Minor Prophets: Joel

The book of Joel is second in the succession of the three earliest minor prophets. This book is of mid-size, compared to the twelve minor prophets. Joel uses the real image of an army of locusts sent from the Lord to destroy the produce capacities of Israel, probably Judah, to talk about the coming Day of the Lord. He outlines what will happen on that Day and leaves his listeners with an image of the Messiah as one who will teach repentance. The book centers on this idea of repentance and the ensuing Day of the Lord, judgment for those who refuse to repent.

About Joel the Prophet
Very little is known about Joel and the exact circumstances of this locust plague. We know that Joel’s name means “Yahweh is God” from the two short forms for God (elohim) and Yahweh (Yah or Yoh). He also tells us who his father is, although that does not help us place him within the bounds of recorded history. His father’s name is Pethuel, which may mean “a youth belonging to God.” There are no other indicators of Joel’s time or circumstance.

Joel’s Place in History
The only viable evidence we have to date the book of Joel comes from a couple of minor observances. First, it is likely that Amos would rely on Joel a bit within his own book, meaning that Joel would have to pre-date Amos. Second, the locust plague would suggest an earlier date rather than a late one. We will put Joel about 835 BC. Joash, the reigning king at this time, was just a boy about the age of seven. Before Joash came to power, Athaliah seized control after Jehoram was killed in a revolution in 841 BC. She was just like her mother, Queen Jezebel, destroying through murder all of the descendants of King David except for one, Joash, who was hidden in the temple from infancy for six years. The priest Jehoida who took care of him organized a coup and set him in power in 835 BC, acting as regent until the boy could rule on his own. This is said to be the time in which the locusts had come, more around Obadiah’s time ten years ago. Within these ten years, those locusts had not just destroyed the crops and produce of Judah. They had taken away hope in God’s salvation and caused rampant wickedness.


Dates and Timelines
* I am using James Smith’s Survey of the Minor Prophets as a guide. 850 800 750 700 650 600 550 500 450 400 300 BC Obad (Late)

900 BC Obad (Early) 835 – Joel

Outline of Joel
I. The Locusts have destroyed Israel (1:1-2:17). A. Four types of locusts (1:1-12). B. The Lord sent the locusts because of sin (1:13-20). C. The locusts are a mere inkling of the Day of the Lord (2:1-11). D. Repent now and be rescued from the Day of the Lord (2:12-17). II. The Lord will restore and replenish Israel (2:18-3:21). A. Hope comes only through repentance (2:18-27). B. God will not just restore what was lost (2:28-32). C. Judgment comes to anyone who does not repent (3:1-16). D. God will proclaim Zion in the Day of the Lord (3:17-21).


Joel’s Prophetic Message
Chapter 1 1:1 The word of the Lord which came to Joel, son of Phethuel: The word of the Lord is the prophecy, the message that the Lord has for this people at this specific time. The specifics of the time will be announced in just a couple of verses, but the people already know the circumstances. This tiny phrase not only points to a message from the Lord, but also points out that God has seen their circumstances. He is not unknowing of what has happened. We will find out that He has allowed it as an image of what will come if the people do not learn the discipline of repentance. The Lord speaks to every situation. There is nothing that happens outside of his purview. He knows all things. He has a message for His people no matter what the experience or situation. The fact that He sends prophets with messages tailored to their situations shows God’s great care for all of us. This word came to Joel, a man who was appointed by God no matter what his former occupation or condition in life, to preach and proclaim this message for this people at this time. He was the son of a man named Pethuel, whose name probably means “a youth belonging to God.” Little else is known of this man, but we will see his great love for God’s people as He warns of an even worse Day of the Lord in light of this locust plague. 1:2 Hear this, O elders, and listen, all you inhabitants of the land! Has this ever happened in your days, or even in the days of your fathers? Joel begins to give his message, probably proclaiming with a loud voice in the vicinity of Jerusalem, maybe even in the temple to all who would listen. First, he calls on the elders specifically. The elders are those in Israel who have the most experience, who know how to judge things. These are men who are very wise and well respected in the nation. They rule the land because they are full of wisdom and knowledge. The second command, to listen, is different than the word “to hear” used by Joel to call the elders to attention. Now, he focuses on a more general audience along with the elders. All the inhabitants of the earth was probably a reference to the immediate common people listening to his message. These would be all from the peasants to priests. This is a time in Israel’s history where their leadership may have either been extremely weak because their king was just seven years old, or very strong in spite of the young king because other leaders where stepping up as regents until he was ready to truly rule. We know that he was a good king, and if this message is given while he is still very young, then it may have set the tone for his whole kingship. The inhabitants of the land could be expanded to mean everyone on earth, but it was probably referring just to those who were citizens of Judah where this prophet prophesied. Joel now opens with a question concerning the cataclysmic event of the locusts, which we will soon 3

an army of them which has come and eaten all of the crop. Joel lays out the importance of this Jewish tradition to retell or recount the events that parents have lived through to their children and the oral history that is so rich in Israelite culture. and at the very least meant as a sign. In times of crisis. Several groups have come in and destroyed to the next level. The passing on of history through storytelling embeds the lessons of history in the minds and hearts of the younger generations of a nation. who have seen many things in their lifetimes if they have ever seen a plague like the plague of locusts. No one has ever seen something like this before. so it should also be passed on to the next and continually throughout Israel’s history. It has also been used to teach moral character development by parents to their children. It has never happened in Israel before with this much damage. 1:3 Recount this event to your children. There has been an invasion of locusts. 1:4 The remainder from the cutting locusts the swarming locusts have eaten. He asks those who are old and wise. but the Lord has something to say. 4 . Such passing on will surely someday avoid these types of events and bring on the Lord’s m ercies and great love if the people throughout their generations learn to live righteously in the Lord’s sight. Perhaps it will be instruction and encouragement to them. or repeated if positive. His question would be answered with an emphatic “No. and your children to their children. It is a new thing that no one can cope with.” The people are listening and this prophet has their attention. These children in this manner are not just given an imperative command. which shows the unusual and unnatural realm of this plague. Then the remainder from the swarming locusts the hopping locusts have eaten. It is unusual. He questions the rest of the nation if they or their fathers have ever seen such a thing. The verse is specific in its referring to these locust groups. There is a lesson of repentance about to be learned by this generation. And the remainder from the hopping locusts the stripping locusts have eaten. Now the crisis. This tradition has saved them from repeating history’s mistakes. The point of recounting this event is to emotionally and empathically relive the event so that it can be avoided if negative.be privy to as readers. people have trouble coping because they have nothing in their history to prepare them for the shock and the circumstances of a catastrophe. It is not a thing that normally happens in nature. the catastrophic event is told by this prophet. Joel is striking a cord with all the people because they have never seen something like this. because they know that they’ve never experienced a crisis like this. and their children to another generation. Joel will expand our understanding of the catastrophic nature of this plague. but are also taught why the command exists using concrete and historical stories.

there will be no more. Finally. however they would grow back normally. Many times in our culture. so it keeps reality from being realized by those who are inebriated. rules. They do not see the correlation that the fields being stripped means no new wine. because we are so immediate gratification oriented. 5 . They’re still enjoying the wine in the storehouses. Not one thing is left for the people. 1:5 Awake. There is no hope of saving this crop in this season. the futures that could have been are farther apart than they were at the base of the decision. Wine was a main staple of drink in Joel’s day much like coffee or tea is in our day. First. It is a depressant. but wail is in the Hiphil. a fourth group of locusts even eats the stems of the plants. O drunkards! Weep and wail all you who drink wine. The whole of each plant in all of the land has been stripped bare. leaving just the stems of the plants. We have the power in the present to change the possibilities for the future. and other operations. But there’s a reason for the mourning. We need to become a wise people that realize the future happens because of our present. It is most likely that most if not all of the population would have been to some extent wine drinkers. but they have not realized that there will be no more wine when that runs out because the crops have been utterly destroyed. Joel cries out to those who have fallen asleep or who have not known the reality of what has happened. The situation they find themselves in doesn’t seem to affect them. When the old wine is dried up. He calls those who drink wine to mourning. not caring what has happened to the fields because they don’t realize that this disaster even affects them. This first group of locusts ate them. These greeneries collect sunlight and rain and feed them to the roots. the regular stem in Hebrew. but that is not all! A third group of locusts has further decimated the crops by eating everything that was green. to ignore the long-term effects of what happens around us. Joel is teaching them to not be like our culture. The terms for lament grow in intensity. which is an intensified stem. But then the second group of locusts. if that were not enough of a message. we don’t ponder the long-term effects of policies. These people must lament that there will be no new wine. Weep is just in the Qal. Seemingly strange comes this command to drunkards to awake. drunkenness is an altered state of consciousness. which swarms in larger numbers and eats more than just the green parts of the crops have come to do some damage. Wine slows down your reflexes and makes it appear as one who is sleepy.The succession is complete in destroying the crops. However. They are coasting along in their comfort zones. because the new wine was cut off from your mouths. But once we go down a road. have eaten the green shoots of the flowers which allow them to make the crop that is harvested. the crawling locusts. which are a pestilence but not necessarily destructive. much like sleep. This would be enough to ruin the plant for a season.

They attacked without warning and their destructive force was impenatrbale. these insects took what they wished and left nothing for the people of the land. Without hope. These locusts are also described poetically by Joel as being like the lion in its teeth and jaw. It is a horrible sight. The vines which produced the grapes for wine and fruits have been laid waste. Joel. as he continues the lament. It has surely stripped and thrown down the bark. Other things fail. Joel is probably using imagery here to describe the locusts. there is no purpose to keep on going in a cold and depraved world. our hope can be taken away with a destructive circumstance. They stole the crops that are the food and engine of the nation. strong and innumerable. Otherwise. 1:7 It placed my vine in horror and my fig tree was a splintered stump. As with many prophets. Anything that weakens a strong nation is strong in its own right. The references to the teeth and jaw of these insects speak to their ability to humble the nation through eating their crops. He describes their number as a nation of locusts. too big to number. Not only are the vines destroyed. Its teeth are lion’s teeth. The passage literally says they are placed in horror. They utterly destroyed the people’s resources. economies. We must place our hope in Jesus. the fig tree has been eaten down to the stump.1:6 For a nation arose against my land. describes the state of the harvest. With the vines completely gone and the fig trees in no hope of returning for many years. Like that great cat of the field. The results of these locust was just as deadly an occasion as when an army does come through and pillage and ravage a land and people. but they pillaged the land. for all other things will fail us at some point. people. It would take many years for a fig harvest to become a reality in these conditions. There is nothing left to get the people any hope of a future crop. They pillaged as an army does. Hope is a key ingredient to human life. but 6 . it will kill the tree. The hoard’s sheer number would have given it strength. and its jaw is like a lion’s. This destruction is complete in its scope. making them white. the plants have been exposed to the elements. The insects were relentless to the fields like a lion is relentless to its prey. So anything that seemed to be left without being ruined will soon be ruined. These swarming hoards of insects probably seemed to be strong as they took from the nation’s crops. and even that is splintered. When you strip the bark off of a tree and have the white of the tree exposed. The locusts took away the future of Judah. While some take this verse literally to mean that a nation would rise up and attack Judah in her weakened state is probably inaccurate. We must be sure to place our hope in God rather than in anything else. It swept through the land unquestioned and took as it willed. The locusts are described as strong and innumerable. for that matter. or crops. We cannot place hope in governments.

We as believers must never lose our hope in the Lord and the restoration of all things. Then I wept bitterly because the finality of his death had set in. the final result which is practically worthless. and the prosperity are stripped away to the barest and most basic garment in the sackcloth. leaving the widow without a warning. It is as if the wealth. to make the time of mourning too short or too long. They represent the death of the fire. for mourning and feelings of emptiness. protection a life together. This is what Joel was calling the people to do. 1:8 Lament like a virgin wearing sackcloth for the husband of her youth! The people must first be jolted into the reality in which they now live. 1:9 Cut off are the food offering and drink offering from the house of the Lord. Then hope is not subject to the whims of this life or world. They are simply waste. The idea here may be of a sudden loss of his life. This cultural mourning image is thoroughly enhanced by Joel’s addition of the newly made widow as she remembers the time of her youth when her joy was the highest in her new marriage. we live in it. mourn. so that there is bitter turmoil because he accidentally died before his time. now Joel is prophetically and pastorally teaching them how to react to this horrid demise. Now that same husband who had given her a future. There is no nutrition left in the ashes. The ashes are a symbol of the death. the gravity of the situation. we get in the pain. was gone. They must lament. Lamenting was done in sackcloth and ashes. We must put our hope in Him alone. All of this illustrates the newfound place of the one who is lamenting. It was the job of the priests to offer up the offerings prescribed in the Law of Moses as firstfruits of the land were given to the temple. we feel it. It is the beginning of the restoration of hope and faith. The idea of mourning was visualized even in the clothing that was worn during lamenting. but for a time after such a horrible circumstance. the delicacies. one would imagine the lament would be even harder to endure. As this realization sets in.God never fails. After describing the fields and the catastrophe that has occurred so the people will properly understand their circumstances. But there would be no offering for the Lord 7 . We must not belittle or chide mourning. A person would first put on this cloth which has no special or rich qualities in it. such as silk or a fine linen worn by the wealthy. The priests. Mourning is part of the process of restoration. When my grandfather died. In such a case. There are times and circumstances in our lives that call for lamenting and weeping. The people here have not yet realized the finality of their hope being stolen by an army of locusts. I did not cry through almost the whole funeral until it was time to take the casket to the graveside. Joel now calls them to a fitting and natural reaction to their dilemma. the Lord’s servants.

which may remind you of the story of the Shunamite woman who had no oil. O vinedressers for the wheat and the barley because the harvest from the field was destroyed. even the priests are affected by the destruction of the locusts. This personification of the ground continues the poetic element to this prophet. From the field hands to the priests to the drunkards to the elders of Judah. What was part of this harvest has been either eaten or destroyed beyond use. The food and drink offerings that are usually offered would have been from the grain and fruits that were harvested. For these reasons. the soil mourns. Because of this. Joel makes his case that not one person in all of Judah is left unaffected by this national disaster. All of these life-ending and hope-killing results have been made possible by some of the tiniest creatures on this earth. The fields which have provided the environment for the crops and the harvest are left in ruins. But the harvest will not come because the crop has been annihilated. She could not even make meals to stay alive when Elijah came to her. 8 . They will not yield a crop for at least a few years. there is no more grain. The olive oil languishes. all have been affected in some way by this catastrophe. The new wine has dried up because there are no grapes with which to ferment and make new wine. those who tend to the grape vines. everyone. It now serves little purpose other than to be walked upon. Thus the grain is destroyed. As a result of the locusts’ attack on their fields. But Joel is not just going to lament the tragedy. There is no oil in the land. 1:10 The fields have been devastated. This devastation may not be realized for months or even years by the people.because there was no harvest. He has a message about this situation from the Lord! 1:11 Be ashamed. Joel continues as he calls now on the farmers and vinedressers. Because there are no more nutrients. After calling on everyone from the elders to the priests to the drunkards. The soil mourns for its ravishing as the people would mourn if an army came in and took them captive. Joel goes so far as to say that the soil mourns. The new wine has dried up. The command to be ashamed in Hebrew sounds like the verb for dry up in the last verse. The soil has not the nutrients needed to produce the environment for healthy and vibrant crops. Joel in his lamenting details the annihilation of Judah’s produce. Beyond this destructive termination of later harvest. including the priests who minister to the Lord in His temple are left to their mourning. O farmers! Wail. to weep and to be ashamed.

But take this repetition as a sign of just how deep and great the devastation and destruction have become. then he simply says it in black and white.The farmers must be ashamed because they have nothing to offer from the fields. 1:12 The vine has withered and the fig tree is languished. Ashamed may be the core idea of this whole passage from verse one to twelve. Withered and languished as verbs have been used before and the word for withered or dried up very closely resembles the sounds of ashamed. Joel’s repetition of these events and their results might show how much it took for the full brunt of this catastrophe to sink in for him as prophet and for the people. They were so shocked and surprised at its allencompassing attack on their normal everyday lives that they had to catch up in their minds to the destruction in their fields. a play on words that Joel will use just as in the last two verses here in this verse again. They can be there for days or even weeks. The perfect verb used throughout this section in Hebrew can be translated either as a present or a past tense verb. However. In such a case as the future perfect verb. depending on the devastation. They were thinking through and living out the pain of that one event. No one is strong enough to bring a solution. We may get bored with the amount of description and repetition that Joel uses as he describes the situation. The locusts have taken away their livelihood. The whole system of economics will fall as the product is no longer available. Next. palm. The nation is ashamed for the destruction that has come upon it. No one can fix it. The vinedressers also should wail and weep as the drunkards because they cannot make money without new wine to sell to those who drink the wine. all the trees of the field have withered. apples and palm trees. The wheat and barley may be part of a strong drink that was alcoholic. Thus joy has dried up out of the children of humanity. people get stuck in that time and that situation. Joel takes time to show that no plant of the field has been kept from destruction from grapes to figs. Otherwise. the prophet is guaranteeing that this word from the Lord will soon come true. it says that all the trees of the field are withering or have withered. This crisis will fall on his watch. these two products were also the main staples to make bread and other foods that were common to every home in Judah. but is only seven years old. It’s called the prophetic perfect. When a crisis happens. and all of this is happening as the king has in the line of David has finally been restored. Any hope of restoration is gone. not just their jobs. The nation is laid bare because of a natural disaster that almost has an unnatural ring to it. Either it is happening as the prophet speaks. but he can do nothing about any of it. or more likely. I believe that this is Joel’s reaction to the devastation that has already occurred. If these lists do not show the all-encompassing nature of the destruction. from pomegranates and other fruits. Pomegranate. The implications are being mulled over in this passage. it may not have yet happened. 9 . and apple tree.

the children of humanity. He calls them to come into the temple and spend the whole night. Now after laying out the situation and its affects upon different social stratums of Israel. First. Their sins have cut them off from being able to sacrifice to the Lord. There is nothing to give to the Lord because He has punished them for their sins. They were the ones who must offer the sacrifices and lead the people in the presence of the Lord. Don’t forget that any time you see dried up or withered it closely resembles the word ashamed. He always keeps in front of these priests and servants of God the reason for such drastic and dramatic measures. What a time to need a word from the Lord! Repentance Must Be Our Response 1:13 Wrap yourselves in sackcloth and mourn. because they are the spiritual leaders and this is a spiritual matter more than it is an agricultural or political or economic matter. for the Lord receives a tithe of all of the prosperity of Israel. O servants of the altar! Come in. This is why they are the first to wrap themselves in sackcloth. the affect goes also to the priests and the temple of the Lord. Now. Joel calls them servants of the altar because that is their familiarity. we go to God first and we commune with Him. This had to be done in earnest for a long period of time. because the food offering and drink offering have been kept from the house of your God. spend the night in sackcloth. It has taken some time to lay out and understand the great catastrophe that had befallen the nation. O priests! Wail. First. Joel sums up this whole section by giving the end result. Joel addresses the priests. Joel begins the call to action. who are the experts in matters of spiritual discernment to step up and provide spiritual leadership. We can take a couple spiritual principles from this verse. The joy of all Judah. crying out for forgiveness and wailing against the evils they had done which brought this unnatural judgment. The priests were to lead the people through example. Just as the image of the widower wrapping herself or girding herself with sackcloth in her time of lament. no matter what crisis happens in our world. and the pastors are the ones who lead in this area. He calls the priests. Joel turns to the response of the people. The proper response is to humble themselves and repent for their sins. Because of the affect of the locusts on the agriculture and economy of Israel. He is calling the people to see that their children also do not have a future if a crop cannot be harvested. Through going first to God and responding to the crisis in the spiritual 10 . The call to action for this locust attack is the same as if a nation had come in and humbled the people through war. The shame rests on them and the next generation. This is a problem of magnanimous proportions. This stresses that they were not going to pray a simple little prayer. so also the nation must now repent through first the godly sorrow of lamenting. has dried up along with the plants that have dried up. They are the ones who show the proper.Finally in this section as we close out immediate reaction to the army of locust’s war on the land of Judah. servants of my God. mature and godly way to deal with this situation.

There would have been thousands in attendance. except this coming Day will be much worse than imagined and certainly deeper in destruction than this catastrophe. Consecrating a fast was to call a fast for all the people. but in every situation of life. Sin will take all that we would be able to offer. This was not why the fasted. the assembly is called for national humility and repentance to begin. Everyone from the elders to the priests to the people were there. He continues with commands to the priests. all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord your God and cry out to the Lord.realm of life. Second. it also interferes with our worship of God. 1:14 Consecrate a fast! Summon a solemn assembly! Gather the elders. This was a call to abstinence from alcohol and sexual relations. One of the most poignant of these assemblies was the reading of the Law by Ezra after the exile in which the people wept for they had not kept the Law of the Lord and were ignorant of its statutes. It was to spend the time they normally would spend eating praying before the Lord. Their reason for coming and the agenda of this meeting is set by Joel. the pastors teach their people how to properly react to the events unfolding not just in crisis. our sin not only separates us from God and takes away from our ability to have resources. 11 . and destruction from the Almighty will come! Joel as prophet now fulfills the function of his office as he likens the destruction and the damage. No one was exempt from a sacred or solemn assembly. We must keep ourselves pure not just because God commands it but because it is the only way to maintain intimacy with God. A fast from food and water would not be hard. a preparation for the presence of the Lord to come in their midst. for there was no food or water because of the famine the destruction of the crops caused. We have seen solemn assemblies elsewhere in Scripture. telling these spiritual guides what they should already know to do. Several sacred assemblies of this sort are called throughout the times of Moses and Joshua. Fasting is going without something we normally have so that we can focus in on God as our provision! Consecration also suggests that the people would maintain the rules of consecration or sacred preparation in which they would abstain from ceremonial uncleanness of all kinds. the distress and the judgment of this locust army to the same destruction and disaster of the Day of the Lord. 1:15 Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is near. Here. usually for repentance or learning the Scriptures. a solemn occasion of spiritual humility before the Lord. They will cry out to the Lord in their destitute state and ask for forgiveness. Their purpose was to assemble the entire nation for a religious cause. We have nothing to offer when we are in bondage to sin. repenting of sin and drawing near to the Lord their Provider.

God will be the One causing the destruction because of the sins of the world. storehouses are deserted. They would not know this unless they tried to replant. They watched as the famine began. It is coming and the people must prepare for it by repenting. They see and do nothing because they lack the ability to do anything. The people will watch the destruction come and will be helpless to stop it. perhaps even replanting. This is why he says that it happens before the eyes of the people. That day is not to be looked forward to by anyone who is not repentant before the Lord! 1:16 Before our very eyes is not the food cut off from the house of our God. It is at hand. It will not be blamed on unnatural attacks of locust armies. Joel likens the Day of the Lord to the same type of situation we have here in this disastrous famine. They watched them destroy the fields and could do nothing about it. We do not know if the word for shovels means shovels. They saw not just the aftermath of the destructive locusts. but that fits the context. That makes it hard for us to know what the history or use of the word is. The people have tried everything. without any gladness. God will cut off the food from the temple and there will be no joy or gladness. except it will be much worse. However. The food sacrifice has been cut off as the wine from the lips of the drunkards and there is nothing to offer. Joel cries out sorrow and voices his lament in the words “Alas for the day!” He goes on to explain that the day of the Lord approaches. 1:17 The seeds shrivel under the shovels. he once again graphically lays out the hopeless situation. This verse is hard to translate from the original Hebrew because it has some words that only appear once here in this text and nowhere else in all of Scripture. But this raining down of God’s wrathful judgment will be caused by the sins of the people. They were held captive unable to stop the destruction. It is an emotional response in the heat of the moment.The interjection is hard to translate. He will not need to accept their false platitudes. The seeds that should give life are themselves dying. joyless. The judgment of God will render its victims helpless. The reason this suggestion comes is because the prophet says that the seeds shrivel under shovels. In that Day of destruction also. 12 . the granaries are ruined because the grain has dried up. No longer will a fake and disingenuous offering be able to even be given in the courts of the Lord. as the granaries and storehouses are also tools of the trade of agriculture. God will be the Destroyer on that Day. And now the Lord receives nothing. and sorrowful. As Joel continues to lament in explaining how this dire situation’s only resolve comes through a sacred assembly of repentance. because there will be nothing to offer at all. we can get an idea from the context. the joy and the gladness? Joel reminds them of the reason for all of these “drastic’ measures.

The granaries are ruined and there’s no use for them. This is the place where now as they call out to God. but the text does not specify. Nothing is left. also the storehouses are empty. He says that it eats up or devours the wilderness pastures. for both granaries and butcheries will be empty. This will mean that not only the grain and crops will not be a source of food for the people. They are bewildered because no matter where they go to find food. Let us never have to learn this hard lesson in such a harsh manner! 1:18 How the beasts groan! The herds of cattle are bewildered because there is no pasture for them. Every animal of the field cannot find the food it so desperately needs. The animals also suffer because they feed off of the grass and the grain. They will all die. Covenant is based on conditions for both parties. One would imagine that fires were natural. He uses the vocative of address to show that he is no longer speaking to the priests. They didn’t have refrigerator to store the meat of dead animals. the covenantal tetragrammaton which shows God’s covenant relationship with Israel. and no one will be able to eat after that. but also the animals will not reproduce. He addresses God as the Lord. there is nothing to eat. They are at the end of themselves. The fires have scorched the land. 1:19 To You O Lord I call because fire has devoured wilderness pastures and the blaze has scorched all the trees of the field. This is not just a problem for the farmers. There’s no grain to store or produce or perfect for house use. Now the prophet humbly calls out to the Lord in the presence of the drawn assembly. He can move in His awesome power and respond to their need for Him. Everything has been taken agriculturally and nothing spared. 13 . The word he uses for the fire’s action is an interesting and intensive choice. Perhaps their sin was putting stock in their storehouses and their harvests. The cattle groan without the food because they cannot continue to live without food. Even the flocks of sheep suffer punishment. The animals will not adversely be affected by the famine. Israel and God. These were the places the sheep and cattle would be grazing. relying on their own resources instead of looking to God for every provision and showing gratitude for His goodness. devoid of any food or people. He continues to show the results of a failed harvest. They cannot put their trust in their stocked up goods. The sheep also suffer under this cruel treatment.Not only are the seeds worthless to bring hope. They must rely on the Lord and they are making the last-ditch effort to come humbly before Him in fasting and sacred assembly with humble and repentant hearts. Every pasture has been destroyed and decimated. The grain has dried up. Joel then gives his reasons for crying out to the Lord and calling on Him to bring actions based on their repentance.

Because there is nothing to eat they are perplexed and they wander in vain searching for grass. 1:20 Even the beasts of the field pant for You because the streambeds of water have dried up. but they are now being called to Him in the sacred assembly. They pant in the heat of the desert sun and have no recourse. They will not find any. These were places perfect for sending animals that grazed out to pasture. They were left to grow wildly. So this sacred assembly is their final option. As surely as the fires have eaten up all of the grass of the fields and taken away the animals’ food. so also have the waterbeds. This is also part of their great suffering in the midst of this devastation. Even the trees have been burned down by the wildfires. These are the areas that Joel mentions before the Lord. the animals all pant for the Lord because He is the source of their life. dried up and left them with nothing to drink. We think of barren wastelands when we hear the word wilderness. the source for water to drink. Not only is there no food for the herds of cattle and flocks of sheep. Might we make it our first priority in the storms of life to go to God first! 14 . Hope has very graphically taken a vacation from the people of Israel. Everyone needs water. There also is a great lack of water. but more important is that the animals can drink and stay healthy. But to them. The water situation would also have affected the people. They are fasting not out of necessity but out of desperation for His moving in their lives. the source of flowing water. It is not that the streams are lower than usual. the wilderness pastures were places that were not farmed. but it is not there. The situation continues to be dire! Once again the prophet points to the wilderness pastures which the fires have demolished. but it should have been their first option. Nothing is left at all to boost the hope or morale of the people.Wilderness means different things to us than it did to Joel and the people of Israel. I am not saying that the people did not go first to the Lord. Desperate times call for desperate measures. It is that the beds of the streams where there is always water are now also dry. and the fire devours the wilderness pastures. Beyond this.

calls for the people of the earth to quake with fear. Like the dawn spreads upon the mountains a people. He is calling the people of God to war against the nations of the world as part of the Day of the Lord and His judgment. The vision is so vivid that Joel speaks in the prophetic perfect as if it is happening right now for him. His confidence in God’s predictive word is clear. great and powerful. He proclaims to those who will listen a command to blow the shofar. because of the next line calling it God’s Holy Mountain. God is using this crisis to show the greatness of the Day of the Lord. a day of clouds and thick darkness. they are praising and glorifying God. It will be a day that has never been or will ever be. Trumpets were used to sound the battle-cry in ancient battles. he now prophesies with the words of God responding to the situation. in Zion. and we may not be completely sure here which it would be. which is Mount Zion. caught up in a vision of the Day of the Lord. that Day is as good as recorded history. They were also used in times of praise and rejoicing. to proclaim what their God is about to do in His wrath. Here. but as far as this prophet is concerned. He is calling them out from their home in Zion to fight for Him. Other times it refers to the people of God themselves. This is how blowing the trumpet and sounding the war cry would have their primary meaning in calling to arms. the prophet. because God is going to judge and avenge His people against the wickedness. This day will be a day of dark destruction and wrath. The awesome fearfulness of that Day of the Lord is continually described by Joel as he calls it a day of thick darkness and blackest gloom.Chapter 2: Seeing the Day of the Lord 2:1 “Blow the trumpet in Zion and raise the war-cry on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the earth quake because the Day of the Lord is coming! Indeed it is near! As a response to the prophet’s cries for God’s help. 15 . the trumpet. He describes clouds and darkness of the absolute darkest kind. if the people on God’s holy hill. It is unclear. but in that act. who are the ones receiving this command are to praise Him for the righteous judgment bringing destruction on earth or if they are to sound the battle cry as those who are part of that judgment. 2:2 a day of darkness and gloom. like them there has never been from before nor after nor will there ever be again through all the years of generations. He is speaking about a future day that will come soon. Zion is being used as a reference to the Temple mount where His presence reigns supreme. At times it is compared to God’s holy people in the physical city of Jerusalem or even refers to God’s dwelling in the Temple. Zion is an interesting word that merits further study. and perhaps may draw on both of these traditions. a unique day in human history. The blowing of trumpets could have several implications. Next.

It is almost like a shield of fire all around them. So even the beauty of creation will be destroyed in God’s vengeance because it too has been tainted by sin. This army is as vast as the horizon on a mountain and they come out of the mountain like the dawn stretches across the horizon. the prophet describes the people of God assembling on the Mountain of the Lord to wage war for Him. experience beasts of the battle ground. The beauty of the earth and its creation is destroyed on this Day of the Lord The Garden of Eden is seen as the most peaceful and beautiful place on earth. This is not just a newly picked army. The Day of the Lord will be the most unique culmination of human history. but after them it is desolate wilderness. The prophet begins to describe the environment and situation of this fighting force for the Lord. but an experienced and battle-ready army. The earth before them is like the Garden of Eden. That experience will come in 16 . one that takes what is before them and under the guidance and judgment of the Lord destroys much like Joshua’s armies destroyed and put under the ban the cities and peoples of Canaan. and it will also suffer His wrath as His army does His bidding. This army will advance under King Jesus and destroy the earth. The intimidation of this big and powerful army is immense for the people facing them in battle. And powerful speaks to their force and ability in battle. horses designed to help their riders in times of war. And nothing escapes from them. a vast and frightening army for the Lord. It has one purpose on the Day of the Lord. This army that is being raised is unlike any other army that has ever been raised. a fire goes before them and burns up all their enemies. They are like battle horses. They are a true fighting force. It seems like an entire ring of fire sets at the boundaries of this army. He goes further to show what kind of horses they are. It is a unique army that will be used for that one purpose and that is it. assisting in the carrying out of God’s will and wrath against sinful humanity. They are surrounded by fire that destroys as they move about the ground.Next. I believe this is the army of saints during the Battle of Armageddon. It foreshadows the great battle of Armageddon when the people of God gather for war against the nations. What He made good is no longer good. They are ready for action and know what they’re doing. an army dedicated to His will in the Day of the Lord. As the army moves about. Joel continues to describe the people of God in their plundering and war. They look like horses who roam the land in battle. The word great here speaks of the number of the people on the mountain. After them is a flame that scorches. 2:4 Like the appearance of horses is their appearance and like warhorses thus they run. This people is the people of God. There will be many people in this army. Nothing is free from the wrath of God. 2:3 Before them a fire devours and after them scorches a flame.

It is the business end of His will on the Day of the Lord. This army can leap mountaintops and rumbles through territories as it marches closer to its goal. It is used of women in labor and is the idea of pain and anguish. all part of the Day of the Lord and God’s judgment on humanity and creation for sin. to gather. The word for pale is either blackness or in some cases has been translated color being drained from their faces. They are like the rumbling chariots on a battlefield that shake the whole earth as they move. or tremble. they will not be defeated or dwindle in numbers as the battle begins. Because of their experience. The word here that first describes the peoples or the nations of the earth is the word writhe. It is an army that is like the crackling of a flame. We don’t war like this anymore in our day. There is no chance of them gaining victory over this army. a group of manly men that fight on the side of righteousness. men each on their way walk. people that are gathered in rows ready for war. It contains all the saints. It is a verse about 17 .handy as they face their adversaries. all faces grow pale. But all of these talk about consuming and destroying. the very best for God’s army. They don’t have a hope or prayer of winning against God’s army. The image of the crackling flame is on a small level compared to the rumbling of chariots and the mountaintops. they have no choice but to be weary and very afraid. It’s like farmers with pitchforks fighting against a nuclear force. but not in the context of this verse. It can also be positive. These people have writhed in anguish and fear because they know there is no shot in the dark for them. 2:6 Before them peoples writhe. like a powerful army arranged for battle. you would show up with your troops and fight hand-to-hand combat. This is a premier fighting force. The word like continues to give us images of this fighting force. The other word is the word for accumulate or assemble. This army is a group of heroes. or dance. They wouldn’t even see it coming. The next comparison is to a powerful army arranged for battle. like the crackling of a flame of fire devouring stubble. All of these images are of destruction and consumption. So the words grow pale are the best way to put it into English. So the blood drains from their faces as their realize their defeat before one weapon is wielded. their weapons at the ready and their discipline on clear display. yet they do not abandon their paths. The next expression is that their faces grow white or pale. 2:7 Like heroes they run. 2:5 Like the rumbling of chariots upon mountain tops they leap. These warriors taint the whole of the context of this verse. but back then. The army carries out God’s judgment. like men of war they climb walls. When the people see this premier army coming from the mountain of God.

Now many of the homes would be built right into the walls. They attack the city by climbing the walls. One of the walls we know from one city that has been excavated was large enough for a chariot to drive around on the top of it. They press on and complete their duty in an almost kamikaze fashion. You have to have guts to fight against those odds. They will stay on the road or path that leads to military victory. This wall climbing would be to climb the fortified walls of a city. The sun and moon grow dark and the stars withdraw their gleam. They have a directive and a goal. but now on offense. the person skilled at the art and strategy of war. They do not scatter. They climb up into the houses. The wall itself was the best defense. and whatever else would find its way down the wall. Even in the midst of the battle. Their running as heroes and soldiers has been translated by some as marching. 2:8 They do not crowd one another. The next image is the man of war. The lines hold whether in war or not. rocks. The walls were sometimes very thick. The next idea is of men who walk with purpose on a mission. The discipline of this mighty and skilled army is the stuff of legends. so if a soldier could get some ways up the wall. Verse nine shows us an image of the army in action not on defense as in verse eight. he could take a house and then get into the city. 2:10 The earth shakes before them. the heavens tremble. They do not fear or run. They carry through their fighting with perfection and ease of focus. It is the hardest thing in war to take a higher position from an opponent. The houses would have windows without glass on the sides of the wall. They keep rank and file. They will not do anything outside of that goal. Now it is the whole earth as a planet that quakes and shakes at 18 . So the army has the bravery to scale the walls.military prowess and conquest. to climb them while being barraged on every side by arrows. A man walks in his track and through the weapons they burst without breaking away. They enter through the windows. 2:9 They attack the city. They were professional soldiers. not becoming lose or lazy in their approach or marching. Nothing will deter their advancement. They run on the walls. No man breaks rank as the enemy attacks. The idea of the climbing walls is to scale the wall. much like our military scales walls as part of their training. They are focused and ready for the task. Nothing will take them by surprise as they do their job with high quality results. Their life was dedicated to knowing war. Laying siege to the city would require overtaking whatever army showed up at the wall. This army’s legendary proportions are now enhanced by apocalyptic and cosmic imagery on top of the earthly imagery. They are attacking the city wall. they do not give away their ability or falter.

The words exceedingly great here are quite the superlative that elevates the level of greatness of this army. Anyone not on the Lord’s side or in His army is surely doomed. They tremble and quake at the sight of the army of mighty warriors. And it is that voice that follows His army. God is the one who does His word and He is mighty. 2:12 “But even now. concerning the Day fo t he Lord. The prophet is most likely referring to the army’s qualities. but the earth fears their arrival. His authority rests with His camp. Then truly celestial images immerge. and with fasting and with weeping and with wailing 19 .” declares the Lord. It is by God’s voice that the whole of creation came into existence. A common question throughout Scripture is. 2:11 And the Lord utters His voice before His army because His camp is exceedingly great. Such cosmic imagery coupled with personification present the case of a truly legendary nature and character. The uttering of God’s voice is something that throughout Scripture displays His raw power. So who can endure it? To complete the imagery of God’s fury and might brought in His army. not quantity here as he mentions the fear or reverence of the Lord. His army. It only verifies their power and might as they conquer. “Return to Me with all your heart. the fortification of the army as it travels and when it rests. It is God’s voice that breaks the Cedars of Lebanon in Psalms. For the reason of the mere fright that His army draws from His enemies. It will be total annihilation. The sun. Not only do the people turn pale. the Lord is to be feared and reverenced as awesome and mighty.their arrival. It is God’s voice that carries the strength and power for creation to respond. In Revelation. for mighty is He who does His word. “Who can endure it?” This will be a day of the show of force and God will be victorious. which are part of the apocalyptic tradition. The same can be said for the Lord here. His attribute of being mighty is played out in the size and strength and prestige of His army that He commands. It is said that only great men can lead great armies. moon and stars are silenced and darkened at their appearing. With such a massive and awesome vision of the Day of the Lord for the prophet. The word for voice also carries the meaning of sound. They will not escape His wrath. For great is the day of the Lord and very awesome. This camp is the encampment that is there. the prophet gives one last image of God as the victorious Lord and King who has the better army. This could be referring to that event. he is left to offer up the same type of question that other prophets ask about the Lord. “Who is like our God?” But here. we see this enacted before the Day of the Lord as the judgment of God when the sun and moon and stars are ripped out of heaven and no longer give their light. Even the heavens are not averse to this great force. and that an army takes on the nature of its commanding officer. the prophet asks rhetorically. This is a roaring sound that settles matters and actually causes things to happen.

which he has already advised the people of Israel to do in their current situation with the locusts. It is the next level of sorrow and God is calling them to experience the depths of their sorrow in repentance. God says that they do the outward image but the inside does not match the image.” He is returning from a vision of the future to its affects on the present. While they put on the show for others to see. to actually be sorrowful over our sins. He wants to see us change our hearts. This statement that finishes the declaration of the Lord has to do with the mourning process of wailing and putting on sackcloth and sitting in ashes. but it also occurs when deep sorrow for sin becomes the paramount expression of repentance. the phrase “declares the Lord” puts the full authoritative weight behind what the prophet says next as he commands the people to repent. He puts this command in the very words of the Lord. It is a holistic approach to worship in which both the mind and the emotions become unified in declarations of love for God. So God calls them to re-turn to Him. It became an image to rip one’s garments to visually show the breaking of their heart in their remorse or sorrow. and the seat of their emotions. we merely confess the sins so we don’t feel like God will not take us in the rapture. He does not want to see some image. He calls the Lord gracious and compassionate.” Now return to the Lord your God because He is gracious and compassionate. Here. After showing the Day of the Lord with vivid poetry and apocalyptic imagery vast in its cosmic references. others and ourselves. Repent means to turn away. God is not fooled.The prophet recourses from his vision of the Day of the Lord by saying. He waits for genuine remorse and returning to Him. Grace is not getting what you deserve. When was the last time that we were so heart-broken and depressed over the sins that separate us from God and one another? Many times in our Christian communities. and relenting over disaster. Following the command are four methods or ways that the people must return. They must return to the Lord and repent. because He can see into their hearts. 2:13 “then rip to pieces your hearts and not your garments. The declaration of the Lord ends and the prophet adds on his own plea to the people to heed the voice of the Lord and obey. Wailing here is a step up in intensity from weeping. He repeats the Lord’s command as a plea and gives them reasons for repentance. This is both the seat of the will and reason. “But even now. but we should feel sorrow over what we have done against God. Joel now returns to the matter at hand. If these qualities are not enough. God sees it the other way. They are not exclusive but inclusive. the Lord is also characterized as slow to anger. 20 . He commands them to fast because fasting lines us up with God’s purposes and heart. slow to become angry and abounding in lovingkindness. Weeping is a natural byproduct of experiencing a loss. Here. much like the mind is for us today. They must first return to the Lord in their hearts. Compassion most often has the picture of a mother caring for her child. Each one of these must be done.

Even when they sin against Him. If they gather together in a seldom solemn assembly and fast. He repeats his former advice throughout the last couple of sections in a way to reiterate his main points of action. But he does not enjoy the evil or disaster that befalls His people. that the Lord is abounding in lovingkindness or steadfast love. “Consecrate a fast” and “Summon a solemn assembly” are from his instructions to the priests. he gives them hope where there formerly was none. he still does not guarantee that God will not bring judgment instead of mercy. the covenantal love that God has for His people. the Lord’s continued gracious attitude toward the people if they will repent is not guaranteed. He seeks their good! 2:14 Who knows if He will turn and relent and leave after Himself a blessing. He knows that God would be in the right if He still did not accept their last recourse. Joel suggests that just maybe God would restore the land! Not only may it be possible for Him to repeat His grace and compassion when the people repent. 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion! Consecrate a fast! Summon a solemn assembly! This begins to summarize Joel’s analysis and diagnosis of this situation concerning the destruction of Israel’s crops and future. This questioning brings a very good point to the table. 21 . In the midst of calling the people to repentance. This is truly hope if there ever was hope for these people. We love to say things like. But how long will He wait on us to stop sinning and truly turn for good away from the evil we think and intend and do in our hearts? The prophet bars nothing from God. a grain offering and a drink offering to the Lord your God! In our own theology. He is repeatin g his former advice so the people will have a way to repent as a nation.This characteristic must be taken in tandem with the next. after extolling God’s loving and gracious virtues. Jonah reports the king of Nineveh using the same type of language. the Lord demonstrates these characteristics because of His covenant instead of fulfilling the stipulations of the covenant through judgment and punishment. He has in the past been gracious. If you notice here. It would take a miracle from God to once again be able to offer the grain offering and the drink offering to the Lord! But this is the hope the prophet holds out. we generally make connections that the prophets refuse to make or to force upon God. It is formed in a question for a reason. to repent and turn. Sure. They have been ashamed and left hopeless. Although He holds all power. Our sin truly and dramatically separates us from God.” But here. then God will see their hearts if they are genuine and they will be able to repent. that is. The Lord chooses instead grace and mercy and to love. Beyond this. but He may also bless them for turning to Him. And He is indeed long-suffering or slow to anger. Every natural means of restoring hope or the land was not at their disposal. “Blow the trumpet in Zion” comes from the beginning of chapter 2 where the Day of the Lord is envisioned. “God will always do this if you do that. This is the word hesed in Hebrew.

this is their job. a proverb among the nations. the people gathered together in one group to cry out to the Lord. on your people and do not make your inheritance a disgrace. The call to repentance is greater than the special interests of the individuals in this community. But here. everyone is involved in the repentance. 2:17 Between the colonnade and the altar. the nations will say that God doesn’t exist because He is not taking care of His nation. so they would fill the temple. In this community of faith. if there were that many priests. His chosen people. “Take pity. Now. This could also be taken that every one of the priests were crying out. to spare them or take pity on them because they are His inheritance. They throw themselves upon His mercy and ask that He not simply abandon them as His people. to gather with the rest of the community and fast and repent as part of this fellowship. One could imagine that idolatry may have played a part. They stood between a holy God and an unholy nation and made the sacrifices. 22 . from the people in general down to infants! There is no excuse to skip out on this sacred assembly. They ask the Lord. From the elderly to the young. No matter where they are in the temple. Lord. They made sin a national issue that must be dealt with by every member of the nation. a bridegroom and bride would spend up to six months alone together. 2:18 Then the Lord was jealous for his land and had compassion on His people. in the turning from sin. Then they suggest that if God allowed them to suffer this disgrace and be ashamed by the locusts. The transition to how Joel helped the people to react to the national disaster is now seen in how the Lord responds to the people’s repentance. ministers of the Lord! Say. They appeal to His reputation among the nations. O priests. No one was exempt. they are crying out for the sake of the people before the Lord.” Why should they say among the nations. considering that they are in transition with royal leadership. much like Moses did in the desert when He wanted to start over with another nation through Moses.2:16 Gather the people! Consecrate the congregation! Assemble the elders. Joel calls them away even from this sacred act to do another sacred act. Everyone participated. getting to know one another because the marriages were usually arranged. in prayer. “There is no God?” The prophet once again addresses the priests and calls all of them from the porch of the temple to the altar to cry out to the Lord in the place of the people. to cry out. This is what the priests did for a living. Joel calls the people together. We are not told of the specific sins of the people that demanded repentance for the whole nation. Once married. the children and nursing infants! Let the bridegroom come out of his room and the bride her bridal chamber. weep.

This is a big difference between God and any of the pagan idols. He fights their battles for them. but He also declares He will take care of their enemies.Before Joash. “Behold. and I will no longer make you a disgrace among the nations. He opens the floodgates of His storehouse and provides sufficiently for our every need. 2:19 And the Lord answered and said to His people. the young king who did right in the sight of the Lord. When His people cry out to Him. not to mention His own reputation as a God who cares for His people. They will not suffer any want. He hears and answers them. I am sending to you grain and new wine and olive oil and you will be satisfied. who were Baal worshipers. God is going to send them all of the things they lack. he couldn’t do anything. The sufficiency of God’s provision stands as an example of His goodness. just like Joel prophesied He might do earlier. Not only does God promise to restore the storehouses of the people and provide for their needs. but He will restore their reputation among the nations through His provision. Because they obey Him and return to Him through repentance. The case remains the same for Joel. such as Baal. 2:20 I will send the northerner far away from you and I will drive him to a land dry and desolate. the stench of decay will rise because he has done great things. He is even sending them oil. but this is only historical conjecture. But God hears and responds! This verse shows that their hope and faith have not been misplaced. The people will be satisfied. He will take care of their every need. his face into the eastern sea and his rearguard into the eastern sea. It could be for this that the whole nation is called to repentance. so when his prophets cut themselves on Mount Carmel. 23 . We get the picture here of the divine warrior upon the battlefield squelching out any opposition to His people. When we respond to God in obedience and submission. He is the great Provider who comforts His people with His blessings. He is the source of all provision! Not only will He provide for His people. They made idolatry a primary staple of the land of Israel. He answers the people and does not leave them there alone. Baal doesn’t exist. ruled the throne. He is going to send the grain that they cannot grow and the wine that they cannot make anymore. When the people follow his lead and begin to repent. descendants of Ahab and Jezebel. it reignites the flame of the steadfast love of the covenant. a common household cooking ingredient. the Lord once again takes up the cause of His people and has compassion on them. The stipulations are being heeded by His people again. Without these things. Presumably through the mouth of Joel we have the response of the Lord to the outcries of His people in Israel. they could not make any food. and this draws Him close to them again. and his stench will be lifted up.

he is helped by men much older and wiser. the idea of fear for a human is what has happened to the land. He who brought into existence this whole of creation can speak the life back into dead lands. This kind of security and comfort could come at no better time. Although some of the words in this verse are hard to translate. one interesting thing might be mentioned. we freeze. O land! Rejoice and be glad. We cannot be sure if the northern kingdom has been harassing the southern kingdom of Judah. the fig tree and vine give their full yield. They could not find anything to eat because the lands were desolate. 2:21 “Do not be afraid. this is a promise from the Lord in no uncertain terms that He will utterly destroy Judah’s enemies. But because His people humbled themselves and repented. There are two different words for stench and the phrase “stench will go up” is repeated twice. The northerner here for Judah could signal even its neighboring northern Israel. to no longer fear. The animals will 24 . However. The Lord has blessed all of the fields not just for the harvest but also for grazing. The first word for stench has the idea of rotting fruit. for the tree bears fruit. We understand that land cannot fear. However. He calls for the land to be fruitful again. for that is a human emotion. Anyone who has been around rotting fruit knows this stench is not at all pleasant. Greatness here is referred to in the evil sense. The Lord is the only one with the power to restore the fields and the crops. for the young king Joash has not reigned for very long. Just as the Lord encourages with a word the land. turned away from their sins. O beasts of the field. and He is doing exactly that with a command. for the Lord has done great things! The Lord speaks to all of His creation. We don’t do anything because we are afraid. Indeed. The land had stopped producing after the locusts came. And this is the repayment of the Lord upon Judah’s enemy to the north because of the great evil that nation has done. showing the intensity of the Lord’s punishment upon Judah’s enemies. for green are the wilderness pastures. the Lord will keep the enemies at bay. The reason for this new operation of the land and fruitfulness is a long standing truth. the second word for stench has the idea of decaying bodies. so also He encourages the animals that were lost and wandering for food in the wilderness pastures. Now the Lord commands the land to rejoice and be glad. And they teem once again with nutrients! Truly the Lord has done and will do great things! 2:22 “Do not be afraid. which is a much worse smell.We do not have enough historical background to know if they had recently been involved in any skirmishes. to begin producing again. The Lord has done great things. But here. What used to be desolate and dried up is now ripe with green grass good for grazing. the animals will now have food to eat. not the goodness sense. As the young king is developing. with the power of His spoken word. When we are afraid. This is a much needed word of hope for the struggling nation of Judah.

The Lord continues to speak of blessings beyond their imagination as He tells them that they will soon be very busy with a harvest once again. Not only will there be plenty of work to do in bringing in the harvest of grain. First was the spring rain or the first rain. This watered the crops so that they would grow and produce crops. but are strong in their production. The threshing floor was the place where the wheat was separated from the chaff and the extras of the field. and then the winter would come where the storehouses would be relied upon. In other words. Throughout Joel. It’s as if the locusts never came! 2:23 “And children of Zion. This is one of the ways it is used among the prophets. It would be laid aside for use in baking. 2:24 “The threshing floors will be full of grain and the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. Then there was an autumn rain that gave them one more good harvest. They are not just barely producing. there were two rains the farmers counted on. now the Lord speaks through the prophet to the future of Israel. We know from a later verse that it has at least been years in this desolate situation. as well as fig trees and the vines. In the land of Israel. the Lord begins to restore in this year that Joel speaks this part of the prophecy. But before the first of two major rains. We don’t just rejoice for the fun of it. the early and later rains like before. They would not struggle to make ends meet through the winter months. but also the fruit of the vine. I would suggest that Judah has not had a very good spring and the fears that the rains will not come are dissuaded by the prophet telling them that they will indeed come. but will live and grow strong. Although there was no hope for the future. Here Zion is the people. He promises that the threshing floors will be full of grain. All the trees are returning to life and are bringing forth fruit. we have seen that there is always cause for rejoicing. rejoice and be glad in the Lord your God because He has given to you the early rains for justice and He has brought down for you rainwater. They would be satisfied by the Lord’s provision.not die. There is always a reason or more listed after the command to rejoice. the children. Once again Zion is mentioned. They were bringing in a harvest promised by the Lord to be stored up. It is no different here. They would have what they need. 25 . Joel tells them like the animals of the field to rejoice in the Lord. The children are to rejoice because the rains have come to water the land! One might wonder about the timing of all of this. The vats were the places where the grapes were stored and then crushed to make wine. Another option is that possibly a whole year of no crops has gone by as well. the future of Israel. they would not just be getting by this winter.

and no longer will My people be disgraced forever. They shall surely eat. The Lord in His promise of restoration says that He will restore the years the locusts stole. He was the one who sent the army of locusts. In Hebrew. they will continue to know that He is the source of all good things. but that the Lord has always been doing astounding and wondrous things among them. I have shown that the covenant is in view here earlier in the chapter and the people understand that repentance is part of covenantal stipulation. If they continue to live for Him and not for idols. We do not know how many years specifically they have been without food and have been without a good source of water. I believe they would have understood this promise in light of the covenantal blessings and cursings. They have had to make do with the resources they have had. My great army which I sent to you.2:25 I will restore to you the years which the swarming locusts have eaten. 2:27 “And you will know that I am in the midst of Israel and that I am the Lord your God. They were indeed supernaturally organized to cause the destruction. Not only an idea of the timeframe is revealed to us in this verse. and no longer will My people be disgraced forever. We know from this verse that this may have been a long-term drought and famine. the destroying locusts and the cutting locusts. promising that as long as they live within the stipulations of the covenant they will not be disgraced forever. they will praise Him forever. However. He is promising here nothing short of His presence with the people of Israel. the total annihilation of Judah’s agricultural resources in order to bring the people to the weight of their sin and bring them to repent and turn back to the Lord.” The Lord then declares a probable future based on the obedience of the people of Israel when He restores their land and their harvest. Their reason for praise is not just in that the Lord has replenished their lands and restored their supply of food and wine. since the exile was a disgrace. So they will eat very well. it is meant to intensify the idea. And the Lord will also increase their reputation among the nations. but also that the unnatural destruction of their crops was caused by God. 2:26 “Then you will surely eat and be satisfied and praise the name of the Lord your God who has done astounding things for you. Because the Lord has been instrumental in giving them back their wealth and blessing. This language of being in the midst of the people 26 . There is an intensive here as the Lord promises the satisfaction of the people. the hopping locusts. Some scholars would put Joel as a post-exilic book because of this promise to not be disgraced forever. when they put a verb twice. They will be stuffed with food! Their prosperity will be immeasurable and their satisfaction will be longstanding.

your elders will dream dreams. the sons and daughters. will prophesy. Joseph was able to interpret dreams to show a person’s character or what God was going to do in their future. Above and beyond all of the wonderful things that God is already going to do for Judah. in the Bible. to call out injustice and sin. Next. unlike any idol. It is important to notice that the daughters are specifically mentioned here. In this society. they were usually about the future. Only select individuals or groups throughout the Old Testament received God’s Spirit. we have a litany. giving them back. and making both His people and His name great. God could and would promise them that they would know their God and that He would be with them. So the older generation will not be looking to the past under the power of the Spirit (which is usually their natural way) but to the future. that is. They reveal the Lord’s will or desire for a person or even a nation. your young men will see visions This verse begins chapter 3 in the Hebrew text. especially Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. This does not necessarily have the connotation of them dreaming of the good old days. the elders. There was a group in Moses day that had this happen to them and Moses wished that all the people could experience it (Num 11:29). In fact. will dream dreams. but in Hebrew culture. First is the next generation. dreams are more of a remembrance or reflection of the past. and we must not let the full weight of such a promise be missed on us. a recurring of a phrase for effect and remembrance. Upon four specific groups the effects of the Spirit will be readily noticed.of Israel might remind readers of God’s being in their midst in the desert through the tabernacle and the camp of Israel camping around the tabernacle tent. Beyond providing for their nieeds. This may not seem like such a great promise to us after the full revelation of the New Testament. but up to the Day of Pentecost. the next generation. Joel adds this blessing from the Lord. He will be their God and they will be His people. 27 . however English Bibles combine this short chapter with chapter two. These young people. they would not have been mentioned. But as long as the people obeyed the stipulations of the covenant. God is then going to pour out His Spirit upon all the people. Usually prophets and kings experienced this phenomenon. or the temple in Israel sitting in the center of Jerusalem. And at the very end of this chapter in the Hebrew Bible. We also see here that the Lord affirms that He is the God who exists. or the older men. This is a promise that God has promised that will be fulfilled in completion at the Day of the Lord. Prophecy has as its hallmark challenging people to return to the ways of the Lord. dreams are revelatory. but here they are. Joel repeats the promise from the last verse that they will not be disgraced forever. 2:28 (H 3:1) “And it will happen afterward that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh and your sons and your daughters will prophesy. But this is a rare promise to the people in their context. God’s Spirit was never poured out on everyone. For our culture. what the locusts have stolen.

They are unnatural because they are signs of the Day of the Lord and they are caused by God. 28 . We don’t know what the imagery of blood or fire or columns of smoke should mean. day. blood. but they are often for revolutionary purposes. They are special communiqués with different purposes and goals. But those who are righteous need not be afraid. This seems to be accompanied simultaneously by the moon turning to blood. and fire and columns of smoke The cosmic nature of these signs should be obvious. one famous revelation is the revelation to John of Jesus Christ in which he sees images of Jesus as the Risen Victor. but the fact that they will be part of this outpouring would have blown the minds of the people in their day. It is supposed to strike fear into the wicked. This goes to prove that when God says “all flesh” He means to be inclusive. 2:30 (H 3:3) “Then I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth. which is much less explainable to humans than the first sign. Peter has a vision that changes his views on clean and unclean food. We are not given a specific function for this group. The fourth group that will experience the power of the Spirit is a complete surprise. They are apocalyptic in nature. This sounds scary and frightening because it is supposed to be. even more so than the daughters above. if they could even be considered a class in this society. or awesome.The third group the Spirit of the Lord will affect is the young men. which would be why the young men would have them. 2:31 (H 3:4) “The sun will be demolished into darkness and the moon to blood before the great and terrible Day of the Lord. except that these three things have always astounded humanity. Visions occur commonly in the Old Testament before war. For instance. whether it is destroyed or simply darkened for a time. The Day of the Lord is called the great and terrible. God can use visions and revelations for different reasons. Notice again that the women are mentioned as experiencing the Spirit. Such wonders do not have to make sense to us. They reveal that the Day of the Lord is approaching. One of these signs is the sun going missing. They can take a revolution and see it become reality. Visions are interchanges between God or celestial beings and humans. 2:29 (H 3:2) “and even upon your manservants and your maidservants in that day I will pour out My Spirit. The final group is the manservants and maidservants! These are the lowest class of the society.

this prophecy can also refer to the people of God in total. Now it seems that the prophet has then said that in the last days God would pour out His Spirit upon everyone. the difference being that the pouring out of God’s Spirit up until now has been a localized and individual phenomenon. however it is the beginning of Chapter three in English Bibles.” Up to this point in the prophet’s writings. He is not proclaiming their demise in the Exile. Now that will be expanded “in the last days.2:32 (H 3:5) “And it will be that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. There is not a very specific timeline of God’s promises to restore in the prophets. It 29 . This is final salvation. In this sense. Mount Zion and Jerusalem can be understood as geographical locations where the people of the Lord are located. In such a case.” We must not take this promise as a “second chance” for unbelievers. He has skipped that part and is showing them the culmination when God restores what was lost. This last phrase parallels the phrase about those who escape being rescued in elegant Hebrew prose. This verse is one of the reasons that many scholars have opted for a post-exilic date. This is the calling home of those who have believed and are saved. There is a clear break here. seeing His deliverance from this terrible day of wrath through His Son Jesus. it goes right along with restoring the land physically for farming. This passage does have the idea of those who are saved escaping the full wrath of God on the Day of the Lord. We must make note as we study the Day of the Lord and the last days of timing in the prophets. which should be viewed more as a result of what God is doing by His Spirit among the young generation in Israel. Chapter 3 3:1 (H 4:1) “Therefore behold in that day and in that season. Gentiles included as full revelation has granted the understanding to us. one after the Exile in 586 BC. for those who love and obey God. there has been no mention of there being captives that have left Judah or Jerusalem. for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem will be those who escape just as the Lord said and among the survivors those the Lord calls. He will also restore the land by putting back in the land the captives who have been removed as the locusts came as an army and removed the plants. I personally see that the prophet is providing the future of what will happen to these people. this would not necessarily be accurate. I will return the captives of Judah and Jerusalem This verse begins chapter 4 in the Hebrew text. We know that this whole prophecy has been initiated by the catastrophic event of the locusts eating the prosperity of the fields away. This idea of bringing back can be taken as restore. The point is not the judgment that comes at the Exile but the restoration that comes with the last days. God will save His people before He delivers the death knell blow to sin and wickedness in the great and glorious Day of the Lord. the culmination of the salvation we are promised at the cross. However.

The prophets are not concerned with the timing of events. but also about the restoration of Israel and the judgment of the nations. He will judge them for taking away and scattering His people. The nations cast lots to decide what to do with God’s people when they scattered Israel. the army of the saints taking the nations in war. named for what God will do there to the nations. God continues to state His case against the nations gathered in that valley of His judgment because of their actions. 30 . suggesting that the nations will be cut down in the valley. Once again. which they scattered among the nations and divided up My land. This may come from Mount Zion into the Valley of Jehoshaphat. It is predictive prophecy not just about the captivity and scattering. Many believe that this judgment will be death for the nations. So he does not tell them about the Exile. The casting of lots was essentially asking the gods of chance what they wanted to do with the people of God.” that wording is specifically missing from the original Joel prophecy that he quotes. they have also committed atrocities in human trafficking. The nations will be judged by God because of what they have done to His people and to His inheritance. and it has the imagery of this valley becoming a grave of sorts. specifically children. this is a prophecy about what God will soon do by the prophet Joel. It was never theirs to begin with and God will judge them for that. and He will “bring them down” to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. They are more concerned for the actual events. the literal land of Israel. Joel’s message is a message of hope to a destroyed people. It is suggested by most that the location of this valley is in or near the Kidron Valley outside of Jerusalem.is Peter who declares on the Day of Pentecost the inauguration of the “last days. 3:2 “and I will gather all the nations and I will bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat and I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance Israel. They will be judged justly for their crimes of scattering God’s people among the nations and for dividing the land up as spoils. The verb for “bring them down” can have also the meaning of make them fall. God will gather the nations by His power and might. He tells them about returning from Exile because that is the fruition of hope. Not only did they take advantage of His using them to punish Israel by dividing up the land and scattering His people. 3:3 “And for My people they cast lots and gave a boy as a prostitute and a girl to be sold for wine and getting drunk.” This is the place of God’s judgment. It can also be gathered from this passage that they also were gambling and using His people as collateral. We return once again in a little more detail to what exactly will happen on that great Day of the Lord in the last times when God will culminate all of human history. The word Jehoshaphat means “The Lord judges. Earlier we saw the imagery of the Day of the Lord.

If 31 . what are you to Me? Are you making restitution to Me? And even My recompense for you will return swiftly upon your heads. 3:5 “when you grasped My gold and My silver and My best treasures and went into your temples with them. This was beyond excusable and a level of depravity beyond simply scattering His people. to be sexually abused as worship to idols. The boy would be sold as a prostitute in the temples of idols. but the Lord is returning upon them the judgment they made on His people in that battle. The way the Lord speaks to these nations. for Babylon and Assyria were involved in that war. and return upon them at the very least the same sufferings His people endured. for He indeed has a heart for children. Because God refers to it specifically as His. It stole away their innocence systematically. they took God’s stuff. He continues even further in His accusations that the nations had plundered and stolen His gold and His silver. Tyre. This is probably for another battle or war for which the prophet’s oracle against these nations is brought. This was fully depraved in that it taught the children against the innocence they were born with. The judgment of the Lord is swift and certain. it seems that they have thought they were returning a favor to Him for the way He treated them when they took the nation of Judah in battle. Part of God’s judgment is not simply punishment. He will show them the other side. This also angered the Lord. and Philistia are mentioned here. They would be taken advantage of and endangered in this way. Sidon.Even more upset God becomes for what they did with the innocence of the children of Israel. This also suggests that these nations have done something either in the past or presently that God is judging them for. The innocence of these boys would be demolished. Not only this with the boys. which points to the longstanding warring between these nations and Israel and Judah. It can also be retributive. and that along with the acts of idolatry and prostitution angered the Lord greatly. It is also an indicator that this is not referring to the Exile. The principle here is that if they so enjoyed treating His people that way. usually more severely even then they have treated His people. it is probably the best treasures found in the temple. The word for temple can also be palace. 3:4 “And even Tyre and Sidon and all the regions of Philistia. put them in the people’s shoes so to speak. but the girls would be sold as common slaves to do slave labor. God in His judgment treats the nations as they have treated His people. He returns upon them the evils that they have committed against His people. They would be the collateral to get the wine that the nations wanted so that they could get drunk. They would take the spoils of war and put them in their own temples or palaces. They were willing to sell and traffic little girls to get their joy or wine. Either way.

God would not stand for such idolatrous practices. there was no concept of such a practice. the next is that of selling the people of Judah and Jerusalem into slavery to another nation. it was a way of saying their gods were greater than God and that they had His stuff. to a distant nation. the Jews were being deported from their land. He will use retributive punishment in dealing with the nations that pridefully took his 32 . As He continues to highlight their excesses. they were controlled by the victors. The Lord uses the command “behold!” to grab their attention and declare His resolve. though scattered all around the known world. is a nation in the Arabic regions of Sheba. 3:6 “Both the sons of Judah and the sons of Jerusalem you have sold to the sons of the Greeks so that you remove them from their borders. He will raise them up to return retribution upon their heads by doing the ironically same thing they did to the Jews. He will use them against the nations and the spoil of their victory will be sold to a far off nation. to the Greeks. He will raise them up for His own purposes. which was expressly against God’s saving grace in the Exodus. This far off nation is mentioned by Joel as the Sabeans. 3:8 “Then I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the sons of Judah and they will sell to the Sabeans. but they exceeded the bounds of His use and arrogantly did things He had not sanctioned. He will take action against the nations. This. It is true that in His wrath He used these nations against Israel. When a nation or city lost a battle. The part God is angry about is removing them from their borders. The people of Judah would now be sold as slaves. to the best of our information and knowledge. After God stirs up His people and they begin to return to Judah and Jerusalem. But what we do know is that the Lord’s promise is true and steadfast. They were to be a free nation. Once they have returned to Him and are His people. He will use them against the nations in the same fashion that He used the nations against Israel. who were quite a ways away from Judah. We do not know for sure. God continues in His righteous indignation to point out His reasons for retributive action and punitive wrath against the nations. He will sell them to far off lands and nations as well. But that is not the point that makes God upset. and I will return your reward upon your heads. But they stayed in their land. God has issues with both of these practices. and Job’s wealth is taken by the Sabeans. Isaiah mentions the Sabeans as a tall people.they put it in their temples. This could be a reference to one group or up to three different groups of people. 3:7 “Behold! I will stir them up from the place where you sold them to at that time.” thus declares the Lord. possibly a reference to the same people group here. Now. He will stir up or rouse His people from the places they were sent. Up to the time of the exile and deportation.

They have inserted themselves into Israel’s judgment rather than follow what the Lord willed only. The word for consecrate. The last days are full of violence and war.command to the limits and beyond of moral law. to proclaim this message. to be separated out for a different purpose. This is the promise of the Lord sealed by the common prophetic formula. it would have spread to other nations. It is almost like a universal call to war. to draw near and to rise up. men that are more suited to the battlefield and know the skill and art of war. 3:10 Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears! The weakling will say. This is a time when even those who were weak 33 . All you had to do was bend that bottom part straight and you could use it as a sword. Isaiah uses it in the reverse sense of people turning their swords into plowshares as a marking of the time of peace. There is a bit of the oracles to the nations flavor in here as Joel would probably have traveled throughout the land and possibly to other nations. They would have to prune tall branches. The word for stir up here is the same word as used before. especially the poetic prophet Isaiah. These nations have abused God’s use of them and done above and beyond what He had commanded. They would be tied to the back of a horse or donkey and put on the shoulders of the farmer and would dig the ditch to put seeds in. For this they will be sold into Judah’s hands as Judah was sold into their hands and they will endure being supplanted and placed in a country far away from their home and unfamiliar to them. “I am a hero!” Joel and some other prophets. The strong men are those who are heroes and warriors. like a shaft. Plowshares were straight pieces of metal. They would also make for excellent spears if you took out the pivoting screw that tied the two pieces together.” This command means to prepare for war by producing things designed for that purpose and end. so they were quite long. The men of war are to be prepared. “Thus says the Lord. is a derivative of the word for “holy” or “separate. to rouse or to muster. Even if he didn’t leave his own country. most of the prophecies point to the Day of the Lord as having a giant battle between God and the nations later described as the Battle of Armageddon. have used this line. The pruning hooks or scisors virtually had the same idea. Sure enough. The call is for the nations to prepare for war.” 3:9 Proclaim this among the nations: Consecrate for war! Stir up the strong men! Let all the men of war draw near and rise up! The Lord from heaven tells Joel to now proclaim the preparation for war until the time of His vengeance in the day of the Lord. Their enjoyment of evil will lead to one thing: war with God on the Day of the Lord. to prepare for. But because of Jonah and some other prophets. That’s what the word “holy” means. the verb. that at the end were curved to dig down and then up into the ground. we know it’s quite possible they traveled in circuits. It is the season of war that these men will involve themselves in until that day of war.

a mere image of a final and deepening judgment. This does not mean that we should not try these avenues. a second person call for the nations to stir themselves up and arise. The next command is a plea for God to bring His own warriors to the mix. One possible physical location is the Kidron Valley where many believe the battle of Armageddon will happen. 3:12 “Let the nations stir up and ascend to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. We still live in this era today. The other possibility for most to mention is another valley to the south of Jerusalem. and gather yourselves there. but that we should not put our trust in politics or economics or anything other than Jesus. No matter where this place is. Judgment is mentioned here by the Lord Himself as His action against them. O Lord. probably near Jerusalem because that city is expressly 34 .” This verse seems to be the Lord speaking because of the first person verb in “I will sit. and still cleaning up previous wars with our army stretched thin. This valley has been suggested as having two main possible locations physically and also as an eschatological reference only. Your warriors! The prophet calls for the nations to assemble and gather for the biggest battle ever fought in all of human history. He is calling for the nations to come to the valley and enter into their judgment. and then the angels will also do His will in war. Now many scholars have attempted to understand where the Valley of Jehoshaphat is located without much success. God will send Jesus with the saints and angels down to Armageddon to battle the nations of the earth. These are the ones that are close to Israel. They would all gather for war and it would become the main occupation of humanity. We will see this happen in that battle of all time. But we will see in this battle of Armageddon all the nations of the earth taking their stand against the Messiah. for there I will sit to judge the surrounding nations. He refers to all the surrounding nations. where He will sit as judge over them. to ascend on the Valley of Jehoshaphat. 3:11 Assemble and come. It will continue despite our best political efforts. This is indeed a time of war in these last days.” It also starts with a jussive. the Hinnon Valley. They would declare themselves to be men of war. Bring down. It is described quite poignantly in Psalm 2. and extend to the saints and martyrs. except in a more eschatological light as the valley of decision where the Lord decides to war against the nations as their punishment for wickedness. The Lord’s warriors start with Jesus. heroes and strong warriors.would take the field of battle. all you surrounding nations. It is chiefly mentioned here in this verse and soon after this will be referred to again. Our own country is still fighting war on two fronts that we know of. God’s Anointed One. which would also agree with the idea that this is a purely eschatological reference.

The winepress is a place where the grapes would be crushed. near is the day of the Lord in the valley of decision. we now read the prophet’s horrific warning that there are multitudes. another image of beating or destruction. a sharp tool like the sickle. for the winepress is full. 3:14 Multitudes! Multitudes in the valley of decision! Indeed. The first is the image of the harvest being ripe and bringing the sickle to cut down the ripened wheat. and they will be cut down in God’s wrath. but even held back longer and the debt of sin is so much that it is overwhelmingly surprising that God has not already come in and poured out judgment. but every nation will be guilty of injustice on that day. to be squeezed into wine. The final idea is like the second.mentioned here. we must remember that there will be a physical place in which the armies will be judged by God and dealt with. so many that it is impossible to count. 3:13 Stretch out the sickle for the harvest is ripe. Go. God did not just wait until the proper time of judgment. The idea expressed is that the nations are ripe for God’s judgment and will be “harvested” into judgment and death with a weapon of battle. In other words. although multitudes has a much better connotation in English meaning insurmountable numbers. that of a vat where humans use their feet to squish the grapes into wine. He will take the nations with His Anointed and His army. for their wickedness is great. first surrounding Judah. but all the nations of the world have so embraced wickedness and moral depravity that God’s wrath is a direct result. meaning the time of God’s judgment is beyond near and has been brought because of the great sins of the nations. The valley is here referred to as the valley of decision because God has 35 . tread. In case we have gotten the idea that this will not be a big event or a huge deal. These multitudes or great crowds. The final segment shows us the reason for such images of judgment and destruction in wrath. The nations. the fruit turning into a liquid as the blood will be crushed and squeezed out of God’s enemies in this valley of decision and judgment. Make no mistake! This is a judgment based on moral and ethical injustice by all the nations! People love to talk about social injustice under the guise of a whole nation making laws that stop injustice. The wine vats overflow. They are also agricultural images as well. The winepress was either a machine or a person that would literally squish the grapes underfoot and let the wine flow from the grapes. God will judge the whole world through conquest. The difference is that the vats have overflowed. will be caught up in this judgment in that valley in the end. The images produced by Joel here are eschatological images that are based on the judgment of the Lord. The second image conveys the same type of idea in a slightly different vein.

The roar is not a cozy puffy little thing of beauty. 3:16 Then the Lord from Zion roars and from Jerusalem utters His voice. in a pure way that is complete and good. It is only going to be fulfilled completely there in that time and in that Day. His wrath is not against a person but against sin itself. But that is how our God will use His power. We see the same apocalyptic and cosmic language that is used elsewhere throughout the prophets to point to a later time. and the darkness is a symbol of the great wickedness that will accompany that day. Judgment throughout the Scriptures is always tempered by promises of the Lord’s strength and grace in fortitude toward His genuine people. 3:15 Sun and moon grow dark and stars withdraw their gleam. The celestial stars and the moon will no longer guide us. but an insidious disorder and disease that permeates the whole of creation. In a sense. pointing to the Day of the Lord. Joel once again uses the exact wording of 2:15. This vision is eschatological. It is a manly and wrathful proclamation of judgment. One Psalm refers to the blood flowing for miles up to a horse’s bridle. The image presented in the beginning of this verse. once again we see here. But the Lord is a refuge to His people and a fortress to the sons of Israel. This verse also reminds us that sin is not just a problem among human beings. This idea of multitudes and judgment through blood is not new to the Old Testament. If we were unclear on the timing of this vision. all of creation. As we have seen so many times in judgment and eschatological passages. They will receive the fate they have given to others. We chafe against the idea of God having all the power to do what He wants because we are not familiar with power being used in a pure and incorruptible way. and the final statement of this passage on judgment from 9-16. the king not just of the forest.made the decision that they must be punished and brought to justice. Those whom the Lord loves and who have served Him in righteousness will not endure His wrath. Some find it hard to embrace a God who will punish in this manner. He roars as a mighty God who has complete sovereignty over all things. The lights that God created in the beginning of creation will not be lights anymore. 36 . contains the idea of God as a roaring lion. later on in the end times. but we must remember that God will bring the due justice in the proper way. This will be a huge battle in which the nations will pay dividends for their complicity and wickedness. that there will be a battle and the blood will flow as a direct result of the blood they have made flow throughout history with their wickedness. creation is saying that wicked people love the darkness so much that they will enjoy not having those lights operating. but of all that He has made. and the heavens and earth both quake.

Once again we see that God’s voice commands things to happen by the nature of its power and authority. They both respond to His wrath with quaking as every human being not on His side will do as well. will be kept from the wrath of God’s judgment and vengeance. In that sense alone it is a statement about the purity of Zion. Inherent in the understanding of this statement is that God is their God because He has all authority and ability and that He also protects them from His own wrath. the people of God will know Him as their God. He comes out to meet them and finally deal with wickedness that He has abstained from eliminating in His grace while those who could be saved will be introduced to His grace. We see this as God’s relationship with Israel develops in the infant years of the nation as He gets them across the Red Sea and then destroys their enemies behind them. the one place in Scripture where all of the references to Zion are combined. the roaring and the authority and finality of His judgment. Verses 17-21 form the closing section of the book as they point to the restoration of relationship between God and His people and the finality of those who had been stumbling blocks for Israel. But it is not a 37 . He is always protecting them as their God. He who will hold nothing back in His anger and wrath against wickedness will also hold nothing back in His protection of the righteous. My holy mountain. God dwells as He always has in a special way in Jerusalem and His holy mountain Zion. In this final section. The God who spoke things into being will roar and exact His judgment. He is not staying home for this battle. Because of the way in which God deals with wickedness. We should not be surprised that the heavens and earth that obeyed Him in creation. God brings His A-game. or place of His personal physical dwelling simultaneously. Zion is the city of Jerusalem. But when He comes for judgment. His place of dwelling. their place of safety. In that same verse is not just the gruffness of God’s voice and judgment. and the temple. 3:17 “Then you will know that I am the Lord your God. who dwells in Zion. here referred to as the sons of Israel in historical context. directly responding to His voice. For to them.The Lord is in Zion. the Lord personally speaks to His people about the time following that great judgment. The image of strangers not passing through Zion is the idea that there will no longer be corruption or things that don’t belong. and their refuge. and Jerusalem will be holy and strangers will not pass through it again. He is their father or God who nurtures them while also dealing with their enemies. known to us in Revelation 21 as the New Jerusalem. but the contrast of the grace and fortitude for the saints. He has not come to judge people but to judge wickedness. He is described as their fortress. This is where God will dwell with His people for eternity. the combined people of God. their protection. This specifically and historically refers to the temple mount inside of Jerusalem. Those who are God’s people. such as the alien idea of sin or moral wickedness and ethical impurity. will have a different effect here.

38 . of productivity and a reality of unhindered reaching of one’s destiny. 3:18 “Then it will happen in that day that the mountains will drip sweet wine and the hills will flow with milk and all the streambeds of Judah will flow with water. These two nations play specific roles in Israel’s history of those who would stand in their way and stumbling blocks that would deny them this promised peace and destiny. But Edom and the idea of an oppressor will also be bygones of the past. It is not the idea of no war. Violence will be exacted upon these nations which have been so violent to Israel in the past. for all the streambeds will be full with water. but also that it will be a time of shalom peace. They had shed innocent blood throughout history and now would see the same happen in their land. Resources will be infinite and readily available.proclamation that people of other nations will not be welcome or dwell in Zion. Milk and wine are symbols of never ending provision. He is the very foundation for the earth’s productivity and kindness to humanity. the wickedness that had run rampant. There will never be a need for water. God will provide anything that we could ever need because He is not just the God who protects. This kind of peace is much more than the world’s view of peace. We know that God will have representatives from every nation there. not even there at all. a devastated place. Those nations who stood against Israel or hardened them agasint God will not even be in the picture. That violence is the cause for their violent downfall and destruction in this reality presented by Joel. but the God who provides. 3:19 “Egypt will become a desolation. Edom was always at war with Israel. as a direct result of creation being in God’s presence without the hindrance of the curse or sin for decay and death. No one will be in need of anything. Without Him. They were constantly looking for ways to get rid of Israel. There will be no slavery. It will be a desolation. It will happen out of violence toward the people of Judah. and a spring from the Lord will go out and water the valley of Shittim. And the Lord is the source of all of this. The mountains will bring the sweetest of wine because they are fully productive. God will not allow such a thing in His new creation. Commodities will be a bygone of a past earth that was wracked with sin and decay. going the whole way back to the familial relationship of Jacob and Esau. The idea of desolation here means that Egypt (always representing the idea of slavery in the prophets) will be no more. but goes beyond military and political ideologies to the idea of wholeness and well-being. and Edom a desolate wilderness. there is no era of such peace. God will smite them because of the sin of the nations. since they shed innocent blood in their land. The earth itself will respond favorably to God’s physical presence and His mood of happiness and peace. Now we have not only the promise that God’s relationship will be reconciled with His people and evil will no longer be a factor.

3:20 “But Judah forever will be inhabited and Jerusalem from generation to generation. Jerusalem has always had a special place in God’s heart. He will kill the killer and take care of every enemy in the same way they got rid of Israel. No more will there be others in the land that do not belong. the one who goes after others and exacts the same penalty they have brought in blood. speeding toward its destiny without hindrance. This is specifically referring to those avenging that He has not taken care of already or that had gone without notice. for the Lord dwells in Zion. Forever each successive generation will own and inhabit this city and this land. “from generation to generation” is the idea that this inhabiting will never end. 3:21 “And I will avenge their blood not yet avenged. And it will continue to be a place that is holy and special to Him in this era as it will always be full and inhabited. It is a promise of complete and total ownership forever afterward in this era. we see not a warning. The idiom in Hebrew here. always been a holy city. No one who looked to escape proper wrath will escape. The Lord’s dwelling means that the injustice the people now endure will no longer be the case in God’s rule over the whole earth.” To complete this whole book. Forevermore. It will be a full and growing nation. He will complete the task in a righteous manner. after all of the removing of Israelites from the promised land in the covenant will no longer be left desolate. but a promise from the Lord as He reminds them that everything that happens here and now will be judged and retributively punished and repaid unto Him. 39 . The idea to finish out this book is that God’s judgment will be complete and His vengeance will be good and final. He will personally be the blood avenger. It will always have inhabitants in it.

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