The Ingathering

Acts 2:37-47

Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.” And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Look at the simplicity of the question asked of Peter and the rest of the 11; “what shall we do?” Notice the simplicity of the response; “repent and be baptized.” Behold the behavior of the brethren; “and all those who believed were together and had everything in common.” See the sense of awe and sincerity of heart; “with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people.” Observe the daily routine; “and day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together.” We surely have come a long way, haven’t we?

I find it ironic that in the prayer of Jesus to the father in John 17, where he asks the father for the disciples to be one, he also asks the father to keep them in the world. But don’t take my word for it: “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You did send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that You did send Me. And the glory which You have given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that You did send Me, and did love them, even as You did love Me.”

Yet our unity is disrupted by those who claim that we will be removed from the world. Because it’s their way and the rest of us are mockers. We shall see. How long is a generation again? Because I agree with their math, they have about one year left before “this generation of 1948” becomes that generation. That is, the generation that didn’t see a rapture of the church. Also by those who believe that one must speak in tongues in order to be saved. I am not so dogmatic that I insist that one must believe what I believe concerning eschatology nor would I ever demand that people must speak in tongues to be saved. If one must speak in tongues to be saved, would we not expect see that here in today’s context?  Since it is absent and never stated anywhere else in the Bible, speaking in tongues is not a requirement for salvation. The irony of ironies is that we have won the argument and put to death the debate. Why then does the debate rage on, causing division? Rather than have oneness in this world, as Jesus prayed and prescribed, and rather than keeping ​it simple as Peter has proclaimed, we hold to what we have been taught by non-apostles, unlike the early, Jewish church that followed the apostle’s teaching. There, I wrote it; hopefully it will be preserved for future generations after “this generation,” which began in 1948, is all gone. Between denominations and eschatological beliefs, we have not been this divided since the East-West schism and the Protestant Reformation. And that’s exactly what the enemy wants. Yes, sure, the Beast, absolutely. And all the antichrists, I’m sure. But more specifically, the great Satan himself. Problem: Jesus kicked the living crap out of Satan. When will we wake up and realize that Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords? Satan is nothing but a defeated, little demon compared to the majesty found in Jesus Christ. If Christ is for us, who could be against us? The problem is that we get in our own way. That is our worldy thinking. We’ll come back to this.

Peter could have spoken on eschatology it today’s text, or on speaking in tongues as it pertains to salvation, but he didn’t. He, himself spoke in tongues and he addressed that. Now he speaks of the simplicity of the Gospel. And many of the people present responded to that simplicity, notice: “Be saved from this perverse generation!” Notice also, “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” We can only assume that “this generation” meant the generation to which Peter was testifying. Yet when Jesus says, “this generation” in Matthew 24, we are supposed to believe that “this generation” means, “that generation alive in 1948?” Come on, you did not come up with that yourselves. This is the precise problem with preconceived notions and presuppositions, they are by definition, presumptions. They are human ideas, that most times, require a change in word definitions and grammar in the Bible text. Which the dogmatic, dispensationalist conservative will cry foul when the likes of Bill Clinton says, “it depends on what your definition of is, is.” And rightly so, nevertheless we hate holding the mirror up to our own faces.

I always have to remind myself to keep it simple stupid. The Bible was not written to scholars, it was written to ordinary Jews, first and then to Greeks. Much of the New Testament was written to gentiles, specifically. All but a few words of the New Testament were written in Koine Greek (pronounced koy-nay), to everyday people. One does not need to be a Biblical scholar to unlock the Scriptures, which have been caged by our cultural clutter, presuppositions and preconceived notions. All one has to do to unlock the caged words is to consider; the context, author’s aspiration to his audience, genre, explore examples and then divide rightly the Word of Truth. And yet, people love their dogma and what they have been taught rather than reading the Bible for all its worth, letting the Scripture interpret Scripture, considering the context.

If one needs to speak in tongues to be saved, why don’t we read about these three thousand souls speaking in tongues? The context is clear; speaking in tongues was a way to spread the seeds of salvation to the nations and not the salvation itself. Salvation was through Jesus. Did Jesus ever speak in tongues? Not that I can recall but he did, as Peter pointed out, die at the hands of evil men but was raised and now sits at the right hand of the father. The very same father to whom Jesus prayed, “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one…I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that You did send Me.” Which brings us back to today’s text.

“Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.’ And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation!’

The prayer of Jesus has come to pass in this particular passage. There, in a purely prophetic way, we see the fulfillment of not only the Feast of First Fruits but also the Feast of Booths, or Sukkot, the ingathering. Jesus had told them that the fields were ripe for harvest. We see how true that statement was. 3000 souls in one day? We also see the fulfillment of the prayer of Jesus. You don’t need to be a Biblical scholar to see this but it does take some studying and a lot of Vitamin E. When we take our Vitamin E and search the Scriptures using an Expository Exegesis of Examples, we are enlightened to the significance of not only the three pilgrimage festivals, but how they are intrinsically interwoven into these “end times.” And it’s more fascinating than a pre-tribulation rapture or speaking in tongues.

A super-small summary: Passover, or, Pesach; the Hebrew slaves in Egypt had to flee in haste, they made unleavened bread and slaughtered a lamb, placing the blood of the lamb on the doorway to their dwellings so that God would passover their dwellings with the curse of the death of the first born. Jesus died during Passover. He also changed the Passover feast to communion; the breaking of bread in remembrance of him.

The Feast of Weeks; First Fruits; Shavuot: Directly linked to Passover, the Hebrews were to count 7 weeks from Passover until the wheat harvest. When they first arrived in the promised land, they reaped that which they did not sow. It was a harvest festival celebrating the first fruits. In Hellenistic times, it became known as Pentacost; 50th day from Passover. They Hebrews celebrated the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai during this festival, though that was never mandated by God. What was mandatory was the Counting of the Omer and wave and freewill offerings. The Holy Spirit came at Pentacost.

Sukkot; The Feast of Booths; the ingathering; was to remind the Hebrews that their evil, wicked, God doubting forefathers were forced to wander the wilderness, dwelling in temporary tents. An entire, perverse generation had to die off in the wilderness in order for Israel to enter the promised land. When they entered the promised land, God had them dwell in booths once a year as a reminder. But Sukkot is also the final harvest festival. Like the Feast of First Fruits, it is the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year.

What is the Spiritual significance? More than meets the eye and certainly more than we can cover in one missive. I would love to write a book on the Spiritual significance of the three pilgrimage festivals, but no one would read it. While absolutely fascinating, it’s not sexy, like blood moons, speaking in tongues or a secret rapture where a bunch of people suddenly disappeared, leaving the world in a panic. No one actually reads research papers anymore, I’m not sure if anyone reads nonfiction anymore. I’m ​not sure if there is any nonfiction anymore.

Notice the context to see the Spiritual significance; “Be saved from this perverse generation!” Yes, Peter is, as Jesus was in Matthew 24, speaking of his generation. That is, the people alive at the time when he made those remarks. Nevertheless, history repeats itself. Much like the generation that wickedly wandered the wilderness, his generation is also wicked–he testified to that earlier in his Stabbing Sermon. But it gets better, we cannot create a doctrine simply because Peter used the word, “generation.” Notice what happens next.

They were baptized. Do you remember who else was baptized, and it’s a Sunday School answer? Jesus. And going all the way back to my missives in the beginning of Matthew, we will remember that Jesus was baptized by John, like, yet unlike, Israel was baptized into the Sea of Reeds. When were they baptized into the Sea of Reeds? After the Passover, immediately proceeding their dwelling in temporary tents. God passed over their slavery dwellings and then they were baptized, only to dwell in tents. What happened to Jesus after he was born in Bethlehem, fled to Egypt, fled from Egypt and was baptized? He was tempted in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights. And what did Jesus pray for in John 17? For his followers to be kept in this temporary tent of the world but to be protected from the evil one.

But even more specifically​ than that, Jesus prayed, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, [meaning the twelve] but for those also who believe in Me through their word; [meaning subsequent followers, like in today’s text] that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that You did send Me. And the glory which You have given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that You did send Me, and did love them, even as You did love Me.”

Look at Luke’s description of the Ingathering; “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

Is our division because the temple is gone and the apostles are all dead, exactly how Jesus described it in Matthew 24? Actually, that is part of the problem. Not only our misunderstanding of the prophecy of Jesus concerning the apostles and the temple but our misunderstanding and diabolical distortion of the apostles’ teachings. At the first, the newly created gathering of christians were unified, in the apostles’teachings and in prayer, fellowship and breaking bread. They sold their properties to take care of the less fortunate. Luke paints the picture of the perfect church. We notice the unity but also the vast diversity. We already have seen that many men from different nations were there. Of course that is a big deal, especially in our current cultural climate, but the largest gap between these people was of wealth. Some had much, and others didn’t have enough to get by. In solidarity those who had, sold and gave to those who were without. But it’s even better than that. Unlike welfare in the United States, were the government steals from the haves and gives to the have-nots, only coming to you once every four years to get your vote, everyone ate together everyday. You see, the government is really good with other people’s money and really good about visiting places, where they normally wouldn’t be caught dead, when they’re up for reelection. However the early gatherings of christians were really good with their money and their time, devoting time to the diverse fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer and following the teaching of the apostles.

But something is lurking on the horizon that continues to curse until this day. Not the devil, not the Antichrist, but I am sure you will all be glad to hear that it is The Beast. Metaphorically speaking. 666, or, 616, is the number of his name. And the mark of the beast is the opposite of the mark of God. That is, plainly and simply, we either have the mark of heavenly thinking or the mark of earthly thinking. Peter says, to “Repent!” Literally; change your mind after being with.

But for now, we are left with the perfect version and vision of the church. Many nationalities, with diverse economic backgrounds, and not a gentile in sight. Lest we forget that the early, perfect church was Jewish. I suppose that the dogmatic dispensationalists may be correct. Or, are we promised persecution pestilence and famine? History repeats itself and we act more like Israel than the early, Jewish church. Nevertheless, we all dwell in booths.

 

 

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