This Sunday is week 2 of our Walking In Their Shoes series. The Biblical basis for this series is the prophets. Through this blog I plan to highlight important verses from some of the little-known prophets.
In seminary we were taught that the prophets were divided into two groups: the major prophets and the minor prophets.
I always felt that this was a bit unfair; who’d want to be a minor prophet? Surely their words are no less important than the major prophets. It turns out that this designation refers to the length of the books, not their importance.
The Old Testament contains three major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Go ahead and scan these books and you will see their massive length. Major!
The Old Testament also contains twelve minor prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. These books are much shorter in length.
Today, I will highlight the words of Joel.
Little is known of Joel’s personal background, yet the meaning of his prophetic message is crystal clear. Through Joel, God is seeking renewal for the people of Israel. Joel strongly encourages God’s people to return from their drifting and the ways they have abandoned God. Joel’s words are an opportunity to return to one’s Creator.
Joel originally presents this opportunity directly to the people of God (meaning the Israelites). But then, and this is the really important part, Joel predicts a time when this opportunity will be for all people.
“And later, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”
Joel looks forward to a time when God’s Spirit will be poured out and readily available for all people. Up to this point, the priority of God’s prophets had been to speak directly to the group of people of whom they were from. But later, God’s Spirit will be poured out universally.
In that time “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Notice again the universal quality of these statements. All people. Everyone who calls. God is planning to reach everyone with the Good News of God’s love.
Do these verses look familiar to you?
They should. Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, quotes Joel’s words to a crowd of thousands of people after Jesus’ death. Peter explained to this crowd that these words had now come true. The day had arrived when God’s Spirit was actively being poured out on all people and whoever called on the name of the Lord would be saved. Peter delivers a lengthy speech (you can read it in Acts 2). Here is his conclusion:
“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.”
Who is this message for?
All who are far off, i.e. not in the crowd that day.
All whom God will call.
As we continue to imagine walking in other people’s shoes, keep Joel’s words close to your heart. God has a universal, boundary-breaking, wall-shattering, all-encompassing vision of redemption. As a church, we are asked to match this vision.
This Sunday our series will continue with a selection of the prophet Hosea.
See you on Sunday!