READ: Psalm 87, Joel 2, Luke 15, 2 Corinthians 6
“Afterward…I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.” (Joel 2:28)
We all long for another great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The church age was inaugurated at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit was unleashed in the world in a new and powerful dimension that was inclusive of all. God has promised the former and latter rain (Joel 2:23) and if Peter’s Pentecost was one bookend (former rain), surely there is yet another bookend (latter rain) to come–one last great universal outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh. Before that great and terrible day of the Lord (v. 11), before Jesus comes back there will be one more great shower of blessing, one more massive harvest of souls. Joel, however, reminds us that this outpoured Spirit is preceded by several critical factors: God’s day of judgment (vv. 1, 11), God’s people wholeheartedly returning to Him (v. 12), men and women who will “rend [their] hearts and not [their] garments” (v. 13), communal fasts and sacred assemblies (vv. 15-16), and spiritual leaders who intercede (v. 17). We long for one last outpouring of the Spirit that results in spiritual harvest, but this is not something to be passively waited for–it must be actively pursued.
All of God’s people must combine to position ourselves for one last incredible latter rain, yet spiritual leadership has a critical role to play. Joel puts it this way: “Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar” (v. 17). Mission leadership (like all positional authority in the Church) tends to numb us over time to an appropriate angst and longing for what our disciples do not have. As we make our way into the presence of Jesus, do we do so weeping for what we do not experience of Him? Are we heartbroken over the shallowness of our spiritual children? Great outpourings of the Spirit over history have always followed the anguished longing of intercessors for more of Jesus.
Outpourings of the Spirit always bring a heightened revelation and glorification of Jesus. The Spirit’s work is to magnify Jesus. Mission is revival’s byproduct, not its goal. When the Spirit is unleashed, He glorifies Jesus. Baptisms of the Spirit are further steps into the knowledge of God, whereby Jesus becomes more real to the soul. When Jesus is real to us, that reality is so magnificent that we cannot contain it, nor restrict it to ourselves; we are compelled to tell others. The reason that outpourings (fillings, baptisms) of the Spirit always affect the tongue (boldness, prophecy, speaking in tongues, spirit-empowered speech) is because Jesus has grown so large within us that we must either broadcast Him or burst. When we want Jesus so badly for others that we weep for it, God sovereignly has “pity [on] His people” (v. 18), and He sends the latter rain.