Read Joel 2:28-32
Did you recognize these words from Peter’s first sermon on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2? Peter was bold that day because of the Holy’s spirit’s power he was tapping into. He proclaimed that what the people were seeing was a fulfillment of this very prophecy of Joel. It has been suggested that Pentecost was only the beginning of the “age of fulfillment” of this prophecy.
What spoke to me the loudest was that God promised us the Holy Spirit through his prophet, Joel, all those years before Jesus walked the earth. Jesus helped us understand what that promise meant. When you feel the Holy Spirit’s power coursing through your body, it’s a sensation that is hard to describe. What an honor to receive such a gift from God!
Joel had been prophesying about events that would soon happen. This passage speaks of a promise to happen much later in the future. “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.” The word “after” is our clue. The word “all” would have really rocked their world, and I still ponder the significance as well. Did they understand what it really meant?
The idea of the Holy Spirit would have been foreign to Joel’s first audience. We have the benefit of knowing Jesus and what he told his disciples before his ascension, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) That’s how Peter knew what to preach about on the day it finally happened. He recalled Joel’s prophecy and “connected the dots” with that what Jesus had told them. That’s the Holy Spirit right there giving Peter wisdom and boldness.
To receive the Holy Spirit is to receive power. This can be the power to do mighty things or having the powerful words to teach of God’s love. There are plenty of examples in the Old Testament where God’s spirit made an appearance to give a certain individual his power for a given task or assignment. I think of David, Gideon, and Samson, to name a few that received God’s power for mighty acts. The prophets, too, would have received the spirit’s wisdom through prophecies, dreams, and communication with God.
How does it make you feel to know that you have access to that same power? Do you ever doubt it’s available for you? The prophecy speaks of a time when everyone will be able to have the same access to that indescribable power. And, since Pentecost, the Spirit does not just come upon individuals for a special task, but is poured out and remains with us. How is the Holy Spirit being revealed in your life?
Were you curious about any of the other parts of Joel’s prophecy? For instance, the part about the signs and wonders. Could the darkening of the sun and reddening of the moon, for example, associate with what happened on the day Jesus died? As with any prophecy, there can be more than one fulfillment or an ongoing series of events. We continue to be filled with the Spirit, so that tells me the fulfillment continues.
“But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” Joel said it, and Peter quoted him. Our salvation comes from the LORD when we call on his name. What does this mean? Perhaps it’s announcing your allegiance as a follower of Christ and then living your life in alignment with that proclamation. I think of “calling upon the name” in terms of “trust.” I’m trusting Jesus at all times and in all places.
According to Jesus, it’s our job to continue to tell people about him. For all people to be included and welcome to approach God and be saved, there must be an army of people in the world sharing the good news about Jesus. Even if people have heard, many will not understand. At first. Remember to ask for the Holy Spirit’s help and be ready to receive his powerful words.
Who do you know that needs to hear from God today?
Let’s pray … Lord, thank you for wowing me again with your word. I encountered this familiar prophecy from Joel at just the right moment. Thank you for how your spirit fuels me to speak and act in ways that honor you. Fill me anew today to have the right words to share with someone who needs to hear. I know you’ll do the rest to help them (and me) know you more. In Jesus’ name. Amen.