Sunday, May 27, 2012

More than one Pentecost miracle

Some thoughts while listening to the account of the first Pentecost today...

Did you ever notice this? There are four distinct signs and/or miracles in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit:

1. A "strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were."

2. " Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them."

3. "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim."

Then, a different miracle involving language:

4. "Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound [which sound? Sign #1 or Sign #3?], they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language..."

Did you get that? It says they were all different language-speakers. What confused them was they heard their own languages being spoken to them--such that they understood.

Now, a question I will try to look up later: does this mean to suggest that for each of the hearers' individual  languages, there was an apostle or disciple given that language to speak? Or does it mean to suggest that something else is at work--enabling them to hear clearly, even through what would otherwise be, well, babble?

After all, take out the miraculous. If you had 10 people who spoke 10 languages on a stage--and then 10 people in an audience who all spoke the same languages, if all the 10 speakers speak at once, isn't it hard to imagine understanding--because of the din?

So the fourth sign--if you assume the speakers were given power to speak languages corresponding to those of the crowd--was to enable it all to be clear. And the hearers, being sensible people, knew this couldn't be accomplished normally. So they marvel at what they experience.

But the main thing that interested me as I listened this morning was the many different signs all at once. Most of the time we get one and that's impressive enough. But on some occasions in Scripture, there are several combined. Off the top of my head (sorry, it's a day of rest, so I'm not going to look up each Scripture reference) I can think of these:

> Moses and Israel at Mt. Sinai--the mountain was shrouded in fire and smoke, and also there were ear-trembling trumpet blasts.

> The baptism of the Lord: with the sky being torn open, the dove and the Voice.

No doubt there are others you might cite from Scripture.

So what to make of this? What, if anything, does it mean?

One thing I thought of: that God wanted to bold, italicize and underline, as it were, what he was doing--then, for good measure, add exclamation points and color highlighting.

What are your thoughts?

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