Can you feel a sense of anticipation in
the air? An awe? An excitement mixed with a little dose of dread?
A countdown is in progress. "T" minus only a limited amount of time until a
great fire is kindled. This feeling is referenced and especially
highlighted this month. The 15th of May marks the climax of the counting of
the seven weeks (50 days) from the firstfruits celebration of Passover.
This Feast of Shavuot is also called the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost. We
are to do this countdown at this time (Deuteronomy 16:9 and Numbers 28:26).
There has already been a firstfruits down payment. The countdown is leading
up to the full deal. Forty days after the firstfruits resurrection, Yeshua
left the scene (Acts 1:3). Peter and James and the gang had to wait only 10
more days to complete the countdown of 50 days, for the full deal, THE
outpouring. For most of us the countdown is longer.
What are we expecting to Happen?
We are in what feels like an agonizingly slow process of being awakened
personally and corporately from the numbing slumber of the daily grind and
the droning buzz of pervasive resistance. We are being awakened to this
life of expectation, to this hunger for more, to the realization that we do
not have to settle for life as usual. God's plan is to fill us with
something completely different, with the fluid of transcendency, with the
nature of other-ness, with the Spirit of Holiness. That is where He dwells,
on a different plane, in a different reality. He desires to impose His
reality upon ours. He longs for His kingdom to become more and more
manifest here. Yeshua said, "I came to set the earth on fire, and how I
wish it were already kindled" (Luke 12:49, GNB)!
Let the fire fall?
On the 50th and final day of the countdown, His disciples "were all with
one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of
a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were
sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one
sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit"
What followed was an unprecedented breaking in of God's kingdom
reality: Miraculous proclamation in unknown languages. Conviction. Signs.
Healing. Wonders. Thousands swept into a community of unity with all things
in common. "Then fear came upon every soul ..." (Acts 2:43).
Isn't this what we are hoping will happen?
Yet we also note that in the midst of the greatest revival the earth had
ever known, there is a warning in fine print, a little caveat ... the
Holy Spirit is Holy. He brings a fire that burns what is not
of Him. Ananias and Sapphira were consumed in this community of fire. When
they insisted on lying, the level of God's presence in power and
holiness was such that it came to light immediately and was judged with
Torah Promise of God's Glory is also a warning: DON'T
PLAY WITH FIRE!
We see these two outcomes of God's manifest presence throughout the
Book: supernatural kingdom blessing on the one hand, and holy judgment of
sin on the other. One of these passages is Leviticus 9-10, in which God
gave Moses instructions on how to prepare the people in anticipation for
the glory of the Lord appearing in the new Tabernacle. Atonement was to be
made for the sins of the priest-leaders. Atonement was to be made for the
sins of the people.
When Moses and Aaron had finished appropriating the sacrificial atonement,
they went before God's presence, then "came out and blessed the
people. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people, and fire
came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering ..."
The people saw it, shouted and fell on their faces.
Fire is exciting.
Fire is also dangerous.
Two of the priests then had a spontaneous idea to do something with the
incense fire that God had not instructed them to do. In their presumption
they did not distinguish between holy and unholy. The level of God's
presence in power and holiness was such that fire consumed them (Leviticus
10:2). His judgments may not be what we expect. We see in a very limited
way, and our capability of judging is very limited. God sees the whole
picture from beginning to end - all of mankind, all of history. And His
judgment is righteous and ultimate.
How do we become holy?
It's interesting that the process of being made holy, set apart or
"sanctified", is a central part of traditional Jewish prayers: "Blessed
are you O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has made us holy
Wanting to be wholly set apart for the life of God does not bring us to
nervous insecurity. It's the opposite. With confidence we commit
ourselves into God's hand.
"But now the name of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah and the power of
God's Spirit have washed you and made you holy and acceptable
God." (I Corinthians 6:11)
"May the God who gives us peace make you holy in every way and
keep your whole being - spirit, soul, and body - free from every fault at
the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah." (I Thessalonians 5:23, GNB)
May we live in this anticipation.
May we cooperate as God prepares us during the countdown.
May we cooperate as God washes us and makes us holy.