JOEL 3:1: “So it will be afterward, I will pour out My Ruach on all flesh: your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” TLV
OBSERVATION: Are there seasons in the ministry of the Spirit in my life? Is the future only for the young, or does the Lord use men and women of all ages in His divine purposes? These are questions that I am pondering as I read this wonderful promise from the book of Joel.
This promise is quoted by Peter in his great sermon on the Day of Pentecost. He refers back to the prophecy of Joel and proclaims that was took place in the Upper Room was the fulfillment of this prophecy. The Lord, risen and now sitting at the right hand of the Father, had poured out His Spirit upon all flesh. He had done this without discrimination. The Holy Spirit had come upon men and women, young and old.
Previously, as I have read this verse, I have thought of the general fulfillment of this promise – the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. I have never really given much thought to the specifics of this promise. Yet, this morning I am drawn to the distinction of the young and the old. Is there a purpose to this distinction, or is it merely arbitrary. I think there is a purpose to it, and this purpose speaks an important message to the church today.
There seems to be a general panic in the church today regarding the passing of the baton from the older generation to the younger generation. Statistics are quoted that would make anyone fearful. The average age of the pastors in our churches is climbing, and there does not seem to be a rank of young leaders that are ready to fill the gap when these older leaders are ready to pass the baton. As a result of this challenge, there seems to be an over emphasis on raising up the next generation, which appears to be leading to a neglect of the present generation.
If this Scripture speaks anything to this crisis, it is that God never forgets either. All men and women are given the privilege of being filled with the Holy Spirit. All men and women, young and old, have been given the ability to prophecy, to speak for God in this present generation. There is neither male nor female with regard to this privilege. We are all one in Christ. And the Holy Spirit continues to work in and through both the young and the old. There is no preference in HIs ministry through us. However, there is a distinction in how He moves in us.
The young are said to see visions, the old are said to dream dreams. It is the natural progression of life that the younger generation rises up to take the place of the older. The Lord of the Harvest makes no exception in the life of the church. This will take place naturally as we trust the moving of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The young will see visions. They will receive the marching orders from God for the next generation. Yet, the old are not sidelined in the process. The Spirit continues to speak to them in dreams. They are the voice of balance, wisdom, and encouragement in this process of this change.
In our culture we tend to throw out the old in place of the new. I experienced this personally with one of my favorite retail stores. For years I bought my clothes at one retailer. Then there was a CEO change, and a change of marketing strategy. They decided they needed to focus on a younger market. As they did, instead of adding selections for both, they discontinued all the brands that appealed to one generation in order to cater to the next. They also did away with promotional activity, which was preferred by the older market. This change was a marketing disaster. The company began to lose money quarter after quarter, until adjustments were made.
Why didn’t this work for this national retailer? The same reason it doesn’t work in the church. They forget one group of people in favor of the other. In Eastern cultures the elderly are revered. In Western cultures they are seen as discardable. Yet, in God’s culture, men and women, young and old, are called to live in harmony and work side by side in the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit. We are not the generation of God, we are the Family of God! A true family is made up of children, parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. It is the wisdom and stability of the elder that enables the growth and success of the younger. This is something our churches cannot forget.
Jesus said, “…Therefore every Torah scholar discipled for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure both new things and old.” (Matthew 13:52 TLV). If Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit on all flesh, without distinction of gender or age, then the call and ministry of the church is not for the young or the old, it is for both! It is a call to be the Family of God where each generation passes on the baton to the next, and where each person continues in fruitful and meaningful ministry until the day he or she enters into glory.
Lord, help us honor the Spirit’s ministry in each and every person in the Family of God. May we not focus on one group to the exclusion of another. May we be like the wise master of a household who brings out of his treasure both new things and old. Pour out Your Spirit upon all flesh! Let our sons and daughters prophecy. Let our young see visions. And let our old dream dreams.
In Jesus Name!