I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.’
Yesterday was Pentecost – a reminder of the power of God, not just its history but the fact that it’s ongoing. The same Spirit that came upon the apostles like flames in the rushing of a great wind lives in us today. I recently wrote about spiritual gifts, so I’m not going to repeat that. Instead I want to focus on a few lines in Peter’s speech to the confounded crowd (Acts 2:14-41) that he quotes from the prophet Joel: “Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” (Joel 2:28 NIV).
I think when most of us hear the word “prophecy” we tend to think along the lines of dreaming the lottery numbers. Sign me up for that spiritual gift! But the Merriam-Webster defines a prophet as someone “who delivers messages that are believed to have come from God”. While I think some people are specifically and specially gifted with prophecy, I also think it’s a function the Holy Spirit calls (and enables) us all to. At its core, prophecy is about speaking the reality of God’s grace, power and salvation into your life, the lives of those around you and the world at large.
How do we do this? I think the next few lines account for that: we do so by “dreaming dreams” and “seeing visions”. We do this by having the nerve to dream and conceive of a world where God is sovereign, a world filled with his mercy and justice. We do this by believing in the vision Christ has for us in the world: to be his disciples, living closely with him, using the enabling of the Holy Spirit to be cities on hills and lamps on lamp stands, to be salt and light. We do this by being God’s. When we live for him, our lives become prophetic.
So no, no lottery numbers, but then we’ve already hit the jackpot with Jesus. But we are faced with a choice. Will he be enough for us? Will the wonder and splendour of God be enough for us? If so, we will be satisfied. Or will we, like Ephraim, turn away from God (Hosea 7:16)? If we do, we will never be satisfied.
Lord, I return to You with all my heart – with fasting, and weeping, and mourning. I rend my heart and not my garments; I return to You, for You are gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Amen.
(From Joel 2:13 NIVUK)