PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Scripture: Joel 2:28–32; Acts 2:1–21
Memory verse: Acts 2:17
"In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people."
Tell the students that physically we can see far away with telescopes or with satellites that relay TV pictures. We can also see through people and objects with X-rays. Using a microscope, we can see organisms that are too small to be seen by the naked eye. Even though we can see all these things, we still cannot see into the future. In Old Testament times God gave some men messages about the future. Explain that this week they will learn about a very special event that was prophesied hundreds of years before it happened.
Hearing God’s Word
Very little is known about the prophet Joel’s life. His name means “Jehovah is God.” His father’s name was Pethuel. Joel was probably a priest who lived during a time of great national crises. During Joel’s ministry the land was plagued by locusts, droughts, and famine. The people were in great need.
Major and Minor Prophets
The Book of Joel is short—only three chapters long. Joel is the first Minor Prophet we will study. The Minor Prophets are so named because their books are short, not because they are less important than the Major Prophets—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Occasionally the Major and Minor Prophets ministered during the same time period. God used both the Major and Minor Prophets to deliver His messages. He did not see a person as more important or less important than the other.
Joel—A Powerful Book
The first part of the Book of Joel tells of a terrible time plagued by locusts and famine. While the people in Joel’s day were probably experiencing these things, Joel had another reason for mentioning them. He used the plagues as a way to describe the sinful condition of God’s people. They were suffering from the plague of disobedience.
The second part of Joel is what makes this book so powerful. Do you know about whom this section tells us? In it is the promise of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the source of our spiritual strength and power today. (Ask two students to read Joel 2:28, 29.)
It may seem confusing when we read about sons and daughters prophesying, young men and old men seeing dreams and visions, and servants and handmaids receiving the Holy Spirit. Yet Joel was trying to get across an important point.
Ask: “Do you know what it is? (Allow responses.)
Joel told about a time when the Holy Spirit would work in special ways through all people, regardless of their age, the kind of work they do, or whether they are male or female. The gift of the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all types of people.
The Fulfilment of Joel’s Prophecy
Joel made this prophecy during Old Testament times. However, this gift was not sent until many years later—after Jesus was born, died on the cross, and went back to heaven. The Book of Acts describes what happened. (Instruct the students to find Acts 2:1–21 in their Bibles. As this is a long passage of Scripture, consider using one of the approaches below as you discuss the events on the Day of Pentecost.
- Let the students scan the verses. Then ask the following questions: What special occasion was being celebrated? Where were Jesus’ followers? What did they suddenly hear? What appeared upon each one of them? What happened when the people began to speak? What groups of people were visiting Jerusalem at this time? What did some people think was wrong with the disciples? Who answered those who accused the disciples? To what Old Testament book did Peter refer?
- Prepare question papers before class. The questions given in the first suggestion can be used here as well. Write the questions on slips of paper. Write a question, then turn the paper over and draw a small flame. Distribute the question cards, flame side up, as the students scan the verses. Then let the students take turns reading their questions aloud and answering them.
Peter’s explanation of the Holy Spirit’s outpouring is this week’s memory verse. (Repeat the memory verse together.) These are the same words Joel used when he told about this event many years earlier. (Let a student reread Joel 2:28, 29.)
What was the result of the events on the Day of Pentecost? (Ask a student to read Acts 2:41.) About 3,000 people became believers that day. From that tremendous beginning grew the Church today.
This Promise is for Us Today
Some people think the baptism in the Holy Spirit was intended only for the disciples so they could have power to witness and begin the Church. They think this experience is not meant for people today. The Holy Spirit was promised to us as much as He was promised to the disciples in Peter’s day. God said He would pour out His Spirit on all people, not just a few. Jesus knew His followers, then and now, would need the help of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to give us strength and guidance in living for God.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is just as real today as it was in New Testament times. We may not hear mighty rushing winds or see tongues of fire over people’s heads, but we do still have the evidence of speaking in languages we have never learned. This is the sign that the Holy
Spirit has filled our lives to give us power to be witnesses for God.
Yielding to the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit never forces himself on anyone. He is never rough or pushy. In fact, one of the things given in the Bible to symbolize the Holy Spirit is a gentle dove. Another symbol is a flame of fire. While we do not see flames of fire when we receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, He does give us a burning desire to witness for Jesus and tell others about God’s love.
It should not be a frightening thing to let the Holy Spirit speak through us. People who do not understand this experience may think it is strange. However, we do not have to worry about what others think. Through speaking in tongues, the Holy Spirit helps us express our praise and prayers to God. God is pleased when we use a heavenly language to worship Him.
Ask: “Why would God choose to have us speak in languages we do not understand? What part of our bodies is most difficult to tame?” (Allow responses. Ask a student to read James 3:8.)
We have all said things we were sorry about later. When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives and fills us, He gains control of our tongues, the most unruly part of us. The Holy Spirit can then guide and direct us. He will check us when we are tempted to do wrong and give us the strength to do what is right.
The Work of the Holy Spirit
Ask: “What are some other things the Holy Spirit will do for us?” (Allow responses.)
The Holy Spirit is our Comforter and Guide. He convicts us of sin and reminds us when we get off the track from serving God. He is also our Sanctifier. This means He has set us apart for God’s use. We live in this world and enjoy it as God’s creation, but we do not have to behave like those who do not serve God. We are made holy and righteous through the power of the Holy Spirit.
After Peter and the disciples were baptized in the Holy Spirit, they became enthusiastic witnesses for Jesus. The Holy Spirit can help us win those around us too. Non-Christians are listening to what we say, watching how we live, and noticing how we treat others. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to live Christian lives. We are to be living Bibles to those around us. We cannot be good witnesses without the Holy Spirit’s help.
Joel prophesied that the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon all flesh. His prophecy was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, and it is still happening today. The promise of the Holy Spirit is for you.
Peter told the people at Pentecost they could receive this promise after they repented of their sins. We must follow that advice today too. We must first ask Jesus to forgive our sins. We can then ask God for the wonderful gift Joel told about--the Holy Spirit. God will be pleased to send this promised blessing to you. Then you too can have power to witness for Jesus.
Accepting God’s Word
Explain that some people do not accept salvation because they think it is too hard to live the Christian life. But God does not demand we do it alone. He helps us through the Holy Spirit.
The Soninke homeland stretches along the northwest border of Mali and Mauritania and spills over into Senegal. The estimated population of the Soninke people is around 2 million as of fall 2011. The Soninke converted to Islam approximately 1,000 years ago as a result of the Islamic invasion from Morocco. The Soninke are the founders of the ancient Ghana Empire.
Our research team had driven about three hours and randomly chose what seemed to be a good village to explore. We initially decided to begin near the mosque, but the driver turned instead toward the water tower and "just happened to stop there." A man walked up and began talking to us. He explained that the tower was partially funded by Soninke villagers who had gone to work abroad. They gave some of the money, and the villagers matched it to make the 1,500-gallon water tower and pump possible. The water from the tower is used only for human consumption.
"You are speaking with such an understanding of the situation,” I told the man. “You must be a village elder.”
With a shy smile, the man replied, "I am the chief." The location, the time, the chief and the interaction were certainly great examples of the Holy Spirit’s leadership.
REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for Soninke Chiefs
1. Chiefs to be honest in all their dealings with the people.
2. The welfare of the people to be the chief's highest priority.
3. Chiefs to be used by God to open doors of opportunity for preaching the gospel.
"Strong peoples will honour you; cities of ruthless nations will revere you" (Isaiah 25:3).
Remember: PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Memory verse: Acts 2:17
"In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people."
1. The Holy Spirit wants to work through all believers, regardless of their age.
2. Joel's prophesy came true in Acts 2:4 on the Day of Pentecost.
3. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is for believers today.
Pray for Soninke Chiefs.
Study 7 | All Peoples/The Prophets | africaatts.org/go-teach