Joel 2:28-29 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.”
Just within the past day or two I was reading an article by someone who was pointing out that many English-speaking people misunderstand this passage because of the KJV translation of “all flesh.” The NIV and the Japanese are more accurate in saying “all people.” God isn’t going to pour His Spirit out on animals! One of the biggest points of this is that distinctions of sex, age, and social status disappear. That was quite shocking in a male-dominated, hierarchical society, but it gets overlooked even today. The “elites” get upset when “common people” get ideas of equality! That might be expected in society, but sadly it still happens in the Church as well. Peter quoted this very passage on the day of Pentecost, but even he didn’t really grasp it until he experienced God pouring the Holy Spirit out on Gentiles (shock!) in the house of Cornelius. (Acts 10) Sometimes God has to do extraordinary things to get through to us! Just as Peter experienced, sometimes God speaks through us more than we ourselves grasp. A somewhat extreme example is Caiaphas, who prophesied that Jesus would die for everyone, even though he was a ringleader in the plot against Jesus. (John 11:49-53) We get in trouble when we try to place limits on what God has said and what He is doing. We glibly quote Isaiah 55:8-9 about God’s ways and thoughts being higher than ours, but at the same time think that we ourselves are the exception, that we understand God! How silly! We are to welcome the insight and understanding that God gives us, but never think that we have the whole picture. The old Indian parable of the blind men encountering an elephant is very true indeed. As Paul said, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) We are to rejoice that God pours His Spirit out on us, but we are never to think that we could contain all of Him, and we are to rejoice in His filling others as well, regardless of their “status” in anyone’s eyes.
I think I was raised with a very egalitarian mindset, but at the same time I tended to feel that I myself was “super-special.” I had no trouble with race or social distinctions, but I was personally mired in pride to the point of conceit. God has dealt with that in me over the years, but I still can’t claim to be totally free of it. At this point I urgently, almost desperately, want Him to pour His Spirit out on the people of this church. I see flashes of it from time to time, but not the strong, glorious flame that I desire. I myself am in the category of “old men” at this point, and I need to welcome God’s dreams. I am not to look at others and see their deficiencies, but rather be open and honest about my own. I need and desire the Holy Spirit to pour into and through me more and more, so that God’s purposes for me may be fulfilled, on His schedule and for His glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the message You’ve given me for this morning about Your time, and how it’s different from how we perceive time. Just as You have told me to do, may I rest, relax, and rejoice in You, keeping You as my focus, my first priority, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!