The Southern Steps #SonlifeIsrael2017
Our #SonlifeIsrael2017 Tour concluded with a visit to the southern steps of the Temple Mount. Somehow it seemed like a month had gone by since we were last standing together in the Temple Mount, but in reality it had only been a few days.
On the southern steps we concluded our time together by reading through Acts 2, and remembering the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus. Our tour guide suggested that perhaps Peter’s great sermon was actually spoken at the Temple.
Here is what we know for sure:
On the day of Pentecost the apostles were altogether in one place (Acts 2:1). We do not know for sure where that place was. Perhaps it was the Upper Room. Perhaps it was the Temple Mount. I think these are the two most likely places.
A mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting (Acts 2:2). The language sounds more like the Upper Room to me, but Jesus referred to the Temple as “my Father’s house” and a “house of prayer”.
Tongues of fire appeared on them and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. In the power of the Holy Spirt, they began speaking in other languages (Acts 2:3-4).
There was a “multitude” of devout Jewish men from every nation who heard this sound and came together. Each person was hearing the apostles speaking in their own native language (Acts 2:5-12). It is hard to imagine a multitude of people coming together at the Upper Room. Perhaps that is the correct location, or perhaps the apostles went from the Upper Room to the Temple Mount at this point, but these verses do lead me to lean towards believing that Pentecost happened at the Temple Mount.
The people thought the apostles were drunk (Acts 2:13). Haha. Classic. Though this little verse is comical to me, it also reminds me of how easily people can mistake being led by the Spirit as something evil, selfish, or wrong. We should not be surprised when people just don’t get it.
Peter ensures the people that the apostles are NOT drunk, reminding them that it is only 9am (Acts 2:14-15). The time of day could be an important clue as to the location of the event. 9am would be the time for the morning prayer at the Temple. Perhaps the apostles received the tongues of fire while praying at the Temple. Then again, perhaps they were too afraid to go to the temple after what had happened to Jesus only 50 days earlier.
Peter makes the case that what is happening is exactly what was prophesied hundreds of years beforehand by Joel and David (Acts 2:16-36). In the midst of this, he talks about David’s tomb being “with us to this day” (v. 29). This particular phrase makes me think he is speaking from the Upper Room, but maybe it is just a reference to the fact that it is still in Jerusalem and not necessarily right next to where they stand.
When the people heard Peter speak, they were cut to the heart and they wanted to know what they should do in response (Acts 2: 37). I love this response! When we hear the word of God preached, we should always respond!
Peter tells them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38-40). This is a super bold move on Peter’s part! Jesus was just recently killed and now he is telling the devout Jewish men to be baptized in his name!
That day about 3,000 people received his word and were baptized (Acts 2:41). Two things about this number.
First, that is awesome! But where would 3,000 men be baptized? There not really a water source near the Upper Room. Perhaps they walked down to the Pool of Siloam and were baptized there. That is possible. But perhaps it is more likely that these 3,000 new believers were baptized in the more than 100 ritual baths outside of the Temple Mount that were traditionally used for coronial cleaning.
Second, the number 3,000 is a peculiar number. When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, it has been estimated that it took them 50 days to get to Mt. Sinai. Of course, during this time there was fire from heaven leading the way. While Moses was talking with God and receiving the 10 Commandments, the people had resorted to idolatry. What happened when Moses came back down? He purified the land by having the sons of Levi go through the camp and slay the people with swords. It was brutal. The scriptures say that on that day about 3,000 of the people fell (see Exodus 32:28). Now here we are at the first Pentecost after the exodus of Jesus, fire falls from heaven, and about 3,000 people repent and are baptized!
Can you see the amazing hand of God in all of this?! I sure can.
God is the God of exchanges! He gives us beauty for ashes. He turns death into life.
When we think about the disciples, it is often in a negative context. Sure, they were dense at times, but so are we! Peter denied Christ 3 times on the night of the betrayal, but look at him now, only 50 days later. He has become what Jesus saw in him all along.
I don’t know where you are at today, but God is in the habit of doing something great in the lives of those who are willing to be used by him! Will you give your life fully to him today?
Peter did on Pentecost. As a result, the number of disciples increased greatly Jerusalem (see Acts 6:7). The gospel was proclaimed into all the known world (see Colossians 1:23).
It is time for the gospel to go into all of the world again. It is time for the number of disciples to increase greatly again.
As for my trip to Israel, it has come to an end. But the real adventure with Jesus has only just begun.
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