Summary: The "already/not yet" nature of the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Who’s ready for some pop culture trivia this morning? In the 18-49 age group, what has been the highest rated TV series for the past two seasons? The Walking Dead. In case you’re not familiar with it, The Walking Dead is about some people trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. Who knows what the newly crowned Video Game of the Year is? Fallout 4. I’m obviously not a gamer, but I’m told that Fallout 4 is about life after a nuclear apocalypse. For the past two seasons, one of Fox’s top comedies is a show called The Last Man on Earth, which is a nasty show about life on earth after a virus apocalypse. One of the most-hyped new shows on NBC this season is a show starring Rob Lowe called You, Me and the Apocalypse. It’s about living in the days leading up to an asteroid apocalypse. You have to admit, in our culture today, there’s a real fascination with the end of the world, isn’t there? TV and movies try to imagine all the ways that it can happen—viruses, nuclear war, asteroids or comets, alien invasion, zombies, technology—even global warming. They try to figure out all the ways that it can happen, but the only reason they can keep generating ratings and selling tickets and video games is that, inherently, people know something’s coming. And it isn’t good. You see—God has planted an understanding of Himself and His coming wrath deep inside every person He’s ever created. That’s why even people who vehemently deny the existence of God will watch Doomsday Preppers. God hardwired us to know that this world is coming to an end one day. And I think that the current popular fascination with the apocalypse is a sign that it’s coming soon. At least we know this—it’s sooner now than it’s ever been. But what’s coming isn’t a zombie apocalypse. It isn’t somebody wandering around the earth looking for another survivor to have sex with. It isn’t sitting with your AR-15 eating Beanie Weenies in a fallout shelter. The apocalypse isn’t a Hollywood creation. But it is coming soon. And Joel gives us a glimpse of what it’s going to be like in our passage this morning. Remember a few weeks ago, we started our look at this book by understanding the overall theme of what the prophet Joel is talking about. Throughout the book, the underlying theme has been the apocalypse—or as the Bible calls it, “The Day of the Lord.” Remember we said The Day of the Lord is the time when God pours out His wrath on sin-marred and sin-scarred creation. Just like He destroyed everything on earth with water in Noah’s day, one day He’s going to destroy everything on earth with fire. I believe the Bible teaches that the Day of the Lord starts with the Rapture of the Church, and ends with the 1000-year rule of Jesus on earth called The Millennium. Just like Noah and his family were caught up in the ark and preserved from God’s wrath in the flood, believers from the church age will be caught up in the Rapture and preserved from God’s wrath in the apocalyptic Day of the Lord. For everybody who’s left behind, the Day of the Lord will be a terrifying time. The Book of Revelation uses images of seals and trumpets and bowls and woes to describe the increasing horror of what it will be like for those who are alive during that time. Global disease and famine and war are just the beginning of it. Fire from space. Water turning to blood. Mass slaughter. Cruelty and horror like the world has never seen before. But in the midst of all that—God is still faithful to keep His promises. And our passage this morning specifically shows how God will keep His promises to Israel.