Pentecost from a Distance

The prophet Joel recorded a vision.  In it he saw the Day of the Lord.  I don’t know if he realized that it had to do with Pentecost.  To be sure, the prophet Joel was very familiar with the festival of Pentecost.  All of the Old Testament Jews were familiar with the festival.  Every Spring God’s people would bring in the first fruits of the harvest.  For us that would be sweet corn or a watermelon.  Instead of slicing it open and taking a big juicy bite, God’s people would give the food to God as an offering.

There are two points for us.  First it was a sign that God was the most important thing in their lives.  We can do the same with our time, talents and treasures.  God comes first.  The second was that they trusted in God.  The Jews at the Pentecost festival didn’t grudgingly give God their first fruits.  They weren’t worried about handing over that meal.  The reason was because they knew that God would give them more.  They trusted that everything comes from God.  They could not out give the Giver.

What is amazing about the ancient harvest festival of Pentecost is the new meaning God gave to it just days after Jesus ascended into heaven.  This festival wasn’t just a celebration of God’s gifts from the fields.  This was harvest not of food, but of souls.  When the Apostle Peter quoted the prophet Joel, a few amazing things happened.  The most obvious is that the Holy Spirit started the New Testament church!   The Spirit took Peter’s words of Law and Gospel and brought in three thousand people!

When Peter quoted Joel, he interpreted the first two words of our text, “And afterwards,” into, “In the last days.”  Peter was ushering in the season of End Times.  There were a couple things that hadn’t happened that Jesus promised in Matthew 24, but in fifty years, everything was accomplished.  What can be a little confusing is that when we read the prophet Joel and he speaks of the Day of the Lord he isn’t necessarily looking at only one event.  He is looking at a number of events piled together in a fantastic vision.  He could see both Pentecost and the end of time together.  Theologians describe this as prophetic perspective – when future events, often hundreds or thousands of years apart are record within the same few verses of Scripture.

What does this mean for us?  First of all rejoice that God’s harvest still goes on today!  Pray that you are part of it as you share the good news of forgiveness in Jesus with everyone in your life.  Second don’t fear the future.  The Lord of the Harvest has already told you what is coming ahead.  He is in control of our world and because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we know that one day we’ll be with him forever.  Want to hear more?  Watch this Sunday’s sermon from the second chapter of Joel.

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