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How is my life with God?

When the day of Pentecost had finally arrived, they were all together in the same place. Suddenly there came from heaven a noise like the sound of a strong, blowing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then tongues, seemingly made of fire, appeared to them, moving apart and coming to rest on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them the words to say.” Acts 2:1-4, Acts for Everyone, Tom Wright.

I don’t know about you but Easter feels like a very long time ago now. A lot has happened in the last 50 days. Today is Pentecost and I thought I was going to share about how the church grew exponentially following the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Maybe something about how the new believers lived radically different lives following this amazing encounter.

Instead, I find myself thinking about the gap between Easter and Pentecost. Why 50 days? Why not the next day? Why didn’t Jesus pour out his Holy Spirit on the disciples as he met with them one by one after his resurrection? Is the 50 day thing just a coincidence? 

At the time of Jesus’ death, Jerusalem would have been full to the brim because of the Jewish festival of Passover. This is a time when Jews remember the angel of death sweeping through Egypt and killing the firstborn of all the Egyptians but passing over the Israelite’s houses because they were covered with the blood of the Passover lamb. Following this night the Israelites were set free from slavery in Egypt. God had heard their cries for help and had rescued them. They set off into the desert and began the journey to the land that God had promised them.

50 days after they had been set free the Israelites were at the foot of a mountain. Moses, God’s appointed leader for them, was up the mountain covered in cloud receiving the law. 50 days after being released from captivity and slavery God was setting out with the Israelites how it was all going to work. God was saying, “This is how you need to live in order for me to stick around, here are the guidelines, this is how we are going to work well together.” It wasn’t a huge list of do’s and dont’s but an expression of God’s love for the Israelites as his chosen people. Sadly everything went a bit pear-shaped and, well, you can read the story of the Israelites wandering the desert for 40 years in Exodus. Needless to say, God did not give up on them! I never realised this but the Israelites became known as Jews after their exile in Babylon.

So, jump forward from the ancient stories of the Passover, the giving of the law, and the Israelites wandering the desert to first century Jerusalem. The Jewish people are under oppression from the Romans – not quite slavery, but they were crying out to God for his help. They wanted rescuing, and God did just that. He sent Jesus, his only son, to them. To help them, teach them and to open their eyes to what the scriptures said. Jesus was blameless and innocent, rather like a lamb. He was led away and killed. His blood poured out as the soldiers pierced his side to check he was dead. He died, was separated from his Heavenly Father and endured hell but that wasn’t the end…He rose again. He defeated death. The devil’s chains could not hold him. He came back to life and showed once and for all that God had the victory!

Jesus’ blood being poured out was like the Passover lambs’ blood on the Israelite doorframes. Anyone who is prepared to be known as a follower of Jesus, to give their lives over to him, and to live under his rule is covered by his blood and so the angel of death passes over us, the enemy has no hold on us either and we share in God’s victory!! Did you notice the difference there? ANYONE. This message is now for everyone. Jesus isn’t just for Jewish people but for all people. But it doesn’t end there. God didn’t rescue the Israelites then leave them, 50 days later he gave them the law as a guideline for living, remember? So that brings us to Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus has risen from the dead and the huge rescue plan has all come together, the new believers were gathered.

God came down and showed the new believers how to live a new way of life. The Holy Spirit came and filled them and they were sent out with good news to share. What we remember and celebrate at Pentecost isn’t just a happy day where lots of people became believers, it is the mirroring of Moses being given the law. It is God giving his newly redeemed people, not just Jewish but everyone, a new way of life for how everyone will work together to see the Kingdom of God on earth.

I hope you celebrate Pentecost! I hope you are excited to be living in a time when God is working with his people! I hope you are pressing into all that it means to live as one of God’s redeemed people in your everyday context.

Rachel Wright, Inspire Missioner, GB

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