“And in the last days it shall be …”
Today we read the familiar and oft quoted chapter 2 of Acts and pondered how to correctly understand and apply the quotation Peter made from the prophet Joel. The promise of Jesus to his disciples that they would receive a ‘Counsellor’, the Holy Spirit that would “be in you” (John 14:16,17) and would, among other things, “bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (verse 26) was given to the twelve that day of Pentecost when “they were all together in one place” (Acts 2:1).
The first effect of this was to enable them to speak in other languages (verse 11) and gain great attention and opportunity to witness. Peter stood up “with the eleven” (verse 14) and protested to those who mocked (verse 13) that “these men (obviously meaning the eleven) are not drunk” (verse 15) but this event was the fulfilment of “what was uttered by the prophet Joel: “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh …” (through to verse 21). It is evident that the disciples had a special dispensation of that Spirit, and had already received one portion of it (see John 20:22,23).
It seems obvious that only the opening part of the quotation was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. These were “the last days” of the nation of Israel because they, as a nation, had rejected their Messiah. The rest of the prophecy Joel received, we conclude, applies to the last days of the Gentiles and that surely is our days! We read, “I will show wonders in the heavens above, and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day” (verse 19,20).
An awesome time that we can parallel with God’s many messages through the Old Testament prophets, for e.g., Isaiah 2:12-21, Zephaniah 1:14-17, Malachi 4:1, etc. If they are not literal what do they symbolize? Surely they can only mean God intends a fearful time to come on human beings “in the last days” on a world that has become totally godless! But the verse that those seeking to be godly must note is the final verse (21) in Peter’s quotation. “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
But how can you call on the Creator if you have never established a relationship with him? Those who did so on the day of Pentecost, “devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers” (verse 42). May we follow their example
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