Apocalypse Now

Today’s guest post comes from my good friend Nathan Hamm:

At Pentecost, God crashed his own party. Amidst the sound and fury of the wind and fire, Peter and the apostles were filled, infused, and animated by God’s Spirit. They began to speak in foreign languages. Like Rosetta Stone on steroids.

Some folks in the crowd sneered. “They’re drunk. Plastered. Sloshed. They’re filled with something alright – maybe some spirits but not a holy spirit.” Peter’s response was classic. “We’re not drunk. It’s only nine o’clock in the morning. We’re not even buzzed.”

The crowd was bewildered. “If these Jesus-followers aren’t drunk, then what’s going on?” Peter responded by quoting the words of the ancient prophet Joel:

“In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy….Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

In other words, these are the last days. The end isn’t near; the end is here. Apocalypse now.

Of course, as soon as some people hear about the last days, they want to pull out their “End Times Charts,” cheesy Christian movies, and Kirk Cameron action figures. But the Bible tells a different story. A better story. The biblical story is not about Jesus-followers escaping and evacuating from the earth before it’s destroyed. The biblical story is about God rescuing, restoring, and redeeming all of creation. It’s about earth and heaven becoming one.

And according to Peter, that rescue, that restoration, that redemption has begun.

The death and resurrection of Jesus has ushered in the last days.

God’s kingdom has been inaugurated on earth as in heaven.

The promises are being fulfilled. The prophecies are coming true.

The Spirit is being unleashed on anybody, anywhere.

The old world is passing away and a new world is being born.

What does that look like? Well, it looks like lots of things. Joel’s prophecy gives us a glimpse of just a few:

“I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh”

In the new world God is creating, racism is dead. Prejudice, bias, and ethnic superiority are done. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither us nor them, for we are all one in Jesus.

“your sons and your daughters shall prophesy”

In the new world God is creating, sexism is dead. Patriarchy and chauvinism are done. There is neither male nor female, for we are all one in Jesus.

“your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams”

In the new world God is creating, ageism is dead. For Peter’s culture, both worship of old age and contempt for youth are done. For our culture, both worship of youth and contempt for old age are done. There is neither young nor old, for we are all one in Jesus.

“Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy”

In the new world God is creating, classism is dead. All of the suspicion, hatred, and hostility between social classes is done. There is neither slave nor free, neither rich nor poor, neither the haves nor the have-nots, for we are all one in Jesus.

The world may not know it, the church may have forgotten it, but racism, sexism, ageism, and classism are dead. So we live like they’re dead. We live like the old world is passing away – because it is. We live like a new world is being born – because it is.

One last thought. Now that the last days have come, now that the new world has begun, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” To “be saved” doesn’t just mean “to go to heaven when you die.” It’s not just a “get out of hell free” card.

Salvation is participating in God’s kingdom here and now.

Salvation is waking up to the new world God is creating.

Salvation is being filled, infused, and animated by God’s Spirit.

The Spirit who is as mysterious as the wind. And as close as our breath.

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About Tim Owens

I'm a husband, father, and Christ follower. I also live in Albany, NY, where I work as a pastor.
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