“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.” (Joel 2:28-29, ESV).
On the day of Pentecost when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, Peter stood up and declared to all the Jews in Jerusalem who witnessed the event that this Spirit-filling was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (see Acts 2:16-21). So, the day of Pentecost was the beginning of the era that Joel was talking about–the last days–in which God pours out His Spirit on all His people.
“So they camped or traveled at the Lord’s command, and they did whatever the Lord told them through Moses” (Numbers 9:23, NLT).
When Israel was in the wilderness, God led the nation with a pillar of cloud or fire. The pillar regularly appeared as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. When the pillar settled over the Tabernacle and the camp of Israel, it represented God’s presence and protection.
“Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle…The cloud of the Lord hovered over the Tabernacle during the day, and at night fire glowed inside the cloud so the whole family of Israel could see it. This continued throughout all their journeys.” (Exodus 40:34, 38, NLT).
The climax of the Exodus occurred when the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. God’s intention from the start was not merely to deliver his people from their bondage, but to bring them into a relationship with Himself. The real need for the Israelites was to know God personally in their lives.
“For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:16, NASB).
These are the words Moses spoke to God when he interceded for the Israelites after they had crafted a golden calf to worship while Moses was on Mt. Sinai for forty days receiving the Ten Commandments and other instructions from God. So, God threatened to send the Israelites into the promised land with only an angel to lead them and without His presence among them.
“Insert the Urim and Thummim into the sacred chestpiece so they will be carried over Aaron’s heart when he goes into the Lord’s presence. In this way, Aaron will always carry over his heart the objects used to determine the Lord’s will for his people whenever he goes in before the Lord.” (Exodus 28:30, NLT).
One of the primary priestly functions was to determine God’s will for His people. The priest’s chestpiece provided a container for the Urim and Thummim.The Hebrew words descibing the chestpiece literally meant “chestpiece for decision.”
“God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith” (Acts 15:8-9, NLT).
The first-century Church was at first mainly comprised of Jews and Christianity was, in many respects, a sect of Judaism. So it was not surprising that when Gentiles began to believe the gospel, the Jewish leaders in the Church wanted the Gentile converts to be circumcised.
“Then God gave the people all these instructions: I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any other god but me.” (Exodus 20:1-3, NLT).
This verse is the preamble and the first of the Ten Commandments in Exodus Chapter 20. The Ten Commandments are sort of an executive summary of the expanded terms of God’s covenant with the Israelites in Chapters 21-23.
The terms of the covenant specified the behavior the Israelites were expected to demonstrate if they were to be in a covenant relationship with God Almighty. The first four commandments (vs. 2-11) described what our behavior should be in relation to God while the remaining six commandments (vs. 12-17) described what our behavior should be in relation to other human beings.
“As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came down on them, just as on us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, if God gave them the same gift that He also gave to us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, how could I possibly hinder God? When they heard this they became silent. Then they glorified God, saying, ‘So God has granted repentance resulting in life even to the Gentiles!'” (Acts 11:15-18, HCSB).
Citizenship is generally a function of where you are born. You are a citizen of the country in which you are geographically born or of which your parents are a citizen.
The same is true for citizenship in the Kingdom of God. Kingdom citizens must be born of God; they must be birthed by the Holy Spirit.
“When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him, saying, I am God Almighty. Live in My presence and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you greatly” (Genesis 17:1-2, ESV).
Thirteen years after Ishmael’s birth, God again appeared to Abram, whom He renamed as Abraham during this appearance. In these verses God calls Himself “El Shaddai,” for which the meaning is unknown, but its translation as “God Almighty” is based on a tradition going back more than two thousand years.
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation 21:3, ESV).
If you are planning to go to heaven to be with God when you die, don’t plan to stay there forever because God is coming to live on Earth!