Devotional Joel 2:28


Good Morning Yamon Ki Yesepar and Nevim Arith Hayomim:

Joel 2:28: “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy and your old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions.”

Acts 2:17: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith the Lord, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams.”

George, my Greek teaching friend, and I opened up our Greek New Testaments and spent about four hours on an amazing journey starting with Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”  The Bible is quite clear on what is not a pure heart.  Take Philippians 3:19 for example: “Their destiny is destruction their god is their stomachs, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.”  As I discussed in an earlier devotional, a pure heart is one with unadulterated motives when going before God.

George told of the “bleeding Pharisees.”  They tried so hard not to lust that when a woman walked by they would close their eyes and walk right into walls or posts.  They would be beaten up so bad they were called “bleeding Pharisees.”  Their wounds were their pride that they overcame lustful thoughts. Yet, as George explained, the very fact that they had to close their eyes shows they had lustful thoughts to begin with.  They were beating themselves up in their service to call, but they did not have a pure heart. If they had a pure heart their minds would be on God and seeing a beautiful woman walk by would conjure up thoughts on God’s ability to create beauty and not lustful thoughts.

A man staring at a woman with Godly thoughts, and appreciating God’s creation of beauty?   Yeah, I can hear you laughing now, after all men are men, right?  So we ventured to John 21 where we have Jesus speaking to Peter on the seashore: “Peter do you love me more than these?”   Now I have always been taught that Jesus was pointing to the fried fish when he said that. Some said Jesus was referring to Peter’s occupation. “Peter, do you love me more than your job?”   Or he was saying: “Peter, do you love me more than food for your stomach?”   George pointed out that the word “These” should be translated as “them” with Jesus pointing to the other disciples.  Jesus uses the word “agape” of for love.  What Jesus was asking was: “Peter, am I more than just a friend to you like the other disciples are to you?”   Peter responded by saying “Yeah, Lord, you know I love you.”  Only thing is, Peter uses the word “phileo” for love.  This is the love of a friend.   Jesus asked a second time: “Peter do you agape me?”  Peter responded by saying: “Lord, I “phileo” you, you are just a friend.”  In other words: “My love for you is conditional. Jesus asked a third time: “Peter do you “phileo” me.”   Peter was grieved because Jesus was now questioning whether he was really a friend to God.

A little back ground here.   Peter, as the other disciples, really believed Jesus was going to set up an earthly kingdom and that he would rule with Jesus.  That is pretty heady stuff to be a close advisor to the future King of the world.  Peter and the other disciples were serving Jesus because they loved him, but their love was “phileo” a conditional love.  They were expecting a big return for their loyalty.  When Jesus died, that blew their dreams all apart.  Peter had to admit that he did not have a pure heart.  You can be a believer, washed in the blood, on your way to heaven, but that does not mean you have a pure heart.

But soft, look what happened forty days later, Peter is prophesying and seeing visions.  Didn’t Matthew 5:8 tell us that only the “pure in heart” will “see” God.  George explained that this seeing God includes seeing his power and his works, such as visions.  George explained that the Greek word for “vision” is “horasis” which means to see beyond the natural world.   I checked out the Hebrew word for vision and found that word is “chazah” which also carries the idea of seeing beyond the natural realm.

Now we get to the question?  How can we have a pure heart.  No matter how hard we try, we will always have some ulterior motive behind our search for God.  We will always have some expectation.  Yet, Peter, on the day of Pentecost was promised nothing in return for his love and service to God except hardship and martyrdom.  What happened to Peter in those 40 days?

Simple, God poured out His Spirit.  Let’s just lay aside our understanding of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit just for a second and forget all we have been taught.  Just, in all innocence, consider what it means to have the very Spirit of the Holy, Almighty, and All powerful God completely immerse you in His Spirit.  George explained that word “spirit’ in the Greek has the idea of the very essence, nature and being of the person.  You are totally immersed in the very essence, nature and being of God who is truly Agape love.

We can not have a pure heart on our own, but if we become immersed in the very essence, nature and being of God, a pure heart, devoid of any selfish, self centered motives will naturally follow.  This is what Peter discovered on the day of Pentecost.