Archive for the ‘Joel’ Category

Pastor Jim is preaching a series on “Salt & Light” at Cornerstone Worship Center (Nampa, ID) and  a week and a half ago took us into Acts 2/Joel 2 wherein we find the famous prophetic statement:

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit,
and they shall prophesy.’”

In teaching this passage, Pastor Jim referenced a phrase that he later shared was from the ministry of Jerry Cook. The phrase is “the prophetic community.” The words resonated with me; this concept that we have an identity together that is not as much about the specific things we do, but is about who we are in the eyes of God, seemed to shift around in my soul. The idea is that, whilst visions, dreams, prophecy etc. are all realities to be expected, the instances of manifestation are not the thrust of the passage.

Part of our mission as the church (which is God’s people together, and in a specific way a locally identifiable body of believers) is to proclaim and speak forth the good news of Jesus Christ, the hope of redemption in Him, and man’s need for a Savior. In a conversation with my good friend Jon Brown he stated that evangelism is the one purpose of the church that will not continue in eternity. Worshiping God, loving one another, glorifying Jesus and finding our truest satisfaction in our Maker, these things will remain. But it is appointed once to a man the opportunity to believe on Jesus. With death comes the end of decision. (more…)

The cited material comes from Robert L. Thomas’ volume, “Understanding Spiritual Gifts”. Thomas (1999:141), who is an able exegete and professor at the Master’s Seminary, evidences nonetheless a priori commitment to a systematic paradigm that influences, in my estimation, a reading of certain texts, namely Joel 2:28:

Prophets in the future will minister to people of Israel and the world at large during the seventieth week of Daniel, after the rapture of the church (Joel 2:28). They will not be the prophets described in relation to the gifts of the Spirit bestowed on members of the body of Christ because the church will no longer be on earth during that period.

Thomas’ dispensational paradigm won’t allow him to see any application of Joel 2:28 to the church, even in the face of Peter’s application of such to the “Church”. While Dispensationals will respond by stating that Peter’s application of Joel was only applicable for the nation of Israel, this ignores the fact that Peter offers the same promised Spirit to those “afar off”, to all who would repent and be baptized. 3000 Jews repented on the day of Pentecost, so one can’t say that the Joeline promise was pulled from the table because of Israel’s rejection. Israel’s acceptance opens the door for the same promise to extend outward to include even Gentile believers, which was the great scandal of the Gospel. While I admit that Peter may have been speaking better than he knew, it is clear for me, that according to Luke’s recounting the Joeline promise was distributed to Gentiles and would continue to be dispensed upon all who turn to Christ in repentance.

For Thomas to run roughshod over Peter’s application and state so clearly that Joel’s application is relegated only to Daniel’s seventieth week to a specific number of prophets who are mainly ministering to the Jewish nation is a rejection of the expansion of this promise to the New Covenant. It is a reading of Joel that ignores the fact that Peter applied it in a way that contradicts a priori hermeneutical conviction that Joel must apply to ethnic Jews and within a brief appointed time in God’s eschatological theme. Dispensationals wish to deal with the OT on its own terms, which is commendable, but almost treat the Apostolic hermeneutic of the OT as erroneous and an inconvenience. Do these Dispensationals really understand the OT better than Jesus and the Apostles?

Thomas (1999:134) also argues against the application of Joel 2:28-29 to the current New Covenant era based on the fact that not “all” prophesy:

Based on Numbers 11:29 and Joel 2:28-29, the expectation of all God’s people was that everyone would prophesy, but God has appointed only a limited number to be prophets. The idea that Christians should seek the gift as thought it were available to all is misleading if it is available only to a restricted number of Christians.

I agree that not all prophesy, but hardly see that as proof that Joel is not being fulfilled. It is like saying that the New Covenant promises of salvation being extended to all people isn’t literally being fulfilled because not all people are saved. Should we dare claim the promises to people and encourage them to seek salvation knowing that not all are saved? Thomas is presuming that to be faithful to Joel’s promise, all of God’s people must prophesy. The irony is that most Dispensationals don’t even believe that all will prophesy when Joel is fulfilled in Daniel’s seventieth week. Thomas thinks that, “The idea that Christians should seek the gift as thought it were available to all is misleading if it is available only to a restricted number of Christians.” Well, apparently Paul had no problem encouraging the Christian community to desire prophecy (1 Cor. 14:5). Peter presumed that the collective Christian community was endowed with “charismata”, including speaking gifts (1 PT 4:10-11).

If Thomas thinks it erroneous for Christians to be so mistaken as to dare seek prophecy, he stands in contradiction to Paul and Peter. Paul and Peter apparently didn’t share Thomas’ exegesis and theology on this point. Prophecy is not only available to the Christian community, but they are actually encouraged to seek it. While not all will prophesy, this is hardly proof against the fulfillment of Joel 2:28-29, which Peter seem convinced was the best explanation for the observed behavior on Pentecost. Who are we to believe in this matter? I would encourage Thomas and dispensational to stop accusing folks like me of altering the literal meaning of “all” in Joel 2:28-29 when there is Apostolic precedent that the text wasn’t understood, nor applied in that manner.

As much as I disagree with a Covenantal view of Joel’s application within the New Covenant, they at least view Pentecost itself as fulfillment of Joel 2:28-29. While they restrict the fulfillment to Pentecost, they prove more faithful to Peter than the Dispensationals do.

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Sweeney, M.A. (2000). The Twelve Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah (vol. 1). Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.

M.A. Sweeney (2000:174) likens the outpouring upon Israel as a reconstitution of His people of sorts, hearkening back to creation and the work of the Spirit amidst the cataclysmic events:

Indeed, the image of the Hamsin/Sharav appears to underlie much of the imagery of cosmic transformation in this passage, but it is combined with the imagery of prophecy once again to demonstrate the interrelatedness of the natural and the human worlds in the book of Joel….The list of persons involved, sons and daughters, elders, young men, slaves and maid servants, is intended to be comprehensive. This phenomenon appears to project a return to a much earlier or ideal time prior to the establishment of Israel as a nation ruled by a king in its own land, such as the Exodus and wilderness period when the seventy elders of Israel began to prophesy when the “spirit” of G-d descended upon them (Num 11:25) or the period prior to the time of Samuel and the emergence of the first king, Saul, when 1 Sam 3:1 states that the word of YHWH and visions were rare at that time.

Sweeney (2000:174) adds the following:

To a certain extent, the passage attempts to portray a return to a state prior to creation, either of the natural world order or of the nation Israel, which of course enables both YHWH and Israel/Judah to start all over again on a new basis. The portents in the heavens and on the earth recalls both the use of heaven and earth as the comprehensive designation for all creation (Gen 1:1; 2:1,4) and the actions of YHWH in the Exodus narrative that forced Pharaoh to free the Hebrew slaves and that prompted the creation of Israel as a nation and its covenant with YHWH (Exod 6:1-9; 7:1-7).

Sweeney (2000:175) continues:

The images of “blood, fire, and columns of smoke” appear to be destructive at first sight and suggest the motif of YWHW’s battles against the nations that oppress Israel in the following passages. But these images are also the images of the altar at the Jerusalem Temple….Once the animal is slaughtered and prepared for the altar, it is set on fire and consumed entirely, resulting in a thick column of smoke that will stand over the site of the Temple complex. Although the imagery is destructive, it is also constructive in the sense that the Temple sacrificial ritual is intended to maintain or restore the order of the created world. In a similar manner, the Hamsin or Sharav that darkens the sun and causes the moon to appear red as blood is both destructive and transformative in that it marks the transition from one season to another; one reality is destroyed as another emerges. Altogether, such transformation in both the natural and the human world is labeled as the coming “Day of YHWH” in verse 4 [NRSV:31].

Pentecost therefore marks the commencing of judgment on the “old era”, which is passing away, and the inauguration of the “new era”, which is ever closer to its full consummation.  The signs and wonders surrounding the crucifixion, ascension, Pentecost and the eventual destruction of Jerusalem on 70 A.D. also marks a destructive work on the “old Israel” and the constructing of a “new Israel” that will bear fruit in keeping with repentance. The “last days” as a whole also have cosmic consequences as the “old earth” is literally passing away and is yet being renewed.

The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expository CommentaryThe late Dr. Raymond Dillard, who served as Professor of O.T. at Westminster Theological Seminary (Philly), penned a great commentary on Joel that is included in the McComiskey edited work on the Minor Prophets. I have quoted extensively from it in my thesis research and thought the following couple quotes were quite bold coming from a Westminster prof:

Dillard (1992:295) encourages the modern church to consider the implications of being a “prophethood of believers” in addition to the Protestant emphasis of the “priesthood of believers”:

Protestant theology is accustomed to speaking of the “priesthood of all believers”; perhaps in light of Acts 2 and Joel 2:28-32, we must also speak of the “prophethood of all believers.” The coming of the Spirit at Pentecost inaugurated a new age, the age when Moses’ prayer is realized and all God’s people are endued with the Spirit of prophecy. The possession of the Spirit would never again be the restricted preserve of a few; all who call on the name of the Lord (2:32) now have the equipage and the obligation incumbent upon prophets to bear witness to their generation.

One would naturally inquire as to what this ought to look like in the New Testament church, and Dillard (1992:295) sounds much like modern Pentecostal/Charismatics when he states the following,

“This enduement with the Spirit of prophecy belongs to the general office of the church—rich and poor, young and old, male and female; the privilege of proclaiming God’s truth to a waiting world is not the province of the special office alone.”

I refer to myself as being Covenantal-Charismatic, in that I see Pentecost not merely as a foreshadowing (Dispensational), or as a complete fulfillment (Some Covenantal), but as an inauguration of a “new age” (to use Dillard’s terminology) that is not marked merely by a soteric working of the Spirit, as awesome as that is, but is also accompanied by a Charismatic enduement. Just as Dr. Doug Oss (a Westminster grad turned Assemblies of God seminary professor) argued for a Pentecostal understanding of the “new era” based primarily on the covenantal framework  (See Zondervan’s Counterpoint Volume) that he learned at Westminster, so I also contend for the clear unification of Covenantal and Charismatic theologies. I am encouraged that Dr. Dillard also enumerated some conclusions on Joel’s text that sounds awfully close to the Covenantal-Charismatic paradigm that I think deserves more attention.

Here is a pdf file: Joel 2.18t27 jealous god equals glad people

Text pasted below.

Joel 2:18-27 “Jealous God = Glad People”

Joel 2:18 Then the Lord became jealous for his land and had pity on his people.
Joel 2:19 The Lord answered and said to his people, “Behold, I am sending to you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied; and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations.
Joel 2:20 “I will remove the northerner far from you, and drive him into a parched and desolate land, his vanguard into the eastern sea, and his rear guard into the western sea; the stench and foul smell of him will rise, for he has done great things.
Joel 2:21 “Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things!
Joel 2:22 Fear not, you beasts of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and vine give their full yield.
Joel 2:23 “Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before.
Joel 2:24 “The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
Joel 2:25 I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.
Joel 2:26 “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.
Joel 2:27 You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame.

Joel 2:18 Then the Lord became jealous for his land and had pity on his people.

–          “Then”: response to the people’s lament and repentance

–          “…the Lord became jealous for his land”: Our God is a jealous God, works zealously to uphold His name. I want to spend more time on this one verse because it is the foundation and cause for all else that proceeds in the following verses, and also the foundational truth for all that God does in all of history.

  • God acts to uphold His name, His fame, His glory:
    • just a couple passages besides even the ten commandments where God declares that He is a jealous God: (more…)

Joel 2:12-17 “Tear Up Your Hearts”

Posted: May 19, 2009 by Rick Hogaboam in Joel, Sermons

Joel 2:12-17 “Tear Up Your Hearts”

Joel 2.12t17 tear your hearts up

Joel 2:12 “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
Joel 2:13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.
Joel 2:14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God?
Joel 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly;
Joel 2:16 gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber.
Joel 2:17 Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep and say, “Spare your people, O Lord, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’ ”

Joel 2:12 “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
Joel 2:13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.

–          We left off looking at Joel 2:1-11 and seeing that Joel 2.11 reveals Yahweh Himself to be the General of the invading army. As we pick up here in Joel 2:12-17, we see that the conquering general does not invade to destroy, but rather to call His people to repentance.

–          There is a lesson here not to be lost. God must invade our lives to get our attention. C.S. Lewis once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”

–          “even now” – there is still time, it is not too late. It is never too late for us to turn to God in repentance so long as we have breath. The thief on the cross repented. Jesus gives us a parable of a master who hires servants throughout the day and pays them all the same when it is over. It is not too late for you this morning if you have never repented.

  • God is here to invade and destroy his enemies, but He is graciously granting time for people to repent.

–          “return to me” – the idea of “return” signifies that they are away from the Lord. They need to come back to Him.

–          “with all your heart…fasting…weeping…mourning” – God doesn’t want a mere show of contrition, but the real deal. The fasting, weeping, and mourning all proceed from their whole heart, or ought to. Just in case these folks think they can offer up the outward, devoid of inward repentance, God asks of them the following:

–          “rend your hearts and not your garments”- first time Scripture calls for a “tearing” of the heart. God had earlier commanded His people to circumcision (Dt. 10:16), whereby the failed miserably and incurred the curses of the covenant. As part of God’s work of restoration, God promises to do the heart circumcision in Dt. 30:6. The implication is that we can’t.

  • Jeremiah says that God will write His law in our hearts (Jer. 31), implication is that apart from an inward work of grace, we can’t live in a pleasing manner.
  • Acts 11:18 says that God “granted” repentance.
  • There is this divine mystery whereby God commands of us that which we are unable to keep. Why then does He command it of us? Does it presume our ability? NO. Rather, God is showing us our inability…it is only against that backdrop can we rightly appreciate what Jesus does FOR US. Yes Jesus did something FOR US, ON OUR BEHALF. (more…)

Montague, G.T. (1994). Holy Spirit: Growth of a Biblical Tradition. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

 Commenting on Joel, Montague suggests the following:

This passage from Joel, written probably in the fourth century B.C., stands on the divide between classical prophecy and apocalyptic or “end-time” prophecy. Although the immediate occasion for the prophecy seems to have been a plague of locusts, Joel sees the event as a symbol of the coming “day of the Lord” (Montague 1994:85).

Challenges abound in any attempt to date and precisely conclude what Joel was speaking of with regard to the locusts and other items in his book. The safest route, and perhaps the one most faithful to Joel, is to ascertain the symbolism of the things which he speaks. There is danger in trying to read apocalyptic literature as woodenly chronological and literal. Such books are more like picture books, whose symbol needs to be grasped. The same trappings accompany many who wish to pull out every minute detail of Jesus’ parables, whereas they end up with a meaning that defies the common sense main point that the whole story is pointing to.

Commenting specifically on Joel 2:28-32, Montague says the following:

Then follows our text, but it is only loosely attached to the historical situation which precedes: “Then afterward…in those days” (vs. 1). With verse 3 we are clearly in a final cosmic cataclysm, “the day of the Lord: (vs. 4)…The spirit that is poured out is, amazingly, the spirit of prophecy—and in this Joel goes beyond the general statement of Ezekiel, for whom the outpouring of the spirit was to be given so that the people could live faithful to the covenant (cf. Ez 36:27) (Montague 1994:86).

Montague sees two things in Joel 2:28-32. One, that it is detached from its previous context and marks a transition to a more apocalyptic theme; a transition from the here and now to the glorious future. Secondly, Montague notes an expansion on the nature of Spirit outpouring from previously related statements regarding the giving of the Spirit. Whereas it had been spoken that the Spirit would bring an internal work within the heart for the purpose of obedience to Yahweh, Joel speaks of a “charismatic” effect in the giving of the Spirit, having less to do with what Christian theologians would call “regeneration” or “sanctification”, and more to do with actual functioning in a “prophetic” nature. All such notions of the Spirit in the OT corpus ought not be seen as contradictory, but rather as complementary: God’s people need an internal working of the Spirit to transform their hearts and an external working of the Spirit which enables them to be a “witness” to God’s present kingdom. (more…)