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Wednesday, June 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Joel 2

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-11

Joe 2:1-11

A Description of Jehovah’s Destructive Army

(Joel 2:1-11)

Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain; let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of Jehovah cometh, for it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, as the dawn spread upon the mountains; a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after them, even to the years of many generations (2:1-2).

Joel calls upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem to sound the alarm in Jerusalem. The day of Jehovah cometh.” The nearness of the event is depicted in the prophet’s instructions to sound the alarm now. The watchers (God’s prophets) upon the wall see the devastation coming and thereby they sound and warn the inhabitants of the city. Joel uses dramatic language that illustrates to the inhabitants of the land that they are about to experience the greatest darkness and gloomy state that has ever been experienced by man. Such a state of doom will cause the joyous city to wail in pain and agony.

A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burns: the land is as the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and none hath escaped them (Joel 2:3).

The great insect plague, Babylonian army, or both are depicted as a devouring fire destroying everything in their path. Those areas before them that resemble the Garden of Eden for beauty are burned and stripped of vegetation to look like a place of desolation. Smoke and ashes are behind them and they spare no one. Let us recall that the prophet Jeremiah wrote, “For I have set my face upon this city for evil, and not for good, saith Jehovah: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire (Jeremiah 21:10).

The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so do they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of the mountains do they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devours the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. At their presence the peoples are in anguish; all faces are waxed pale. They run like mighty men; they climb the wall like men of war; and they march every one on his ways, and they break not their ranks. Neither doth one thrust another; they march every one in his path; and they burnst through the weapons, and break not off their course (Joel 2:4-8).

The alarm has been sounded. The watchmen have seen with their eyes the power and might of this foe. An army of horsemen is their appearance and their goings has the sound of many chariots and a devouring fire. When the people under attack see the army their hearts are melted and filled with anguish. The people’s faces are pale for they are sickened at the thought of what they are about to experience. The devouring army is driven by a purpose of destruction and so they do not break their ranks but rather march in astonishing order that they may achieve their goal.

They leap upon the city; they run upon the wall; they climb up into the houses; they enter in at the windows like a thief. The earth quakes before them; the heavens tremble; the sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. And Jehovah utters his voice before his army; for his camp is very great; for he is strong that executeth his word; for the day of Jehovah is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?” (Joel 2:9-11).

This destructive army that leaves the land and people desolated is now revealed to belong to Jehovah God. Jeremiah had warned Israel that God would fight against them due to their hardened hearts (Jeremiah 21:5). The Babylonians were to be God’s battle axe in His hand to destroy His rebellious people (cf. Jeremiah 51:20). The Lord’s destructive forces have arrived for judgment against the ungodly inhabitants of the land. The destroying army comes upon the city covering and invading it like water that invades a dry sponge by saturation.

Verses 12-17

Joe 2:12-17

Joel Suggest that the People turn their hearts

to God before its everlasting too Late (Joel 2:12-17)

Yet even now, saith Jehovah, turn ye unto me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto Jehovah your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth whether he will not turn and repent, and leave a blessing behind him, even a meal-offering and a drink-offering unto Jehovah your God? (Joel 2:12-14).

Yet even in this time of immediate danger there is yet hope. The people can avert the calamity of utter destruction if only they would turn back unto God with all your heart.” God’s desire for His people is that they would serve Him because that’s what is in their heart to do rather than simply going through the mechanical motions of service. Rending the garments would be a typical reaction to one who was in sorrows; however, such activity did not necessarily mean that there was true sorrow in the heart. The Lord desires Israel to rend your heart in turning back to Jehovah in repentance. The worshipper of God must truly have a broken or torn heart due to their knowledge of violating the Lord’s commands. God has blessed His people with much. Shall the people of God now do works of ingratitude by living in sin? The Lord’s requests thereby for His people is that they would earnestly turn to Him in repentance and purpose within their heart to follow His laws to the best of their abilities. Said condition of the heart illustrates the spirit of one who believes in the reality of God, heaven, and hell. Such an individual voluntarily places self under the authoritative commandments of God out of a since of reverence, fear, and respect for the Almighty. People who earnestly give effort to follow God’s precepts and ways are the people that God so desires to serve Him (cf. Philippians 3:13-15) (see study # 1; God’s Desire for His People).

Note the fact that God is depicted not only as a destroying force (cf. Joel 2:11) but also a gracious and merciful God that is slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness.” It takes my rebellion to bring out the anger of God yet if I would only give effort in this life, through faith, to follow His will then He will be gracious and merciful to me when I sin against him (due to the fact that I repent and ask for forgiveness / I’m trying my best to do good).

Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly; gather the people, sanctify the assembly, assemble the old men, gather the children, and those that such the breasts; let the bridegroom go forth from his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the minsters of Jehovah, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Jehovah, and give not they heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the peoples, Where is their God?” (Joel 2:15-17).

God often speaks through the prophets words that He would like to hear his people say (cf. Hosea 14:1 ff). There will be great blessings upon the people of God the day that they blow the trumpet signaling an assembly and the priests pray a fervent prayer on their behalf. Such a state of mind will move Israel to understand that by their actions they have caused the surrounding nations to not believe that God is. How could a God of any people, so they would say, let all these horrific events occur? Neither the people of God nor the surrounding nations understood that it was the Almighty God who actually brought these calamities upon His own people. Israel had a rebellious spirit that needed correction. The rebellious attitude and consequential punishment has cause the world to say, Where is their God.”

Verses 18-27

Joe 2:18-27

The Blessings that await the repentant Sinner (Joel 2:18-27)

Then was Jehovah jealous for his land, and had pity on his people. And Jehovah answered and said unto his people, Behold, I will send you grain, and new wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith; and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations; but I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive it into a land barren and desolate, its forepart into the eastern sea; and its stench shall come up, and its ill savor shall come up, and because it hath done great things (Joel 2:18-20).

When Israel repents of her wickedness and rebellion the merciful and loving God will have pity upon them. The language is prophetic perfect meaning that the prophet speaks as though it already happened. Some of the people would indeed repent and the Lord would turn away his fierce wrath from them. The humble people would once again be blessed with grain, new wine, and oil. Their stomachs would be full and their hearts made glad by the new wine and oil. Secondly, the swarming “northern army would be removed by the might of God. This verse appears to be proof that a literal locust invasion alone was not the complete meaning of Joel’s prophecy at Joel 1:2-4. Some believe that the locusts are still under consideration due to the winds driving them into the various seas. It seems that one must also consider the fact that the Babylonians were often referred to as those of the north by the prophets (cf. Jeremiah 1:13-15; Jeremiah 4:6; Jeremiah 6:1; etc.). Jeremiah writes, The voice of tidings, behold, it comes, and a great commotion outof the north country, to make the cities of Judah a desolation, ad dwelling-place of jackals (Jeremiah 10:22).

God would certainly judge the pride stricken Babylonians of the north. Their sin is revealed as pride (Jeremiah 50:29), covetous (Jeremiah 51:13), and filled with idolatry (Jeremiah 50:2; Jeremiah 51:40; Jeremiah 51:52). Though the Lord would use Babylon to punish His people they would not escape judgment due to their own wickedness. Babylon had striven against the Lord (Jeremiah 50:24). Babylon would be punished for her evil deeds (Jeremiah 25:12; Jeremiah 50:14; Jeremiah 50-51).

Fear not, O land, be glad and rejoice; for Jehovah hath done great things. Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field; for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth its fruit, the fig-tree and the vine do yield their strength. Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in Jehovah your God; for he gives you the former rain in just measure, and he causeth to come down for you the rain, the former rain and the latter rain, in the first month (Joel 2:21-23).

Those who humbly submit to God in repentance and confession of sins shall have nothing to fear. The fig-tree and pastures for grazing would be restored. Rain would once again come to the land and all things shall return to the way they once were.

And the floors shall be full of wheat, and vats shall overflow with new wine and oil. And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the canker-worm, and the caterpillar, and the palmer-worm, my great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and shall praise the name of Jehovah your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you; and my people shall never be put to shame. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am Jehovah your God, and there is none else; and my people shall never be put to shame (Joel 2:24-27).

The Lord would restore the land of plenty to the people that had been destroyed by the great army of God. This great army is termed, the locust, canker-worm, caterpillar, and the palmer-worm.” The things restored would be food and the people’s integrity among the nations. When all the atrocities of Babylon through sword, famine, and pestilence is miraculously displaced by Jehovah God then all would know that, I am Jehovah your God, and there is none else.

Verses 28-32

Joe 2:28-32

Future blessings through Christ (Joel 2:28-32)

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit (Joel 2:28-29).

The pouring out of my Spirit is defined as sons, daughters, old and young men, servants and handmaids distributing divine revelation. Without partiality God would use male, female, young, old, slave, and free to distribute His message. Those immersed in the Holy Spirit to do the work of revealing divine revelation to the world did so through prophesy, dreams, and visions (see study # 2; Baptized by the Holy Spirit). The author of Hebrews tells us that God communicated His message to man in “divers manners” (Hebrews 1:1). God spoke directly to some prophets (Genesis 12:1 ff; Exodus 12:1 ff. etc.). God moved (2 Peter 1:21) some men to speak divine truths by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit entered into (Ezekiel 2:1-2) and fell upon (Ezekiel 11:5) the apostles and prophets in times past. Jesus said to his apostles, when the Spirit of truth is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come (John 16:8 ff). Nehemiah records, “yet many years didst thou bear with them, and testified against them by thy Spirit through thy prophets (Nehemiah 9:30 / cf. Ezekiel 1:3; Ezekiel 11:4-7).

Others received “visions” and “dreams” from God to speak a divine message to the people (cf. Daniel 7:1; Obed. 1:1; Joel 2:28 ff). These men, that were moved by God to speak, confirmed their words as being of divine origin by the signs and wonders they performed (cf. Mark 16:20; John 20:30-31; Acts 2:22; Hebrews 2:2-4).

And I will show 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 terrible day of Jehovah cometh (Joel 2:30-31).

The apostle Peter had quoted this section (i.e., Joel 2:28-32) in his speech to the Jews on Pentecost at Acts 2:17 ff. The great miracles that the prophets and other inspired people did produced wonder within the minds of the witnesses. These days; however, would see unrepentant sinners just as there were during the days of Joel. Due to their hardened hearts God would bring blood upon them in judgment against their wicked deeds. Rome would eventually march on Jerusalem and utterly destroy it at 70 AD.

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be delivered; for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those that escape, as Jehovah hath said, and among the remnant those whom Jehovah doth call (Joel 2:32-32).

The apostle Peter quotes from these verses at Acts 2:17 ff and adds, And it shall be, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:21). Clearly the salvation is from the consequences of sin rather than the destruction of Jerusalem. Paul was told by Ananias to be baptized so that his sins might be washed away and then he was instructed to call upon the name of Jesus. The idea of calling upon the name of God is to “invoke” or “appeal” to the name of God for spiritual help (LS 292).

The following verses are examples of men calling upon the name of Jehovah (Psalms 3:1 ff; Acts 2:21; Acts 9:14; Acts 9:21; Acts 22:16; Romans 10:12-13; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:22). God calls upon men and women to be saved through the gospel message (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). Man calls upon God by appealing to Him for help in his time of needing forgiveness for sins.

Note that salvation is found at mount Zion and in Jerusalem.” Mount Zion is where the law of forgiveness would go forth (cf. Isaiah 2:3). Those who come to Mount Zion through hearing and responding to the call of the gospel message have entered into the church of Jesus Christ (cf. Hebrews 12:21 ff) (see study # 5; The Kingdom of God).

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Joel 2". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/joel-2.html.
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