And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
The Word αφνω in the original language of the New Testament, or aphno in our alphabet is the word “suddenly” in the ESV, the KJV, NASB, NIV, and even in the paraphrase NLT. I suppose we should stick to suddenly.
The Greek Lexicon of Louw & Nida gives this definition of ‘aphno’ – “pertaining to an extremely short period of time between a previous state or event and a subsequent state or event—‘suddenly, at once, immediately’.
There had been a promise made a long time ago. That can be found in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah and Joel.
Jeremiah Foretold It
The weeping prophet who cried out in Jeremiah 9:1 “oh that my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people” found solace in a future day when the Lord would do something “new.”
Listen to his voice repeating the revelation of the Spirit of God regarding the very days that we are privileged to live in:
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
You might say “wait a minute with that interpretation dear brother! Where does it say the Holy Spirit in this text?” You would be right to ask it. But notice what it does say. “I will write it on their hearts.” It says, “and no longer shall each one teach his neighbor…for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord.” How does this happen according to the revelation of the greatest prophet who ever lived? Jesus said in John’s gospel chapter fifteen, “but when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”
He called the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of Truth.” We have all heard that but have you ever made the connection that God’s Word – titled “my law” in Jeremiah had to be written on the hearts of every believer and the one person in God who could write this on each and every one of us had to be the promised Holy Spirit? That is a sweet truth. God did send the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. God does send the Spirit to every believer who by faith comes to salvation and is made a new creation in Christ.
Joel’s Prophecy is Different
Joel says simply this”
28 “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.
29 Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
Joel says it will result (the Holy Spirit being poured out) in prophecy, dreams and visions. He says all flesh as in all kinds of people without distinction between the nations. This matches Jesus’ command to go to the ends of the earth with the gospel.
But wait a minute again. These happened hundreds of years before the “suddenly” in Acts 2. Isn’t hundreds of years a long time? Not with God it isn’t. With God time is not necessarily linear – “one day is a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day.” So in God’s timetable it was only half a day later when the promise came true.
You could also look at this way. From the time Jesus commanded in Acts 1 for the disciples to wait in Jerusalem it was even more “suddenly.” Jesus stayed around for 40 days giving many convincing proofs of His resurrection bodily. Then He ascended to heaven to His rightful place at the right hand of the Father. Pentecost was 50 days from Passover. So fifty minus forty equals ten. Ten days from the promise in Acts 1:8 to the fulfillment in Acts 2:2. That is suddenly. This suddenly changed the lives of the believers. Not just the apostles but the believers in the “whole house” heard the sound and the church was founded in one sudden moment of explosive power and wonder and signs and dreams and visions and prophecy. The New Testament was written because of the coming of the Holy Spirit and people, thousands of people go saved and added to the “number” there in Jerusalem. Then they started to be persecuted and Stephen was martyred and then others and then the gospel began to spread as it has even to this very day. So intense is this work of God’s Spirit in this age of grace that fits into an age that is also called the eon of the dominion of the Enemy…that he must be turning into a schizophrenic personality. On the one hand he has many bamboozled into believing his lies and at the same time many are turning to Christ and being filled by the Holy Spirit of God.
For them, indeed for us when we get born from above as Jesus described it in John 3 that same suddenly happens all over again. It does not stop with conversion. Suddenly we find ourselves in places and all of a sudden the Spirit of God works. We can’t stop praying or reading or witnessing or doing our jobs with excellence or dreaming of what it would be like if we could leverage more of our gifts for His precious and mighty kingdom.
Suddenly He re-fills us. Suddenly peace comes. Assurance returns. Joy bubbles up. Life is put back into perspective. It is almost like the wind. We don’t see it coming. It is almost like a fire – it consumes our fears and our shame and lifts up the soul on wings as eagles.
What about the sinner. This suddenly ultimately applies to you more than anyone. Here is the definition at the top of this post. “pertaining to an extremely short period of time between a previous state or event and a subsequent state or event—‘suddenly, at once, immediately’ from Louw & Nida. I have been talking about the event of the promise and not the rest of the definition….the “state.” For the unbeliever the status of no Holy Spirit to the condition of having the Spirit of God is instantaneous. One moment dead in trespasses and sins. The next you have God – you have Jesus – all because you have been baptized into the Holy Spirit. “Extremely short” is a massive understatement as these states are infinitely closed together. Suddenly you know your sins forgiven. Suddenly you have the power to be transformed, to understand, to see, to be alive. Oh sinner…you can by simple faith in Christ, turn from your sins to the Savior and suddenly you will be made new. Suddenly He makes all things new. Suddenly al the promises of God are for you Yes and Amen! Suddenly the plant bursts forth a flower and then just as suddenly the flower becomes fruit. Won’t you come sinner to the cross and be made new this very moment? Please ask if you need more explanation or want to talk or pray with us who have undergone this great event…We WOULD LOVE IT!!!!
OH GOD…again ALLOW YOUR Holy Spirit to fill us with your presence and use us in the work we have all been commissioned to do…to witness to the truth – the powerful gospel. We will change and others will for the first time be introduced to “suddenly there came from heaven…” and all will be blessed and His name will be glorified, the mighty, beautiful and awesome name of the Mercy on High – our blessed Savior and soon coming King Jesus!