“And it shall come to pass afterward,
that 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 servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit”. Joel 2:28-29
Joel’s prophecy has massive challenge and encouragement for many. The Hebrew Bible takes the opportunity to open this section as a new chapter (ch 3:1). It is a prophecy that is loaded with promise. The promise goes on to put an apocalyptic context to the prophecy;
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.
The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood,
before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape,
as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.” (Joel 2:30-32)
What is clear is that God promises in the last days, (afterwards) that there will be a surge of prophetic revelation through dreams, visions and prophecy. Some have called this ‘latter rain teaching’, but it is something that Peter endorsed on the day of Pentecost.
Peter saw the massive outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy, but it is clear that it was not the completed fulfilment of it. Small sections of the Church (Antioch etc) reported prophetic activity, not many dreams or visions are reported and certainly, the awful accounts of v30-32 are not encountered.
There are many who would teach that the gifts of the Spirit and particularly prophecy finished at the Apostles’ death. That is clearly not what the scripture teaches. The gifts of the Spirit are there for our encouragement, exhortation and comfort. Did we really stop needing those wonderful gifts by the end of the first century?
Have we have allowed silence to determine truth?
Coming back to the Bible, the encouragement of this wonderful portion of scripture is not that everyone will be Prophets in the Church, but that there is revelation. It doesn’t need activating.
God is already at work revealing His will, confirmed by the scriptures through dreams, visions and prophecy. Speaking through young and old, male and female. Such is the gracious generosity of our God who never leaves us alone.
In a day when nations are facing up to nations, looking suspiciously at each other’s fingers balanced menacingly over nuclear key detonation buttons, our only hope is not man but Christ. He alone is Lord of history. God does not live in eternity, eternity exists only in God. He is as magnificent as that! All things are created by Him and for Him, and in Him we live and move and have our being.
These wonderful, dynamic works of the Holy Spirit bring revelation, encouragement and hope to a sin sick world. They are the comforting signs of a loving God that is still engaging the hearts and minds of mankind, drawing them to Himself and revealing the kind intention of His Will.
God has not finished yet.