Day of Pentecost, June 4
Moses went up onto the mountain of God and saw a bush transfigured before him. “There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed” (Ex. 3:2). Just as Moses looked, the reader or listener looks and finds the bush still burning, still standing and presiding over the arid landscape, brutal in its determination to live. Heaven and earth will pass away, but this bush, it seems, will not. God is the flame burning but not consuming desert wood. Grace perfects nature and does not destroy it. In other words, God loves the world. Later, God spoke to Moses, and the skin of his face shone, red from flame and heat (Ex. 34:30). It was dangerous and mysterious, but Moses survived to be himself. They spoke together, God and Moses, face to face, as friends (Ex. 33:11).
“Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them” (Num. 11:29). The Spirit who fell upon Moses fell upon the 70 elders who stood before the tent, and the two, Eldad and Medad, who remained in the camp. The brush fire of God’s Spirit was leaping from person to person, beyond human censure and control. If only they were all prophets and friends of the Most High God. Indeed, when human nature was assumed into Jesus Christ, it followed that Christ, who is in the bosom of the Father, would share by adoption and grace his life and status as Son of the Father. “To as many as received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become the children of God” (John 1:12). He made them children and friends of God (John 15:15). Without harm to individuals, without threat to the integrity of persons, God unleashes the fire that burned in the bush. The fire of the Spirit is the power and life of Christ.
On the Great Day of Pentecost, when the disciples were gathered together in one place, the heavens rumbled and split, and a torrent of fresh air filled the house where they were. “Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them” (Acts 2:3). Awakened and strengthened by a heaven-storm and fire, they spoke in other languages, so that all the nations living in Jerusalem heard and understood: Parthians, Medes, Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt, parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs. This strange list of countries and ethnic groups may suggest a stylized catalogue, but it definitely suggests the universal reach of the gospel. “In our own language we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power” (Acts 2:11). The power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ was and is creating and igniting the Church. “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17). Let the whole earth praise the name of the Lord. Let the fire burn.
And the fire is effectual. The one and the same Spirit gives gifts and services and activities for the common good. There is a gift for each and a gift for all, the one Spirit.
Look It Up
Read Acts 2:3 and John 20:22: diversity and unity.
Think About It
The angel of death will pass over you, but the angel of resurrection will thunder into your home and spark a living flame.