In the Last Days

Joel 2:28-32

Understanding how to properly relate to and communicate about the Holy Spirit is somewhat of an enigma. Father and Son… no problem – we talk to them, pray to them, talk about them, describe many aspects of their relationship with each other and the world. Not so much with the Holy Spirit – he’s the quiet one of the three. see John 16:13-15 – does not speak on his own authority, on his own behalf, about himself. Work of the Spirit is to direct attention to Father and Son. If he does not want to be object of attention, we do need to show restraint – understand what we can, give him credit, etc., recognize dependence on him… at same time, doing as Spirit does and giving proper attention to Father and Son.

Our text a view of future given to prophet Joel to encourage his people, to encourage later generations of readers as well. Also serves to warn those who would accuse God of inattention or indifference. In order to properly and more fullly understand what God had in view, need to consider Peter’s sermon also. This pair of texts a good example of pastoral practice – using scripture to explain events – and opportunity for us to use scripture to interpret scripture. Notice, too, Peter didn’t use prophecy to predict timing of future event, just shed light on current event, and make point that God keeps promises. Visible progress had been made along timeline of God’s redemptive plan – could/should expect it to continue.

God determined to bless his people – often does provide great material blessing, always goes to next level though… spiritual blessing. Is evident that God not only exercises sovereignty over the nations, external circumstances of his people, he is sovereign in all aspects of salvation. Includes how and when his redemptive truth is revealed. According to Joel and Peter, we are living in exciting times, age when God is working in extraordinary ways to complete his planned work of redemption.

Particularly rousing are the promises of 2:28–32, which are quoted to one extent or another in nine different NT contexts (Matt 24:29; Mark 13:24–25; Luke 21:25; Acts 2:17–21, 39; 21:9; 22:16; Rom 10:13; Titus 3:6; Rev 6:12). Word Biblical Commentary

So what is it that God is promising through prophet Joel? When can be anticipated? What is purpose of this revelation? Three E’s – empowering, ending, exhortation.

A. empowering v.28-29

outpouring of the Spirit

lavish provision of blessing equal to or greater than outpouring of wrath on rebellious people – large, effusive, unstinting so as to fill to overflowing – appropriate since God’s blessing never intended solely for private benefit

when God responds to people’s request for help, he makes distinction between physical and spiritual benefits – reduces confusion, increases appreciation

radical in its nature

more than equipment for single task (Ex. 31:1-5)

e.g. Bezalel filled with Spirit of God, ability, intelligence, knowledge, craftsmanship – to be skilled supervisor/teacher for construction of tabernacle

Saul temporarily empowered with Spirit and prophecy – not permanent, was limited in scope relative to immediate need

David equipped by Spirit to communicate God’s truth to future generations, things he probably could not have known by himself

prophecy, dreams, visions

primary ways God communicated his truth to mankind throughout OT period – was prophet who served as God’s mouthpiece

Ex. 4:15-16​”You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. ​He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him.”

OT prophets not all involved in adding to Bible – e.g., Elijah, Elisha, also those described as “sons of the prophets” (2 Ki 6:1; 9:1)

writing prophets also preaching prophets – bringing God’s authoritative word to his people… sometimes new revelation, not always… sometimes predictive of future, not always

see Num. 11:29

goes one better even than what Moses desired: “Oh, that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!” – all his people will have his Spirit in them

unprecedented in its extent – each category would make typical Jew’s jaw drop

all nations

obvious sign of God’s blessing would extend to Gentiles – all flesh, all nations will experience outpouring, not just Jews

all ages

young and old alike, surpassing what had been experienced prior – least in kingdom would be greater than John! (Luke 7:28)

all classes

not reserved for upper class, educated, wealthy – servants as well as masters – setting stage for Paul, Col. 3:11where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.”

both genders

spiritual duties may differ according to gender but spiritual blessings do not – clearly male and female benefit equally, yet diversity of gift according to Spirit’s purpose

“The Spirit would burst through every barrier and quicken the energies of life in all classes. Men would have the power to see and apply the truth of God to the facts of human life, past, present, and future. Spiritual light would not be confined to a select few.” Wolfendale

in the new age, salvation will not only be available to all who turn in faith to the true God, but there will be no distinction of spirituality on the basis of age, gender, or social status. God’s spirit will be available to both young and old, to both male and female, and to both slave and free.” WBC

see Acts 2:17-21

“When Peter was filled with the Spirit of God in the midst of miraculous signs and wonders as he had never experience before, what did he do? He said, Let’s open up our Bibles to the book of Joel. He had a Bible study, one that both taught the 120 disciples (they better understood their experience according to the Scriptures) and called the lost to salvation.” Guzik

“Formerly isolation, every man for himself; now organic union of all the members under their one Head: this is the difference between the days before and after Pentecost. The essential fact of Pentecost consisted in this, that on that day the Holy Spirit entered for the first time into the organic body of the Church, and individuals came to drink, not each by himself, but all together in organic union.” Kuyper, Work of the Holy Spirit

notice also Peter repeats “προφητευσουσιν” – they shall prophesy – sons and daughters, menservants and maidservants will prophesy

God intends this empowering of all his people by outpouring of Spirit to be for purpose: propagation of the Gospel

B. ending v.30-31

intervening period, then… “great and awesome Day of the Lord”

visual aid – perspective for future events: “spacing”, length of intervening periods not always obvious even to prophet

Peter and 1st century church had better perspective than Joel, still not clear on time lapse… neither are we!!

we are presently in time of outpouring, looking ahead to DOL, will not know for certain when it will come; will know when it does arrive

these signs reserved for special occasions

theophany – fire and smoke: Abraham (Gen. 15:17); Sinai (Ex. 19:18); Solomon’s temple (1 Ki. 8:10-11)

judgment – disruption of the cosmos: sun/moon/stars behaving abnormally a repeated indication/warning of imminent doom

before = face: in the face of, before the face of… iow, just like officer with radar – when you see it, too late

when people see these signs, God is coming right behind them – in a sense, how the created order reacts to God striding forth in judgment/wrath

the Great Day of the Lord – read Zeph. 1:14-16

have been other DOL’s, may continue to be more of “limited” nature… but the big One is coming, one the rest warn about

C. exhortation v.32

interesting to note where Peter stops quoting, halfway through v.32 (just as Jesus did when he used Isa. 61:1-2 in similar way)

perhaps an indication that specific place of deliverance more clearly known: Christ, as distinct from OT traditions/worship

example of first Day of Pentecost – purpose of outpouring/warning to lead to repentance

our own – Spirit’s internal ministry helps us see what needs to change in us; reminder of DOL encourages short accounts

the unsaved – outpouring of Spirit + pastoral teaching equips for work of ministry, effective ambassadors to the lost

must be convinced of a couple things: Creation/Fall for starters, then consequences/Judgment Day – plus understanding God is one who saves should motivate us to evangelism

everyone who calls on the name of the LORD”… Romans 10:14-17

is essential but not enough simply to live Christian life – do Christian things, act in Christian way, speak like Christian; must also speak Gospel truth plainly

Consider prophetic ministry – given to relatively small number of people in OT, their ministry mostly limited to Israel. Now look! What mercy from God to blanket the earth with those who are equipped to testify authoritatively of him before great and awesome Day of the Lord! God grant that we will do that.

 

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