Serving an international
Vol. 9 No. 7 July 2007 Page 3
Peter and Joel on Pentecost
By D. Gene West
On the Day of Pentecost, the Christian Era was ushered in by the Holy Spirit descending on the apostles of Christ and by their preaching the Gospel of the crucified, buried and resurrected Christ for the first time in the history of the world. As these Spirit-inspired men spoke in other languages to Jews gathered from all over the world, the accusation was made that they were drunk! Peter, denying that he and the other preachers were drunk, quoted Joel 2:28-32 saying, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” There are those who believe that Peter did not accurately quote Joel, for he quoted things from the prophet that did not happen on the Day of Pentecost.
However, as in the case of most biblical difficulties, there is a simple solution to what seems to be a problem here. First, Peter was showing that the events that were transpiring before the eyes of the people on that occasion were the initial fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32. By that we simply mean this: The events of Pentecost fulfilled the first part of the prophecy by Joel, though the Holy Spirit moved Peter to quote the whole prophecy. We will see the reason for that a bit later. The prophet said that God told him, “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh” (Joel 2:28a). God did exactly what he promised when the apostles were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4). God kept his word!
However, Peter’s reference had another meaning that is often overlooked by students of the Bible. The prophecy also predicted the beginning of the last days of the Jews era or dispensation. The Law of Moses had been spiritually removed by Jesus on the cross and that is the reason Peter and the others could preach this new Gospel. However, this did not bring to an end all aspects of the Jewish religion and society. This was to happen in these last days as well. Pentecost was the beginning of the last days of the Jews as a nation. It was the beginning of the time when the Temple, Jerusalem and all that was sacred to the Jews would be destroyed. The last days had arrived!
Someone may ask, “What were all those other things, the wonders in heaven above, signs in the earth beneath, blood, fire, vapor of smoke, the sun turning to darkness, and the moon into blood?” If you will take your concordance and run the references you will find that all these words are used in the Old Testament as symbols for destruction. This is the same kind of symbolic language that described the fall of Tyre, Sidon, Babylon, Jerusalem and other great cities of ancient days. The language is being used again to state the end of the last days for the Jews would come when God destroyed their holy city, Temple and religion. That would all happen on “the great and notable day of the Lord,” that is, when the Lord sent the conquering hordes of Romans to destroy the City of Jerusalem. The prophecy began to be fulfilled on Pentecost and was completed with the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. Consequently, Peter correctly quoted Joel and the prophecy of God that came through Joel was fulfilled just as God said it would be.
Sometimes the phrase “the great and notable day of the Lord” is interpreted as the destruction that will follow the second coming of Christ. Those who hold this view are usually of a premillennial bent and do not believe in any coming of the Lord until the final one. This is a serious mistake in interpretation, because there have been several “days” of the Lord when he came in punishment of his people, or even on foreign nations. Since these have all been days of the Lord, and since this language is used in the Old Testament prophecy with reference to the fall of Jerusalem, if we interpret the Bible by the Bible, it can refer to nothing else. This interpretation of the day of the Lord is usually based on a misunderstanding of the Olivet Discourse of our Lord regarding the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. Friends, this particular day of the Lord is passed.