Deep in prayer, walking in short steps around the perimeter of the crowded room, the man cried out desperately to His God. "Jesus, where are you?! You said we should wait, but we have been waiting ten days in this tiny room. The men are afraid to come and go. We cower like dogs, and have no vision for what we should do next. I don't know why you chose me. Am I not a fisherman, an uneducated fisherman? What will you have me to do?"
As he passed the doorway, he heard the shuffling of feet on the stairs. His heart skipped a beat as he heard the knock at the door. But, the voice of Philip's oldest girl came softly through the wall. It was the four of them returning from the Temple. He was amazed that some of the women continued to come and go; to the market to fetch their meals, to the well to haul water, and to the Temple to pray. Yes, it was about 9:00 in the morning already, and here they were returning. As he unbarred the door, they slipped inside and took up their spots with the others in the vigil. He noticed the younger child take up her harp, and she began to strum softly the words of David.
...The LORD said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand,
...until I make your enemies your footstool.
...The LORD will extend your powerful kingdom from Jerusalem;
...you will rule over your enemies.
...Your people are willing
...in the day of your power,
...in the beauty of holiness
...from the womb of the morning
...your strength will renew us each day like the morning dew.
...The LORD has sworn, and will not relent, You are a priest forever, Jesus...
A hush fell over the room as the words and music of the child faded and the sunlight, now climbing in the sky, flooded through the darkened window. It was a holy hush, an unseen hand seemed to lay gently on every stooped shoulder. A sigh wrenched loose from Mother Mary. John fell flat on his face, prostrate in the floor. But no one seemed to take notice of his brother. Peter suddenly broke into a mad dash around the room, and the others were waving their arms toward heaven as the Spirit of God was poured out in their hearts and souls. The visible, tangible presence of God was so real, you could almost touch it. The room was suddenly in such a passionate fervor that it seemed like tongues of fire rested over their heads. Everyone in the room began to praise God and speak in languages they had never learned.
The men were the first ones out the door of the crowded room. They danced down the steps and out into the streets which were bustling with the mid-morning festival crowds of the Pentecost Feast celebrating the giving of the Ten Commandments. Some called this Whit's Sunday. But, the locals were taken by surprise by the surge of the Apostles out into the streets, shouting in gibberish. Some of them exclaimed that these were apparently celebrating the holiday too hard and were drunk. But, others recognized their own foreign languages coming from the mouths of these worshipers, and realized they were speaking different tongues.
Peter gathered the other 11 disciples together and, like any anointed young preacher without a pulpit will preach wherever he can find a crowd, he began to preach right there on the street corner.
"Men, brothers, we are not drunk on wine. It's not even late enough in the day for men to be drinking yet. This is the promise that God gave us in the Scriptures, in the prophecies of Joel. Joel said that God would pour out His Holy Spirit on all people, and our sons and daughters would prophesy, and our young men would see visions, and our old men would dream dreams. He promised signs and wonders would follow, and that whoever shall call on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Peter preached on with the sun beating down on his back, on into the afternoon. Sweat poured from his forehead, as he danced in the Spirit, calling on each person in the crowd to come to pray. One by one, the men in the crowd came forward and fell on their knees before the Apostles asking what to do about their sin. Peter stood up and gave the answer...
"Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
By the time the day had ended, three thousand of them had been baptized. But, more than that, the long awaited power that Jesus had promised had now been given. No more did they cower in a hidden room. No, these men of God were emboldened to preach the word without fear. Just as Jesus had promised, "But you shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. "
Scripture References as follows:
The Harp Song Psalm 110:1-4 (NKJV+NLT mixed)
Peter's answer Acts 2:38,
Jesus' parting promise Acts 1:8
Acts 2:1-2 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they 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 all the house where they were sitting.
Heads bent together, the four slender girls stumbled along the road, so lost in a discussion that they really were not watching where they were going. They were sisters, and the children of a prophet. Their father, Philip was chosen as a Deacon by the early church in Jerusalem, one of the seven deacons. There had been death threats. It was no surprise that they were concerned about the safety of their father. But, their father was not the subject of conversation on this trip to the temple. As they approached the Golden Gate, the beauty went unnoticed, as well as the lovely sunrise peeking over the horizon, which gave it that golden glow.
"A sad state of affairs it is for our people when the men folk are all in hiding!" the youngest of these young ladies exclaimed.
"I don't think you fully understand the nature of a death threat, Sister." Her eldest sister chided her calmly. "Besides, God has a plan, and I know he is thinking about His people. He promised in the prophecies of Joel that He would send a 'former and a latter rain' to bless us with His bounty."
"Yes, piped up the nearest the youngest in years." All we have to do is plant the seed, and God will send the Autumn rains first to make it sprout, and then in the Spring, the Spring rains He send make the harvest a bounty of providence."
The remaining sister listened quietly, seeming to ponder these words. She didn't know how to ask the question that was sitting so heavily on her heart. She was puzzled over the fact that the Messiah had been crucified, and resurrected, and then had ascended back into the clouds, just like that. So she just listened, as they were jostled in the crowds coming and going.
"But, God promised He would 'drive away the Northern armies.' Why do these Romans continue to plague us?! Oh, how could God be so late in sending us the hope we've waited for? Why did Jesus leave again, if He was resurrected from the grave? When will we ever see the throne of David raised again in the Temple! Why must it take so long?!" protested the youngest child again.
These four young girls had a reputation for being prophetesses, yet something missed their vision even more than the Scripture they were mulling over at the moment. Suddenly, the silent one found herself flung out on the pavement there at the gate. Dazed, and not yet aware of what had happened, she tried to focus her eyes on the scene around her again, when she realized it was just the crippled beggar who lay at the gate. She had fallen over his feet and knocked over his hat full of coins in her carelessness.
Scurrying onto her knees, with her robes wrapped tightly around her, she began to clasp after the coins as they rolled across the pavement, muttering repeated apologies. Her sisters around her pulled her to her feet without saying a word, for now they had been shocked into silence. There sat the poor beggar just as calmly as if nothing had happened. He had not felt a thing anyways, seeing that his legs were paralyzed. But, he had been just as taken by surprise by them as they had by him. He had heard their approach, but was so engrossed in their argument that he sat there aghast at the things they were saying. Such innocent looking young Jewish girls arguing about the prophecies of the scrolls. And, they were talking about Jesus, the Healer. What did they know about Jesus or a Messiah? They were not even allowed into the inner sanctuary, but were kept behind the wall of partition for the women. How could they speak such things so boldly? Didn't they know the Romans had crucified this Jesus, and that they had the power to dispel these 'stories' of His resurrection?
The eldest girl reached into the folds of her robes withdrew the few coins she had and tossed them into the man's hat. Then with a humble bow, and diverting her stare, she gathered her sisters through the gate. But, glancing back over her shoulder, she noticed he still sat there as if nothing had even happened. Turning again to her sisters, she reminded them of the hour. "It's the hour of prayer, come on now, hurry! All of these questions will just have to wait!"
***Author's notes: You may have noticed that this story is part of a series I am writing for the Day of Pentecost, which is this Sunday.
The first three in the set were: Power Play... A Waiting Game The Powerless Can Only Wait What Do You Do When You Wait?
Come back tomorrow night for my special culmination of the series on the Power of Pentecost.
Related Scriptures used to build the telling.
Joel 2:23 Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he has given you the former rain faithfully, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. (NKJV)
Acts 3:25 You are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. (NKJV)
Acts 21:8-9 The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food. He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy. (NLT)
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (NKJV)