Gale Force

If there is one thing we know about here on the Outer Banks, it is WIND. We are famous for it. Remember the Wright Brothers? They came here to try out their new-fangled flying machine because our winds are strong and consistent. That’s great for kite flying on Jockey’s Ridge, but not so great for spray painting a baker’s rack, which I did last week. I ended up with more paint on the grass than the metal.

When the winds hit gale force, we hunker down or leave. That is why I was so amazed this morning to read that in the face of gale force winds on the day of Pentecost, the devout pilgrims in Jerusalem ran TOWARD the sound:

Acts 2 (The Message)

1-4 When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.

5-11 There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were blown away. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues?

Parthians, Medes, and Elamites;
Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia,
    Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
    Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene;
Immigrants from Rome, both Jews and proselytes;
Even Cretans and Arabs!

“They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!”

In John 15 we read that Jesus prays that his followers might be one. Here again we see that the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost united the followers in such a way that their languages could be understood by each other. Unity is a theme in the early church. It is God’s desire for his followers. How are we doing?

12 Their heads were spinning; they couldn’t make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: “What’s going on here?”

13 Others joked, “They’re drunk on cheap wine.”

The cacophony of confusion was so strong, it appeared as though the people were drunk. But Peter explains that it is only nine o’clock in the morning and they haven’t had time to get drunk. Peter has obviously never been to a morning college football game.

But notice that he stands to speak to the confused crowd with bold urgency. When was the last time you spoke for God with bold urgency?

Peter Speaks Up

14-21 That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: “Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight. These people aren’t drunk as some of you suspect. They haven’t had time to get drunk—it’s only nine o’clock in the morning. This is what the prophet Joel announced would happen:

“In the Last Days,” God says,
“I will pour out my Spirit
    on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy,
    also your daughters;
Your young men will see visions,
    your old men dream dreams.
When the time comes,
    I’ll pour out my Spirit
On those who serve me, men and women both,
    and they’ll prophesy.
I’ll set wonders in the sky above
    and signs on the earth below,
Blood and fire and billowing smoke,
    the sun turning black and the moon blood-red,
Before the Day of the Lord arrives,
    the Day tremendous and marvelous;
And whoever calls out for help
    to me, God, will be saved.”

This foretelling of what will happen in the end times is chilling. God’s Spirit will be poured out on all kinds of people. Visions, dreams, and prophesies will abound. Wonders in the sky and signs on the earth will be hard to miss, as will the blood, fire, and billowing smoke.

All these things will announce that the Day of the Lord is at hand. It sounds terrifying. Are you ready?

Whoever calls out for help will be saved.

Wonders in the Sky by Amy Wrenn

Tethered and Anchored

Let’s play a game. What do you think the image below means? Is it an instruction to throw your baby‘s anchor over the back seat as you approach the shore? Is it a message that says if you drive your car into a river, use your baby as an anchor to pull yourself out? Maybe it says that the car seat doubles as a floatation device, like on an airplane. Enjoy your cruise, baby!

But seriously, what does this mean?

Today we are going to read about a very specific sign that led to life or death…much like the one above, which indicates that the car seat should be tethered over the back of the seat and anchored to a hook on the floor in a van.

In this passage, God is about to liberate the Hebrews from their forced slavery in Egypt. He gave Pharaoh multiple chances to let his people go and Pharaoh refused. So now God comes with a vengeance and prepares his people for their escape.

Exodus 12 

1-10 God said to Moses and Aaron while still in Egypt, “This month is to be the first month of the year for you. Address the whole community of Israel; tell them that on the tenth of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one lamb to a house. If the family is too small for a lamb, then share it with a close neighbor, depending on the number of persons involved. Be mindful of how much each person will eat.

Take some of the blood and smear it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which you will eat it. You are to eat the meat, roasted in the fire, that night, along with bread, made without yeast, and bitter herbs. Don’t eat any of it raw or boiled in water; make sure it’s roasted—the whole animal, head, legs, and innards. Don’t leave any of it until morning; if there are leftovers, burn them in the fire.

As the angel of death flew over the land, the families were protected by the blood that signified that this was Hebrew household. When the angel saw the blood smeared on the two doorposts and the lintel, it passed over that house and went on to the next one.

11 “And here is how you are to eat it: Be fully dressed with your sandals on and your stick in your hand. Eat in a hurry; it’s the Passover to God.

As soon as this night was over, God would deliver them from Egypt. Hence the hurry. Don’t use yeast in the bread…there won’t be time for it to rise. Burn the leftovers because you won’t be here to eat them tomorrow. Wear your sandals to dinner and eat with one stick in your hand, because it’s about to get real and you might need to flee before dessert.

12-13 “I will go through the land of Egypt on this night and strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, whether human or animal, and bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am God.

Unflinchingly, God lays out his plan. The oppression and abuse of his people were about to end. Pharaoh would not get the last word.

The blood will serve as a sign on the houses where you live. When I see the blood I will pass over you—no disaster will touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.

The life or death sign of the blood saved the Hebrews and condemned the godless Egyptians.

When Jesus came, he also marked us with his blood. We carry the sign of it in our baptisms and it guarantees that the angel of eternal death will never touch us. It will simply pass over us because we are marked with the blood of the Lamb.

Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn it, but that the world through him might be saved. If you are marked with the sign of his love, go and tell others. If you are not, now is a good time to give your life to the One who can save you from eternal death.

Tether yourself to Jesus. Anchor yourself in his love and you will be saved.