy Spirit would be given freely to all believers and the Spirit would remain with the believers.
Jesus himself reminded the disciples that he would send them the Holy Spirit as soon as he goes back to the Father. Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you”. So, we see there is clear promise about the giving of the Holy Spirit.
The Coming of the Holy Spirit: Just as Jesus had promised the disciples that he would send them the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit came down on the day of Pentecost. The disciples were all gathered in one place. We are not sure whether it was the upper room or some other house or the temple where they had gathered together (Luke 24:53; Acts 2:46).
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven, filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
This incident is the fulfilment of the promise of the Holy Spirit. From that day onwards till today the Holy Spirit is given to every believer to stay with them forever. The people there were wondering what had happened to them as they spoke in different tongues. Some even thought that they were drunk. Peter stood up and explained to them that it was only 9 o’clock in the morning and that no one was drunk. He goes on to confirm that this is the coming of the Holy Spirit promised by the prophet Joel.
Thirdly we will be looking at the work of the Holy Spirit. Two weeks ago, we saw that the Holy Spirit was the comforter, intercessor, advocate and the Spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit teaches us and reminds us about all that Jesus had taught them.
Jesus also says that when the Holy Spirit comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin, righteousness and judgement: about sin, because people do not believe in me’. Unbelief is the greatest sin against the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit gives us enough evidence to believe in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. And if we rejects that evidence we will be judged. Secondly, the Holy Spirit will judge us about the righteousness, because Jesus was going to the Father.
In other words, Jesus was telling them that the way to the Father was through the righteousness of Jesus. We cannot claim entry into heaven by our good deeds or by our merits.
It is the righteousness of Jesus which has been transposed to us and therefore we will be judged if we think we can enter God’s kingdom by our own righteousness. Finally, the Holy Spirit will judge us because the prince of the world already stands condemned. Again, judgement will fall on all those who follow Satan, the prince of this world.
As we celebrate this important festival of Pentecost there is both an encouragement and a warning for us. We are encouraged that the Holy Spirit is our advocate, intercessor and comforter who pleads on our behalf and intercedes for us and comforts us and guides us.
On the other hand, he will also judge us with reference to sin, righteousness and judgement. We are called to believe in Christ as our Lord and Saviour. We are called to depend on his righteousness and to lead holy lives with the power of the Holy Spirit. May God truly help us on this Pentecost day to walk according to the Spirit.
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