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Joel and God’s Spirit

There is a familiar pattern in the writings of the Old Testament prophets. God’s people sin and fall on hard times. They suffer; they express deep anxiety because of their separation from God; they are called to repent. The minor prophet Joel uses this outline in proclaiming for the first time the Day of the Lord, which sounds like a pretty scary time.

Joel’s prophecy receives an elevation in status by becoming part of Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:17-21. It’s no doubt the reason that a quote from Joel sounds familiar to Christians: “Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” (Joel 2:28, NIV) Instead of Day of the Lord, Peter speaks of “the last days.”

It’s not my intent in this post to try to explain whether the term last days or Day of the Lord refers to something that’s already happened, is describing present times, or has eschatological implications. It’s an interesting exercise to explore the meaning of those terms, but the purpose of this post is different.

Each time in scripture there is a description of something terrible, unthinkable, or scary, there is also the appearance of something like God’s Spirit. There is also good news.

In Joel 2:28, 32: “I will pour out my Spirit on all people…And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved…” These joyful words are repeated in Acts 2:17, 21.

Whenever you are down and out because of sin or, as some people like to say, because of the hand you’ve been dealt, claim God’s Spirit. Call on the name of the Lord. As in the days of the world’s creation, God’s Spirit is always hovering. He is always ready to hear your call.

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