And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:3-4a)
After Jesus ascended to heaven, the disciples met to pray and seek God, waiting for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. God kept His promise, and these words from Acts 2 tell how the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples on Pentecost. This outpouring of the Holy Spirit came with some strange things: a strange sound and a strange sight.
Notice the strange sound: suddenly there came a sound from heaven. The association of the sound of a rushing mighty wind, filling the whole house, with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit probably has connection with the fact that in both the Hebrew and Greek languages, the word for spirit is the same word for breath or wind. Here, the sound from heaven was the sound of the Holy Spirit being poured out on the disciples.
The sound of this fast, mighty wind would make any of these disciples who knew the Hebrew Scriptures think of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
– In Genesis 1:1-2, it is the Spirit of God as the breath/wind of God, blowing over the waters of the newly created earth.
– In Genesis 2:7, it is the Spirit of God as the breath/wind of God, blowing life into newly created man.
– In Ezekiel 37:9-10, it is the Spirit of God as the breath/wind of God, moving over the dry bones of Israel bringing them life and strength.
This single line tells us much about how the Holy Spirit moves.
– Suddenly: Sometimes God moves suddenly.
– Sound: It was real, though it could not be touched; it was something real that came through their ears.
– From heaven: It wasn’t of earth; it was not created, manipulated, or fashioned here.
– Mighty: It was full of force, coming with great power.
Notice that this happened nowhere else in Acts when the Spirit was poured out. Several other times the Holy Spirit powerfully filled the people of God (Acts 4:8, 4:31, 13:9, 13:52, 19:6). Those were wonderful and valid works of the Spirit, yet on none of those other occasions did they hear a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind. The strange sound was for that particular day, but not of lasting importance.
Sometimes, God does “one-offs” – a special something for a single occasion. Can you imagine if, on a later occasion the disciples said, “Today we weren’t really filled with the Spirit because we never heard that sound”? Or, if they said, “Next time we must hear the same sound – and hear it even louder!”
That kind of thinking is a trap. Give God the credit to know when a special experience is necessary, and when it is not.