|Was the descent at the time of Pentecost gradual?|
Was the descent at the time of Pentecost gradual?
If the question refers to the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, the answer is in verses 2 to 4 of Acts 2: "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, … And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." With unexpected suddenness (Strong’s Dictionary), the sound filled the house, divided tongues (ESV) appeared and rested on the believers, the Holy Spirit filled them, and they spoke in tongues.
However, perhaps the question addresses the descent or decline of Israel’s place of privilege. During the period covered in the Book of Acts, the gospel went "to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16). In Ezekiel’s visions, the glory of the Lord gradually moved away from the temple, the land, and the nation. The Lord did not rush to withdraw from His people. The prophet received the message of judgment before the glory departed, but God carried out the judgment with apparent reluctance, which is both instructive and touching. So during the book of Acts, Israel’s removal from its position of privilege took place gradually. The Lord had announced it before the cross, and made it clear that the reason was the slaying of the beloved Son (Matthew 21:33-43). He taught that after He ascended back to heaven, the nation would seal its doom by sending after Him the message, "We will not have this Man to reign over us" (Luke 19:12-14) and by declining the invitation of the King’s messengers (Matthew 22:1-7). The same leaders who plotted the death of Christ sent their message of determined rejection ("We will not have this Man . . .") back to heaven when they stoned Stephen (Acts 7). They imprisoned and beat the messengers (ch 5). They proved that their slaying of Christ was not accidental; they were not manslayers (Deu 19:1-4), but, as Stephen said (Acts 7:52), were murderers (Deuteronomy 19:11, 12). They had no refuge from the sword of judgment. As the gospel spread from Jerusalem to Rome in Acts, the Jewish leaders affirmed the nation’s rejection of Christ and His messengers, although individual Jews were saved.
The nation rejected Christ and His kingdom when they crucified Him. As the gospel spread, the nation’s rejection of the message spread; the pall of darkness and blindness (Romans 11:25) settled over Israel. With apparent reluctance, God gradually removed the place of privilege from the nation that had rejected His Son. That generation crucified the King and therefore would not share in His kingdom. That was settled before the beginning of Acts. During Acts, God gradually removed their place of privilege as the message went from Jerusalem to Rome. After the end of Acts, the army came from Rome to Jerusalem to destroy the city (Matthew 22:7). The decline was gradual, but the result inevitable.
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