Pentecost: The Fulfillment of Joel 2 Part 5
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
The will of God, in Old Testament times, was made known often in dreams; and there are several instances recorded in which it was done under the gospel. God informed Abimelech in a dream that Sarah was the wife of Abraham (Genesis 20:3). He spoke to Jacob in a dream (Genesis 31:11); to Laban (Genesis 31:24); to Joseph (Genesis 37:5); to the butler and baker (Genesis 40:5); to Pharaoh (Genesis 41:1-7); to Solomon (1 Kings 3:5); to Daniel (Daniel 2:3, 7:1). It was prophesied by Moses that God would make known his will in this way—“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). It occurred even in gospel times—“But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost” (Matt 1:20; KJV).
Dreams were one way in which the will of God was made known to men in the past. The ancients probably had some method of determining whether their dreams were Divine communications, or whether they were, as they are now, the mere erratic wanderings of the mind—At present no confidence is to be put in dreams.
18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
One interpretation of “On my servants and on my handmaidens” is that it means people of the lowest station in society, such as male and female slaves would have been in Peter’s time. The Jews said that the spirit of prophecy never rested upon a poor man, so Peter used their own words to show that, under the Gospel dispensation, neither bond nor free, male nor female, is excluded from sharing in the gifts and graces of the Divine Spirit. There is also the opinion which says, “my servants” means “the servants of God;” which the worshippers of God are often called in the Scriptures—“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ…” (Romans 1:1; KJV). I believe this is the true meaning, because it conveys the same idea expressed by this passage, besides, the Holy Spirit does not reside with unbelievers, and the Lord only calls believers“my servants” and “my handmaidens.” If the meaning was to pour the Spirit out on servants and handmaids, in general, it would read "upon your servants,"
“And on my handmaidens” means female servants of God. The name is given several times to pious women (Psalms 86:16, 116:16, Luke 1:38, 48). Here pious women are called handmaids. In the times of the gospel, those who were brought under its influence would be remarkably endowed with the ability to declare the will of God.
It is made clear from this that there would be a more abundant and extensive outpouring of the Spirit of grace than had ever happened before. The prophets of the Old Testament had been filled with the Holy Ghost, and it was said of the people of Israel “that God gave them his good Spirit to instruct them,” (Neb. 9:20). But now the Spirit shall be poured out, not only upon the Jews, but upon all flesh, Gentiles as well as Jews, although it is clear from this verse that at this time Peter himself did not understand it that way. The meaning remains as before that is, the Spirit will be poured out upon some men from all social classes and circumstances. The Jewish doctors taught that the Spirit came only upon wise and rich men, and such as were of the seed of Israel; but God will not tie himself to their rules.
The type of Spirit will be a Spirit of prophecy; therefore, by the Spirit, they should be enabled to foretell things to come, and to preach the gospel to every creature. This power shall be given without regard to sex, and not only your sons, but your daughters shall prophesy; without taking into account age, since both your young men and your old men shall see visions, and dream dreams, and by them receive divine revelations, to be communicated to the church; and without considering outward condition-even the servants and handmaids shall receive the Spirit, and shall prophesy; or, in general, the men and women, whom God calls his servants and his handmaids. In the beginning of the age of prophecy in the Old Testament there were schools of the prophets, and, before that, the Spirit of prophecy came upon the elders of Israel that were appointed to rule or judge the nation; but now the Spirit shall be poured out upon persons of inferior rank, because the kingdom of the Messiah is to be purely spiritual. The mention of the daughters and the handmaidens would make one think that women were singled out to receive the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost, as well as men. Philip, the evangelist, had four daughters who did prophesize (Ac. 21:9), and Paul, finding an abundance of the gifts both of tongues and prophecy in the church of Corinth, saw the need to prohibit women’s use of those gifts in public (1 Co. 14:26, 34).