“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.” – Joel 2:28 (ESV)
One thing to know is that we don’t know the time that things will happen – speaking now about prophecy. Prophecies are promises of either blessings or warning. But we DO know with certainty that these promises will happen and they will happen in God’s timing. This prophetic promise in Joel is part of a promised visitation by locusts and it’s a warning. Chapter 1 is describing an actual invasion of locusts that will devastate the Land. Chapter 2 increases the intensity of that promised plague with specific detail. Our verse is a promise of an abundance of material blessings that will be followed by the outpouring of spiritual blessings. The phrases in the passage “in those days” (Joel 2: 29) and “before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes” (Joel 2:31)), point to a time frame for a fulfillment of the promised Second Coming of Jesus. The fulfillment began on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out, and it continued with the saving grace and miraculous gifts manifested in both Jews and Gentiles. We’re still waiting for the complete fulfillment of this promise which is included in Joel 2:15-32.
“Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli. And word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent.” – 1 Samuel 3:1 (NASB)
“Where there is no vision (revelation), the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.” – Proverbs 29:18 (NASB)
In the time recorded in the Old Testament, the people did not yet have God’s complete revelation as we do in our Scriptures, the Bible. God would communicate and reveal himself through prophetic messages and through visions. The visions were God’s revelations mediated through an auditory or visual encounter. The time of the judges was a period of extremely limited prophetic activity. The few visions that God did give were not widely shared or known and observance of the Law of God was a low priority. There are obvious and veiled dangers in the practice of disregarding the teachings we have in God’s Word. No longer delivered in visions or prophetic messages, our Bible provides for us the complete revelation that God intended us to have. Because it is “God breathed” through people who were given the inspired word by the Holy Spirit and wrote it down for us, we trust it fully to be without error in its original writings. From it we learn about God and His expectations, His commandments, and how God wants us to live trusting His Word. Our promise is happiness for those who abide by the revelation we have in our Holy Scripture.