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6.56 Joel -- The Outpouring in Christianity

This passage from Joel, concerning an end-time pouring out of the Spirit on God's people, had a major influence in the foundation of Christianity.  It also forms a keystone in New Testament racial teaching.


The Christian belief is that the last 2000 years, since the day of Pentecost described in Acts 2, have been lived in the age of the Spirit.  The manifestation of the Spirit has not been uniform, it seems to come and go, occur here and there, wax and wane.  Sometimes it seems to disappear entirely, other times and places there is a deluge.


In 1900, the Pentecostal revival broke out in the United States, and quickly spread around the globe.  It also laid claim to be the fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel, and was accompanied by dreams, visions, and other signs.  Sometimes the enthusiasm and exhibitions distorted the Gospel message.  Yet in many ways, it has displayed the marks of a move of God among men:  the dynamism of the movement, its concentration on the Bible and Jesus,  its expectation of the imminent return of Christ, its popularity among the lower social classes, its persistence and growth for over 100 years despite opposition and division, its cross-national cross-cultural appeal.  


However we apply Joel's prophecy to historical events, we must not miss the intention of God expressed in these few verses:  to come closer to mankind than Israel has hitherto known, to astonish men with both spiritual and natural wonders, and in the bestowal of His gifts to overstep traditional boundaries and barriers of sex and nationality.


The Christian understanding of Joel 2:28-32 far exceeds the prophet's own expectations -- it declares that the experience of the Spirit of God reaches out beyond the confines of Israel  and nullifies the divisions of race, nationality, culture (and sex), and becomes the basis of a new citizenship -- the universal sons and daughters of Abraham.

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