One of the promises of God in Joel 2 for those fasting, is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for signs and wonders. Do you hunger for more than a religious experience? Do you want a life-changing transformation from the inside out that touches everyone around you?
Anyone who thinks of fasting as an activity that is merely religious, or an act that is trying to get God’s approval, has not read Joel 2:28-29 in context. Remember that when we read God’s Word, we need to read it in the context of the greater body of work.
Joel 2 calls for those who observe the coming end of the age, by the signs of war and destruction, to fast and rend their hearts to seek the Lord’s mercy and intervention. What greater intervention do we need than the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, in the middle of chaos and trouble?
The culmination of repentance through fasting is described in Joel 2:28-29.
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.
You may say, “But, this passage is a prophecy about the first Pentecost, and that happened already.” You may even be thinking, “That pouring out was for the early church and has ceased for us today.”
Let’s take a brief tour of the original Hebrew for understanding this. The word for “pour” in Joel 2:28 is šāha in the Hebrew. This meaning of this word is: “a pouring out of what changes or transforms”.
According to the Discovery Bible’s Helps Lexicon, “Other examples include pouring out that changes: what is forbidden into what is acceptable (Lev 17:13; Dt 12:16); life into death (Lam 2:12); innocence into guilt (Gen 37:22; 1 Sam 25:31); desolation into hope (1 Sam 1:15); and arrogance into humiliation by the outpouring of God’s judgment on the wicked.”
God’s Spirit is poured out for transformation. Also, the verb “pour out” is in the Hebrew imperfect verb tense, which means a continuous and unfinished, ongoing action.
Being a prophecy about the New Testament church, this may be in the Old Testament, but it is describing the work of the Holy Spirit after the time of Christ, during the time of the church, the era of grace.
This is why the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5:18, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit…” But, doesn’t the believer in Jesus already have the Spirit of God? How can we get more of him? Well, let’s see what the original text actually says! The Greek imperative is the verb tense for “be filled.” Check this out! Helps Word studies also says,
“The NT (Greek) present imperative commands ongoing action, i.e. a regular, long-term way of doing something as an ongoing lifestyle. The process-action must happen again-and-again over multiple situations or repeatedly (progressively) in the same scenario. The context shows the particular sense and both ideas can apply simultaneously.
The Greek present imperative conveys: Go on doing this; it must happen habitually, continuously, progressively as a modus operandi (way of life). The context indicates the helping words in translation that apply.”
Paul is speaking in this passage to the church in Ephesus. He knows the letter will be circulated to the other churches. He is not writing a blog that will be circulated online to non-believers. He is not telling non-believers to stop getting drunk and to get saved and be filled with the Holy Spirit. He is telling believers who are filling themselves with alcohol to drown out their sorrows to, instead, be filled with the Spirit of God to overcome the things in life that are overwhelming them. Believers, who have the indwelling Spirit of God, need to also be filled continuously with him. (On a side note, it is also possibly for a believer to quench or grieve the Holy Spirit. That is a good thing to do a study on! I discuss this in my book.)
So, this passage in Joel 2, refers not to a one time event that happened in the book of Acts, but an ongoing transformative relationship that believers in Jesus will have with the Holy Spirit, as they live in humility and submission to the Lord. (I don’t have time to flesh this out here, but my book, Revealed in Ephesians, The Mystery of Who I Am in Christ talks about this in more detail! https://briananei.com/home-page/shop/)
So, one of the greatest results of fasting is the infilling of the Spirit of God, who anoints our lives to be transformed. Also, we see in Joel 2 that supernatural acts follow those who rend their hearts through prayer and fasting. Sons and daughters will prophecy. Old men will dream dreams and young men will see visions.
God will not distinguish between rich and poor, male or female, when he pours out his Spirit on all flesh. Anyone – all mankind – can receive the pouring out of the Spirit of God, when he or she believes in and follows Jesus Christ and humbles him or herself before the Lord, rending the heart with repentance. Remember that the Lord specifically calls for fasting in this chapter.
Also, the type of fast called for in Joel 2 is a consecrated, declared fast for an assembly. When the disciples first received the Holy Spirit in the upper room, it says in Acts 1:14 that they all joined together in constant prayer. I am sure there was some fasting that happened in that upper room, as well. They were together. They were praying. They didn’t set a time limit, so they could get home to watch the game. They didn’t say, “Okay, Lord, you have exactly 1 hour to work, or we are all leaving. See you next week.”
How many of us lose the powerful impact of the Holy Spirit in our lives, because we are too embarrassed or too busy to pray with a group? In fact, how many believers in Jesus have lost their commitment to even meeting to worship God in public with other believers once a week? Churches are empty, as people sit at home, believing that God will meet them individually and doesn’t care if they make an effort to get together with other believers. But, he does care, because he make a special allowance of power for those who pray together.
Jesus promises his disciples power when two or more are gathered in his name, which is greater than the power of praying by yourself.
Yet, the majority of believers in the West do not consider corporate prayer to be a big priority. Is it because we have not taught it? Is it because we have not hungered for things of God more than we hunger for things of the world?
Matthew 18:18-20‘Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
‘Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.’
PRAYER FOCUS –
You are encouraged to find a prayer partner, even if it is someone to pray with on the phone!
“Father, in Jesus’ name, you promise that when we fast and seek your face, rending our hearts, that you will pour out your Spirit.
I begin by worshipping you! I praise you for being merciful. I praise you for sharing your Spirit, your presence, your power with your people.
I thank you that your love and your grace have been extended to an unworthy people, made worthy by the blood of your Son Jesus Christ.
Father, I ask that you uncover anything hidden in my heart that needs to be cleansed and repented of. I wait on you, Lord.
I ask that you will pour out your Spirit and fill me! I pray for the fullness of your Spirit to do the things you have called me to do. I pray for the promise of your Word to come to pass. I remind you that you promise that your Spirit will be poured out on all flesh, sons and daughters, rich and poor, servant and free. You say that your young men will see visions and your old will dream dreams.
You say that sons and daughters both will prophecy. I pray that you will pour out your Spirit for this spiritual sight, this revelation and wisdom of the spiritual realm to be poured out on me.
Pour out a greater understanding of Jesus. Pour out a greater revelation of your love and my calling. Pour out power, so that I can lead more people to you. Pour out power, so that I may pray against the powers of darkness, in Jesus’ name, and they will flee. As it says in James, submit yourself to the Lord, resist the devil and he will flee. I pray that through this time of repentance and fasting, I will meet the conditions set in your Word for the enemy to flee. I thank you that this is by the blood of Jesus alone, through your grace and mercy and power.
I rejoice in my salvation! I praise you in your might to save. I thank you that my name is written in the Lamb’s book of life!
I pray that you will allow me to use my gifts in your body – the body of Christ – to your glory and honor, that more people will experience the freedom and light of the cross. Bring about your kingdom. Build it in my life, in my family, in my community, in my nation, and in this world. Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
I love you, Lord! I worship you! Continue to pour out your Spirit to fill my life to serve you, in Jesus’ name, Amen!