St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Praise God For Giving Us The Spirit Of Prophecy

Sermon on Joel 2:28&29

Text: 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.

When we hear the term “prophet,” we normally think of the Old Testament prophets. The names of people like Moses or Elijah might come to our mind. When we speak of the human writers of the Old Testament, we speak of the prophets. Because of this, we might think that the age of prophecy has come to an end. However, we have the prophet Joel foreseeing the future and saying that the age of prophecy would continue. The apostle Peter referenced this passage in his sermon on Pentecost. It is clear that the age of prophecy was still there as he and the other apostles spoke to the crowd that day. The age of prophecy continues to this day. On this day, as we highlight the work of the Holy Spirit, we PRAISE GOD FOR GIVING US THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY. 1. The Spirit Opens Our Eyes To See Like The Prophets. 2. The Spirit Opens Our Mouths To Speak Like The Prophets.

Before we speak about the age of prophecy, I would like to highlight a phrase from verse 28. God said, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people.” The word that is translated “people” in the original Hebrew is “flesh.” The reason that this is significant is that this is the term that is often used to describe the natural spiritual condition in which all people have been born since Adam’s fall into sin. All people are born spiritually dead and in rebellion against God. This is the state that you and I have been born in, as well. We come into this world as enemies of God. We still see evidence of this in our lives. We see remnants of this sinful nature every time that we refuse to help someone, simply because we didn’t want to be bothered. It is there when we quickly assume the worst about someone rather than taking their words and actions in the kindest possible way. Because we are, by nature, “flesh,” we deserve nothing but God’s eternal punishment in the exile of hell. There is nothing that we can do to change the situation. We are born “flesh.”

However, God promises to pour out his Spirit on all people. The first picture that might come to mind is what happened on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the apostles and they began to speak in languages that they had never learned. However, as spectacular as that was, it was no less spectacular than the day that the Holy Spirit was poured out on you when you were brought to faith. The Holy Spirit entered into you and created faith. The faith that was created gives you life. This faith is trusting in Jesus as your Savior. The Holy Spirit shows us that Jesus did everything necessary for our salvation. He lived his entire life in complete obedience to his Father in our place. The Holy Spirit takes us to the foot of the cross and shows us what the Savior suffered to pay for all of our sins. The Holy Spirit then has us go to a tomb and see that it is empty. We are shown the significance of that empty tomb, for it assures us that our sins have been completely forgiven. The Holy Spirt gives us a new life and salvation through the faith that has been created in our hearts. We who were spiritually dead have been brought to life. We who were the enemies of God have become his children. This is because the promised Spirit of God has been poured out upon us generously. In speaking of this, Jesus said in John 3:6, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”

Joel highlights one of the results of the Spirit being poured out on God’s people. God promised, “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.” (Verses 28&29) This would have been startling idea for the Old Testament people. Normally, the prophets would have been specific men who were called by God to speak to the people. Here, God says that this gift of prophecy would be given to all on whom the Spirit had been poured. This would be done without respect to race, gender, age, social or economic status. All would be prophets of God. You and I are prophets of God.

There were two parts of being a prophet. The first was receiving the message from God. For many of the Old Testament prophets, this revelation came in the form of a dream or vision. We are told of the fantastic visions that God gave to Daniel and Ezekiel that spoke of what would happen to the nation of Israel. Going ahead into the New Testament, God gave visions to Peter and Paul, showing them where they were to go with the gospel message. Of course, we think of the apostle John, and the revelation that he was given while in exile on the island of Patmos, assuring the safety and the continuity of the Christian Church until the end of time. God gave them visions with messages that they were to share with others. Joel uses the picture of dreams and visions, because this is the way that God communicated with the prophets. This is what you would expect to happen to a prophet. They have these dreams and visions.

Should we, modern-day prophets, expect to find God talking to us in dreams and visions? The answer is “No.” It is not that God no longer has the ability to speak to us in this way. The question is not whether God can still reveal himself to people through dreams and visions but whether God has indicated that he will do that. There is no place in Scripture that promises God will always speak to people through dreams and visions. Rather, God promises that he will reveal himself to us in his Word. When the rich man in hell asked that Lazarus be sent back from the dead to warn his brothers, he was told, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.” (Luke 16:29) If we want to see God’s revelation, we look in his Word. It is there that he speaks to us. We read in 2 Timothy3:16&17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” God tells us everything that we need to know for this life and for the life to come. In reality, we have greater blessings than those who saw those visions and had those dreams. There were many things that they saw that they could not understand. God speaks to us clearly in his Word. The Holy Spirit has opened our eyes to see like the prophets. We know who God is and what he has done for us. This is the first part of being a prophet. You receive the message from God.

The second part of being a prophet was to share the message that you received. When God gave his Old Testament prophets a message, they were commanded to ‘Go, tell my people.’ Peter, on Pentecost, having been filled with the Holy Spirit, told the assembled crowd about what he had learned. God gave John his revelation to comfort a church under persecution. This is what prophets do. They receive a message from God and then they tell it to other people.

This is also our calling as modern-day prophets. As Jesus told his disciples, so he says to us, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) We are to share what we have been taught. This, too, is done regardless of age, gender, social or economic status. Children can joyfully proclaim the news of Jesus’ birth in words that not even Isaiah knew in the Old Testament. Women can teach their children truths about what God has done for them that not even Solomon could understand. Men, who were born spiritually dead and blind, see the glory of Christ through the enlightening work of the Holy Spirit and tell what they have seen and heard. We stand shoulder to shoulder on Sunday morning and prophesy to each other through our praises and prayers. We prophesy to the friend who is having a tough time and tell them that God loves them and cares for them. We prophesy to the co-worker who needs some guidance by telling them that God has everything planned out for us. They can trust in him. We also support the prophecy that goes on around the world through our prayers and our offerings. God gives us endless opportunities to be his prophets. There may be times when we don’t feel that we are up to the task. Jesus promises that he will be right there beside us. We might be afraid that we won’t know what to say. Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will be right there, giving us the words we need at that time. He said in Mark 13:14, “Do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” We praise our God for this gift of prophecy, because he not only opens our eyes to see, but also our mouths to speak.

On Pentecost, we spend our time focusing on the work of the Holy Spirit. We are reminded that his work, like that of the Father and the Son, is absolutely vital for our salvation. He is the one who has called us out of the darkness of sin into the light of truth. He creates the faith that makes the work of Jesus our own. He continues to strengthen that faith when we hear the word of God. This morning, we have been reminded of the work that he has called each and every one of us to do. We are to be his prophets. He has given us the knowledge that we need. He gives us the message that we are to speak. He gives us the motivation as he reminds us of all that has been done for our salvation. We prophesy because we have been saved and we want others to know about this, as well. We praise our God for this wonderful gift that he has given to every one of us, this gift of prophecy. Amen.