Question: "Could I have an interpretation of Acts 2:17-18?" The text reads, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of 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: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy."
I was discussing in the last News the meaning of Pentecost with its signs of a mighty wind, tongues of fire and speaking in other languages. I must say that the Pentecostals, who pervert the whole meaning of Pentecost by their notion of tongue speaking, conveniently ignore the signs of the mighty wind and the tongues of fire. They do this so that the sign of tongue speaking can be said to continue among those who possess the second blessing, because they speak gobbledygook that no one understands. But it is a more difficult task to reproduce in any convincing way the sound of a mighty wind and the tongues of fire. These latter two signs were as important as, if not more important than, the sign of tongue speaking, for they emphatically pointed to the work of the Holy Spirit of Christ as a powerful work that purifies and burns all that is corrupt, and does so in a mysterious, irresistible way that cannot been seen, for it is God’s work of sanctification in the hearts of his people.
Pentecost marked the end of the old dispensation and the beginning of the new. The old dispensation was the time in which God showed to His church what He would do "in the last days"—to quote Peter (Acts 2:17). But God showed what He would do by means of the types and shadows of the law.
I cannot go into this question in detail, for the types and shadows of the law permeated Israel’s entire ecclesiastical, social and political life. But all of them, in some way, pointed ahead to what God would do through Christ. Every type and shadow, every miracle, every speech of God through the prophets or through angels referred to Christ and what God would do when Christ finally came.
Those speeches of God through types and shadows, visions and dreams, direct prophecies, etc., included this mighty work prophesied by Joel, that the exalted and glorified Christ, given the position of highest honour because of His work of suffering, death and resurrection, would also pour out His Spirit on the church to make the church to possess the blessings Christ earned for her.
In the place of the mere trinkets of Pentecostalism, we have the grand panorama that stretches over the ages and extends into all eternity of the great and glorious work of God: what Peter calls, in his Pentecost sermon, "the wonderful works of God" (11).
Part of the types and shadows of the old dispensation were the prophets, priests and kings that God ordained for the nation. This work of God in the old dispensation began in Paradise when Jehovah created man as prophet, priest and king to serve Him in His creation. As prophets, God enabled Adam and Eve to speak the word of God revealed to them in the creation—as Adam began to do when he named the animals. As priests, they were to consecrate their lives and all their activity to the Lord’s service—which they did when they began the work of subduing the earth. As king (and queen), they ruled over the creation in God’s name and as His representatives when they tilled the ground and took care of the garden.
But the fall disrupted all that. They lost the image of God and so lost their God-given office. In fact, it was worse than that, for they kept the office, but became the prophets, priests and kings of Satan.
Christ is the true Prophet, Priest and King in God’s house. In the old dispensation, although God gave types of Christ, no one man could be what Christ alone could be: prophet, priest and king. And so some men were priests and some kings. The two offices might not be held by the same person. Uzziah tried it and was struck down with leprosy (II Chron. 26:16-21). Saul tried it and lost the kingdom (I Sam. 13:9-14).
The office of prophet was unique. It was a special office in its own right, but Israel’s priests and kings were also prophets. David and Solomon wrote parts of Scripture in that office; even wicked Caiaphas, the high priest, prophesied (John 11:51). Office-bearers in the old dispensation held these offices and were able to function in them for they possessed the Holy Spirit who was given to them with the anointing with oil.
Thus Peter, quoting Joel, refers only to prophets, for the other offices are included in the office of prophet in the new dispensation. Joel uses Old Testament language, because he prophesied in the old dispensation. He speaks of dreams and visions, for they were the ways in which God revealed Himself in this time of types and shadows.
But with the coming of the Spirit upon all the members of the church, because of the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ, all God’s people become prophets, priests and kings. It has been known since the Reformation as the office of believer. Whereas Rome had taken this office away from the people of God and limited it only to the clergy, God restored this precious office to His people through Martin Luther
This is the wonder that took place on Pentecost with the outpouring of the Spirit. Now God’s people need no prophet, for they all know the Lord, from the least of them to the greatest (Heb. 8:6-13; I John 2:26-27). Because we are prophets, we are also priests, who by the power of the Spirit consecrate our lives unto God. As kings, we are able by the Spirit to walk in Christian liberty, determining for our own lives what is pleasing and good in God’s sight according to His Word.
This happened at Pentecost, for the Spirit of the risen Christ was given to the church so that Christ, in all the fullness of His blessedness, may dwell in us by His Spirit.
The sign of the speaking in tongues is, therefore, in perfect harmony with these other signs. In the old dispensation, salvation was limited to the Jewish nation, but in the new dispensation, the Spirit is poured out on all flesh, and God gathers His elect from all the nations of the earth and makes prophets, priests and kings from people out of every tribe and tongue. God’s Word is spoken in every land and language. People of every culture serve the Lord. Saints from every race rule over their lives so that they live in harmony with the law of God, which is written in their hearts.
This diverse and wonderfully catholic church in its totality shows forth the praise and the glory of God and the riches of His sovereign grace.
- Volume: 13
- Issue: 11
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
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