“Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven…” (Acts 2:2).
The word translated as sound here is ēchos: it means sound or noise (and is also the root of the English word “echo”). The same word was used in Luke 4 to describe the sound of a testimony created by the ministry of Jesus when a demon possessed man was set free. It was also used in Hebrews 12 to describe the sound of a ram’s horn trumpeting the Israelites to attention to hear the word of the Lord.
That root word ēchos also forms the verb, ēchéō, which means to sound or roar and is found in I Corinthians 13:1 where Paul is defining love to the Corinthians: “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
The Church has been called to make the sound of love that will echo through each sphere of cultural influence. The rest of Acts 2:2 reveals more of that sound: “Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm.”
It was not a windstorm. It was like a windstorm. Those present described it as an otherworldly event. It was similar to John on the Isle of Patmos trying to use first-century language to describe futuristic events. At some point, words will fail to describe the new thing God is doing. Even in our day, what is coming will be described as something familiar to us, but it will actually be beyond our ability to describe.
The wind of Pentecost created a noise so loud, it got the attention of an entire city. Acts 2:6 tell us, “When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running….” This is the value of unusual phenomena; it gets the attention of culture. If you want a suddenly of God without phenomena, you may keep yourself from receiving your promise. You might actually distance yourself from the very thing God wants you to receive.
On the Day of Pentecost, those who were uncomfortable with the unusual events ridiculed them. The critics of Pentecost said, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!” If we choose to not experience God beyond our familiar and restricted understanding of Him, we limit ourselves with the equivalent of “that’s all!” Disbelief parks us at the border of our dismissive reasoning and leaves us unchanged—even while change is taking place all around us. God never promised that reformation would be comfortable or familiar or fully definable.
(This was an excerpt from my book, The Sound of Reformation)