Filled With The Spirit
Five Hundred Years before Christ, Joel the son of Pethuel prophesied to Judah concerning a great locust plague that was about to wipe out all of their resources – a judgement from God because of their sin and their alignment with wicked nations and their worship of Baal. Jeremiah said of sinful Judah:
Jeremiah 4:22 “My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good.”
Joel’s prophecy was a warning of a coming day of the Lord. He told them to put on sackcloth, a sign of repentance.
Joel 2:14 “Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord. Alas for that day! For the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty.”
This was a prophetic call of alarm and the need for immediate repentance and prayer. God said, “Even now, return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and he relents from sending calamity.” (Joel 2:12, 13)
God promises to return his people to a station of blessing and plenty, if they will only turn back to him after their great sin and the shame they were bearing up under.
Joel 2:27 “Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed.”
Isn’t the grace of God amazing even in the Old Testament? He offers them these amazing promises not only of the lifting of shame, but an outpouring of love and the promise that he would live among them and they would experience deliverance from their enemies.
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. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. 30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 31 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, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.
That promise of deliverance would have to wait, as Judah did not turn away from her Baal worship, no matter how the prophets pled with them. God’s Holy People would be swallowed up by invading nations because of their unfaithfulness. Ultimately they would be released from Babylon and there would be four hundred years without a prophet.
We look ahead five centuries after Joel’s prophecy to some men in a field at night.
Luke 2:8-15 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
They did see the Christ child who came to earth to bring deliverance and peace to all men. Scripture says about him…
Luke 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.
Although Jesus brought truth and light, kindness, grace and healing into the world, he was met with great resistance and even hatred. Those who should have been watching for his arrival instead denied that he came from God. The rejection that came from his own broke his heart. At one point we read of him sitting above the city and weeping over their blindness:
Luke 13:34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings and you were not willing.”
We might recall the prophet Joel weeping that Judah was not willing to turn to the Lord. Through a series of dishonest and illegal means, the leading Jewish authorities ultimately had Jesus arrested, beaten, and brought before the rulers of his day. They called out for him to be executed but even the Roman governor Pilate was confused by this.
Luke 23:22-25 …He spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. … But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. …and surrendered Jesus to their will.
Beaten and bloodied, Jesus was forced to carry his own cross until he could not any longer. Simon of Cyrene carried his cross for him. At the crest of Calvary Jesus was nailed to a cross between two thieves. Enduring the taunts and cruelty of men he prayed for them to be forgiven. He promised a penitent thief that he could see paradise. He asked John to care for his mother.
Luke 23:44-49 …About noon … darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. 47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
Luke 24:1-8 [Three days later]On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen!
Later in an appearance to his disciples he told them ..
Luke 24:45-49 …“This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
In the beginning of Luke’s second volume Jesus gave this command before he ascended to the Father:
Acts 1:4-5 “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 1:12, 14 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives,… They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. While they are praying Jews from all over the world are gathering in Jerusalem for Pentecost. It is the second feast day on Israel’s calendar… celebrating harvest… for some it is celebrating the coming of the ten commandments. They come to the temple to bring offerings. It is seven weeks after the resurrection of Jesus.
Acts 2:1-4 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues [languages] as the Spirit enabled them.
Acts 2:14 – 24 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. … 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.18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. … And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
Acts 2:36-41 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Today we seclare through Scripture that being Filled with the Holy Spirit…
Is a Matter of Prophecy.
Joel prophesied to sinful Judah that if they would repent and turn of their ways that God’s blessing would be poured out over them. This is the promise claimed by Peter on Pentecost. It was God’s plan to send His Spirit to His people.
Is a Matter of Repentance.
Both in Joel and in Peter’s speech, a recognition and turning away from sin is a part of what it is to have a relationship with God. He cannot overlook sin. This is so much true that one only has to consider the great price he paid so that we could be forgiven. The death of his son on the cross is an indication of what God thinks of sin. Are we looking into our own hearts today and wondering why we do not experience God’s Spirit when we have refused to repent of our sins in a specific manner?
Is a Matter of Connection with God.
Judah was too busy connecting with Baal to connect with Jehovah God. Today we are connecting with our world, with our culture, with our own sin and it is keeping us from connecting with God. But when the Jews on Pentecost were confronted with the death of Christ at their hands, they were cut to the the heart. What can we do? Repent and be baptized. … there is forgiveness there… and filling with the Spirit.
Is a matter of response.
God invites us to come to Him, but he doesn’t force us. 3,000 people were baptized that day and those who believe in Christ and want to respond to Him have been being baptized ever since, even to today!
I pray this gives us more insight into what happened on the day of Pentecost and the connections to Joel and his urgency in appealing to Judah to repent. When we think of being filled with the Spirit we may focus on the wind, fire, languages. Instead we should focus on
God’s call to repentance
God’s call to connection through baptism and indwelling
God’s call to belong to Him