God promises a future time when God will be so immediately available that all people will prophesy.
Joel promises a time when all barriers to the office of prophet will be removed. God’s spirit will be accessible to all. No more will people be dependent on priestly or prophetic mediators to tell them what God is doing and what decisions they should make in their lives. This word is similar to the hope expressed by JeremiahProphet who condemned Judah's infidelity to God, warned of Babylonian conquest, and promised a new covenant More (31:31-34) that God will write the law on their hearts so they will no longer be dependent on another to interpret for them. They will all know the Lord, from the least of them to the greatest.
Obviously, this time of widespread prophetic illumination has not yet finally arrived, despite the breakthrough in Acts 2. Though some may claim to have divine inspiration, others who claim the same spirit will forcefully disagree about what God is saying and doing. This is a promise for the end-time, a promise that is yet to be fulfilled. In the meantime, some are wiser and more spiritually connected than others, and we ordinary believers are dependent on them for insights. With such a variety of claims to be God’s spokespersons, it remains a problem for us, as it was in biblical times, to sort out the true from the false prophetA false prophet is one who illegitimately claims authority for proclaiming and interpreting God's will. In the Old Testament false prophecy meant using signs and wonders to draw people away from the worship of the true God. False prophets appear in Deuteronomy; Jesus, in Matthew's... More.
It is also true that we should be careful not to set limits concerning who can speak for God and who cannot. It may be that the spirit has indeed inspired certain people with prophetic wisdomWisdom encompasses the qualities of experience, knowledge, and good judgment. The Old Testament book of Proverbs, which sometimes invokes a Woman as the personification of Wisdom, is a collection of aphorisms and moral teachings. Along with other biblical passages, it teaches, "The fear of the... More, even though their churches have not seen fit to recognize that the prophecyProphecy is the gift, inspired by God, of speaking and interpreting the divine will. Prophets such as Amos, Isaiah, and Ezekiel spoke words of judgment and comfort to the people of Israel on behalf of God. More of Joel may already be at work in places we do not control.
The writer of Acts referred to this passage to help explain the phenomenon that occurred on the Day of PentecostPentecost was originally a Jewish harvest or pilgrimage festival that fell on the fiftieth day after Passover. It was during this festival that the Holy Spirit visited Jesus' followers in tongues of fire and caused them to speak in many languages, as reported in Acts... More (Acts 2:17-18). The spirit descended on the people gathered there so that they spoke many different languages and all understood in their own language. For PeterThe disciple who denied Jesus during his trial but later became a leader in proclaiming Jesus More, in Acts, this was a sign that in Christ the “last days” had come.