Minor Prophets: Joel and the Holy Spirit


Isn’t it something that in such a little book there would be two of the more well-known and well-loved texts in all the Bible?

The first text is found in the second chapter of his book, verse 25,


I will repay you for the years
that the swarming locust has eaten

Joel 2:25 (NRSC

It was quite a promise. Yet there it was, Joel had spoken it as from the lips of God. “O children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in the Lord your God,” Joel had sung out to the desperate women and men thronging around him. This was the word from the Lord they had been longing to hear. After their sackcloth and ashes, their weeping and mourning, weakened from their fasts, their sacrifices and prayers, they longed with every fiber of their being to hear some token of God’s love and mercy towards them.

Yes, Joel’s voice rang out, yes, the Lord has been filled with compassion for you, and His great heart is moved. All the symbols of God’s blessing would come in abundance—”I am sending you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied,” these were God’s very words, through Joel. In fact, God would lavish His gifts on His people.

Not just enough rain, but “He has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the later rain, as before.”

Not just some wealth, but “The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.”

Ho! And again I hear Joel’s voice in my inner ear, perhaps a heroic lyrical tenor, “I give you a new song to sing, and the refrain shall be, ‘My people shall never again be put to shame!‘”


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.

You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.

Joel 2:26-27 (NRSV)

But, the very best had not yet been said.

Then afterward
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

Joel 2:28-29

Sometimes an Old Testament prophecy is applied in the New Testament showing it is being partially fulfilled even though its complete fulfillment is yet to come.

That’s what the apostle Peter was doing in the second chapter of Acts. Joel’s prophesy of an outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit onto the nation of Israel is yet to come, that’s why Peter left some of it off when he quoted it.

It was during the time of Pentecost, a full five to eight hundred years after Joel had delivered the word God had given him. Pentecost was one of the three major feasts that brought all Jews to Jerusalem, from every part of  the known world.

But when a hundred and twenty women and men came tumbling out of a building, spilling onto the busy Jerusalem streets early in the morning talking excitedly about the Gospel in all the languages represented in the crowds milling around, people thought they were drunk

Peter explained, “Finally Joel’s prophesy is being fulfilled, men and women are being filled with the Holy Spirit, all people, not just Jews, not just a selected few, not just the elite among us, or just priests and scribes—even the enslaved will receive Most High God’s Spirit!

Everyone who puts their faith in Messiah Jesus will be filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, and will proclaim God’s truth about the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior!”

Jonathan Edwards, a minister from the 1700’s, came up with five marks of the Holy Spirit that, when present, signified the Spirit was at work. When they were not present, that warned of spiritual activity from another source than God.

Positive marks of The Holy Spirit (according to Jonathan Edwards, as outlined in “The Spirit of Revival”)

  1. People’s esteem for the Lord Jesus Christ will be raised to new heights. In a true outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as in Acts 2, people are drawn to Jesus, rather than to the Holy Spirit.
  2. The Holy Spirit operates against the interests of Satan’s Kingdom. The Holy Spirit works against sin, people are regenerated so they see their sin and are convicted to the point of repentance, calling on God for forgiveness and salvation, resulting in changed lives that stay changed.
  3. The Holy Spirit fosters a greater regard for God’s word, the Scriptures. This brings into circumspection the desire to get a “fresh word from God” that is not aligned with His revealed, written word. The Holy Spirit’s work supports God’s published word.
  4. The Holy Spirit guides a person into all truth, loving the truth and despising lies. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, a person becomes convinced of the truth of the Gospel in all its parts, and rejects any hybrid of the Gospel.
  5. The Spirit produces a spirit of love to God and to humankind, making the attributes of God as revealed in Scripture and manifested in the Lord Jesus Christ the delight of our minds and hearts. The Holy Spirit makes our hearts long after God and Messiah, to live to please and honor God. The Holy Spirit makes us desire unity with the people of God, and to live in love and humility towards all people.

Joel declared to the priest and ministers of his day to blow the horn, declare the news, gather the people, consecrate the people and bring them together,

Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep.
Let them say, “Spare your people, O Lord,
and do not make your heritage a mockery,
a byword among the nations.
Why should it be said among the peoples,
“Where is their God?”

Joel 2:17 (NRSV)

In a letter that Peter wrote many years after that cataclysmic Holy Spirit event on Pentecost, he stated that every Christian is now a priest, a spiritual leader. It is incumbent upon all who have been given the Spirit of Christ to speak forth the words of God. It may not be a job you and I feel cut out for, or even want, but it became part of God’s call to us when we were made alive by His Spirit.

Teach, preach, write, sing, paint, create, dance, heal, pour forth all that God has put within you, whether you are male or female, Greek or Jew, free or enslaved in some way.

If you have His Spirit—Speak!


Bountiful Food | Image courtesy Pxhere.com

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