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My Insights from the Bible
Joel’s Image of the End Times
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls. (Joel 2: 28 - 32 ESV)
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God’s Spirit poured out upon His people
The passage above is a favourite among prophecy teachers. There are two schools of thought on the interpretation of the text. The popular view is that it applies to all Christians in the days prior to Christ’s return. Some disagree and claim it only applies to the Jews after the Church has been taken from the Earth. I believe, however, it applies to all God’s people, both Jew and Gentile, before the return of Christ and the rapture of His people.
One interesting thing I noticed studying Scripture over the years is that the future events in some Bible prophecies don’t often follow each other in sequential order. It seems many prophetic events are often gathered together to give a general picture of the circumstances and happenings. They are an overall expression of the future events, without focussing on individual detail.
Putting it another way, they can be likened to baking a cake or making biscuits. To the Jews and first-century Christians these prophecies are like a list of the ingredients used to make the cake or biscuits. Little detail is given to a procedure. To twenty-first century readers they are like the method in a recipe showing the order and procedure for mixing the list of ingredients. Of course to make a cake we need both a list of ingredients and a method. So it is with these two reader groups; the difference is where the emphasis is placed.
With this in mind we see that using a twenty-first century mindset to interpret Scripture is not the best way to go. We should place ourselves in the footsteps of the people who were the recipients of the message or warning and view it from their point-of-view. Their customs, understanding and worldview would have been very different from what we see and experience today. Focusing on Scripture with their worldview in mind will give us a better understanding of its meaning. This is especially important with prophecy.
We see from the passage above that God is going to move in a mighty way in the last days just before Christ returns. We also know from other accounts elsewhere in the Bible that the people of God will face persecution and death at this time.
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