#03 (Acts 1:12-26) The Upper Room Before Pentecost

This 3rd study will concern itself with the final pre-Pentecost happenings. This is study Acts003 (1:12-26) The Upper Room Before Pentecost.

Note on Pentecost: The Hebrews speak of Pentecost as Shavu'ot, or the festival of weeks. It is the second of three major festivals; Passover and Sukkokt being the other two. Pentecost was also known as the festival of the giving of the Law. You may find it interesting that Pentecost is designed to fall on a Sunday. (According to the Essenes and the Karaite Jews.) More on this later.

To get a feel for this study you may wish to read the Scripture portion as a whole. The Lord has ascended. There are yet ten more days until the feast of Pentecost. It seems there is business to be cared for before the coronation day of Messiah. Let's see how things go.

The Mount of Olives

Vs12: "Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away."

The Mount of Olives figures greatly in the redemption history of Israel. There is a legend among the Jews based on the book of Ezekiel, that when the glory of God left the temple, it passed through the Eastern Gate, and then hovered over the Mount of Olives for an extended period of time. And out of the glory (called 'ha kavod') you could hear weeping. The glory then departs and enters heaven. If you would like to read where this comes from see Ezekiel 10:19; 11:23. Cf. Ezekiel 43:2-3.

Does this sound familiar? Where is the Garden of Gethsemane? It is not on the Mount of Olives? Have we ever heard weeping there?

Then the prophets tell us that when the Lord returns, He returns to the Mount of Olives. It says, "In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south." (Zechariah 14:4)

Vss13,14: We find the disciples in the upper room, devoting themselves to prayer. This group includes "the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers."

It is quite possible that the women present included the wives of the apostles. Marriage for the Hebrew peoples was considered the first commandment. Not to be married meant that you were marring the divine image. It was a great sin. Actually a man was given no voice in community affairs if he were not married.

Vss15-26: The remainder of chapter one concerns itself with the selection of someone to take the place of Judas Iscariot. It has to be someone who had accompanied the band of disciples all the way from the baptism of John until the day that Jesus was taken up into heaven. Let me share a few thoughts on what is happening in this portion:

Numbers Carry Significance

... (1) Notice that the group of disciples number 120. What is the significance of this number? There are several places in the Scriptures where 120 fits in, but there is one place in particular that will draw attention to Pentecost. It has to do with the dedication of Solomon's temple.

It says, "When the priests came forth from the holy place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without regard to divisions), and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and their sons and kinsmen, clothed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps and lyres, standing east of the altar, and with them ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY PRIESTS blowing trumpets ... then the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God." (2Chron5:11-14)

Numbers carry significance in the Scriptures. It isn't a matter of getting into numerology. It has to do with patterns. The former testament is filled with snapshots and pictures, types and shadows, of that which is to come. On the day of Pentecost, the new temple of God will be filled with His glory, and there will be 120 trumpeters sounding forth His victory.

The Twelfth Apostle

... (2) Why was there a need for a 12th apostle? It is because 12 represents the fullness of Israel. There is a sense in which each apostle would represent a tribe in Israel. Jesus told the 12 apostles that they would sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Then we have the heavenly city, the new Jerusalem with 12 foundation stones, each with the name of an apostle. But the city also has 12 gates, and each gate has the name of one of Israel's tribes.

Keep in mind that Jesus is our great high priest. When He ascended into heaven, He carried all God's people on His heart. For an Old Testament picture of this, we see the high priest entering into the Holiest of Holies, and on his vesture are twelve stones. He brings Israel with him. (Later we will get more in-depth with this. Of course questions are always welcomed.)

Who is Israel?

... (3) Peter says the Scripture had to be fulfilled with regard to someone taking the office of Judas Iscariot. This is a very important point with regard to Scripture. If you desire to be a true student of Scripture, then you must also take this position. All Scripture has to be fulfilled. To over spiritualize the Scriptures is to do damage to the truth.

One example we have of this is when Israel was born as a nation in May, 1948. Before that time it was common to say that the Church represented the total of Israel. But there were a great many men of God, including C. H. Spurgeon, who said that Israel had to become a nation state again before the coming of Jesus. No one thought it was possible at the time. But men like Spurgeon took the Scriptures literally. It had to happen. And it did happen.

Here is the prophecy: "Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons." (Isa66:8)

The Hebrew language does not allow this Scripture to be spiritualized to mean the Church. Israel had to be restored as a nation in order for the Church age to find closure. Remember the earlier question the apostles asked; "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" How can the kingdom be restored to Israel, if there is no Israel?

The Last Old Covenant Act

... (4) The important of choosing a Matthais. The issue of casting lots in this instance is the last act that can be said to have been done under the former covenant thinking. We don't need to cast lots anymore. The idea of casting lots connects to the Urim and Thummin of the former testament. It was a way of allowing God to make His choice in certain matters. Little is known about these objects.

Notice how the company of disciples pray; "'You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.' And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles."

One thing I need to point out in bringing this portion of our study to a close --- There are no apostles today on the order of the 12 apostles. These men alone were given power and authority to lay the foundation for the Church. But they were to do so in line with the prophets of old. Thus it can be said that we have our apostles and prophets always with us. You will find them in that old black back book that you read so often.

The study remains open. Feel free to stir around.

Previous: #02 (Acts 1:6-11) Israel, the Holy Spirit, and the Second Coming
Next: #04 (Acts 2:1-13) The New Covenant Comes Into Place

This study on Acts was originally part of a series on the book of Acts given to members of Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003. They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, Founder and Senior Pastor of Christian Challenge International.

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