Daily Archives: September 22, 2018

September 22: Keep Us from Distraction

Haggai 1:1–2:23; Acts 20:1–38; Job 28:1–11

It’s easy to get distracted from the good work God intends for us to do. Competing forces vie for our attention; we’re sidetracked by fear or selfishness. We start living our own stories and lose sight of the greater narrative, of which our lives are just one thread.

The Jewish exiles who returned to Jerusalem had begun the work of reconstructing the temple, a symbol of God’s presence among His people. In the rebuilding of the temple, they gathered up the remnants of their broken identities and together formed a collective identity as Yahweh’s people. They had their priorities in order.

Then they got distracted. When they started putting their own needs and security first, Yahweh sent the prophet Haggai to remind them of their true purpose: “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your houses that have been paneled while this house is desolate?… Consider your ways! You have sown much but have harvested little. You have eaten without being satisfied; you have drunk without being satiated; you have worn clothes without being warm; the one who earns wages puts it in a pouch with holes” (Hag 1:6).

The work that the Jewish exiles did outside of God’s purpose for them had no lasting effect or real merit. Because they were neglecting their first calling, their frantic attempts to meet their own selfish needs were doomed to fail anyway. Outside of Yahweh, there could be no blessing. God used Haggai to speak this truth into the lives of the Jewish exiles, but He also encouraged them with His presence: “I am with you” (Hag 1:13).

Listen to the words of Haggai. Speak truth into fear and selfishness—either your own or others. Remember that you’re not meant to travel through life on your own, outside of this great narrative or apart from the presence of God.

What is the priority in your life right now? How can you shift away from priorities that aren’t part of God’s grand scheme for your life?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

September 22 Dealing with Despair

“Take the helmet of salvation” (Eph. 6:17).

✧✧✧

Your helmet of salvation protects you from discouragement and despair.

We’ve seen how Satan attacks believers with his two-edged sword of doubt and discouragement. But he doesn’t stop there. He tries to take you beyond discouragement and on to despair by robbing you of hope. Unless you’re careful, his attacks will be successful when you’re battle-weary.

The prophet Elijah is an illustration of that truth. The highlight of his ministry came atop Mount Carmel, where he slew 450 prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:40). And yet immediately after that great victory, he fled for his life because Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him (1 Kings 19:1–3).

He ran from Mount Carmel into the wilderness of Beersheba, where he “sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers’” (v. 4). He went on to moan, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, torn down Thine altars and killed Thy prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” (v. 10).

Elijah lost hope because he failed to see his circumstances through the eyes of faith; he was attempting to fight the battle on his own. He allowed himself to become emotionally, physically, and spiritually spent, and he became overwhelmed with self-pity. He felt utterly alone.

But God hadn’t abandoned Elijah. He was still in control, and His people were numerous (v. 18). Elijah had, in effect, removed his helmet of salvation and received a near-fatal blow to his confidence in God’s blessing on his life.

There may be times when, like Elijah, you lose your confidence and doubt God’s faithfulness. At such times, putting on the helmet of salvation means taking your eyes off your circumstances and trusting in God’s promises. You may not always sense His presence or understand what He’s doing, but be assured that He will never leave you or forsake you (Heb. 13:5); His purposes will always be accomplished (Rom. 8:28).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Praise God for His unchanging character and irrevocable promises.

For Further Study: Read Isaiah 40:29–31 and Galatians 6:9. ✧ What promises are given in those passages? ✧ In what specific ways do they apply to your life?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 278). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

SEPTEMBER 22 GOD’S BENEFICIARY

To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.

1 Peter 1:4

The holy Spirit has made it plain throughout the Scriptures, that generally whatever God does becomes a means toward something else that He is planning to do.

Therefore, when God elects a man or woman, it does not mean that he or she can sit down and at ease announce: “I have arrived! Put a period there and write ‘finis’ across my experience!”

No, of course not! God begets us into His provision and that which is still before us always is greater than that which is behind us.

Peter was not using figures of speech. He said plainly his persecuted brethren were believers in Jesus Christ, elect and begotten! The electing and the begetting were means leading into a hope and an inheritance—the true Christian believer is actually the beneficiary of God!

This is not a figure—not just a poetic phrase. It is openly taught from Genesis to Revelation that God, being who He is, His beneficences are infinite and limitless!

Gracious Father, by Your grace I am saved. But I know so many people who are living in the shadow of their own sin—and they don’t even realize it! Lord, commission people from our numerous churches to go and tell lost people about Jesus.[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

Saturday Sampler: September 16 — September 22

The trouble with Mike Ratliff of Possessing the Treasure is that I want to include the majority of his articles in Sampler! Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season certainly belongs in this week’s curation, since it addresses many themes that I want you ladies to understand. I hope you won’t neglect this one.

Michelle Lesley handles an important topic with The Mailbag: Is lust a sin for women, too? Of course the short answer is yes. But Michelle’s long answer enhances our understanding of just how seriously the Lord takes female lust.

Despising God’s Word Might Not Mean What You Think It Does, suggests Mike Leake in a post for Borrowed Light. I agree.

In an article for The Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel, Justin Peters uses his own experience with Cerebral Palsy to repudiate the victim and entitlement mentality that fuels the Social Justice Movement. Thanks for Nothing reminds us what true justice is and why we really don’t want it.

Sydney, a high school age young lady who blogs at Squid’s Cup of Tea, displays her astonishing insight with Are You Texting God? Do you need to learn from her?

You’ll be encouraged, challenged and inspired by Life Lessons from A British Cemetery, which Courtney McLean writes for Biblical Woman. I guess the tombstones of Susanna Wesley and John Bunyan would have an impact on me, too!

For another healthy challenge,  consider We Need to Change How We Pray by Jordan Standridge on The Cripplegate. His perspective isn’t popular, but it’s definitely Biblical.

It’s true! You Don’t Want to Miss This Post that Leslie A writes on Growing 4 Life. She muses about the odd disconnect that keeps so many Christians from becoming all we should be in Christ.

I totally agree with Jason Marianna of Things Above Us about The Saddest Day in Church History NO ONE Talks About. Even if you deplore history, you’ll learn something that may give you better insight into how problems arise when churches embrace social justice.

The lady who blogs at Biblical Beginnings takes on a familiar challenge to Christian faith with The Rock — But Can He Lift It? Frankly, I’ve always found this question to be incredibly obnoxious, so her positive approach to it humbles me.

The Outspoken TULIP

Fall Garden Sampler Taken by John Kespert at Boston Public Garden

The trouble with Mike Ratliff of Possessing the Treasure is that I want to include the majority of his articles in Sampler! Preach the word; be ready in season and out of seasoncertainly belongs in this week’s curation, since it addresses many themes that I want you ladies to understand. I hope you won’t neglect this one.

Michelle Lesley handles an important topic with The Mailbag: Is lust a sin for women, too? Of course the short answer is yes. But Michelle’s long answer enhances our understanding of just how seriously the Lord takes female lust.

Despising God’s Word Might Not Mean What You Think It Does, suggests Mike Leake in a post for Borrowed Light. I agree.

In an article for The Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel, Justin Peters uses his own experience with Cerebral…

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Gowdy: Russia Documents ‘Embarrassing’ For Brennan, DOJ And FBI

by Chuck Ross

South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy said recently that the information in a batch of Russia investigation documents that President Trump was considering for declassification will prove “embarrassing” for the Justice Department, FBI, and former CIA Director John Brennan.

Gowdy made the remarks in an interview with Fox News on Thursday. The next day, President Trump backed retracted his order to the Justice Department to declassify and release the documents. But the Republican left open the possibility that the records could be released down the road.

But Gowdy, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, provided a preview of what to expect from the documents if they are eventually released.

“I’ve read it. Some of it is embarrassing for the Department of Justice; some of it is embarrassing for the FBI. Embarrassment is not the reason to classify something,” said Gowdy. “A lot of it should be embarrassing to John Brennan and maybe therein lies why he is so adamant that this information not be released.”

Earlier this week, Brennan suggested that government officials resign rather than comply with Trump’s directive to release the records. Brennan, who now serves as an MSNBC contributor, has been a vocal critic of President Trump’s over the past year. Trump recently responded by ordering Brennan’s security clearance revoked.

Gowdy blasted Brennan, saying that the Obama appointee is “part of the reason we are in this historic conundrum.” He did not describe what information in the classified documents will embarrass Brennan and other government officials. But as CIA director, Brennan was directly involved in gathering and sharing intelligence used to investigate whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government.

The documents in question are related to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants obtained against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page as well as FBI notes of interviews used to obtain the warrants.

Trump also ordered the declassification of FBI notes of interviews with Bruce Ohr, the Justice Department official who met numerous times with Christopher Steele, the author of the infamous dossier.

The FBI relied heavily on the unverified dossier to obtain four FISA warrants against Page.

Gowdy, who has read the classified reports, said that the information is not going to put national security at risk, as Brennan and other former and current intelligence community officials have argued.

“I don’t think it’s going to change anyone’s mind, but I’ve seen nothing in it that is going to jeopardize the national security interest of this country,” he said.

“Other than one document related to George Papadopoulos, I don’t think people are going to be that interested in it. And I don’t think any mind’s are going to be changed,” he continued.

The FBI opened its investigation into possible campaign collusion in July 2016 based on information about Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser.

An Australian diplomat named Alexander Downer said that during a May 10, 2016 meeting in London, Papadopoulos told him that the Russian government may use derogatory information about Hillary Clinton in the campaign.

Two weeks earlier, Papadopoulos met with a Maltese professor named Joseph Mifsud who told him that he had learned that Russians had “dirt” on Clinton in the form of “thousands” of her emails.

Papadopoulos has been sentenced to 14 days in jail for lying to the FBI about the timing of his meetings with Mifsud. But he has denied colluding with Russia and of seeing, handling or disseminating any emails.

Watch:

Source: Gowdy: Russia Documents ‘Embarrassing’ For Brennan, DOJ And FBI

Twelve points to keep in mind on the NYT’s Rosenstein ‘wear a wire’ and invoke 25th Amendment story

The New York Times lobbed a hand grenade yesterday, with its story yesterday. There is a lot of debris to peice together.

The New York Times lobbed a hand grenade yesterday, with its story claiming:

The deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, suggested last year that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit.

As the old joke has it, “close doesn’t count, except in horseshoes and hand grenades,” so we can take it for granted that President Trump was certainly the main target, damaging his credibility and prospects for remaining in office, but Rod Rosenstein no doubt has been hit by shrapnel.

We are only getting started on figuring out what this really means, but here are twelve points to keep in mind,

Source: Twelve points to keep in mind on the NYT’s Rosenstein ‘wear a wire’ and invoke 25th Amendment story

Stalin, Hitler, Mao ‘Would Dream About’ Google’s Power Over Our Thoughts

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Google and Facebook have tremendous power to influence billions of people, without them even knowing it. An upcoming film documents how they can make companies rich, they can suppress information, and they can sway an election. They can even suggest thoughts and sway culture. This is the kind of power kings, emperors, and even dictators of yesteryear would envy, if they knew it existed.

“Throughout human history, tragically, leaders, ideologies, and belief systems have arisen that want to have total control over our lives, they want to remake human nature,” Peter Schweizer, New York Times bestselling author and writer for the upcoming film “The Creepy Line,” told PJ Media. He mentioned Benito Mussolini, Vladimir Lenin, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong.

“They all had police forces, they killed millions of people — tens of millions of people, in some cases,” Schweizer noted. “I’m not suggesting companies like Facebook and Google do that, but these companies do have control or influence over us that those dictators and leaders would dream about.”

“All the crude propaganda that they engaged in, the radio broadcasts, the leaflets, the sort of hypnotic speeches that they would give, pale in comparison with the ability for Google to nudge and to steer us in directions they want us to go and we don’t necessarily want to go,” the author explained.

Facebook and Google “do that by sifting our information, determining what we see and what we don’t see, they also do that by censoring information, and they nudge us in directions that they want us to go.”

“This is enormous power,” Schweizer said. “It’s the sort of power of Big Brother in ‘1984,’ and it’s the sort of power that these totalitarians from the last century would have loved and dreamed of having. They have power over the news and information that we get and the thoughts that we start to form.”

“The film is called ‘The Creepy Line’ because we believe that Facebook and Google are doing things that are out of bounds with what we expect from companies,” Schweizer explained. The phrase comes from a speech in which Eric Schmidt, then the CEO of Google, said his company likes to “get right up to the creepy line, but not cross it.”

“They never define what the creepy line is, but our view and attitude is that they cross the creepy line all the time,” he told PJ Media. “They have the ability to sway and influence people, and they admit this. They brag about it. It gives them a power over the control of information, it gives them the power of suggestion, and it gives them the power to have a dramatic effect on elections.”

Source: https://pjmedia.com/trending/schweizer-stalin-hitler-mao-would-dream-about-googles-power-over-our-thoughts/

271 Christians in Prison for Allegations of Forced Conversion

ICC Note: 271 Christians in India have been arrested after they allegedly sought to convert Hindu believes in unlawful ways including the use of drugs and spreading lies about Hinduism. In court Christians were not found guilty of any of the charges, but are now being accused of other various criminal offenses. An Indian pastor said that they are all false charges and completely fabricated.

09/22/2018 India (World Watch Monitor) –  Two hundred and seventy-one Christians in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have been charged with a range of crimes including attempting to convert Hindus through the use of drugs and by spreading lies about Hinduism.

Of the 271, just three were named – pastors Durga Prasad Yadav, Kirit Rai and Jitendra Ram – in the charges filed in Jaunpur district, 200km southeast of the state capital Lucknow, on 5 September.

The 271 were initially cleared of any wrongdoing by a court in August, but now stand “accused of various criminal offenses, like fraud, defiling places of worship, prejudice against national integration”, Deputy Police Superintendent Anil Kumar Pandey told AsiaNews.

“In Uttar Pradesh Hindu radicals have fabricated unfounded accusations against innocent Pentecostal Christians,” Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), told AsiaNews.

“There has been a surge in persecution against Christians. Pentecostal pastors and Christian groups are under the constant watch of radical elements and the police,” he added.

A local pastor said the allegations were “absolutely false and baseless.” He told UCAN Christians had been worshiping in the area for the past 15 years and that it never had caused any problems until the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power.

A lawyer for those who filed the complaint said the suspects had been trying for years to persuade people to convert to Christianity and come to church.

“After the prayers on Sunday and Tuesday, they used to spread false information about Hinduism to persuade people to embrace Christianity,” the lawyer said. “In addition, the accused handed out banned medications and drugs to visitors and under their effect influenced them to become Christians.”

[Full Story]

Source: 271 Christians in Prison for Allegations of Forced Conversion

13 Reasons to Question the Truthfulness of Kavanaugh’s Accuser [Updated]

The woman who had accused Brett Kavanaugh — President Trump’s nominee to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court — is Christine Blasey Ford, and she currently works as a professor in the Social Work Department at California State University, Fullerton.

She’s accused Kavanaugh of forcing himself on her at a party in the early 1980s when she was 15 and he was 17.

Here’s her allegation, per the Washington Post:

While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.

“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.

In favor of Ford’s accusation: She reportedly told her therapist a version of this story in 2012, and her husband likewise says she told him, too. At the suggestion of her attorney, she also successfully took a polygraph test in early August.

There are also reasons to question Ford’s allegation. Here are the top 13:

13. Ford’s attorney, Debra Katz, is an anti-Trump activist and Democratic donor who has previously defended Democrats accused of sexual assault.

During the Clinton Administration, Katz actively defended Bill Clinton against charges Paul Jones was sexually assaulted. Katz likewise defended Al Franken after he was accused of sexual assault. She’s donated more than $25,000 to Democratic candidates, and has described Trump supporters as “miscreants.” More recently she was scheduled to appear at a fundraiser for Sen. Tammy Baldwin (who is one of the senators proclaiming their belief in Ford’s story), but which was canceled after receiving media attention.

12. Ford’s also being advised by a Dem operative who derailed Robert Bork’s nomination and recruited Anita Hill to testify against Clarence Thomas

Ford is being advised by Ricki Seidman, Politico recently reported. As the Daily Caller notes: “Seidman is no stranger to high-profile fights over nominations to the Supreme Court by a Republican president. She cut her teeth running attack ads against Robert Bork, a nomination that was eventually derailed. She then moved to Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy’s office, where she was instrumental in convincing Anita Hill to go public with her claim that Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her, The Weekly Standard reports. Seidman was also instrumental in leaking the Hill story to the press, according to “The Real Anita Hill” by David Brock.”

11. Ford’s therapist’s notes of the incident don’t match her current version of the story. 

Ford says Kavanaugh pinned her down and attempted to take off her bathing suit; in the room also, she said, was his friend, Mark Judge. Ford first told this story in 2012 — about 30 years later — to her therapist during couples therapy. The therapist’s notes from that session don’t name Brett Kavanaugh and also report Ford said four men were in the room. Ford says the discrepancy is the fault of the therapist.

10. Ford, by her own admission, has a hazy recollection of the incident.

Despite telling The Washington Post this incident so traumatized her she’s been in recovery ever since, she also admitted not recalling the incident specifically. She doesn’t remember the year it happened, but believes it occurred in 1982, when she was 15 and Kavanaugh was 17. She does not recall where the incident occurred, only that it was at a house in Montgomery County, Md. She forgets whose house it was and how she got there. She forgot whether Kavanaugh and Judge were already upstairs when she went up, or if they came up after her. She also forgot how she got home that night.

9. Polygraph tests are so unreliable they are inadmissible in court.

Polygraph tests do not have any reliable capacity to detecting the veracity of a statement, and are therefore inadmissible in criminal proceedings (except in rare circumstances where both parties agree). Here’s how the law firm Broden & Mickelsen explain polygraph tests: “The machines measure a person’s biological processes to determine if they are becoming stressed out during interrogations. Factors such as an increase in blood pressure or heart rate are measured. While these may be indicators that a person is lying, they may also simply indicate that a suspect is feeling pressurized by the interrogation even if they are telling the truth.”

8. The allegation wasn’t released until Kavanaugh’s hearings were over. 

Ford’s story first surfaced in July when she sent a letter to her congressman, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.). That letter was forwarded to Sen. Dianne Feinstein in late July. For reasons Feinstein has not disclosed, she kept the letter secret until after Kavanaugh’s hearings concluded, missing repeated opportunities to question Kavanaugh directly. By releasing the letter after the hearings concluded, Kavanaugh is effectively robbed of an opportunity to defend himself directly in a public forum. Feinstein has suggested she sought to simply honor Ford’s request for confidentiality. Yet that doesn’t explain her not bringing the matter up during the hearings, as she could have left the accuser nameless.

7. Kavanaugh has successfully passed six FBI background checks. 

Brett Kavanaugh has already served in many of the highest levels of government, almost all of which required extensive FBI background checks. He passed all of these without incident. As Sen. Grassley wrote Monday, “Judge Kavanaugh has undergone six FBI full-field investigations from 1993 to 2018. No such allegation resembling the anonymous claims ever surfaced.”

6. 65 women who knew Kavanaugh in high school have vouched for his character. 

Unlike other recent #MeToo accusations, there are no similar stories from other Kavanaugh contemporaries. Indeed, it’s the opposite. After Ford’s anonymous allegation surfaced, a group of women who knew Kavanaugh in high school signed a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, collectively serving as a character witness for Kavanaugh.

“Through the more than 35 years we have known him, Brett has stood out for his friendship, character, and integrity. In particular, he has always treated women with decency and respect. That was true when he was in high school, and it has remained true to this day.”

5. The only witnesses deny her allegation.

Besides Ford, there are only two other named parties: Brett Kavanaugh himself and his friend, Mark Judge. Both have issued vehement denials. Ford, per the Washington Post, also named two others who were in attendance that night. The Washington Post said neither party responded to requests for comment.

4. Another witness now denies Ford’s account.

Initially the only named parties to this incident were Ford, Kavanaugh, and Judge. Ford said two other males were at the party. One of them is Patrick J. Smith, whom she referred to as “PJ.” He’s since come forward and denied her allegation:

“I understand that I have been identified by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as the person she remembers as ‘PJ’ who supposedly was present at the party she described in her statements to the Washington Post,” Smyth says in his statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I am issuing this statement today to make it clear to all involved that I have no knowledge of the party in question; nor do I have any knowledge of the allegations of improper conduct she has leveled against Brett Kavanaugh.”

3. The haze of alcohol.

By Ford’s own telling, she was drinking the night of the incident. She says Kavanaugh was heavily intoxicated by did not indicate her own level of sobriety. Did alcohol affect her perception of the incident that night, or her memory of it? The Washington Post account does not describer her level of intoxication when the incident occurred.

2. Deleted her public social media accounts before revealing herself. 

As The Washington Post reported, Ford deleted all of her public social media before she came forward, making it difficult to see the advocacy and partisanship she was engaged in the time leading up to her making her allegation public. Of course, Ford may simply value her privacy, but the act of deleting her public postings will inevitably make some wonder what she didn’t want seen.

1. Ford is a Democrat who donates to left-wing causes, attended the anti-Trump March for Science, and previously signed an open letter challenging Trump’s border policy. 

Ford is a political activist who has made dozens of donations to left-wing causes. According to OpenSecrets, she has made more than 60 donations to liberal causes, with almost four dozen to the pro-abortion group, Emily’s List, alone. Ford also donated to the DNC, Hillary Clinton (more than 10 times), Bernie Sanders, and the progressive organizing group ActBlue.

Ford likewise attended the anti-Trump March for Science, where she wore a hat knitted like a human brain, but inspired by the feminist “pussy hats” worn at the Women’s Marches. Ford also added her name to an open letter from health professionals who argued the U.S. border policy resulting in temporary separation of some families was harmful to children’s development. The letter, titled “America’s Health Professionals Appeal to Trump Administration: End Family Separation at Border Immediately,” argued:

“Thousands of medical voices from across the United States have joined forces with Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) to urge the Trump administration to immediately halt the separation of migrant and asylum seeking children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. …

“It should not be U.S. policy to traumatize children, and especially not as a form of indirect punishment of their parents. …

“Forced separation of children and parents, especially in connection with the detention of a parent, can constitute an adverse childhood experience, which research links with disrupted neurodevelopment, resulting in social, emotional, and cognitive impairment, and even negative inter-generational effects.”

Source: 13 Reasons to Question the Truthfulness of Kavanaugh’s Accuser [Updated]

September 22, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Peter’s Text at Pentecost

Joel 2:28–32

“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the survivors whom the Lord calls.”

It is hard to handle prophecy. This is because the prophecies often seem obscure to us; and even if their meaning is clear, we cannot always be sure to what period of history the words apply. To confuse matters further, the Bible itself sometimes takes the prophecies in more than one way. They can be applied to a current event in Israel, for example; but they can also be referred to a future Day of the Lord.

While recognizing this, we know nevertheless that many Old Testament prophecies are interpreted to us by the New Testament, so that, whatever our problems may be with other passages, these at least are certain. Of these clear passages, none is more certain than Joel 2:28–32, a passage interpreted by the apostle Peter as applying to the events at Pentecost. After the ascension of Jesus the apostles waited in Jerusalem for the coming of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus had told them to do (Acts 1:4–5). On Pentecost, the second of the three chief Jewish festivals, these were gathered together in one place, when suddenly, as Acts says, “a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting” and “they saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:2–4).

When the people of Jerusalem heard the sound, they came together, and Peter preached the first sermon of the Christian era. Briefly, he denied that the disciples were intoxicated, which is what some were saying, and instead interpreted the event as the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. “This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘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. … And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ ” (Acts 2:17, 21).

Quite clearly, we cannot interpret Joel 2:28–32 apart from Peter’s interpretation. We need to see: (1) the need for this particular outpouring of God’s Spirit, (2) Joel’s promise of it, (3) the fulfillment of the promise in Acts, and (4) the result of that fulfillment.

A Wistful Longing

The roots of the promise are in Numbers 11:29, in the midst of a story about Moses. It was a bad time for Moses. The people had been complaining of their wilderness diet of manna, and Moses, perhaps in sheer physical weariness, was overcome with the burden of leading the people and dealing with their complaints. God sympathized with him and told him to select seventy of the elders of Israel and bring them with him to the Tent of Meeting. God promised, “I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone” (Num. 11:17). That is what happened. These men received the Holy Spirit and began to prophesy. It was a sign to the people that they had received this gift and were therefore chosen by God to minister alongside Moses.

Two of these elders were not with the others at the Tent of Meeting, but the Spirit of God came on them as well, and they also prophesied. This bothered some who were closest to Moses. One young man ran up to him saying, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

Joshua, who had been Moses’ close aide since youth, said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”

Moses’ reply was the roots of the promise found in Joel. He answered wistfully, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” (vv. 27–29).

The incident shows that in this early period God’s Spirit was not given to all his people in the way he is now. God was with his people, but his Spirit did not come on them or dwell in them. Instead, he came on certain individuals for specific purposes. Sometimes he left them, as happened in the case of Saul (1 Sam. 16:14). The first reference in the Bible to any individual’s possession of the Holy Spirit is in Genesis 41:38, where Pharaoh asks concerning Joseph, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” This was because of Joseph’s ability to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. The craftsmen who helped build the tabernacle are said to have been “filled … with the Spirit of God” (Exod. 31:3). Joshua is described as a man “in whom is the spirit” (Num. 27:18). The judges Othniel (Judg. 3:10), Gideon (Judg. 6:34), Jephthah (Judg. 11:29), and Samson (Judg. 13:5; 14:6, 19; 15:14) were also in this category. So probably was Deborah, who served as a judge and functioned in the name of the Lord, though it is not specifically said of her that she was filled with the Spirit (cf. Judg. 4:4–7). The Holy Spirit indwelt both Saul and David (1 Sam. 10:9–10; 16:13) and presumably all the prophets, though (like Deborah) this is not said specifically in every case.

In the Old Testament period the Holy Spirit was not the common gift of God to all his people. So when Moses intoned, “I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them,” he was expressing a very real need and longing. It was not until God had spoken to the people through Joel that there was even a promise of such universal blessing.

A Glorious Promise

God’s promise through Joel is striking because it is the book’s first mention of spiritual rather than mere physical blessing. It is understandable that material things are emphasized—material prosperity (v. 19), national security (v. 20), the restoration of lost years (v. 25)—because the locust plague was a material disaster and it formed the focal point and occasion of the prophecy. Still, we are glad to find spiritual blessings too, for we know, as our Lord taught, that it is folly for a man “to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul” (Mark 8:36).

Joel’s emphasis is on the universal nature of this gift, for he shows that it is for “all people” as opposed to being for some only as it had been previously. Lest we miss this, the point is spelled out in detail. It will be for the young (“your sons and daughters”) and the old (“your old men”), the strength of the nation (“your young men”) and servants (“even on my servants, both men and women”).

This is truly a momentous thing, for it is a way of saying that in the church age, which the coming of the Holy Spirit would inaugurate, all would be ministers of God, not merely a special corps of workers. Of course, there will be different tasks to do and different gifts given to enable God’s people to do them. Some will prophesy. Some will dream dreams. Still others will see visions. Men and women, young and old, slaves and free men will not necessarily do the same work. But all will have work to do and will be indwelt by God’s Spirit so that the work can be done effectively.

In the Reformation era this was termed the “priesthood of all believers,” and it was seen to establish a proper relationship between clergy and laity. John R. W. Stott points out in One People that there had developed within the church (as today) a division between “clergy” and “laity” in which the clergy were supposed to lead and do the work of Christian ministry while the people (which is what the word “laity” means) were to follow docily—and, of course, give money to support the clergy’s work. This is not what the church is to be, and where this view prevails the church and its ministry suffer. They suffer by the loss of the exercise of those gifts given to the laity. The Spirit is to help each serve others. The laity serve the church and the world. The clergy serve the laity, particularly in helping them to develop and use their gifts (Eph. 4:11–13).

Stott points out that three false answers have been given to the question of the relationship of clergy to other Christians. The first is clericalism. It is the view already referred to, namely, that the work of the church is to be done by those paid to do it and that the role of the layman is at best to support these works financially. How did this false picture arise? Historically it resulted from the development of the priesthood in the early Roman church. In those days the professional ministry was patterned after the Old Testament priestly system with the mass taking the place of the blood sacrifices. Only “priests” were authorized to perform the mass, and this meant that a false and debilitating distinction between clergy and laity was drawn. Those who favor this view say that it goes back to the days of the apostles. But this is demonstrably false. As reflected in the New Testament, the early church often used the word “minister” or “ministry” to refer to what all Christians are and must do and never used the word hiereus (“priest”) of the clergy. Elton Trueblood points out that “the conventional modern distinction between the clergy and laity simply does not occur in the New Testament at all.”

There are historical reasons for the development of clericalism then. But these in themselves are not the whole or even the most significant things. The real causes of clericalism lie in human failures. Sometimes the clergy want to run the show, to dominate those who attend church. This often leads to outright abuse or tyranny. If we need an example, we can find one in the New Testament in the person of Diotrephes “who loves to be first,” according to the apostle John who wrote about him (3 John 9). A warning against this pattern is found in 1 Peter in a passage conveying instruction to church elders: “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (5:2–3). The chief biblical example is the Lord Jesus Christ who, though Lord of creation, nevertheless put on a servant’s garment and performed a servant’s job in washing his disciples’ feet.

Again, there is the willingness of laymen to “sit back” and “let the pastor do it.” Stott quotes a remark of Sir John Lawrence to this effect: “What does the layman really want? He wants a building which looks like a church; a clergy dressed in the way he approves; services of the kind he’s been used to, and to be left alone.” This is not what Joel 2:28–32 envisions.

The second false answer to the relationship of clergy to laypersons is anti-clericalism. Since the clergy sometimes despise the laity or think them dispensable, it is no surprise that the laity sometimes return the compliment by rejecting the clergy.

This is not always bad. We can imagine situations in which the church has become so dominated by a corrupt or priestly clergy that a general housecleaning is called for. Again we can think of areas of the church’s work that are best done by laymen, for which the clergy is not at all necessary. But these are not grounds for anticlericalism as the normal stance of Christian people. On the contrary, where the church wishes to be biblical it must recognize not only that gifts of teaching and leadership are given to some for the church’s well-being but also that there is ample biblical teaching about the need for such leadership. Judging from Acts and the various Pauline epistles, it was the apostle Paul’s regular practice to appoint elders in every church and entrust to them the training of the flock for ministry (Acts 14:23; 20:17). In the pastoral epistles the appointment of such leaders is specifically commanded (Titus 1:5), and the qualifications are given (1 Tim. 3:1–13; Titus 1:5–9).

Some who have captured the idea of ministry as belonging to the whole church have begun to wonder on this basis whether there is room for clergy. But their insight, good as it is, does not lead to this conclusion. As Trueblood says, “The earliest Christians were far too realistic to fall into this trap, because they saw that, if the ideal of universal ministry is to be approximated at all, there must be some people who are working at the job of bringing this highly desirable result to pass.”

The final false model of the relationship between the professional clergy and laymen is what Stott calls dualism. Dualism says that clergy and laymen are each to be given their sphere, and neither is to trespass on the territory of the other. This describes the traditional Roman Catholic system in which a “lay status” and a “clerical status” are very carefully delineated. It is also true of certain forms of Protestantism. In such a system the sense of all being part of one body and serving together in one work evaporates and rivalry enters in instead.

What is the true pattern? Ephesians 4:11–13 describes it well, for in pointing out that apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are to equip the saints for the work of ministry, it is saying that the proper relationship of clergy to laypersons is service. The clergy are to equip the saints, that is, assist them and train them to be what they should be and do the work they should do, which is the proclamation of the gospel to the world. In this pattern of service we have no lesser example than that of Jesus who, as noted above, “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Fulfillment

Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came on all believers. All began to speak and witness to others. A new era was inaugurated. It is said of the church at this period that “all the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people” (Acts 2:44–47).

In each of nine cases in which it is said that the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, the consequence of that filling was a witness to Jesus Christ. The first of these cases is Pentecost. We are told that “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit” and that they at once began to witness (Acts 2:4–13). Peter did so officially and most effectively. The second case is Peter’s being “filled with the Holy Spirit” just before he addressed the Sanhedrin on the occasion of his first arrest (Acts 4:8). He preached Jesus. The third case is the description of a prayer meeting in which the believers “were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31). Acts 6:3, the fourth reference, says that deacons were chosen on the basis of their being “full of the Spirit.” At first glance this seems to be an exception, for nothing tells us that they then witnessed to Christ. But it is important to note that the verse does not describe them as being filled with the Spirit but only says that they gave evidence of having been filled with the Spirit (past tense). How was this known? The passage does not say how specifically, but it may well have been because they were already active as witnesses. Besides, the account of the choice of these deacons is immediately followed by the story of the death of the deacon Stephen, which certainly contains an effective witness to the grace of God in Christ’s ministry.

The fifth example of a person being filled with the Spirit is Stephen who, “full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” and testified of this fact: “Look, … I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55–56). Paul is twice said specifically to have been “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17; 13:9). The first time was at his conversion when Ananias came and placed his hands on him. Paul recovered his sight, was baptized, and “at once … began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). The second time was when Paul confronted Elymas, the sorcerer, and pronounced a judgment on him in the name of Jesus. Barnabas is said to have been “full of the Holy Spirit.” He was a preacher. The ninth example is the company of disciples at Antioch who were “filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” and who doubtless revealed this by continuing to spread the gospel even after Paul and Barnabas had been expelled from their region (Acts 13:52).

This is the clear and distinguishing mark of a person being filled with the Holy Spirit, and it is the sense in which the words in Joel—“Your sons and daughters will prophesy”—must be taken. There may be prophecy in the sense of foretelling things to come. Paul, Peter, John, and some others did that. But in the sense that all will prophesy, what is involved is proclamation of God’s truth concerning the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.

Jesus said that this was to be the Spirit’s work. “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you” (John 16:12–15).

A Blessed Result

The result of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the consequent testimony to Jesus by those who were so filled was repentance. We are told that after Peter preached, “about three thousand” repented of their sin, were baptized, and were added to the number of the early Christians (Acts 2:37–41). Later we read, “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).

Repentance brings us back to Joel and the purpose of Joel’s prophecy. Joel had been calling on the people to repent of specific sin, the sin of worshiping other gods and of failing to give the true God the worship and obedience he deserves. God had promised blessing if the people would repent. Would they? Could they? The answer to that question is perhaps unknown in the context of the prophecy itself. But it is important to note that at the same time that God calls for repentance he promises a day in which he will pour out his Spirit on all people, and when that happens, as it does at Pentecost, repentance is the first evidence in the lives of people generally. Thousands are convicted of sin, repent of it, and turn to Jesus.

It is the same today. Repentance is always the first visible evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence and activity. Where he is at work, repentance and a resulting belief in Jesus as Savior follow. We should pray for repentance first in our own hearts and then in those of our contemporaries.[1]


The Outpoured Spirit (2:28–32 [3:1–5])

28–32 [3:1–5] The introductory formula with which this section begins clearly places the events that follow it after those detailed in 2:1–27. Since the previous section dealt with the near future, it may be safely presumed that the events prophesied here lie still further ahead. Indeed, these chapters disclose the Lord’s eschatological intentions (3, 4, MT). Two primary thoughts are included: the Lord’s promise of personal provision in the lives of his own (2:28–32) and the prediction of his final triumph on behalf of his own at the culmination of the history of humankind (ch. 3).

The Lord first promises that he will pour out his Spirit in full abundance and complete refreshment. Hosea prophesied that the Lord must pour out his fury on an idolatrous Israel (5:10). Joel sees beyond this chastisement to a time in the distant future (cf. Eze 36:16–38) when, in a measure far more abundant than the promised rain (cf. 2:22–26), God will pour out his Holy Spirit in power. In those days (cf. Jer 33:15) that power will rest on all (i.e., human) flesh (cf. Isa 40:5–6; 66:23; Zec 2:12–13).

God’s covenantal people are primarily in view. Joel goes on to point out that what the Lord intends is that his Holy Spirit will be poured out, not on selected individuals for a particular task but on all believers, young and old, male and female alike, regardless of their status. It will be a time of renewed spiritual activity: of prophesying, of dreams, and of visions (cf. Nu 12:6).

Accompanying the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in those days and as visible signs of his supernatural and overseeing intervention in human history, God will cause extraordinary phenomena to be seen in nature. Thus the totality of everyone’s experience will be affected. Although the heavens are mentioned first, the order that follows is one of ascending emphasis, beginning with events on earth (blood, fire, and smoke) and moving to signs in the sky (the sun and moon).

Joel’s depiction of the phenomenal events concerned with the day of the Lord is indebted to stock phraseology available since Israel’s redemption out of Egypt at the time of the exodus event. Miraculous occurrences in the heavens (Ex 10:21–23; 14:19–20; cf. Ps 105:28) and on earth (Ex 19:16, 18; cf. Jdg 5:4–5; Ps 114:3–5; Hab 3:6) during the movement from Egypt to the Promised Land were seen as part of God’s arsenal of weapons of judgment that will ultimately lead to the full blessing of his people.

Such occurrences were not only repeated in the course of Israel’s subsequent history (Jos 10:9–15; Jdg 5:20–21) but also became standard imagery for the prophetic oracles of judgment (e.g., Isa 13:10, 13; Eze 32:7–8; Am 5:18–20). From there they passed on naturally into the graphically intense and more universalistic outlook of the emerging apocalyptic prophecies dealing with the end times (e.g., Isa 24:1–3, 19–20; 60:19–20; Zep 1:14–18; Zec 14:3–7). These in turn developed into the full-blown apocalyptic literature of the intertestamental and NT eras (e.g., Apocalypse of Zephaniah 12:1–8; Rev 6:8–9; 11:15–19; 14:19–20). Similar conclusions can be reached concerning Joel’s use of blood, fire, and smoke—all well-known symbols of warfare and its attendant evils (e.g., Nu 21:28; Jdg 20:38–40; Isa 10:16; 28:11; Zec 11:1).

As I pointed out in the discussion at 1:15, the term “day of the Lord” deals with judgment. This is particularly true in the case of the enemies of Israel, whether Babylon (Isa 13:6, 9), Egypt (Jer 46:10; Eze 30:2–4), Edom (Ob 15), or all nations (Joel 3:14–15; Ob 15; Zep 1:14–18; Zec 14:3–15; Mal 4:5–6; cf. 1 Th 5:2; 2 Th 2:2; 2 Pe 3:10). It can also be true for Israel-Judah (Isa 2:12–22; Eze 13:5; Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11; Am 5:18–20; Zep 1:7; Zec 14:1–2).

As to the time of judgment, it can be present (Joel 1:15), lie in the near future (Isa 2:12–22; 13:6, 9; Jer 46:10; Eze 13:5; Joel 2:1, 11; Am 5:18–20), be future-eschatological (Eze 30:2–3; Zep 1:7, 14–18; Mal 4:1–6), or be purely eschatological (Joel 3:14–15; Zec 14:1–21; 1 Th 5:1–11; 2 Th 2:2; 2 Pe 3:10–13). So teachings concerning the judgment associated with that day can apply anywhere along the continuum that culminates in the final day of the Lord. With such an understanding believers are assured of God’s sovereign control of the flow of history and his ultimate good intentions for them. Such knowledge should bring a continuing realization of the necessity of trust and godly living.

Theologically, the scope of these passages makes it clear that the eschatological day of the Lord is the culmination of God’s judging and restoring process. It involves the time of great affliction for God’s people (Da 12:1; Mt 24:15–28) and of earth’s judgment (Isa 26:20–21; Rev 6; 8–11; 14:14–16:21), and it closes with the return of the Lord in glory (Rev 19:11–16) and the battle of Armageddon (Rev 16:16; 19:17–21; cf. Eze 38–39). Joel’s use of the term, then, is in harmony with the totality of Scripture. By “the day of the Lord” is meant that time when God, for his glory and humanity’s good, actively intervenes in human affairs in judgment against sinners and on behalf of his own people.

The day of the Lord also deals with deliverance for God’s people and the hope of a final blessed state (Joel 2:31–32; 3:16–21; Zep 3:9–20; Zec 14:3; Mal 4:5–6). The eschatological prophecies dealing with these two themes are characteristic of OT kingdom oracles.

Thus in v. 32 the second of the twin themes associated with kingdom oracles comes into full view. Along with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, there will be the outworking of salvation for those who truly trust God as their Redeemer. To “call on the name of the Lord” is to invoke his name in approaching him (cf. Ge 4:26; 12:8), but especially to call on him in believing faith (Pss 99:6; 145:18; Ro 10:13). For such a one there will be not only physical deliverance but also spiritual transformation and the blessedness of peace and prosperity. While salvation-deliverance will be the experience of the one who truly “calls on the name of the Lord” (cf. 2:26) in that day, it is God himself who will summon that remnant.

Before leaving this chapter, we must briefly examine the issue of the citation of these words by Peter in his famous address at Pentecost (Ac 2:17–21). While several theories have been advanced as to the relation between these two passages of Scripture, the position taken here attempts to strike a balance between the extreme views of a total fulfillment at Pentecost and the complete lack of any relationship.

Although the full context of Acts 2 does not exhaust the larger context of Joel 2:28–3:21, we can scarcely doubt that Peter viewed Joel’s prophecy as applicable to Pentecost, for he plainly said that such was the case (Ac 2:16). Moreover, both his sermon and subsequent remarks are intimately intertwined with Joel’s message (e.g., cf. Joel 2:30–31 with Ac 2:22–24; Joel 2:32 with Ac 2:38–40).

The precise applicability of Joel’s prophecy to Pentecost can be gleaned from some of the Petrine interpretive changes and additions to Joel’s text. Thus, under divine inspiration Peter added to Joel’s words relative to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit kai prohēteusousin (“and they will prophesy”; cf. Joel 2:29 with Ac 2:18). The intent of Joel’s prophecy was not only the restoration of prophecy but that such a gift was open to all classes of people. The Spirit-empowered words of the apostles on Pentecost were, therefore, evidence of the accuracy of Joel’s prediction. (They were also a direct fulfillment of Christ’s promise to send the Holy Spirit [see Lk 24:49; Jn 14:16–18; 15:26–27; 16:7–15; Ac 1:4–5, 8; 2:33].)

Again, Peter affirmed that Joel’s more general term ʾaḥarê-kēn (“afterward”) is to be understood as en tais eschatais hēmerais (“in the last days”; cf. Joel 2:28 with Ac 2:17). The NT writers made it clear that both Israel’s future age and the church age are designated by the same terms: “the last [latter] days [times]” (1 Ti 4:1; 2 Ti 3:1–8; Heb 1:1–2; Jas 5:3; 1 Pe 1:5, 20; 4:7; 2 Pe 3:1–9; 1 Jn 2:18; Jude 18). Accordingly, the point of Peter’s remark in Acts 2:16 must be that Pentecost, as the initial day of that period known as “the last [latter] days,” which will culminate in those events surrounding the return of Jesus the Messiah, partakes of the character of those final events and so is a herald and earnest of what surely must come. Pentecost, then, forms a corroborative pledge in the series of fulfillments that will culminate in the ultimate fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy in the eschatological complex.

It must also be noted that the outpouring of the Spirit is an accompanying feature of that underlying basic divine promise given to Abraham and the patriarchs, ratified through David, reaffirmed in the terms of the new covenant, and guaranteed in the person and work of Jesus the Messiah (cf. Ge 12:1–3; 15; 17; 2 Sa 7:11–29; Ps 89:3–4, 27–29; Jer 31:31–34; Ac 2:29–36; 26:6–7; Gal 3:5–14; Eph 1:10–14; Heb 6:13–20; 9:15).

Christ’s prophetic promise was directly fulfilled; Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled but not consummated. It awaits its ultimate fulfillment but was provisionally applicable to Pentecost and the age of the Spirit as the initial step in those last days that will culminate in the prophesied the day of the Lord.[2]


A spiritual transformation

(2:28–32)

Everything would improve. In 2:25 God had promised to restore the lost years caused by the locust invasion. Now he assured the people of Judah of even greater blessings.

These greater blessings were things that would happen ‘afterwards’ (v. 28). The ‘before’ was full of disaster and the loss of basic essentials for life, but the gloom and despair of those days were going to give way—first to material blessings and then, ‘afterwards’, to an abundance of spiritual grace. These would be amazing wonders that could not have been envisaged while the people were in the midst of their trials.

When the people had repented wholeheartedly (vv. 12–17), there would follow an abundance of rain that would enable bumper crops to grow (vv. 23–24). Everything that the people of Judah had lost would be recovered (vv. 25–26). However, these things were only the beginning of God’s provision. Far, far greater blessings were to come.

God’s Spirit will be poured out on all people (vv. 28–29)

When Moses was feeling very discouraged because the work of leading the people was getting too onerous for him, he was advised to appoint seventy elders to help him. The Lord promised to take the Spirit that was in Moses (i.e. God’s Spirit) and put that same Spirit into these seventy elders (Num. 11:17). When Joshua raised concerns because two of them were prophesying, Moses said, ‘I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!’ (Num. 11:29).

Similarly, when David was anointed king over Israel, ‘the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power’ (1 Sam. 16:13). Saul, David’s predecessor, also had the Spirit of the Lord upon him, but later God’s Spirit left him (see 1 Sam. 16:14). It is only when we come to the written prophets that we read of the permanent promise of God’s Spirit. Ezekiel promised that God would put a new spirit within his people (Ezek. 11:19), and Jeremiah spoke of the coming days when God would make a new covenant with his people (Jer. 31:31). These same promises were detailed more clearly by Joel, through whom God said that ‘afterwards’ (or ‘the days are coming when’) ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people’ (v. 28).

The ‘afterwards’ came hundreds of years later. Luke tells us that, on the Day of Pentecost, after the crucifixion of the Lord, a group of about 120 followers of Jesus ‘were all together in one place’ (see Acts 1:15; 2:1).

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

(Acts 2:2–4)

The Holy Spirit did not descend and come into them; he was ‘poured out’ upon them, just as Joel had prophesied. The Spirit was given in such measure that each of the disciples was completely transformed. Before that incident, they were scared stiff and afraid to admit their adherence to Christ for fear of being arrested and hung on a cross as he had been; but then the Holy Spirit came upon them with such a mighty force that they were no longer afraid. Instead, they were filled with boldness and given an overwhelming desire to declare Christ to all the people. They now had no hesitation in reminding the Jews that it was they who had put Jesus to death, but that God had raised him up to life again.

After Pentecost, the abundant outpouring of God’s Spirit was no longer reserved for people like kings and prophets. The promise in Joel was that all people would be eligible to receive God’s Spirit. Some might argue that Peter’s quotation of Joel 2:28–32 in Acts 2:17–21 meant that only the Jews would receive the Spirit. Certainly the phrases ‘your sons and daughters … your old men … your young men … my servants, both men and women’ could be seen as applying exclusively to Judah, but verse 32 makes it abundantly clear that the message went much further afield. It was for ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord’, and the assurance given is that they ‘will be saved’.

But does this mean that everyone will be saved in the end? No, because this is not the teaching of Scripture. Writing about Mammoth Hot Springs in the Yellowstone National Park, USA, Theo Laetsch stated, ‘A thirsty man may stand at the brink of Mammoth Springs and die of thirst if he refuses to drink water. A man may be offered the full measure of the Holy Spirit and his sanctifying power; he will remain in spiritual death and die eternal death if he refuses, rejects, this gift.’ When the Bible states that ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’, it means that all those who call in faith, believing on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, will be delivered from hell. This does not mean that grace is only available for those who feel so frightened that they call on the Lord to have mercy on them. Throughout the Old Testament, we find that it was those who acknowledged that the Lord was their God who ‘called upon him’. During the days of Seth ‘men began to call on the name of the Lord’ (Gen. 4:26), and Abram ‘built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord’ (Gen. 12:8).

The diverse types of people to whom this blessing was promised must have been surprising for Joel’s original hearers. Not only sons would prophesy, but daughters too. It is true that most of the people who are named as prophets in the Bible were men, but Anna is described as a ‘prophetess’ in Luke 2:36, and Acts 21:9 tells us that ‘Philip … had four unmarried daughters who prophesied’. Paul takes up this teaching and tells us that there is no distinction of age, sex or social class when it comes to receiving the Spirit of God (Gal. 3:28).

Another way in which God would communicate was through dreams. Joel said, ‘you old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.’ ‘Throughout the Old Testament we find God communicating his word through dreams.’ The story of Joseph and Pharaoh is worth studying in this regard. Prophecy should not merely be thought of as telling the future; rather it is telling forth God’s message. In that sense, all preachers ought to be prophets as they declare the unsearchable riches of Christ.

Many of the prophets spoke of their writings as visions (see Isa. 1:1; Obad. 1). In Numbers 12:6 God had stated, ‘When a prophet of the Lord is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams.’ Luther tells us that ‘prophesying, visions and dreams are all one thing.’ Prophesy is making God known, so John Stott concludes that ‘in that sense all God’s people are now prophets, just as all are also priests and kings’.4The Messianic kingdom (vv. 30–32)

These are signs that the last days have commenced. In Acts 2, Peter interpreted Joel’s word ‘afterwards’ as ‘the last days’ (Acts 2:17). He was indicating to the crowds in Jerusalem that the Messianic age had finally arrived, and the pouring out of God’s Holy Spirit was the positive sign of it. O. Palmer Robertson put it like this: ‘The world does not have to wait any longer for the rule of Christ to begin. The outpouring of the Spirit by the Messianic king in fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy indicates that the kingdom has come. The Day of the Lord has arrived with the exaltation of the Messianic Lord to his kingly throne.’

The first of these signs to be mentioned are the great wonders that will be shown in the sky. During his earthly ministry Jesus spoke about the coming destruction of Jerusalem but he applied it to the day of the Lord. He spoke about this final day of punishment when ‘There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences … fearful events and great signs from heaven’ (Luke 21:11). The moon being turned to blood speaks of the trouble and bloodshed that will accompany the final judgement of this world. Zephaniah speaks of blood being ‘poured out like dust’ (Zeph. 1:17). There will be great destruction on that day, the aftermath of war and burning cities.

The world is in chaos today, just as it was at the beginning. Fighting and wars abound with regularity and men’s hearts are failing them for fear (see Luke 21:26). Yet the Lord has promised that there will be deliverance, but it is to be found only on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem (v. 32). The closing verses of Obadiah’s prophecy describe similar events and also state that those who flee to this holy mountain will be saved.

So what hope is there for those of us who are not Jews and who do not live in Jerusalem or Judah? There is much hope, because ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’, and it is on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem that salvation will be experienced. What does Joel mean by Mount Zion and Jerusalem? He is talking about God’s dwelling place. We know that ‘the Most High does not live in houses made by men’ (Acts 7:48), and in Galatians 4:25–26 Paul speaks about Jerusalem and says that it is ‘above’ and is ‘free’. This means that anyone can come to God (i.e. to Mount Zion and Jerusalem). None will be turned away, and if we sincerely call upon the name of the Lord, we will find that the Lord will call us and we will be delivered.[3]


The Gift of the Spirit (Joel 2:28–32)

2:28–32 / The promise of abundant life and rescue from the judgment of the day of the Lord has been given out of the free grace of God (2:18–27). Joel now turns to tell of the signs that will precede the coming of the day. Thus, afterward in 2:28 refers not to events that will take place after the coming of the day, but before its imminent arrival (cf. before in v. 31).

As found also in nt tradition, the day will be preceded by both cosmic and earthly signs (cf. Mark 13:7–8, 24–25 and parallels; Luke 21:20, 25–26). Mark speaks of “wars and rumors of war” (Mark 13:7), and the blood, fire, and smoke of Joel 2:30 probably refer to the burning of cities and the slaughter of their populace. The darkening of the sun and the changing of the moon to blood in 2:31, on the other hand, are not natural disasters such as an eclipse or sandstorm, but supernatural signs of the approach of the day (cf. Amos 8:9). As in Malachi 4:5 and Luke 21:25–28, God will give warning of the approaching judgment.

Most important in this passage, however, is God’s promise that before the day comes, I will pour out my Spirit, literally in the Hebrew, “on all flesh.” By reading on all people, the niv has tended to emphasize a universal note in this promise, just as Acts 2:38–39 emphasizes that the gift of the Holy Spirit may be given to those of all nations. But the repeated use of your in verse 28, spoken to Judah, limits the promise in Joel to that covenant people. The Acts 2 account of the first Christian Pentecost takes the gift limited by Joel to Judah and extends it to all nations in a universal offering that is one of the glories of the Christian gospel.

The gift of the Spirit to Judah will enable its populace to prophesy, to dream the dreams and see the visions given to the earlier prophets (cf. Jer. 23:25; 24:1–3; Amos 7:1–9, etc.). It was characteristic of the early nonwriting prophets of Israel that their revelations were given to them by the Spirit (cf. 1 Sam. 10:6, 10; 19:20; 2 Sam. 23:2; 2 Kgs. 2:9, etc.). However, such a means of revelation was almost entirely replaced among the classical, writing prophets by revelation through the word, and it is not until the time of this passage in Joel that revelation by means of the Spirit is once again emphasized. Thus, when revelation by the Spirit once again occurs, according to Joel, it is a sign that the day of the Lord is very near.

The gift of the Spirit, throughout the Bible, was given to persons for the purpose of enabling them to accomplish a task for God. The Spirit lent them power to do God’s bidding (cf. Exod. 31:2–5; Judg. 6:34; Mic. 3:8; Hag. 1:14, etc.). Such is the understanding of the gift in Acts 2. The disciples are given the Holy Spirit in order that they may be witnesses to Christ “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8; 2:4). But that does not seem to be the emphasis of this passage in Joel. Rather, consonant with Joel’s entire concern, the Spirit here signifies a new relation with God. “All flesh” in Judah, including manservant and maidservant, will once again have that intimate relation to God characteristic of prophets (cf. Isa. 50:4; Jer. 15:16; 20:11). Surprisingly, therefore, the cult with its sacrifices, so often referred to by Joel, will no longer be necessary. No priest will be needed to mediate between the people and their God. All will be brought into intimate relation with the Lord.

When such a relation with God is established, the day of the Lord is near. Indeed, Acts 2 understands that with the gift of the Spirit to the disciples, the day has begun; the new age of the kingdom has broken into human history and will now exercise its influence until the kingdom comes in its fulness. According to the gospels, the kingdom was already present in the person of Jesus of Nazareth (cf. Mark 1:15; Luke 11:20). Participation in its power is now offered to all who repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. When that takes place, the gift of the Holy Spirit, promised here in Joel, will be given (Acts 2:38–39).

Judah will be given the free gift of the Spirit in a new relation with its God. But Judah must then respond to the gift—and so must we. We are given the Spirit apart from any deserving or working on our part. And it is the Spirit, then, which allows us to call on the name of the Lord (Joel 2:32): Throughout, the prophecies of Joel emphasize God’s prevenient grace; that is the meaning of whom the Lord calls in verse 32; it signifies “those to whom God has given the Spirit of God.”

It is quite possible to be given the Spirit of God, however, and to do nothing with it: thousands of persons in the Christian Church, who received the Holy Spirit at their baptisms, are evidence of that fact. We can stifle the Spirit, quench it (1 Thess. 5:19 rsv), do nothing with it. And if that is our response, we will not survive in the judgment on the day of the Lord. For the judgment still comes. We all will still have to stand before the bar of God. In verse 32, Joel reiterates the promise of Obadiah 17 that there will be a remnant saved in Judah on the day of the Lord. But that remnant will be those who have used the Spirit’s power to call on the name of the Lord.

According to other passages in the ot, to call on God’s name means to worship God (Gen. 12:8), to acknowledge that we belong to him alone (Isa. 12:2–4; 44:5; Ps. 105:1; Zech. 13:9), and to depend on him for all life and good (Prov. 18:10; Zech. 2:5). Thus, to call on the name of the Lord in the last judgment is not a desperate, last minute attempt to save one’s life from eternal destruction, but rather is the natural fruit of a heart-felt dependence on God that one has known throughout one’s life.

This salvation from the dark judgment of God’s day, when the kingdom is set up over all the earth, is now offered by the gospel to all persons (cf. John 3:16–17). But that gracious offer, recorded here in Joel, is now centered in Jesus Christ, and those who call on his name are the ones who will stand in the last day (Rom. 10:9–13).

That means, in our time and in every time, that we are therefore to worship only the God revealed to us in Jesus Christ through the Scriptures. Many false gods and goddesses claim our allegiance in our society. But “there is no other name under heaven given to men (and women) by which we must be saved” than the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). To call on his name means to live by his will and not by our own, and to depend on his commandments for daily guidance (cf. John 14:15). “Apart from me you can do nothing,” he tells us (John 15:5); that is, we can do no good act that accords with the will of God except through Christ. And so we call on him constantly to guide and empower us, not only when we are in difficulty, but every day, consistently, in order that we may be obedient.

Finally, to call on the name of the Lord means, according to the Bible, to tell others what God has done (cf. Ps. 105:1; Isa. 12:4), to be witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). In that witness, we proclaim a total worldview that sees everything in terms of God’s working in this world; we announce that God’s alone are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever; we bear the glad news that out of free grace, God offers to all persons salvation in the day of the Lord. Paul uses Joel 2:32 in Romans 10:13. But then he goes on to ask how anyone can call on one in whom they have not believed. “And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Faith comes from hearing the gospel message, says Paul, and that message is heard through our witness to and our preaching of what God has done in Jesus Christ. It is to these tasks that we are called by Joel’s Lord and our Lord.[4]


The Lord Will Provide Spiritual Renewal (2:28–32)

2:28–32. After this indicates events in the distant future. This prophecy relates not to the return from the Babylonian captivity but to the eschatological day of the Lord (Ac 2:17 renders it “and it shall be in the last days …”). There are three characteristics of the eschatological renewal promised here. First, there will be an outpouring of God’s Spirit on Israel (vv. 28–29). This will come upon their sons, daughters, old and young men, and male and female servants so that they all will prophecy and have prophetic dreams. This will be a change from a limited office of prophet to a wide range of people who will have the Spirit of the Lord and will fulfill Moses’ hope for Israel (cf. Nm 11:29).

Second, there will be supernatural phenomena in the skies: These cosmic wonders will include wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood, fire, and smoke, the sun and the moon darkened at the time of the great and awesome day of the Lord (vv. 30–31). Such events are often associated with the future tribulation (cf. Is 13:9–10; 34:4; Mt 24:29; Rv 6:12; 8:8–9; 9:1–19; 14:4–20; 16:4, 8–9).

Third, there will be great deliverance at that time for whoever calls on the name of the Lord. This seems to be an invitation to escape the wrath of God spoken of at the start of the chapter (cf. Jl 2:1–11). The prophet promises escape for those on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem (cf. Rv 14:1–5) and seems to refer to the eschatological deliverance, both physical and spiritual, of Israel at the return of Christ (Zch 12:10; 14:3–5; Rm 11:26–27).

At question is why Peter used this passage when explaining the disciples’ supernatural gift of speaking in unlearned foreign languages (Ac 2:14–21). Some have maintained that Peter viewed the events at Pentecost as being fulfilled directly. Hence, Joel’s predictions, while originally about God’s promises to Israel, find their fulfillment in the Church. Others have maintained that Peter viewed Jl 2 as partially fulfilled at Pentecost (or perhaps inaugurated) but will indeed be completely fulfilled for Israel at the end of days. Both of these views seem problematic in that the events described in Acts do not match Joel’s prediction. In Acts, the disciples spoke in unlearned foreign languages (2:6), but Joel predicted visions and dreams. Further, Acts does not indicate that there were any cosmic wonders or signs in the sky. Therefore, it is more likely that Peter cited Joel as a form of applicational fulfillment. This refers to finding a principle in Joel and applying it to the situation at Pentecost. At Pentecost, it was thought that the disciples were drunk (Ac 2:13). Therefore, Peter cited the principle from Joel that when the Holy Spirit falls, remarkable signs would follow. Thus, the disciples’ supernatural gifts should not be attributed to drunkenness but to the Holy Spirit. For a full discussion of NT use of the OT and the principle of applicational fulfillment, see Michael Rydelnik, The Messianic Hope: Is the Hebrew Bible Really Messianic? (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2010), 95–111, esp. 104–08.[5]


28–29 The oracle speaks of a new era of perfect relationship between God and his people. Jeremiah had described this era in terms of the law written on their hearts (Je. 31:31–34; cf. Ps. 40:8) and Ezekiel in terms of the gift of new hearts (Ezk. 36:26–27), in order to convey the notion of a people perfectly obedient to God’s will. The language of prophetic inspiration is used to the same end: the Spirit is here a medium of prophecy (cf. Nu. 12:6; 2 Ch. 20:14). The promise takes up Moses’ wish in Nu. 11:29, ‘that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!’ Earlier in the ministry of Joel the whole nation had been out of step with Yahweh. Only one person, the prophet Joel, had seen the situation through God’s eyes; with God’s voice he had spoken of both judgment and hope. Now a whole nation of Joels is envisaged. Every sector of its society, young and old, male and female, slave and free (cf. Gal. 3:28), would share a prophet’s understanding of God (cf. 1 Cor. 13:9–12).

All people, lit. ‘all flesh’, here means ‘every one in Israel’, as the explanation in terms of members of the community shows (cf. 3:1; for the relative use of ‘all flesh’ cf. Je. 12:12 av; compare the relative use of ‘everybody’ in English and ‘tout le monde’ in French). The message Joel brought to his contemporaries is that, as Calvin said, ‘the whole people would prophesy, or that the gift of prophecy would be common and prevail everywhere among the Jews.’ In v 29 my should be omitted (cf. nrsv): it is an attempt to harmonize with the quotation in Acts 2:18, which quotes the ancient Greek version rather than the Hebrew text.

30–32 Against Israel’s fortune is dramatically set the fate of the other nations. As v 32 will explain, God’s people would be safe in the eye of a raging storm. In response to Yahweh’s call through Joel they had called on his name in prayer (cf. 1:19; 2:17). So they would be saved or escape the danger of coming catastrophe. That would be reserved for others, as 3:2 will make clear. Israel had barely survived the destruction of the day of the Lord, but that destruction had still to materialize in the world outside. The signs of its coming in sky and earth are explained in reverse. First, blood, fire and smoke are grim tokens of the destructive war that Yahweh would wage on his enemies. Details of this display of judgment will be supplied in 3:1–14. Secondly, the language that Joel applied metaphorically to the locusts in v 10 concerning Israel’s experience of the great and dreadful day of the Lord (cf. v 11) is now reused in relation to the nations. It has its traditional sense of cosmic convulsions heralding a theophany of judgment (cf. Is. 13:9–13). These heavenly signs will be reaffirmed in 3:15.

The NT has an intense interest in this passage, in the light of the unfolding purposes of God in Christ. First of all it links the passage with the return of Christ (Mk. 13:24; Lk. 21:25; Rev. 6:12, 17; 9:2). But NT eschatology (teaching on the end times) is complex. Apart from the standard view inherited from the OT and Judaism, it holds that the last days have already begun in the first coming of Christ and in the establishment of the church, while the old age is still rolling on (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17). So, secondly, Joel 2:28–32 is interpreted in this light, especially in Peter’s speech at Pentecost (Acts 2:16–21, 33, 38–40). Peter was claiming that God’s final work had begun in the filling of the disciples with the Holy Spirit and in the opportunity of salvation for the penitent. Detailed explanation is not supplied in the abbreviated text of the speech, but the earthly and heavenly signs and wonders are linked with the miracles done by Jesus and evidently with the darkness at the crucifixion (Lk. 23:44–45). The relation of ‘all flesh’ to Israel is retained: ‘men of Israel’ are addressed, including Gentile converts to Judaism (Acts 2:11, 22).

Later, Paul argued in Rom. 10:12–13 that for Christian purposes ‘all flesh’ should be interpreted as both wider and narrower than the Jewish nation (cf. Acts 10:45). To this end he cross-referenced Joel 2:32 with Is. 28:16 and associated it with the doctrine of justification for all believers established in Rom. 4. Now the chosen people of God no longer takes the form of a nation, but of an international church, whose boundaries are drawn by faith and not by race (cf. Eph. 2:11–22). ‘All flesh’ is still Israel but a greater Israel. Both Jews and Gentiles who do not believe in Jesus stand outside the present people of God. One should think not of a new universalism imposed on the passage but of its particularism being defined in a new way.[6]


Spiritual renewal and deliverance (2:28–32)

2:28–29. The Lord announced that His “day” (v. 31) would be accompanied by an outpouring of His Spirit on all people (lit., “all flesh”). The following context indicates that “all people” refers more specifically to all inhabitants of Judah (cf. the threefold use of your in v. 28, as well as the parallel passages in Ezek. 39:29; Zech. 12:10). This will be true regardless of age, gender, or social class (Joel 2:29 is better trans. “and even on the male and female servants”; cf. nasb).

At that time recipients of the divine Spirit will exercise prophetic gifts (will prophesy … will dream dreams, and will see visions) which in the past had been limited to a select few (cf. 1 Sam. 10:10–11; 19:20–24). This is probably an allusion to Numbers 11:29, where Moses, responding to Joshua’s misguided zeal after an outpouring of the divine Spirit on the 72 elders (cf. Num. 11:24–28), declared, “I wish that all the Lord‘s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit on them!” This extensive outpouring of the Spirit will signal the advent of divine blessing (contrast 1 Sam. 3:1, where the absence of prophetic visions characterized a period of sin and judgment).

2:30–31. The great and dreadful day of the Lord will be preceded by ominous signs (wonders) of impending judgment (cf. v. 10; see also Ezek. 32:6–8 for literary parallels). Blood and fire and billows of smoke suggest the effects of warfare. The turning of the moon to blood refers in a poetic way to its being darkened (cf. the parallel line, The sun will be turned to darkness, and Joel 2:10; 3:15). Though such phenomena will signal doom for God’s enemies, His people should interpret them as the precursors of their deliverance (cf. Matt. 24:29–31; Mark 13:24–27; Luke 21:25–28).

2:32. At this time of universal judgment, everyone who calls on (i.e., invokes) the name of the Lord will be saved (i.e., delivered from physical danger; cf. comments on Rom. 11:26). “Everyone” does not refer to all people, but the Spirit-empowered people of God mentioned in Joel 2:28–29. In Romans 10:13 Paul related this passage to Gentile (as well as Jewish) salvation, but he was suggesting a mere analogy, not a strict fulfillment of Joel 2:32, which pertains to Israel.

In the day of the Lord Jerusalem will be a place of refuge for the survivors whom the Lord calls. This remnant with whom the Lord initiates a special relationship (for the sense of “call” here, see Isa. 51:2) should probably be equated with the group described in Joel 2:28–29, 32a (cf. Wolff, Joel and Amos, pp. 68–9), though some (e.g., Driver, The Books of Joel and Amos, pp. 68–9) see this as referring to returning exiles.

On the day of Pentecost the Apostle Peter quoted Joel 2:28–32 in conjunction with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2:17–21). His introductory words (cf. Acts 2:16, “this is what was spoken by the Prophet Joel”) may seem to indicate that he considered Joel’s prophecy as being completely fulfilled on that occasion. However, it is apparent that the events of that day, though extraordinary, did not fully correspond to those predicted by Joel.

In attempting to solve this problem one must recognize that in the early chapters of Acts the kingdom was being offered to Israel once more. Peter admonished the people to repent so that they might receive the promised Spirit (cf. Acts 2:38–39 where he alludes to Joel 2:32). Shortly thereafter Peter anticipated “times of refreshing” and the return of Christ in response to national repentance (cf. Acts 10:19–21). Not until later did Peter come to understand more fully God’s program for the Gentiles in the present age (cf. Acts 10:44–48). When he observed the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost he rightly viewed it as the first stage in the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. Apparently he believed that the kingdom was then being offered to Israel and that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit signaled the coming of the Millennium. However, the complete fulfillment of the prophecy (with respect to both the extent of the Spirit’s work and the other details) was delayed because of Jewish unbelief (for further discussion see comments on Acts 2:16–21; 3:19–21).[7]


[1] Boice, J. M. (2002). The Minor Prophets: an expositional commentary (pp. 143–149). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Patterson, R. D. (2008). Joel. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel–Malachi (Revised Edition) (Vol. 8, pp. 335–338). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Bentley, M. (2009). Opening Up Joel (pp. 69–74). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[4] Achtemeier, E. (2012). Minor Prophets I. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (pp. 148–151). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Rydelnik, M. A. (2014). Joel. In M. A. Rydelnik & M. Vanlaningham (Eds.), The moody bible commentary (pp. 1336–1337). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[6] Allen, L. C. (1994). Joel. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 789). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

[7] Chisholm, R. B., Jr. (1985). Joel. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, pp. 1420–1421). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Trump To Investigate Google, Facebook Under New Executive Order: Bloomberg

According to a an early draft of an Executive Order (EO), the White House will instruct federal law enforcement and antitrust agencies to launch investigations into the business practices of Facebook, Google and other social media companies, according to Bloomberg which says it has seen the draft.

While not specifically calling out companies by name, the document orders US antitrust officials to “thoroughly investigate whether any online platform has acted in violation of the antitrust laws,” while instructing other agencies to return recommendations within a month of Trump signing the EO which could potentially “protect competition among online platforms and address online platform bias.

The document doesn’t name any specific companies. If signed, the order would represent a significant escalation of Trump’s antipathy toward Google, Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies, whom he has publicly accused of silencing conservative voices and news sources online.

The draft order directs that any actions federal agencies take should be “consistent with other laws” — an apparent nod to concerns that it could threaten the traditional independence of U.S. law enforcement or conflict with the First Amendment, which protects political views from government regulation. –Bloomberg

Last month, Trump tweeted that “Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen. They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others.”

And in a late August Bloomberg interview, the President said that Google, Amazon and Facebook may be in a “very antitrust situation,” while refusing to comment further.

According to the President, social media platforms are “treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful.

I think Google has really taken advantage of a lot of people and I think that’s a very serious thing and it’s a very serious charge,” Trump told reporters following a meeting with the president of FIFA. “They better be careful because they can’t do that to people.

Trump also accused Google of rigging search results against him, tweeting: “Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD, Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal,” Trump said in his latest claim of bias by the media. 96% of results on “Trump News” are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous.”

Trump followed up with: “Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!

According to Pew Research Center, 72% of Americans, and in particular 85% of Republicans and right-leaning independents think social media companies purposefully censor political viewpoints which run counter to their internal culture.

The belief that technology companies are politically biased and/or engaged in suppression of political speech is especially widespread among Republicans. Fully 85% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents think it likely that social media sites intentionally censor political viewpoints, with 54% saying this is very likely. And a majority of Republicans (64%) think major technology companies as a whole support the views of liberals over conservatives. –Pew

That said, libertarian-leaning group, the American Legislative Exchange Council have expressed concern to Attorney General Jeff Sessions after he announced an upcoming meeting with state Attorneys General to discuss social media bias. The group cites concerns over abuse of antitrust laws, and that the “inquiry will be to accomplish through intimidation what the First Amendment bars: interference with edictorial judgement.”

Source: Trump To Investigate Google, Facebook Under New Executive Order: Bloomberg

HUGE: White House Drafts Executive Order – Calls for Federal Probes into Google, Facebook for Bias and Censorship — The Gateway Pundit

It’s no secret that the Silicon Valley tech giants discriminate against conservatives and conservative content.

Last week President Trump warned Google about it’s biased practices against conservatives and conservative content in their search feature.

Twitter has also been accused of shadow-banning Republican politicians and conservative voices.

And Facebook is probably the worst violator. Facebook has been shutting down traffic to conservative websites since the 2016 election.

In March 2017 Columbia Journalism Review published a study of the 2016 election that found conservatives had abandoned the liberal mainstream media in 2016 and went online and to social media to get their news.

Harvard University published a similar study months later.

This slide shows the online influence map on Facebook before the 2016 election.
(Columbia Journalism Review)

After this study was published Facebook went to work and started censoring conservative content through a series of algorithm changes.

By Summer 2018 this is what the Facebook influence map looks like today.

Facebook was on a mission to delete conservative websites. Most prominent conservative publishers from the November 2016 election have been hit hard or eliminated.

Facebook wiped out traffic to several top conservative websites: Gateway Pundit, Infowars, Truthfeed, Ending the Fed, The Political Insider, Young Cons, Allen West, Sarah Palin, 100% Fed Up, Western Journalism, redstate Watcher, Pamela Geller, IJR, and others were almost completely wiped out. Breitbart and Daily Caller also took a significant hit. (The very influential Drudge Report was not listed in the study.)

A study by Western Journal found that since 2017 liberal publishers have seen an increase of 1.86% in traffic. The same study found conservative publishers saw a decrease of 13.71% during the same time period.

Conservative content is being eliminated from Facebook.

Now this…

The White House has reportedly drafted an executive order to probe Facebook and Google censorship and bias.
It ought to be an easy investigation to complete.

White House reporter Jennifer Jacobs reported on the development on Friday.

via HUGE: White House Drafts Executive Order – Calls for Federal Probes into Google, Facebook for Bias and Censorship — The Gateway Pundit

Pastors in China Prepare to Lose Their Lives for Preaching the Gospel, Defying Communist Crackdown

In the face of an ongoing Communist crackdown, Chinese pastors have vowed to continue preaching the Gospel, even if it costs them their lives.

Source: Pastors in China Prepare to Lose Their Lives for Preaching the Gospel, Defying Communist Crackdown

Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 09/22/2018

Female ‘Bishop’ Claims Church of England Should Avoid Only Calling God ‘He’   Sep 19, 2018 04:43 pm

Photo Credit: You Tube screenshot/Diocese of Gloucester (The Telegraph) — The Church of England should avoid only calling God “he,” a bishop has said, as a survey found that young Christians think God is male. Research by YouGov found that almost half of 18-24 year-old Christians believed God to be male, with just one in three over-65s believing the…

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China Forbids Children From Churches as Religious Rights Diminish   Sep 16, 2018 04:41 pm

Photo Credit: Mark Forman (Open Doors USA) — Since introducing new religious regulations in February to align “religion with Chinese characteristics,” Chinese President Xi Jinping and his regime continue to tighten their grip on religious rights in the name of unification of the country. According to the new regulations, religious leaders must “conduct…

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Kenyan Worship Leader One of Two Killed for Failing to Recite Islamic Prayer of Faith   Sep 18, 2018 05:16 pm

(World Watch Monitor) — Two people were killed for failing to recite the Islamic statement of faith when militants, believed to belong to the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab, attacked their bus in eastern Kenya on Friday. Seven men stopped the bus while it was on its way to Garissa, between the towns of Iljara and Sangailu, and ordered passengers to show their…

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271 Indian Christians Facing ‘Unfounded’ Criminal Charges, Including Converting Hindus Through ‘Spreading Lies’ About Hinduism   Sep 19, 2018 12:53 pm

(World Watch Monitor) — Two hundred and seventy-one Christians in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have been charged with a range of crimes including attempting to convert Hindus through the use of drugs and by spreading lies about Hinduism. Of the 271, just three were named – pastors Durga Prasad Yadav, Kirit Rai and Jitendra Ram – in the charges…

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Student Prayer No Longer Allowed Over Loudspeaker Before Football Games in Alabama School District   Sep 20, 2018 11:42 am

BLOUNT COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Student or volunteer led prayer will no longer be allowed over the intercom before high school football games in the Blount County School District. According to superintendent Rodney Green, the district made the decision after a complaint from an organization based outside of the community. After discussing options with…

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Episcopal Diocese Hosts ‘Climate Action’ Multi-Faith Service, Procession With Circus ‘Tree Stilt Walkers’   Sep 21, 2018 02:37 pm

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — The Episcopal Diocese of California recently held a multi-faith service in collaboration with the “Global Climate Action Summit,” beginning with a procession that included circus stilt men adorned with leaves. According to reports, the event was held at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco on Sept. 12 and featured music, dancing, art,…

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American Academy of Pediatrics guidance recommends sex changes for children who identify as transgender — Christian Research Network

“A controversial cover story in The Atlantic this summer on transgenderism in young people gave accounts of a number of “detransitioners,” people who had identified as transgender and then returned to their biological gender after realizing other issues were at the root of their discomfort, and “desisters,” young people whose parents put the breaks on transition to work on other mental and emotional health issues only to find the gender dysphoria eventually dissipated.”

(Kelly Crossland – World)  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released updated guidance on Monday recommending pediatricians support name, appearance, and sex changes for children who identify as transgender. But the recommendations ignore important research about underlying mental health issues, social contagion, and desistance in gender dysphoric children and teens.

The AAP guidance says gender-dysphoric children are best served when providers offer a “gender-affirming care model.” The model is based on four key assumptions, according to the AAP: Transgender identity does not constitute a mental disorder; variations in gender identity are normal aspects of human diversity; gender identity evolves from biology, development, socialization, and culture; and mental health issues in gender-dysphoric children most often come from stigma and negative experiences related to their gender identity, not intrinsically from the child.

The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBT activist group, applauded the statement on Wednesday, statingit reinforced the “medical and moral imperative to support transgender and gender diverse youth” as “life-affirming and life-saving.”

But something isn’t working. View article →

Research:

Homosexual Agenda

via American Academy of Pediatrics guidance recommends sex changes for children who identify as transgender — Christian Research Network

If We Lose the Meaning of ‘Justice,’ We Lose the Gospel — Christian Research Network

“Giving your money to the poor is not justice; it’s mercy. Taking other people’s money by force (whether through the government or any other means) and giving it to the poor is neither justice nor mercy; it’s injustice—it’s taking what someone else has earned, against his will, for either yourself or others. Does this mean giving to the poor is wrong? Of course not! Should the rich man give to the poor? Absolutely!” 

(Amy K. Hall – Stand To Reason)  Our ability to explain the gospel to people in our culture depends on our culture’s ability to understand the concept of justice. Because of this, over the years I’ve become concerned about a drift in the meaning of the word “justice”—even in Christian circles (see here for a recent example), among respected friends I usually agree with—as the term “social justice” is increasingly embraced and used.

I appreciated Kevin DeYoung’s words on this topic last week:

I have my concerns with the term “social justice” and with all that it connotes. But what if we press for a less culturally controlled and more biblically defined understanding? Several years ago, I worked my way through the major justice passages in the Bible: Leviticus 19, Leviticus 25,Isaiah 1, Isaiah 58, Jeremiah 22, Amos 5, Micah 6:8, Matthew 25:31-46,and Luke 4. My less-than-exciting conclusion was that we should not oversell or undersell what the Bible says about justice. On the one hand, there is a lot in the Bible about God’s care for the poor, the oppressed, and the vulnerable. There are also plenty of warnings against treating the helpless with cruelty and disrespect. On the other hand, justice, as a biblical category, is not synonymous with anything and everything we feel would be good for the world. Doing justice means following the rule of law, showing impartiality, paying what you promised, not stealing, not swindling, not taking bribes, and not taking advantage of the weak because they are too uninformed or unconnected to stop you. View article →

Research:

Progressive (Social Justice) “Christianity”

via If We Lose the Meaning of ‘Justice,’ We Lose the Gospel — Christian Research Network

September 22 Nicodemus’s Inquiry: What Is the Kingdom?

Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”—John 3:1–3

Nicodemus came to Jesus as one of those superficial believers mentioned in John 2:23–25. But the Lord refused to accept Nicodemus’s profession, which was based on the signs he had witnessed (v. 2).

Jesus went straight to the real issue—the transformation of Nicodemus’s heart by the new birth, which is the act of God by which He imparts eternal life to those who are “dead in … trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). Jesus answered his unasked question, “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

By the “kingdom of God,” Jesus is speaking specifically of the kingdom of salvation, the spiritual realm where those who have been born again by divine power through faith now live under the rule of God mediated through His Son. Nicodemus, like his fellow Jews, eagerly anticipated that glorious realm. But they believed that being descendants of Abraham, observing the law, and performing external religious rituals would gain them entrance into that kingdom. As Jesus made clear, no matter how religiously active someone might be, no one can enter the kingdom without experiencing the personal regeneration of the new birth.

ASK YOURSELF

What are some questions you commonly hear that purport to be genuine interest toward Christian discipleship, but in reality are dodges and smokescreens that disguise a rebellious, disinterested heart? What’s the best way to respond to comments like these? What can you learn from Jesus’ dealings with Nicodemus?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 274). Chicago: Moody Publishers.