Today, we complete Messianic Prophecy with the fulfillment of a prophecy about a whole new age…
The Great Day
Joel, like the other prophets we have studied, has predicted bad times ahead because of the unbelief and unfaithfulness of God’s people. In chapter 2, beginning around verse 18, God’s ultimate deliverance begins to be revealed: First God’s judgment, then God’s deliverance. That deliverance begins to take shape in our passage: 2:28-32. Joel speaks of a new age; a new time where God’s spirit is upon all people. Verses 28 and 29 speak of the outpouring of God’s spirit on all peoples and the effect that this has. Verses 30-31 speak of wonders on earth and in heaven that will come first. These wonders are figures commonly used within the prophets to describe God’s judgment.
Verse 32 speaks of a time when salvation will come to all people who call upon the name of the Lord. This is God’s ultimate deliverance for His people: Salvation. Chapter 3 goes on to speak of the glory of the coming Israel and the judgment of God against those who have fought against His people.
At this point, it is difficult to place our passage into historical terms: Is this referring to the return of the remnant to the Holy Land after captivity? Is it a reference to something at the very end of time? Or could it fit in somewhere else?
This passage clearly sets the time of fulfillment for Joel 2:28-32, as it is quoted verbatim by Peter on the Day of Pentecost. The Apostles had the Holy Spirit poured out on them in a very public and obvious way (2:1-13) and then addressed the crowd that gathered. People in the crowd wondered at what was going on and speculated that they must be drunk! But Peter set them straight, and in verse 16 told them directly that what they were witnessing was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy.
But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.
Acts 2:16-21 cf. Joel 2:28-32
The portions of the Joel passage that refer to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit are fairly obvious in their implications, but what about the judgment? Note that Acts 2:19-20 are the judgment verses (c.f. Joel 2:30-31) we see judgment preceding salvation (“great and glorious day of the Lord”) Consider that God poured out His judgment of our sins upon Jesus on the cross before sins could be forgiven. Consider also that the sun was darkened while Jesus died upon the cross. Note also that immediately after this comes the salvation verse (Acts 2:21 c.f. Joel 2:32). Salvation through Christ is made possible by His death (sin being judged) and is now being announced to the public for the first time ever. In the section that follows (Acts 2:22-41) Peter goes on to amplify the point that this prophecy was fulfilled in Christ, citing His miracles, His Messianic nature and His sacrifice for sin.