The lesson this week concludes our study of the Holy Spirit. It is fitting that this last lesson asks us to think about the Holy Spirit and the last days.
In the Bible, time is viewed as being linear. It has a starting point, and it moves to an ending point. For planet earth, that starting point is creation. The ending point is a day of destiny. Scripture talks of the end as a time when the kingdoms of man will give way to the Kingdom of God. This occasion is predicted to be cataclysmic. The Kingdom of God will destroy all others. The earth will be in ruins when it is over. Life as we know it will be done. The wicked will be lost, the believers saved.
It should not surprise us that, as the end approaches, the Holy Spirit is predicted to be particularly active. If it is God ’s intention to save humanity, and if the coming of the Kingdom in verity represents the great divide, it makes sense in every way that as the day approaches, God will work in a superior manner to make sure all people are properly informed and warned. Anything less than that would seem contrary to God’s grand designs for planet earth.
The most pertinent text to this issue is the one listed above, from the Prophet Joel. Joel predicts that “afterward” the Spirit will be poured out with great measure. He will come upon “all flesh” sons, daughters, old men, young men, servants, and handmaids.
It is very interesting that at Pentecost, after the Holy Spirit had come down on the believers in a particularly marked manner, Peter concluded that what he was seeing was the fulfilment of Joel’s promise. Peter announced this fulfilment, though he contextualized it in a slightly different manner saying not “afterward,” but “in the last days…” Peter saw the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost as a sign that they were in the last days and God was beginning to have the Holy Spirit do its final work.
We know by now that Peter was not right, for the end has not yet come. So, what to make of this promise.
It is helpful to bring to mind the early and latter rain situation that pertained in Palestine. Some rains came early and helped germinate the seed. Other rains came later to help mature the crop. The coming of the Holy Spirit is couched in a similar metaphor. We might expect, then, that prior to the coming of Jesus, we will see a greater incidence of what happened at Pentecost. Pentecost was a harbinger of things to come.
Revelation 18 indicates that the effects of the workings of the holy Spirit will result in a loud cry going out to the inhabitants of earth, preparing them for the coming of the Lord.
Questions for Discussion:
- What do you think human bings can do to hasten the fulfilment of Joel’s prediction?
- What do you think of Peter’s changing the context of Joel’s prophecy, changing the time from “afterward” to “the last days.”
- Do you think the loud cry has gone out, or is it yet to come