Those of us who are looking for a special and powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit have many Bible promises to justify and inform our hope.
I have found the grouping of passages associated with or flowing from Isaiah 43 and 44 to be a useful listing of these promises:
They present solid evidence that God is serious about helping us and reminds us also, that that help is greatly needed because we, individually, corporately, nationally and globally are headed for disaster without that help or better days with that help.
God’s commitment to “pour water on dry land” and “make a way in the wilderness” presents the fundamental truth that God’s spirit can make anything out of nothing, create solutions where there are only promises, and bring gladness out of sorrow. Every moment of the day this promise can bring peace to our souls, such that even know the truth of this outpouring can have its effect on us: hope, deep hope, even when bad things overwhelm us.
I especially enjoy the outrageous claim of Joel 2, that His life-giving and creative Spirit will be poured out on on ALL flesh. This radically wonderful promise takes away the fear that somehow we will be left out. It silences the nagging fear that our weakness, our inabilities, our lack of “this action” or “that resource” will make us unable or unworthy of being recipients of that great Spirit-power and love.
If we go back to Isaiah 43, we can see why Joel came to the simple conclusion of ALL flesh.
The inclusiveness was intended…and the illustration is clear:
20 The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland…
Here is probably a reason Joel used the concept of ALL flesh. Isaiah notes the beasts and birds in this process of “getting help” from God.
This simple reference to dessert animals, this backhanded way of noting the universal needs by a reference to giving water to wild animals has deep promise for ALL of us.
The legalists stuck in the dryness of their legalism.
The pagan drinking themselves full of worldliness but still as thirsty as before.
The religious person, with all the requirements and responsibilities, and the lazy person with no duty and therefore no meaning, all need something more.
That is the very Spirit: the truth and love that is in the Godhead.
This is wonderful news. Great news for those of us who feel like dumb animals, poor in spirit, poor in money, poor in mental capacities, and poor in even moral power. We know we need help….we need to be better and more with it, more spiritually disciplined and more on top of stuff. But we know deeply the desert: the fear, the reality of our great need. We will NOT MAKE IT, unless God acts for us: physically, emotionally, morally and spiritually.
Do you feel or know that need? (either approach works)
Because with that need, we like the animals cry out.
So, herein, is the only criterion for having the water fall on your parchness: you need it, you recognize you need it, and you show you need it by crying to God.
And then the sadness comes…. “Yet you have not called on me, Jacob, you have not wearied yourselves for me, Israel.”
It suggests that the powerful hope for this great work of God is not rather we deserve, it is rather more, that we know we don’t but we NEEEEEDDDDDDD it just the same. We, like howling hungry dogs in the dessert, like birds soaring for days in search of water, need a creative act of God to survive.
Herein is the metaphor of scripture. They are the metaphors of Genesis 1 and Rev 22: when everything is without form and void, the only hope is that God will speak light into that darkness. He can and will make something out of nothing. He is, after all the task for God that brings the result that God most wants from this outpouring:
“to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.”
He loves to serve us and His greatest joy is just hearing us praise him and say thank you.
Can you do that? That might be, or probably is the only thing you can do. Be a witness to Him.
This is the hope for the weak, specifically the morally, mentally, and monetarily weak, because they already know they cannot make it. They cannot save enough, discipline themselves enough, organize their puny littlelives to even earn the Holy Spirits attention, except to cry—sometimes only on the inside—for the great outpouring that will meed the needs of the desperate: the hopeless, helpless and hapless.
The pattern seems to be a four fold pattern of promise, especially in Joel 2:
- Horrible things are coming….really really bad results that will devastate the whole land, even lands and families and individuals who have wonderful gardens and rich resources (1-11 verses)
- Something can be done about that: Your leaders and people can repent and God can change the outcome (12-17)
- Instead, he can send an outpouring of His Spirit (18-27)
- This is not taking away the Day of the Lord but it will change its horrid heat to great things
And the last time I checked, that is very very good news for jackals and owls and you and I.