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A Bird's-Eye View of Joel
1. The Book of Joel anticipates the day of Jehovah. The 1st chapter has a definite historical setting, but it also looks forward in anticipation of the coming day of wrath that shall be upon the earth prior to the time of Christ's Kingdom Reign.
As we see the literal ravages of the locust, with famine and pestilence, as set forth in chapter 1, we behold but the forecasting of the ravages of the great army of the North, that shall fall upon Judah and Jerusalem in the latter days.
2. The Book of Joel is the Word of the Lord. This is definitely stated in Joel 1:1 . Joel, along with the other Prophets, emphasizes the fact that what he said was not his own message, but God's. The New Testament tells us that holy men of God wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. There is no other possible way by which the statements made in the Book of Joel could be accounted for. Men cannot foretell events as Joel and the Prophets foretold them.
3. The Book of Joel tells of a most unusual and devastating judgment upon the Children of Israel. It is such a striking judgment that the Book opens with a call to the old men and to the inhabitants of the land to tell it out to their children. Their children, in turn, are to tell it to their children. The message covers the ravages of the locust as they were to eat everything, sweeping the land clean of every vestige of green. History tells us of the terrific ravages of this terrible pest.
Even our own country during the year has not been free from the curse of the locust.
4. The Book of Joel presents God's call to repentance.
(1) The drunkards are urged to weep and to howl because of God's judgment upon them. They are told to lament like a virgin, girded with sackcloth, laments the death of the husband of her youth.
(2) The vinedressers and the husbandmen are told to howl because their harvests have perished. The wheat and barley is cut off and the vine is dried up; the fig tree languisheth, while all the trees of the field are withered.
We think at this moment of the depression which has been upon us, the devastating storms, the droughts.
(3) The priests are told to hide. God says: "Come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God." They are told to sanctify a fast; to call a solemn assembly, to gather the elders and the inhabitants of the land into the House of the Lord, where they may cry unto God.
Here is a lesson for us all. It is as applicable to our day as it was to the day of the Prophet Joel. The preachers should lead the way in confession.
5. The far-flung meaning of it all. Joel 1:15 cries out, "Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come." The language is so graphic. It describes the seed as rotting under clods of dry ground. The barns are empty; there is nothing to harvest. The beasts groan, the herds are perplexed, fire has devoured the pastures, while the rivers are dried up. Such are the far-flung judgments of God upon His people, for their sin.
I. GOD'S CALL TO BLOW THE TRUMPET (Joel 2:1-29.2.2 )
1. We have a localized alarm. The trumpet is to be blown in Zion. The alarm is to be sounded in the Holy Mountain. The city of Jerusalem and the chosen land has been, during the centuries, the very hub of conflict and battle. History will repeat itself. Jerusalem shall yet again see the carnage of battle. God's chosen people have suffered much, but it is not until the day of Jacob's trouble, when the tribulation is sore upon the land, that it will know its greatest sorrow.
2. We have an alarm with a time setting. The devastation of chapter 2 is to be in the day when the Lord comes. It is also to be in a day when Zion is in the land. The very fact that at this moment the people of God, the Jews, are turning their faces Zionward, and are hastening toward Jerusalem, is a certain indication that they are only going back, that they may enter into their sorrow.
3. We have a day of unspeakable darkness. It is called, "A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness." Writings similar to those by Joel are not at all popular. The world is saying, "Speak unto us smooth things." The Bible, however, tells the plain and un-varnished facts. The world, and the Jew as well, are hastening into the throes of tribulation. These throes will center around Jerusalem, and around the ten-kingdom empire.
Thank God, that the saints are looking for their upgoing. When the Lord begins to judge the world, He will take His own to be with Himself.
Let those who read these words seek to know the Lord that they may escape the great tribulation, and stand before the Son of Man.
II. GOD'S DESCRIPTION OF THE ARMY (Joel 2:3-29.2.11 )
1. The battle described will be the greatest of all history. In Zechariah 14:1-38.14.21 we read: "The day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle." Joel tells us something of the devastations which this army from the North will cause. Read what he says in Joel 2:3 .
The expression "the Garden of Eden" shows a little of the wonderful conditions in and around Jerusalem before their judgment falls. The fertility of the land has been restored. Money has been lavishly spent until Jerusalem is at this moment a wonderful garden.
All of these things are even now beginning to come to pass. However, all its wealth, with its glory shall be swept away. Palestine will become a desolate wilderness when the people of the North finish their wreckage.
2. The description of the army. The Prophet thus describes them, "The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness."
During the World War we read letters from London telling us how the people of that great city at night, were kept in total darkness, because of the danger of airships and their bombs. When airships were heard buzzing above them, the people rushed to the cellars or basements of their homes. What will it be when Joel's prophecy is fulfilled! Read also Joel 2:7 .
III. THE SECOND TRUMPET CALL (Joel 2:15-29.2.17 )
1. The plea to repent. The first trumpet was to sound the alarm of the gathering hosts to war. The second trumpet is a call to a solemn assembly. It is a national call, but a call inclusive of every individual. "Assemble the elders, gather the children"; "let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar."
How appropriate is all of this to the present day status of Israel. The Children of Judah and Jerusalem, in fact Jewry, the world over, are being swept along to certain judgment, all unmindful of the fate that awaits them.
2. Jewry includes two classes :
(1) There are the orthodox who are altogether blinded. They profess to believe in the Prophets, they read them in their synagogues, and yet, they know not their message.
It is the same story as of old. In the days of our Lord, the Jews met in their synagogues, read their sacred Scriptures every Sabbath Day, and yet, "Because they knew Him not, nor yet the voices of the Prophets * *, they have fulfilled them in condemning Him."
(2) There are the liberal Jews. These, perhaps, include the greater part of Judah. They have utterly repudiated the God of their fathers, the words of their Prophets, and they are wholly given over to infidelity. Their faith is gone, and with it; their hope is gone. The last expression in Joel 2:17 ," Where is their God?"
A time of tears and of tribulation awaiteth all these people. A tribulation with a drawn sword abides them. Many of Israel, even the rebellious will be slain, while a wonderful preserved group will repent; and, through Jacob's greatest trouble, they will be made ready to receive the Lord when He comes.
IV. THE PROMISED DAY OF REFRESHING (Joel 2:19-29.2.27 )
God will not utterly forget His people, neither will He altogether cast them off. He will be zealous for His land, and show pity toward His chosen race. The Lord's promise of "refreshing" may be clustered around three things.
1. Physical blessings will abound. Joel 2:19 says: "Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith." During the tribulation there will be great devastation followed by famine. Afterward, when the Lord comes, He will rebuke the devourer.
2. Fear and trembling will be removed. God will remove far off the northern army, that came down to spoil His people. Then will He say: "Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will dp great things."
Again God says, "Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field." Their starvation will pass, as the tree bears her fruit, and the herbage covers the ground.
3. The early and latter rains will be restored. In Joel 2:23 the Lord says to the Children of Zion, "Rejoice in the Lord your God: for He hath given you the former rain moderately, and He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month."
The result of that rain is described by the Prophet Joel, when he says: "The floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil." God will restore unto His people the years that the locusts have eaten, and the wreckage which the armies of the Gentiles have caused. Then shall they eat in plenty and be satisfied.
Praise God for Israel's coming deliverance! It is as certain as the Word of God is sure.
V. THE COMING OF THE SPIRIT (Joel 2:28-29.2.32 )
We now have before us the definite assurance of the coming of the Spirit to Israel (Joel 2:28 ).
1. Why this prophecy of the coming of the Spirit was not fulfilled at Pentecost.
(1) First of all, it was to come after the Lord had sent the early and the latter rain, and given plenty to His people.
(2) Secondly, in connection with the Spirit's coming, the Lord said: "I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come." None of this was fulfilled at the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost.
When Christ told them that He would send the Spirit not many days hence, they immediately said: "Wilt Thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?" Following Pentecost, Peter said, in a call to national Israel, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the Heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things."
2. Why this prophecy must be fulfilled. The answer is simple. There shall not fail one thing which God hath written. The Spirit did come. That much was fulfilled. Everything else spoken in Joel awaits fulfillment and will yet be fulfilled to the letter. The sun will be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood at the time of the Lord's Second Coming. At His Second Coming, also, the Lord will restore the early and the latter rains. This is the time when Joel's prophecy will have its completed fulfillment.
VI. THE JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS (Joel 3:1-29.3.2 ; Joel 3:12-29.3.16 )
1. The time of the judgment. It is in those days which mark the coming of the Spirit, the Return of the Lord, and the restoration of the early and the latter rain; it is in the time when God has brought again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, that He will bring all nations into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and plead with them there.
We must remember that this battle will be formed by certain cataclysmic judgments which will accompany Christ's Return. It is when He Comes that the Mount of Olives is to be split in twain. It is when He Comes that living waters will flow from Jerusalem. After this, He will judge the nations.
2. The basis of the judgment of the nations According to Matthew 25:1-40.25.46 , the Lord will judge the nations accordingly as they have treated His people the Jews, whether good or evil. This is a valuable study. Whatever else we do, let us never spiritualize Matthew 25:31-40.25.46 . It is easy to say that the words, "I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat," etc., refer to the philanthropy of the rich Gentiles, toward the poor and downtrodden of our day. You must remember, however, that this message of Christ covers the period following and not preceding His Return; it has to do with an address which He makes to the gathered nations, whom He has separated as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.
3. The judgment described. In Joel 3:12 we read: "Let the heathen (Gentiles) be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about." At that time the harvest of the earth will be ripe, even as it is written in Revelation 14:14 . At that time the wine press of God's holy wrath will be full. The wickedness of the nations has been great. As God speaks of their judgment, He says: "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision." Indeed the decisions of Jehovah in that day will be near, "for the sun and moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake."
VII. THE LORD DWELLING IN ZION (Joel 3:17-29.3.18 )
1. The Lord shall dwell in Zion. Men may cavil with each other and disagree; and they may call all of these things a matter of interpretation. In spite of their arguments, the Lord, the God of Israel, will dwell in Zion, His holy mountain, and in Jerusalem, His holy city. It is the voice of all the Prophets that Christ will reign in Jerusalem.
2. Israel shall know the Lord. When Christ comes again and delivers His people, then Israel shall say, "Lo, this is our God." How we rejoice that blinded eyes are to be opened, and deaf ears are to be unstopped.
3. Then, shall Jerusalem be holy. During the centuries, in which the Children of Israel have been scattered among the nations, they have profaned the Name of their Lord among the Gentiles, both by their tongue and by their uncleanness. In that day it shall be said: "Jerusalem is holy." God will take away their stony heart, and give them a heart of flesh.
4. In that day the mountains will drop with new wine. Jerusalem will indeed be kept as a Garden of Eden. Fertility and fruitfulness will be restored to Zion, and the land of Palestine will rejoice and be glad.
5. Judah and Jerusalem will go on forever. He who restores Israel will restore them never to be torn down again. Their peace will be both unmarred and unbroken, and the nations of earth, shall send up their representatives from year to year to worship the Lord in Zion.
There is nought which will bring rebellious Israel back to God, than the coming of the Spirit as described in Joel 2:1-29.2.32 .
When the Spirit reveals Christ to Israel, she will call upon His Name and be saved.
"They tell us of a certain German artist who, redeemed from a life of awful sin, painted a picture of the Christ. His heart was so touched with what he realized his dying Saviour had done for him that all his masterful genius went into the effort to paint a face in which the incomparable love of Jesus for the lost would express itself. The picture was hung in the village church and underneath it were inscribed the words:
'All this I did for thee;
What hast thou done for Me?'
Many people came and looked upon the picture. One forenoon a young nobleman sauntered down the aisle for a curious glance or two; the face that had been wrought by the Spirit of God through the heart and head and hand of the converted artist, lit with love and radiant with compassion, caught and held his attention. He stood for a long time and then sat for hours gazing upon his crucified Lord. There was the Blood flowing from His riven side, the thorn-pierced brow, the lacerated hands and feet. The full meaning of the picture dawned on him and a new conception of the sufferings of Jesus was born within him. He never took his eyes from the wonderful face. But, at last twilight came; and you know the rest of the story. It found young Count Zinzendorf prone on his face and in an agony of sorrow, confessing his sins and yielding his life to the Son of God. And in two hundred years of perfect romance of Moravian missionary enterprise, the influence of this mighty man of God has been circling the globe." W. E. B.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Joel 2". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent