There is a lot of attention being paid these days to a verse from Joel 2:28 and repeated by Peter in Acts 2:17. It says,
The Day of the LORD
“It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions.”
Many people take this to mean that we should accept the dreams and prophecies of everyone these days because these are the latter days and, well, the verse says what it says. But let’s take a close look at several interpretations for better decision-making.
Another interpretation is that it was fulfilled at Pentecost. It was Peter who repeated the prophecy from Joel, and the time was Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus had died and the moment the Holy Spirit came down. But if it was fulfilled at Pentecost, it was fulfilled at Pentecost. However, the verse’s context is the Day of the Lord (judgment), not Pentecost. The full verse is:
It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions.
29“Even on the male and female servants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
30“I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth,
Blood, fire and columns of smoke.
31“The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood
Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.
32“And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD
Will be delivered;
For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
There will be those who escape,
As the LORD has said,
Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.
At Pentecost, were there wonders in the sky and on the earth? Blood, fire and columns of smoke? Was the sun turned into darkness? And the moon into blood? No.
Now if we take the context, and the verses above the dreams verse and after the dreams verse point to the Day of the Lord, then let’s look at the Day of the Lord.
Got Questions describes it this way– “The phrase “day of the Lord” usually identifies events that take place at the end of history (Isaiah 7:18-25) and is often closely associated with the phrase “that day.” One key to understanding these phrases is to note that they always identify a span of time during which God personally intervenes in history, directly or indirectly, to accomplish some specific aspect His plan.”
It is not just one Day but a span of time, and we are told that span of judgment time will be either 7 or three and a half years (depending again on your interpretation of the Tribulation period). (Dan 9:27). The Joel verse begins by saying “After this”. After what? The day of the Lord. So the dreaming and prophesying is not during the Tribulation but after: the Millennium period. Further, the prophecy speaks of survivors.
Finally, some people say that the dreaming and prophesying began at Pentecost and continues through the Tribulation, that it encompasses the entire Church Age period. I discount that interpretation because the entire Church Age period has not been the Day of the Lord. Also, it leaves the canon open for all manner of personal experience to be placed alongside the bible. We do have a kind of Charismatic Chaos going on now as a result of so many people deciding that is what the Joel verse means. People say they are prophets and others say that are having dreams and their experience is placed not only alongside but higher than the bible itself. Phil Johnson recounts the chaos that results when this happens: “They speak of Scripture as the “dead letter,” compared to their modern prophecies, which they believe are “fresh and living words” from God. So they have effectively subjugated Scripture to questionable phenomena.”
No, I believe the context of the verse shows us that the dreaming and prophesying will occur after the Tribulation, after the time when the sun was darkened and the pillars of fire came. After the survivors whom the LORD calls. After The Day. Not now.
Besides, why rely on dreams and prophesies of some person as proof of Jesus’s work in the world, when their source cannot be 100% guaranteed? And when the bible as source, CAN?