The year 2020 was certainly a year of adjusting our gears.

Now as we head into 2021, we will still be adjusting our gears

Truthfully, adjusting gears is a normal part of everyday life.

We age every year and face different physical, mental, and emotional adjusting.

We have adjusting to do if we start dating, get married, adopt a pet, birth, or adopt a child, lose a loved one to death, and a myriad of other relationship activities with friends and blood relatives.

Then there is adjusting to a new home whether upsizing or downsizing.

Changing jobs or a career involves adjusting too.

What about adjusting one’s spiritual understanding?

Compare the ESV and NIV translations of Joel 2:29:

ESV  Joel 2:29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

NIV  Joel 2:29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

An adjustment was made in the NIV translation that is not found in the original Hebrew.

Many of the Greek and Latin translations that predate the NIV have “my”, but the  Hebrew manuscripts do not.

Knowing this, now compare Joel 2:28-29 in both translations:

ESV  Joel 2:28 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. 29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

NIV  Joel 2:28 “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. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

Commentators that I read that discussed this adjusting argued in favor of leaving “my” out saying it is implied that the servants in question should adopt “your” from the previous verse. Doing so puts the servants as belonging to the initial audience of the Judean community. This strongly implies that the servants were likely foreigners instead of natural born Judeans.

Other commentators I read did not even mention the adjusting taking place, yet these commentators understood verse 29 the same as those that brought the possessive pronoun issue forward.

Could the adjusting of verse 29 to include “my” alter your understanding of these two verses in any way?

Remember Joel 1:1 tells us the book of Joel is a message from the Lord through His prophet Joel.

In Joel 2:28-29 the Lord is speaking directly to the Judeans and now us today.

The focus of these two verses is the outpouring of the Lord’s Spirit on the community.

Leaving the “my” out means the Lord’s Spirit will not only be poured out on the Judeans/Israelites but also the foreigners who are their servants.

If we add “my” to verse 29 the interpretation is all who are the Lord’s servants will receive His Spirit. This means anyone who believes in the Lord may receive His Spirit at the Lord’s chosen timing.

So, does it matter whether the “my” is included or not?

I would argue that it does not matter whether the “my” is present in the verse or not since once can see that both options show the Lord is making a huge statement about who He is promising to pour out His Spirit upon.

For the first audience this announcement  would have been shocking to learn even though there are passages earlier in the Old Testament timeline that provide opportunities for foreigners to participate in the religious traditions such as resting on the sabbath. (See Exodus 20:10 and Deut 5:14 for example.)

Moses hoped for a day that all would have the Lord’s Spirit. (see Num 11:29.)

Read  Gal 3:28

ESV  Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

The above was written by the apostle Paul, who’s mission was sharing the good news of the risen Christ to gentiles and helping the Jewish people understand the Gentiles are included in the Lord’s plan for redemption.

The point here is not that we do not have differences as male, female, nationality, or social class in daily life.

But when it comes to the outpouring of the Lord’s Spirit it is not withheld from any who claim faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

The Lord’s desire is to share His Spirit with all who desire to be His servants.

As you engage upon the first work week of 2021 and all the continuing adjusting required for myriads of details, may you keep these truths in mind as you interact with those who are a different gender, nationality, or social class than yourself.

No matter what adjusting we have to do to keep the gears moving physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, fiscally, and most importantly spiritually, it is important to be willing and ready!

When have you been surprised by the Lord’s generosity that helped make adjusting easier? Share in the comments or email me!


Barbara Lynn

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