A shower of power

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I want to start today with this picture. Tell me, what do you see?

Most people see a black vase. And it is. xe2x80″ But you can also see two white people, facing one another. Do you see them?

What do you see here in church today?

You can see a young couple, Mapaseka and Simon Matshete, joining the church. A young woman from Zimbabwe, Lucy Dhliwayo, is baptized. A handsome young man, Thabang Themba, says he believes in Christ. And two children are getting wet with water.

It is my prayer that you will see more. These two kids xe2x80″ Rufaro and Naledi xe2x80″ are called by God the Father. Thabang and Lucy are saved by the blood of God the Son. This couple is filled by God the holy Spirit.

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In my sermon this morning I want to help you to open your eyes. I do that by preaching once again from the book of the prophet Joel.

Please open your Bibles in Joel 2 verses 28-32. [In some other Bibles it is chapter 3.]

28  And afterwards, 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.

29  Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

30  I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.

31  The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.

32  And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.


What did Joel see in his time? Living in the city of Jerusalem, a few centuries before the coming of Christ.

The first thing Joel sees, is a swarm of locusts. Maybe you still remember chapter 1 verse 4:

What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten.

The country was destroyed by the locusts. As an army they came and left only ruins behind. xe2x80x9cBefore them the land is like [paradise,] the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert wastexe2x80x9d (2:3). No harvest. No food. Hunger and death.

What did Joel see? Locusts. Hunger. But he saw more than that. He saw the Lord coming. An army of deadly enemies … and the Lord at the head of it (2:11). Joel prophecies about the day of the Lord. Judgement day. We have read it in chapters 1 and 2.

Joel sees the day of the Lord coming. And he warns his people. Open your eyes. Return to God. Confess your sins. Pray for forgiveness. xe2x80″ Then the Lord will save you. He will destroy his enemies and set his people free, chapter 2 verse 23:

Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.

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Okay xe2x80″ you might say xe2x80″ that is Joel. What does it mean for us? We do not live in Israel, so 500 years before Christ. We donxe2x80x99t have a problem of locusts. This is South Africa 2011. I do not see the relevance for me.

Let me show you. The prophet sees something which relates to the future xe2x80″ also for 2011 xe2x80″ in connection with all people xe2x80″ including me and you.

Verse 28 [3:1] says: And afterwards … Joel is looking into the future. Even further than his own time. The day of the Lord will come. He will set his people free and destroy his enemy. And then xe2x80″ after that xe2x80″ what will happen?

Two things the prophet sees here:

  1. God will pour out his Spirit, and
  2. God will give wonders in heaven and on earth

Do you see those two things in our text? One is positive. One is negative. Those two things are going to happen in future.

Positive: God will pour out his Spirit, see verses 28 and 29 [3:1-2]:

28  And afterwards, 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.

29  Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

When I baptized Rufaro, I did not pour out the water. I just sprinkled some of it on her head. If I had poured it out, Naledi wouldnxe2x80x99t have liked it and started to cry …

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But God will pour out his Spirit.
Like taking a shower at home. Or like the rain Joel promised in verse 23: autumn rain, winter rain, spring rain xe2x80″ abundant showers. All people will be drenched by the Spirit.

That is a remarkable promise.

In the old testament only certain people did receive the holy Spirit, now and then:

  • … the Spirit of God came upon [Saul] in power, and he [started] prophesying … (1 Samuel 10:10)
  • … the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah … He stood before the people and said: This is what God says … (2 Chronicles 24:20)
  • … the Spirit of the Lord came upon me [= Ezekiel], and he told me to say: This is what the Lord says … (Ezekiel 11:5)

Only very special people became prophets.

But in future God will pour out his Spirit on all people. Young and old will be prophets. Men and women will speak the word of God. Even servants will be Godxe2x80x99s messengers. A shower of power. Abundant rains.

This is the positive.

But Joel also sees the negative. A shower of power. The day of the Lord is coming. Signs and wonders, see verses 30 and 31 [3:3-4]:

30  I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.

31  The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.

It makes me think of what I see on the news. Libya. Ivory Coast. Bloody victims. Clouds of smoke. Burning citie
s. A war scene on earth.

And even in heaven … The sun is darkened, the moon turns red as blood. What does Joel see? The great and terrible day of the Lord is here. A day of clouds and blackness (2:2). The sky trembles, the sun and the moon are darkened, the stars no longer shine (2:10).

What do you see? Does it have anything to do with Thabang and Simon, Mapaseka and Lucy, Naledi and Rufaro? Yes, it does.


Let us go to the new testament. We will read Acts 2 verses 1-21:

1  When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.

2  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.

3  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

4  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

5  Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.

6  When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

7  Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?

8  Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?

9  Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

10  Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome

11  (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabsxe2x80″ we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!"

12  Amazed and perpleí, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"

13  Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine."

14  Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.

15  These men are not drunk, as you suppose. Itxe2x80x99s only nine in the morning!

16  No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17  xe2x80x98In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

18  Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

19  I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.

20  The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.

21  And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.xe2x80x99

Letxe2x80x99s  go back to the picture. What do you see?

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Some people see a vase xe2x80″ or is it a wine glass?

Others see two faces, talking together.

What did people in Jerusalem see on that day of Pentecost?

Some saw a wine glass. The disciples talking in foreign languages. Strange … I guess they must be drunk!

Peter sees people, filled with the holy Spirit. He sees prophets, speaking the word of God.

And then he refers to Joel, in verse 16: this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel. Now it is happening. A shower of power. God pouring out his Spirit. Signs and wonders. The great and glorious day of the Lord.

Let me explain it with another picture.

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The prophet Joel was living centuries before Christ. God gave him a message about the day of the Lord. A part of what he said related to his own time. Another part will be fulfilled in future. Looking through his telescope for him it is like one big event. But in practice there are hundreds of years between the near and the far fulfilment.

  • And afterwards … Joel said. When? He didnxe2x80x99t know (1 Peter 1:10-12).
  • In the last days … Peter says. Now is the time. What Joel saw, is happening at this moment.

 Since Christ we are living in the last days. Did you know that? The final stage of history.

  • We saw Christmas: Jesus was born.
  • We celebrated Good Friday: he died on the cross for our sins.
  • We saw Easter: Christ rose from the dead.
  • Then comes Ascension Day: Jesus went to heaven. He sits at Godxe2x80x99s right hand.
  • Next is the day of the Lord. He will return to judge the living and the dead.

We donxe2x80x99t know when Jesus will come. Harold Camping from the USA was wrong after all. Nothing happened May 21 [yesterday] at 6 pm.

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But the great and glorious day will come. We are in the last days. The next event we expect is the coming of Christ.

What do you see today? South Africa 2011.

Without faith you just see the war in Libya. In the local elections Zille defeated Zuma. In the PSL a Dutch coach won the league (…). And in church they baptize and profess their faith.

But if you look through the prophetic telescope xe2x80″ with Joel and Peter xe2x80″ with eyes of faith xe2x80″ you can see much more.

Blood, fire and smoke. War. Hunger. Poverty. Earthquake. Aids. Flood. Drought. Things are getting worse. This world is going to end. The day of the Lord is at hand.

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Thatxe2x80x99s the negative. And the positive is this:

God pours out his Spirit in the church. Jesus is saving his people. A shower of power drenches everyone. Open your eyes today:

Husband and wife are reading the Bible in one faith. Man and woman are equal.

Young people are as involved in church as older people. Everyone is a prophet.

Dreams, prophecies and visions are for people from Lesotho and Zimbabwe and South Africa. No apartheid or xenophobia with Christ.

That makes us so happy today.

This world is running towards its end. But in these last days the Lord has called you to be saved. You and your children.

As Peter says in 2 verses 37-40:

37  When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the ot
her apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"

38  Peter replied, "Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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39  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far offxe2x80″for all whom the Lord our God will call."

40  With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation."

Again Peter is quoting Joel. You remember he talked about the survivors whom the Lord was calling. They will be saved.

You who believe in Jesus Christ are not afraid of the day of the Lord. He took your sins away on the cross. Now you and your children will survive the blood, fire and smoke. Instead, you are drenched by the shower of power. The holy Spirit of God gives you eternal life.


Finally. What does it mean for you? Simon, Thabang, Lucy and Mapaseka have made their choice. They have found a shelter on the day of the Lord. xe2x80″ Will you survive?

How can you survive the day of the judgment? Not in your own power. This is not the survival of the fittest. This is the survival of the faithful. Repent and be baptised (2:38). Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved xe2x80″ you and your household (16:31).

Remember what Joel said. Joel 2 verse 32 [3:5]:

32  And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.

In Jerusalem, where God has his temple. On the holy mountain Zion, where the sacrifices were brought every day. If you go there and ask the Lord for help, you will be saved.

That is the old testament. There is no temple in Jerusalem anymore. But you can still pray and go to the sacrifice for forgiveness. Jesus is the Lamb of God (John 1:29). His sacrifice on the cross grants us forgiveness of all our sins.

There is only one thing you must do. Call on the name of the Lord. Everyone who calls the name of the Lord will be saved.

The apostle Paul told us the same. Let us close by reading Romans 10 verses 9-17:

9  That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

10  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

11  As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."

12  For there is no difference between Jew and Gentilexe2x80″the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,

13  for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

14  How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

15  And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

16  But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?"

17  Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

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Joel saw salvation for the people of Israel. On Zion they will survive. In Jerusalem.

Peter saw even more. The promise is for you [in Jerusalem] and your children … and for all who are far off. God will call even gentiles to Christ.

Paul confirms that. There is no difference any more between Jews and gentiles. Zimbabwe or Lesotho. Rich or poor. Male or female. If only you call on him you will be saved.

    So I urge you today: Call on the name of the Lord. And you will see wonderful things, now and in future. No eye has seen … what God has prepared for those who love him … [no eye has seen …] but God revealed it to us by his Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

    Amen.

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