Twisted Scripture Number 29: 
Joel 2:28 Occurs During the Tribulation & NOT Before

By Brannon Howse


The Scripture: And it shall come to pass afterward

That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;

Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

Your old men shall dream dreams,

Your young men shall see visions.


The Twist: These verses support the view that God is still speaking new revelation to people today beyond what is contained in the canon of Scripture.


The Bible teaches that the canon of Scripture is closed, and in Proverbs, Deuteronomy, Jude, and Revelation it is very clear that we are not to add to or take away from the Word of God. Some argue that this refers only to “adding or taking away” with regard to the book of Revelation. Such an interpretation remains a problem, however. The book of Revelation may be the last book in the Bible, but it is still a book within the canon.  

Jude 3 states plainly that the Word of God “was once for all delivered to the saints.” Yet if God is speaking today in this Church age, then the canon is still open. This would mean Scripture is contradicting Scripture because we are adding to the Word of God. The truth is, God does not speak today outside of His Word. Yet many people believe He does, and many of today’s best-selling books promote such mysticism. 

Please understand that I am not disregarding the Holy Spirit’s ministry of prompting us in various ways—to call a person in need, perhaps, or to step out in ministry—but  such promptings do not come through an audible voice. Neither do I deny the ministry of the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin or to help us understand the Scriptures and illuminate the Word of God. All of these things are legitimate activities of the Holy Spirit, and they are completely different than the claims of people who say God is audibly speaking to them today, giving them a vision, or giving them a dream. Many false teachers in the Word of Faith, New Apostolic Reformation, and neo-evangelicalism claim visions, dreams, and other mystical experiences. 

People often quote Joel 2 to say, “But Brannon, Joel Chapter 2 says people are going to have visions and dreams and prophesy. And this same passage is quoted in Acts 2. Therefore, you’re wrong; it’s okay to believe God is giving people visions and dreams or extra-biblical revelation through visions and dreams.” As with most twists, though, this requires taking Joel 2 and Acts 2 out of context. Let’s take a look. Joel 2:28-31 reads: 

“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

“And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:
Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.

This passage is quoted by Peter in Acts 2:16-21, so let’s break it down to see what’s really going on here.

 “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.” What is this talking about? We see this pouring clearly happening in Scripture, this pouring out of God’s Spirit on the house of Israel, and I believe this passage can have three possible interpretations (although I think only two of the three are fully credible, I’ll present all three). To summarize, these are the potential interpretations:


(1) All flesh refers to the house of Israel; 

(2) All flesh refers to those who are on the earth; 

(3) All flesh refers to different people groups.


With respect to the first option, take a look at Zechariah 12:10, “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication.” Do we see the Spirit of God being poured out on the house of Israel? Absolutely. It correlates here with both Joel 2 and Acts 2. Revelation 7:4 also says, “And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed.” The 12 tribes of Israel are coming to Christ, and what do they do? They go all over the earth, preaching the Gospel, and a great revival breaks out.

This brings us to the second possibility. “All flesh” could mean God is pouring out His Spirit on those who are on the earth. Although I believe this is the least likely option,  some say “all flesh” means all the people of the earth because of Revelation 14:6: “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.”

In Revelation 11:3-11, we also see the two witnesses showing up—many say they are Elijah and Moses  preaching the Gospel and performing signs and wonders—but they end up being murdered. The witnesses’ bodies lie in the street for three days after which they get up and ascend into heaven. Revelation 11 claims this is seen by the whole world. Here is where “He will pour out His Spirit on all flesh” comes in. It means that God allows the whole world to see the miracles of Elijah and Moses and to hear the Gospel they preach by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

In Revelation 14, we also have an angel preaching the Gospel to everybody here on earth. So the Holy Spirit is moving in a great and powerful way during the tribulation. This, too, could imply that the occupants of the earth are going to see the ministry of the Holy Spirit in a powerful way. It’s similar to what we see in Hebrews 6 where we saw that “it is impossible for those who were once enlightened” to be restored. These people saw the ministry of the apostles empowered by the Holy Spirit, doing powerful and wonderful and miraculous things, and they got to partake in seeing what the Holy Spirit was doing. But yet, after seeing all these things, they fall away and reject Christ. It doesn’t mean that everybody accepts Christ, but they have the opportunity to hear the Gospel. 

In the third option, “all flesh” could mean the world’s various people groups. As John 12:32 says, “And if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all peoples to Myself.” That’s not saying everybody’s going to become a believer. It’s simply saying that people from all people groups, tribe, language, tongues, and nations will come to Christ—similar to what we see in Revelation 7:9:


After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands.


And if we go from verse 9 to verse 14, we find out who these people are:


And I said to him, “Sir, you know.”

So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation.


These are the tribulation saints, a vast number of people from all nations, tribes, and tongues who have come to Christ. A great revival breaks out during the tribulation, but where does it start? With the house of Israel. God pours out His Spirit on the house of Israel.

 So I believe that “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh” means both options one and three. God pours out His Spirit on all flesh of the house of Israel, and He pours out His Spirit on all the different people groups—all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues. 

Those who believe number two is an option say that the Holy Spirit is being poured out on all of those during the end of the tribulation, and all of those who then go into the millennial kingdom are Christians. I don’t see that because I have a hard time believing that Joel 2 and Acts 2 start out by talking about the millennial kingdom and then roll over into the tribulation. That is not the proper order of events and so does not seem to be a reasonable interpretation.

By contrast in Revelation 7:9, so many people become believers from every nation, tribe, people, and language, that it’s a multitude no one could number. Thus I believe we can clearly say that when Joel 2 and Acts 2 speak of “all flesh” being poured out, it means all flesh of the house of Israel and the different people groups that will become believers because of Israel’s witness. The events of Acts 2 and Joel 2 take place during the tribulation. 

But you may say, “Wait a minute, Howse. If it’s during the tribulation, why is Peter, in Acts 2, quoting Joel 2?” Some say that what’s happening in Acts 2 is the fulfillment of Joel 2, but it can’t be the fulfillment of Joel 2 because in Acts 2 Peter is preaching on the Day of Pentecost and describing events that did not occur at the time of Pentecost. 

Let’s examine Acts 2:17 again to see what I’m talking about: 


“And it shall come to pass in the last days,” says God, “that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh. . . . Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.”


Who are these sons and daughters? Joel is speaking specifically to the nation of Israel, and accordingly, in Acts 2, Peter is speaking to the Jewish people. So that’s another reason we know “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh” has got to include the Jewish people. The Jewish people are finally going to accept Jesus Christ as Messiah, and 144,000 of them become great evangelists. They will go throughout the globe, preaching the Gospel, and many people will become believers. While we know that this “pouring out of My Spirit on all flesh” includes the children of Israel, it also includes those who become believers during that time.

And what does it mean that these sons and daughters “shall prophesy”? “Prophesy” doesn’t have to mean—and normally does not mean—predicting the future. Your pastor, for instance, can have the gift of prophecy, which means he has the gift of speaking forth truth. And are the 144,000 witnesses going to be speaking forth truth? Are they going to be preaching? Yes, that’s prophesying. Do people today have the gift of prophesy? Yes, the gift of speaking forth truth. We’re not talking about foretelling; we’re talking about forth telling. 

The Acts passage also says:


Your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.


We know this occurs during the tribulation because the scripture continues:


And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. [Emphasis mine]


The term “Day of the Lord” is used many times in both the Old and New Testaments to reference God’s intervention in the affairs of men to bring judgment. In Joel 2, we see the prediction of what is going to occur during the tribulation—particularly toward the end of the tribulation—and moving into the millennial kingdom era. Incredible things start happening during the tribulation: blood and fire and vapor of smoke, and the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood. Did that happen in Acts 2? No.

What Peter says is occurring in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost is only a foreshadowing of what is yet to come, when the Jewish people will once again do great and miraculous things. The preaching of the Gospel will go forth, and God will be doing miraculous things with the Jewish people. Then he goes on to talk about the blood, fire, vapor of smoke, and the sun turned into darkness. That didn’t happen in Acts 2. 

According to Joel 2 and Acts 2, when will the moon turn into blood and the sun into darkness? “Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.” That is all going to occur toward the end of the tribulation as the Lord comes back at His second coming. Remember, we use Scripture to interpret Scripture, and Matthew 24:29-30 helps out on this issue:


Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.


The description in Matthew 24:29-30 sounds just like what was predicted in Joel 2 and talked about again in Acts 2. At the end of the tribulation, we see these things happen. The stars will fall from heaven; the powers of the heavens will be shaken. The sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and Christ will come back. That’s exactly what we see described in Joel 2 and Acts 2, at the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Look also at 1 Thessalonians 5:2, “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.” There again is a reference to the Day of the Lord, the second coming of Christ. That’s another reason we know that Joel 2 cannot be for today. 

Joel 2 and Acts 2 are scriptures that should not be used to say, “Yes, we’re getting visions and dreams, and we can prophesy and foretell the future. Acts 2 says we can; Joel 2 says we can.” The events of Acts 2 and Joel 2 are not happening in this Church age today. The Church age started on the Day of Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit arrived and indwelt the believers who formed the Church. This occurred about 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and this Church age will run from the Day of Pentecost until the rapture of the Church. During this time, we do not see extra biblical revelation, visions, and dreams and all these supernatural things occurring. Did we see it for a while during the early days of the Church age? Yes, but only with a specific group of people. The disciples who became apostles is one group, but to be an apostle, a man had to be called of God and had to have seen the risen Lord. The apostles did signs and wonders to give credibility to the Gospel message. We also see that Jesus Himself commissioned the 70, and the 70 could cast out demons and do certain other limited things that would fall into the category of signs and wonders.

So, the apostles and the 70 could perform wonders, and some would say Barnabas, Stephen, and Philip could as well. A limited group of people could do signs and wonders, and that was for a limited time and for a specific purpose of giving credibility to the Gospel message they were preaching and the foundational doctrine of the New Testament Church they were establishing by God’s authority. 

Today, we don’t need these signs and wonders. We don’t need extrabiblical revelation. We don’t need visions and dreams. The canon is closed. We have the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. But another time will come when Christ will deal with the nation of Israel in a special way, and He is going to do incredible things for the proclamation of the Gospel. Jude 8 warns of false teachers who are dreamers: “Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.”

Don’t be one of them.

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