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Seeing in the dark

“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions." Joel 2.28

While everyone's favourite verse in Joel might be "I will restore to you the years that the locusts have eaten" (2.25), a few verses further on the same prophet provides those verses which the apostle Peter uses to interpret the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (2. 28-32), beginning "And afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit..."

Through his experience of a plague of locusts, Joel understood the devastating effect of invasion and conquest. Standing among the ruins in the aftermath it must have difficult to imagine how things could ever be good again. The citizens of Ukraine are learning this the hard way right now; all of us, citizens of the world, will follow suit if we don't get much more serious about climate change and much more quickly.

Yet there is even greater devastation awaiting rebellious societies, and the individuals within them, which turn away from God to indulge themselves or to pursue alternative traditions. God, as revealed in Jesus and through the Holy Spirit, is source of the future as well as of the past, of the New Creation as well as of creation as we know it. Trusting God and obeying God's command - to love him and to love one another - is the only way to build a secure future.

It is also the only way to make sense of the current absurdities of life, to generate hope which is more than wishful thinking. Having an aim and a purpose which are eternal enables us to penetrate the darkness and despair which threaten to overwhelm us and the whole of society. Joel perceived it, will you?



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