The Prophecy of Joel: Acts 2:16-21
“16) but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: ‘17) And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams; 18) Even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit And they shall prophesy. 19) And I will grant wonders in the sky above And signs on the earth below, Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. 20) The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood, Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come. 21) And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” Acts 2:16-21
Peter used the phenomenon of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel to the crowds gathered in Jerusalem for the festival. He quoted Joel 2:28-32 as the opening text for his message. Underline in your mind that he was anchoring his message and teaching in the Word of God.
The book of Joel explains the terrible judgement God was bringing on His people because of their sin and apostasy. The devouring locust was ravaging the land because Israel had forsaken God. From the priest to the common man, everyone had turned away from God. Yet Joel was bring a message of revival, deliverance and hope if they would repent and turn back to God. (See Joel 2:12-17) Joel called for a time of seeking God with a broken and contrite heart, starting with the priests and religious leaders.
Then Joel promised a time of restoration when God would return with favor toward His people and restore the land. Joel said that this movement of God would be accompanied by something new that was never experienced previously. According to Joel 2:28-32, God was going to pour out His Spirit on all mankind and their sons and daughters would prophesy, old men would dream dreams, young men would see visions, and even male and female servants would have the Holy Sprit poured out on them.
These words of Joel were nearly heretical. The anointing of the Holy Spirit in this way was reserved for kings and priests. It happened to Moses, David, high priests and prophets, but not ordinary people. This was unknown in Old Testament history. He was speaking of a new time or epoch not previously experienced in the Bible. (See the conversation between Jesus to His and His disciples in Acts 1:6-7. Jesus was preparing them for something new.)
When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the followers of Jesus Christ on the Day of Pentecost, Peter immediately connected it to the words of Joel. A new time, epoch or movement of God had been inaugurated. The promise of the Father had come. (Acts 1:4-5) The age of the indwelling Holy Spirit had begun. (John 14:14-16:15) Jesus was building His Church. (Matthew 16:17-20)
The full mystery of the church age, salvation through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit including spiritual gifts are developed throughout the rest of the New Testament. Transitions are difficult, especially one of this magnitude. We are still in this amazing age prophesied by Joel. The old wine skins of the Law were being replaced because the new wine of the Holy Spirit had come. New wine skins were needed. (Matthew 9:17)
The sermon Peter preached on the day of Pentecost was astounding. He was starting to unpack the mystery of the church age. The religious leaders were jealous and filled with rage. Like Judas, they had forfeited their office and were being replaced. The book of Hebrews explains this transition in depth. God was not discarding the old; rather every figure, analogy, type, shadow and form of the Old Testament was being fulfilled.
Peter and the early believers were the first leg of a long relay race. I believe we are the anchor leg to complete the task of world evangelization before the return of Christ. We must run with endurance the race set before us according to Hebrews 12:1-3. We need to set aside every weight and fix our eyes on Jesus.
Our task can only be completed through reliance on the grace and the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus has provided. As they began well, we must finish well. The baton has not changed. The gifts and anointing of the Holy Spirit on every believer remains the same throughout the whole church age. God is not fickle nor does He change the rules in the middle of the race.
God wants every believer to study His Word and cultivate their walk in the Spirit. The gifts, anointing and unction of the Holy Spirit grow and multiply as we go deeper in our maturity and consecration to Him. These are very exciting days and God is working in extraordinary ways around the world. Beware lest you minimize Him or put Him in a small box. His Spirit can be both quenched and grieved.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global
The Prophecy of Joel: Acts 2:16-21