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Joel 2:28 - Receiving the Spirit

Joel 2:28 introduces the final outpouring of the Spirit. This is the fifth and last part of a 5-part study of Joel 2. Go back to part 4.

"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:" (Joel 2:28)

"Afterward" is after what? Joel spoke a few verses before about the former and latter rains which happened at definite times of the year. We can put the timing all together (and even include the feasts) like this:

former/early rain latter rain
fall early spring
Tabernacles Unleavened Bread
crop germinates early crop (barley) ripens

The meaning of "afterward" is further elaborated for us by Peter as he quoted verses 28-32a in Acts 2:17-21. Let's compare the two passages (major differences indicated by red letters):

Joel 2
Acts 2
"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call." 21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

When, in Acts 2:16, Peter said "But this is ..." he was referring to the speaking in tongues. He applied or understood this to be a fulfilment of the outpouring of the Spirit not the outpouring of the rain. He made no reference to the rain.

Peter referred to it as "the last days." Did Peter really understand what he was saying? Was it the last days? It turns out that Peter was in good company with other Bible writers as far as their understanding of when the last days would be.

It's interesting that Peter quoted Joel and applied it to the events he was witnessing yet Joel said nothing about speaking in tongues and, in the experience in Acts, there was no record of visions or dreams. At first, there doesn't seem to be a connection between the two. It wasn't even the last days as Peter seemed to think. It is actually the festal and agricultural calendars that help to make the connection.

Remember, we reasoned above that the "afterward" of Joel 2:28 indicated that the spirit came after the rain, or teaching. We can now add to the timing chart we had earlier:

former/early rain latter rain afterward
fall early spring late spring
Tabernacles Unleavened Bread Pentecost
crop germinates early crop (barley) ripens later, larger crop (wheat) harvested

Dreams and Visions, Young and Old

Here is a passage that seems to relate to this:

"Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might (old men?) he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD (even if old) shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isa 40:28-31)

"Even the youths" may be there for contrast. Even while normally-vigorous youths and young men are weary, God's people, even though old, will be invigorated by Him as described earlier in Joel 2.

The age distinction of old men dreaming and young men see visions is not a rule for all Biblical cases. Joseph, the young son of Jacob had dreams while Daniel and John the Revelator had visions when they were old.

The Spirit's Work in Humanity

"And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit." (Joel 2:29)

The servants and handmaids must be those who serve God. Peter adds that they shall prophecy so they are not those who serve the world. In contrast, verse 28 said "I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh." How does that fit in with this verse?

The answer is that the presence of God's Spirit acts on three levels in humanity:

1. The first is on the level of sustaining our lives:

"That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being ..." (Acts 17:27-28)
"In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:10)

2. The second is on the level of convicting us of sin:

"And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." (Acts 9:5)

"Pricks" or goads were used to prod cattle to get them moving. It is used here in the sense of the struggle with conscience.

3. The third is God's actual indwelling presence:

"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Cor 3:16)
"Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." (John 14:17)

While God is keeping everyone alive and all receive conviction of sin as needed, this level of God's presence is conditional on our obedience:

"And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him." (Acts 5:32)

Signs and Wonders

"And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke." (Joel 2:30)

Peter included "signs" when he quoted Joel:

"And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:' (Acts 2:19)

Why did he add "signs?" Likely because he saw them:

"And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles." (Acts 2:43)

While signs can be helpful, we need to be careful of depending only on signs and wonders as there is a danger that they can be counterfeited and used by the enemy to deceive:

"For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect." (Mark 13:22)

We need to include the evidence from the Word to guide us.

"The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come."(Joel 2:31)

Joel is pointed to signs in the heavens that will occur before the end. As noted before, there cannot be a solar and lunar eclipse at the same time. This would be referring to something of an even more supernatural order.

Still Opportunity for Repentance

"And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call." (Joel 2:32)

This verse indicates that, at this point, there is still opportunity for repentance. There are other verses that speak of going to the mountain of the Lord or Mount Zion.

"And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." (Isa 2:3)
"And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." (Micah 4:2)

"Teach," in these verses, is the same word (Strong's H3384) translated as "former rain" in Hosea 6:3. It is also the word from which "former rain" (in Joel 2:23) is derived.

These verses must be understood in the light of the principle of conditional prophecy and an understanding of the history of the nation of Israel.

The important connection here is to understand who constitute the remnant of Joel 2:32. Evidence seems to point to the 144,000 who will be called in the last days to do this special work.  


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