Pentecost: The Fulfillment of Joel 2 Part 4
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
“My Spirit” denotes the Third Person of the Trinity, who was promised by the Saviour, and sent to finish His work, and apply it to men. The Holy Spirit is regarded as the source, or conveyor of all the blessings which Christians experience. In that role He renews the heart—“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5, 6; KJV). He is the Source of all proper feelings and principles in Christians, or He produces the Christian graces—“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives” (Gal 5:22-25; NLT). The spread and success of the gospel are attributed to Him—“Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest. Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field” (Isaiah 32:15-16; KJV). Miraculous gifts are traced to Him; especially the various gifts with which the early Christians were endowed—“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues” (1 Cor 12:4-10 KJV). The promise that He would pour out his Spirit, means that he would, in the time of the Messiah, impart a large amount of those influences, which it was His peculiar prerogative to communicate to men. A part of them was communicated on the day of Pentecost, in the miraculous endowment of the power of speaking foreign languages, in the wisdom of the apostles, and in the conversion of the three thousand.
“Upon all flesh” denotes all races, not the Jews alone (Although, prior to this it had been confined only to the seed of Abraham), and here the word “flesh” means persons, or men—“Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Romans 1:3; KJV). The word “all,” does not mean every individual, but every class or category of men. It is to be limited to the cases specified in that which immediately follows. The influences were not to be confined to any class, but to be communicated to all kinds of persons, old men, youth, servants, etc—“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:1-4; KJV).
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
“Your sons and your daughters” or our children. From this, it appears that females shared in the extraordinary influences of the Holy Spirit. Philip, the evangelist, had four daughters that prophesied—“And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy” (Acts 21:9; KJV). It is also likely that the females in the church of Corinth received this gift even though they were forbidden to exercise it in public—“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak…” (1 Cor 14:34; KJV). The gift of prophesying was not confined to the men among the Jews—“AND MIRIAM THE PROPHETESS, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand…” (Ex 15:20; KJV). “AND DEBORAH, A PROPHETESS, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time” (Judges 4:4; KJV). “And there was one ANNA, A PROPHETESS, the daughter of Phanuel…” (Luke 2:36; KJV).
“Prophesy” in the New Testament means to communicate religious truth which has been gained by divine revelation, as well as to foretell the future. Prophecy was fulfilled in the inspired speaking on Pentecost and afterward, as well as by the daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9). God may, by means of prophecy, give special messages to men, often uttered through human spokesmen, which indicate the divine will for mankind on earth and in heaven. The word prophesy, as it is used here does not imply the knowledge of future events; but means to teach and proclaim the great truths of God, especially those which concerned redemption by Jesus Christ. The word prophecy is used in a variety of ways.
1. It means to predict, or foretell future events (Matthew 11:13, 15:7).
2. To divine, to conjecture, to declare as a prophet might—“Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?” (Matt 26:68; KJV).
3. To praise God, while being under a Divine influence—“And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying” (Luke 1:67; KJV). This seems to have been a considerable part of the rituals in the ancient schools of the prophets—“…thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy” (1 Sam 10:5; KJV).
4. To teach—The prophets were to teach the doctrines of religion—“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?...(Matt 7:22; KJV). It denotes then, in general, the ability to speak under a Divine influence, whether in foretelling future events; praising God; instructing others in the doctrines of religion; or speaking foreign languages while under that influence. In this last sense, the word is used in the New Testament to denote those who were miraculously endowed with the power of speaking foreign languages—“And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied” (Acts 19:6; KJV).
5. The word is also used to denote teaching, or speaking in intelligible language, in opposition to speaking a foreign tongue (see 1 Corinthians 14:1-5). In this regard, it means that they speak the truths of God while under a Divine influence.
and your young men shall see visions,
Prophesy, dreams, symbols, angels, and visions were a few of the various ways in which God revealed himself in the Old Testament era. Sometimes he revealed himself by a symbol, which was an adequate proof of the Divine presence: fire was the most ordinary means, as well as the most expressive symbol. In this manner, He appeared to Moses on Mount Horeb, and afterward at Sinai; to Abraham (Genesis 15:1-21); to Elijah (1 Kings 19:11, 12). At other times God revealed himself by the ministry of angels: He did it frequently, especially in the days of the patriarchs, of which there are many instances in the book of Genesis. In the New Testament, visions and dreams are rare.
VISIONS are experiences similar to dreams through which supernatural insight or awareness is given by revelation. But the difference between a dream and a vision is that dreams occur only during sleep, while visions can happen while a person is awake—“And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves” (Dan 10:7; KJV). The purpose of visions was to give guidance and direction to God’s servants and to foretell the future. Daniel’s vision, for example, told of the coming of the Messiah (Dan. 8:1, 17). In the New Testament, there is the vision that Peter had at Joppa.
and your old men shall dream dreams:
A “dream” is a state of mind in which images, thoughts, and impressions pass through the mind of a person who is sleeping. Dreams have had a prominent place in the religious literature of ancient peoples. In ancient times, dreams—especially those of kings and priests—were thought to convey messages from God—“And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream” (Num 12:6; KJV). In the Bible, these were sometimes prophetic in nature. Elihu stated clearly his belief that God speaks through dreams—“For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people.” (Job 33:14-15; NLT).