Friday

“Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit.” (vv. 28-29)

Joel 2:28-32 Friday 27 January 2017

Psalm: Psalm 94:14-23


Background

The verses before these have promisedrestoration to God's land and people following the devastationwreaked by a locust plague; now a second stage of blessing ispromised which goes beyond restoring the way things used to be,bringing about a whole new era as God's Spirit is outpoured on allGod's people.

In earlier parts of Scripture we learn that the spirit inspirescreation (Genesis 1:2, where 'spirit' is the same word aswind'), artistic craftsmanship (Exodus35:31), and acts of power and courage (Judges14:6). Prophecy too is understood to be inspired by the Spirit(Micah 3:8), and prophecy is the theme here. Inthe past it was individuals who were specially inspired by God'sSpirit; here it is emphasised that all of God's people willprophesy as a result of the Spirit's outpouring, fulfilling a hopeMoses had long ago expressed (Numbers 11:29). Prophecy in the Bible haslittle to do with foretelling the future, which is what today'sEnglish word often suggests, but is about understanding anddeclaring the mind and will of God. So the promise here is of closefellowship and communication with God, with the emphasis placed onthe 'all included' aspect, quite remarkable at that time.

The awe-inspiring portents of verses 30-31 are a poeticexpression of the fact that it will be universally acknowledgedthat God is at work in establishing this age of the spirit. Itcombines imagery from the great plagues God sent on Egypt prior tothe Exodus and from the Exodus itself (see Exodus7:17; 9:24; 19:18 for the "blood and fire and columns of smoke"(v. 30)) with the fresh memories of the darkening of the sun andreddening of the moon caused by the locust plague and also familiarfrom the dust storms in times of battle. As in the first part ofthe chapter (Joel 2:1-17) the terror of judgement iscombined with the promise of salvation, again with the emphasisthat everyone who calls on the name of the Lord (meaning whoworships and obeys God) will be saved.


To Ponder

  • On the day of Pentecost (in Acts 2:17-21) the apostle Peterquoted this whole passage as descriptive of the events of that day.In what ways do you think the Holy Spirit enables Christians tohave dreams and visions today, and to what effect?
  • Today is Holocaust Memorial Day when we recall thatmillions of God's people who 'alled on the name of the Lord" werenevertheless taken to the gas chambers. What does this terribletruth have to say to us?
  • Is 'poured out' the way you would describe the relationship ofGod's Spirit to you, or how alternatively would you describe it?Could you ask for something more? 


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