Don’t Get in a Hurry…Read All the Words
Why So Hurried?
A few weeks ago, I was getting ready to begin a series with my student ministry on the book of Acts. I’ve read through all the accounts of the book, and as I was prepping, I noticed that I’d always rushed through part of the Pentecost account, and missed some very important wording. We find this passage in Acts 2:1-4
“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (ESV)
Almost every version/translation of scripture that I checked in, with the exception of the NIV, has some wordage that I never thought to get the detail on. A “sound like a mighty rushing wind” filled the house, and “tongues as of fire” stuck out to me. I’d always read that to say that there was a might rushing wind with fire tongues in the house. Maybe I’m sitting on this too hard, but as I thought about the significance of this, I began to do some research as to why Luke would’ve described this the way he did.
Instead of there being a huge wind in the house, there was the sound of a mighty wind and tongues as of fire. Now, like I said a minute ago, the NIV calls them tongues of fire, but that has been the exception to the rule with this verse, outside of possibly some other paraphrase versions. So why am I hung up on this? Well, because sometimes we miss what is actually written there and assume what it says.
Does it matter that there may not have been literal fire tongues above the disciples’ heads? I think so, and here’s why.
According to a commentary I read regarding this passage, Luke was using the best description he could about what the experience of the Holy Spirit descending upon the disciples was like. This particular commentator mentioned that he used the wording because it was only something that God could’ve done. This made me look at things a bit differently because now I understood it to be the Holy Spirit and not some accurately thrown embers floating around.
Again, maybe I’m looking too far into this from a weird angle, but I believe that we sometimes rush through things and assume what God’s word says. This is dangerous. Mainly, I think, because we put words where they don’t belong, or we get them out of order and that can change the meaning of a sentence. The Holy Spirit descending could only be explained in writing, for the reader’s sake, as something so phenomenal that it could only be described as something God did. Now, I wasn’t there, so I don’t know if there were floating tongues on fire, but I do know that the words used are a powerful description of what God had just done.
When we slow down and let God’s word saturate our heart, mind, and soul, we have the chance to hear and understand it more clearly. Don’t do what I’d done so many times before, spend time letting God’s word impact you. Like my last post last week, take time to let His goodness cover you.