Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pentecost Marks the End of Israel's Exile

In his Pentecost sermon, Peter explains that what Jerusalem witnesses is Jesus "having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit," and so "poured forth this which you both see and hear" (Acts 2.33).

Peter refers to the promise of the Holy Spirit as something that his unbelieving audience knows about. So it seems implausible that Peter's reference to the promise of the Holy Spirit is a reference to the declarations that Jesus made regarding the coming of the Spirit.

I think Peter's argument is even bigger than that. The prophets prophesied not only that the temple would be rebuilt upon Israel's return from exile, but that God's Spirit -- his shekinah glory -- would return to Israel as well (Ez 39.25-29, 37.14, 24-28, 36.16-38, esp. vv. 27, 35, Joel 2.28-29, Is 44.1-5, 32.13-18).

The thing is, we never see God's Spirit indwelling the second temple in the power and glory that he indwelt Solomon's temple. And as long as the Spirit has not returned to the temple in a like (or, actually, in a greater) manner, Israel's exile is not entirely over.

That the Spirit comes as a consequence of Jesus' ascension means that Jesus has ended Israel's exile. God has forgiven Israel in Christ, and so they receive the Spirit with their reconciliation to God (Acts 2.28). This in turn testifies to who Jesus is. That the Spirit has come upon Jesus' disciples as a result of Jesus' ascension means that Israel now knows "for certain" that Jesus is "both Lord and Messiah" (2.36).

The overall movement, then, in the NT is this: the Davidic king comes in Jesus. Jesus then builds the new, intensified temple (the church), whom the Spirit then indwells on Pentecost. Israel awaited the fulfillment of all of this since her exile. So Jesus provides definitive closure for Israel.


Post a Comment

<< Home