The final prophecy to consider from the Old Testament concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit is in Joel 2:28-3:1.
“After this I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will have dreams, and your young men will see visions. I will even pour out My Spirit on the male and female slaves in those days. I will display wonders in the heavens and on the earth: blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and awe–inspiring Day of the LORD comes. Then everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved, for there will be an escape for those on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, as the LORD promised, among the survivors the LORD calls. Yes, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem….”
This is the first prophecy that speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit in terms of a miraculous outpouring. Joel is prophesying about how Israel would know when the Spirit had been poured out. The sign that the nation/kingdom had been restored and God’s blessings were being offered to the people was through the miracles that would be performed. The point is clearer in Joel 3:1 where the prophet says when these signs happen the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem will be restored. These signs were to be a warning to the people that the “great and awe-inspiring Day of the Lord” was about to come. Judgment was going to follow the restoration of the kingdom of God and the return of God’s blessings. We will look more closely at the fulfillment of this prophecy in a later post when we examine Acts 2 and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. But I believe it is powerful to note that only one prophecy speaks of miraculous events happening when the Holy Spirit is poured out, which Peter in Acts 2 claims to be fulfilled in the events that were occurring then (Acts 2:16).
The prophets promised the arrival of the Holy Spirit. But many have made that promise to mean something different than what the prophets spoke. The prophets declared the restoration of the kingdom which had been destroyed because of the people’s sins. The prophets preached that the blessings of God would return, though they had fallen out of God’s favor because of their wickedness. The hope of Israel was that the covenant relationship with God would one day be restored at the coming of the Messiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34). These are the ideas that the prophets captured in the phrase, “the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.” Thus, the promise of the Holy Spirit is the restoration of the kingdom, the restoration of the covenant, and the restoration of God’s blessings. A miraculous outpouring would occur to show that this restoration was now available.
In the next post we will consider what the New Testament promised concerning the Holy Spirit.