051-00756 Joel 2:25-32
I. In September of 1994, Dr. Thomas R. Hargrove was driving to work just outside the Colombian city of Call when he encountered a roadblock manned by FARC (the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia). Kidnapped by the militant leftist guerillas. Hargrove was held in the high northern region of the Andes Mountains In an Isolated camp. He was held by FARC members for 11 months before being released in August of 1995 after two ransom payments.
A. A special person trained in negotiating in these types of situations was brought in to try and get him back.
1. One of the most important parts of the negotiation was requiring proof that Dr. Hargrove was still alive.
2. They call this “proof of life.”
3. Listen to Dr. Hargrove’s son as he explains it. [show video].
4. The experiences of Dr. Hargrove and his family were made into a movie in 2000 appropriately called “Proof of Life.”.
B. I wonder, what would be my proof of life?.
1. Proof of life means that a person is alive.
2. Normally we might expect that if we watched someone move and breath, talk and walk, this would be proof that they were alive.
3. But is animation real proof of life?
4. With the Bible in mind, the answer would be no.
C. Here’s what the Bible says:.
1. Ephesians 2:1 (NIV) As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins… .
2. Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV) But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
3. Life and death on one level means breathing and moving.
4. But on a deeper level, the spiritual one, anyone who is not in Christ is dead and anyone who is in Christ is alive.
5. Romans 6:4-5 (NIV) We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
D. So what, then, might be the proof of real life?.
1. Peter tells us in his sermon on the day of Pentecost.
2. Now to understand what Peter is saying, we must begin with the passage he quotes. And this passage comes from the prophet Joel.
II. Joel 2.
A. The part that we did not read this morning from Joel 2 speaks about God’s judgment upon his own people.
1. A significant aspect of this judgment is the coming of an army of locusts which devastate the land.
2. This judgment would be well understood because Egypt had such a judgment when the Pharaoh refused to set this same people of God free.
B. But the second part of Joel’s prophecy goes beyond this judgment.
1. This part is divided into 3 sections.
2. The last 2 of these sections are presented in Peter’s Pentecost sermon.
C. The sections.
1. The 1st section in this part of Joel’s message speaks of God who will reveal himself as a gracious and loving ruler.
a) He says “I will repay.”
b) Like Job who suffered terrible loss but was blessed afterwards, God’s people would be blessed after their judgment.
c) Joel 2:26 (NIV) You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed.
d) So who are the recipients of this tremendous blessing?
(1) It is the people of God who were under his judgment.
(2) God promises to dwell in the gathering of his people.
2. The second section is where Peter begins his quote.
a) He changes the words of Joel who says, “afterwards” to “in the last days.”
b) The promise of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was to come after the blessing of God’s presence and plenty.
c) I.E. Jesus was the ultimate fulfillment of God’s presence.
d) After this presence comes the outpouring of the Spirit.
(1) Joel’s words must have been both wonderful and disturbing to the people of God in his day.
(2) Joel 2:28-29 (NIV) …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. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
(3) Men and women? Old and young? All people?
e) Peter says that this afterward of Joel began on the day of Pentecost,.
3. So far we have blessing which leads to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all peoples. But there is a third section which speaks again of judgment.
a) Joel 2:30-31 (NIV) I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
b) This is language that the Hebrews would know well.
(1) Blood and fire speak of warfare and judgment.
(2) Billows of smoke represent the presence of the glory of God which descended on Mt. Sinai, filled the tabernacle, and filled Solomon’s temple.
(3) Darkness and a blood moon are signs of coming Judgment.
(4) And the Day of the Lord is often associated with judgment.
(a) The Day of the Lord is a reference to the coming of the Lord to the earth, a visitation of God.
(b) All such visitations bring both blessing and judgment for this is the foundation of the Covenant.
(5) Joel easily slips from blessing, to judgment.
c) But he does not end this third section with fear.
(1) He concludes with the greatest blessing of all: Deliverance.
III. Now Peter’s sermon explains how Joel’s prophecy should be understood.
A. He starts with the second section which leaves us to see that the first section has already been fulfilled.
B. Then he identifies this experience of the Holy Spirit on this day of Pentecost as the beginning of the last days.
C. So the 3rd section is the result of the 2nd is also part of it for they both are about the coming of the Lord to visit his creation.
D. There are two peoples in the world today: those who are dead and those who are alive. Only the Spirit of God knows fully who is which.
1. Proof of life is the filling with the Holy Spirit.
2. Romans 8:14-16 (NIV) …those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
3. Proof of life is the Spirit of God who leads us, directs us, teaches us, reveals Christ in us, and more.
4. 1 Corinthians 6:11 (NIV) …you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
IV. So, how do we get this Spirit that is poured out upon all humanity?
A. 1st note that everyone has the Spirit of God.
1. Those who are lead by the Spirit are delivered from the judgment of God, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ…”
2. Those who are lead by the flesh are dead. “…if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”
B. The difference between the two is faith.
1. Joel 2:32 (NIV)…everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the survivors whom the Lord calls.
2. Acts 2:38-39 (NIV) Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
C. Pentecost is about the gift of the Holy Spirit who is our proof of life in Christ.
D. To receive the abundant life Jesus came to freely give, all you have to do is ask.
E. Those who ask will receive proof that they have been made alive.