The Upper Room
If you have read some of my posts from the Israel trip I took earlier this year, you may remember that I said it was often very difficult to soak in the significance of what my eyes were seeing. We visited many sights that covered thousands of years of history, and we moved from place to place on a tight schedule. It’s true when they say a ten-day tour of Israel means you will run where Jesus walked!
I’m a reflective person and wanted desperately to stay in a spot and really soak in the significance and hear God speak to me in that moment. Don’t get me wrong, we took every opportunity to study the Scriptures together as a group, and we sometimes shared personal insights. And, I always kept my journal on me and tried to record data as well as my reflections.
I was encouraged by those who had traveled to Israel before- they said the pilgrim doesn’t truly internalize the amazing revelations until he or she returns home. Stillness is required (See Psalm 46:10), but stillness evades you on a trip of this nature.
Now that I’m home and regularly revisiting the special opportunity God granted me six months ago, I find it true that there is still so much to mentally unpack! Take, for instance, this photo of the Upper Room in the Old City, Jerusalem. This is the place we read about in the Bible- after Jesus had ascended to heaven, the disciples gathered here to pray and “… wait for the gift” that the Father promised (Acts 1:4). The Gospel would not remained sealed up in this beautiful room, it would go out from this place and reach the very ends of the earth! And the Father in heaven knew how to do it! On the Jewish festival of Pentecost, when Jews from all over the world were celebrating the feast in Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit came upon the believers and all in this room were filled. The Holy Spirit baptism brought empowerment to testify about Jesus, and the disciples did just that, only in tongues they had not previously known.
Overhearing the wonder of God declared in various languages were Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Cretans, Arabs, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadicia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Lybia, and Rome. “Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?'” (Acts 2:12). Peter spoke the gospel of Jesus Christ, and 3000 became believers that day.
The Holy Spirit is the great unifier- He leads us with faith to God’s invitation to come and receive grace, and He builds bonds between us and our fellow man. The Holy Spirit unites us to the Lord God and to one another.
Do you see the representation of many nations and ethnicities in the picture above? Today I’m freshly appreciating the significance. I’m “unpacking” a new revelation from Israel.
He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to you who were near; for through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit (Ephesians 2:17-18).