Day of Hope; Day of Warning

I have always appreciated the powerful promise of Joel 2:26-29:

“”And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.”
‭‭Joel‬ ‭2:28‬ ‭ESV‬‬ (

I have often preached to churches that God loves to pour his Spirit on all people  all kinds of people.

But today, I read the whole chapter, and the context gives much more complexity than a simple “God loves everybody.” In fact, Joel 2 is a key “Day of the Lord” oracle in which the prophet warns about the devastation which the Lord is sending.

The flow of the chapter looks a little like this this:

Warning that God’s arrival will bring devastation (verses 1-11)

Plea for readers to escape devastation through repentance and giving themselves to the Lord (12-27)

Promise of the Spirit for those who have returned to the Lord (28-29)

Recaptulation of earlier themes (30-32)

Taken in it’s context, then, Joel 2 is not a blanket promise that God gives his Spirit on all people. What we see, rather, is a promise conditioned upon our repentance.

So when we preach this passage, we do a disservice if we leave listeners with an encouragement that God loves them whether they are male or female, poor or rich.  Instead, we need to issue a call to wholeheartedly giveing ourselves to God.

As we give ourselves to God, God gives the Spirit to us, and we become ministers to those suffering devastation.




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