At times I wonder if it isn’t easier to convince an unbeliever of the truth about the Lord and his word than to convince a believer who believes wrong doctrine and thinks he is correct. It doesn’t seem to matter how many Scriptures I use to prove a point, the brother will cling to the error taught him by a man he trusts or the organization of which he is a member.
In Acts 2 Peter spoke to those living in Jerusalem and Judea who mocked the Apostles as they were praising God. Peter claimed that what they were witnessing was evidence that the Day of the Lord was about to occur, and they were living in the last days of the age allotted to mankind! In Acts 2:16-21 Peter quotes and comments on the prophecy of Joel 2:28-31. Peter claimed that the Apostles’ speaking in tongues was the fulfillment of what had been prophesied by Joel (Acts 2:16), “and with many other words he testified to them and exhorted them saying ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation’” (Acts 2:40).
The dilemma was that the Day of the Lord was near, and it would not be good for the Jewish people (Joel 2:1-11). It would be a time of great destruction (Joel 2:3) by an army the world had never seen the like (Joel 2:2), a highly disciplined army (Joel 2:7). Joel was speaking of the Roman army of the 1st century CE that ruled the world around the Mediterranean Sea. The Lord said he would destroy the Jewish nation (Joel 2:1, 3, 11) as the Day of the Lord began!
Why the Jews? Were they evil, above all other people? No, they were probably more righteous than any nation on earth, but this is not the point. The point was that God had allotted time for mankind to return and repent of their rebellion against him which had begun with Adam. Jesus had come in the last days of the age (Hebrews 9:26) to usher in his Kingdom and to call all men to repent and come under his rule, which is basically what Peter claims in Acts 2:38. The Jews were God’s people. They, more than any other nation, had a peculiar relationship with God. Yet, God said they were a rebellious people killing the very One he sent to them for their salvation (Acts 2:23), and the Scripture says that judgment must begin at the House of God (cp. 1Peter 4:17).
Joel called for a solemn fast (Joel 2:15), saying that the people must return to the Lord weeping and mourning—rending their hearts rather than their garments (Joel 2:12-13), for the Lord, who is full of grace and mercy, may repent of the evil he planned to do to their nation (Joel 2:14). He will be jealous for his people (Joel 2:18) and destroy the northern army [Rome] (Joel 2:20) instead of using it to destroy the nation of his people.
The children of Zion (the believing remnant) were encouraged to rejoice in the Lord (Joel 2:23), because he had given the former and latter rain in the first month (i.e. in Christ’s ministry). Our storehouses are full of the food for our spirits (Joel 2:24-26), and we know that our God (Jesus) was in the midst of Israel, and we shall never be ashamed (Joel 2:27), “and it came to pass afterward…” (Joel 2:28)—i.e. after the preaching and teaching ministry of Jesus, after he was crucified and rose from the dead and ascended to his throne at the right hand of God in the heavens—“…it came to pass afterward” that he poured out his Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28; cp. Acts 2:1-4, 16).
The Day of the Lord had come upon that generation in the 1st century, just as the prophets foretold, just as Jesus prophesied to the high priest on the night before his crucifixion, just as the Apostles warned would occur if the nation didn’t repent. Our dilemma seems to be that so many of us look for the day to occur in the future. Yet, the word of God clearly claims that Jesus will reign from the heavens until all enemies are put under his feet (1Corinthians 15:24-25). The problem with the first century people of God was that they didn’t believe the end was near. The problem with the 21st century is that so many of the people of God find it difficult to believe we are living in the Day of the Lord—the time in which he reigns from the heavens bringing all things into subjection to God—which is basically what Peter claims in Acts 3:20-21.