Joel 2:28
We have the authority of St. Peter for applying this prediction to the Messianic dispensation. Joel's mind was lifted up by the happy prospect in the immediate future for his countrymen, and, as was so often the case, his prophetic gaze pierced the dense mists of futurity, and he beheld "the wonder that should be."

I. THE PERIOD OF THE GIFT. It is not intended to teach that the bestowal of the Holy Spirit was deferred, and reserved for the Messianic age. Yet no believer in the New Testament can doubt that the Day of Pentecost witnessed an unprecedented outpouring of Divine energy and grace, in itself the herald and the promise of a constant perennial effusion of blessing upon all the Church of the ascended Redeemer.

II. THE NATURE OF THE GIFT. It was an invisible, impalpable grace; its operation took place in spiritual natures. The Spirit of God bestowed those special gifts of inspiration, of faith, of healings, of tongues, which were peculiar to the first age of the Church. The same Spirit conferred the gifts of teaching and administration, which have tended to the edification and increase of the body of Christ. But the choicest and richest of spiritual gifts have ever been those of character and principle, of disposition and habit, which have made the Church the true representative upon earth of its ascended Lord. Of these gifts the chief is love.

III. THE ABUNDANCE OF THE GIFT. The promise is not of scanty drops, but of copious showers. The great Giver delights to give generously, royally, gloriously.

IV. THE RECIPIENTS OF THE GIFTS. The most marvellous part of this magnificent prophecy is the language in which is described the comprehensiveness of the Church of the Lord Jesus.

1. Among these recipients of spiritual grace are men and women. "Your sons and your daughters." In Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female.

2. Old and young are alike included among the seers of visions and the dreamers of dreams; for upon every enlightened soul shall stream the light which is not of this world, and which reveals eternal realities.

3. Upon bond and upon free the graces of the Spirit are shed without distinction. Servants and handmaids are participators in the Spirit; for all are free in Christ Jesus.

4. To make this universality explicit, it is expressly said that the outpouring, shall be upon "all flesh," i.e. upon all humanity. Beyond a prospect like this, the vision of inspired prophets could not extend; the grace of the infinite Giver could not be vaster and more comprehensive. - T.

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh.
The prophet had encouraged the nation to repentance by announcing the temporal blessings which would be consequent thereon. They would get the former rain, they would get the latter rain. The floors would be filled with wheat, and the fats would overflow with wine and oil. Desolation would vanish, plenty would return. This was the lower sphere of benediction consequent upon their repentance. Now the prophet mentions the higher blessing to follow, — the spiritual, of which the temporal was but a type.


1. The time. "Afterward." "In those days." To what time does this refer? To the days of the prophet? To the era of the law? Or, to the time when the promised Messiah should come? This outpouring of the Spirit seems to be connected by the prophet with the secular prosperity of which he had been speaking. He probably did not know the time to which his words had reference; but if it was in the future it was as real to his faith as the present to his sight. This promise no doubt had reference to the Messianic age, though Joel may not have been cognizant of the fact. It was not fulfilled at Bethlehem, nor in Gethsemane, nor at Calvary, nor at Olivet. It was still "afterward." It was partially accomplished at Pentecost (Acts 2:17), though there was concealed in it a deeper meaning than even Pentecost could impart, the entire significance of which we are as yet ignorant. We live in this afterward of time, and know its meaning, as did not the prophets of old; but the afterward of the kingdom of heaven has yet to evolve the universal reign of the Spirit of God.

2. The author. "I will pour." This outpouring of the Holy Spirit was to be of Divine origin. It is the alone prerogative of the Eternal God to bestow the Spirit upon mankind. Joel did not connect the gift of the Spirit in any way with himself, or with any agency he could command. Nor did Peter on the day of Pentecost. Prophets and apostles, however distinguished they may have been, were not the authors but the channels of spiritual energy. Man cannot give the Holy Spirit to his fellow-man. Thoughtful books cannot bestow it; organisation cannot impart it. This is the testimony of Scripture; this is in conformity with human experience, and with the moral inability of man to originate good. Hence we must go to God for it. We must wait His time. We must comply with the moral conditions necessary to its reception. We must give Him the praise and glory of its advent in any measure. All true spiritual emotion is from above.

3. The extent. "I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh" The Divine Spirit was to be poured out without distinction of age, sex, country, or genius. It should be given to universal man. It would not be confined to the covenant nation. The poor, the slave, the unlearned — all should receive this gift. It would be poured out; not drop by drop, but as a mighty shower; even as copiously as the rain after the prayer of Elijah. The gift of the Spirit is not limited by any restraint upon the Divine ability to give. It is not limited by time. Sin cannot stay it, for grace abounds much more than sin. Then why is not spiritual influence more potently with us?

4. The effect. "And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." This does not limit the universal application of the promise, but simply gives examples of those who shall realise it, and the effect it will have upon them. In the early ages of the church, the miraculous gifts of the spirit were imparted; but they have ceased, and, instead, we have illuminatio of soul, a beauteous insight into the truth of God, bright visions of destiny: for these are the things which now accompany and evince the presence of the Holy Ghost.

II. THAT THE NEW GOSPEL ERA WOULD BE CHARACTERISED BY THE MOST ALARMING TEMPORAL COMMOTIONS. "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke," etc. God gives successive revelations of Himself; revelations of the spirit of mercy, and also of the spirit of judgment. The phenomena here named are physical in their nature, but have a deep moral significance. The great events of Christianity have been signalised by phenomena in the material universe. The guiding of the star at the birth of Christ. The darkness of the sun at the Crucifixion. The wind and fire at Pentecost. Nature is in sympathy with the great plans of God. The progress of truth occasions many wondrous phenomena. It darkens many suns. It turns many moons into blood. It is in conflict with dark prejudice, with wilful error, with the carnal mind, with sinful passion, with old custom, with proud philosophy; hence the moral commotion intimated in the text, and illustrated by the history of Christ. But all these commotions will be penetrated and mitigated by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, will yield ultimate quietude when the voice of God shall be heard, and the peace of the Divine reign finally established.

III. THAT THE NEW GOSPEL ERA WOULD BE CHARACTERISED BY A MERCIFUL ARRANGEMENT FOR THE SALVATION OF ALL EARNEST SUPPLIANTS. "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be delivered," etc.

1. Salvation in the time of peril. The Gospel era shall provide safety for human souls amidst the awful calamities which shall then befall the world.

2. Salvation in the time of despair.

3. Salvation on easy conditions. There might be mystery in the darkened sun, but not about the salvation to be had. It is to be had from God by prayer.Lessons: —

1. That God is the author of all true reviving influence.

2. That the gift of the Holy Spirit is co-extensive with the range of universal life.

3. That in the Gospel era the Divine Spirit is richly manifest.

4. That while we must anticipate times of moral commotion, we must also expect times when the redemptive purpose shall be more fully manifest.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

This prophecy was not finally fulfilled upon the day of Pentecost. The effusion of the Spirit on that day must be regarded as typical of the final outpouring of the Spirit in the last ages of the world.

1. The necessity of an effusion of the Divine Spirit in order to accomplish the change that is needed. There never can be such a transformation, as the principles of Christianity show to be required by the condition of the world, except by a mighty and resistless agency on the hearts of men by the Holy Spirit of God.The necessity of this effusion will appear if you consider —

1. The absolute and perfect failure of all agency apart from Him, which hitherto has been employed by man.

2. The precise and essential nature of the change which is anticipated and desired. It is not a change in the external aspect of things, it is a change of principle; it is a change of motives; it is the transformation of all opposition on the part of man towards the government of God, and interests of eternity.

3. The appropriation to the Divine Spirit of the various offices which are assigned to Him in the economy of redemption. It is the Spirit who quickens, who converts the soul, who urges to faith, who instructs, guides, consoles, seals, etc.

4. The ascription to the Spirit of the great change in the latter day which we are led to anticipate throughout the whole structure of the prophetic writings. Whoever looks for the renovation of future times, and the amelioration of the state of man, to any agent short of the one to which we now ascribe it, is most grievously mistaken, and does most impiously blaspheme.


1. The effusion of the Divine Spirit will he preceded by remark able and extensive providential changes in human society. With regard to the precise instrumentality employed, few would venture on distinct assertion. Possibly much public agitation and national convulsion may he necessary.

2. It will be immediately associated with the propagation of the Word of God, and the use of importunate prayer.

3. The effusion of the Divine Spirit will be imparted with great and extraordinary rapidity. Hitherto there has been but a slow impartation of spiritual influence. Two topics need consideration.

(1)Whether the era of the final effusion of the Spirit will be introduced by miraculous agency.

(2)At what time may the effusion be expected.

III. THE EFFECTS WHICH THE EFFUSION OF THE SPIRIT WILL PRODUCE. On the Church — removing its ignorance, and healing its divisions: sanctifying its members. On the world — it shall then be given to God.

(James Parsons.)

Upon the promises of physical blessing there follows another of the outpouring of the Spirit: the prophecy by which Joel became the prophet of Pentecost, and through which his book is best known among Christians. The order of events makes us pause to question: does Joel mean to imply that physical prosperity must precede spiritual fulness? It would be unfair to assert that he does, without remembering what he understands by the physical blessings. To Joel these are the token that God has returned to His people. The drought and the famine produced by the locusts were signs of His anger and of His divorce of the land. The proofs that He has relented and taken Israel back into a spiritual relation to Himself, can, therefore, from Joel's point of view, only be given by the healing of the people's wounds. In plenteous rains and full harvests Goal sets His seal to man's penitence. Rain and harvest are not merely physical benefits, but religious sacraments: signs that God has returned to His people, and that His zeal is again stirred on their behalf (Joel 1:18). This haste be made clear before there can be talk of any higher blessing. God has to return to His people and to show His love for them before He pours forth His Spirit upon them.... From Joel's standpoint physical blessings may have been as religious as spiritual, but we must go further, and assert that for Joel's anticipation of the baptism of the Spirit by a return of prosperity, there is an ethical reason, and one which is permanently valid in history. A certain degree of prosperity, and even of comfort, is an indispensable condition of that universal and lavish exercise of the religious faculties, which Joel pictures under the pouring forth of God's Spirit. The history of prophecy itself furnishes us with proofs of this. And has it been otherwise in the history of Christianity? An acute historian observes that every religious revival in England has happened upon a basis of comparative prosperity.

(G. Adam Smith, D. D.)

Sunday in Church.
Joel appears to move "in the circle of moral convictions, and of eschatelogical hopes." He has been called "the prophet of the manifestation of the Holy Ghost."


1. "I will pour out." These words suggest the abundance of the gift.

2. The effusion was to be "Of My Spirit," that is, the Holy Ghost.


1. "Upon all flesh." This means upon all mankind. Giving the idea of an universal religion.

2. The gift is said to descend upon all "flesh, naming that which is lowest in our nature.

3. The outpouring only began on the day of Pentecost.

4. This outpouring will continue to flow on as long as the world lasts. See three effects of the Spirit's presence and operation in the souls of men, which are of theGreatest practical moment —

1. His presence has given a greater malignity to sin, m that, through His indwelling, sin is now brought so near to the Holy God; because the light which the Spirit imparts robs sin of the excuse of ignorance. And because sin is now committed, in spite of that new power to resist it which is bestowed by the presence of the Holy Ghost.

2. The presence of the Spirit, with His fruits and gifts, carries with it a higher standard and ideal than that of the old covenant.

3. The presence of the Spirit should impart fervour to all devotional exercises.

(Sunday in Church.)

We, as well as the people of nineteen centuries ago, have an interest in the prophecy of Joel. Whithersoever the quickening influences of the Spirit of God shall come, there shall be spiritual life. And is not this the real want of the age? The term revival is frequently mentioned in these days.

I. WHAT IS A REVIVAL? It is the renewal in effect and continuation of what took place under the preaching of the Word at Pentecost, when thousands of spiritually ignorant and perishing men were first quickened. Religion is a life, even the life of God in the soul. Without spiritual vitality there can be no real personal religion. Spiritual life is kindled in the soul by the Spirit of God. The first indications of this life are generally, not invariably, alarm. Its first act is faith. This life requires nourishment, and that is supplied chiefly by the Word of God and prayer. It has its inward growth and its outward manifestations. The spiritual life may be likened to an exotic. Revivals, or what is equivalent to them, are in separate departments of life found to be universally and indispensably needed. The Reformation in Germany was a gigantic revival. About 1743, within two or three years, thirty or forty thousand souls were born into the family of heaven. Numbers object, to extended religious manifestations, because of the excitement which sometimes attends them. Some measure of excitement is, however, in the nature of things, inseparable from a time of awakening, either of one or of many. Many object to seasons of revival, because of the suddenness with which some conversions are effected: but there are various operations of the Spirit. A revival is just the gracious sovereign putting forth of Divine power on a great scale, to effect largely what in ordinary times takes place in one here and there through a community.

II. WHAT ARE THE SIGNS THAT A REVIVAL IS NEEDED BY US? Weakness and fainting in some, and death in others. What is Christian life in its essence? It is the implanted, earnest, ever-expanding taste for and aspiration after the living God, reconciled in Christ, as one's all in all. It is that this state may become the state of every one of us, we need a revival.


1. Hindrances in the Church. Unbelief is the sin which most easily besets us. It is the common crying sin of the Church. We are straitened in our own faith and hope. Dis union. Conformity to the world.

2. Hindrances in the world. Ignorance, indifference, infidelity, intemperance.

IV. WHAT ARE THE MEANS BY WHICH WE AND OTHERS MIGHT RECEIVE A REVIVAL? Earnest, scriptural, impressive preaching. Earnest, instant, individual, and social prayer. Domestic discipline, instruction, and family worship. If we are to be Christians at all, we must be growing Christians. There is no such thing as standing still in the Divine life. Life is a battlefield on which the Christian soldier is either gaining ground or losing it.

(James Stirling Muir.)

I. THE ANIMATING PREDICTION. Note the object promised, it was the Spirit. The term Spirit is used to denote His miraculous and gracious influences. The Spirit is a person. The influences of the Spirit may be considered as miraculous and as common. The former were peculiar to the apostolic age, the latter must be regarded as the privilege of believers in every period of time. Observe the persons who shall receive the Spirit. It will be "poured out upon all flesh." This embraces the whole human race. Observe the season when this prediction will be verified. The "last days," i.e., this entire present dispensation, the final economy of mercy to the world.

II. THE GLORIOUS EFFECTS CONNECTED WITH THE DISPENSATION OF THE SPIRIT. Notice the blessings of the Spirit, as seen in the apostles — they were qualified by it for their work. And as it respects the revival of religion, the Gospel is attended with extraordinary success.


1. By a more decided and elevated tone of piety in the members of our churches.

2. By consecrating much time to devotion.

3. By a distinguished zeal in the promotion of those institutions which advance Immanuel's cause.

4. By increasing harmony and affection among the disciples of Christ. Love to the brethren is the peculiar excellence of Christianity, the badge of discipleship, and the glory of religion.

(W. Yates.)

This is the great Old Testament promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit; the first in order of time, the first in degree of importance. In the earlier Scriptures we find occasional allusions to the work of the Spirit. The prophecy of Joel contains the first utterance upon this great subject. Joel is thought by some to be the oldest of the Hebrew prophets who wrote. The structure of this prophecy is very simple. In the first we find God's judgments upon His people. Their obtaining mercy. The punishment of their enemies. In the remainder of the book we have —

1. The call to repentance.

2. The promise of blessing.

3. The judgment of the ungodly.Of the promise of the Spirit, which is the culminating point in the announcement of blessing, we have the warrant of St. Peter for saying that it received a fulfilment on the day of Pentecost. The expression "pour out" cannot be applied literally to a Divine person. It is symbolical, and adopted from the promise of rain in verse 23. The Lord Jesus, during His ministry, took up the promise, and both expanded and renewed it. There was, however, a condition upon the fulfilment of which the gift of the Spirit was contingent. The glorification of Jesus was to precede the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. It was to be the peculiar office of the Spirit to "testify of," and "glorify" Christ, by "taking of the things of Christ, and showing them to His people." But while we see in Pentecost a fulfilment of the prophecy, we may ask whether the Old Testament promise was exhausted upon the day of Pentecost. Certainly it was not. The prophecy is asserted by St. Peter to be co-extensive with the Divine calling, to run side by side with that calling so long as it shall continue, to belong therefore to the whole Christian dispensation. The "last days" is the New Testament term descriptive of the entire interval between the first and second advents. There are certain special and peculiar manifestations of the Spirit. God at times vouchsafes a gracious outpouring both upon the Church and the world. Have we any ground for expecting any such remarkable visitation in the present day? In examining the structure of the prophecy of Joel, we note the following sequences:

(1)The call to repentance, addressed to the professing people of God,

(2)The promise of blessing, culminating in the promise of the Spirit.

(3)The announcements of judgments to be inflicted upon the enemies of God and His Church. This sequence of events took place in connection with Pentecost.There was then —

(1)The universal preaching of repentance to the Jewish nation.

(2)The outpouring of the Spirit.

(3)The infliction of signal vengeance upon those who proved themselves to be the deadly enemies of the true Church of God.Are there any events of a similar kind taking place at the present time? It has been too much the habit with Christians to rest satisfied with a very partial and moderate fulfilment of the promise of the Spirit. It is scriptural to indulge the expectation of such a holy revival. It is desirable that such fulfilment should take place. It is possible, may I not say probable, that such blessed results may be accomplished. But in what way are we to act, so that we may reasonably expect the blessing?

1. Remove the hindrances which stand in the way of such outpouring of the Spirit. The unholiness which exists in the Church of God. Ignorance and misapprehension regarding the work of the Spirit, and the nature of religious revival. The personal responsibility of all Christians in relation to the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom is not felt as it should be.

2. Adopt the means by which a religious revival may be promoted. The faithful preaching of the Divine Word. Real, hearty, believing, united, and persevering prayer.

(Emilius Bayley.)

Sermons by Monday Club.
The development of the redemptive scheme is by a succession of stages. Each stage is an advance upon the preceding. The finger of prophecy as well as of providence points forward. The eyes of the heathen were turned lack ward. Their golden age was past. Not so the Jews. So Christianity is a religion of expectancy. Though in the final stage of the world's development, we are far from the end of that stage. The remedial agencies are working, but the remedy is not yet wrought. We have a sufficient revelation, but we have not yet fathomed it. We have a fixed though not a finished faith. Christianity is aspiring, hopeful, confident. The Holy Spirit made known, through Joel, that in the ages to come there would be established, through His own abundant and universal effusion, a new order of things unspeakably more glorious and happy than anything hitherto known.

I. THE EXTENT OF THE BLESSING. Extent both in the sense of amplitude and degree. The promise is to all, without distinction of age, sex, nationality, or degree. The Spirit of God had been in the world before the last days began, but, in no such plenitude and power as after His effusion. The words "pour out" imply abundance and richness. The three usual forms of special Divine revelation known to the Hebrews, — prophecy, visions, dreams, — indicate the fulness of the blessing; and the inclusion of all classes, down to slaves, shows the extent of the blessing. Nor is the prophecy confined to the Hebrew nation. On the Gentiles as well as the Jews was the Spirit poured out. The true doctrine as to the extent of the Holy Spirit's operation may be thus summarised.

1. The expression "all flesh" is to be taken literally, including not only all the nations of the earth, but every individual of every nation. Not that the Holy Spirit has the same direct influence upon all. That is not possible, since the means and instruments through which He works are not at hand to the same degree in all. Much of his work in the more favoured nations is in behalf of the less favoured. This is true of individuals also. Man is part spirit, and is capable of receiving and recognising the monitions of the Father Spirit. No soul of man, not even the darkest and most degraded, is neglected by the Holy Spirit. However dull it may be, still there is a con science, a Divine spark, and that is responsive to the breath of the Divine Spirit. In numberless ways does the Spirit make Himself felt all the way from childhood to age. And at times the Spirit makes special appeals.

2. To what extent, in the sense of degree, is the Spirit given? Thus far no response on the part of man has been supposed. The Spirit comes to him self-moved, not because man wants Him, but because He wants man. It is His aim to persuade man to open his heart to receive Him. But man is free, and can open it or bar it closer. With what measure of fulness and blessing does the Spirit come? The language of prophecy leads us to expect great things. The fountain is inexhaustible and the supply abundant. Fulness of possession is the only natural limit of the promises blessing. As a matter of fact the Spirit does fill every soul just so fast and far as He is permitted. It does not follow that, if all were to receive Him to the fullest extent possible, they would have Him in the same measure, or possess the same spiritual power. That depends upon their capacity and ability. Nor does fulness of the Spirit necessarily imply the possession of miraculous power. That power may depend on the possession of peculiar natural gifts.


1. The gift of the Spirit is a gift of enlightenment. The natural man, however highly endowed, fails to under stand "the things of the Spirit." To them his mind is dark; but when the Spirit comes into a soul, light comes with Him.

2. It is a gift of purification. The Scripture emblems of the purifying power of the Holy Ghost are water and fire. One cleanses by washing away, the other by burning up impurities. Light let into a dungeon does not remove its foulness; no more does illumination purify the heart; the Holy Ghost not only enlightens but cleanses. He is water to wash away the impurities of sin, fire to burn up the dross of nature.

3. It is a gift of power. At Jerusalem the disciples were "endued with power from on high." The Holy Spirit in a man makes him an engine of power. He is strong to endure, for God is with him. He is bold in speech, efficient in action, prevalent in prayer. Illustrate by St. Paul, Luther, Nettleton, Finney, Moody, etc.

4. It is a gift of joy. Illustrated in the ecstasies of the early disciples. There is a "joy in the Holy Ghost."

(Sermons by Monday Club.)

I. THE SUBJECTS OF THIS ESPECIAL MERCY. It is a word from the God of all grace to that people, and touching their increase, who profess to be "the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood." Their increase are designated as "all flesh," "your sons and your daughters," "your old men, your young men," "the servants, the handmaids." "All that are afar off." With this limitation, "As many as the Lord our God shaft call."

II. THE MERCY ITSELF WHICH IS PROMISED. The Spirit is the Holy Ghost, the third person in the ever-blessed and glorious Trinity. The effusion, or pouring out, which is here promised, is the communication of His precious influences, for spiritual life, health, comfort, strength, love, wisdom unto salvation. The similitude is taken from abundant and fertilising showers.

III. THE PRIMARY DISPLAYS OF ITS RECEPTION ARE TO BE NOTICED. "Sons and daughters prophesy," etc. See Acts 13:12. Admonitions against the abuse of these special gifts is found in 1 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Corinthians 14:22.

IV. THE PERMANENT POWER AND PRESENCE INVOLVED IN THIS PROMISE. The power of the infinite Jehovah is involved in His perpetual presence with His people. The accomplishment of this promise constitutes the character, and demonstrates the existence, of the true Church of the living God, wheresoever it is to be found upon earth: and the permanent power and presence therein involved ensures the existence and increase of that Church.

(William Borrows, M. A.)

Your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.
The age is against us. The youth of the world with its buoyancy has given place to the fin de siecle, the old age of the weary Titan, with its spiritual fatigue. You feel this everywhere. It is not only in our hard, analytic views of nature that we feel this death of dreams; all life is alike. The young man to-day will find the world no way congenial to the dreamer; it will only be through a thick fog that he will see his visions. Take city life. How visionless all life seems to you, covered inch deep with dust, and that not of the cleanest. There is not much space for poetry in the model lodging-house, or furnished apartments. A hive of industry the city may be, but dreams and visions are no part of its output. Turn to the factory. In old times man's work was itself a dream. The factory system has killed all that. To-day in every sphere of life the young man will find a subtle penetrating realism banishing all visions, a fog that can be felt chilling down every enthusiasm. Nevertheless, the prophet Joel was right: dreams and visions are the very salt for all life, its one reality. All life will ultimately be weighed by this one thing, — the ideals to which men stood true in spite of every difficulty. Take the life of a nation. The study of that life is history. Look then at Greece, Rome, Israel, or any other nation, and you will find that its dreams and visions are the all in a nation's history which does not die. History is, in fact, but the science of regulated enthusiasms and their results. Hope makes history a progress instead of a cycle. The deathless element in English life and history does not find its way into our text books. Its real gold is those priceless ideas of liberty, law, and true individuality, which have been the lode-star of her destinies. The most certain verdict of history is this: when a nation once loses its dreams and visions, its end has come. That which is true of the nation is no less true of the individual. The value of every man must ultimately be reckoned by the only changeless standard of value — the dreams and visions that were his. We must be careful not to narrow down the currency of heaven to realisations only. The history of religion, in fact, is but the record of how the enthusiasms of some enthusiast have permeated and changed the lives of men. Buddhism, Mohammedanism, Jesuitism, are all the slowly stiffening result of mighty dreams. Urge every young man to be an idealist. Do not be ashamed to have your enthusiasms. The true idealist never lives in cloudland; he ever seeks to have his home amid the stern realities of life. He seeks to lift the real up to the ideal. Take the roughest blocks, and be a seer, like Michael Angelo; see in them what God sees, the possibilities of higher things. It is the idealism of Jesus that is the salvation of the world. You can be an idealist even in business. Take your dreams and visions into life as a citizen; into your politics; into your home; into the Church.

(Herbert B. Workman.)

Joel dips into the far future and sees the downcoming of the Holy Ghost. So clear is his vision that he minutely notes the effects of this marvellous effusion. But the signs we expect him to enumerate he misses. Not a word about a whiter heart and a nobler life, about miraculous power, or irresistible speech. All these he ignores; it is the unexpected and apparently the secondary and unimportant effects that fasten his attention. To him the outstanding feature of the days of the Holy Ghost is a quickened imagination — a power to dream dreams and see visions. If man be compared to a house, there is the cellar which is dark and self-contained, representing the appetites and impulses, there is the ground floor with the windows of taste and smell looking out upon the immediate neighbourhood, there is the upper storey whose windows of seeing and hearing command a wider prospect, and there is the highest storey with the window of the imagination opening out into the vast unseen. When this house becomes the temple of the Holy Ghost all the rooms are beautified and all the windows cleansed; but to the prophet the window that gleams the brightest is the roof window, the faculty that is stirred the deepest is the imagination. The old men had been dwelling in the lower rooms all the days of their lives, and during all the long years the upper stories had been all but forgotten. The windows of the imagination are darkened by dust and curtained by cobwebs. When the Spirit comes there is cleansing enough, but on account of the long neglect the window will never become translucent again. The objects seen through will be vague and shadowy. The old men only dream dreams. The dreaminess comes from the neglect. But the young men led by curiosity and romance have explored all the rooms from the roof to the basement. All the windows have been put to use, even if the use has not always been the noblest; and under the influence of the Spirit they become clear as crystal, through which are seen definite and luminous the realities of the unseen. The young men see visions. Their imagination is unspoiled by worldliness and neglect. But in old and young the action of the Spirit is the same, only in the one it revives the embers, and in the other it fans the flame. It is strange that the prophet should have singled out the imagination, for the coming of the Spirit is as the coming of the spring. Everything in its track is born again. The spring causes a tide of life to rush through all creation, and all but burst everything. The buds burst into blossom, the hard crust of the earth bursts into green, and the birds burst forth into song. All nature is roused into an extraordinary activity. When God comes into a man's soul it is the same; every faculty is stirred, every power is quickened, the heart is tenderer, the mind is clearer, the senses are keener, the body is healthier; a wondrous tide of life rushes through the whole man. The Spirit comes as a mighty wind, and as all the multitudinous leaves of a tree are swayed by the wind, so are all the faculties of a man swayed by the Spirit. But stirred as are all the soul's activities it is the extraordinary activity of the imagination that catches the eye of the prophet. But why this strange selection? The choice is strange because it is right, and daring because it is according to the mind of God. tic singles out the imagination because when God's Spirit descends on men His principal work is to make them realise the spiritual world; and the realisation of the spiritual world is the task of the imagination. All around us there is a world of matter and motion, with its hills and plains, minerals and forests, towns and streets and factories. We see it with our eyes, and are familiar with its features and movements. But vast as this world is, it pales into insignificance beside the great unseen world that is above and around and within us, a world that outleaps all measurement and outruns all duration, more real than the solid earth, more permanent than the everlasting hills; the home of God and Jesus, of angels innumerable and the spirits of just men made perfect, to be seen by no eyes of flesh, seen alone by the eye of the soul — the imagination.

(Thos. Phillips.)

You may say of a dream that it is nocturnal fantasia, or that it is the absurd combination of waking thoughts; but God has honoured the dream by making it the avenue through which He has marched upon the human soul, decided the fate of nations, and changed the course of the world's history. Does God appear in our day, and reveal Himself through dreams?

1. The Scriptures are so full of revelation from God that if we get no communication from Him in dreams, we ought, nevertheless, to be satisfied.

2. All dreams have an important meaning. They prove that the soul is comparatively independent of the body.

3. The vast majority of dreams are merely the result of disturbed physical conditions, and are not a supernatural message. A great many dreams are merely narcotic disturbance. Do not mistake narcotic disturbance for Divine revelation.

4. Our dreams are apt to be merely the echo of our daytime thoughts. The scholar's dream is a philosophic echo. The poet's dream is a rhythmic echo. It is, however, capable of proof that God does sometimes in our day appear to people in dreams. All dreams that make you better are from God. It is possible to prove that God does appear in dreams to warn, to convert, to save men. Illustrate: John Newton's dreams.

(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

This prophecy was fulfilled to the letter, as described in Acts 2., nine centuries afterwards. By the Gospel dispensation we mean the Church. The Christian dispensation was to be a spiritual dispensation. The older was a religion of form. It represented truth. It was a school of object-lessons, a kind of kindergarten. It was a system of forms so perfect as to command the admiration of all ages to the present time. The kingdom the prophet foresaw would be set up would not be dependent on these earthly forces — authority, wealth, intelligence — but upon something far beyond and above. The Spirit of God was to be its energy, its potent force. This spiritual outpouring had its power in these facts —

1. It communicated God to us.

2. It associates God with us.

3. It develops God in us.Observe the development of power when there is this pouring out of the Spirit. A prophesying power; and a witnessing power. We have also brought out in this prophecy the fact of freedom following the outpouring of the Spirit. Freedom from the guilt of sin. Freedom from the bondage of sin. Freedom from all fear because of sin. And we are told that this outpouring of the Spirit would be accompanied with great convulsions, mighty signs. So it proved. In view of our privileges as partakers of the Spirit, what is our duty? We should seek more and more of this outpouring, and we should seek to bear witness everywhere to the truths it reveals to us.

(C. H. Tiffany, D. D.)

This passage exhibits the leading features of Christianity.


1. Formerly the Spirit dwelt with man.

2. Whereas formerly the Spirit dwelt with men, now He dwells in them, There is a sense in which the Spirit was not given to men before the day of Pentecost. This sense is explained in John 14:15-17. Jesus was the first human being in whom the Spirit abode

II. THE GOSPEL DISPENSATION WAS TO BE CHARACTERISED BY LIBERTY. "In Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance."

1. The Gospel finds us in chains.

(1)In bondage under the tyranny of sin.

(2)He also trembles under the tyranny of death.

(3)The terrors of hell are upon him.

2. But the Gospel bursts our bonds in sunder. The believer is justified by the merits of Christ.


1. Here are marvellous spiritual signs. Prophecy, as prediction and as preaching. Visions. At the inauguration of Christianity there were apparitions. Throughout the dispensation there have been spiritual revelations. Dreams.

2. Here also are stupendous physical wonders. Some of these were associated with the great transactions on Calvary. Some were associated with the complementary transactions upon Zion. These wonders show that Omnipotence is behind the truth.


1. Its salvation is universally free.

2. The conditions of this salvation are level to all capacities.

3. The expansiveness of the Gospel triumphs over conventionalities. Both the social and the national.

(J. Alexander Macdonald.)

No gift of God is intended to remain a gift only. Gifts are means to serve other ends. The rain is a gift, but it is a means toward the harvest. The gift of the Spirit suggests a harvest for which that precious rain of God descended. The gifts are bestowed in anticipation of the hour when they will be needed. The responsibility is not the responsibility of possession merely, but the responsibility of anticipation. The hour comes when the tests of God will be applied. How very real the vision of the great conflict is in the prophet's eyes. It is as real and as vivid in its reality as the plague of locusts, He has no doubt that it will take place. He has no doubt about its issue. The power which makes certain the issue, and gives security to the combatants has been vouchsafed. The gift of the Spirit is the gift of safety. The principle of spiritual life is independent of time. There are things which we can prepare for better when we know the hour; but in the things of the Spirit it is better to prepare not knowing the day nor the hour; for the readiness is the readiness of a spiritual quality which cannot be attained in a moment, nor yet by a fixed hour. The spiritual principle in the words of the prophet is, that every gift of the Spirit must be followed by some decisive conflict — in which all the forces which are allied with the Spirit are thrown into antagonism with all that are hostile to the Spirit. Was it not so after the day of Pentecost? The gift of the Spirit was the revelation of the kingdom of the Spirit. But what war followed! It is thus that the order of God succeeds itself. His first gift is love. His second is illumination. His last is conflict. In the Gospels, the gift of earth's bounties comes first. Christ feeds the multitude. The gift of vision in the darkness follows. He reveals himself in the darkness on the sea. The third stage is achievement, or readiness to face the conflict. To the disciple ready to venture the raging waves He says, "Come." God never calls men to trial but He first prepares them by a gift of power and illumination. In other words, the fresh baptism of the Spirit is to prepare for the baptism of fire. Fire purges in the truest sense; water cleanses. Fire penetrates to the very heart of things; water may leave much that is corrupt to decay and to destroy. I am no friend of working through mere terrors, but we may remind ourselves that the questions which are stirring around us are just those which are calculated to test in the most complete and thorough way the foundations and structure of society as we now know it. Take the condition of Theology, the tenets of Socialism, the reconstructions demanded by evolutionary theories. But we know enough in current literature and current thought to satisfy ourselves that we need not be shaken in mind or troubled should some fiery trial try us. May we not say that the trial begins in the mind of every man who tries to apply the teaching of Christ his Lord in all loyal simplicity to the facts of life and duty? Who may abide? Who can come forth bright and purged from this flaming baptism that is in store for the men and women of this generation? Would not the answer be, he alone can sustain that ordeal who has been prepared in the fire for the fire; he alone can stand in the day when all things are shaken whose character and spirit are built up of those very things which cannot be shaken? Better fall into His consuming fire that in that flame all evil, self — all folly and weakness may be burned up, than wait unpurged for the day which shall burn like an oven. When He baptized us with the Holy Ghost and with fire, did He not baptize us to sacrifice, even the sacrifice of our bodies and souls, a living sacrifice to Him? He who, led by the Spirit, makes his life a sacrifice, and passes through the fire feeling it for very love's sake to be no fire — need not fear the day of the Lord, for on such the fire of the fierce trial of the world has no power.

(Bishop Boyd Carpenter.)

The preacher need not fear the taunt that he is an other-worldly man, a dreamer, a visionary. He may accept it with satisfaction, for it is true. His main concern lies in the realm of the unseen. He does business in deep waters. He stands face to face with the eternal. The Japanese cherish a tradition concerning Sho-Kaku. They say that, even when a lad, he loved to wander among the beech-trees, and up the green slopes of the mountain, where his solitary musings brought him such gentleness that he never hurt any living thing, and such purity that the tropical rains could not wet the web of wistaria fibres which clothed him! Such virtue and merit became his that at length the material world became quite subject to him. He could walk upon the water, fly through the air, see into the future, and heal the diseases of his friends. Then he was commanded to undertake a more difficult achievement, and, as a means towards success in it, to ascend the summit of Mount Omine in Yamato. He neither doubted nor delayed, but hewed for himself a path to the far-away mountain top; and when at last he reached it, standing on the bare space of jasper, no larger than a threshing-floor, polished smooth with many storms, he beheld a weird sight. There stood a huge white skeleton, grasping in its bony hand a great untarnished sword. An inward voice bade him, if he would triumph in the mighty enterprises marked out for him, to secure that glittering weapon. Yet it was no easy task. He grasped the sword, but the dead hand clung to it; he tried to wrench away the whitened bones, but they were as riveted iron, until he bethought himself of the 'spells of the spirit,' and as he uttered them the skeleton limbs relaxed slowly, and the sword dropped, so that he could seize and brandish it triumphantly in the light of the setting sun." The eastern legend enshrines a truth of universal application. The men who have been most despised as visionaries, as dreamers of dreams, as other-worldly men, have done more to shape this world than have their more practical critics.

I. THE PREACHER MUST HAVE A VISION OF DEITY. A man who has had no personal experience of the presence and power of God cannot possibly impress others with the august and intense reality of things eternal. In the journal of an old Puritan Divine were found these words: "Resolved that, when I address a large meeting, I shall remember that God is there, and that will make it small. Resolved that, when I address a small meeting, I shall remember that God is there, and that will make it great." It is said that, when was composing his sermons he was wont to fancy that the communion rails around the pulpit were crowded with listening angels. It was a splendid inspiration. But the truth is grander still. Dr. Gordon dreamed that, when he preached, the Christ sat in the pew. It is verily so. The preacher needs such a vision of Deity as will fill his whole horizon with the grandeur of the Divine, and assure him, in the hours of loneliness and listlessness, of the stupendous fact that God is his Witness and Co-worker.


1. He needs a vision of the sinfulness of men.

2. He must have a vision of the inner life of men. He must know that the most careless of his hearers is not really so callous as he seems. Every man, in his secret and silent moments, has thoughts of God, and sin, and eternity, that will not be silenced. And no man who has had a true vision of humanity will take it for granted that any man is absolutely without some prickings of conscience with regard to personal sin. He will carry Christ to every soul that is "aching and longing" after Him.

3. He needs a vision of the possibilities of men. The preacher is like Little Nell in "The Old Curiosity Shop." You remember how she discovered the sin in which the old man had become absorbed in the dreadful city. So she took him by the hand and led him away from it all, out into the green fields, and away to a happier, purer life. It is the privilege of the man of God to take men by the hand, and lead them out of the murky atmosphere of their sins into the purity and sublimity of the Divine salvation, Christ. saves from the nethermost depth to the uttermost height.

III. THE PREACHER MUST HAVE A VISION OF ETERNITY. This will add solemnity to all his work. He cannot afford to trifle. The biographer of Archbishop Leighton tells us that, in the days when it was the custom of the presbytery to inquire if all the preachers bad "preached to the times," Leighton acknowledged on one occasion that he had not. He was asked why. "Surely," he replied, "if all these brethren have preached to the times, one poor brother may be allowed to preach for eternity!" Napoleon, we are told, found an artist engrossed in his painting. "What are you doing that for?" the Emperor asked. "For immortality!" the artist proudly replied. "How long will your canvas last?" inquired Napoleon. "It will last for at least a thousand years, sire!" answered the man. "Aha!" responded the Emperor, "we have now an artist's conception of immortality!" We have a loftier ideal than that. The preacher deals face to face with the intensities of eternity. He has a vision of the glories of heaven, and he toils that he may "allure to brighter worlds, and lead the way." He has a vision of bell, and he is prepared to labour day and night that he may save his fellow-men from such a fearful doom. Harrison Ainsworth has drawn, in Solomon Eagle, a picture of the passionate earnestness that becomes an enthusiast who believes his fellows to be doomed, and would warn them of their peril. Lord Lytton has drawn a similar character in Olinthus, who, on the night on which Pompeii was destroyed, hurried from place to place entreating men to repent. "Are we as anxious about men," asked Dr. Dale, "as our fathers were? On any theory of eschatology there is a dark and menacing future for those who have been brought face to face with Christ in this life, and have refused to receive His salvation, and to submit to His authority. I do not ask whether the element of fear has a great place in our preaching, but whether it has a great place in our hearts, whether we ourselves are afraid of what will come to men who do not believe in Christ, whether we, whether our people, are filled with an agonising earnestness for their salvation."

(F. W. Boreham.)

"The thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts." Pity the one who has no dreams, for it means he has no ideals, and if youth has no ideals manhood will be very commonplace. We have no patience with those who cynically sneer at the visions of youth and dash cold water upon all early hope and ardour, prophesying with a cynical assumption of wisdom an inevitable disappointment, a bitter disillusioning

I. DREAMS OF PROSPERITY. This may seem to be the basest of all the dreams that youth can cherish, and if it simply means a dream of gain to follow gain till the dreamer can take his place among the wealthy, and secure that which money can purchase, it is not a vision to be encouraged. But there is a limited sense in which the dream of prosperity is not unworthy. If a young fellow starting his business career recognises that there are at least three possible courses open to him-(1) To take always the line of least resistance, and thus to be classed with the great crowd that is to be rated at a current market value for the particular type of labour of which he is capable; or(2) so to devote himself to the details and affairs of his special calling as to make himself of more value than the average employee, and thus to secure a better financial return for his services, a larger respect from his comrades in toil, and the inward satisfaction of "something attempted, something done"; or(3) to so further devote himself to his toil as by the concentration of all his energies, the insight of a quicker intelligence, the application of brains to the problems of commerce, and the possession of the rare gift of recognising an opportunity, coupled with the courage to seize it, he may rise to the front rank of the army of commerce; then I say that the settled determination to take according to his ability either the second or third of these courses, and the dream of legitimate prosperity resulting therefrom, is by no means to be condemned or discouraged. But, young men, let me say to you two things, and do you give them careful thought.(1) In the pursuit of business success many perils are to be encountered; keep a sensitive conscience, and do not purchase gain at the price of guilt. And(2) Keep in mind the fact that no amount of business success alone can ever be regarded as leading to a complete and worthy life in the sight of God. "The world passeth away, and the desire thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."

II. DREAMS OF SERVICE. Probably some of you cherish dreams that do not revolve around self-interest. You want to live so that, amid the forces that make the conditions of life easier for humanity at large, your life and influence may find a place. The details of your dream may vary, whilst the aim of it may be the same. If in any sense this be your dream, it is a glorious one. Let me confirm you therein by recalling the wise words that tell us that he that serves his fellow-men receives honour from God.

III. DREAMS OF REFORM. Society must be remodelled; a saner idea of life must be presented to the people; the value of the worker must be recognised; the inalienable right of every individual to the means of subsistence taught, and the lavish waste of the non-producer, the parasite upon the body corporate, sturdily, and if need be forcefully, restrained. By all means recognise the current evils of the day, and, according to your knowledge and opportunity, work for the betterment of all. But at the same time do not let your recognition of wrong lead you to unfair and unjust conclusions; do not indulge in hasty generalisations; do not condemn where no condemnation is deserved, and try honestly to grasp all the facts that go to form the problem in its completeness. Any school-boy will tell you that no problem can be correctly solved if, in your attempted solution, you disregard essential factors. Nor forget that if we could secure to-morrow the equal advantage and opportunity for all that we so desire, the inequalities of to-day would be repeated within a generation. Then to you I say, "Do not put away as idle these fair dreams, but rather learn how they may end in realisation. Spend your energies in resisting abuses, in working for all schemes of worthy reform, but do not forget that the sinfulness of the human heart will militate against their success, and that the heart finds renewal in the power that comes from Calvary, and in that alone."

IV. DREAMS OF CHARACTER. For of this I am confident, that in your dreams you have fair visions of a life controlled by loftiest principle, and by highest ideals, not only of that which you are to do, but also of that which you are to be. It is the noble and almost instinctive hatred of the unreal, the sham and the merely conventional, that makes many a young man so severe and uncompromising a critic of the conduct of others; he makes no allowances, for he does not see that honesty requires that any should be made. As years pass our judgments become kindlier. But this is not the point just now; rather this, that the young man has a splendid ideal of character, a sense of non-attainment, and a dream of future realisation. Herein we wish him "God-speed"; woe to the man who dares to discourage this hope. Only listen while I give you this from the experience of men of all ages. Character is of slow growth; it is the product of a long process, the issue of much stern conflict. The saint is grown, not made, and the stronger and more valuable growths are always slew; an oak takes many years to mature. As you advance in attainment your ideal will advance in its requirements, so that it will ever be, "Not as though I had already attained"; but of this be sure, every year shall bring the richer graces, the kindlier tempers, the fuller satisfaction of the Christlike character, and you shall realise that these dreams of your youth were not only dreams, but also prophecies.

(J. W. Butcher.)

(with Joel 2:8; Habakkuk 2:2; Isaiah 6:5): — This is one of the first results of the pentecostal baptism. The young men, the hardened and practical members of the community who look at everything from a common. sense and business standpoint, "shall see visions." It will not make them visionary. They will find in their vision of God the secret of purity and strength and fidelity. But where shall we see visions? Not by gazing, into the heavens, but by reading our Bibles. So the prophet Habakkuk says, "Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables." This is the great purpose of the Bible. The daily paper opens a window into the world around us, and we see the craft and cunning, the violence and deceit, the strifes and jealousies of men. But the Bible opens a window into heaven, and reveals to us, the love and goodness and power of God. Have you seen the vision? It is so plain that he who reads may run. Nay, you must not run past it. That is the sin of this hurrying pleasure-loving age. Men will not give themselves time to take in the vision of life. But he who reads will have to run. There will be no loitering then. The vision will fire your soul with such Divine enthusiasm that you will run off to make known what you have seen. Have you seen the vision? The prophet adds, "though it tarry, wait for it!" Yes, indeed, for you are of no use in the world until you have seen it. It is the men who have seen God that are a blessing to others. Esau lacked this vision, and it led him to sell his birthright. The birthright meant spiritual blessing. That is why Esau is called a profane man. The bargain he struck was not only a foolish one; it was a profane one. He sold his birthright because he despised it. But when you have seen God and the opened heaven, your birthright, i.e., your right through the atoning sacrifice to become a son of God and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven, outweighs all the pleasures of sin, and it becomes easy for you to keep first things first. It was this which made Joseph so steadfast. In his youth God gave him dreams; they were not the result of indigestion, but visions of the night. His father had already given him as a special token of his love a "coat of many colours." It was not. surely a mere piece of favouritism. The coat was the outward sign of that supremacy which the dreams indicated, and which probably had already been made known to Jacob. Jacob knew the misery that had resulted in the home of his childhood, where the judgment of God choosing the younger before the elder had not been accepted by Isaac his father, and mother and son stooped to falsehood and trickery in order to bring about the counsels of God. So Jacob determined that in his household God's purpose should be known and accepted from the first, and he gave to Joseph this robe of honour. The garment stood then for two things, for royalty and purity. Joseph had his visions, because he was a kingly soul, and of a pure heart. And the effect of these visions is seen all through his future life. That is the necessary result of the vision of God. It dwarfs everything else. It reduces to their true proportions the circumstances of daily life. God never changes. God is working His purpose out. The man who trusts in God will never be confounded. The pit, the slave market, the prison cell may lie before us, but these are only for a time. In the long run God's blessing prevails even in this topsy-turvy world, "and the blessing of the Lord it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it." But the first result of the vision of God is an overwhelming sense of sin. This is the distinguishing characteristic of the men who have seen God. There is about them a depth, a solemnity, a reverence, a brokenness of soul. Yes, though the immediate effect is an overwhelming sense of sin, you will not be left crushed and overcome. Isaiah received the sacrament of cleansing, the live coal from the altar. To John came the reassuring touch and the strengthening word, "Fear not, I am He." Christ knows how to bring His servants over from the despair that comes from the knowledge of self into the rest of faith that comes from the knowledge of God. There is no remedy for our sinfulness in ourselves. No, the transformation is wrought not by the discovery of any saving merit or qualification in ourselves, but by a clearer revelation of Jesus Christ. A new view of Jesus, a fresh vision of God, is the secret of all blessing. This made Jacob the supplanter a "prince with God," this gave Joshua the victory over Jericho and the king thereof and the mighty men of valour; this enabled Elisha to go in and out throughout Israel as a holy man of God, never faint-hearted, never discouraged, never at a loss, able even when shut in by the Syrians on every side to use the reckoning of faith and reply to his terrified servant, "Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them." Yes, patience, courage, cheerfulness, strength, all belong to the men who see God.

(F. S. Webster, M. A.)

Joel 2:28 NIV
Joel 2:28 NLT
Joel 2:28 ESV
Joel 2:28 NASB
Joel 2:28 KJV

Joel 2:28 Bible Apps
Joel 2:28 Parallel
Joel 2:28 Biblia Paralela
Joel 2:28 Chinese Bible
Joel 2:28 French Bible
Joel 2:28 German Bible

Joel 2:28 Commentaries

Bible Hub
Joel 2:27
Top of Page
Top of Page