When things go wrong, they go wrong! Yesterday, Jenny and I went down the road to a store to purchase some boxes. It was a short yet enjoyable trip and I was happy that we could get out of the house for 30 or 40 minutes. We always park the vehicle in the garage and enter through the back door. I unlocked the security gate and then the key just turned in the door lock. When I removed the key I saw one of the prongs had broken off and all the key did was turn and turn and turn. I thought … “O no! Not another locksmith call out.” Then I remembered I had the front door keys on the key ring … but the security chain was on in the inside. I could open the front security gate … but the chain on the door was an issue. Prayer, brain power and without telling you how I did it, I managed to get the chain removed to open the door. Add one more to prayer, brain power … hard work … and that is sermon preparation. As I needed to unlock the door to enter the house, so sermon preparation is unlocking the text to find the meaning … and remember, the text or passage or verse has only one meaning. It does not mean this to me and that to you. God is not a God of confusion. When He speaks in the Bible He speaks sense and meaning. In Peter’s case. His Pentecostal Preaching was not prepared … but then, it was not off the cuff … The Holy Spirit inspired him putting the exact words into his mouth to utter. There is one meaning.
1) The prophet Joel’s prophecy is referenced by Peter.
Ac 2:17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”
(1) The Last Days. Just to remember what we said yesterday … the “last days refers to that period of time from the first coming of Jesus in the incarnation to His return to judge. This means we are living within the last days now … the Messianic Days.
(2) God says. As Peter refers to Joel he credits God with Joel’s prophecy. What follows then is what God says would happened.
(3) He will pour out His Spirit on all people. That is … your sons and daughters, young men, old men, servants (men and women). Remember Acts is about building the Kingdom and the Spirit provides the power and resources to accomplish this task … not just as in that Day of Pentecost, but throughout the period known as the “Last Days”. Right here lies one of the greatest challenges to the Church of today … “why do so few people offer themselves for “Word Ministry”? By this I mean, why do we struggle to get Children and Youth Leaders; Lay Preachers; People walking the streets, knocking on doors, hosting Bible Studies (all for evangelistic purposes), offering to go to Bible Seminary to be Pastor Teachers, Evangelists, Missionaries and Church Planters? If God’s Word says He will pour out His Spirit “on all people”, why are we struggling to get people to minister the Word of God to lost souls and participate in Kingdom Building? May it be that we don’t fall into the bracket of Jesus’ Words to the Church at Laodicea:
Rev 3:15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
To do Word Ministry and participate in Kingdom Building does not mean that everyone must resign their careers and enter Seminary. Lay Workers who do the 9 to 5 job are the backbone of the Church. Let’s stop blaming COVID for the slump in the Church. Let’s pray about our personal participation as well as asking the Lord of the Harvest to raise up and send out others too.
(4) Prophesy, visions and dreams. This sounds rather dramatic. Remember the purpose of the Lord Jesus sending the Gift of the Holy Spirit the Father promised? His role and function was to clothe the apostles with power to witness about Jesus who died and rose again for the sin of all who will believe. Now, Peter in quoting Joel says this equipping covers “all people”.
(a) They would “prophesy”. This is not in the Old Testament context, neither is it following the abilities of the apostles. Prophesy means “truth telling” and in this context it deals with the Gospel being proclaimed by all and identifying the Gospel with God’s only rescue plan. In other words, the Gospel alone identifies God’s salvation offer at work.
(b) They would see visions and dream dreams. Remember the average person did not have the Scriptures (Old Testament) and the New Testament has not been produced yet. They relied upon the “oral tradition” of handing down information … from the apostles. Into this context God revealed His strategies to people so that they knew and understood how, where and when to do Word Ministry (Truth Telling).
(c) Into this truth telling, God gave theological meaning … moving people from inside their gathering to outside where the world was. The “world” meant people would need to cross all sorts of social and ethic boundaries. They were able to do this as the Spirit empowered them. He also controlled the Gospel’s contents by enabling the “all people” to interpret the Word of the Lord Jesus correctly as they spoke it to others.
(5) Catastrophe, Conflagration and Devastation. Verses 19-20 seems to include …
(a) Extensive fires that destroy huge areas of bush, farms and houses. It could be arson or natural causes.
(b) There will be conflicts within nations and between nations (such as, but not necessarily limited to, China and the USA over Taiwan).
(c) Included would be wars such as the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.
(d) We cannot leave out tsunamis, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, hurricanes and even sinkholes.
(e) Verse 20 could also include planetary devastations before Jesus returns. Where the context of verses 17-18 will change as we proceed in the Book of Acts, verses 19-20 contains present and future events, each one as it happens reminds us of the need to truth tell (Gospelize) to those around us because of the promise of :
Ac 2:21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Father, thank You for the Holy Spirit enabling all Your people to truth tell. Help us to know and share our Lord’s Gospel. Amen.