Joel 2:28-29,32a NIV
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. …And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
If I say the phrase, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth,” you may be tempted to mentally finish with, “and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.” If you know the Apostles’ Creed, just a few words will trigger your memory of the entire statement of faith.
Peter understood this same principle in Acts 2, when he chose to launch his Pentecost day message with a well-known passage from the prophet, Joel. Michelangelo painted the prophet Joel on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and I’m so glad he did. If any minor prophet deserved it, it’s Joel. Joel will forever be known to history as the “Prophet of the Outpoured Spirit.”
With perhaps thousands standing before him, Peter, a simple fisherman schooled in the way of Jesus by the Master himself, selects Joel’s words as his opening quote. He knows what this passage will ignite in the hearts and minds of his people, bringing an entire section and theme of the Scriptures to mind. For Peter, Joel’s message is a fire in his bones.
After a priceless moment of comedic timing (humor can be quite disarming, and I think that is what is happening with Acts 2:15), Peter begins. “In the last days,” he quotes, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people….”
“Joel 2?” his listeners probably thought; “I know this one!” Their minds must have begun to race as he recited the rest of the passage—a passage about the coming Day of the Lord.
Each devout Jew may have mentally scrolled back to the enduring homecoming commands of Joel 2:12-13: “‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’ Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love….’”
“Return to me…,” “Rend your heart…,” “Return to the Lord your God.” I.e. Turn around. Come Home from your long exile. Empty yourself of your sin and what you’ve known. Come to the Lord with your freshly opened heart, and “I will pour out my Spirit…,” on your sons, your daughters, all men and women. “I will pour out my Spirit.”
Can you imagine the scene that followed next? Disciples scurrying everywhere, with about 3000 choosing to be baptized and to receive the Holy Spirit! The fields, Jesus said, are white for harvest (John 4:35 ESV)—and the beautiful new harvest festival we now call Pentecost was proof.
Joel finishes with: “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39). Joel’s promise was not only for them, but for all who the Lord would call (Rom. 10:13)—you and I, the adopted sons and daughters of God (Eph. 1:3-6).
Jesus, I receive the Holy Spirit. I come to this moment with my heart open, returning to you in a new way, prepared to repent of all that stands in the way of me knowing you as I am known by you. Come, Holy Spirit, I am ready to be a Spirit-filled disciple. Jesus, I belong to you. In your name I pray, amen.
Where in your journey with the Holy Spirit are you? Is there anything in the way of your relationship with Jesus that is ready to be set aside, offered to God so you can receive the fullness of his Holy Spirit working in and through you?
For the awakening,