Food for Friday

But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel. Acts 2:16

You and I are living in a valley. The period of history that we occupy, as far as the writers of the Old Testament prophecies are concerned, was unknown. Those prophets could foretell the coming of the Messiah, His sufferings, death, and resurrection, His return in judgment and claiming His kingdom, and much of the end-time events. But the prophets had little concept of what is commonly referred to as the ‘church age’. The exception was in the prophecy of Joel, which Peter was about to quote in today’s text. But even Joel’s prophecy had been taken to apply to the end-times events, with none realizing that Joel was speaking of the launching of a great intermediary period when God would bless the Gentiles.

Peter’s address at Pentecost was primarily to Jews. And in the early days of Christianity, mostly Jews were saved. But since then, the percentage has changed, so that the vast majority of those who have trusted Christ as Saviour have been Gentiles. Peter’s address makes it clear that the prophecies of the Old Testament always had the blessing of the Gentiles in view. The miraculous events at Pentecost were amazing, but greater miracles have occurred since, when we consider the millions in our world today, saved by the grace of God, who are indwelt, empowered, guided, and comforted by the Holy Spirit. Before Pentecost, the disciples lacked the power and courage to preach the Gospel. Since then, even martyrdom has been unable to quench the flames of the Gospel, so that the initial miraculous signs referred to by Joel and recorded in Acts 2 are followed by centuries of miraculous moving of the Holy Spirit in our world.

For the first time in Jewish history, Peter has a reference point for Joel’s prophecy. It had meant little or nothing before, but now Peter points out its great application. You and I were not there at the start, although we have Luke’s faithful recording of the events of those early days. But almost two thousand years later, we are part of God’s great program for the ages, foretold by Joel and proclaimed by Peter. We don’t always act like we are part of this program, do we? Maybe we need to regain some of the excitement that Peter was explaining when he identified the events of Acts 2 as being God’s unfolding of His blessing in the Gospel.

Joel’s prophecy dates back several hundred years before Christ. It is not new, nor was Peter’s reference to it. You and I are part of an ancient program of God’s purposes for our world, and it should still be as exciting today. – Jim MacIntosh

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