In chapter two, Joel has been prophesying about the day of the Lord. He foretold the demonic invasion of locust-like creatures as in Revelation 9, as well as the attempted invasion by Gog and Magog from Ezekiel 38, when the Lord would draw them down from the north, only to drive them back into the wilderness in defeat. The end times has been Joel's subject matter, and tonight we see that he continues in that vein...
It is important to see the when and who in this verse, because many in the churchtoday are reading these verses before us, saying, "This is the time of which Joel wrote! We are experiencing the last-days outpouring of the Spirit written of here!"
It is not difficult pinpoint this event in the prophetic time-line, or to see of whom Joel is speaking, if we merely read the passage, its context, and the related passages in the other prophets.
First of all, we see that the time frame is given: "It will come about AFTER THIS..." After the Gog/Magog attempt, after the demonic swarm of locusts. This outpouring will be occurring during the Great Tribulation. Specifically, quite late in the Tribulation.
Secondly, we see that those on whom the outpouring happens is also given, though not as obviously.
Here, He makes reference to the outpouring happening on all mankind. However, this Hebrew word "baw-SAWR" is literally "flesh," and it can refer to the flesh of animals or humans. But the Lord is not talking about animals. In context, He is speaking of human flesh, which is why the translators chose the word "mankind." However, that clarification actually muddles the meaning, because the "all flesh" that the Lord is speaking of is not all mankind. It is all flesh in the house of Israel.
Remember, the Lord has addressed this prophecy to that nation. And in the previous verse, He was speaking of being "in the midst of Israel," and "My people" not being put to shame. Then, in verse 28, He specifically says "your" four times (suffix "-khem" in Hebrew), "... your sons, your daughters, your old men, your young men."
Also, as we cross-reference this with the Isaiah's statements about this event, it is made clear:
Is. 44:1-5 "But now listen, O Jacob, My servant; And Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus says the LORD who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you, Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; And you Jeshurun whom I have chosen. For I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants; And they will spring up among the grass like poplars by streams of water.' This one will say, I am the Lord's'; And that one will call on the name of Jacob; And another will write on his hand, Belonging to the LORD,' and will name Israel's name with honor.
On YOUR offspring. Ezekiel wrote of the Lord's statement,
Ezek. 39:27-29 "When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them in the sight of the many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer. And I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel," declares the Lord GOD.
Again, we see that the last days outpouring will be upon all the house of Israel. And as we read more of the prophets, we see that not only is this point echoed, but also the time line is clarified.
Zech. 12:9-11 "And it will come about in that day that I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born. In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo."
Zechariah gets even more specific now, telling us that this last-days outpouring will take place on the last day of man's rule on earth. It shall be Yom Kippur, at the end of the Great Tribulation, the day when Jesus returns to earth.
So, does this become completely academic to the church, with no application? Not at all. Because although the outpouring of the Spirit Joel speaks of is still at least seven years in the future, and for the house of Israel, this is a phenomenon and a blessing that is available to the church today as well. Turn with me to the book of Acts, chapter two...
The setting is the early church. It was just fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus (Lev 23:16) and only ten days after His ascension into heaven (Acts 1:3). The day was the Jewish holy day of the Feast of Weeks, also known as the Feast of Pentecost. The disciples were gathered together in prayer...
Acts 2:2-4 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
The sound attracted a huge multitude of people, bewildered at the fact that each of them was hearing these Galileans speak praises to the Lord for His mighty deeds in his own language.
But some accused the group of simply being drunk.
Acts 2:14-18 But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: "Men of Judea, and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: And it shall be in the last days,' God says, That I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; Even upon My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit and they shall prophesy."
Although Peter did not say, "This is the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy," He was saying, "This is what Joel was talking about when he spoke of the Spirit being poured out."
If we compare verse 4 with verse 18, we see that God pouring out His Spirit results in God's people being filled with the Spirit. And people being filled with the Spirit is evidenced in the BIble before the church age, during the church age, and after the church age.
Remember that during the days of the Exodus, Bets-al-ALE was filled with the Spirit (Exod. 31:3), as was Joshua (Deut. 34:9). And John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit in his mother's womb more than 30 years before the birth of the church, as was his father Zacharius after John's birth.
During the church age, there were more people filled with the Spirit than just those on the day of Pentecost. There was a prayer meeting in Acts 4 in which everyone present was filled with the Spirit. Saul of Tarsus was filled with the Holy Spirit in the city of Damascus (Acts 9:17), and the Lord was continuing to demonstrate that He was saving the Gentiles by pouring out the Holy Spirit on them as well (Acts 10:45). These were not isolated incidents, for the Christians in the Ephesian church were told,
Eph. 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit
What happens to someone when they are filled with the Spirit?
- Bets-al-ALE received wisdom, understanding, and knowledge (Exod. 31:3) and the ability to teach (Exod. 35:34) that he didn't possess before.
- Joshua received wisdom when Moses laid his hands on him and he was filled with the Spirit (Deut. 34:9).
- Zacharias began to prophesy (Luke 1:67), as did those on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), in addition to their speaking in tongues.
- Those in the Acts 4 prayer meeting began to speak the Word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31).
- Saul of Tarsus received physical healing (Acts 9:18) as well as a gift of evangelism (Acts 9:20).
- When the Gentiles to whom Peter was preaching in Acts 10 were filled with the Spirit, they began to speak in tongues, exalting God (Acts 10:46). Now, in Peter's telling of this event to the people in Jerusalem, he said,
Acts 11:15 "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, just as He did upon us at the beginning."
So now we have another term: "fall upon," in addition to "pour out" and "fill."
The common denominator of God pouring out His Spirit, of the Spirit falling upon, of people being filled with the Spirit, is that there was a supernatural change. Whether it was prophesying, speaking in tongues, being healed, having boldness, or being given wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, these things were not present before - they were supernaturally imparted.
Paul the apostle, in writing of these spiritual gifts, said,
1Cor. 12:4-11 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
The Spirit has done this throughout the ages: before, during, and after the church age. Please don't let anyone tell you that these miraculous gifts (and others, listed in Romans 12:6-8 and 1Pet 4:11) are not available to you. God wants to pour His Spirit out on you, that He would fall on you and fill you.
And I want to clarify that this is different than the work that the Holy Spirit performed in you when you were saved. The Bible demonstrates that there are three distinct positions from which the Holy Spirit works toward you. The first thing He does is walk next to you. That is described by the Greek preposition "para." Jesus told the disciples in John 14,
John 14:17 "...He abides with (para) you, and will be in (en) you."
The Holy Spirit was next to the disciples, drawing them into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. The same is true for everyone. The Holy Spirit's job is to convict people of the sin of not believing in Jesus (John 16:8-11), so He walks next to them. When that is accomplished, He moves inside. He comes to live inside of our hearts.
The Scripture tells us that He...
2Cor. 1:22 ...also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
Eph. 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation -having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise
On the day that you believed in and received Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit sealed you, so He is in (Greek: "en") you.
The Holy Spirit stopped being next to the disciples and started being in them in John 20, when
John 20:22 ...He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
He was in them, having sealed them, but had not filled them, fell upon them, been poured out on them. That didn't happen until after Jesus...
Acts 1:4-5 ...commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
Now we have another term: "baptized with the Spirit." The result of this outpouring, this baptism, would be ...
Acts 1:8 ...you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses..."
There is a work of the Holy Spirit that many people in the church have never experienced. They have been convicted, they have been saved, but they've never experienced the supernatural gifting of the Holy Spirit. Do you desire those gifts? If not, you should, for Paul said,
1Cor. 12:31 ...earnestly desire the greater gifts...
Don't let a false teaching or denominational prejudice steal the blessing that God wants to give you. As we close in with a final song, pray and ask the Lord to fill you with His Spirit. If you feel led, come forward and let me lay hands on you and pray.