Friday, November 29, 2013

The Advent of God in the Last Days (NOW)

Luke makes use of Joel at a few important moments in Luke-Acts.

First, Jesus tells of the coming of the Son of Man in Luke 21, the coming of He, Himself.  This prophecy by Jesus uses strong astrological language from Joel 2:10-11.

Second, at Jesus' crucifixion similar astrological signs are repeated from Joel 2:10-11, as well as the temple vail being rent in half.  Even here, Joel 2:12-13 is interesting:

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,“return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.

Following these signs, a confession of Jesus' divinity is made by an unlikely source: 

"Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!”  (Lk. 23:47)
Scandalously, a woman reports this to Luke as his source:

And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.  (Lk. 23:49)

Finally, Luke directly quotes Joel 3:1-5 (English Bibles: 2:28-32) at the advent of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:

28“And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
29 Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls."
One scholar says of Joel:

“In describing YHWH’s actions Joel often uses traditional motifs grounded in ancient theophanies [appearances of God on earth], the day of YHWH, the enemy of the north, the sacred mountain, the formula acknowledgment of YHWH,  and the nations’ mocking of YHWH’s people.” 

In other words, in Joel, God is present in a REAL and TANGIBLE way when he acts to defend His people and creation from injustice, and save them from judgment.

My question is: What does Luke mean to communicate when he uses these theophany-rich passages in reference to Jesus and the Holy Spirit?

I think the meaning and intentions are clear.  Luke attributes to these two persons of the God-head their due deity.  They are the REAL and TANGIBLE actions of God, because they are God.

In this season of Advent we wait on God, according to the Scriptures.

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