Tongues

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“You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation…”
The people all responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said.” (Exodus 19:4-6a, 8a
NIV)

Many possess land handed down through a line of ancestors. Property that has long been in the family is not uncommon. Ownership took place long ago. A deal was struck. A deed or title followed. All parties, descendants included, became bound to an agreement. So it is with God’s people, the Israelites.

With Moses as the go-between, the Lord met his people at Sinai. A conditional agreement was made. If the people obeyed God fully and kept his covenant, they would be favored above all others on the face of the earth. They would be the Lord’s treasured possession. Though everyone belonged to Him, Jacob’s offspring would be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. This is the inheritance of Israel.

With the terms of God’s covenant clearly spelled out, the gathered children of Abraham voiced their agreement. The people responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said.” (Exodus 19:6a) In what language did Moses communicate God’s terms? In what language did the descendants of the Patriarchs promise their faithfulness to the Lord’s covenant? They spoke in an ancient Hebrew tongue we know today as Paleo-Hebrew.

Did the Lord renege on his commitment? “Is God a man that he should lie or a son of man that he should change his mind?” (Numbers 23:19) The question is rhetorical. Of course, he has not–and never will. The Lord will have a people who keep their covenant of obedience. An outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Pentcost Redux) is all that’s necessary to reveal the chosen or elect of God. This anointing from on high will not fall upon individuals scattered here and there, but, as in Acts 2, on gathered saints (cf. Hebrews 10:25).

In the last days, the people Peter described in 1 Peter 2:9 will gather in fellowship communities by necessity. (Think of the animals that arrived two by two in ordered to be gathered into Noah’s ark.) One tongue, uttered by God’s people, will mark believers and fortify their unity. Because of language difficulties, the wicked from the nations will stumble in confusion, or–and this will be a false sign or wonder–a counterfeit Pentecost from Satan could occur.

Our brother Elijah commented on the “Pentecost Redux, Part 1” post. He pointed out that a major key to understanding tongues in prophecy is Genesis 11:1-9. Realizing that confusing language to scatter people was God’s judgment on covenant-breakers, we can easily see how reuniting the covenant keepers from among the nations will be a common tongue. Revelation 7:9-10 is evidence. Languages may not cease. Nations will be present in the Millennium, but God’s people won’t need translators. In the way Arabic and Mecca unites Muslims around the world, Paleo-Hebrew will be spoken by the saints who look to Zion as God’s Holy Hill.

In conclusion: The Israelites stood at Sinai and made a sacred vow. They spoke as one and promised God their obedience. They failed to keep their word, but their descendants who call on the Lord, will fulfill their covenant. As one people with one tongue, saints will gather around the Temple and our High Priest Jesus. There we will pledge our faithfulness to the God who saves. The difference between Mount Sinai and Mount Zion will be Pentecost Redux.

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Pentecost

“…this is what was spoken of by the Prophet Joel, ‘In the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all people… I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ ” (Acts 2:16-17a, 19-21 NIV)

On the Feast of Pentecost, as Peter explained to the Jews what they were seeing and hearing, he offered an example of the near/far prophetic. Among the major rules for Bible interpretation is this: “Look for the near/far in prophecy.” (See Book Excerpts menu above, “Rules of Interpretation”).

Applying the rules, the only way the Apostle’s words, in Acts 2:16-21, are accurately understood necessitates viewing the Holy Spirit’s power on Jesus’ disciples as historical (near), yet prophetical as well. I argue the sign of tongues in Acts 2 is a shape, shadow or pattern of a future (far) last-days’ event. What Acts gives, particularly in Chapter 2, is a description of events as they unfolded, but also a preview of signs and wonders to come.

Charismatics and Pentecostals would argue that tongues-speaking reappeared more than a century ago, or since a famous meeting in 1903 on Los Angeles’ Azusa Street. I do not dispute the charismatic experiences of my fellow believers; I do contend, however, that any claim that what we have seen in recent times fulfills Joel’s prophecy lacks Biblical support.

For instance, with the tongues of the past, has there been blood, fire and billows of smoke? Some may say “Yes, they saw all that?” Okay, perhaps, but did witnesses see the sun turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord (Acts 2:20-21, cf. Joel 2:31)? Come let us reason together. The celestial signs associated with Christ’s return and the Day of the Lord have not been seen. We must conclude that the tongues we may have heard was something other than what the prophets, Joel and Peter, described.

The Acts 2 harvest of souls is a type of what we’ll see, but with a phenomenal twist.

Peter alerts God’s people who are living in the last days to prepare for another, greater in-gathering (Pentecost Redux) at the fall harvest. The Acts 2 harvest of souls is a type of what we’ll see, but with a phenomenal twist. In Acts, the Spirit fell like tongues of fire on the assembled Jewish disciples, but it was during the Spring harvest festival. Christ’s followers obediently waited in Jerusalem for the Father’s promise. When they received the Spirit (Acts 1:8), they uttered the languages of all nations (Acts 2:5), for we read every people group on earth was represented. Jewish witnesses to Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension were in that moment empowered and equipped to take the Gospel out from Jerusalem and all Judea to all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Witnesses in the last days will be gathered from these nations (Matthew 24:14).

Speaking through the Prophet Joel, God said that in the last days his people will rejoice in the autumn rain. Abundant showers will produce full threshing floors (Joel 2:22-24). If we believe the Word, the next abundant in-gathering will be among all nations, but during the fall festival.

In Revelation 7:9, John’s eyes were opened to the harvest Joel spoke of and is about to happen.

In that one day, according to Acts 2:41, three-thousand Jews were completed. They believed the apostle’s Spirit-filled message about their Messiah, were baptized and, later, added to the number of Jewish disciples. In Revelation 7:9, John’s eyes were opened to the harvest Joel spoke of and is about to happen. Dressed in white and appearing like sun-ripened wheat, is an innumerable multitude. The multitude is made up of sons and daughters, old men and young men. They come from every nation, tribe, language and people, both men and women. What are they doing? It is the opposite of the first Pentecost. The nations (i.e. saved people living throughout the earth) are declaring the glories of God with one voice–and in one language! (Rev. 7:10, cf. Joel 2:25-27). It is evidence of Pentecost Redux.

In Part 2, we will provide a Scriptural-supported theory regarding what language is spoken around the Lamb’s throne. We will examine God’s purpose in a second Pentecost. We will see a bit of what it means to “Completed Christians”. Get ready!

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