The philosopher Alasdair Macintyre said that for something to be understandable it must find its place in a story. For example, suppose you are waiting outside a store on Main Street when all the sudden a young man comes up to you and says, “The Latin name of the common wild duck is Histrionicus histrionicus histrionicus.” The sentence makes complete sense, but you have no idea what to make of it. Maybe this young man suffers from mental illness, and he is repeating this phrase for no apparent reason. Maybe he has mistaken you for someone else he met at the last meeting of his bird watching club. He thinks you are the person who asked him, “Do you happen to know the Latin name of the common wild duck?” To which he now answers your question from the other day. Maybe this young man is a spy, and he just uttered the code sentence to identify himself to his contact.
The day of Pentecost was a Histrionicus moment (Acts 2). A sound like a mighty wind, the tongues appearing like fire, the speaking of languages and dialects previously unknown to the speakers baffled the onlookers gathered in Jerusalem that day. Desperate to make sense of it all, some said the speakers were drunk. But, Peter, who up to this point frequently got the story wrong, stands up and, in the power of the Spirit poured out that day, places the events in the grand story of God’s redemption.
The Bible is, after all, a story – a story comprised of narratives, poetry, parables, law codes, and more, which all connect to the grander story. It is the story of the good, just, loving Creator rescuing his crowning creation, humankind, as well as all creation, from sin. Peter, says the final chapter of the story before the epilogue has arrived. He does this by quoting the prophet Joel (Acts 2:14-21).
Joel prophesied at a time of national tragedy for the people of God. Babylon had sacked Jerusalem like a plague of locusts. Joel prophesied of days when God would rescue his creation, days when God’s Holy Spirit would be “poured out on all people (Joel 2:28).” Peter stands up in Jerusalem and says the last days, which Joel prophesied, were unfurling before them. The time of restoration is here.
Do you know we are living in the last days? There is no better time than now to join the story, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Acts 2:21).