When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them (Acts 2:1, 2).
Even a raw recruit understands the value of firepower. The simple formula is: The more the better.
It is striking to note how many times the Lord of Creation refers to fire in reference to himself and what he does. Many times the picture is of something fiercely ablaze—not just a flicker of flame.
To Moses, the Lord appeared as burning bush, then as a pillar of fire, and at the giving of the Law we hear: “Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire.” (Exodus 19:18)
We fear fire that we cannot control. We use fire as a weapon. Flamethrowers became deadly weapons in the War in the Pacific. Yet today’s firepower makes many WWII weapons seem puny.
But the weapon on display on Pentecost makes every other one to be like a toy. It can be frightening to realize that the firepower of the almighty God surpasses by thousand-folds all of our weapons put together—conventional and nuclear.
But that is not the message of Pentecost.
Violence was in the wind on that day. By contrast, the fire was a controlled one. Small flames seemed to rest on heads without burning hair. But these were not feeble flames.
These flickers of light symbolized power. They signaled the beginning of a massive invasion like none other. With the activation of these few men, the Army of Christ began a campaign that would touch every part of the globe.
It must have seemed impossible at the time. No mighty governments backed the effort. No pile of money financed the operation. No stockpile of weapons was laid aside. The troops assembled on that day had broken and run in the past. Most were deserters.
Pentecost changed all of that. Faint hearts became brave. Foreign languages became instantly understandable. Three thousand souls came to believe in Jesus on just one day.
Of course that was a miracle. But the miracle of Pentecost continued on past this one day, past that century, past that millennium. It moves forward yet as the weapons of Pentecost continue to strike targets and win victories. The Word of God and the sacraments of the Holy One still turn enemies of God into warriors marching after the Son of God, and puts them on the path to heaven.
We are among them.
The fire of Pentecost came from the Savior God. This was the Holy Spirit.
This was the fire of his love.
Come, Holy Spirit, renew our hearts and kindle in us the fire of your love. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military