'AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,' God says, 'THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS;Acts 2:17(NASB)
It must have been wonderful to be all together in one place on that first day of Pentecost, when the Church was born. Believers were baptised into the Body of Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit and all received the gift of tongues. But how the joy they expressed was misunderstood, for we read that the people were perplexed and some misinterpreted their rejoicing about the wonderful works of God.. for drunkenness. But Peter was led by the Spirit to apply a prophecy that was given to Israel.. to the newly born Christian Church. Yet the happenings on Pentecost were only a partial fulfilment of Joel's amazing prophecy - for like so many biblical prophecies this one .. was only partially fulfilled at Pentecost.
Some prophecies have only one fulfilment - such as Micah 5:2 announcing that Bethlehem would be the birthplace of Israel's Messiah. Some have two or more fulfillments - such as: out of Egypt have I called my son, while others, and others like this prophecy of Joel, have a partially fulfilment, where a limited part of a prophecy takes place, while its full and final fulfilment awaits a future time.
The Spirit was indeed poured out on a group of 120 Jewish believers.. but He was not poured out on all humanity as Joel prophesised.. nor do we read of signs in the heavens and other aspects of Joel's prophetic words. All those who were waiting as instructed were indeed given the gift of tongues so people from every nation and language could hear and understand the truth of the glorious gospel of Christ. And they all opened their mouths and prophesised of Christ - for they all spoke forth the wonderful works of God.. for the edification, exhortation and comfort of those in Jerusalem - for we read that: the testimony of Christ is the spirit of prophecy - but still only part of Joel's prophesy was fulfilled at this time
However there is much confusion about the meaning of the word 'prophecy' in the church today, and this text is often used to introduce extra-biblical revelation to the body of Christ.. often from certain self-appointed prophets-of-God, who will add-to or subtract-from the Word of truth. And today there is an increasing reliance on visions and dreams which too often replace the clear teaching of Scripture and renders the Bible as an outdated dinosaur in today's post-modern Christianity. But the Bible tells us that the Church is built on the foundation of God's chosen New Testament apostles and prophets - Christ Jesus Himself being the chief corner stone. And because Peter made reference to Joel's prophecy on the day of Pentecost - this passage is often incorrectly used to authenticate extra-biblical prophecies and unscriptural revelations, that have not come from God, but are generated in the imagination of men.All such 'prophecies' should be firmly rejected.
Joel's prophecy was given to Israel and its full and final fulfilment awaits Christ's second coming and is connected with Israel's 'times of refreshing' which will take place.... a) prior-to or b) during Christ's millennial kingdom reign, after Israel has acknowledged Jesus as their Messiah. But for those Jewish believers who trusted Christ on that wonderful day of Pentecost - their times of refreshing had already arrived, for they became born-again of the Spirit of God and part of the body of Christ.
We must never diminish the wonderful partial fulfillment of this beautiful prophecy which was poured out in such abundance on the faithful few who were waiting together in Jerusalem, as Christ had instructed. They had heeded the instructions of the Lord, which were spoken only days before He ascended into heaven. Wait in Jerusalem.. and you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence and will receive power from on high, they were told. And so they were given the privilege of participating in the birth of the Church, when the Spirit was poured out on them in great abundance - and each one was baptised into the body of Christ and given the gift of tongues so that they could prophesy in other languages about the wonderful works of God - to the men of Israel who were present in Jerusalem on that momentous day..
We must not minimise the beautiful way the Spirit was poured out on that day of Pentecost, nor must we forget that this is a prophecy that has not yet had its full and final completion, - but continues to await Christ's returns to set up His earthly kingdom in Jerusalem - when the whole nation of Israel will call on the name of the Lord for Salvation and all aspects of the Joel's glorious prophecy, including everything that did not happen at Pentecost will transpire.
When read in its correct context.. much of Joel's prophecy awaits its final fulfilment.. but what did happen at Pentecost was a most thrilling taste of this future event - certain aspects of this prophecy will be manifested, during the time of Jacob's trouble while other aspects of Joel's prophecy will happen after Christ has returned to earth in power and great glory to set up His kingdom on earth.
The last days about which Joel prophesised began at Christ first coming but the full glory of this prophecy will be completed at His second coming. Just as Christ's first coming was a brief foretaste of His second coming so the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on that day of Pentecost was a tiny taste of the wonderful happenings that will transpire when Jesus returns in power and great glory to set up His eternal kingdom - as Israel's Messiah and promised King
Heavenly Father, thank You that I am part of the Church, which is Christ's body and that in Him I have been given the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit so that in His power I may tell forth the wonderful works of God to all with whom I come in contact. Help me to rightly divide the Word of Truth and give me a teachable spirit so that I may learn the wonderful truths in Your Word. Protect me from any false teachings which seeks to distort the God-breathed Scriptures.. and use me as You will, to Your praise and glory, AMEN.