“And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”
What is the meaning of a scene like this? Well, its not alcohol. Much too early in the day for that! What it is, Peter suggests, is a sign that the future age of God’s salvation has broken into the present. To wit, this is to fulfill what was said by the prophet Joel: “In the last days it will be that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. And your sons and daughters shall prophesy…”
In the last days. Again, we stumble upon the core belief of the NT writers that in the death and resurrection of Jesus, the future reign of God has broken into the present. And a sure sign of that, for anyone reading their apocalyptic tea leaves, is that the Spirit would be poured out on all flesh. The Spirit, as the continuing presence of the risen Christ, works to break down those barriers that would keep God’s future from being seen in the present. And here in Acts 2 God’s future is anticipated by the Spirit being poured out on both women and men, old and young, and even upon slaves, both male and female. This sign of a violent wind and tongues of fire demonstrates that “the Lord’s great and glorious day” has appeared and that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
And this I know, its pretty serious stuff to deny (blaspheme?) the work of the Holy Spirit.
And this I know, there are women who bear public gifts given by the Spirit of God, who by their very presence signal that God is abolishing human distinctions and working toward that great day when “God will be all in.” Your daughters shall prophesy because this is the appearing of the great day of the Lord. And who wants to spoil that party?
So, I’m done with the failed project of reading the NT as a blueprint or constitution for the contemporary church. It’s impossible to be consistent in application. The Bible itself won’t allow it. Instead, I want to be animated by what animated the NT writers–the belief that God acted decisively in Jesus to make the future day of the Lord available to us in the present. We belong to that day now, and groan with every fiber of our being for that day when God’s reign will be fully present. And so, we celebrate the gifts of the Spirit as harbingers of God’s future wherever we find them. And daughters will prophesy!