As a previous post suggested, the Day of Pentecost provides us with an interpretive lens for what we call the Old Testament - that lens is Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ in His People; it is a Trinitarian lens in that we see the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit living in and working through the Temple, the Body, the Bride, the Flock, etc. Peter’s Pentecost message is Trinitarian - the Spirit has come to live in the Temple, the Son has fulfilled the Father’s plan - having “accomplished the work” which the Father gave Him to do (John 17). The outpouring of the Holy Spirit witnesses to the Ascension of Jesus Christ - Peter’s message is rich, it is deep, it is high, and it continues to our own day and time - it is ever-broadening.
Just as we see the Trinity in the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the Jordan, so we see the Trinity on the Day of Pentecost when the Church is baptized in the Holy Spirit.
I don’t think that we can make too much of Peter’s quotation of Joel in Acts 2:15 - 21, rather than explain it away or gloss over it, it ought to challenge us to reconsider how we see the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings (the Old Testament). It also ought to challenge us in terms of how we see prophecy - is prophecy primarily linear and predictive or is it an unveiling of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Father, and the Holy Spirit? Are we touching the eternals when we touch prophecy or are we simply reading tomorrow’s headlines? We don’t need the Holy Spirit to necessarily read tomorrow’s headlines, but we do need the Spirit of God to touch the Eternal One.
The merchandising of prophecy does not require that we see past the visible, it simply requires that we buy into a system of interpretation - a somewhat (or totally) rational and naturalistic system at that. Could it be that prophetic merchandising is a child of the rationalistic Enlightenment?
Just as Peter used an interpretive lens to transpose Joel and David’s psalms upward into the Trinity in his Pentecost message; James uses an interpretive lens to transpose the prophet Amos upward into the Trinity and the Church in Acts 15:13 - 19. How could someone reading Amos 9:11ff possibly relate it to the Gentiles coming to know Jesus Christ? Consider the context of Amos Chapter 9, how is this possible with our naturalistic methods of exegesis and interpretation? In effect it is as if we read Acts Chapter 10, the account of Cornelius and Peter and all that surrounds it, and then, without having Acts 15, we were to say, “Oh, of course, this is the fulfillment of Amos Chapter 9.” How likely is this in our current mindset? How likely is it that we would have incorporated Joel’s prophecy into an explanation of the Holy Spirit coming on the believers on the Day of Pentecost? And if we did incorporate Joel’s prophecy, would we be prepared to really say, “This is that” and not project Joel far into the future so that it is out-of-reach for us and our hearers?
Could it be that a reason the Old Testament is a closed book for much of the Church is because we’ve made it a closed book? We have pulled the Old Testament downward and imprisoned it in time and space, in a time long long ago and in a galaxy far far away. We do not look for Christ. We do not do what Jesus Himself did in Luke Chapter 24 when He revealed Himself through the Old Testament.
And could it be that our propensity to look at the prophets in a linear fashion has robbed us of our spiritual vision to see beyond the visible into the invisible? James reads Amos Chapter 9 and he sees the Church; Peter reads David in the Psalms and he sees Jesus; Peter surveys the fire and wind and tongues and he sees Joel. What do we see?
Paul reads Genesis and he sees the Light of Christ coming into our lives (2 Corinthians 4:6). Paul reads about Hagar and Sarah in Genesis and he sees (Galatians 4:21 - 31) two cities, two mothers, one of the flesh and one of the Spirit, one of the natural and one of the supernatural - and yet many of us want to pull the heavenly city, the heavenly mother, down to earth and find our prophetic fulfillment not in Christ in the heavens but in tomorrow’s headlines. Paul reads Old Testament “history” and he sees present-day instruction (1 Corinthians 10:11). Paul sees through the “shadows” (Colossians 2:17) to the substance.
The Scriptures are sacramental in that God’s grace and life are communicated through them to us, they are the “living and enduring Word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). We, God’s People, are a “dwelling of God in the Spirit”. If this is so, ought not our experience of the Bible to be one of illumination, revelation, of the Spirit, and ought not the unveiling of Jesus Christ to be the focus of our experience? “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
Do we really need the Holy Spirit to understand the things of God, as Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians Chapter 2, or are we doing our ministry and teaching and Bible study on our own?