Shall come to pass afterward - כן אחרי acharey ken, "after this;" the same, says Kimchi, as in the latter days, which always refers to the days of the Messiah; and thus this prophecy is to be interpreted: and we have the testimony of St. Peter, Acts 2:17, that this prophecy relates to that mighty effusion of the Holy Spirit which took place after the day of pentecost. Nor is there any evidence that such an effusion took place, nor such effects were produced, from the days of this prophet till the day of pentecost. And the Spirit was poured out then upon all flesh, that is, on people of different countries, speaking the languages of almost all the people of the earth; which intimated that these were the first-fruits of the conversion of all the nations of the world. For there was scarcely a tongue in the universe that was not to be found among the Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Jews, Cappadocians, people of Pontus, of Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Libya, Cyrene, Rome, Crete, and Arabia, who were residents at Jerusalem at that time; and on whom this mighty gift was poured out, each hearing and apprehending the truths of the Gospel, in his own language wherein he was born. Thus we have Divine authority for saying, that was the fulfillment of this prophecy by Joel. And the mighty and rapid spread of the Gospel of Christ in the present day, by means of the translation of the Scriptures into almost all the regular languages of the world, and the sending missionaries to all nations, who preach the Gospel in those tongues, are farther proofs that the great promise is in the fullest progress to be speedily fulfilled, even in the utmost sense of the words.
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy - Shall preach - exhort, pray, and instruct, so as to benefit the Church.
Your old men shall dream dreams - Have my will represented to them in this way, as the others by direct inspiration.
Your young men shall see visions - Have true representations of Divine things made upon their imaginations by the power of God; that they shall have as full an evidence of them as they could have of any thing that came to the mind through the medium of the senses.
And it shall come to pass afterward - After the punishment of the Jews through the Pagan, and their deliverance; after the Coming of the Teacher of righteousness, was to follow the outpouring of the Spirit of God.
I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh - o“This which He says, “on all flesh,” admits of no exception of nations or persons. For before Jesus was glorified, He had poured His Spirit only on the sons of Zion, and out of that nation only were there prophets and wise men. But after He was glorified by His Resurrection and Ascension, He made no difference of Jews and Gentiles, but willed that remission of sins should be preached to all alike.”
All flesh - is the name of all mankind. So in the time of the flood, it is said “all flesh had corrupted his way: the end of all flesh is come before Me.” Moses asks, “who of all flesh hath heard the voice of the Lord God, as we have, and lived?” So in Job; “in whose Hand is the breath of all flesh of man.” If He set His heart upon man, if He gather to Himself his spirit and his breath, all flesh shall perish together. And David; “Thou that hearest prayer, to Thee shall all flesh come; let all flesh bless His Holy Name forever and ever” Genesis 6:12-13; Deuteronomy 5:26; Job 12:10; Job 34:14-15; Psalm 65:2; Psalm 145:21. In like way speak Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah Isaiah 40:5-6; Isaiah 49:26; Isaiah 66:16, Isaiah 66:23-24; Jeremiah 25:31; Jeremiah 32:27; Jeremiah 45:5; Ezekiel 20:48; Ezekiel 21:4-5; Zechariah 2:13. The words “all flesh” are in the Pentateuch, and in one place in Daniel, used, in a yet wider sense, of everything which has life (Genesis 6:17, Genesis 6:19; Genesis 7:15-16, Genesis 7:21; Genesis 8:17; Genesis 9:11, Genesis 9:15-17; Leviticus 17:14; Numbers 18:15; Daniel 4:12; probably Psalm 136:25); but, in no one case, in any narrower sense.
It does not include every individual in the race, but it includes the whole race, and individuals throughout it, in every nation, sex, condition, “Jew or Gentile, Greek or Barbarian,” i. e., educated or uneducated, rich or poor, bond or free, male or female. As “all” were to be “one in Christ Jesus” Galatians 3:28, so on all was to be poured the Holy Spirit, the Bond who was to bind all in one. He names our nature from that which is the lowest in it, “the flesh,” with the same condescension with which it is said, “The Word was made flesh”, from where we speak of the “Incarnation” of our Blessed Lord, i. e., “His taking on Him our Flesh.” He humbled Himself to take our flesh; He came, as our Physician, to heal our flesh, the seat of our concupisceuce. So also God the Holy Spirit vouchsafes to dwell in our flesh, to sanctify it and to heal it. He, whom God saith He will pour out on all flesh, is the Spirit of God, and God. He does not say that He will pour out graces, or gifts, ordinary or extraordinary, influences, communications, or the like.
He says, “I will pour out My Spirit;” as Paul says, “know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16. “Ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” Romans 8:9-10. It is said indeed, “on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit,” but the gift of the Holy Spirit was the Holy Spirit Himself, as it had been just said, “the Holy Spirit fell on all them that heard the word” Acts 10:44-45. It is said, “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is given us” Romans 5:5; but the “Holy Spirit” is first “given,” and He poureth out into the soul “the love of God.” As God the Word, when He took human nature, came into it personally, so that “the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily in it” Colossians 2:9; so, really, although not personally, “doth the Holy Spirit, and so the whole Trinity, enter into our mind by sanctification, and dwelleth in it as in His throne.”
No created being, no Angel, nor Archangel could dwell in the soul.: “God Alone can be poured out into the soul, so as to possess it, enlighten it, teach, kindle, bend, move it as He wills,” sanctify, satiate, fill it. And “as God is really present with the blessed, when He sheweth to them His Essence by the beatific vision and light of glory, and communicates it to them, to enjoy and possess; so He, the Same, is also in the holy soul, and thus diffuseth it in His grace, love, and other divine gifts.” At the moment of justification, “the Holy Spirit and so the whole Holy Trinity entereth the soul at His temple, sanctifying and as it were dedicating and consecrating it to Himself, and at the same moment of time, although in the order of nature subsequently, He communicates to it His love and grace. Such is the meaning of, “We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.” This is the highest union of God with the holy soul; and greater than this can none be given to any creature, for by it we become “partakers of the divine Nature,” as Peter saith 2 Peter 1:4. See here, O Christian, the dignity of the holiness whereunto thou art called and with all zeal follow after, preserve, enlarge it.
This His Spirit, God says, “I will pour,” i. e., give largely, as though He would empty out Him who is Infinite, so that there should be no measure of His giving, save our capacity of receiving. So He says of converted Israel, “I have poured out My Spirit upon the house of Israel” Ezekiel 39:29, and, “I will pour out upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication” Zechariah 12:10.
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy - This cannot limit what he has said, that God would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh. He gives instances of that out-pouring, in those miraculous gifts, which were at the first to be the tokens and evidence of His inward presence. These gifts were at the first bestowed on the Jews only. The highest were reserved altogether for them. Jews only were employed as Apostles and Evangelists; Jews only wrote, by inspiration of God, the “oracles of God,” as the source of the faith of the whole world.: “The Apostles were sons of Israel; the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the other women who abode at the same time and prayed with the Apostles, were daughters. Luke mentions, “All these were persevering with one accord in prayer with the women and Mary the Mother of Jesus, and His brethren.” These sons and daughters of the Sons of Zion, having received the Spirit, prophesied, i. e., in divers tongues they spoke of the heavenly mysteries.”
In the narrower sense of “foretelling the future, the Apostles, the Blessed Virgin Luke 1:48, Zacharias (Luke 1:67 ff), and Anna Luke 2:36, Luke 2:38, Elizabeth Luke 1:42-45, the virgin daughters of Philip Acts 21:9, Agabus Acts 11:28; Acts 21:10-11, John in the Apocalypse,” Simeon Luke 2:27-35, and Paul also oftentimes Acts 20:29-30; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; 2 Timothy 3:1, 2 Timothy 3:4; 1 Timothy 4:1 prophesied. At Antioch, there were certain “prophets” Acts 13:1; and “the Holy Spirit in every city witnessed, saying, that bonds and afflictions awaited him in Jerusalem” Acts 20:23. “But it is superfluous,” adds Theodoret after giving some instances, “to set myself to prove the truth of the prophecy. For down to our times also hath this gift been preserved, and there are among the saints, people who have the eye of the mind clear, who foreknow and foretell many of the things which are about to be.” So the death of Julian the Apostate, who fell, as it seemed, by a chance wound in war with the Persians was foreseen and foretold; and Cyprian foretold the day of his own martyrdom and the close of Decian persecution, which ended through the death of the Emperor in a rash advance over a morass, when victory was gained. The stream of prophecy has been traced down through more than four centuries from the Birth of the Redeemer. One of the Bishops of the Council of Nice was gifted with a prophetic spirit.
Your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions - “God often attempers Himself and His oracles to the condition of people, and appears to each, as suits his state” Acts 11:28; Acts 21:10-11. It may then be, that to old men while sleeping by reason of age, He appeared most commonly in dreams; to young men, while watching, in visions. But it is so common in Hebrew, that each part of the verse should be filled up from the other, that perhaps the prophet only means, that their old and young should have dreams and see visions, and both from God. Nor are these the highest of God‘s revelations; as He says, that to the prophet He would “make” Himself known in a vision and would “speak in a dream,” but to Moses “mouth to mouth; even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold Numbers 12:6, Numbers 12:8.
The Apostles also saw waking visions, as Peter at Joppa (Acts 10:10 ff; Acts 11:5 ff); (and that so frequently, that when the Angel delivered him, he thought that it was one of his accustomed visions Acts 12:9,) and Paul after his conversion, and calling him to Macedonia; and the Lord appeared unto him in vision at Corinth, revealing to him the conversions which should be worked there, and at Jerusalem foretelling to him the witness he should bear to Him at Rome. In the ship, the Angel of the Lord foretold to him his own safety, and that God had given him all who sailed with him Acts 9:12; Acts 16:6-7, Acts 16:9; Acts 18:9; Acts 19:21; Acts 23:11; Acts 27:24. Ananias Acts 9:10 and Cornelius Acts 10:3 also received revelations through visions. But all these were only revelations of single truths or facts. Of a higher sort seems to be that revelation, whereby our Lord revealed to Paul Himself and His Gospel which Paul was to preach, and “the wisdom of God,” and the glories of the world to come, and the conversion of the Gentiles; and when he was “caught up to the third heaven, and abundance of revelations were vouchsafed to him” Galatians 1:12, Galatians 1:16; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 12:1-7.
Some Degraded Rich to Be Saved—Our large cities are fast reaching the condition represented by the condition of the world before the flood, when “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” God-dishonoring sins are practiced by people living in lordly homes; but some of these very people, under the preaching of the last testing message, will be convicted and converted. Ev 567.1
From His inexhaustible store of grace, God can endow all who come to Him. Looking upon humanity, fallen and degraded, He declares that the Holy Spirit shall be poured out upon all flesh. Many who have never heard the special truths for this time will feel the conviction of the Spirit as they listen to the message of startling importance.... Ev 567.2
God will raise up workers who will occupy peculiar spheres of influence, workers who will carry the truth to the most unpromising places. Men will say, “Yea,” where once they said, “Nay.” Some who were once enemies will become valuable helpers, advancing the work with their means and their influence.—The Review and Herald, September 30, 1902. Ev 567.3
Work for the Fallen—Nothing will or ever can give character to the work in the presentation of truth as that of helping the people just where they are, as this Samaritan work. A work properly conducted to save poor sinners that have been passed by the churches will be the entering wedge where the truth will find standing room. A different order of things needs to be established among us as a people, and in doing this class of work there would be created an entirely different atmosphere surrounding the soul of the workers, for the Holy Spirit communicates to all those who are doing God's service, and those who are worked by the Holy Spirit will be a power for good in lifting up, strengthening, and saving the souls that are ready to perish.—Manuscript 14a, 1897. Ev 567.4Read in context »
Multitudes Will Join the Armies of the Lord—Many ... will be seen hurrying hither and thither, constrained by the Spirit of God to bring the light to others. The truth, the Word of God, is as a fire in their bones, filling them with a burning desire to enlighten those who sit in darkness. Many, even among the uneducated, now proclaim the words of the Lord. Children are impelled by the Spirit to go forth and declare the message from heaven. The Spirit is poured out upon all who will yield to its promptings, and, casting off all man's machinery, his binding rules and cautious methods, they will declare the truth with the might of the Spirit's power. Multitudes will receive the faith and join the armies of the Lord.—The Review and Herald, July 23, 1895. Ev 700.1
Thousands of Voices Sound Warning—Servants of God, with their faces lighted up and shining with holy consecration, will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given. Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers. Satan also works with lying wonders, even bringing down fire from heaven in the sight of men. Thus the inhabitants of the earth will be brought to take their stand. Ev 700.2
The message will be carried not so much by argument as by the deep conviction of the Spirit of God. The arguments have been presented. The seed has been sown, and now it will spring up and bear fruit. The publications distributed by missionary workers have exerted their influence, yet many whose minds were impressed have been prevented from fully comprehending the truth or from yielding obedience. Now the rays of light penetrate everywhere, the truth is seen in its clearness, and the honest children of God sever the bands which have held them. Family connections, church relations, are powerless to stay them now. Truth is more precious than all besides. Notwithstanding the agencies combined against the truth, a large number take their stand upon the Lord's side.—The Great Controversy, 612 (1888). Ev 701.1Read in context »
For the believers at Ephesus the apostle prayed, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and ... what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe.” Ephesians 1:17-19. The ministry of the divine Spirit in enlightening the understanding and opening to the mind the deep things of God's holy word, was the blessing which Paul thus besought for the Ephesian church. GC ix.1
After the wonderful manifestation of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, Peter exhorted the people to repentance and baptism in the name of Christ, for the remission of their sins; and he said: “Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Acts 2:38, 39. GC ix.2
In immediate connection with the scenes of the great day of God, the Lord by the prophet Joel has promised a special manifestation of His Spirit. Joel 2:28. This prophecy received a partial fulfillment in the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost; but it will reach its full accomplishment in the manifestation of divine grace which will attend the closing work of the gospel. GC ix.3Read in context »