317: Joel 2:28-32


365 Prophecies: Prophecy 317

Upon the resurrection of the Messiah, He shall call forth His church by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Old Testament Prediction:

Joel 2:28-32 And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants. I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD has said, Among the remnant whom the LORD calls.

New Testament Fulfillment:

Acts 2:14-21 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.’ ”

Application:

Jesus told the disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until the “Promise of the Father” had arrived.

Acts 1:4 And being assembled together with them, Jesus commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me…”

The promise that Jesus spoke of was concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit, who would be given to all those who had believed upon Jesus Christ. This took place exactly 50 days after the Resurrection, on the Feast of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit descended upon those who were assembled and gave each believer the power to be witnesses for Jesus Christ.

Acts 2:1-4 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

“When the day of Pentecost had fully come…”

There was a specific time that was appointed by God for the fulfillment of the feast of Pentecost. Jesus instructed the disciples to wait until the feast of Pentecost had arrived, before He poured out His Holy Spirit on each believer. When we examine all of the first four feasts of the Lord, we discover that Jesus fulfilled each one on the exact day and in the precise way that each feast should be observed.

For this reason, we understand that there is a special significance for the seven feasts of Israel in regards to Jesus fulfilling each one by His complete work of salvation.

The seven feasts of Israel were given by God as a remembrance of things that He was going to do in their future. These seven feasts are said to be “The Feasts of the Lord.” Each of the seven feasts were a picture of Jesus’ death and resurrection—and finally, His return for His church at the Rapture, the Tribulation, and His 1,000 year reign on earth.

Jesus chose the Feast of Pentecost, which occurred 50 days after the Feast of Firstfruits, to pour out the Holy Spirit on all those who had become a part of His Church. Up to this time, the Holy Spirit had only “come upon” certain people for a time but did not permanently remained with them. At Pentecost, the “promise of the Father” was that—all those who had believe in and placed their eternal life in the hands of Jesus Christ would have the Holy Spirit dwelling with them forever.

As Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit, he begins to interpret the prophecy of Joel Chapter 2 and applies it to the specific day when the Holy Spirit is given, in Acts Chapter 2. When Peter speaks to the assembled crowd, apparently those from many different nations are hearing Peter’s words in their own language. It does not appear that Peter is speaking in a foreign language, but instead each person is hearing what he says, in their own language. The miracle is not in Peter’s words but in the hearing of those who are listening. The Holy Spirit is preparing these, who are hearing Peter speak to them, to go back to their own country and be witnesses themselves of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Acts 2:5-13 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”

Many of those who heard Peter speak understood that it was the Holy Spirit who allowed each listener the ability to hear what he said in their own language. They recognized that God was visiting them on this special day, and they were amazed. Others who were present reacted in similar fashion to those who do not believe today. They attributed what was happening to intoxication and not a miracle at all. Those who are predisposed with a heart that does not want to believe are unable to understand and receive anything that God is saying or doing.

“But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh…’ ”

As Peter is now filled with the Holy Spirit, he speaks to the people who are gathered before him and reveals that this entire text from Joel Chapter 2, describing the events of the “last days,” is now being fulfilled as he speaks. This comes as a complete surprise to all of us who study Bible prophecy. Without Peter’s commentary that what was happening on the day of Pentecost was a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy in chapter 2, we would never know that this was the purpose of Joel’s words.

Joel’s Prophecy

Joel 2:28-29 And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. 29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

Peter’s Declaration of Fulfillment
Acts 2:14-21 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. 19  I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. 21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.’ ”
Peter not only attributed Joel Chapter 2 verses 28 and 29 to the birth of the church, he also ascribed the rest of Joel’s prophecy to the events that were taking place, in Acts Chapter 2.

Joel 2:30-31 And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 32 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the Lord has said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.
Unlike many of Peter’s declarations that were directed by his flesh, the words that he speaks here, in Acts chapter 2, were clearly directed by the Holy Spirit. Peter, along with all of the believers, were waiting in the upper room for the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus prophesied, fifty days after His resurrection, the Holy Spirit came and fell upon all the believers who were waiting for His arrival.

When Peter speaks, beginning at verse 14 of Acts Chapter 2, he was being guided by the Lord in his commentary. We can have great confidence that Peter’s interpretation of Joel’s prophecy is correct as it was clearly led by the Spirit of God.

This is very interesting because Joel Chapter 2 verses 30-31, are similar to the events written in the book of Revelation, which describe the seven-year Tribulation Period. Peter attributes the events that were taking place in Acts Chapter 2, as the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy of “the last days.”

Joel 2 And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 32 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.

Revelation 6:12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.

This does not necessarily require that Joel’s prophecy is applicable only to the events described in the book of Revelation. In several cases regarding the Hebrew prophecies, there is an earlier and later fulfillment of the same verses of scripture.

We observe this phenomenon in the earlier and later fulfillments in the Prophecies of Daniel chapter 9:

Daniel 9:24 Prophecy 307, Daniel 9:24 Prophecy 308, Daniel 9:25,Prophecy 309, Daniel 9:26 Prophecy 310 Daniel 9:26 Prophecy 311 were all fulfilled on April 6, 32 A.D., by Jesus entrance into Jerusalem and His proclamation that the Messiah had arrived.

Daniel 9:26 Prophecy 312, was fulfilled later in 70 A.D., by the Roman army under Titus when the city and the Temple were destroyed.

Daniel 9:27 will be fulfilled in the future, during the seventieth week of Daniel’s prophecy, at the introduction of the antichrist and the seven year Tribulation period.

The method that Peter used in interpreting the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled by Jesus in the New Testament is quite interesting to me. Peter’s method is very similar in substance and form to the procedure of Biblical interpretation that I have used in writing this book, “365 Prophecies.”

Today, we call the technique that Peter used in interpreting the Old Testament prophecies of Joel Chapter 2, in light of their New Testament fulfillment—a “Pesher.”

The word Pesher comes from the Hebrew word peser, which means “interpretation.”[1] In the Peser interpretation and application of an Old Testament prophecy, the importance is placed on the fulfillment, not on the exegesis of the technical points of the prophecy that it is interpreting. This technique comes to us with great support from the early Rabbi’s who were of great proficiency in the Hebrew scriptures.

According to the second Midrashic exegetical rule, called the Middot, originated by Rabbi Hillel: where the same words or concepts appear in two separate scriptures, we are to give the same consideration in applying both scriptures to the same subject. Since the events that occurred at Pentecost—50 days after Jesus resurrection were of such great similarity to the descriptions of Joel’s prophecy, it is reasonable to conclude that they were one and the same. This is in keeping with the Pesher form of interpretation used by Peter in Acts chapter 2 and other notable places in the New Testament.[2]

Exegetical principles

The term “Midrash,” came from the first use of the Hebrew word “darish” in the Old Testament—defined as “the seeking after knowledge, to search out, consult, inquire or study, for the purpose of discovering the deeper meaning,” as written in Ezra 7:10.[3]

“For Ezra had set his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it…” —Ezra 7:10

Ezra was “searching out” the true meaning of the Law of God so that he might teach it to the people. This began a long standing tradition amongst the earliest Hebrew scholars to understand what God meant by each particular verse of scripture in context with other similar verses which described homologous concepts.

Also called “the Midrashim,” this form of Biblical interpretation is a method by which any person may understand what the specific meaning of a story or illustration is intending, from the mind and heart of God.

By a correct understanding of what God intended, we gain specific knowledge of how and why God placed these illustrations in the scriptures for us to discover.

In order to be able to correctly understand the prophecies of the Messiah from the Old Testament, certain rules should be observed to determine how much liberty a person may take in obtaining a correct understanding of the particular scriptures. Many people do not realize that there is no uniform agreements among scholars for how Biblical scriptures should be interpreted to produce the Midrashim. The two primary thesis for correct interpretation come from Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Ishmael b. Elisha. The differences between these two great men are substantial. Akiva is concerned with the smallest part of the text, which he believes can contain hidden meaning. Therefore, every letter is capable of producing a new law. Ishmael takes a more conservative view—believing that the Torah is written in the language of human beings and is intended for the common, ordinary person, as well as the scholar. Therefore, there are no hidden meanings in the text, only what is immediately perceived.[4]

A few of the Midrashic methods:

The most ancient of the Midrashim, called “the Baraita of Rabbi Ishmael,” began by Rabbi Hillel as seven specific rules to follow in order to properly clarify the Torah and to make correct deductions from the Laws of God.[5] These seven were later expanded to thirteen by Rabbi Ishmael.

Baraita of Rabbi Ishmael

1. Kal va-chomer: The principle of “from the simple to the complex, and the complex to the simple.” Conclusions regarding a particular word or passage of scripture are made from the simple to the complex or vice versa, depending on the nature of conclusion that the verse of scripture requires. This law is the same as the first rule of Hillel.[6]
2. Gezerah shavah: The principle of similar laws for similar verdicts. This is an argument by similarities of certain scriptures in parallel or likeness. A legal determination for one verse will also remain true for a second similar verse of scripture.[7]
3. Binyan ab: The principle of a standard being set by one verse of scripture, being the basis for a correct interpretation of many other scriptures. Where a principle is true of one verse, it will remain true for other verses which have characteristics in common. This rule is a combination of Hillel’s third and fourth rules.[8]
4. Kelal u-perat: The principle of the general and particular, which defines a verse by the limitations of it’s general use in any particular case.[9]
5. U-perat, u-kelal: The principle of the particular and the general, which defines a verse by the general use of a particular meaning.[10]
6. Kelal u-perat, u-kelal: The principle of the general, particular, and general, which derives an interpretation of a verse or story only from other cases which also resemble the particular verse of illustration.[11]
7. The general which requires clarification by the particular, and the particular which requires an explanation by the general.[12]
8. The particular implied in the general and excepted from it for instructional purposes clarifies the general as well as the particular.[13]
9. The particular implied in the general and excepted from it on account of the special regulation which corresponds in concept to the general, is thus isolated to decrease rather than to increase the rigidity of its application.[14]
10. The particular implied in the general and excepted from it on account of some other special regulation which does not correspond in concept to the general, is thus isolated either to decrease or to increase the rigidity of its application.[15]
11. The particular implied in the general and excepted from it on account of a new and reversed decision can be referred to the general only in case the passage under consideration makes an explicit reference to it.
12. A conclusion based on the context.[16]
13. When two biblical passages contradict each other the contradiction in question must be resolved by reference to a third passage.[17]

Perhaps of even greater importance in regard to the Hermeneutical methods utilized by these rules, is the fact that in the Midrashim, the Rabbi’s are not limited by the sequential reading of the text. As is so often the case, many of the prophecies of the Messiah in the Old Testament, are distributed within text that frequently have nothing to do with the prophecy itself.[18]

Today, many Bible readers assume that the narrative of the scriptures are written in chronological order. In antiquity, Hebrew scholars paid little attention to the flow of the stories, while placing great emphasis on the related topics that are interspersed throughout the scriptures themselves. There is an allusion to this important principle in the New Testament:[19]

2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

In the earliest form of the oral traditions of the scriptures, scholars committed the entire body of God’s word to memory. When a particular passage was recited, it would remind the listener of several other places in the scriptures where a similar passage spoke or illustrated a comparable principle.[20] It was through this method that early scholars divided the Hebrew Bible into sections. It was not until many years later that verses were added to delineate the text within the books of the Bible.

In the same manner, I have sought to rightly divide the scriptures. An Old Testament prophecy must have a similar counterpart of fulfillment in the New Testament, which exhibits similar characteristics to the Old Testament verse. The writers of the New Testament used this method themselves in determining which scriptures Jesus fulfilled from the Old Testament. They would often define these verses and their fulfillment by stating; “this was done, or this was said, that it might be fulfilled which was written by the prophet…”

Matthew 4:14 …that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

It is by these techniques whereby we can rightly attribute Old Testament prophecies that do not—at first glance—seem to be attributable to the Messiah as being absolutely relevant.

Upon comparison of these 365 Old Testament prophecies with the New Testament verses that appear to be the fulfillment of what the prophets wrote, we find, in many cases, the precise events being carried out by Jesus. When we compare the Old Testament prediction with the New Testament references, they appear to have been written for each other.

I have found that the Pesher method, as well as the ancient Midrashim methods of interpretation, are extremely useful in accurately defining the fulfillment of what the Old Testament prophets wrote. There were several instances where I myself could not see the Messianic application of some of the verses that I included in this book. It was not until I gave diligent study to finding whether there was a New Testament counterpart that was rightly attributable to the Old Testament verse in question, that I was able to determine the true and accurate fulfillment of an Old Testament scripture.

In Peter’s sermon, Acts Chapter 2 Verse 17, the Apostle uses the phrase, “And it shall come to pass in the last days…,” whereas Joel actually said (Joel 2:28): “And it shall come to pass afterward…”

By changing “afterward” to “in the last days,” Peter is using the Pesher formula to interpret Joel’s meaning of his prophecy. In the Septuagint manuscripts of MT and LXX, “afterwards” is “ahare ken, meta tauta.” This is the same Greek phrase used in the Book of Revelation Chapter 4, where after speaking about the church and the things of the church—John states, in chapter 3, “After these things” (meta tauta)—after the things of the church, John was Raptured to heaven to see the visions Jesus showed him.

Joel was prophesying about the last days and specifically events that would concern the coming of the Messiah. Joel was predicting the events that would occur during the Great Tribulation—when the Messiah pours out His wrath on the world that has rejected Him.

Joel, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, initiated a prophecy that concerned the last days, which Peter understood upon its fulfillment, as applicable to the events written and described in Acts chapter 2. By this method, and through sound Hermeneutical procedures, used by ancient Hebrew scholars, we can rightly determine that these 365 prophecies from the Hebrew scriptures, were all precisely and accurately, fulfilled in the narrative of the New Testament—by Jesus of Nazareth.


[1] From Strong’s Hebrew Concordance, word # 1875, “darish,” to inquire, study, seek after.”
[2] As described by the Expositional Bible Commentary on Acts 2:25. Both quotations have “at my right hand” and thus are deliberately treated together (cf. v. 33). In addition, both quotations are used in pesher fashion (cf. comments on v. 16), for it is a pesher understanding that evokes the introductory statement “David said about him” and that applies the quotations wholly to Jesus.
[3] From Strong’s Hebrew Concordance word# 1875, “darish.”
[4] The Midrash, History, Content, and Purpose of a Major Genre of Jewish Exegetical Texts. kehillatisrael.net See also: “Rabbinic Midrash Methodologies (Exegetical Rules)” http://kehillatisrael.net/docs/learning/txt/m_RabbinicMidrash.html
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid
[7] Ibid
[8] Ibid
[9] Ibid
[10] Ibid
[11] Ibid
[12] Ibid
[13] Ibid
[14] Ibid
[15] Ibid
[16] Ibid
[17] Ibid
[18] Ibid
[19] Ibid
[20] Ibid

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