But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.
This is that!
The “that” is the promise, spoken centuries before, and preserved in the Holy Scriptures of the old dispensation.
And the “this” is the fulfillment of the promise, witnessed in the signs of the sound as of a rushing wind, the cloven tongues as of fire that sat upon each of the company of one hundred and twenty gathered in Jerusalem; and witnessed, too, by the fact that now they all had become prophets, and spoke of the wonderful works of God “with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
This is that!
It certainly is not, thus the apostle Peter “standing up with the eleven,” emphatically declares before the great multitude that had come together to that wonderful sight, what some of you mockers make of this: these are not signs of drunkenness. Thus, in fact, some of the multitude had tried to explain away their amazement: “Thee men are full of new wine.” Unbelief, standing amazed and dumbfounded in “the day of the Lord,” is always ready with an “explanation” of the signs of that day, an explanation that can allay its fears of the coming judgment, A wicked and adulterous generation always asks for a sign; yet, when the sign comes, God’s sign, they do not want it, and impose upon it their own interpretation. . . .
This is not that! . . . .
These men are not full of sweet wine!
Such an interpretation of these strange signs, such an explanation of what these men spoke, would, to the mockers and unbelievers, at least be harmless. It would leave them undisturbed. Who would have to pay attention to the babble and twaddle of drunken men? If such an explanation, of the thing had come to pass in Jerusalem, could be accepted as correct, preferably by majority vote, they could ignore this prophesying, the call to repentance and to be baptized in the name of Jesus, Who had been condemned and crucified, also by majority vote; and they could continue in their sin!
Life could go on as before!
The temple could remain, the altar could stand, the sacrifices could be offered as always; proper respect could be paid to the leaders of the Church, the Sanhedrin and the high priest, the scribes and the Pharisees. And if these men that were full of sweet wine could only be persuaded to submit to the vote of the majority, or to the sentence of the supreme council of the Church, and promise to speak no more of these things, or, at least, to confine their speech to their own company, even they might be tolerated. One does not have to be hard on people that are full of new wine!
All would be well.
The axe could still be removed from the root of the tree, and the tree, the ecclesiastical tree, in which also mockers and unbelievers were permitted to make their nests, would remain standing.
So, let us mock at the thing, and pass on!
When John the Baptist spoke of things similar to those now uttered by this company of men and women on the day of Pentecost, these same mockers and unbelievers,—O, they were “church-men!”—made it very plain that his word could not be accepted: was he not in the desert, instead of in Jerusalem; and was he not really an Anabaptist, who came neither eating nor drinking; and did he, then, not have a devil? When, in the days of His flesh, Jesus of Nazareth, followed up the preaching of John, proclaiming the nearness of the same kingdom of God, these mockers and unbelievers that are always present wherever the kingdom of God is coming, sang a different tune but with the same end in view. Did He not come eating and drinking, and that, too, with publicans and sinners? 0, to drink, even a glass of wine, with respectable men, such as Pharisees and scribes, may be perfectly proper; but who does not know that one who eats with publicans and sinners is a glutton and winebibber? And, besides, was He not from Nazareth, from which place nothing good ever came? And did they not know His Father and mother, and even His brothers and sisters? How, then, could He be the Christ? And if you should call attention to the fact that this Jesus did many wonderful works, and that He cast out devils, the explanation was not difficult to find: He cast out devils through Beelzebub, the prince of devils!
Yes, indeed, rumors had it, later, that He rose from the dead. But it was not at all difficult to see the true meaning of these rumors: His disciples had stolen the body of Jesus, while the Roman death watch slept!
These men are full of sweet wine!
O, this explanation might not fit all the facts; but it was satisfactory enough. And if only it could be officially adopted by majority vote, the voice of these men would be silenced, and the house of these mockers would be saved from destruction.
But, thus Peter, standing up with the eleven, this is not that!
These men are not drunken. Apart now from the obvious fact that such a theory would not explain the signs of the sound as of »a mighty wind, and of the cloven tongues as of fire, it was only the third hour of the day. And to be sure, at nine o’clock in the morning one might meet a stray drunk on the street, but how absurd to suppose that a company of one hundred and twenty men would go banqueting and reveling in the wee hours of the morning!
No, this is not that!
But this is the realization of the promise!
This is that which was, long ago, spoken by the prophet Joel: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh”. . . .
It means that God has visited His people!
The promise has been fulfilled!
This is that!
And that puts the mockers in an entirely critical position!
For if this, these signs, and the fact that these men speak in other tongues, and what they speak, is the manifestation of the fact that the promise, as spoken by the prophet Joel, has been fulfilled, then this is the day of the Lord!
Then, indeed, there is cause for great joy and thanksgiving for the Church of God in the world, for those that look for the salvation in Israel; but, as always on “the day of the Lord,” then there is reason for fear and consternation on the part of all the carnal seed, for those that will not repent, and that never enter into the kingdom of God, whenever, and how so even it comes!
For then these men, instead of babbling like drunken men, speak “as the Spirit gave them utterance,” and they do, indeed, speak of the wonderful works of God!
God has poured out of His Spirit.
And it is in the power of that Spirit that these men now speak!
The Spirit speaks through them: they prophesy!
In the Spirit, the God of our salvation, in Jesus Christ, has come down to us, to establish His dwelling- place with us, and to abide with us forever!
For He is the Spirit of God. He is very God, like the Father and the Son. For so He is called, and so He revealed in all His mighty works. All the works of God are of the Father, through the Son, and in the Spirit. And with the Father and the Son, He is coequal in divine perfections. Nor is He a mere power or effluence of God who is a Spirit. Indeed, when the text here teaches that, on the day of Pentecost, God poured out of His Spirit, the emphasis lies on the fact that, by this pouring out, many gifts of grace are bestowed upon the Church; besides, He is poured out on all flesh, and on all the servants and handmaidens of the living God: all partake of the Spirit. But He is, like the Father and the Son, a definite divine Person: He wills, and knows, and acts; He instructs, and witnesses, and assures. He is the Spirit of the Father, and of the Son, in Whom the Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father, and who searches the depths of God! Where He dwells, there dwell the Father and the Son: there is the dwelling place, the covenant of the triune God!
And He is the Spirit of Christ!
For He is so called. And, indeed, the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ are one and the same divine Person, yet, the viewpoint is different. For as the Spirit of Christ, He is the God of our salvation, dwelling in and with the Church, to fill her with all the blessings of grace obtained for her by the death and resurrection of her Lord. For the Son of God came to dwell in human flesh, tabernacled among us, obtained eternal salvation for us, died and was raised; was exalted in highest glory, far above all principalities and powers, leading captivity captive, richly endowed with all spiritual blessings of salvation for His people. And that exalted Lord, that exceedingly glorious Christ, that rich Head of His Church, received the promise of the Holy Spirit, that in that Spirit He might return to His Church, and fill her with His grace.
Thus the apostle Peter, “standing up with the eleven” proclaims the gospel on that memorable day of Pentecost: “This Jesus God hath raised up, whereof we are all witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which we now see and hear.”
In Him, the exalted Christ, returned!
He is the Spirit of the fulfillment of the promise. As such He was not yet under the old dispensation, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:39. O, indeed, also in the Church of the Old Testament, the Spirit of God, and that, too, as the Spirit of Christ that was to come, was revealed, and operated. For also the saints of old were saved, were regenerated, believed, and had the forgiveness of sins. Yet, even as Christ had not yet come, so the Spirit of Christ, as the fulfillment of the promise, was not yet. Even as the Church of the old dispensation knew and saw the day of Christ only in the dim shadows of the law; so the Spirit of Christ led that Church always to the law, to temple and altar and sacrifices, to prophet and priest and king, to the signs and symbols of that which was to come, in order that they might dimly apprehend the things of the kingdom of God. And, for the rest, this Spirit dwelled in a few prophets, enlightening them, and speaking through them of things to come. These prophets saw visions and dreamed dreams. They stood on the mountain tops of revelation, whence they could see the things of the kingdom of God, “the day of the Lord,” afar off; and the people dwelled in the valley below, and looked up to these prophets for the knowledge of the Lord.
But now the Spirit is come!
He is poured out, not upon a few prophets, but upon all flesh!
On all the servants and handmaidens of the Lord He is shed forth!
Now, all dwell on the mountain-tops of revelation. All prophesy. All see visions, and all dream dreams. All look, O, to be sure, still as in a mirror, but nevertheless, at the glory of the Lord, and are changed into the same image.
From the smallest to the greatest, they now all know the Lord!
But then, the mockers may well be filled with fear!
For then they are hearing, not the idle prattle of drunken men, but the Word of God!
Then they stand condemned. For then Jesus is the Christ, whom they crucified. Then He was raised from the dead, and is become the Lord of all!
Then the day of the Lord is, indeed, at hand!
But glory and blessing and eternal salvation is come for all that look for the promise!
O, glorious Spirit of promise!
This is that. . . .
The Word spoken by the prophet is now fulfilled.
And this means that, on the day of Pentecost, it was upon the Church that the Spirit was poured out.
For always, the promise of God is for the Church. Ever it follows the rule: “Unto you is the promise, and unto your children.” It was to that Church that the promise was made, through the word of the prophet Joel, and of other prophets as well If, then, “this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel,” it is the Church that received the fulfillment of the promise.
That Church is not born on the day of Pentecost, as some claim, and as others often thoughtlessly repeat. On the contrary, it was from the very beginning of the world, and will be even unto the end. It was in Paradise, and in the ark, and in the loins of Abraham. And, for a time, that Church is placed under the law, and assumes the form of Israel’s national existence, and of the Mosaic institution.
And the line runs through.
God does not forsake His people. He continues His covenant. When the promise, long expected, is realized, the Spirit is poured out upon the Church. For, it is true that the word by the prophet Joel spoke of “all flesh”; and it is equally true that this looks for the fulfillment of the promise far beyond the boundaries of Israel’s national existence; it embraces all the nations of the world. Yet, even so, the promise is for the Church, and its realization is accomplished in the Church. The “world” cannot and does not receive the Spirit of Christ. Hence, the prophet explains: “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”
The Church, through the outpouring of the Spirit, would, indeed, put off her old garments of the law and of the shadows, and put on her beautiful garments of grace and truth; but it was still the Church.
Hence, it was but proper that the Spirit should be poured out upon the Church in Jerusalem.
And it was equally proper, and inevitable, that the Church on which the Spirit was poured out, should not be found in the temple, but in the upper room; should not consist of priests and scribes and Pharisees, but of the one hundred and twenty disciples of the Lord that, under the leadership of the apostles, waited for the promise! In them the Church is continued, and in all that, through their word, shall be called.
The day of the Lord is at hand! Woe unto all that mock!
Rejoice, O Zion! Thy salvation is come!
Put on thy beautiful garments!