Scripture of the Week
And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Luke 2:52
Bible In A Year
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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
September 25, 2005
Peter's Sermon, Part 1: The Prophecy of Joel
Last week we covered the opening events that occurred on the Day of Pentecost. This is the transition from the Old Covenant and its external law to the New Covenant with the law written on the hearts of believers guided by the Holy Spirit. This morning I would like to very quickly review that in preparation for our study this morning of the first part of Peter's sermon that followed it.
1 And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. 5 Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were bewildered, because they were each one hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and marveled, saying, "Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 "And how is it that we each hear [them] in our own language to which we were born? 9 "Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs-- we hear them in our [own] tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God. " 12 And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" 13 But others were mocking and saying, "They are full of sweet wine."
This was the fulfillment of what John the Baptist and Jesus had prophesied would occur. It occurred on the day of Pentecost following Jesus' ascension. (Remember that "Pentecost" is simply the Greek name give for the Feast of Harvest / Weeks which occurs 50 days after the Feast of First Fruits). All those who had gathered together, and by near context we would take that to be the 120 gathered together in Acts 1, were baptized with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit manifested Himself in three ways in two events. The first event was His coming which was first manifested by the noise like a violent, rushing wind which filled the house. The whole group was immersed by the Spirit at that point. Then tongues as of fire rested on each one in the room. The baptism with the Spirit came upon both the group as a whole and upon each individual. The manifestations of the Spirit in this event is only recorded as happening this one time. As I pointed out last week, other than the prophecies about Him coming, the only other passage that specifically speaks of baptism with the Spirit is 1 Corinthians 12:13 which states "for by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body." Baptism with the Holy Spirit occurs once in the believer at that point when they are made part of the body of Christ. As Romans 8:9 points out, if you do not have the Spirit of Christ, you are none of His. If you are saved, you have the Holy Spirit. If you are not Baptized with the Holy Spirit, you are not saved.
The second event was all of them being filled by the Spirit which was then manifested by them speaking with other tongues as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Believers are commanded to be filled with the Spirit in Eph. 5:18, and since being filled with the Spirit empowers the believer for ministry, it should happen many times.
It is important to note here that Luke only records speaking in other tongues happening two other times in Acts. In Acts 10:46 (& Peter's report of it in 11:15f) and 19:6, with a possible allusion to it in Acts 8. In all of these passages the gospel makes a transition to a new group - Samaritans, Gentiles, Disciples of John - in which the manifestation convinces the Jews that God was granting repentance to the new group (cf. Acts 11:18). In all of these passages neither "baptism" or "filled" is used to describe the Holy Spirit coming upon them. Speaking in other tongues is not recorded in Acts as being manifested in any other conversions or when any other people are filled with the Spirit. Our conclusion is that though speaking in other tongues was a manifestation of the Holy Spirit coming on certain groups in Acts, it is not the manifestation. 1 Cor. 12 makes it clear that any gift of the Spirit is His manifestation in that individual.
The noise of the Spirit's coming attracted a large group (3,000+) of devout Jews from around the world that had gathered in Jerusalem either to live or for the feasts. Verse 6 says that they heard those upon whom the Holy Spirit had filled speaking in their own language, and not just general language but also in their own dialect. This was a miracle of speech and it amazed them because it was obvious that these people were Galileans who would not have been trained in these languages. Verse 9-11 lists out the specific languages and dialects that were being spoken. Speaking in other tongues was them speaking a language they did not know but was known by others present, and what they talked about was "the mighty deeds of God" (vs. 11).
The result was the very purpose Paul (1 Cor. 14:21,22) says that Isaiah (11) had said it would come. It was a sign for unbelieving Jews. They were perplexed with some wondering what it all meant and others mocking that the people speaking in other tongues were "full of sweet wine." [This also shows that Jewish wine of that period, even "sweet wine" was capable of causing intoxication - The season is Spring (May) with several months to go before the grape harvest].
Refuting the Skeptics (14,15)
It is at this point that we pick up the story and find Peter refuting the mockers while giving an clear presentation of the gospel to those that were amazed so that they could believe.
Verses 14-21 states, "But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: "Men of Judea, and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give heed to my words. 15 "For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is [only] the third hour of the day; 16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 17 'And it shall be in the last days,' God says, 'That I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams; 18 Even upon My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit And they shall prophesy. 19 'And I will grant wonders in the sky above, And signs on the earth beneath, Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. 20 'The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come. 21 'And it shall be, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'"
Verse 14 starts off with Peter "taking his stand with the eleven." This is not to imply that Peter was sitting, but rather that he put himself in a position where he could get the attention of the multitudes and speak to them. The other eleven apostles were there with him with Peter as their spokesman. Peter then raised his voice so that everyone one could hear him began his Spirit inspired sermon (αϕποφθεγγομαι / apophtheggomai - declared is usually used in reference to inspired speech).
He addresses them "Men of Judea, and all you who live in Jerusalem." This identifies them and would be a common address. As he continues in the sermon he will become use more familiar and endearing terms calling them "fellow Jews" (vs. 14), "men of Israel" (vs. 22) and "brothers" (vs. 29). He then begins with a Semitic expression showing he had great confidence in what he was going to say. "Let this be known to you, and give heed to my words." Peter, who less than two months earlier had been so fearrul that he denied knowing Jesus to a servant girl is now going to boldly proclaim Jesus Christ to a large audience, some of whom are already mocking.
The first thing Peter points out is that the charge of the mockers that those speaking with other tongues were drunk was absurd. He then remarks that it was only the third hour of the day which would have been between 8 and 9 a.m. that time of year. It was too early in the day for people to be drunk for even drunkards would not get drunk until much later in the day. In addition, it was a feast day and Josephus remarked that on such days it was normal that a Jew would not even have their first meal of the day until about noon, much less start drinking.
The second thing Peter did was call attention that what they saw happening was related to what the prophet Joel had spoken. Though the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 and what was then occurring are related, it is important to note from the start that Peter does not say that this was the fulfillment of that prophecy. He does not state directly that this is the fulfillment or use any of the normal formulas that would indicate it was the fulfillment. Why then does Peter call attention to Joel's prophecy? Because what was happening then was an illustration or a "prefillment" of what was to come in the future and the course of events that would conclude in fulfillment of every detail of the prophecy had just begun. In other words, these men were not drunk, but instead were doing something the skeptics should have been expecting to happen at some point in time.
Peter quotes excerpts from Joel 2:28-32 saying, 'And it shall be in the last days,' God says, 'That I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams; 18 Even upon My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit And they shall prophesy. 19 'And I will grant wonders in the sky above, And signs on the earth beneath, Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. 20 'The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come. 21 'And it shall be, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'
Prophetic Fulfillment (16-21)
The Book of Joel
To understand this prophecy and what it would have meant to those Peter was talking to we need to have at least a brief background on the book of Joel. Remember that Peter is talking to "devout" Jews who would have been very familiar with it.
Joel, like nearly all the prophets is a book of both judgement and hope. There is warning about the coming judgement of God and hope given to those that will repent and follow God. Joel begins with recounting the disaster caused by the devastating plagues of locust that had eaten everything in the fields. On top of that there was a severe drought, possibly the same one at the time of Elijah (1 Kings 17), that has resulted in livestock dying and the people starving. Even the Temple sacrifices stopped. Joel uses this to warn the nation of certain and imminent divine judgement with a call for all levels of society to repent in order to escape the judgement and once again enjoy God's favor. Joel uses the present calamity and call to repentance to also point to a future Day of Yahweh when God would pour out blessings, both national and spiritual, on true worshipers while His judgement would come down on the unrepentant and heathen nations.
It is important to note that Joel is the prophet that introduces this phrase, Day of Yahweh, and that both he and the other prophets that use it do so in reference to a period of time in which God supernaturally intervenes in human affairs and not to a 24 hour day. It is not a single event, but many related events that encompass three basic features. First will be the demonstration of God's righteousness displayed in judgement poured out on sinners and blessings on the repentant. Both cosmic upheavals and incredible prosperity are part of this. The second feature of this time period will be the special relationship God has with the nation of Israel as He reaffirms His covenant with them and vindicates Himself with judgement of sinners and blessings on believers. The third characteristic of the Day of Yahweh is its imminency. Whether it is refers to an event fulfilled quickly or one to be fulfilled in the future it is described as being "near," "at hand," (Isa. 13:6; Joel 1:15; 2:1; 3:14; Obad. 15; Zeph. 1:7, 14; Ezek. 30:3) or "coming" (Isa. 13:9; Joel 2:1) or even "coming very quickly" (Zeph. 1:14). There is the anticipation of the imminent, impending intervention of God.
The portion of Joel's prophecy that Peter cites is from the section concerned about the future Day of Yahweh. There is warning of its coming so that people would repent and seek the Lord, but also promise of deliverance as well. There would be a restoration of the nation both materially and spiritually. Peter is quoting from the section dealing with spiritual restoration. This section is then immediately followed by God's promised judgement of the heathen nations and unrepentant while blessings would be given to Judah. Those who heard Peter would have understood all of this.
First Parallel (vs. 17)
The first connection between the day of Pentecost and Joel's prophecy is the phrase "in the last days." The "last days" began with the first coming of Christ. Hebrews 1:1,2 says "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in [His] Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world." We are still in this time period of the last days which has already extended 2,000 years and will continue until Jesus' second advent. The coming of the Holy Spirit in instituting the start of the New Covenant and the birth of the church which was manifested by the noise, the tongues as of fire and their being filled with the Spirit and speaking in other tongues is related to Joel's prophecy because the last days encompass both the church age and Israel's future age during the Millennium (2 Tim. 3:1-8; 2 Peter 3:1-9; cf. "last times / hour" 1 Tim. 4:1; 1 Peter 1:5, 20; 4:7; 1 John 2:18; Jude 18). The Spirit being poured out on the day of Pentecost was a model of what would happen in the future. Moses had prayed for this to come saying in Numbers 11:29 "Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!" This began with those gathered together on that day of Pentecost, and it will be fully realized in the still future Day of Yahweh.
What is Still Future (vs. 17-20)
The rest of verse 17 through verse 20 are portions of Joel's prophecy that are yet to be fulfilled. As already pointed out this portion of Joel being quoted by Peter is a section dealing with the future Day of Yahweh in which there would be a restoration of the nation both materially and spiritually.
In that time God will pour out His spirit on all mankind, or as the NKJV puts more accurately, "all flesh" (σαρκο" / sarkos). The context in Joel limits this to those who are Jewish even as the further delineation in verse 17 makes it clear since it is to "your sons, your daughters, your young men, your old men" upon whom this will happen, and Joel is written to Jews. Remember that Peter was surprised when the Holy Spirit came upon the Gentiles at Cornelius's home (Acts 10).
They will prophesy, see visions, and dream dreams. Each of these speak of God giving them revelation of Himself. Prophecy would be extended even to those who were slaves, whether male or female. This was a group that had few rights or privileges, yet they would be included in that future day.
Verses 19,20 speak of the cosmic signs that would occur both in the sky and the earth that are part of the Day of Yahweh. It includes "blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke." These are references to phenomena of extraordinary character. All three of these were present during the events surrounding the Exodus, and they will be present as part of the future Day of Yahweh. The book of Revelation has many references to all three. There is the blood of those slain as the seals are opened and war and death break forth (Rev. 6). The sounding of the first trumpet (Rev. 8:7) released hail and fire, mixed with blood resulting in a third of the earth burned up. The second trumpet releases a mountain burning with fire that is thrown into the sea resulting in a third of the sea becoming blood (Rev. 8:8). The fifth trumpet results in a bottomless pit being opened from which pours out smoke like from a great furnace which darkens the air, and from out of that smoke come creatures that torment men for five months (Rev. 9:1-5). The sixth trumpet releases four angels that kill one third of mankind with the fire, smoke and brimstone that come from their mouths (Rev. 9). So it continues in Revelation as other judgements come from God.
The sun being turned into darkness and the moon into blood are repeated in later Old Testament prophecies including Isa. 13:10; Ezekiel 32:7-8 and Amos 8:9 as well as in New Testament prophecies including Matt. 24:29, Mark 13:24. In Revelation 6:12 the breaking of the sixth seal results in among other things the sun becoming black as sackcloth and the whole moon becoming like blood. In Revelation 8:12 the sounding of the fourth trumpet results in a third of the sun, a third of the moon and a third the stars being smitten so that they would not shine for a third of the time. These are all events that are still to come as part of the "great and awesome day of the Lord." (As a footnote, Busenitz points out that the preposition translated as "before" in Joel 2:31 / Acts 2:20 "is incapable of bearing the time/sequence burden with which some have laden it." He states that this preposition in Hebrew is literally translated 'to / at the face of, in the presence of,' the term is most commonly used to designate "before" in the sense of presence of priority status rather than connoting the idea of time priority." It has more the sense of these cataclysmic events taking place "in the presence of the great and awesome day of the Lord to come." These events are part of the day of the Lord and not just signs preceding it. Any sequencing of events would have to come from other passages).
Second Parallel (vs. 21)
The second direct connection between Joel's prophesy and what occurred on that day of Pentecost is what Peter quotes in verse 21. "And it shall be, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." In Joel's prophecy hope of being included in the restoration and blessing of the Lord and escape from His judgement is given to those who heed the warnings and turn from their sin and call upon the Lord. The multitude of devout Jews listening to Peter would have understood this. At the end of his sermon Peter will give that same hope to those in the multitude that will repent from their sin and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ even though they had crucified Him.
Calling on the Name of the Lord
But what does it mean to call upon the name of the Lord? First, it is not some magical incantation. It is tragic, but there are many who profess to be Christians that approach walking with God in terms of mystical sayings that will make God do what they want. There are many that approach prayer with the thought that Jesus' promises in John 14:14 & 16:24 that if we ask anything in His name He will do it means that if they say the words, "in Jesus name," as part of their prayer that somehow God is now bound to give them what they asked. That is simply not true. To ask God for something in Jesus' name is to pray according to who Jesus is and according to His will (see James 4:3, 1 John 5:14,15).
I have encountered cult members that believe that somehow their words had power in and of themselves and that just saying them would make things happen. This particular cult had perverted Paul's statement in 1 Cor. 12:3 that "no one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit" to mean that if they could just get someone to say, "Jesus is Lord," even if by coercion or trickery, then that person would be saved. But the only power words have are according to their actual meaning and the intent of the person saying it. There is a big difference between mouthing words and saying them as the confession of your own belief. Salvation does not come from just saying that "Jesus is Lord," but rather from confessing Him with your mouth as Lord and believing in your heart that God raised Him from the dead (Rom. 10:9,10).
The same is true here in regard to calling on the name of the Lord. It is not a magical formula for gaining help from God, but rather a calling out to Him so that you can enter into a personal relationship with Him. This is a person who recognizes that they are in trouble and cries out to the only one that can help them. That is the context of Joel. That is the context of Peter's sermon. Though you have offended God and are under His just condemnation, He is also the only one who can help you. The good news is that He offers forgiveness.
Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount in Matt. 5 with this same idea. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God." This is a person who recognizes there spiritual destitution. They recognize that they have nothing to offer God and nothing to bargain with by which they could appease Him. They are spiritually bankrupt and can only cry out like a beggar seeking God's mercy. Their recognition of their offences against God cause them to mourn over their sins. But Jesus also said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Even as we have seen in our brief discussion of Joel's prophecy, God grants hope to those who repent. But it does not end there. The meek are also blessed for they shall inherit the earth. Those who submit themselves to God's rule will also find His blessing. And those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will also find the blessing of that hunger and thirst being satisfied in Jesus Christ. What they cannot obtain by their own efforts is given to them by Christ's sacrifice of Himself on their behalf. In learning of God's mercy in withholding their just condemnation and punishment because Jesus has paid the price for them, they grant mercy to others as a reflection of becoming like Jesus themselves.
Have you called on the name of the Lord? He is near. He can be found. All you need is enough faith to believe that He is and is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Heb. 11:6). There is a coming Day of the Lord in which He will come in judgement of those who have not turned from their sin and with blessing for those who have called on Him. Jesus Christ, the second person of the eternal Godhead became a man, lived a sinless life, willingly died on the cross of Calvary as the payment for man's sin, then rose from the dead on the third day proving the payment was sufficient and that He has the power to keep His promises to forgive and grant eternal life to all who will believe in Him. Have you called on His name? Are you ready for the Day of the Lord?
Sermon Study Sheets
Parents, you are responsible to apply God's Word to your children's lives. Here is some help.
Young Children - draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch.
Older Children - Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up. 2) Count how many times "Joel" is said. Talk with your parents about Joel's prophecy and what it means in your life.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
Review Acts 2:1-13: What is "Pentecost"? The Holy Spirit manifests Himself in three ways in two events - what are they? What is Baptism with the Spirit? When does it occur & what does it accomplish? What is filling with the Spirit? When does it occur and what does it accomplish? What Scriptures reference speaking in other tongues? What languages were spoken in Acts 2? What was its effect on the multitudes? Is speaking in tongues required to show either Baptism or filling with the Spirit? Why or why not? How is Peter different in Acts 2 than at Jesus' arrest & crucifixion? What has caused the change? Why is the time of day important in Peter's rebuke of the mockers? Why does Peter quote the prophecy from Joel 2:28-32 in refuting the mockers? What is the general message of the Old Testament prophets? What is the theme of Joel? What happens in Joel 1? What does Joel 2 & 3 talk about? What is the general meaning of the prophetic use of "day of the Lord"? What are the three basic features of the "day of the Lord"? Where does Joel 2:28-32 fit in the flow of the book of Joel? What does "last days" refer to? What in Joel's prophecy that Peter quotes is still to be fulfilled in the future? What does it mean to call on the name of the Lord? Are you ready for the coming "day of the Lord"? Why or why not? If not, how can you prepare yourself for it?
Sermon Notes - 9/25/05
Peter's Sermon, Part 1: The Prophecy of Joel - Acts 2:14-21
Refuting the Skeptics (14,15)
Prophetic Fulfillment (16-21)
Calling on the Name of the Lord
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