Was the Day of Pentecost the Day of the Lord of Joel 2?
Presuppositional views of eschatology lead to distorted hermeneutics. Very often, those “fleeing from the lion, run into the bear” so to speak. That is, they seek so hard to refute a view of eschatology that they view as erroneous, that they invent virtually new doctrines, by completely ignoring proper exegesis and logic.
An example of this is the view that the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 was the Great and Notable Day of the Lord foretold by Joel 2. This view is espoused by some Amillennial ministers (e.g. one Amillennial minister with whom I had a formal written debate) and commentators I have encountered. Allow me to summarize this view: (You can read the formal written debate with the Amillennialist, Jerry MacDonald, beginning here on my website).
Joel predicted that “afterward” the Spirit would be poured out. Afterward is then interpreted by McDonald and others to mean “after the Mosaic Age.”
In the context of Joel, the Mosaic Age is not even in view or discussed. What was in view were the events of the prophets day, a Day of the Lord against Israel. The prophet discusses the “at hand” Day of the Lord and then predicted that “afterward” the Day of the Lord, another Day of the Lord, would come. The description of this other Day of the Lord transcends his “at hand” Day by far, and is posited as the time of Israel’s salvation, i.e. the salvation of the remnant.
So, the discussion is not the Mosaic Age, or what would follow the Mosaic Age. This is a theological invention with no support in the text.
Notice that McDonald ignored Peter’s translation and rendering of Joel’s “afterward.” Peter said that Joel said “in the last days” the Spirit would be poured out. So, Joel’s “afterward” is Peter’s “in the last days.” See my book “The Last Days Identified, for a definitive demonstration that “the last days” in scripture were the last days of Israel’s age. The term is never used to refer to the Christian age.
McDonald says The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord is actually the “Notable” Day of the Lord. Notable does not mean Terrible, but important, shining, etc.. Pentecost was a Notable– not Terrible day, says McDonald. Therefore, the Day of Pentecost was the Great and Notable Day of the Lord.
This really is quite bad.
Take note: Joel predicted the “ten hemeran kuriou ten megalen kai epiphane” (LXX– the Great and Notable or the great and shining forth Day of the Lord.
Malachi, the Day of Pentecost, and the Day of the Lord
What McDonald, and others, conveniently ignore is that Malachi 4:5-6 foretold the exact same. YHVH would send Elijah to Israel before – the ten hemeran kuriou ten megalen kai epiphane- (LXX– the Great and Notable or the great and shining forth Day of the Lord. So, both Joel and Malachi predicted– using precisely the same language, the Great and Notable Day of the Lord.
Now, is it theoretically possible that the two prophets spoke of two different events, simply using similar language? Yes, that is theoretically possible. However, it is not possible contextually.
The thing to be noted, as I pointed out repeatedly in my debate with McDonald, is that the Day of the Lord in Malachi is, without controversy, a day of judgment against Israel for her violation of the Mosaic Law. The Day would be the coming of the Lord to bring Mosaic Covenant sanctions, found in the Law of Blessings and Cursings of Deuteronomy 28-30, against Israel. The Lord said “I will be a swift witness against you, I will come against you in judgment” (Malachi 3:2-5).
Notice the following:
John the Baptizer was undeniably Elijah foretold by Malachi (Matthew 11:10; 17:10-12).
John foretold the coming judgment: “Who warned you to flee from the wrath about to come?”; “the axe is already at the root”; “his winnowing fork is already in his hand” (Matthew 3:7-12).
John, as Elijah, was therefore preparing for the coming of the Lord in application of the Law of Blessings and Cursings– and he said it was near.
When did the Great Day of the Lord– in fulfillment of Malachi – in the application of Mosaic Covenant wrath, occur, after John, but, before the cross?
Most Bible students ignore the thrust of the question, believing that Malachi predicted the incarnation of Jesus, but, this is false.
Jesus incarnation was not the Day of the Lord in Malachi or in John’s message.
Malachi predicted the Great Day when, “I will come near to you in judgment” (3:5).
So, “The Great and Notable Day of the Lord” of Malachi 3-4 was not Jesus incarnation, and it was not the Day of Pentecost. It was to be a Day of the Lord in judgment of Israel for violating Torah. It would be the application of Mosaic Covenant sanctions.
The traditional view of Torah is that the Law of Moses passed away at the cross. However, Malachi and the ministry of John falsifies this view. Why, well, ask yourself this question: When was the Day of the Lord foretold by Malachi and John, was fulfilled, in application of the mosaic covenant. Furthermore, when did it occur after John the Immerser, but, before the cross where the Law of Blessings and Cursings was supposedly nullified and voided.
The undeniable answer is that the Lord did not come, after John, but before the cross, in judgment of Israel, and the application of the Law of Blessing and Cursing. But remember, Malachi and John foretold the Day of the Lord. Notice this about Joel 2
Joel predicted, just as Malachi, that the Day of the Lord would be when Israel was cleansed- through judgment– of her blood guilt (Joel 3:20-21). This is the Great and Notable Day of the Lord of Joel!
So, both Joel and Malachi used the precisely identical term in predicting the Great and Notable Day of the Lord. Joel and Malachi both predicted that they Day of their prediction would be a time of judgment on Israel.
Of course, the indisputable fact is that Pentecost was not a day of judgement on Israel for violation of Torah, as demanded by Malachi’s prophecy. Likewise, Pentecost was not the Day when Israel was cleansed of her bloodguilt through judgment (cf. Isaiah 4:1-4). Jesus was emphatic in declaring that the “last days Day of the Lord” in which Jerusalem’s blood guilt would be cleansed by judgment and fire, was to in the first century destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 23:34-37).
So, Pentecost was not the Great and Notable Day of the Lord of either Malachi or Joel, because both of those prophecies posited that Day as a time of judgment on Israel. And there is a final point to be made.
The Day of Pentecost Was Before the Great Day of the Lord!
Joel predicted “in the last days” the Spirit would be poured out. As a result, there would be “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy… I will shew wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath, blood, fire and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned into darkness, the moon into blood BEFORE the Great and Notable Day of the Lord (Acts 2:19-20).
Do you catch the power of that?
The Spirit would be poured out. Signs and wonders would be the direct result of that outpouring.
But, here is the devastating point: The signs and wonders in the heaven above and earth beneath, would be the direct result of the outpouring of the Spirit, and, those signs would occur BEFORE that Great and Notable Day of the Lord. The signs would flow from the outpouring, but, the signs were before the Day of the Lord.
Note particularly that God said that as a result of the giving of the Spirit, Israel’s sons and daughters would prophesy. Now, did Jesus’ disciples speak in tongues and prophesy before the day of Pentecost? Patently not. Those miraculous tongues and prophecy was to follow as a direct result of the outpouring of the Spirit, and that did not occur until Pentecost!
Do you see how devastating this is to the view that Pentecost was the Day of the Lord? Let me put it like this:
The outpouring of the Spirit and the signs to follow– including the speaking in tongues and prophesying– would occur BEFORE the Great Day of the Lord.
But, the Spirit was not poured out until the Day of Pentecost!
Therefore, since the Spirit was not poured out until Pentecost, and since the outpouring of the Spirit and the signs– including tongues– were to precede the Day of the Lord, it therefore follows that Pentecost was not the Day of the Lord.
Joel’s prophecy– and Peter’s rendering agrees– it was to be: Outpouring of the Spirit– Signs Following– BEFORE THE DAY OF THE LORD.
Those who say that the day of Pentecost completely fulfilled Joel 2 have it backward. They have it as: Pentecost– Outpouring of the Spirit– Signs- ON the Day of the Lord– and following the Day of the Lord. This is a denial of the text of both Joel and Acts.
Patently, “before the Great Day” does not mean “on and after the Great Day of the Lord.”
The Day of Pentecost was not the Great and Notable Day of the Lord of either Joel or Malachi. The Great Day was to be a day of Judgment, on Israel, and the Day of Pentecost simply does not qualify.