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My Commentary On Joel

This Section - Chapter 2:28 - 32

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The Day Of The Lord (ch. 2:28-32)


In verse 28 it says, "and afterwards I will pour out my Spirit on all people Ö"  Note the words "and afterwards" in verse 28 for they are important to the fulfillment of this part of Joel's prophecy.  We should ask, "after what?"  What Joel says here is right after what was prophesied in the last chapter and that is the violent end to this age, the restoration of Israeli land, and the salvation of the surviving Jews after the Great Tribulation.

This verse is one very much preached verse in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles.  The Apostle Peter preached on this verse in Acts 2 after the initial outpouring of the Spirit on the disciples.  He quoted from Joel and said that this prophecy spoken by Joel was now what was being seen in Jerusalem. 

Peterís words are interesting in the sense that Joel says "afterwards" God would pour out His Spirit on all people, or all flesh, depending on what version of the Bible you are reading.  In light of what I said that this prediction of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is yet to be fulfilled, what did Peter mean when he quoted this passage?  Was he suggesting that the Day of Pentecost was the ultimate fulfillment of this passage?  I don't think so.

First of all Peter did not exactly say that the Day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy.  This may be reading things into Peter a bit but Peter said, "this is what was spoken of by the prophet Joel."   Does that mean Peter thought Joel 2 was then being fulfilled?  Other New Testament passages that spoke of Old Testament fulfilled prophecy often said something like this.  "This is in fulfillment  of ..."  Peter did not say that.

Beyond this, and maybe even more significant is this.  Peter's quote from Joel included the phrases that spoke of the devastation of the earth, sun, and moon.  It is obvious that these things did not happen on the Day of Pentecost and I'm sure Peter understood that. 

I think Peter was using Joel to confirm and defend what was happening on the Day of Pentecost to the Jews who would have known Joel's prophecy.  His words were in defense of the outpouring of the Spirit, not to suggest any prophetic fulfillment.

I suggest that Acts 2 was the beginning of the fulfillment
of Joel's prophecy.  Its the final fulfillment will take place in Israel, and throughout the world, at the end of this age.  Some have even suggested that Pentecost was the former rain, or the spring rain which we saw in the last section, while the final day outpouring is the latter rain, the autumn rain as is also seen in the last section.  This is why the Latter Rain Movement of the 1940ís and 50ís was so named.

I believe in Peter's mind, and really, the mind of the first generation church, the last days began on the Day of Pentecost.  If you do a serious study of the term last days you will see that it has 2 meanings.  The last days began on the Day of Pentecost, and, the last days are the last few years that end this present age.    

Now that I've mentioned the term "last days" you will notice that Peter did not quote Joel exactly as the text states.  Peter begins his quote with the words "in the last days", words you will not find in Joel.  Joel uses the word, "after this," which in context does mean, or so I believe, the last days.  This is the question.  Why does Peter's quote differ from the text he is quoting from.  The Septuagint is the Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament.  Much of the New Testament writers quoted from the Septuagint and not the Hebrew Old Testament.  You might think that the Septuagint might have used the words "last days" but it doesn't.  It agrees with the Hebrew text and uses the words "after this."  So, just why Peter differs with Joel on this point, at least in my thinking to date, is unknown.  He might well have been doing a bit of interpreting, although, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.      

In this verse God says that He will pour out His Spirit on all people or all flesh.  Does that mean all people, as in all the Jews, or does it mean all people as in all peoples of the world, whether Jew or Gentile?  It means the latter.  I think we should take Joel at his word.  When he said "all people" I believe he meant "all people."  This didnít happen on the Day of Pentecost, but it did begin to happen in Acts 10 when the Holy Spirit was first poured out on the Gentiles, but again, Acts 10 wasn't all people.

We also should remember what I said in my introduction and in chapter 1.  Many times Biblical prophecy has a double fulfillment.  Itís not necessarily fulfilled one time.  Maybe, the Acts 2 outpouring of the Spirit fits into this prophetic scenario.  

Here in the year 2017 I hear of massive revivals around the world, especially in Muslim nations.  It seems to me that there is a decline in Christianity in the western world, but in other parts of the world the Holy Spirit is being poured out.  I believe this is just the continuation of what we saw in the book of Acts.  It's not the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy.

Note that the Holy Spirit is poured out on both male and female, young and old, rich and poor.  There is no distinction when it comes to God pouring out His Spirit on people.  There is no favouritism.  Note also that part of this outpouring of the Spirit includes dreams and visions.  It has been noted by many these days that many Islamic people are becoming Christians due to visions and dreams of Jesus.  

So, in conclusion to verse 28, I believe we should understand this massive outpouring of the Holy Spirit beginning during the Great Tribulation up to and including Jesus' return and into the days of His 1,000 year rule.  I believe we see hints of this in Revelation 7:9 and following where I believe this last great revival is narrated.  

The Hebrew word "naba" is translated here as "prophesy."   This word finds its roots in the idea of something "bubbling up."   This is where "naba" and thus our English word "prophesy" means "to speak under the inspiration."  The bubbling up suggest the inspired motivation behind the speaking.  The Greek word "propheteuo" is translated as "prophesy" in the New Testament.  Although this Greek word might not be derived from the concept of bubbling up, it means the same as its Hebrew counterpart.  That is to say, to means "to speak under inspiration." 

With the above concept of prophesying in mind, we should then understand that in a Biblical godly sense, prophesying is to speak under the inspiration of God in order to communicate what God wants to be heard.  One who prophesies is a spokesman for God.  

People often think prophecy is predicting the future, but it is more than that.  It is simply speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as I've said.  Therefore, a Sunday morning sermon, if it is spoken under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit can be considered prophecy.  Being what one would call a Charismatic Christian, I do also see prophecy as someone saying something like, "thus says the Lord," and then gives forth what he or she believes is the Word of the Lord.  On the other hand, one can be inspired by the Holy Spirit on a street corner as he preaches the gospel to someone he meets.  That would also be considered prophecy.

Note as a reminder in verse 29 that not just men will prophesy but women will prophesy as well.  Both men
and women are considered servants of God.   

Verse 30 and 31 proves that this passage has yet to be fulfilled because the prophecy speaks of signs in the sky and on the earth. The sun will turn dark and the moon to blood, which we see in Revelation at the end of this age. This has not yet taken place.  It must be in the future.  So, we acknowledge that Peter, when he quoted this passage on the Day of Pentecost, was inspired by the Holy Spirit.  What he said was right, but in the context of Joel, we need to conclude that this passage is still yet to be fulfilled.  

This passage also reminds me of what Paul said 
in his treatise on Israel in Romans 9 through 11.
All of Israel, that is, all of the Israelis who survive
the Great Tribulation will be saved.  See Romans 11:26.  

Concerning Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit in a great latter day revival, many Bible teachers say this will happen in the last seven years of this age.  There will be a great revival and many of these revived people will be killed by the anti-Christ.  You see them mentioned in Revelation 7:14.  They might well be the saints crying out to God to have their deaths avenged, as seen in Revelation 6:9 through 11.  

Concerning these tribulation saints as they are often called, that is, those who get saved during the last seven years of this age and are executed for their faith, there is debate among Bible teachers about just who they are and when they were killed.  Some say they are only Israelis while others say they are both Jews and Gentiles.  Some say they died during the tribulation while others suggest these are the martyred saints throughout history.  They may be both.   

In verse 31 the Day of the Lord is called a "dreadful day."  It's dreadful for those who don't know Jesus, but for those who do know Him, it's a glorious day.  It's also dreadful because of the bloodshed, death, and all of the ecological disasters that accompany the return of Jesus to earth.  Jesus' return alone would be a very scary thing let alone all the calamities that fall on the earth.  

If you read this verse in Peter's sermon in Acts 2:20 you will see another discrepancy between Peter and Joel.  Joel calls the Day of the Lord a dreadful day while Peter calls it a glorious day.  Some newer versions of the Bible use the word "awesome" and this might actually be a good word.  The Hebrew that is translated as "dreadful" or "awesome" here in Joel does incorporate the idea of "fear" and thus the idea of dreadful.  That being said, if you prefer the word "awesome," maybe our English word "glorious" that Peter uses might well be appropriate.  The Greek word that the Septuagint uses for dreadful means memorable.  This might well be why Peter uses his equivalent of glorious.  That being said, the Greek word that Peter uses for our English word "glorious" is the same word that the Septuagint uses in Joel 2:31.  In this instance Peter seems to be quoting from the Septuagint.    


Before we move to the next verse there are few Old Testament passages that speak so clearly to the Holy Spirit in New Testament terms, but Joel does just that.

Verse 32 says, "and everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved."  The word "and" puts things in context. When all these things happen, anyone who genuinely calls on God will be saved.  I know that we use this verse to say that anyone at any time will be saved if they truly call on God, and there is nothing wrong with that, but in context, this statement applies to those living at the end of the age.

The Apostle Paul quoted this verse in Romans 10:13.  There Paul uses this verse in a different context.  He is saying that anyone at anytime can call on the name of Jesus and he will be saved.  Like Peter in Acts 2, Paul quoted from Joel but puts a bit of a different spin on the quote.  

This chapter ends with God saying that on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance." So it is true.  Jesus will return to earth.  He will return to Jerusalem and will rule four one thousand years, as Prophetic Futurists believe.  

The deliverance this verse speaks of is the total deliverance of both the Jews and their land.  It is also the deliverance of the Jews back to their God as we see in Ezekiel 37 and elsewhere.     

The final words of this chapter say, "among the survivors who the Lord will call."  As I've mentioned above, in Romans 11 Paul calls Jewish survivors the remnant of Israel.  They are those who have survived the Great Tribulation and come to the Lord in repentance.  We must realize that this repentance is both due to the fact that God has judged Israel during the last 7 years of this age and has also pour out a spirit of grace and supplication on them as stated in Zechariah 12:10. 

Note also that those Jews who are saved are those Jesus calls to be saved.  He will call the Jewish survivors and they will respond because of the grace and spirit of supplication and repentance He gives them.      

I've always understood the "survivors" mentioned in this verse to be Jewish survivors, but, it might well be all survivors, both Jew and Gentile, who will enter into the thousand year rule of Christ.   

The last verse of this chapter also includes the words "as the Lord has said."  The question could be asked, "when did God say that?"  If the book of Joel was the first prophetic book to be written, then what God had said must have been written in the book of the Law, in the Law of Moses.  If Joel wrote this book later then what God has said might come from another prophetic book.  Nevertheless, if you read Deuteronomy 28, the chapter that outlines the curses that  Israel would experience, you will note that once all the curses have been fulfilled, then restoration will come to Israel.  This might well be what God has said according to Joel.  The other way to think of "what God has said" might well be what He has said in this very book of Joel.  

Many people don't view the Law of Moses as having significance to end time prophecy, but it does.  It is vital to read Deuteronomy 28 because there you read all of the curses that would come upon Israel .  Every one of these curses must come about before Israel experiences final restoration.  As an aside, I believe the extermination of Jews under the Hitler regime is included in these judgments.     

When Joel says that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, we should understand the word "calls" to be a serious crying out to the Lord.  This is how we should always understand the word "calls," even in today's world, but, remember this.  This final calling out from people will be a real cry from their hearts due to the severity of the things they are experiencing.  This call will sure be a cry.Note in verse 32 that the word "calls" is associated with both Jews and God.  The text states that the Jews will call on the name of their God and it also says that God will call His people to Himself.  The two uses of the word "calls" here express a great Biblical truth.  First of all, it is God, through His Holy Spirit, who calls anyone to Himself.  We, as humans, can't approach God on our own to be saved.  God must first invite us through His calling unto us.  That being said, this text, and others say that we as humans call on God, and when we do, we will be saved.  This is somewhat of a paradox.  It has contributed to many discussions, debates, and even church splits over the years.  The debate is over free will and predestination.  How I view this is simple.  We can call on God any time we want, yet, our calling only reaches God when He calls out to us.  At times, it might well be that God is the first to call, or, it might be at times we are the first to make the call.  Nevertheless, salvation does not result until the time when God's call meets our call.  Only then is salvation complete in our lives.  Us simply saying a sinner's prayer does not constitute salvation.  God's call on our lives, apart from our acceptance of His call does not constitute salvation either.  We are saved when God's call and our call meet together.        


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