Our church recently began a study of the Book of Acts. Yesterday, we discussed most of Acts 2 together. While I was studying the passage last week, I noticed a parallel with an Old Testament event/passage.
In particular, I saw some similarities between God filling the tabernacle after it was built and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.
For example, consider this passage that begins Acts 2:
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. (Acts 2:1-3 ESV)
There are lexical similarities between the passage above and the description of God’s presence in the tabernacle. For example, consider this passage from Exodus:
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys. (Exodus 40:34-38 ESV)
There are other passages in the Pentateuch (Genesis – Deuteronomy) that describe the glory of the Lord as fire. Also, the passage that describes God’s glory filling Solomon’s temple is similar.
If Luke did intend a connection between the sending of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and the filling of the tabernacle (and later temple) by the glory of God, then there is a difference that is extremely important.
On the Day of Pentecost, Luke points out that the “tongues of fire” appeared above each of the followers of Jesus, not above a place as we saw in the Old Testament accounts.
Have you ever read anything that compares/contrasts the coming of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost with God’s glory filling the tabernacle/temple? Do you think there are similarities here that Luke intended his readers to notice? If so, why would he want them to notice the similarities? What about the differences? Is the primary difference that I pointed out important?