Thursday, 26 March 2009

Joel and the gift of the Spirit

I'm studying through Joel at the moment with the Relay Workers. It's been a real treat. This week we arrived at God's restoration of blessings following the repentance of the people in chapter 2.

Verses 18-27 are beautiful. I was particularly struck by the phrase, 'I will repay the years the locusts have eaten' - what grace! The people deserved the covenant curse that they had received, but not only is the LORD happy to restore them to parity upon repentance, but then repays them for that curse! A marvellous reminder that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.

But it was verses 28-32 that particularly struck me afresh. They're the famous verses that are quoted by Peter at Pentecost, explaining the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. In Joel these verses are tied to the section of blessing for God's people. It appears to me that there are two blessings here:

  • Firstly, that the Holy Spirit himself will be poured out generously on all of 'Israel' - that is, that all God's people will have the same Spirit that caused Joel to speak out and write his prophecy. In some ways, all of God's people will be 'Joels', having a far more intimate relationship with the LORD than before;
  • But - and here was what was new for me - the second blessing is that the gift of the Holy Spirit is tied to the deliverance of Jerusalem and Zion. The LORD promises that the gift of the Spirit will be closely linked to the day of the LORD - a time of judgement and deliverance. In fact, the pouring out of the Spirit is a sign that judgement against God's enemies is coming - and with this judgement comes a final deliverance of those that call on the name of the LORD.
This second point is, of course, stated propositionally in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit is a deposit, an engagement ring, a foretaste. It's sometimes difficult to see God's final judgement in positive terms, but that is how it is stated in Joel. At last we will know the full extent of the relationship for which we have been saved. At last our bodies will be redeemed. Sometimes that seems like a far-off illusion. But the gift of the Holy Spirit proves it to be a reality.

1 comment:

PostTenebrasLux said...

Thanks for posting this.
I posted an audio a while ago on the connection between baptism, the Spirit, and the new creation. Baptism in the Flood and Red Sea served to judge the 'city of man' but delivered the 'city of God'. It also reminds me of Isa. 4 and the 'Spirit of judgment and... Spirit of burning' (my caps). Joel 2 is another great biblical theological link to the Spirit's work in judgment and new creation. I've never noticed it before.