We continue with the prophecy of Joel. As you read these notes may it be with a Berean spirit, searching the scriptures daily to confirm the truth of what we are reading and in our searching, may our grasp of God be firmer, our appreciation of Christ be greater, and our sensitivity heightened as to the guiding of the Holy Spirit.
Introduction (1:1). Joel the son of Pethuel. Joel: “Jehovah is God”. Pethuel: “Vision of God”. As noted last week, no further family details are given, with no references to the Kings of Israel or Judah to indicate the time of writing!
The Divine Judgment that leads to a Doubtful Questioning (1:2-2:17)!
The Word of the Lord through the Prophet (1:2-14).
Hear… A word for the Elders (1:2-4). Has there been anything like this in your days, or the days of your fathers? To be told from generation to generation. The Locusts… four descriptions: Gnawing, Swarming, Creeping, Stripping (Irving L. Jensen). Wake up… A word for the Drunkards (1:5-7). A nation is come up… a nation of Locusts! My Land… My vine… My fig tree! God acknowledges the land and the people as His own. Lament… A word for the People of the City (1:8-10). The city of Jerusalem likened unto a woman… virgin, see Zephaniah 3:1-4, her, she, her princes etc! Meat Offering/Drink Offering is cut off from the House of the Lord. Ashamed… A word for the Husbandmen/Vinedressers (1:11-12). Husbandmen… tillers of the ground. Vinedressers… worked in the vineyards, pruning, watering etc. Wheat… Barley! Five kinds of fruit… grapes, figs, pomegranates, dates & apples. See similar description: Habakkuk 3:17. Fast… A word for the Priests (1:13-14). Gird, lament, howl, lie in sackcloth, sanctify, call, gather, cry… Meat Offering/Drink Offering is withholden from the house of your God. TheFirst call to repentance?
Alas! A word from the heart of the Prophet as he anticipates the Desolation (1:15-20).
The Day of the Lord… The Destruction. The Prophet’s assessment (1:15-18). A Destruction from the Almighty. The Day of the Lord… The Determination. The Prophet’s action (1:19-20). His cry is unto the Lord.
The Lord’s Army… another invasion in judgment (2:1-11).
This is all the Lord’s doing. As the Locusts in chapter one refers to an event that is passed; another event is about to unfold. The first was from the Almighty (1:15), the next will also be from God, described as the Lord’s Army (2:11), and as a great army sent among them by God (2:25). Notice the descriptions… is as the appearance of horses, like the noise of chariots, run like mighty men, like men of war! This raises the question; are these literal Locusts? As the Locusts have devastated in chapter one, is this another Locust invasion from God in judgment, in chapter two? As is often the case in prophecy, there is possibly a twofold explanation in chapter two.
An immediate judgment from God in a natural Locust disaster.
The natural Locust disaster is a prefiguring of a Locust like military disaster in the future.
The Assyrian invasion into Judah in the days of Hezekiah would answer to this (Isaiah 36 & 37), although Jerusalem was spared to be taken later by the Babylonians.
The Call to Repentance (2:12-14).
Turn to God! No outward display. Heart’s rent… not garments. The Second call to repentance?
The Gathering for Prayer (2:15-17).
Blow the trumpet, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the people… the cry, “Spare thy people, O Lord” (2:17).
The Doubtful Questioning, “Where is there God” (2:17).
The Divine Blessing that leads to a Conclusive Answer (2:18-3:21)!
God Removes the Northern Army (2:18-20). “Then…” marks a change in the Book!
Is this a reference here to removing the Locusts, God’s great army (2:25)? Or, if the Locusts of chapter two also prefigure a military invasion, is this God removing the Military invader e.g., Assyria? This blessing seems to be more immediate rather than going on to the Millennium!
God Gives the Rain (2:21-24).
The land of Israel was dependent on God for the rain, unlike Egypt (Deut 11:10-17). No natural ingenuity in irrigation systems, but a complete dependence upon God.
God Restores the Loss (2:25-27).
God restores the loss… measured in years… people to have plenty… God in the midst! Would the expression “the years” indicate that there was a history of Locust invasions on the land because of departure from God. Moses foretold of the blessings/curses corresponding to their attitude to God and to His law, Deut 28:38. See also, 1 Kings 8:37.
God Pours out the Spirit (2:28-32). “Afterward…” marks a change as to Time!
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh…” (2:28). These verses are quoted by Peter in Acts 2:17-21. Notice he did not say that they were fulfilled; “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16). As to the events at Pentecost, Peter is saying: they are of the same character, from the same source, and by the same spirit as the word spoken by Joel. However, the fulfilment of it will be to Israel Nationally, understood by the apostles as to its timing, “And it shall come to pass in the last days…” (Acts 2:17)! As “the last days” have already commenced, the fulfilment awaits, after the Church age!
God Recompenses the Nations (3:1-17).
Notice! With reference to God… I shall bring, I will also gather, I will raise, I will sell! The valley of Jehoshaphat, wherever the location, symbolises God moving in judgment. The word “plead” (3:2) is the word for; judge, vindicate, punish. Notice! With reference to Israel… my people, my heritage, my land, my silver, my gold, my goodly pleasant things! “But the Lord will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel” (3:16)! Notice! With reference to the Nations… they have scattered, parted my land, cast lots, have given, and sold! Prepare for War! Ploughshares into Swords! Assemble! Multitudes, Multitudes in the Valley of Decision! They have nothing to decide! The time of threshing/cutting/sharpness has arrived. The multitudes here are the Nations.
God Blesses the Children of Israel (3:18-21).
Wine/milk/waters/fountain… the land is blessed! Egypt/Edom… enemies are judged! God dwelleth in Zion!
The Conclusive Answer, “I am in the midst of Israel… I am the Lord your God…” (2:27), “…I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain…” (3:17), “…the Lord dwelleth in Zion” (3:21).