This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.
“After this, I will pour out my Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will have dreams, and your young men will see visions. I will even pour out my Spirit on the male and female slaves in those days.” – Joel 2:28-29
Sometimes we become so familiar with the Bible and its stories that we risk losing some of the wonder and awe they are meant to produce. But take a moment and put yourself in the shoes of the ancient Israelites who heard the promise of the Holy Spirit that God spoke through Joel.
The Holy Spirit is featured at times throughout the Old Testament. Yet his prominent work was through the prophets, judges, and kings. God’s people as a whole at that time did not possess the Holy Spirit as we do through Jesus today. The Spirit’s work came mainly through the leaders, who then weren’t guaranteed to have him at all times.
When David committed his grave sin against Uriah and Bathsheba, in his prayer of repentance he asked that God would not remove his Holy Spirit, probably thinking about how God had taken the Spirit from King Saul for disobedience.
So, to be God’s people in the Old Testament and hear the prophecy through Joel, it would have been surprising. God told his people that a change was coming. What once belonged only to the leaders would now be the possession of all his people. And not only for all his people among the Jews, but for all his people in the world, for “all humanity.”
It would still be years before this promise would come to pass on the day of Pentecost, as we read in Acts 2. But imagine if you had been among God’s people at the time and heard this promise: My Spirit will be poured out on all my people, young or old, rich or poor, male or female.
Such a promise should have thrilled their souls and inspired their imaginations then, and if we can step back and think about what it truly meant as a surprising act of God, then it should thrill our souls and inspire imaginations today; as well as make us thankful that through Jesus we get to be among those who have God’s Spirit poured out on us.
All Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.