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Joel and the Church


Joel and the Church

Text Joel 2:28-32

There are two major sections of Joel that are fulfilled in the Church. God only ever had one church, one people, redeemed by grace through faith alone. The OT church, led by the patriarchs and to whom the prophets ministered, and the NT church, of which we are part, is in fact just ONE CHURCH.  Galatians 3:29   Hebrews 11:39  Let’s see Joel’s two specific prophecies about the people of God, fulfilled in the NT. 


Jerusalem – Where Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost

1 A Prophecy Fulfilled at Pentecost. Joel 2:28-32. 

Now we must examine the OT in the light of the NT, and here we have no problem for we have the words of Peter in Acts to guide us. Acts 2:16    So we know for sure when this prophecy was fulfilled. 

  • What happened at Pentecost?  The Day of Pentecost was a celebration of the beginning of the early grain harvest and usually occurs in our month of May (we call it Whitsuntide) seven weeks after ‘Firstfruits.’ – hence ‘The Feast of Weeks.’  It was during this feast that the events of Acts 2 occurred and Jerusalem was crowded for the feast.  Jesus had been crucified and had risen from the dead at Passover, and had ascended to heaven.  The disciples were all together in Jerusalem where they had been living and meeting in an upper room.  When the day of Pentecost arrived there was a series of events that must have shocked and surprised them. Acts 2:2ff   Because Jerusalem was crowded with worshippers, and because these events were publicly verifiable, the people were astonished!  Acts 2:5f  
  • How does this relate to Joel?  In the midst of all this amazement Peter stood up and began to preach a sermon during which he tells his listeners that what they are witnessing is a direct fulfilment of the prophetic words of Joel.  Joel promised in chapter two that a day would come when God would pour out his Spirit upon all flesh – that happened at Pentecost.  
  • What are the enduring results? Joel 2:32. Look at how Joel’s prophecy is a type and shadow of what happened at Jerusalem on that day.  
    • Salvation is boldly proclaimed to all mankind. v32  It’s important to note that Peter PREACHED.  And the essential core of his message was Christ and him crucified.   Acts 2:22-24  Like Joel, Peter’s message is stark.  We have displeased our Creator by our sinful rebellion, and we are under his condemnation, – WE MUST REPENT! Acts 2:38   
    • The church is radically equipped for evangelism! Joel prophesies… For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,  And look at the results in Acts 2:41  
    • God’s remnant called to Him. As the Lord has said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.
  • How does it affect us? Pentecost has happened, Joel’s prophecy has been fulfilled in Acts 2, and it isn’t going to happen again – ever.       So if Pentecost is a one-off historical event…
  • Will I be filled with the Holy Spirit?  Yes, at conversion, the Holy Spirit indwells us and regenerates us.  He also fills us to do God’s work, and we need the Holy Spirit within us to give us the strength for witnessing and evangelism, for it is He who brings conviction to sinners.   That’s not a separate ‘experience’ – just the Holy Spirit’s on-going work in our lives.

So, Joel’s prophecy in Joel 2:28-32 is complete fulfilled n Acts 2.  No need to look for any further fulfilment. 


2 A Prophecy Fulfilled in Time and Eternity.  Joel 3:16-21.  

Martin Luther believed that this passage is about the church – with the caveat that if anyone can come up with a better interpretation of it, that was just fine with him!  He based this on the references to Zion, to the Lord dwelling in the midst of his people – we are taught in the NT that when we meet in his name, that he is truly present with us.  v16  So what do we know about the condition of the church, through time and into eternity?  We have some help in Chapter 3:17-21.

  • God’s church is a HOLY church. v17. Separated unto the Lord, Holy as He is Holy.  There are two parts to this..
    • Holiness always requires God’s presence.  WE have NO inherent holiness of our own, and we cannot create it. Isaiah 6:1ff  Any holiness that we have is a pale reflection of God’s holiness!  His church is holy, because He is holy, and he is present, but how can a ‘city’ be described as holy?  Joel helps us for –  
    • Holiness always involves exclusion.  In Joel’s words, no strangers will be present in the city.  This is reflected in the New Jerusalem,  Revelation 21:27  The result is that everything in the city will be dedicated to God, not to sin.  Even the most mundane, ordinary tasks and utensils are God’s –  Zechariah 14:20-21.  Even the commonplace is holy when the Lord is present with us and we perform our duties to please him.   When our every act is dedicated to God, they are made holy.
  • God’s Church is a well-provisioned church!  18 Jesus promises us abundant life, John 10:10-11 and this is what we see here.  Look at Joel’s language!  The land was a land of Milk and Honey, a plenteous land – but in the church this would be greatly multiplied.  Such is the greatness of abundance that we are well satisfied in Christ.  Now think of the specific provisions that are mentioned here:-
    • WINE. Speaking to us of the joy of the Lord, which strengthens us.  Sweet wine, with no bitter dregs, simply oozing forth out of beautiful full grapes.  There would be no need to trample the grapes or press the wine,
    • MILK.  Speaking of growth.  The cows’ udders are bulging and dripping with milk,
    • WATER. Speaking of new life.  The springs are flowing with fresh water, for we have new life within us as Jesus promised, a well of living water, bringup up from within.
  • God’s church is distinct and different from any other human institution.  19   Everything else will pass away, every nation, every city, every throne, but Zion is eternal!  Jerusalem will be inhabited for ever, for there will be a NEW JERUSALEM, and it will be God who maintains the city. Revelation 21:1-4  
  • God’s church is completely vindicated.  v21.  There is an image in Revelation 6, of those who have been slain, martyrs, who had paid the price for their winters for Jesus, and there are many of them. and their number is not yet complete.  Revelation 6:9-11  They are under the altar, – the place where the shed blood drips down onto the floor, – they are under the blood, until the day of decision, when God will avenge their blood, and will be with them forever.

It is with this note of confidence in God that Joel draws his prophecy to a close.  He has warned the people of God that their backsliding ways will be punished, that God will chasten them, and bring them to their knees, so that they will return to him, and then he will preserve and protect them for ever, and avenge those who have harmed them.   

© Bob McEvoy February

From → Bible Study, Matthew

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