Nearly 600 years after the time of Ezekiel, Jesus taught his disciples about the soon-coming Spirit of God. In John 14, after telling his disciples that he was going to leave them, he promised that God would send another counselor to be with them, the Spirit of truth. Jesus said in John 14:17 that though the world would not accept, see, or know the Spirit, the disciples would know the Spirit because the Spirit lives with them and will be in them. The Spirit would remind the disciples of Jesus’ teachings. Jesus went so far as to say that it was better for the disciples that he left them. To that I think, “No way Jesus. I wish you were still here.” But upon further examination, Jesus’ is right. Because Jesus left, the Spirit will come, and that is better because it means that the Spirit would live with all Christians. The Spirit would make it possible for God to live in every person who gives their heart and life to him, which is just what Ezekiel prophesied through the Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones.
We know when that outpouring of the Spirit happened. If you read chapter 2 in the book of Acts in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit shows up in a rushing wind, just as Jesus said he would. The Spirit filled the Christians and empowered them to speak in other languages, a miraculous gift they used to preach the Gospel to the crowds of people in Jerusalem for the Jewish Pentecost feast.
On that day, the Apostle Peter stood up among the people and he invoked the words of another prophet, named Joel, through whom God previously said, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people.” Peter said that Jesus was the Messiah who was the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel, to be the savior, and the confirmation of that fulfilled promise is the fact that the Holy Spirit was being poured out right that very day. Thus, Peter continued, the people should repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus the Messiah, for the forgiveness of their sins, and they too will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Three thousand people did so that very day! The dry bones coming to life that Ezekiel had prophesied about 600 years before was coming true before their eyes.
There you have it, the famous story of the beginning of the Church. The Spirit was unleashed and on the move. What we can forget is that the same Spirit of God is still at work bringing the dead to life today. When we think about that day of Pentecost when the Spirit first arrived, it is not as though the Spirit arrived once and then faded into the background. The Spirit was alive and well and active. In fact, you don’t have to look much further in the book of Acts to see what I mean.
Turn to Acts chapter 4 verse 23. We don’t know how much time passed between Acts 2 and Acts 4. Maybe a couple months. In Acts 4, Peter and John have been thrown in jail for healing a man and preaching the Gospel. But they were released by the religious authorities who couldn’t decide what to do with the disciples. Look at verse 23, and we read that after the disciples are released, they go back to the Christians and report what happened. There is a spontaneous prayer time in which the Christians, unphased by the persecution Peter and John had just endured, pray one of the most exciting prayers in the Bible in verses 29-30, “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
And how does God answer that request? We read in the very next verse, “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly”!!! How about that? The Spirit arrives again! The Spirit fills them anew for ministry. And more and more people experienced their own dry bones coming to life.
Has that happened in your life? Check back to the next post as we’ll talk about how to experience the Holy Spirit today.
Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash
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