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The same subject is continued in this Chapter as in the former, the dreadful day of the Lord's judgments is solemnly described. But the close of the Chapter comes in with the sweetest promises of blessing in the outpouring of the Spirit.
The Chapter opens with a solemn call to sound the trumpet in Zion. This was the office of the priests, to blow the trumpet, of what kind soever it was, whether the war trumpet, or the trumpet for the calling of assemblies, or the jubilee trumpet, or the new moon, or fast trumpet. See Numbers 10:0 ; Leviticus 25:9 , etc. But certainly, the great leading object of the whole was with an eye to the gospel, as the close of this Chapter manifests. And nothing can be more beautiful in relation to the joyful sound, than the figure of a trumpet, when the true ministers of Jesus loudly proclaim in his Zion, redemption by his blood, and the day of the Lord Jesus at hand. Isaiah 27:13; Isaiah 27:13 .
If we read these verses with an eye to the gospel of Christ, (and surely in the present hour it were a folly to read them otherwise,) how graciously do they describe the first dawnings of a day of grace upon every poor sinner's soul. Reader! hath the day-spring from, on high visited you? Surely then I need not describe the darkness and gloominess your soul found itself in, when to your view darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the People. Jesus himself is described, as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds. 2 Samuel 23:4 . And so he is indeed to every precious blood-bought son and daughter of his; when by his Almighty arm, that soul is brought out of the darkness and shadow of death, and delivered from the terrors of an alarmed conscience, in beholding the fulness and suitability Of Jesus for salvation. Never was there a season like this, in the experience of the believers life; neither any after it, even-to the years of many generations!
It will be very easy for a child of God to make a gracious improvement of what is here said, if read spiritually with an eye to soul exercises, in the conflicts of flesh and spirit, when once a life of grace is begun in the soul. The concluding sentence in this portion is very striking, with an eye to this state of mind; for indeed the voice of the Lord is heard through the whole, in all the chambers of the awakened heart.
What a gracious invitation is contained in these words. How tenderly the Lord reasons with his people. And what an encouraging assurance it folds up with. Reader! do not fail to observe that this call of the Lord, the accompanying grace to incline the heart to the observance of it is implied. It is most blessed ever to remember that when the Lord thus comes forth in his endearing invitations, he is secretly inclining the heart to accept them. Grace must first enter the heart, or there will be no inclination to obey.
I beg the Reader to remark with me, what a most beautiful and finished representation is here of a praying assembly, and what blessings might not be expected to follow, where the Lord gives grace to the several characters to seek his favour. The congregation at large; the elders the children, yea, little children and babes at the breast; as if to bring down the mercy of God in Christ, upon the helpless, unconscious little ones, who all take part in the common calamity. And the bridegroom and bride are to forego their own private happiness to take part in the public evil, contrary to the kind provision the Lord had made for the marriage state, in the first year of their nuptials. Deuteronomy 24:5 . The priests, the ministers of the Lord, bring up the rear in this assembly, as those more highly interested for the Lord's honor and the Church's welfare. Reader! read this with an eye to Christ, and behold him in the everlasting exercise of his priesthood, and the whole then becomes lovely indeed!
Here comes in what all along seems to have been intimated, how gracious the Lord would deal with his people. This is ever the case. When the Lord is coming forth to bless, he puts his people to pray. And let the Reader never overlook the cause: namely, the Lord's jealousy for his land, his love to his people. And all this with an eye to Christ, the first and only pre-disposing cause in the salvation of Zion.
But here we have the sum and substance of the whole in one of the richest promises ever made, as the effect of salvation, and most comprehensive of all blessings. It is impossible to err in the explanation of this passage, or to make a mistake in the application of it. Indeed God the Holy Ghost would not leave it to any human comment, and therefore commissioned Peter the Apostle to take it up, and make it for the subject of his sermon on the day of Pentecost, directly referring to what Joel hath here said, to that glorious event. I beg the Reader therefore to turn to that scripture, and read the whole from beginning to end. Acts 2:0 throughout. It were to hold up a small lighted taper to the sun, to offer any illustration beyond what these two scriptures so fully explain; this part of Joel's prophecy, with the accomplishment of it, as related in that Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. I only beg the Reader to remark with me, what an answer those blessed scriptures then gave to the infidels mockery, of the first descent of the Holy Ghost; and what an everlasting answer the same precious portions of God's Holy Word are unceasingly giving now to modern sceptics, who impiously presume to confine the out-pouring of the Spirit to those early ages of the Church, and to the Apostles of Christ only: as if the work of God the Holy Ghost had ceased, when the Church of Christ was once established: as if his blessed agency was no longer necessary, and his glorious act of regeneration was no longer to be known. Blessed Spirit of all truth! how plain, how evident it is, that agreeably to our Lord's own sure promise, thy presence and thy power was to be known and felt by thy people forever. John 14:16-17 . Reader! look over the several interesting particulars in this sweet promise of a covenant God in Christ, and bless God, if so be you find your own personal character marked among the number. Observe . the extensiveness of the blessing, it is upon all flesh; that is, no longer confined to the Jews, but also extending to the Gentile. It is not only upon the priests, but the people also. Not only upon sons, but upon daughters; not only young men and maidens, but old men and children. Not only Masters, but servants: for in the Gospel Church there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither bond nor free, neither male nor female, for they are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 . And, Reader, go on to remark in the other part of this most blessed prophecy how fully and completely it hath been confirmed, and is every day confirming in the earth. The out-pouring of the Spirit produceth, as was promised, such wonderful changes in the whole system of men's minds and manners, as carry with them the highest demonstrations that Christ's kingdom of grace reigneth in the hearts of his people. God the Father promised that when he poured his spirit upon the seed of Christ, and his blessing upon his offspring, they should shew the blessed effects of those gifts in their lives and conversation. And here the whole is proved. They call upon the Lord, and the Lord acknowledgeth the call. I will say it is my people, saith the Lord, and they shall say the Lord is my God. See those scriptures, Zechariah 13:9 ; Galatians 5:22-25 ; Romans 8:9-16 . And while those and the like scriptures, fully prove the gracious effects resulting from the out-pouring of the spirit, in the latter-day dispensation, under the gospel; there is joined with this promise the solemn threatening of God, which will distinguish those characters on whom the regenerating power of the spirit is not found. This is set forth under the strong images of the sun darkened, and the moon turned into blood; intimating the horrible condition of those who count the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, and do despite to the spirit of grace. Well may everyone that reads this solemn scripture cry out, from hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word and commandment, good Lord deliver us! Hebrews 10:26-29 .
READER! let us both pause over this most striking Chapter, and looking up for the fulfilment of the sweet promise at the close of it, in our own personal interest beg that we may indeed, and in truth, realize and enjoy the precious blessings there contained. Let us observe what is here said, then look to the Gospel and mark the full confirmation of it; and then, as souls convinced of divine truth, ponder well the sacred contents, and see to it that we neither of us fail of this grace of God.
Behold how solemn and how sure the great day of God is proclaimed. There is, there must be a day coming, in which all these alarming judgments, which the former part of this Chapter relates in figure, will be manifested in reality! Oh! for grace to sanctify the solemn truths in our houses, and families! Ye ministers of my God! do ye not find cause, in the present awful hour, when the Lord's judgments are in the earth, to blow the trumpet in our British Zion, and to sound an alarm in God's holy mountain! Yea! do ye not weep between the porch and the altar, and bear testimony to the truths of your Lord in an holy jealousy and zeal for his honor; crying out with one of old; mine eyes run down with water because men keep not thy law! Ye fathers and mothers of the rising generation! will ye not gather your little ones, and present yourselves with the very infants that hang at the breast before the Lord, to implore the Lord's mercy in the present impending evils, that the Lord may be jealous for his land, and pity his people. And oh! ye humble followers of the Lord Jesus, on whom this spirit of grace hath been poured out, the sure token of Jesus' love, and your interest in him! See to it, that ye manifest a spirit of grace and supplication, hath been given you, and is continually in your daily walk, by besieging the throne with earnest cries and prayers, that will take no denial for Zion in her present alarming state of languishing. Go, my brethren, go into the very retirings of a covenant God in Christ, seeing that you have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus; and give him no rest nor peace, until he establish and make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. Oh! for the Holy Ghost, in his infinite mercy, to pour out of his sevenfold gifts, in a copious fulness, upon all the Lord's heritage, now Jesus is returned to glory, that all the redeemed may be earnest at the throne, until there shall be a deliverance in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Joel 2". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany