Joel 2 - Outline of Joel
II. The Day of the LORD, at hand (2:1- 3:8)
A. The LORD's Army in the Land (2:1-11)
1. Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain:
let all the inhabitants of the land tremble:
for the day of the LORD cometh, for [it is] nigh at hand;
2 A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness,
as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong;
there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, [even] to the years of many generations.
blow... the trumpet {HB=shofar, ram's horn trumpet} in Zion... an alarm... in my holy mountain...-
This alarm is sounded in Jerusalem due to the approach of invading forces. It is a warning for the people dwelling in the land of Israel, at the Day of the LORD.
This is not the trumpet call for which the church waits expectantly.
  • In the OT, trumpets were sounded to assemble Israel (to receive news and instruction)... to move the camp (during the wilderness march from Egypt)... to sound the alarm for war (Num 10:1-9). This alarm is parallel to that of Jer 4:5-8.
  • This trumpet has nothing to do with the NT church. The only trumpet mentioned in regard to the church, is actually the voice of Christ, which will sound like a trumpet, with brilliant clarity, in the ears of those who will hear it (1The 4:16,17; Rev 4:1). This sound will usher those, who belong to Christ, into His presence, for they have been delivered from the wrath which is to come upon the earth (1The 1:10).
  • After the true church is taken out of the world, the world will turn against Israel. The armies of the nations will come against her. The seven trumpets of the Revelation (Rev. ch. 8-11) mark off the events of the Time of Jacob's Trouble (The Tribulation period).
the Day of the LORD... a day of darkness and gloominess...-
The inhabitants of the land of Israel will tremble, as this time of unprecedented trouble overshadows them (Mat 24:21).
a great people and strong...-
The approaching forces will be terrifying, due to their overwhelming numbers and military might. They will cover the face of the land, as thoroughly as the morning light spreads out upon the face of the mountains.
3 A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth:
the land [is] as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness;
yea, and nothing shall escape them.
The prophetic picture blends the invasion of locusts (Joel 1:3f) with the invasion of human armies.
The army of Assyria would be first on the horizon, in the relative near term, from the time of writing. The army of Gog and Magog (Russia, Eze ch. 38,39) will be the first to invade Israel, during the Day of the LORD. Both are northern armies (with reference to Israel, Joel 2:20). The LORD warned His people, early and frequently, that the nations would trouble them, for turning away from Him (eg., Deu 28:49-51; Jer 5:14-20).
     Historically, Jerusalem was delivered from the Assyrian threat. About a hundred years later, it was destroyed by Babylon (586 BC), and again by Rome in 70 AD. As we will see, Joel foretells that, at the future Day of the LORD, Jerusalem and the Jewish nation will be brought to the verge of extinction by the armies of the nations. But when they turn to the LORD, the Messiah will deliver them.
4 The appearance of them [is] as the appearance of horses;
and as horsemen, so shall they run.
5 Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap,
like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble,
as a strong people set in battle array.
6 Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.
7 They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war;
and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:
The comparison of armies of men and of locusts continues...
Locust heads resemble horse heads. The sound of thousands of locust wings is like a roaring fire.
During the Day of the LORD, demonic armies, which are similar in appearance, will also cause distress to men (Rev 9:1-11).
...the people shall be much pained...
The word used for 'pain' is sometimes used of the travail of childbirth. It refers here to Israel's distress (eg., Isa 13:6-9; Mic 4:10).
...every face shall be blackened...- 'Blackened' is rooted in a Hebrew word for 'glory.'
The proud confidence in the nation's ability to defend itself will fade for every citizen of Israel. But this distress will quickly overflow to all nations, as everyone is engulfed in a confrontation with the LORD, before whom no man can stand (Rev 6:15-17).
8 Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path:
and [when] they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.
9 They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall,
they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.
10 The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble:
the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:
Locusts have no swords.
Here the picture fades from locusts to the overwhelming human army, against which there is no effective defense. The invasion is accompanied by earthquakes and by terrifying phenomena in the heavens (Rev 6:12-15). Partly, these may be the effects of high powered weapons. But the whole creation will tremble, as mankind rises to displace the people, whom the LORD has promised will endure forever (Jer 31:35-37).
 
II. The Day of the LORD, at hand (2:1- 3:8)
A. The LORD's Army in the Land (2:1-11)
B. The LORD's Call for the Nation to Repent (2:12-17)
11 And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army:
for his camp [is] very great: for [he is] strong that executeth his word:
for the day of the LORD [is] great and very terrible; and who can abide it?
...the LORD shall utter His voice before His army...-
The LORD is the ultimate commander of all armies.
  1. He will send the destructive invading forces into Israel, from the north (Joel 1:15; 2:25, 'my army...which I sent'). (See also Jer 25:8-14, where the Babylonian invasion is a foreshadow of the military movements that will occur during the Day of the LORD.) The LORD is able to direct the ungodly armies of the nations to accomplish His purposes, even though their leaders have other motivations (eg., Isa 10:5-7).
  2. He will come, with the armies of heaven, to destroy His enemies, which are the enemies of His people (Rev 19:11-21; Joel 3:11-16). (This also was foreshadowed by the LORD's destruction of Babylon. Jer 25:29-32)
The LORD will execute the judgment which He has promised...
...first upon His own people, and then upon all nations. Isa 13:9-11
...the Day of the LORD is great... who can abide it? (Mal 3:2; Rev 6:17)
The Lord Jesus answered that question in Mat 24:22.
What should sinners do, in a time like this?
The LORD graciously instructs His people, Israel...
12. Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye [even] to me with all your heart,
and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God:
for he [is] gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness,
and repenteth him of the evil.
14 Who knoweth [if] he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him;
[even] a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?
...turn ye... to me with all your heart...-
This is the essence of repentance: a sincere turning from sinful rebellion, from serving oneself, to serve the LORD alone.
...rend your heart... not your garments...
The tearing of a garment was an outward indication of anger, or sorrow over sin. But outward demonstrations, including fasting, weeping and mourning do not constitute repentance. They may be by products of a heart that is broken before the LORD. But eyes can fill with tears without whole hearted repentance. God looks at the heart, not the outward appearance. (Psa 51:17; The full psalm provides a picture of what true repentance looks like.)
Therefore... for...- The LORD provides reasons to turn to Him.
  • for He is strong that executeth His Word (v.11).-
    The 'therefore' (in v.12) looks back at v.11... not merely at the cause for which hearts tremble, but primarily at the reason to fully trust in the LORD: His Word is true, and He will fulfill every word of it.
  • for He is gracious and merciful (v.13)
  • [for] He is slow to anger and of great kindness
  • [for] He repenteth of the evil - ie., For those who turn to Him, He will turn away from the wrath that they deserve.
    God does not 'repent' in the sense of changing His mind. He is faithful to His unchanging Word. He must judge sin. He has promised to deal very harshly with those who turn their backs on Him. Yet, He has also promised to deal with grace, mercy and kindness, toward those who repent of their sin and turn wholeheartedly to Him. Jer 18:7-10
who knoweth if He will... return... repent... leave a blessing... [even the means to worship Him]
The expression of uncertainty ('who knows...?) is an acknowledgment that the LORD is the sovereign Judge, and that I deserve judgment without mercy. Only He knows the heart, to discern whether my repentance is real (Jer 17:9,10).
     How often Israel turned to Him in trouble, only to turn away when their troubles were lightened. Yet, there is no uncertainty in God's promise (Isa 30:15-19; Mal 3:7).
The blessing (in v.14) is the provision of that which they lacked to worship Him aright.
They had been unable to present their offerings to the LORD, because the locusts had devoured their grain and wine (1:9,13,16). Yet, He would supply what they lacked.
He also would supply their greater need, to enable them to worship in spirit and in truth (Joel 2:28; John 4:23,24).
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:
16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation,
assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts:
let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.
17 Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar,
and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD,
and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them:
wherefore should they say among the people, Where [is] their God?
Blow the trumpet in Zion...
In v.1, the trumpet sounded an alarm for war. Here, it calls the nation to assemble and respond aright to God.
gather the people...-
This is a call for national repentance. It is a call to all... even to those who were usually exempt from national responsibility: nursing mothers and their babies, the elderly and the newly weds.
the priests... are to pray (as in 1:13), asking the LORD...
  1. to spare His people,
  2. to deliver them from the reproach {scorn, disgrace} of gentile dominion,
  3. and to make Himself known to all.
These elements, mingled with confession of sin, follow the pattern of Moses' prayer of intercession (Deu 9:23-29).
 
II. The Day of the LORD, at hand (2:1- 3:8)
A. The LORD's Army in the Land (2:1-11)
B. The LORD's Call for the Nation to Repent (2:12-17)
C. The LORD's Response to their Repentance (2:18- 3:8)
  1. The Promise of Deliverance (2:18-21)
  2. The Promise of Physical Renewal (2:22-27)
  3. The Promise of Spiritual Life (2:28-29)
  4. The Power of God in Deliverance (2:30-32)
18. Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people.
19 Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people,
Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil,
and ye shall be satisfied therewith:
and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:
20 But I will remove far off from you the northern [army],
and will drive him into a land barren and desolate,
with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea,
and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up,
because he hath done great things.
21 Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things.
Then...
In the face of the Tribulation that befalls Israel, in the Day of the LORD, and in response to their turning to Him, the LORD will deliver and restore His people. He promises:
  • renewal of His bountiful provision
  • reversal of Israel's disgrace among the nations
  • removal of the invading northern army.
    About a hundred years after Joel wrote, there was a partial fulfilment, when Assyria was turned back from the siege of Jerusalem, during the reign of Hezekiah (Isaiah ch. 36-37). But, about a hundred years after that, the city fell to Babylon. This does not fit the picture painted in these verses.
         The deliverence, promised here, is permanent (v.19, '...no more...'). It looks forward to the Day of the LORD and the defeat of the 'northern army' within the land of Israel. Deliverance from two invasions may be envisioned here:
    • Early in the Tribulation - The army of Gog and Magog, will invade Israel, but they will be driven back and partially destroyed (Eze 38:18- 39:7).
    • At the close of the Tribulation - The armies of all nations, led by the antichrist, will gather against Israel in the valley of Armageddon. These armies will be thoroughly destroyed, and their leaders will be taken captive (Joel 3:2; Rev 16:16; 19:19-20).
These battles will occur between the 'east sea' and the 'utmost sea'.
These terms seem to be identified with the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, respectively, in Zech 14:8 (which is part of the description of the Messiah's Kingdom which follows these battles, and where the word 'east' is translated 'former'). The valley of Jehoshaphat (the Kidron Valley on the east of Jerusalem) is located between those seas. As viewed from the valley of Armageddon, the Sea of Galilee would be the 'east sea.'
I will drive him into a land barren and desolate...-
This describes the fate of Gog and Magog (Eze 39:2).
and his stink shall come up...-
The stench of death will arise from fallen soldiers in both battles (Eze 39:3-5; Rev 19:17,18).
...because he hath done great things. Fear not, O land... for the LORD will do great things.
The leaders of these invading forces (Gog & Magog, and the antichrist), will exercise terrible power against Israel. But the LORD, whose power is greater than all, will crush them when he stands to fight for His people (Zech 14:2-4; Rev 19:11-21).
22 Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: (see Joel 1:17-20)
for the pastures of the wilderness do spring,
for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.
23 Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God:
for he hath given you the former rain moderately,
and he will cause to come down for you the rain,
the former rain, and the latter rain in the first [month].
24 And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats
{ie., vats} shall overflow with wine and oil.
25 And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten,
the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.
26 And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you:
and my people shall never be ashamed.
27 And ye shall know that I [am] in the midst of Israel,
and [that] I [am] the LORD your God, and none else:
and my people shall never be ashamed.
The LORD will do great things...
not only to defeat the invading enemies (v.21), but also to Restore Israel.
The vine and fig tree, previously decimated by the locusts, will flourish. More than the return of bountiful harvests, this speaks of the restored health of the nation, which is the LORD's vine (see note at 1:7; Isa 5:1-7).
I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten...-
God's people were brought low because of the effects of sin.
It was He who had troubled them with locusts, famines, and the armies of the nations. These things came upon them because in love, He chastened them, as He sought to turn their hearts to seek Him. In response to their repentance and turning to Him, He pours out blessings upon them (eg., Hos 14:1-7).
     Literal locusts devour the land in a single season. But the wasting of Israel extended over 'years.' We are not told how many. But, here again, the four aspects of the locusts are listed (v.25; 1:4). The wasted years must surely extend beyond Israel's losses in the Tribulation, the Time of Jacob's Trouble (the seven year period, opened by the four horsemen of the apocalypse, as the Day of the LORD begins), to include their sorrows throughout the Times of the Gentiles, under the domination of the four gentile kingdoms identified by Daniel (Dan 7:1-8).
...the former and the latter rain...- will be restored.
In Israel, the former rains would normally come in October (at the beginning of the growing season), and the latter rains fall in April (near the end of the growing season).
     As part of the chastisement for Israel's sin, the LORD had withheld rain, for many years (Deu 11:13-17; Amos 4:6,7). In response to their turning back to Him, He restores that which He had held back... with a bonus: both the former and the latter rains would come 'in one month' bringing about an exceptionally bountiful harvest.
     This time of refreshing, comes not merely at God's command, but 'from the presence of the LORD' (Isa 28:12; Acts 3:19; Psa 72:6,7; Jam 5:7,8).
...I am in the midst of Israel... I am the LORD your God...-
He is the source of all blessing. To know Him is to find life, and life more abundantly (Joh 10:10).
     During the wilderness march, Israel's Provider and Protector was the One, whose Presence dwelt between the cherubim in the Most Holy Place at the center of the camp. The LORD will again tabernacle in the midst of His people, in the millennial Kingdom of Christ, which follows the time of Jacob's Trouble. From Him will flow, not only the physical blessings listed in the verses above, but also the spiritual blessings in the verses that conclude this chapter (Joel 2:28-32, below). Rev 21:5,23; 22:1-4
28. And it shall come to pass afterward, [that] I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh;
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood,
before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
32 And it shall come to pass,
[that] whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered:
for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said,
and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.
The importance of these verses is emphasized in the Hebrew Bible,
by the separation of vs.28-32 into their own chapter (chapter 3), with our chapter 3 becoming chapter 4 in the Hebrew Bible.
...afterward... - This refers to a very specific time.
ie., After the darkness of the Tribulation, which opens the Day of the LORD, and after Christ is established as King in the midst of Israel (3:1,17-18, 'in those days... in that day...')... then, God will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh, but with an emphasis upon the children of Israel (Isa 32:15; Isa 44:3; Eze 36:27,28; 37:14; 39:29; Zech 12:10).
The apostle Peter quoted these verses (v.28-32) in Acts 2:16-21,
to explain the manifestation of the Holy Spirit at the birth of the church, at Pentecost. At that time, Israel was being offered another opportunity to receive their rejected King, and the blessings that would accompany His reign (Acts 2:32-33,38-39; 3:19-21). Peter was anticipating the imminent return of Christ, in response to Israel's repentance. But lacking national repentance, the times of refreshing did not come at that time.
     However, under inspiration, his wording differs slightly from Joel's text. Rather than saying "afterward," Peter refers to "the last days." This is also a technical term, with application to two distinct periods of time.
  • Relating to Israel, the Last Days refer to the time of Israel's exaltation in the Kingdom of the Messiah (Isa 2:2-4; Mic 4:1-7). This is the emphasis in Joel's prophecy. The terrible signs mentioned in v.30,31, will accompany the final conflict, when the Messiah delivers His people from their enemies (3:14-16; Mat 24:29-31).
  • Relating to the NT Church, the Last Days refer to the period which began with the first coming of Christ, and which continues until He comes again for His own. Most of the NT references emphasize the church's decline and apostasy prior to His second coming. (Heb 1:1-3; 1Pet 1:3-5; 1Tim 4:1-3; 2Tim 3:1-8; 2Pet 3:1-9; 1Joh 2:18,19; Jude 1:17-19). During this period, the Lord pours out His Spirit on 'all flesh' (Jew and Gentile alike) who put their trust in Christ (Joh 7:38,39).
         Note that, the signs, which will accompany the fulfilment of the prophecy relative to Israel in the Day of the LORD, are absent in the church age. The present application to the church, does not preclude or displace the future application to Israel.
...whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered.
In any time, and to any people, salvation from the effects of sin belongs to those individuals who truly turn to the LORD. The apostle Paul quotes from v.32, in Rom 10:13 (see also the context).
In mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance...-
Jerusalem will be delivered, in the Day of the LORD, by the Messiah who purchased our salvation, with His own blood, in the mountain where the LORD chose to place His name forever.
...and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.-
A remnant {ie., a remainder, those who escape}, not all, will be saved.
Christ died for the sins of the world (Joh 1:29). But the salvation which He purchased is effective only for the 'many' who trust in Him (Mat 20:28; Joh 1:11,12), in response to the Father's call (2:12,13; Joh 6:44; Rom 9:24,27; 11:5,7; 2The 2:13,14).

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