The Book of JOEL
James J. Barker
PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
- In Joel 2:28, the prophet Joel says, “And it shall come to pass afterward…” “Afterward” obviously refers to the last days.
- Peter quotes this Scripture on the Day of Pentecost, indicating that these “last days” began at Pentecost (Acts 2:17; cf. Scofield notes, p. 932 and p. 1151).
- The NT teaches that only the risen and exalted Saviour could send the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33; cf. Acts 2:16-18).
- Both Joel 2:30, 31 and Acts 2:19, 20 refer to the tribulation period.
- Both Peter (Acts 2:21) and Paul (Romans 10:9-13) apply Joel 2:32 to the church age. “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).
- Both Peter and Paul (Rom. 10:9) teach the Lord is the Lord Jesus Christ. Joel uses the word Jehovah (LORD).
GOD WILL POUR OUT HIS SPIRIT UPON ALL FLESH (JOEL 2:28).
- Ezekiel 39:29 teaches God will pour out His Spirit upon Israel. “Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD” (Ezek. 39:29).
- Zechariah 12:10 also teaches that God will pour out His Spirit upon Israel (“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem…”).
- These Scriptures both refer to the second coming of Christ. In this context, “Israel” refers to the remnant of believing Jews.
- But Joel 2:28 says, “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh.” If “all flesh” is to be taken literally (rather than meaning, “all believers,” etc.), this prophecy can only be completely fulfilled when Christ returns to establish His kingdom (cf. Matthew 25:31-46).
- Joel 2:30 and 31 refer to events surrounding the second coming of Christ (cf. Matthew 24:29, 30; Rev. 6:12-17).
- The theme of the book of Joel is the day of the LORD. The day of the LORD is a time of judgment for the wicked, and blessings for the godly (Joel 1:15; 2:1, 2, 31, 32).
JOEL’S PROPHECY WAS NOT COMPLETELY FULFILLED ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST
- Peter said, “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel…” (Acts 2:16).
- We know from history and from Scripture that the last half of Joel’s prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, but it will be fulfilled at the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- There are two aspects to the Abrahamic Covenant: spiritual and national. “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:3).
- “And in thee (Abraham) shall all families of the earth be blessed (through Christ).”
- The apostle Paul, writing to Gentile believers, said in Galatians 3:7, “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.”
- “So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham” (Gal. 3:9).
- The prophets, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Joel, all emphasize the restoration of national Israel. It is when Christ returns and Israel is restored, that Joel’s prophecy will be completely fulfilled.
- Many Pentecostal and charismatic preachers (false prophets) have erroneously insisted that their so-called “ministry” is a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy.
IN THE MILLENNIUM KINGDOM, MOSES’ WISH WILL BE GRANTED (NUMBERS 11:29).
- Moses said, “Would God that all the LORD’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put His spirit upon them!” (Numbers 11:29).
- Moses did not live to see that wish granted.
- But when Christ will come back, God will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit” (Joel 2:28, 29).
- Again, “all flesh” could mean “all the LORD’s people” (Num. 11:29).
- This prophecy was partially fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, but was not completely fulfilled.
- In the meantime, we must pray for more laborers for our Lord’s harvest (Matt. 9:37, 38).
- When Christ comes back, “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9).
- The NT gives many warnings regarding apostasy in the last days. For example, I Timothy 4:1 says, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”
- Second Timothy 3:1-4 says, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.”
- These “last days” are surely upon us. However, we can still experience personal revival. And while it is debatable if we will ever again see a great revival, like the First (Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, John Wesley) and the Second (Charles Finney, Asahel Nettleton) Great Awakening, the Bible does not teach it cannot happen.
- In the meantime, let us fervently pray that God will pour out His spirit upon us. We desperately need revival.